IMTAC Issue No.04

Page 1









Our Purpose To be the voice for and from girls and young women, to: •

Create a safe space for girls and young women.

Hear from other girls and women on their journeys.

Understand how to deal with the pressures placed on them by peers, adults, the fashion and personal care industries

Learn how to navigate a male-dominated society

Talk about subjects they feel too embarrassed or ashamed to raise.

Photo by Melissa Askew on Unsplash 2


May is for music, might and mayhem! But first I’d like say that while we sit in the relative safety of Hong Kong, we have friends and family in India and the Philippines who are going through the worst of COVID-19 we’ve seen so far. Our prayers are with you all. We have some really special people showcased in this interactive issue of IMTAC! Our cover girls are singer/ songwriter, Devon, and dynamic Northern Soul duo, Sal and Pops - click to watch their music. From music we cross over to a mighty woman in tech... read about Lizy Paul who has smashed through barriers to become the first woman (and one of colour) to chair the powerful National Spectrum Consortium in the US. And how Jenny Chang went from goody-two-shoes to rebelle. Then, we have redefined royalty, so download, print, and colour-in our powerful princesses. These and many more empowering articles lie in store for you in our 4th edition. I hope you enjoy!

Copyright © 2021. IMTAC Magazine. All rights reserved.



05 _ 2021


Deborah Mannas


Q Gonzales



Kimberley Kleczka


Loulou Von Spiel



Fearless Musician Breaks the Mould


Junette Gonzales Luana D'Elias Thomas Jenny Chang Cecilia Ao Denise Patel Latitia Kung Kay



Apoorva Dingar Judy


The Art of Dancing Like Nobody's Watching





On Our Cover


Florencia Flies Through the Pandemic









Meet music makers Devon, Sal & Pops and our other wonder women as they bring you their empowering stories.


Confessions of a Reformed Good Girl


We want to hear from


IMTAC re-presents what new "princesses" should be

09 confessions of a reformed good girl

38 slay the rainbow

13 what made me ashamed of my periods

41 leap of faith

21 fearless musician breaks the mould

florencia flies through the pandemic 45 by loulou von spiel

by jenny chang

by kimberley kleczka

by kay

by latitia kung

by junette gonzales

03 28 16


by loulou von spiel

24 how to lose weight easily


So keep sending in your questions, stories, and photos!

33 the art of dancing like nobody's watching

by deborah mannas

by luana d'elias thomas

If you have any questions, ideas, stories you want to share, people you want us to feature, or photos of your joy send them all to We’ll collect all of them and have them published in the coming issues of IMTAC!

05 stand your ground

editorial by deborah mannas

may is for music, might and mayhem

what's your style by kimberley kleczka

don't lose it, reuse it

Health, nutrition and you by denise patel

mindful eating

23 48 50 56 57

imtac special section

royalty redefined ask ceci creativity corner find your joy in the next issue

DISCLAIMER | The views expressed in "IMTAC | I’m More Than A Cover Magazine" are not necessarily those of the editor or contributors. The publisher and editor cannot be held responsible for differences of opinion or statements published in good faith. The publisher, contributors, their employees and partners are not responsible for the results of any actions, errors, or omissions taken on the basis of information contained in this publication and expressly disclaim all and any liability for any such action of any person. The mention of specific companies or products in articles or advertisements does not imply that they are endorsed or recommended by this magazine or its publisher in preference to others of a similar nature which are not mentioned or advertised. No part of this magazine may be reproduced in any form without expressed permission from the IMTAC team.


My first Holy communion

STAND Y our GROUND by Deborah Mannas


eet Lizy Paul, Director of Technical Strategy for a large Aerospace and defense company. Lizy is the first woman to be elected Chair of the National Spectrum Consortium, in the US.

Copyright © 2021. IMTAC Magazine. All rights reserved.


The National Spectrum Consortium is comprised of technologists, engineers, scientists, manufacturers, and program managers from an assortment of over 400 U.S. companies and academia. It is Lizy’s role to provide leadership in the execution of the vision and strategy for the National Spectrum Consortium, to deliver innovative solutions in the area of next-generation (5G and spectrum superiority) technologies to the United States Government through close collaboration between the United States Government and the Consortium members. Overcoming Traditional Expectations Lizy was three years my junior in St. Charles High School, Bangalore, India. Her sister, Mary, was my classmate. I was honoured to be able to have a long chat with Lizy via Zoom from my study in HK and her living room in the US. She talked with me about her life’s journey with a combination of pride, humility, vulnerability, gratitude, and a touch of angst.

Choosing to Challenge Despite concerted efforts towards being groomed for wifedom, Lizy had mentally mapped a path of independence for herself which did not include a husband, and most definitely not one who would demand a dowry. But neither did it include staying in India. Lizy had dreams of studying in an Ivy League school abroad. So she finally conceded to her parents’ demands that she marry, provided her future groom would not expect a dowry, and she could study in the United States. And so it happened: a marriage was arranged to Lizy’s requirements, and Lizy moved to the United States with her new husband.

Elder sister Mary and me

Like most traditional families, Lizy’s family had high expectations of her educational success, but even higher expectations of her becoming the ideal wife with the perfect family. But Lizy always knew that she was meant for more. From a young age, she was game for any challenge, topping her class, excelling both in studies and sports, and showing leadership throughout her school and university years. Her father was her strongest champion and mentor, encouraging Lizy to try anything, and seeing a bright future in medicine for her. However, that was not the career she saw for herself… blood made her squeamish. Always passionate about electrical engineering, Lizy quickly enrolled herself in that stream in college, before anybody


had much say in the matter. She graduated with her bachelor’s degree at the top of her class, a tremendous achievement for a woman in the male dominated world of STEM, and the competitive educational environment in India.

Once in the US, Lizy quickly got admission to a number of schools, but accepted an offer at Johns Hopkins University (JHU) and began pursuing a Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering. After two courses at JHU, she was hired by a large US technology-based company that agreed to pay for her Master’s Degree courses. She was one of the very few, if any, who was hired with only a Bachelor’s degree from India. She very quickly out-did herself, gained her Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering, and soon landed roles that took her up the corporate ladder, and across 19 countries. She later completed an Executive MBA from the University of Iowa and currently holds 16 United States granted patents in the telecommunications field. But success has not come easy. Lizy has made many sacrifices in her journey as a female leader


in technology. She moved cities frequently and had to resettle each time the family moved. She has had to adjust to being a stranger in a new place, with no family or friends nearby; a wife of a husband with extremely traditional expectations; a mother raising a young child; and a woman in leadership in the very maledominated Defense and Telecommunications industry. She has sailed through it all, never missing a beat, and succeeding spectacularly. A Force to be Reckoned With Speaking openly, Lizy tells me about the many micro-aggressions she has faced. From male bosses and colleagues, who would speak over her or dismiss her ideas (later to accept those same ideas from other male colleagues), to downright rudeness about her suitability as a leader with constant reminders that she looked different. She learned to assert herself when interrupted, looking directly at her interrupter to say in no uncertain terms, “let me finish”. She also learned to speak up in defense of herself to those who sought to belittle her. Lizy also endured open racism. Once, she was not allowed in to her own office premises by an organisation’s security guard because “she

did not look like a US citizen”. She escalated this discriminative treatment to her leadership, which led to the security guard being let go and the security team undergoing cultural sensitivity and unconscious bias training. Lizy is proud that she has chosen to challenge injustices, regardless of who generates them. Her motto is Stand Your Ground. “If everybody runs, then we’re part of the problem” says the intrepid Ms. Paul. Gratitude and Balance Up at the crack of dawn, Lizy starts her day with a run, a healthy breakfast, and then gets to work, energized. When she’s not working, Lizy hikes, travels, and spends quality time with friends and her son, Matt her biggest fan, who is now twenty-four. While standing up for herself and others, Lizy stresses the need to maintain professionalism and take the high road, regardless of the treatment she has had to endure. She credits good friendships, sponsors and champions for bolstering her and giving her the encouragement to keep going. She has raised a well-grounded son who has witnessed his mother’s journey

Left: Fox and franz josef glacier New Zealand with my son, Matt | Right: Iowa in the fall

If everybody runs, then we’re part of the problem

Copyright © 2021. IMTAC Magazine. All rights reserved.


with Mom and Dad

and is now an ally and champion of women. No wonder then, that she now chairs a Consortium comprised of such high powered, innovative leaders. Who better to lead than a confident, intelligent, fearless woman, with the collaborative skills that women leaders can now proudly own? Add to this her cultural adaptability, and you have a leader that understands what it takes to find solutions to the problems of the 21st century. Congratulations, Lizy Paul! You inspire young girls and women to challenge traditional expectations, pursue their dreams, and stand their ground! |

Follow Lizy on LinkedIn: LizyPaul National Spectrum Consortium Middle: Hiking with my son in MD | Bottom: with my oldest friend Ilo - 100 years old!





“Should I order the sandwich or the salad?”


y teenage daughter told herself she was ‘allowed’ one choice for lunch, but her stomach wanted a bit of both. She grappled with the choice for another minute or two, and it suddenly dawned on me. Despite all my efforts to the contrary, she was growing up to be a ‘good’ girl. Like me.

Copyright © 2021. IMTAC Magazine. All rights reserved.


My entire life I’ve been programmed to be ‘good’. The good daughter who understood children should be seen and not heard. The good student who read books on Saturday nights and was too oblivious to even know about the parties, let alone go to them. The good employee who stayed quiet when her boss took the credit. The good wife who moved across the globe because her husband needed her to. The good mother who put her children’s needs above her own. The good friend who always acquiesced to her friends’ preferences. The good citizen who never broke a rule, any rule. The good girl who gave away all her power without a fight. I had to break the cycle. I could hear the debate raging in my teen’s head. “I am only allowed to get one thing. If I get two, I’ll look greedy. If I get two and I don’t finish both, I’ll be wasteful. If I get two, I’ll be wasting my parents’ money.” And on and on. I

pictured the self-criticism swirling around in her head. On the plus side, this strategy would keep her safe and her life relatively drama-free. She’d likely live in a comfortable home with a loving family. But she would also spend her life being what everyone else expected, giving her power away. And that would lead to a lot of bitterness and resentment. I know because it happened to me. Until I had the proverbial health scare. Only then did I start to think about how I wanted to live my life. Whether I wanted that sandwich or salad? And then I realized I want them both. And with that realization came the anger. Fury that my boss wasn’t nurturing my career the way he did my male counterparts. Resentment that I had to keep moving around the world to support my husband. Bitterness that I always capitulated when I disagreed with a friend. But the ugly truth was, none of them - my boss, my husband, my friends - were solely at fault. I could have left when I realized my

I am only allowed to get one thing. If I get two, I’ll look greedy. If I get two and I don’t finish both, I’ll be wasteful. If I get two, I’ll be wasting my parents’ money.

My first car



boss wasn’t on my side. I could have said no when my husband asked to move. I could have told my friends what I really preferred. I had given away my agency - nobody took it from me.I realized it was up to me to vocalize what I did (and did not) want. So I became a reformed ‘good’ girl. And now you can too! Step 1: Break a rule

When’s the last time you broke a rule? Not the law. Rather the rules you tell yourself (or society has been feeding you). So the reformed good girl in me will... • Wear what I like despite my age/weight/coloring. • Speak up at the risk of sounding bossy/opinionated… • Embrace my resting-b*@#$-face because nobody can smile all the time... • Pursue the career that I love, not the one that is expected of me…

You get the idea...I learned to trust my own thoughts and needs instead of blindly following what society has dictated. And I learned to sometimes put me before others because you really do need to put your own oxygen mask on first if the plane is going down! Step 2: Embrace the fall out

Chances are you’ve been a good girl because you want to please. And by virtue of prioritizing your needs, a few toes will have to be stepped on. Some ‘friends’ may leave you. The true ones will support you. Your boss may fire you… an opportunity to work somewhere that appreciates you. The other mothers may gossip behind your back. You can’t hear them, so who cares? Eventually, I realized that I couldn’t always be liked and still be true to myself. Instead, you need to embrace the conflict and confrontation needed to get to that better place.

Copyright © 2021. IMTAC Magazine. All rights reserved.


Step 3: Shut your inner critic down

Or as Elsa would say, “Let It Go!” See what happens when you tell that inner voice to take a back seat, especially when she’s demanding perfection from you. I don’t think mine will ever go away, but at least now I am able to talk back and ask “what’s the worst that can happen?” So give that presentation, even if you’re not 100% buttoned up. Raise your hand to lead that club, because you are good enough. Ask for that raise, because nobody will give it to you otherwise. Your insecurity and inner voice are your worst enemy - they certainly were mine. That voice didn’t get there on its own. Society put it there and it’s your job to kick it out. Nowadays, my inner voice plays a different tape, reminding me good girls aren’t real and perfection is an unattainable myth designed to keep you busy while the guy next to you gets that promotion. Follow these easy steps and In no time, you’ll be on your way to ordering that sandwich and salad, guilt-free. |

Former management consultant, venture capitalist, and brand marketer turned professional storyteller and writer. In 2019, I walked away from a 25+ corporate career to pursue an MFA in Creative Writing from The University of Hong Kong. If Amy Tan & David Sedaris had a literary love child, she’d look something like me. Passionate about telling stories about women who break all the rules. First passport picture



by Luana D'Elias Thomas


was two months away from being 13 years old when I had my first period. I went to the bathroom one day in the summer holidays, when I looked down my knickers there was a bit of blood. It was a faint pink colour, almost circular in shape, the size a bit bigger than a 50p coin. I was shocked. But most of all I was embarrassed. Embarrassed I would have to tell my mum about the most personal thing that had ever happened in my life.

I vividly remember that I had to build up so much courage to tell her. As she stood in the kitchen cooking, I went over to tell her my embarrassing news. But as soon as I tried. A knot came over my throat and I just couldn’t bring it out. Then dad would walk in. That went on for what it felt like forever, until when she was alone again and I forced it out very inaudibly. We had never spoken about periods. It had always just been something I heard of but knew

Copyright © 2021. IMTAC Magazine. All rights reserved.


"I think the truth was, I didn’t want people to know about something so private."

absolutely nothing about. She showed me how to put on a pad and how to roll it up and throw it in the bin. That was it. I thought to myself, is that it? That’s all you can tell me? No conversations about it. At the time it didn’t occur to me to say those thoughts out loud. Looking back now, I understand it’s because she was embarrassed about it too. The vicious cycle had already started. Then she did the last thing I wanted her to. She told my dad. She told a guy, I had my first period. A man. My reaction was for the ground to open up and swallow me whole, as he made a joke that I had joined “the pad club”. I felt so upset that my own mother would betray my confidentiality like that. I didn’t even have the chance to come to terms with the news myself. If that wasn’t enough my dad went on to tell other family members by phone. Neither asked me if I was comfortable with it. Initially, I’d be embarrassed to buy pads, to be in that aisle when someone was around was the worst case scenario. I would walk up and down and wait until it was clear for me to reach for what I needed. I think the truth was, I didn’t want people to know about


something so private. I hated going to the checkout too, because the person serving would know. It's strange because I remember wanting so desperately to be seen as a teenager. To not be seen as a child anymore. Then this happened and I wasn't sure if I wanted it or if I was mentally ready for it. My own body had made that decision for me and I didn't have a say on it. I realise now I needed time to accept what was happening to me. That my body was about to go through a big change and that was the start of things to come. It took time. Maybe it took as long as it did because I kept it all inside. I just couldn't bring myself to talk to anyone about it. This shame continued to follow me through my teens and beyond, in slightly different ways. Eventually, I got over the buying fear, but yet, I would catch myself at work, going to the toilet carrying my pad in a small bag. Hidden away. Behind it, the feeling was the same, embarrassment. Not wanting people to know. Not talking about it. About something that all women go through. By something that made me a woman.


Why I never had conversations about periods with friends either? Because it became ingrained in my belief system that it’s not something to talk about. It didn’t help that I had the issue of feeling that my privacy had been stolen from me too. So it became natural for me to hide it away, go through it alone in my own way. When I look at it now, I wonder why I was so ashamed of me becoming a woman. Essentially that’s what that is. Periods are the thing that let us know that we can create and give life. It shows us that our bodies are functioning. It shows us that it can hurt but we can get through it, time and time again showing us our strength. It’s part of the process of creating, nurturing and birthing a brand new life. I wish I had seen periods as something that is powerful, not shameful. As natural, not gross. As ok to talk about, not to hide.

unspoken cycle surrounding periods. I will start these conversations very early on, it might be awkward at the start, but I will talk until there is no embarrassment left. With campaigns like #wombstories reinforcing the message. Raising awareness about a topic that used to be so unspoken of, is a great starting point for this shame to vanish. I hope my daughter appreciates how periods are incredible on why they happen. How it’s a vital part of who we are and a vital part of continuing the human race. There is absolutely not even an ounce of shame in that. |

It has taken me years to feel comfortable talking about these early experiences. Now that I am a mother to a little girl (even if I had a boy), I will make it my duty to break the vicious

Luana D'Elias Thomas is the founder of a platform to help mums-to-be reduce anxieties and fears about birth. To work towards the positive birth experience that all women deserve. She loves all things pregnancy, labour, birth and motherhood. For more conversations follow:

Copyright © 2021. IMTAC Magazine. All rights reserved.



by Denise Patel, Clinical Nutritionist


nstead of focusing on eating around your activities, try the opposite, focus on activities and the foods needed to sustain them! Did you know that dancing for an hour burns 260 kilo calories and that shopping burns 181 kilo calories an hour? So, get thinking before you eat; treats are allowed with discretion! When we sit down for a meal, it would be unusual to ask ourselves why we are eating, but if we get into a habit of doing so, there’d be a lot less illness in the world. How we digest our meals and how we feel after is just as important. Often, we simply do it out of routine or habit; we tell ourselves that it’s mealtime, so we should feel hungry, and that we should eat to sustain us till the next meal. We can challenge this construct with some points for mindful eating!

• Our best friends in healthy eating are understanding ghrelin, the hunger hormone, and leptin, the satiated hormone (tells you when you’re full), let’s learn to listen to, and respect them! • Our bodies are made up of zillions of cells. Cell contains mitochondria or “power


houses”, which charge up on fuel from food and exercise; in fact, with every activity, the number of mitochondria increase in our cells. • If you are bounding with energy after an aerobics class or simply taking a brisk walk, these power houses have increased in number, you therefore need to eat to sustain this metabolic activity. Remember, you do work up an appetite with exercise, so get moving. •

I often hear some girls say, “we don’t eat till noon, we’re not hungry!” Well, what’s going to happen at noon, if you haven’t had time for meal prep, is that you will be eating the first thing that you can get your hands on, which may not be the healthiest option.

Eat a decent meal before you exercise and have a small snack of nuts, seeds, dried fruit, a boiled egg, low sugar protein bar or a glass of milk after exercise.

Most days, the breaking of a fast should be a healthy one. Consuming a plate full of high carbohydrate, high saturated fats and low protein may just be one of the reasons we are midst a global obesity crisis. There’s no easier way to say it, girls!


Vitalicious = bootilicious! • Sliced oranges, strawberries and red capsicums are high in Vitamin C, which helps with absorption of iron and prevents gum disease. • B vitamins supply energy and are found in grains, animal food sources and mushrooms.

practitioners are helpful in investigating outside of their bio medical field and may recommend that you visit a naturopath or nutritionist for holistic assessment and treatment. A comprehensive stool or hair analysis can identify bacterial overgrowths, mineral deficiencies, or fungal infections.

• Animal products as in dairy, carrots and sweet potato are sources of Vitamin A, good sources of retinol for healthy eyes and skin.

Supplementation with vitamins should only be taken if your dietary intake is low, the body will consume what it needs and simply get rid of the rest.

• Seeds and nuts are high in vitamin E, mixed berries are high in vitamin C & antioxidants.


• Vitamin K in kale and spinach is beneficial to blood clotting. • Half a plate of mixed green vegetables will supply you with a daily dose of Magnesium, prevents muscle cramps and aids with sleep. • A few slices of roast beef are high in Iron and Zinc. It’s important to remember that the absorption of nutrients varies from person to person. If we have a weak gut (symptoms include bloating, diarrhea, nausea, cramping, bad breath) none of the good stuff is being digested and utilised by the body successfully. Therefore, we show signs and symptoms of a deficiency. General

Copyright © 2021. IMTAC Magazine. All rights reserved.

What foods are you planning to include in your diet this week? How active are you planning to be? Remember energy intake should equal energy expenditure. Simply put, if you’re planning to run a marathon, you should have started eating accordingly two months ago. If you are sitting at your desk all day, you would probably require one or two light meals, with less caloric intake. Quite honestly, if we find time to widen our knowledge about food, eating the right food will become second nature to us. Nowadays, there are a stack of websites with recipes for easy nutritious meals and calorie intake. We’re not suggesting master chef classes or cooking gourmet cuisine, just simple, tasty, and nutritious food. So, I’ve put together some options for each meal below. These have been popular with clients, and the prep can be done the night before if you have a busy school or work schedule. You only have to shop for food once a week! If you are counting calories, then look up these ingredients on a food app. You may have to adjust quantities to suit your current health requirements, body type, and exercise regime. Please note the “or” in snack options, and if you aren’t hungry, don’t force yourself to eat.


Breakfast 1 cup of cooked oats, chia seeds (soaked in water overnight), half a banana, blueberries, a teaspoon of maple syrup, 1 teaspoon of peanut butter, a splash of your choice of nut milk. Served warm or cold, it’s up to you!

1 slice of banana or sour cherry wholemeal cake with a cup of green tea or handful of strawberries dipped in dark chocolate or 1 glass of nut milk with protein powder (if doing an afternoon exercise session).


Water 250ml

1 cup of cooked congee, with pickled ginger or radish, spring onions, mushrooms, tamari, and chili with a fist size of protein as in tofu, roasted chicken slices, beef, or pork (lean).


Water 250ml

Mid-Morning Snack Options

Stir fry - mixed vegetables, the more variety in colour the better for you, add some protein as in tofu, sesame seeds, chicken, fish, beef, or pork (the steamed, grilled, or poached kind) with 1 cup of steamed brown rice or basmati rice. OR

Low sugar protein bar or a handful of unsalted nuts and 3 dried apricots or a slice of grain bread with a spread of peanut butter or 6 raw vegetable sticks with a tablespoon of humus or eggplant dip (homemade) or two slices of melon or mango.

One serve of roast meat (your choice but less fat) with zucchini, pumpkin, green beans, and Brussel sprouts (roasted in the oven with fresh herbs, garlic, and olive oil).

Water 250ml


Lunch 1 Rye or sourdough roll with chopped salad or cucumber, grated carrot, tomato, capsicum, bean sprouts, 2 boiled eggs sliced or roasted chicken or vegetable patties with tomato relish and tablespoon of low-fat mayonnaise.

A scoop of low-fat gelato or coconut yoghurt with mixed berries or a cup of calcium fortified nut milk or chamomile tea with two pieces of plain dark chocolate or 1 slice of warm homemade apple pie with a dollop of low-fat cream or coconut yoghurt. Water 250ml

Chicken or vegetable broth with cooked soba or buckwheat noodles, oyster mushroom, bok choy, chili, and tamari to taste.

While a balanced portion of each macro nutrient (carbs, fats, and protein) on your plate is important, the vitamin and mineral content is just as important, the more colours on your plate the better for you!

Water 250ml

Serving size 1 cup = 250ml



Snack options


My “treat” recipe for May (try a slice of this with a drizzle of melted dark chocolate) Cherry & nut slice: ¾ cup vegetable oil or softened butter 1 cup almond meal 1 ½ cup plain, buckwheat or spelt flour 2 eggs 2 tablespoons of sour cream (Greek yoghurt or coconut milk, if you prefer) A pinch of baking powder ½ cup maple syrup 1 teaspoon almond or vanilla essence 1 cup of fresh cherries unseeded or store-bought sour cherries 1 handful of toasted walnuts & Brazil nuts (crushed not ground) Method: oil, butter a loaf pan, or line with grease proof paper; beat the maple syrup and vegetable oil, add the eggs one at a time, till completely blended; add almond or vanilla essence (natural preferred); slowly add the almond meal and flour, then the baking powder. Mix in the sour cream, add the sour cherries and toasted nuts. Bake in a hot oven at 160 C degrees for 40 minutes. Eat warm. Serves approximately 8.

What would you like me to discuss in our next issue? Please post to the IMTAC team, till then happy mindful eating! |

Copyright © 2021. IMTAC Magazine. All rights reserved.




Style Spotlight devon Kimberley Chats with



he singer-songwriter and multiinstrumentalist Devon is a rising star on the New York music scene, whose songs aim to create and spread a message of self-love through her own inspired self-discovery of life.

I got together with the vivacious Devon, at a quaint suburban train station in the small town of... Devon in Philadelphia. This immediately sparked up a conversation. Laughing, she told me that she was not named after it and that her parents decided to live in the next town. Devon’s dream began when she was 4 years old, at a Billy Joel concert in Philadelphia. This great experience drew her into the music Industry. “I’ve always been surrounded by music. As a little kid I learned guitar from my older brother and piano from my dad, and over time I figured out how to put it all together, ultimately learning to write and produce my own music, as well as becoming a collaborator for other artists.” Devon is inspired and thankful for the incredible art and artists that exist around the world, this has given her many wonderful opportunities to share her work. From a lyric’s perspective, she admires and looks for inspirations from songwriters like Joni Mitchell, Sam Melo, Sara

Copyright © 2021. IMTAC Magazine. All rights reserved.

by Kimberley Kleczka

Bareilles and Adam Duritz. Her dream would be to open for Sara Bareilles. “She builds an entire world within each performance, and it would be unreal to be a part of the architectural process.”

While Devon was pursuing her aspirations in music, she continued on with her education, studying economics with a concentration on entertainment and intellectual property at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania which helped her become more effective with her music career. All the hard work paid off, Jason Floom, Chairman of LAVA Media, LLC. hired the accomplished musician right out of college and is a mentor for her both in life and also in the music industry. Jason’s guidance and knowledge taught Devon invaluable wisdom “He took a chance and has taught me not only the art of making records but also the importance of doing well by doing good.” Her A&R job involves scouting for unsigned talent and working with existing artists on the roster to provide them with the resources needed to create their best art. Where do you have the time to fit everything in, busy lady? What does your typical day look like? I don’t fit it all into my life – it IS my life!


A typical day for me starts with a yoga practice and some gratitude journaling, and then I work on my full-time music and A&R responsibilities for the rest of my waking hours. Conversations with friends are scattered throughout the day, and if I have time, I try to watch a little comedy and smile before bed.

Devon told me that her parents declared her tone-deaf when she was younger. Fortunately, she did not realize it and kept singing at every opportunity. Her persistence and passion helped make her into the wonderful performer of today. “You’d be hard pressed to find a situation in which I’m not singing or thinking through songs that I’m currently working on,” exclaims Devon. “Being with you is like sitting up straight, I just can’t do it, sometimes,” I’m so tired of making the same mistakes of ambushing through it, with a smile…. this is some of the first verse from her recent EP, Sitting Up Straight. “I like to think of my music as alt-pop. It has the melodies and the beats of poppy bops, but I aim to keep my lyrics pretty transparent, more in line with alternative / singersongwriter style.” When Devon writes a song, she typically begins her process with the stripped back acoustic tune. Then she starts creating a track to express her sentiments of the lyrics. This flow helps her pull the song together. Devon continues to explain that, “It’s exciting to be able to build more elaborate musical worlds in which my ideas can exist, but I often end up coming back to the acoustic versions of my songs because I’m a singer-songwriter at heart. I actually released the piano version of Photo inset by Kiley Schlappich


“Careful” last year because I wanted to share the original expression of the bop and let listeners into my creative process a little bit more.” Watch “Careful (Piano Version)"

Devon prepares herself mentally and physically before each performance with yoga, meditation, and vocal warmups, so that her body and mind can handle the gig and allow her spirit to have fun and be focused on the vibe. “The most important aspect of a live show for me is the energy,” she says.

Do you ever get the jitters before you go up on stage? If so, how do you deal with it? Of course! If I have too much free time before a show, I start to overthink the performance. I deal with jitters by surrounding myself with friends before I go on stage and keeping my mind focused on the smiling faces around me.

Devon told me about one of her special experiences that happened a year ago. She was invited to support The Warning at Mercury Lounge in New


York City. They had two sold-out nights back-toback. “It was surreal to be performing in one of my favorite venues, supporting one of my favorite bands, surrounded by my friends and family. It was also awesome to be a part of a concert totally fueled by girl power!” replied Devon. This extraordinary young musician has landed her music in several tv shows in the USA and is currently working on her new bubbly Indie-pop EP Helium, which will be released this summer! She loves collaborating with other artists and being part of their special journeys. Writing and producing with other talents has opened up her artistry expression, creative techniques and alternate perspectives. Is there anything you would like to change about the music business, and do you feel that the internet has impacted this Industry?

has required people to expand their reach via the internet and get connected to people they never would have considered reaching out to because of the distance! I am blown away by the amount of global collaboration I’ve experienced and witnessed this year due to everyone’s newfound willingness to create in virtual rooms. If any young women would like to follow in your footsteps, what words of advice would you like to share with the IMTAC Magazine readers? The music industry is an incredible community of creative and motivated people, and I find the network of women within the music industry to be especially inspiring. I think my favorite piece of advice that I’ve received is to celebrate the successes of your peers because we’re all on the same team. We’re all on the side of creating and sharing great art, so above all, keep creating art that you love and keep sharing it! And let us know if there’s anything I can do to help – we gotchu girl! What words best describe your personality style? Buoyant & Effervescent Do you have a certain dress style that you have created as a performer and a brand? I tend to dress like I’m going to a concert because in one way or another, I always am. |

Photo by Brianna Bo


During this unprecedented time in the music industry, it has been tricky for artists to share and promote their projects because everyone’s been stuck at home – but being at home has led to an awesome change in the industry, in my opinion. It

Copyright © 2021. IMTAC Magazine. All rights reserved.



LOSE WEIGHT asily by Junette Gonzales



have always been fat. Since I was a small kid, I remember being called “chubby”, although my mom would always point out back then that it was cute. But not long after, my friends started calling me names too. I remember the days when my older brothers invented the term “Kalabakoy” /kala-bak-oy/, a portmanteau of kalabaw, baka and baboy (or water buffalo, a cow and a pig respectively). Imagine being compared to big farm animals! I told myself they didn’t mean to insult or hurt me, and presented a façade of nonchalance. I laughed it off and told them I was glad to not be compared to a hippo or elephant.

Although it did not hurt me at the time, those words eventually made me rethink how I viewed myself. I was no longer a child who


looked cute with chubby-cheeks and double-chin. Deep inside, I knew that I wanted to lose weight so I would look more “beautiful”. My social environment seemed to agree on that thought. It also didn’t help that my heartthrob seatmate in school was an athlete who started courting skinny girls. The popular ones were always the good-looking students who were given flowers and gifts at proms and school events. Those were the days when school became a hardship. I convinced myself that I was not attractive or beautiful, and not just because of my size. I was chubby, dark and pimple-faced, living in a society that constantly reinforced the concept of beauty as being slim, fair and smooth. My self-esteem took a nose dive. Even my curly hair became an issue when hair-straightening started trending! I


constantly compared myself with others, even my closest friends. They were given attention for both being pretty and intelligent. Never mind that I once had the highest grades in class.

lost my mental agility and focus. My grades dropped. So I stopped that diet, and flipped to the other extreme, regaining more than my original weight.

The moment I began to feel insecure of myself… was the beginning of a problem. I thought that being skinny would make me more socially acceptable. I tried all sorts of diets and regimens for quick weight loss. Our school nutritionist recommended a dietary plan, but I became impatient with its results. I jumped into a drastic low-calorie diet with a high-intensity work-out… without understanding and preparing my body. This diet left my body with almost nothing to burn. The extreme workouts and absence of calories left me with, well, no energy to survive the week. I lost some pounds fast, but I also

After that experiment, someone else recommended a crash diet of only soup with small chunks of meat, potatoes, beans, carrots, and celery. Apparently, it was nutritionally balanced and would not starve me. I asked my sister to cook a week’s supply and to place them in small containers. I tried the soup for two days but barely survived because of its awful taste. I decided to stop because I felt nauseated just by the smell. I’ve had an aversion to celery since then. Eventually, I tried a fasting regimen that

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allowed as much nutritious meals in specific schedules. I complemented this with appropriate workouts. After a week, I lost several pounds. I felt lighter, so happy and proud of myself, that I decided to continue for a few more weeks. One day, I attended a family gathering with relatives I had not seen for quite some time. Then some random cousin candidly approached me and said, “How are you? You look fat.” Huh?! The heck? I was at a loss for words. Though it was a common “greeting” in my culture (which is very insulting by the way), I never thought it would hurt me so much. Especially when I’d thought my diet and exercise had finally paid off. I could have argued that I had actually lost several pounds already, but I knew it wouldn’t really matter. I still looked awful. With great self-pity, I headed straight to the buffet and devoured as much comfort food as I could. I became heavier than ever before. I learned two things from this “weight loss journey”: First, losing weight was so hard because I was insecure about myself.


I was unhappy. I had a negative self-perception and constantly compared myself with others. I believed that I was not beautiful enough to be given positive attention. Losing weight was fueled by such insecurity that it killed me whenever someone would comment about my weight. I became obsessed with how people saw me, or more accurately, how I thought they saw me. Sometimes, I felt that the only way they would accept me was if I became slimmer and prettier. In turn, I loathed myself and felt disgusted every time I looked in the mirror. Even if I knew my body had improved, I was still unhappy. I needed to step back to see the root of my insecurities. I realized that it was because I, too, conformed to the same arrogant and biased notion of beauty ingrained in us for generations. I needed to unlearn that being fat, short, dark and pimplefaced was


unattractive. It wasn’t easy. It came with a long, difficult and continuous process of self-talk: I had to tell myself that I was beautiful and worthy of love regardless of my physical characteristics. That I was much, much more valuable than what met the eye. I had to constantly talk myself out of my own discriminatory views so I could free others as well. As they say, “the best weight that you will ever lose is the weight of other people’s opinions”. Second, losing weight was so hard because I made it too hard for me. Drastic measures and crash diets did not work because it deprived my body of the food necessary to function well. It also made my cravings worse, making it harder for me to be consistent. These inconsistencies made me assume that I lacked motivation, self-discipline and willpower so I ended up stress-eating and the cycle of weight gain continued. To break this, I had to accept that, contrary to what many people believe, weight loss is not just about will-power and self-discipline. There are many other factors to be considered, such as physiological or genetic makeup. Whenever I look

I had to accept that, contrary to what many people believe, weight loss is not just about will-power and self-discipline. at friends’ posts in social media on their weight loss journey especially during this pandemic, I reminded myself that our bodies are different. Our hormones are different. I might have a slower metabolism. Or their bone structure might be much smaller than mine. Similarly, mental health also plays an important role. Some find it more difficult to motivate themselves because they’re fighting other battles such as anxiety or depression. Some may even find doing physical activities embarrassing in front of people. Acknowledging these differences will stop us from beating ourselves up too much. Especially during this pandemic, which has made things worse for everyone — physically, mentally and emotionally. So, how then, does one lose weight easily? My answer is an unpopular


opinion on weight loss (and I might get flak for this!): Go easy on yourself. You are not unbeautiful; you are not unattractive; you are not unworthy of friendships and relationships, regardless of those who say otherwise. Simply focus on improving your health. Don’t be too harsh on yourself through your workout and diet because it might only worsen your physical, mental and emotional health. Going easy on yourself does not mean you do not set goals. Identify realistic health goals that are aligned with the needs of your body. Again, improving your health should be your primary focus. If you’re a food junkie, start by lowering food portions and intake. Drink lots of water!

Consciously remove junk food from your pantry to avoid temptation. When you crave for something sweet, choose healthier options like fruits. Did I say drink water? Be quick to move on after cheat days. If you have the chance, ask your doctor for a dietary plan that suits your body. For physical activities, find creative and flexible ways to improve your health, ensuring that you still do the things that you love doing. Remember, there’s no need to wait for a specific time to exercise, instead consider adding more movement in your daily activities. For example, I love watching movies on Netflix, so while lying down in bed I try to do some leg or arm raises. I also do crazy stuff like jogging inside the house or

dancing when I am taking a shower or washing dishes. I also sometimes set exercise targets that are easy to meet and surpass. In that way, exercising becomes happy and rewarding. No, I am still far from my ideal weight. I have only gone from 195 to 175 pounds since last year during this pandemic lockdown, but I have managed to keep them off. I also feel better physically, mentally and emotionally. I still try to improve my health every day, and I think that’s what really matters. | An educator, researcher, and life-long learner, Junette Gonzales, keeps busy with writing and caring for her plants (and worms!) while surviving this pandemic. Follow her on IG: @junettwork

My answer is an unpopular opinion on weight loss: Go easy on yourself. Copyright © 2021. IMTAC Magazine. All rights reserved.



REUSE IT! by Kimberley Kleczka




he fashion industry has taken a big hit in the wake of the recent pandemic: independent brands are shutting their doors and other large retailers are filing for bankruptcy. Yet amid these tough times, a treasure keeps rising to the top. Consignment stores are now a multi-billiondollar business, from used clothing, shoes, handbags, jewellery, vintage goodies, furniture, antiques, clothing rentals as well as online charity shops. Everyone is searching for that reasonably priced piece of clothing or rare find among an easily accessible range of styles and different brands. Fashionistas are now using their creative approach towards shopping consignment.

Greene Street is one of those special gems this happening business has been around for 26 years. Greene Street currently has 8 locations, some are town retail and others are shopping centers in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. One can find many different brands and highend labels in these fabulous consignment boutiques. The owner, Lynne Mastrilli is a leggings, tee, and sneaks kinda gal with a big heart. She loves making people happy and helping them find wonderful treasures in her stores for great prices. The beginning of Lynne’s story started with her family. Her parents and sister had a passion for yard sales, and they

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decided to turn it into a business. They opened up a store in the early 90’s with no retail experience, and named it Renaissance Consignment. “So basically-they went to yard sales and unloaded their treasures into the store-as well as consigning clothes. In a way my parents were real pioneers in the whole recycling and repurposing way of thinking. Many of our family members were sort of scratching their heads, but my dad and mom really believed in it and they were very successful in that location.” Lynne helped them out for a while but decided to continue on with her own journey and moved to New York. She had various pushcarts, selling all sorts of merchandise Purchase clothes from tie dye that matter. clothing to Mexican blankets. When Lynne and her partner Mark began manufacturing women’s clothing, they went from pushcarts to mall stores. Sadly, Lynne’s parents passed away and she had to return home to take care of the details surrounding the estate. “I looked at their business model and thought wow… this really was a great idea. Of course, my vision was to execute it in a very different way-but the roots of their dream remain in mine.” I asked Lynne to do a quick commercial about her business, “That is easy! There are so many reasons to shop at Greene Street. You can make money from your gently used clothing as well as find treasures


at a fraction of the price of mainstream retail, in a surprisingly lovely setting for second hand or any store. All of this while not negatively impacting the planet-which now sadly, should be paramount in the minds of everyone in the world.” Greene Street is promoted on social media and word of mouth. They find it difficult to navigate the everchanging media-radio, tv and streaming services. “We do not have the analytics to determine exactly what our customer base does and for me privacy of course is an issue. So, we really do rely on trying to do the best job that we can from top to bottom and hope that it resonates with our customers,” says Mastrilli.

Very simply, the public brings us their gently used on trend clothing. We price it and put it onto the sales floor. Computer software tracks the sales of the items-and at the end of the term (45 days) the customer is paid a commission based on the selling cost. If we want to reach out to you with some of our clothes, how does that process work?

“It is quite easy but with the pandemic, we do now require an appointment to consign. Really it is all done though our website - GreeneStreet. com.”

Lynne learnt a lot of lessons Sustainability is very about the retail industry, she important to Lynne; she believes that you must be believes that a peaceful extremely flexible and not and harmonious world give up, even if you make mistakes, as they have made occupied by kind people as well as balance to nature is many costly miscalculations what brings true happiness. in the past. “I always say “We are destroying our if you can run a multi store planet with endless consignment chain you can consumption-with the goal do almost anything. There are just so many facets of it - of trying to gain happiness from things. Things do from HR, to retail, to design, not make us happy, so to repairs, to stock, to management. It is quite the ride!” basically - sustainability is everything and really the Lynne, how do consignment stores work? only thing for the future.”



Save our planet, stay Greene.

People have to stop buying these things and then they will stop being produced.

Lynne, is there still a future for fast fashion brands? I think in America we have the luxury at this moment in time, to choose and choose wisely and be mindful of the sourcing of all goods that we purchase. But in some places, that is more difficult, so I think that the trend is beginning for sure. But it might be a while. As with everything, the demand dictates the supply. People have to stop buying these things and then they will stop being produced. Slow fashion, buy secondhand.

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Start making a difference with sustainable styles.

Have you seen any significant changes in the clothing industry?

Do you have any words of wisdom that you would give to a new shop owner?

As I stated earlier about the early days with my parent’s business; many people were, for lack of a better phrase, grossed out by used clothing. That stigma seems to have passed and now used items have become very mainstream and huge in some cases.

I would always say to go for it! No one can really prepare you for anything, either you are the type that takes a shot or not. If that is your desire by all means, go for it, but choose great people who are grounded to be part of your team, and be prepared to be very flexible. Do not fix on something, ride with the changes and adapt as needed.

Lynne, what are your long-term goals with your consignment stores, Greene Street? This is tricky as I used to set very definitive goals as I know that is the proper way of doing business. But now I am in more of a flow state with the company. At the end of the day, we are still trying to do our very best in every facet of the business and once we feel stable, then, and only then, do we consider growth. So, I do not go as fast as I once did. I like to consider the course. So, we may have 8 stores and we may have 8000. Check back!


Lynne, how do we find out about your stores? Are you on social media? Yes, our website and on Instagram @shopgreenestreet. |






Photo by Jon Aldersea

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Photo by Chloe Ackers


orthern Soul. Unless you’re from the UK, you‘ve probably never heard of it. Yet it has been a feature of Britain’s popular culture for 50 years, peaking in the mid 70s.

With strong working class roots, the scene emerged in 1972 in the North of England, giving the movement its name. Youth would travel from all over the country to attend all-nighters in local halls such as the Wigan Casino, creating an unprecedented subculture dedicated to spectacular dancing to (and collecting) obscure 60s soul records. Fast forward to 2021, and a new generation has rediscovered its parents’ best kept secret: let us introduce you to “Northern Soul in the garden”, a Youtube channel of skits and dance clips featuring two young English girls from Stoke-on-Trent. They are Sally and Poppy (aka Sal and Pops), whose fun approach and energy has earned


them a loyal following on social media. Now at 25, the girls have released a few singles covering unknown Northern Soul and ska songs. They are focusing on where they want to go musically as they leverage their popularity on social media, hoping to write their own material in the future. We caught up with the dancing duo to check whether the world was ready for their Northern Girl antics! How long have you been performing as singers and did it come before or after the Youtube videos?

Sal: In 2017 we got into this music and went to our first all-nighter, and in 2018, we decided to do our first video, but we always wanted to sing and have a band, we just didn’t know any musicians. We thought “how can we catch people’s attention?” So we did our first video...and by the end of the year, we got a following online. We met up with some musicians and started to gig in 2019.


You recently rebranded yourself, from Passion and the Veins to Sal and Pops, what happened?

Pops: During the lockdown, we didn’t meet with the band as much, but when we met again, we had some creative differences. We decided to go forward as a performing duo and to collaborate with musicians instead. With our new singles, it was The Northern Soul Orchestra from Sweden who approached us. With us as a duo, people know what they are going to get. S: It’s more personal with our names, when our Youtube views rocketed, it gave us more self-belief. Previously, as with our (former) musicians, we believed being part of the band was all we could ever do. Then we thought, "hang on a minute! We are independent women, we can do whatever we want!” I was impressed by how well you could both sing! What are the probabilities of 2 best friends being able to dance, sing, and have such chemistry as well?

P: It’s strange, isn’t it? We are so similar in what we do, yet we really inspire each other, know each other inside out, and together, we are so much more powerful. How would you describe

Northern Soul, and what does it mean to you?

S: I would say it’s raw, it’s real, it’s underground, original and genuine music that really speaks to your soul. And it’s class as well! There’s so much rubbish music out there nowadays, but soul music just cuts through the bull-crap. What do you do when you’re not performing? Do you have “real” jobs?

P: Yeah, I work in a lovely little cafe in the countryside and Sal waitresses somewhere else, but we both want to make this a full time occupation... It’s hard, but we’ll get there! As performers, do you see your style of traditional and raw music as a challenge to break into the music industry? How much would you be willing to compromise to make it a success?

S: We are very down-toearth people, Northern Soul really helped us through hard times so we can’t just let it go, it is inside us. But it cannot be faked, it is a real emotion because it comes from...the soul. Going back to the music of today, it is all part of a brainwashing culture, leading a generation astray, but there

is an awakening now from our generation who can see through this and want to find alternative new music! It’s so inspiring to us and we are tapping into that. P: And being 25, we‘ve had time to figure out who we are, we are strong women! As with the band, we were able to say this is not for us, we are not going to be taken as fools, or be swayed in any particular direction. Being two of us really helps. You are always bubbly and full of positive energy in your videos, but do you have a dark side?

P: Hahaha, many sides! As women, we go through so many emotions, but I feel positive most of the time, but if I’m not keeping myself busy, then that’s when I start thinking too much. We both went through lockdown, not being able to get together and express

Photo by Jon Aldersea

Copyright © 2021. IMTAC Magazine. All rights reserved.


ourselves, periods when we haven’t felt our best, but we have come out the other end with many good things happening to us. How do you select your material, what’s the process?

S: When we first started listening to this music, it was non-stop, we went to all-nighters and discovered a lot of rare records there. We chose tracks later, based on the theme of our clips. As for our singing material, we never thought about the vocal range and it would sometimes come as a shock when trying to sing it! So we started to put our own spin on it because we are not African American soul singers from the 60s, we can’t copy that! We are lucky we dedicated our younger days to training so we can be the performers we are today and pay homage to those songs and the original artists. Any advice to young performers or girls wanting to start their own youtube channel?

P: Just be yourself! And don’t worry about what other people think! The way we perform in the garden, it’s just all out there, we’re not bothered about how we look, we just want to express ourselves. When you’re young, you may not feel confident, but as long as it makes you feel good, do it! S: Take inspiration from things around you but rip it apart to adapt to yourself, authenticity is when you get inspiration from others but you don’t need to copy, so look inwards, you’ll find all the answers. I assume you get unpleasant comments at times. What are your typical haters like, any Sexism?

S: There’s a particular small group of old timers we call the soul police who believe this culture belongs to them, who take Photos by Chloe Ackers



try my in love aga offense that 2 young females from the 21st century, who don’t buy vinyl, dare to plaster it all over online, but it just fuels our fire. P: mentioned sexism and we get such comments and they just make us laugh. We’re lucky we are not in our teens, as the things they say would probably really affect us, but at this stage, we genuinely don’t care, we also get comments from older males like “get back to the kitchen” (laughing). S: Many viewers comment about our bodies, people going on about our thighs, but we love that, it makes us laugh! P: I love my thighs!!! S: Also with my years of training, I’ve been brought up from a very young age to being somewhat ripped apart. When you perform, you put in a lot of hard work, yet you are constantly being told that’s not good enough, and how to do it better, and THAT, without you knowing it, helps you grow a thick skin. So I feel my experience has made me bulletproof. P: And you rebel against that as well. I didn’t get into the dancing until I went to college, unlike Sally... S: ... but you did gymnastics! P: Yes, for about 10 years and that was great, although it was very competitive.

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What if But when I started dancing, I didn’t like to be told how to dance. I felt really boxed in; it’s very regimented. But yet again that is why Sal and I gelled, because both of us were feeling that way.

Sal and Pops are exactly what Northern Soul needs, bringing soul back into the 21st century to give hope to those disheartened by the current lack of substance in mainstream music. The pandemic has made many turn to positive social media content, benefiting those offering uplifting entertainment “This music is timeless.” they conclude. “Back in the day, this is how it started. Escapism, letting your hair down after a long week of work, and releasing all that energy. And that’s why it’s still relevant today. |

Sal & Pop's

5 Songs to introduce you

to Northern Soul!


Follow Sal & Pops on social media!




rowing up, I struggled with answering one question, “Who am I?” I was confused with the socially constructed messages I was taught from a young age, and from the nonexistent LGBTQIA+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Questioning, Intersex, Asexual, and all other spectrums of sexuality and gender) diversity around me. Being gay wasn’t celebrated, and not fitting into the male-female binary made me feel really confused about who I was and where I belonged. I suppressed my feelings for years because of the societal expectations that were forced upon me; constantly reminded that I wasn’t feminine enough or that my “other half” was expected to be a (cis*) male. These gender stereotypes made me feel ashamed of who I knew I was deep inside, but I had yet to discover the language associated with how I felt. I didn’t get a grasp of who I was and how I identified until my early 20’s. Something I struggled with the most were the assumptions people made about me once I came out, blaming my sexuality on a passing phase of experimentation, rebellion, or trickery. Let’s just say that my coming out story is one of the hardest things I’ve endured, and continue to experience, and it has torn me up inside for years. *Cis, or cisgender, is a term used when one’s gender identity and expression align with their biological sex they were assigned at birth (i.e., male or female).



matter what your story is,

gender cannot be defined

we have all been there

within the margins of the

at one point or another,

gender binary and I am

feeling out of place in

free to express how I

society. Our gender and

feel inside and out.

sexuality do not fit into one box. We may first come out and identify as a lesbian or bisexual and then find out along the way that our sexuality is more fluid than we thought. We Everyone has their own

continue to grow and evolve

coming out story. We are all

and sometimes we need to

unique and all have different

step outside of these labels

experiences forming our

and just live and experience

identity. Some people know

it all to fully understand our internal self, where we

"We are all stronger than we know, but we do not always have to be strong by ourselves. There are people around us that love us, support us, and protect us" they are queer from a young age, while others don’t know until they are much older. Some are out and proud as soon as they know, while others take their time coming out. No

belong, and how we identify.

My own sexuality and gender dysphoria has made me laugh and cry. It has made me feel sad, happy, confused, anxious and angry, all at the same time. It has broken me down, but it has also built me back up. It took me years to come to terms with how I felt, to truly feel proud of who I was and to allow myself to break free from the societal constructs that made me feel as if I had something wrong with me. We are all stronger than we know, but we do not always have to

Your gender can be expressed

be strong by ourselves. There

in several ways. Instead of

are people around us that love

listening to ideas of masculinity

us, support us, and protect

and femininity and the

us from the dark thoughts

stereotypes that have shaped

we conjure up in our heads

the way your body is seen

and the societal rejection

within society, you can play

we continue to go through.

off these binary constructs of gender and use them to experience your internal sense of self through clothing, behavior, and the pronouns that you use. I identify as nonbinary and with that I prefer using they/them pronouns, not shaving my body hair, and

We all come out in our own way, in our own time. Having those conversations with your friends and family are an important step in your journey of love

experimenting with masculine and feminine clothing in a way that makes me feel comfortable in my own body. My

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and acceptance. We need those support systems to lift us up and to help us remember that we are loved, no matter how we identify or feel. Speaking from my own experience as a queer non-binary human being, I wish I was met with patience, support, and no judgement. I have a message for friends and family of loved ones struggling with their sexuality or gender, who really want to help: Be patient. Never force anyone to come out before they are ready. Even if you know they may be gay, bisexual, pansexual, non-binary, or trans, it is not your place to push them to come out when they are not ready. Be supportive. Your friend needs your support. Let them know that nothing has changed, and you are still there for them no matter what. The LGBTQIA+ community fears rejection and has already dealt with so much; all your friend wants is to not be rejected by their friends and family. No Judgement. Your friend is courageous for coming out and if you happen to have opposing views, now is not the time. You will have time to discuss those matters when your friend is ready. Right now, they need a safe space to be themselves without being judged for who they are. And here’s my message for people like me, who are struggling with their sexuality and gender and may be battling with their gender dysphoria to this day: • We all have our own stories, and our stories are constantly changing and evolving along with the experiences we share with the world around us. • Don’t stop working on yourself and your own existence in a world that still finds it hard to fully understand who you are and what you continue to go through. I have not. • Remember to not be so hard on yourself; remember to love yourself, every inch of you. • You are not alone. We have all been where you are now and there are so many others that are going through the same thing. You will never be alone. I am here for you; the entire LGBTQIA+ community is here for you, your friends are here for you, and your chosen family is here for you. You are brave, you are fierce, and you are unique. |



Photo by Shlomi Platzman on Unsplash

Whole Wide World Mindy Gledhill and Stuart Brawley I'm gonna walk a hundred miles I'm gonna whistle all the while If that's what it takes to make me smile I'm gonna walk a hundred miles I'm gonna run right up this hill Summer sky or winter chill If I gotta take a break I will But I'm gonna run right up this hill I wanna hold the whole wide world Right here in my open hands Maybe I'm just a little girl A little girl with great big plans I'm gonna go and take a chance I'm gonna learn to ballet dance Learn a little something 'bout romance I'm gonna go and take a chance I'm gonna live a crazy dream Impossible as it may seem Doesn't matter what the future brings I'm gonna live a crazy dream You tell me, "don't try it" I'm warning you that I won't buy it All failure is fleeting I trust it always has its meaning


itting in the park, I was listening to my 2014 Spotify playlist, when the song Whole Wide World (see lyrics above) brought back all the memories of my early 20s. I’d always felt unsettled in my 20s and couldn’t seem to find anyone who truly understood me. People told me that was the sad truth of adult life, that I’d get used to it, and that I’d be fine.




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But I wondered if I’d ever really get used to it. I truly believed there must be other ways to live life – a happier, more meaningful way! With 195 counties, 7 billion people, and gazillion perspectives in the world, shouldn’t we be able to find someone like us, someone who didn’t want to settle for sadness and frustration, brainwashed into believing our fate was set, and that it was going to be miserable…? It took me years to find my tribe – after meeting thousands of people from different backgrounds and generations. My very first “explore myself project” didn’t happen the way I thought it might (meditating in the Amazon jungle to find my path!). Instead, it was through connecting to people outside of my family and friends. I found that I was not alone – a lot of people I spoke to were indeed, just like me, and they were traveling, living in other countries, trying out different jobs and giving themselves plenty of space to explore, express, and connect to the world in their own way.

Nothing is set in stone, nothing! The worst thing that can happen to you is not failure, but knowing that you have other options that align with your values and that you could live a happier life, but choosing not to take those options. Your reasons may be selfdoubt, family expectations, insecurity… you’d know them far better than anyone, but they

"I truly believed there must be other ways to live life – a happier, more meaningful way!"

are limiting you from personal fulfilment. I would like to share with you my own belief framework which has supported me through the biggest leap of faith in my life. From quitting my job within finance, moving from Hong Kong to London, setting up my own company, to writing my very first book. It has helped me channel my fear into a spirit of adventure and planning. Prioritize Your Value and Purpose The “Minimum Viable Life” (MVL) concept changed how I made decisions. How much

Photo by Sandra Seitamaa on Unsplash



Photo by Jukan Tateisi on Unsplash

money do you need to live your best life? Once you figure that out, you realise that the balance is luxury and value-added features in your life. Understanding this immediately frees up head space to take on adventure and make better decisions that truly speak to your heart, instead of clinging onto your “miserable success”.

The value pie chart is a very useful tool for prioritizing what is important in your life.



Money and physical health

Meaning of life


Big house





Fancy job title


Doing what I love

People understand me





Time to myself


What I Thought My Happiness Would Look Like

Allow Yourself to Explore “Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost” J.R.R. TOLKIEN

When you start getting some clues on what life you would like live and what brings joy and meaning to you, make an effort to dive deeper and explore your options by experiencing it – it can be through world travelling, speaking to people who are living/lived the life you would like to live or volunteering.

Copyright © 2021. IMTAC Magazine. All rights reserved.

What I Happiness Actually Looks Like To Me Now

Walk the Extra Mile Once you pin down one or two paths to take, make plans, and work hard to pursue them. In Maye Musk’s book “A Woman Makes a Plan”, she admits that she was never the smartest person around, but that she was always conscious about what made her happy, and then made plans to do it. For me, the best thing I have going for me isn’t a bright career or material possessions; it’s my curiosity, growth mind-set and openness to opportunities.


Ready to Begin Again If you’d like to live your life to the fullest, it would be very useful for you to have the “Ready to Begin Again” mind-set. With curiosity, resiliency, and hard work, you will be ready to begin again and take a leap of faith anytime, anywhere.

ur se yo o e rp iz u ri t p io nd Pr e a lu va

, ng rni r e lea h e e ginn t ,b k in S in e ng t h d s e t str min

e Take th f leap o faith

A yo l l o w ur ex s e l f t plo o re

Walk th e

ex tra m


I created a “Women Taking a Leap of Faith” campaign for International Woman’s day which was on March 9th, 2021. Nine inspirational women shared their stories of taking the biggest leap of faith in their life – moving countries, writing a book, becoming an entrepreneur, etc. |

Follow my Instagram to get more inspiration @hellobeautifulminds Remember, life is short, always choose happiness! Latitia Kung | Head of Strategic Partnerships / Certified Purposeful Business and Career Coach


Photo by Artem Maltsev on Unsplash



flies through

THE PANDEMIC by Loulou Von Spiel

Photo by @oliviakapitanyphotography


ovid-19 has been hard on performers. With large gatherings banned, venues closed, and travel impossible, it has proven extremely challenging for those in the entertainment industry to survive. Yet, it’s also provided opportunities to adapt and expand creativity, to build and deploy existing skills into new avenues and markets. Such a Covid-19 story has been shaping the last 12 months of the life of Florencia Listello (Flor), a young female acrobat. Born in Argentina 26 years ago to a gymnast mother, acrobatics came as naturally as walking to Flor, as she was doing gymnastics from the age of three and touring for competitions all over South America from early childhood. When Flor was 17, her father suggested she take a job in a local circus. Once she experienced hanging in mid-air there was no turning back! She quickly enrolled in a National Circus School in Rio De Janeiro in Brazil, where she enhanced her acrobatic skills with not

Copyright © 2021. IMTAC Magazine. All rights reserved.


only trapeze flying, but also theatre acting, something which captivated her. She was one of the few nonlocal students, and exams would take the shape of self-choreographed group presentations. Flor revelled in every new addition to her set of skills. But while she was perfecting her art, she was also thinking ahead, and had sent her videos to the prestigious House of Dancing Water show in Macau, which happened to be looking for a “Flyer”. Aerial work was a speciality of Flor’s, so she leapt at the chance to perform in this acclaimed show, thrilled to mingle with international acrobats and artists. However, as we know, things were to take an unexpected turn for the world when Covid-19 hit; Countries were locked down and the borders were closed between Hong Kong and Macau. Flor has been stranded in Hong Kong after visiting a friend a year ago. Unable to return to Macau, Flor, as a niche performing artist was hit on many levels: unable to perform in the show, unpaid, and miles away from family or other support, things were looking bleak. But, ever the

survivor, Flor’s resilience and love of performing enabled her to come up with an alternative, rather than put her life on hold. With a male partner, she took to the streets of Hong Kong for a daily dose of acrobatics as a means to survive the pandemic. Team work is an essential part of acrobatics, and the right person to pair up with is paramount to a successful performance. With the city as her stage, the petite Flor had no problem finding a new audience to delight, keeping herself busy until being able to return to formal performing. Her favourite haunts were Stanley and Sai Kung, whose seafront locations are a magnet for local tourism, as well as the more popular area of Mong Kok, well known for its street performers. Keeping in shape is

Photo by Talya Neser


essential for her work, but with daily performing opportunities, her training became less rigorous during that time. Yet Flor was still training everyday with targeted muscle building and agility workouts, and she has been following a mainly plant based diet for several years. After a while, she started teaching circus acrobatics to people and kids on the picturesque Lamma Island, where she lives, but soon enough, caught the interest of a studio called Trybe, who has been sponsoring her to remain in Hong Kong. There, she has been training adventurous customers and to all her students, Flor recommends building confidence as a major quality to nurture, as important as perseverance and hard work. She explains how the best

Make up by Kalam Chu @kalamakeup


Make up by Nikki Wright @nikkis_makeupdesign Photo by Tom Fairchild

"most of all, she relishes the audience’s reaction..."

Photo by @oliviakapitanyphotography

part of her job is doing what she loves, the feeling she gets flying in the air, bending her slight frame into impossible postures; but most of all, she relishes the audience’s reaction as they gape in awe, dazzled, yet holding their breaths for the acrobats’ safety. She speaks positively about the lack of discrimination towards women acrobats, and insists that respect is shown in equal measure by the public. For now, Flor hopes to develop even further as an artist, as part of a contemporary company, creating new acts and performing for as long as her body allows. Her childhood dream of travelling the world doing what she loves may be halted for now, but Flor‘s passion certainly shows no sign of waning. Sharing her love of the profession is her raison d’etre, and maybe one day, she will open her own training school, to make sure the art of the circus may never be forgotten. | Follow Flor on social media! @florlistello


Check out her Youtube channel!

with acrobatics partner Carlos Calvo in hand to hand act

Copyright © 2021. IMTAC Magazine. All rights reserved.


Dear Ceci My best friend and I fell for the same guy. I treasure my friendship very much but I like the guy a lot too, I am afraid this will affect how I get along with my best friend. What should I do?

may be a good chance to verify the strength of your friendship. If it is a relationship that both of you treasure, it will not be rotten just because you fell for the same guy, it may even get stronger

Dear Torn between Friend and Love


I Don’t See My Future

Dear I Don’t See My Future

Torn between Friend and Love

It may feel awkward in the beginning to know that you both fell for the same guy, but it would be a good start if both of you can open your hearts to talk about your feelings. Honesty and openness will be a good foundation to see the situation clearly and propose a solution wisely. Concerning the guy, it is important to remember he is a unique individual who deserves respect. While he may end up with either or neither one of you, he should not be treated as a prize to be won. With respect to your best friend, challenges occur in all relationships and this situation

future. To be frank, if I don’t know what will happen to me tomorrow, how can I be certain about what I will become 10 years from now? Please tell me how I can get rid of this feeling.

because you understand each other more when dealing with the mutual crush. Be open, communicative and honest with your friend and the guy at all times. I am sure you will work it out together. Ceci

Dear Ceci I feel very stressed because everyone around me asks what I want to be in the

I understand the stress you are going through when you are surrounded by questions about how you are doing. It may be a good start to know people mean no harm even if they seem to be putting stress upon you. To avoid them probing into your lives, keep smiling when they are talking to you and interrupt them politely by offering them food or drinks. Remember, you are not entitled to answer all their questions directly, try switching to other relevant topics to continue the conversation whenever


it is a stumbling block that prevents me from moving on and I really want to join the competition. What can I do? Freaked Out

Dear Freaked Out necessary. If they ask specifically about you in a certain area, you could associate it with how the area is progressing in the world at the moment. If you have friends who may offer a helping hand, ask them to join the conversation to divert the topic. Furthermore, I am on your side when you say we cannot be certain about what we will become in the future. Try to explore as much as possible before you set your goals. Take your time, feel with your heart and ask for advice before you make a decision. Ceci

Dear Ceci I want to join an international music competition, but I am so afraid that I would embarrass myself like I did before. I know

It is not easy to overcome the feelings of embarrassment because we tend to recall them again and again. However, even the best musicians in the world play the wrong chords at times, they have also gone through a long path with ups and downs to become who they are today. To move on to the next page of your music career, think of toddlers who fall and rise a thousand times before they can walk properly. As we get older, let us not forget we were once tough toddlers with perseverance and determination too. Return to the pure child within you and you will find the strength to move on. I wish you all the best in the competition. Ceci

Copyright © 2021. IMTAC Magazine. All rights reserved.

Do you have questions that you’re too embarrassed to ask? Is there a topic or story that you want to share but find it awkward to talk to others about? Ceci is here to discuss and try to answer all your questions about life, friendship, family, relationships, and growing up. She is the big sister that you can always ask questions to!

Cecilia Ao is a lifelong learner who enjoys exploring life through the lens of Psychology, History and Philosophy. She welcomes the silence of a starry night to write in her journal. She is always ready to listen, share stories, and offer her wise counsel to all comers! |


Gary the Duck never had the best luck, when searching for friends of his own.

Gary The Duck Poem by Judy British, 14 years old

He felt it was that, when the other ducks met, they were sniveling, boring and moaned. Poor Gary was happy, fun-loving and snazzy, rarely did he let out a groan. "Cheer up old chappy," said Merlin the Snappy, the turtle that shared Gary's home. "I'm your best friend, let's have fun till the end!, It matters not my appearance or tone." "Just 'cause I'm no duck, don't mean you've no luck, our relationship you should not condone." "Old buddy you're right!" said Gary in spite, of his longing to be with his own. I just want to fit in and not be alone, Laugh with friends and have fun.

the cool Goat band


and the Illustrations below by Apoorva, Indian



redefined by Kimberley Kleczka

Siyan and Pandy


uring your childhood did you ever dream of being a princess or having a magical pet that you could connect with? For many years, I had envisioned creating a series of princess characters and books. Each empowering princess had to have a career, be able to contribute to their communities and be part of the multi-cultural world we live in.

Copyright © 2021. IMTAC Magazine. All rights reserved.


Let me introduce you to Siyan, she is a gracefully phoenix princess from Asia. Siyan is a fashion designer that showcases all cultures, aesthetics and philosophies through her clothing brand, Siyenix. When you wear any of Siyan’s clothes you feel better, confident, energetic, and the clothes become part of your own personality style. Her magic clothing also helps children that are sick. Siyan has a cute little panda bear called Pandy, who never leaves her side.

Color me!


Whenever you see this notice, it means be creative!


Color me! Print this page out and use your crayons, oil pastels, watercolors or whatever art materials you may have to bring life to this wonderful artwork! Or you can even color it digitally! You can use the image on the left as a reference, or you can let your imagination run wild!

Copyright © 2021. IMTAC Magazine. All rights reserved.


Color me! Print this page out and use your crayons, oil pastels, watercolors or whatever art materials you may have to bring life to this wonderful artwork! Or you can even color it digitally! You can use the image on the left as a reference, or you can let your imagination run wild!




We are raffling off TWO Princess Colouring Books!

To join, colour-in one of the colouring pages in this issue and send it to our email at info@morethanacover. com. The best ones will get a Princess Colouring Book, and their artwork featured in the next issue! We have more prizes at stake in the next ones so stay tuned!

Copyright © 2021. IMTAC Magazine. All rights reserved.


Find your

cultures brings me Travel and being immersed in various rish architectural Moo joy. A combination of Spanish and in. Paella Spa ille, Sev styles at the royal palace of - Lizy rid. Mad in and Sangria, cooking school

nature, and of Being outside in rt hich is a big pa course music, w d love to surroun of my life. But I le and making myself with peop elf en if I make mys people laugh, ev py process! - Pop look silly in the

My joy is making a living doing the things I enjoy most with the people I enjoy most. There have never been more ways to reach people with art than in today's music industry, and it is my joyful pleasure to share my poppy bops with the world. - Devon

JOY! We asked our friends how they find their joy, and here are their answers

Like a good mor ning, a joke when I'm sad, a sincere hug, a surprise, a walk in the mountains, swimming in the sea, disc overing new places and diffe rent cultures, sharing art by pe rforming on the street or in th eaters and feeling that peop le enjoy it, share my know ledge with people who are motivated to learn them, trave l around the world, practice circus and try new things, am ong others. understanding th at the person without need is the simplest and happiest pe rson. - Flor

fts, to my loved Giving people gi w d family, but no ones, friends an r people happy also making othe t we do. It makes who enjoy wha well! - Sally me feel good as

My joy is... Hiking in the wo ods with my pups. Exploring the natura l beauty of wildlife and nature all over the wo rld. Having new adventures with my loved ones. Giving antiques a new life. Buildi ng furniture out of recycled wood #nowast e. - Kay


nd Paying bills a from ticking it off list. my monthly nd And the sou gg of grinding e shells for my s. (earth) worm - Junette


• One Ocean Team saves the Atlantic! • Who wants to be an actuary? Find out what that means! • The Sky Is Pink • Strong girls rule! • Sharp photographer refocuses her identity

...and other stories!



If you’re an aspiring writer, illustrator or artist and you want to be part of upcoming issues, let us know!

For advertising inquiries or other partnerships, send an email to

Drop us an email at info@morethanacover. com with the subject “I want to contribute!”

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