CNY Woman Online Dec/Jan Edition

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“Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.�


t is with great privilege as Co-Publisher & Editor of Central NY Woman Online Magazine for the first time to wish you all Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year! Our fearless Founder and Publisher Kelly Breuer and I have been working hard, along with all of our new and returning contributing writers to bring you yet another uplifting, and inspirational digital experience. As we head into the beginning of a new year and decade, this issue will present stories of self reflection, transformation, evolution, conquering, triumph, hope, determination through pain, tragedy, loss, setbacks heartbreaks, confusion and more. These are stories many of us, or many we may know have been through, or are going through. When we express our true selves to empower, inspire and heal, we can do and get through anything! Central NY Woman Online Magazine has somehing for everyone from the first page to the last.



On our all new December-January edition of Central NY Woman Online we have the beautiful Sharma MacDonald photographed by Denise Grant Photography and Jays Creative Images.



We are thrilled to have the beautiful Shawna MacDonald on this editions cover, encouraging, motivating and being a role model to others. Read all about her mission in our Q & A with her starting on page [14]. Speaking of value, we value all our amazing audience who take the time out to read, share and support our publication. We would love to have you join in on the action. There are many opportunities to be involved with the publication and with our upcoming events that we will be announcing come the New Year. For more information please contact Kelly Breuer at or Tammy Reese at Enjoy the experience reading the magazine and have a wonderful holiday and Happy New Year from all of us. Thank you all!



Kelly Breuer Tammy Reese Kelly Breuer Charlene Mann Ford Katrina Grady KL Brandingstoryography New York Institute of Dance & Education Austin Smallwood Michelle Dibernardo Denise Grant Photography and Jays Creative Images


Tammy Reese Christina McDonald Kierstyn Zaykoski Rebecca & Danielle Peplinski Devon McLeod Latoya Jones Whitnee Layne Natasha West “TrueJerZee” Dr. Pam Denton Michelle Dibernardo Cortney Kruegar Robin Hertz Daniel Baldwin Amanda Konitsiotis Caprice Hibbler Nina Purhenn Stacy Honey Bailey Shalonda Johnson Brandiss Pearson Amber Judge Brittany Wait Ellen Feldman Marisa Cauruna Larry Stansbury Kelly Springer Robin Dewind Sandy Arena


Kelly Breuer & Tammy Reese


Visionary Minds The Next Design

Rochester Woman ONLINE is the premier professional woman’s online publication in the greater Rochester area. Our feature articles address major topics that interest local women. Each issue includes articles on health, fashion, fitness, finance, dining, lifestyle and personal perspectives, as well as a spotlight on local area women. The electronic magazines are distributed freely through your favorite app store and will be in your inbox electronically by the first week of every month. The publication is available free of charge. Please feel free to contact publisher Kelly Breuer at 585.727.9120 or you can email us at Download our current media kit at www. The magazine is published 12 times a year by Rochester Woman ONLINE. Copyright © 2017 Rochester Woman ONLINE. No part of this magazine may be reproduced or republished without the consent of the publisher. Rochester Woman ONLINE is not responsible for unsolicited submissions, manuscripts, photos or artwork. All such submissions become the property of Rochester Woman ONLINE and will not be returned.



Tammy: Tell our readers about Sharma?

and every day.

Sharma: I am a God-fearing woman whose mission in life is to encourage and motivate others in any way that I can. Ever since I was young, I’ve been involved in helping my community through various organizations. Furthermore, I am an Actress, Filmmaker and Multimedia Journalist from Toronto, Canada of Jamaican heritage. I take these roles seriously as I believe they allow me to educate and empower people through the art of Storytelling. I currently host a segment on YES TV, Canada’s most watched family values entertainment station and I always end my segment by telling the audience to Love, Live, and Give…This is my motto in life. There is a whole world out there so take a moment to get out of your bubble and walk in someone else’s shoes.

Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey…I hope to meet them one day…I will meet them one day, speaking it into existence! They both prove that when the odds are against them, they continue to soar to higher levels and never give up. Tammy: What social issues do you think is


Having a background in Film & Television I continue to support the MeToo Movement and the need not only for women to speak up about sexual harassment and assault but also for men in the Industry to speak up when they witness their female counterparts being mistreated. Furthermore, I think we as women should continue to speak up about the necessity of equal pay in the workplace, in all industries. Tammy: What are some obstacles you have overcome to inspire others?

Tammy: Who are some women role models in your life and why? Sharma : Ooooh…My role models to begin with are the women closest to me in my life. My mother Norma first and foremost. My mom exemplifies strength to me and what it means to sacrifice for her children no matter what. I lost my dad a few years ago to an illness, so my younger sister and I witnessed her really take on the role of both parents. My mother is amazing and not to mention she has an impeccable sense of style! I also admire my aunts and this trickles down to my female cousins. I feel so blessed to come from a family where the women support one another. My sister Sabrina is my biggest supporter and I continue to learn so much from her! I definitely cannot go without mentioning my Grandmother Megan MacDonald and my late Grandmother Alice - both taught me the importance of following God each

discussing the importance of tackling early school leaving among young girls; in order to increase the enrolment of retention rates of these girls in schools. I believe investing in the development of women is vital to the advancement of society.

vital for women to speak up about today? Sharma :The fact that there are still millions of girls worldwide without an education is an issue that I care deeply about. I have the privilege of being involved with an association called Women of Impact Organization. Part of what this organization does is go into communities across the globe


Sharma : As an Actress, you have to be prepared for a lot of rejection which can affect you physically, emotionally and mentally. I’ve learned that I can only do my best in an audition but I cannot control the outcome or who Casting Directors ultimately choose for the role. Moreover, what I have done to overcome this obstacle is create my own projects despite those in the industry trying to tell me it’s too difficult. Fortunately, thanks to trusting my intuition, I am now confident in developing and acting in my own productions. Most importantly, I give opportunities to minority youth to work on set and in acting roles as they may not have ever gotten the chance. Out of one of these projects my short film was birthed and was an Official Selection at the Women’s Director International Film Festival! Another obstacle I have overcome is staying true to myself and my beliefs, especially as






“The fact that there are still millions of girls worldwide without an education is an issue that I care deeply about. I have the privilege of being involved with an association called Women of Impact Organization. Part of what this organization does is go into communities across the globe discussing the importance of tackling early school leaving among young girls; in order to increase the enrolment of retention rates of these girls in schools. I believe investing in the development of women is vital to the advancement of society.�






{ {SHIFT+CONTROL COVER STORY } } “I am a God-fearing woman whose mission in life is to encourage and motivate others in any way that I can.”

a person of faith. It is a constant battle but I know that I am on the right path when I have people reach out to me wanting a fresh perspective on a project they are working on and still genuinely want to hear what I have to say. Tammy: What are some highlights of your life & career so far? Sharma: • Being named one of the Top 150 Black Canadians by the Black Canadian Network. This was in honor of the 150th anniversary of Canada (Canada 150). • Winner of a Black Canadian Award in the category of Actor/Filmmaker/ Community Role Model • Having the first short film that I ever wrote and directed be an Official Selection at the Women’s Director International Film Festival. It was entitled No Way Out and was centered around youth in at-risk community. • Becoming Host of Urban Report, a segment on the show Let’s Talk with Woodroe Thompson on YES TV. • Having main acting roles on shows on CTV,NBC and National Geographic/ Discovery Channel • Hosting the inaugural Women’s Leadership Conference for the Women of Impact Organization Ta m m y : W h a t d o e s w o m e n empowerment mean to you? Sharma: To me, women empowerment means surrounding myself with positive women that are doing their thing and following their own path in life while

uplifting each other at the same time. It means understanding that we need to know who we are first and have our own sense of identity in order to be the best partner that we can in our relationships. Moreover, an example that sticks out for me is whenever my beautiful grandmother Megan sends me off with Jamaican newspapers when I visit her, to keep me informed on Jamaican news and enrich my journey as a Journalist. This is women empowerment, supporting one another on the journey. Tammy: What is some advice you would give women who may not know which roads to take in their life or want to do anything in your fields? Sharma: Definitely try to find a good Life Coach. He or she will help guide you in the right direction while helping you realize your gifts and passions. Don’t be afraid to try new things – sign up for different courses, go to various networking events, meet new people, that’s when you’ll learn other things that you are good at and enjoy doing and who knows where that could lead! Adding on to this, don’t think you know it all, because we don’t and that’s okay. Be your authentic self and always be prepared to learn from others. Be very careful about burning bridges as you’ll never know when you’ll need that bridge to get to the other side on your journey. Also, you never know who’s watching so always try to do your best. For instance, I have gotten television hosting opportunities due to being seen delivering a speech at a totally unrelated event! No job is too small so whatever you do put in your 100%. When I go into an audition for an

acting role, even though I may not be the best person for that particular part, because I give it my all I sometimes get called back for an even better role! If the parts are just not coming your way, don’t get discouraged instead use that time to educate and prepare yourself so that you are ready for when role of a lifetime comes! And in an industry where not a lot of lead roles are written for black women and minorities, write your own script! If you are of an Entrepreneurial mindset like myself, it is extremely important to find that balance of working to achieve your goals without compromising your health. I have experienced burnout at a point in my life and all it does is set you back. Learn to do things in moderation, you’ll make clearer decisions that way; and do not be busy for the sake of being busy but be productive. This is way easier said than done but the key is to recognize and catch yourself before getting back to that state of burnout. Yoga is a great way to center yourself. Lastly, it is so easy to want to compare ourselves to one other, I am often guilty of this but for me I remember that my God has a predestined path for me so I often pray and ask for guidance. Don’t get hung up on missed opportunities because I truly believe that if something is for you it will come back to you no matter what. Also, take note that the more that you support others, the more that blessings will come your way. Tammy: Anything you would like to tell our readers about? Sharma:Absolutely! Catch my segment Urban Report every week on Let’s Talk with Woodroe Thompson. The show





airs Sunday nights 11pm on YES TV. It’s a show that informs, entertains and uplifts the community. Also check out the show’s website for local listings and to watch episodes online.

com as we are in the crowdfunding stage and would appreciate any support! There are ways you can physically be in the film or even get a character named after you! The website gives info on how to get involved.

-I am Assistant Director on a Feature Film entitled Mary. It is a Dark Comedy that I promise will keep you on the edge of your seats! Please check out www.marythefilm.

-Women of Impact Organization continues to do great things, please follow the Facebook Page: Women of Impact Organization to keep connected to the latest campaigns.


- CHECK ME OUT ON THE FOLLOWING PLATFORMS: Website: Blog: Instagram/ Facebook / YouTube : @ sharmamacdonald



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Nina Purhenn also known as Nina P, primarily for performing and mostly due to the mispronunciation of my last name. I thought shortening my last name to the one letter made it way easier to remember and it stuck! I’m 36 years young, Raleigh born, Syracuse raised. I’m an Entrepreneur, Certified Group Fitness and Zumba Instructor, Spoken Word Poetry Artist, Licensed Practical Nurse, Model, Actress, Mother, and most importantly; I’m an Ambassador for GOD!

many reps, it’s more about our mentality and mindset. Our mind is the strongest tool we possess, you can do anything for a minute if you think you can first ! Graciously, the owners of Southside Fitness believed in my vision for this new class format and allowed me to introduce it to their current gym members every Tuesday night.

Whole heartedly I feel, if it wasn’t for faith and the relationship I have with the Lord; everything before this sentence would be non-existent! I’m blessed to wear many professional hats. For the past 3 years, I’ve worked full time as an admission and community outreach director for Brookdale Senior Living and I teach my fitness classes 3 times a week. Currently, I teach Zumba every Monday night at Southside Fitness and Saturday mornings at Revision Fitness. I have to say one of my career highlights is my newly branded Goal60 class! Goal60 is for all fitness levels with the mission of pushing our boundaries and breaking barriers, a total body toning class focused on 60 seconds of success. Basically, each exercise is only 1 minute long and follows somewhat of a circuit style. Goal60 is meant to be challenging but each person goes at their own pace because it’s not about how fast or how

Unfortunately I was young when I had her and the relationship with her father was less than healthy. Raising her as a single parent naturally caused many obstacles, not just financially but mentally and emotionally as well, but it forced me to make a choice. I wanted her to know better, to be better and I was all she had. I needed to change my mindset. I know Everyone comes from some type of brokenness, its not a perfect world but so often we learn to suppress our feelings, our misguided path becomes the norm, our hurt and unhealed childhoods allows us to passively or maybe unconsciously repeat the same cycles. However, I think we all hold some type of innate capacity or intuition. We know, we can feel in our spirit when something isn’t right. My advice for someone who may find their selves in similar situations or just struggles in general; we need to learn how to listen and act on that inner sense. I believe that’s where we find our worth.

Regardless of the role or position I embody on any given day, I aspire to inspire. I am passionate about helping people and being a positive role model, especially to my fourteen year old daughter, Amaree. Certainly, my daughter is one of my biggest inspirations.

Fast forward a few good years of soul searching, building a closer relationship with God and learning how to renew my mind, my GoalLine was birthed. The GoalLine mission is all about ‘pushing positivity with purpose and passion thru fashion’. Often you can spot me sporting one of my Goal Digger hats or tees. Many other artist, entrepreneurs, family, friends in and out of the Cuse can be caught rocking some GoalLine gear as well. Goal Digger, self defined as; one





“Regardless of the role or position I embody on any given day, I aspire to inspire.”


one who utilizes ambition and persistence toward a particular achievement and wont stop until the desired outcome is attained.

so humbled that my story and poetry resonates with people the way it does. It’s like a surreal feeling and ironically hard to put into words.

Beyond the goal oriented apparel, the line is interconnected with my spoken word poetry and performances. I was told my spoken word performances are raw and energetic and fill the listeners with motivational wisdom and positivity. Recently I had the opportunity to perform at the annual Fearless Queens brunch in Syracuse and received a standing ovation. It actually brought me to tears. I feel

I actually think that’s what woman empowerment is all about. We have so many different variations of women from all over the world. We can all have different backgrounds and history , different colors, shapes, sizes, different professions and passions, special gifts and talents and what I might not have, she will, and what she might need the other one has. We can all come together and


share our stories, strengths and struggles without fear of judgment. We can be honest and transparent with each other because we all want to win and see each other win as well. We can’t make it in life alone, I don’t even think were supposed to try. We are all connected for a reason and we all have a purpose and empowered women, empower more women ! To contact Nina you can by email









speaking class in medical assisting school helped a lot. Although I still get a little nervous, my confidence has increased.

Some women role models in my life are my mom and my 2 friends Candyce and Alexis. Looking back on my childhood, I love how my mom always made a way to make sure my sister and I had everything we needed. Despite losing her entire immediate family(mother, father, sister, brothers, and son), I’ve never seen her give up or make excuses. As for Candyce and Alexis, I love the strong mentalities they possess. They are both very strong willed, goal-oriented, and focused so they keep me motivated and on track.

Some obstacles I have overcome in my life are bullying and fear. Being bullied and made fun of in 8th and 9th grade definitely caused some fear and low self esteem. I spent my teen

I’ve always had a fear of stepping out of my comfort zone. I won’t say I’ve fully overcame that yet but there has definitely been some progress. You don’t know what you can do if you never try. I had a fear of planes until being shipped off to the military forced me to get on one. I had a huge fear of working on the salon floor in cosmetology school. I was so focused on what can go wrong like “What if I mess up someone’s hair?” instead of focusing on what could go right. I also had(and still do a little now)a fear of public speaking. Speaking in front of people just made my heart drop and freeze up. Taking a public

years and my early 20s thinking I was ugly, never good enough, and always wanting to be liked by everybody. As I grew older and wiser I realized it’s not what people call you, but what you answer to. They can say whatever they want about you, but what you believe in your heart and mind will

become your reality. Everyone who knows me knows I now exude high confidence and speak very highly of myself. Other than bullying another vital social issue I think women should speak up about is the debate over reproductive rights. Mainly abortion. It is one of the most controversial topics in America between pro life and pro choice supporters. I personally am against abortions, but I do have a fine line. What bothers me is when women choose to have an abortion simply because they don’t want the baby. I feel like each fetus/ child should have a chance at life. Even in rape situations the baby can still be adopted by a family that wants them. In situations where medical emergencies become life or death causing a woman to choose between herself and her fetus is where I feel like pro choice is acceptable. I know every woman feels like it’s her body and her choice and I definitely agree, which is why I don’t think men should be in charge of making laws about this topic. Some highlights of my life and career are of course being a mom, meeting my favorite R&B artist Monica twice, serving in the military, finishing cosmetology school and passing the state exams through fear, and starting 3 businesses(A Touch of Lavish, Lavish Dreams Travel Escapes, and PlanNet Marketing Rep). Of course the had a few bumps





“Empowerment is defined as the process of becoming stronger and more confident, but to me women empowerment means helping and uplifting other women.”

and I still have a ways to go, but I am definitely enjoying the journey. Empowerment is defined as the process of becoming stronger and more confident, but to me women empowerment means helping and uplifting other women. Simple acts like helping a new mom or investing in a small business owner can go a long way. Even mentoring other women and young girls. Just simply let others know you care. Alone when can do so little, but together we can do so much. 30

My advice to women who may not know which roads to take in their lives is to first choose happiness and practice happy habits. Happy habits are simple everyday things we do, such as meditating, exercising, journal writing, and planning your day. The key to success is to consistently surround yourself around positive, successful people who are only going to lift you higher because success is contagious. Find yourself a coach or mentor who has already done what you’re trying to achieve and apprentice them. Also try to find the good in


every situation. When you have a positive attitude, things fall into place. Find your passion or craft and make money off of it because when you do what you love it never feels like work. Always set goals for yourself. Break your dream goal down into little steps that will get you there. Stay focused and work hard consistently and you’ll be unstoppable. To contact Shalonda email






Hi my name is Caprice Hibbler. I am 29 years old and I was born January on the 15th day in 1990. I would say I’m your typical Capricorn. I am very loving, wear my heart on my sleeve, am an over thinker, and loyal as a dog to its owner whatever that means.

every time I’m all made up, it’s like my name changes. Home decor I love it! Nothing excites me more than to come home and feel good about where my money

I play all day and I try not to ever take things to seriously. I love people, I love to meet new people, find out new things, and just learn from everyone and everything. I get bored talking about myself that’s why I look to meet people and hear interesting stories because it excites me . Most girls grow up being a daddy’s girl. Well I didn’t have that luxury. I grew up being a true at heart momma’s girl and still am to this day. My mom is one of my best friends. I know that I can always count on her to never disappoint me and always have a listening ear without being judged. It’s a genuine love that’s so pure. I’m a girly girl I love all things girl. Makeup, hair, nails...girls freaking rock! And this brings me to makeup, I am in love with it. I love recreating myself and feeling new. It’s like every woman has a alter ego. I feel like 32

has been spent., I have a goals to one day own a home so big and decorate it with all things designed by me. I’m very passionate for what I believe in and I will always give thanks to the Lord. I know all things are possible through him.


I had to remind myself I rather die believing than to die not knowing. I’m not your very religious person, I just know I love the Lord. I have been working at Upstate Hospital in Upstate NY for the past 10+ years. All I can say is that place has seen me grow physically, mentally, and financially. That place has helped me in so many ways. You don’t know what it’s like to have to be strong for others when you are not strong for yourself. You have to always empathize with the patients and family. Working there has definitely helped mold myself in many ways whether it be career wise, mentally or physically. But I know that’s not what I want to do for the rest of my life. I can recall ever since I was a little girl I wanted to be an actress. I never took the initiative to go through the steps to do that for myself until this year. I started branching off into the field and this I know is what I was born to do,. So in the next few years watch out on the big screen because I will be on it! To contact Caprice Hibbler email




“I would say I’m your typical Capricorn. I am very loving wear my heart on my sleeve, a over thinker, and loyal as a dog to its owner whatever that means.”



“I grew up being a true at heart momma’s girl and I still am to this day. My mom is one of my best friends.”






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Across the U.S. each year, approximately 6.5 million companion animals enter an animal shelter. The majority of these animals are strays, rescues and surrenders. Unchecked stray populations tend to grow in areas without affordable spay/ neuter services. Animals rescued from cruelty can come from situations like hoarding cases, dog fighting rings and puppy mills. These animals often suffer from trauma and require extra care and rehabilitation.

cats by adopting healthy animals into loving homes, promoting the humananimal bond through outreach, education and advocacy, spaying and neutering to end the suffering of overpopulation and to improve public health and the humane and compassionate treatment of all animals. OUR THREE PILLARS INCLUDE: Animal Rescue: Mobile Transport Program: Used to rescue

The Animal Care Sanctuary’s Lifesaving Mission: Our lifesaving mission envisions a community that promotes turning compassion into action for dogs and

OWNER SURRENDER Community Collaboration: Community Clinic: Providing low cost spay/neuter and other services to the community including wellness visits Pet Food Pantry: We serve low income, elderly, veterans and those facing job loss who may otherwise be unable to care for their pets due to financial hardship. Public Dog Park: First and only dog park in Wellsboro, PA. Love on a Leash: Therapy dog training Education: Humane education programs: For preschool through college age students

Surrendered animals are animals whose owners can no longer care for them due to financial, behavioral or other unforeseen barriers. Many shelters struggle to adopt out all—or even most—of the animals who enter their facilities. Of the approximately 6.5 million companion animals who enter shelters, every year, approximately 1.5 million animals are euthanized. Of the dogs entering shelters, approximately 20% are euthanized. Of the cats entering shelters, over 25% are euthanized.

in exchange for food, water and shelter.

Pre-Veterinary Internship Program Behaviorist Consultations: For adopters to help adopters and animals transition to their forever home. dogs and cats from other shelters across the country and to transport community companion animals for low cost spay/ neuter/vaccination services. ADOPTIONS Foster Program Smokey’s Fund: Emergency Fund for senior/special needs animals Barn Cat Program: Adoption of spay/ neuter/vaccinated feral “working” cats

Advocacy: Engaging lawmakers on the importance of animal welfare legislation SUMMARY: Thanks to our supporters, the Animal Care Sanctuary has been rescuing animals for over 50 years. On any given day, hundreds of dogs and cats are in residence. They come from closing or overrun shelters, areas hit by disaster, owner surrenders, or are abandoned, mistreated or have

{ FOR A GOOD CAUSE } “The three main pillars that guide their work are animal rescue/adoption, community collaboration and education. ”






{ FOR A GOOD CAUSE } “In addition to being one of the few US shelters with licensed veterinarians, they offer the only known live-in college internship program in shelter medicine/shelter management of companion animals in the nation.”

Since we have our own veterinary and behavioral team, we are able to give these animals the TIME & CARE they need. Some of the animals we take in would not have a chance in most shelters. Some may have been badly mistreated, never received veterinary care, or never known human kindness.

our programs offer pet food pantries and our clinics offer thousands of affordable spay/neuter surgeries every year.

Being a no kill shelter, allows us the time to find the perfect family for each of our animals.

Our animals, adopters, donors, volunteers and staff are extremely proud of the national recognition earned for our innovative programs. One of which is our participation in Maddie’s Fund, which is the fulfillment of a promise to create a no-kill nation where every dog and cat is guaranteed a healthy home or habitat.

As part of our community engagement,


The Animal Care Sanctuary has always been absolutely committed to preservation of life. Euthanasia is used rarely and only as a final resort when it has been medically determined that an animal is suffering from a medical condition that is untreatable to allow the animal to maintain quality of life, or exhibits extreme behaviors that are beyond correction and that are deemed unsafe to other pets, people, and to the animal itself. These decisions are only made after careful deliberation by medical staff and other staff affected such as the cattery director, canine care


{ FOR A GOOD CAUSE } “ACS is leading the way as an example of innovation in rural shelter and companion animal care and seeks to continue to not only serve the residents of their community but to reach out to over-crowded under resourced shelters and rescues across the country.”

director, behaviorist, executive director and, ultimately, the Board of Directors.

free behavioral counseling and advice for both cats and dogs.

intervention programs designed to create a culture of empathy and compassion.

The Animal Care Sanctuary is one of the few shelters in the nation that has it’s own veterinary staff. It has adopted the standards of the American Association of Shelter Veterinarians and participates in Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Program at Cornell’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

On any given day there are hundreds of animals in residence. The adoption program consistently adopts out approximately 90% of the animals that are taken in, on an annual basis. The sanctuary’s adoption process takes into consideration the needs and lifestyles of both the adopter and the pet. Animals that are not adopted, remain

The Animal Care Sanctuary believes that in order to be a better friend to animals, we must create a more respectful and compassionate community. Humane education teaches how to establish a human animal bond based on kindness, respect, and responsibility.

The Sanctuary achieved it’s founder’s (Lesley Sinclair’s) dream of also opening community clinics offering low-cost spay/ neuter, vaccinations and wellness services allowing pet owners to keep their animals in their homes. Prior to any adoptions, each animal receives a physical, and as needed, the veterinarian meets with the adopter to explain any outstanding medical conditions, how to care for the animal, and any required follow-up. Having resident veterinarians also ensures that all shelter animals are vaccinated, checked for parasites and disease, spayed or neutered, microchipped, and are healthy and ready for adoption. To assist pet owners, the Animal Care Sanctuary offers animal care workshops, dog training courses, pet food pantries, a canine behavior helpline and a special emergency fund for senior and special needs animals. The sanctuary also offers

at the sanctuary where quality of life takes precedence. While approximately half of the adoptions are in Pennsylvania, the other half are in NY, NJ and across the U.S. Public education is another important component of working toward a no kill nation. Humane education serves as a strategy for large-scale change in the quality of animals lives through prevention and

The Animal Care Sanctuary introduces preschoolers to pets at daycare centers and libraries and teaches the joys and responsibilities of pet ownership to elementary and junior high school students. From preschoolers learning how to safely interact with animals, to middle school students being exposed to the anti-cruelty movement, to high school students exploring careers with animals, we offer Humane Education Programs that are designed for specific groups. As an example, the sanctuary is one of 14 participating sites in a national pilot program, Veterinary Science Initiative taught by secondary school science teachers in collaboration with shelter directors. This program was developed by the education team at the Charleston Animal Society in South Carolina, as a model for cooperative education between shelters, veterinarians, and other private

{ SPECIAL FEATURE { FOR A GOOD CAUSE} } SHIFT+CONTROL “ACS is solely funded by donations, sponsors and foundation grants.”

organizations to collaborate with local school districts. The Animal Care Sanctuary also offers a unique and exciting experience in a no-kill animal shelter gravitating towards the arts. This internship provides opportunities in art in a variety of areas involved in promoting and advertising shelter animals and is ideal for art students with majors in graphic design and photography who are looking to expand their skill set and gain invaluable experience in using their designs and passion for making a difference.

Interns are given the opportunity to experience a nonprofit, no kill shelter housing hundreds of animals. treatment of animals. The Animal Care Sanctuary also strongly embraces cooperation across animal shelters. Historically, most animal shelters operated as separate entities, and communication and collaboration was limited; due in part to disapproval of other shelters’ practices, protocols, and general operation, and also due to competition for donations and adopters. The sanctuary for many years, has

embraced the model of partnerships and relationships that encourage collaboration and teamwork. One of the many benefits to these relationships is the incredible effect that transports and transfers can have on our efforts to save the lives of more animals. Some recent examples include working with our cat partners in New England (who have a shortage of highly adoptable cats). In 2017, they were able to take 100 of our cats over a year’s time to place with adopters in their area. The best part




{ FOR A GOOD CAUSE } “In addition to the record-breaking adoptions, as of October 2019, their vet team performed 2,200 spay/neuter surgeries and over 4,000 wellness visits and the year is not over yet!�

is that those 100 cats being transferred then made room for us to take 100 more cats, who otherwise may not have had as bright a future. On the dog side, we were able to accept over 70 dogs and puppies from local shelters and from a shelter partner in Alabama. In addition to the more traditional approach of trap/spay/neuter/release programs to address the problem of feral cat overpopulation, the sanctuary also provides an alternative option: barn cat placement. For cats that prefer minimal to no human contact, and are not suited to be indoor pets, they can however, thrive as working cats, policing against rodents and pests for the small price of food, water, and a dry place to sleep and shelter from the weather. The sanctuary will spay/ neuter, vaccinate these cats against rabies and distemper, and give a dose a flea preventative and dewormer before being placed. This means they are healthy and ready for the life of an outdoor cat, at no cost to the adopter, and will never populate the adopter’s property with kittens. Barn cats are suitable to be working cats in many environments, including warehouses, greenhouses, breweries, wineries, and residential homes. They do require access to shelter in a permanent building or

structure like a shed, barn, stable, or garage, which must be at least half a mile from busy roads. They also require daily food and water. Our Love On A Leash program trains adopted animals (from the Animal

Care Sanctuary as well as other shelters) to become therapy animals who are comfortable around walkers, wheelchairs, canes, crutches and beeping machines. After the formal training the pets go to assisted living and skilled nursing centers to

greet and meet the residents. The program graduates are then also ready for hospital visits. Within hospitals, the intent is to help address employee compassion fatigue (i.e. the physical and mental exhaustion and emotional withdrawal experienced by those that care for sick or traumatized people over an extended period of time). Pet therapy can ease the anxiety and bring welcome stress relief to the staff. This program also encompasses classrooms and library reading. Our pet therapy pets can attend classes while our volunteer or the teacher reads to the children OR the children read to the pet. The county libraries also request our therapy pets to come and interact with the pre-school children while they read a story. On a crisp fall September day, Animal Care Sanctuary, (ACS) received a call from a woman who was overwhelmed by the number of dogs in her home. She had 11 dogs living in the house and requested help. For more information, please visit www.




I love to learn the origin of things! It literally fascinates me and knowledge is power! As we inch closer to the end of the year and the beginning of a new decade, I began wondering, what does the word January actually mean? January means ‘Janus’s month’ and became the first month of the year in circa 700BC when Numa Pompilius, a Roman King, added it and February to the calendar. ... Janus is the Roman god of beginnings and endings, he is also the god of gateways, gates, doors and doorways. The word ‘janitor’ is derived from Janus.

Lets do this! First we should all decide what we want the new beginning to be. Defining it and writing it down makes it real. Declaring it speaks it into the universe! It’s how things start manifesting! STEP 1. Define what you want!

Now that I know what January means, how do I put this extraordinary new found knowledge into action? Well thats easy! For me it’s always about bettering my health. And Oddly enough, I found that the word Janitor is derived from Janus… is perfect! The clean up guru!

STEP 2. Write it down and put it where you can see it. Mine is a reminder that comes up on my phone every morning 8am! TOXINS OUT< HEALTHY IN! So turn that creative smart brain on and figure out where and how you can remind yourself best on a daily basis to call on the GOD of January! Gain strength from him! I’m also going to remind myself its a total game changer to focus on all things around me! TO change habits you have to be aware of them as they are happening and switch it up!

I absolutely LOVE this! It’s so appropriate for 2020 and a NEW YEAR! The Roman God of beginnings and endings….. and also the god of gateways, gates, doors and doorways!

extra effort to clean out the old toxins left behind. Every day being conscious of this decision!

Ill share mine. Since I explanted my toxic implants October 30 I want to clean up the toxins in my body! This is my ending of an unhealthy toxin time and my new beginning to clean it up! I took out the very toxic implants October 30 and opened the door to the possibility of a vibrant feeling great healthy life! Im going to consciously add in only healthy people, foods, environment and thoughts. I will also be making that

STEP 3. Now to Declare it! Choose wisely here. Choose people around you that want you to be the best you can be. People that support you and won’t sabatogue your goals. Intentionally or unintentionally. Choose your children or best friend, spouse, parents… Share your new formula with them. You may just inspire them to look at January and its significance and meaning of the month! I am telling everyone! You, Daniel, My Mom, Dad, kids, friends… Facebook… Im a blabbermouth! I also decided to solidify this and gain support from people that have been

{ ASK ROBIN } “CBD has been proven to help alleviate anxiety, insomnia, migraines, Tourette’s, epilepsy, neuralgia and arthritis pain just to name a few. ”

meaning of the month!

cinnamon for more flavor!

I am telling everyone! You, Daniel, My Mom, Dad, kids, friends… Facebook… Im a blabbermouth!

And, Im not taking the bait of using December as the last time to enjoy, party… eat whatever… to me this

I also decided to solidify this and gain support from people that have been successful detoxing from implants and heavy metals. The professionals! Planning on setting myself up to succeed!

Id love to hear what your new beginning will be!

Tell others and get support!

Bright Beams of Light, Robin

STEP 4. DOOOO it! Plan your route! I am gathering my supplies and making a schedule!


I am using December as the time to start becoming aware of my behaviors end old habits. December 16 is my birthday! I always reset on my birthday. Its a new year all the way around for me. Together lets call on the Roman God of January, Janus, to open the door to the vibrant new beginning of 2020 and close the door behind us!

This is an important step!

Made a list of my supplements, detox foods and binding powders. Ordering what I need and stocking up for a week at a time of the foods. Getting rid of the No No foods and drinks. Unfortunately this will include my favorite Italian coffee mate creamer and having oat milk creamer or coconut creamer with

take you out of the game before you begin! Dont set yourself up to fail!

Fo r B re a s t Im p l a n t Questions contact me Facebook AskRobinHertz Instagram Robin Hertz Wordpress AskRobinHertz.wordpress. com

is a bad technique I see it again and again and it just makes it harder on yourself. It’s actually a technique to





The holidays can be a complex time for all of us. Family, money, traveling, calories, shopping, the list goes on and on and can be intimidating to say the least. One of the things in my life I used to be terrible at in the past was my New Years resolutions. I have grown to realize that there are 4 basic rules to being successful at resolutions.

2) Set realistic goals. Let’s say it’s a diet and you are 60 pounds overweight. Make a resolution to lose 20 pounds. You can lose more later if you choose to. This way you have reached your goal and feel a sense of accomplishment. By using this technique you will put yourself in what i call “Success mode”. 3) Ask for help.

First? Let’s make sure you fully understand what a resolution is.

It’s a decision, an idea, it’s not an action yet.

1) Pick carefully something you need, not want. In picking something you need you will be far more motivated than with something you just want. Your heart will be in it more. Your desire to succeed will be greater.

Well there you have it. The DB tried and true recipe for New Years resolution success.

You can do it, I know you can. I believe in you and the power of numbers so don’t be afraid to ask for help right here.

Whether or not you are successful, well that will be determined by the action that follows.


If you choose the partner method don’t compete with each other, cheer each other on instead.

As we head towards the holidays and New Year start thinking now of what one thing that it’s time to change.

RES•O•LU•TION Noun A firm decision to do or not do something.

My intention in writing this is to share my experience, strength and hope in an effort to help you succeed in 2020.

there to push each other, remind each other and coddle each other through the tough days. When you are going through anything that’s difficult in life it’s always better to walk with someone else as opposed to alone.

Message me or anyone who comments. Let’s lift each other up. Tell your family, friends and colleagues what you are trying to do. Ask them to help you. Tell them it’s ok to remind you if you are slipping a little. Don’t be afraid to have an occasional bad day. It happens. Dust yourself off and get right back on that horse. Rome was not built in a day. 4) Pick a partner Yes, find a friend or family member that needs to do the same resolution. In using the partner method you will be

I will write you back. We will praise you. I love being a member of a loving community. May GOD bless you and keep you. Happy New Year. DB.



TIS THE SEASON TO BE CRAFTY!!!! Welcome, my name is Amy Colombo and I am a Rochesterian through and through. I grew up here, raised a family here and am now the owner of the sweetest, little DIY Crafting Studio in the heart of Rochester, The Workshop. One of our studio goals is to provide our guests with crafts that are affordable, not too complicated and make them feel proud that they have created that specific project. This is my goal for you too!! Giving you out-of-the-box ideas and easy to follow tips on how to create them! I am honored to be a part of the Rochester Woman Online Magazine. Hoping my column comes through as sweet & fun as my studio. Okay… let’s get started. I love home décor and DIYing. I have two very different styles that shift from Fall to the Holidays. During the fall, our home is very welcoming, cozy, and has that stay-a-while feeling. Neutral and warm tones throughout. It is also my favorite of all seasons and I spend the most time decorating with attention in every detail. The vibe definitely changes for the Holidays and is quite contrary to our fall decor. I would describe it as bright, traditional, tons of color with unassuming flair. Sprinkling in DIYs that my husband and kids have helped create truly have made our house a home. Here are some of my Fall & Holiday favorites!! Each inexpensive, easy-to-do and have a wow factor in their own way. Give one or all a try. HAND STAMPED TEA TOWELS First things first… this project is trending,

Pottery Barn inspired, and I am completely hooked! Grab some Flour Sack towels, also known as Tea Towels (I got mine on Amazon $14/pack of 12), fabric paint, letter and/or holiday stamps and cookie cutters. *Tip: Iron or steam away any creases prior to stamping. Once wrinkle free… lay flat. Pour paint onto paper plate, dip the stamp or cookie cutter into the paint & press onto the towel. Lift carefully. Continue until you have the effect you like. Allow time to dry.

Finish off with a bow using raffia, twine or ribbon. These make perfects gifts and not just during the holidays. Anytime!!! SNOW-LIKE LUMINARY JARS- Bring a warm elegance to any room in your home with this super simple project. You’ll never guess what the secret is to get the magical glow… Epson salts and Modge Podge! Ladies, the picture does not do this project justice. Grab a mason jar of any size… using a foam brush, generously brush on the Modge Podge wherever you want your glow. I brought the snowy effect right below the neck of the jar (as seen in the picture).

While the Modge Podge is still wet, using a spoon, graciously sprinkle the salt all over the jar. Shake off and allow to dry. Once dry, add a sprig of evergreen, wool yarn or twine and a tea light. Place on a silver tray and set in any room in your home and enjoy the glowy ambiance. By far, my favorite of all the DIYs here. CHRISTMAS BULB CENTERPIECE - GIRLS…this DIY centerpiece is a space changer and is so much fun!! Call your kids into the room for this one. All you need are scissors, jute or heavy-duty ribbon and plastic bulbs from any home decor store. You can do this for Fall, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years or all the above. Decide how long you’d like your centerpiece to be plus one extra foot and cut the ribbon accordingly. String the bulbs onto the ribbon and tie a knot to the first bulb. The bulbs will naturally fall into place and create the effect as seen in the picture. Secure the bulbs by tightly knotting the ribbon to the last bulb. Trim excess ribbon and display. Have fun with the colors – all neutrals, reds and greens or as I did gold, silver and turquoise. This DIY can also be made into a festive wreath or garland for a mantle. Just be sure that you give yourself enough ribbon to attach to your mantle or tie into a knot for a wreath. This will be your added touch of glitz and glamor that every room needs. Have fun with it! SUCCULENT POTS - Adorable, whimsical and great hostess gifts to bring to a Holiday party. Santa’s Belt or his RedNosed Little helper either one as cute as the other. Everything you need (including a small pot, a little paint, a couple pipecleaners & pompoms, and black paper) you can find right at your local craft store or come



make it at our studio. Add a succulent and print a “How to Care for Your Succulent” instructions on our website. Click here These are sure to be a talking piece! HOLIDAY BRANCH DÉCOR Everyone’s got branches… you can find them just about anywhere... and one of my very favorite and inexpensive DIYs that you can use year round. There are a couple of ways to get two totally different looks. One… keep them natural. I needed a space filler for a corner in my studio…I wrapped a stack of branches with shimmery ribbon, a festive bow & lightly brushed with chalk paint. You can also use branches in a big way, as seen here, by my fellow DIYer Kati Garner did. Love how she incorporated the branches with white lights and had them standing proud waiting to welcome family & friends. Have you seen a more inviting entry? Want to add a pop of color, grab a can

of spray paint, any color of your choosing… autumn yellow, classic Christmas Red… endless possibilities. Adding this colorful and textural element is guaranteed the fantastic flair I was talking about!! This is also another great way to get the little ones in your life involved in decorating. Find the sticks and branches together. Once you are enjoying your updated space remind them that they played a big part in creating the look. FREE PRINTABLE ART - Last but certainly not least… make a huge statement during Thanksgiving and throughout the holidays with these “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” FREE PRINTABLES I designed just for you at The Workshop’s website. Grab a few frames (these came from the Dollar store or use what you have) and some acrylic or watercolor paints. I printed the printables on watercolor paper and added just a touch of autumn brown

& gold watercolors to the corners of the paper. (If you do not have watercolors; you can water down acrylic paint). Paint is optional. Place in frames & display on a sofa table, kitchen counter or even your fireplace. During the chaos that sometimes comes with the holidays, let us be gently reminded that it truly is The Most Wonderful Time of the Year. Click here. Thank you for reading my very first column. I look forward to being your DIY girl here at Rochester Women’s Online Magazine. If you’ve made any of the DIYs shown in this month’s edition, please email me a picture so I can show them off. Or use the hashtag #RWOMDIY. If you have any questions or would like to see us DIY something specific email me at amy@theworkshopny. com. Come visit the studio at 3101 West Ridge Road in Greece or visit our website



Rochester Woman Online recently had the pleasure of sitting down for a question and answer session with the truly beautiful and inspiring Jennifer Johnson. Here is what she had to say, and boy was it amazing.

tools, the expertise and the dedication to try and pull off a miracle. It worked. Our daughter Grace was born here in September of 2011. There

Q1 What made you choose your current career? What are your accomplishments in the field? In 2011 I was pregnant with our second child when an ultrasound showed serious issues. Our baby had a birth defect called a Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia (CDH). We quickly learned that half of the babies who have CDH pass away soon after birth. The half that survives can expect major surgeries and months in the hospital. More testing revealed our baby’s CDH was severe. I went into mama bear mode by researching and reaching out to hospitals across the country, even visiting one that said we needed to move there for our baby’s care because she would need a long list of equipment and highly trained staff to operate that equipment. We brought that list of needs back to Golisano Children’s Hospital where we found out all we needed was right here. What a relief! No one anywhere truly expected that our baby would survive but at least I knew that we would be giving birth in a place that had all the 66

constant kindness and honesty about what was happening. Seventy –two days later Grace was able to come home! She needed a feeding tube, oxygen and medications around the clock but she was home, finally with her big sister Avery. Grace was followed closely by many specialists here at the hospital and would need more surgeries but she continued to defy the odds with a big smile and bright blue eyes. A problem that stemmed from her CDH was tracked and monitored closely and had not been an issue at all… until it became a big issue during surgery in February of 2013. Grace survived a day long surgery but passed away as the PICU team tried their very best to save her. I will forever be in awe of how each member of this hospital cared for Grace and us. It has been a pleasure to share her story and let everyone know what a special place this hospital is. So much went right with her care. But there was room for improvement and it has felt good to be able to raise these concerns with hospital leadership, be heard and see some changes happen as a result.

were quickly many ups and downs when we almost lost Grace and had to make decisions about whether to continue her care or let her pass. As the staff cared for Grace, they cared for us too with


The addition of Dr. Pat Brophy as Chair of the Department of Pediatrics and physician-in-chief of Golisano Children’s Hospital in 2018 has been an incredible. He has said he values the role and insight of parents in the care of children and has proved this to be true by not only listening to my thoughts but seeking them out. I enjoyed my nine years as anchor and reporter at 13WHAM News (eight years at News 10NBC before






{ WOMEN WHO INSPIRE } “I will forever be in awe of how each member of this hospital cared for Grace and us. It has been a pleasure to share her story and let everyone know what a special place this hospital is.”

that) tremendously and am so grateful for the platform it allowed me to tell patient stories, spotlight research and help with hospital fundraisers. However I was spending more and more of my free time on hospital-related issues. A year ago I wrote down all my ideas and goals and asked if it made more sense to work on these issues from a role within the hospital. Thus was born my role as the newly created position of Director of Family and Community Outreach at Golisano Children’s Hospital.

the clock care but we were also having to find and manage a team of roughly 30 of her caregivers. It was like running a small company comprised of doctors, home nurses, therapists, medical suppliers, etc., not to mention the mountains of paperwork that came with it. All of these entities impacted one another but they weren’t set up to communicate with each other. Each change each person made had to be communicated to the group and

I have been floored by the support from our community for Grace, my family, other patient families and the staff here! The ways in which people help are creative and so touching. I’m excited to be able to help and support more of these fundraisers and let the public know how appreciative we really are. I’ve also been amazed at how resource-rich our community is in terms of organizations that exist to help families in crisis – be it medical or otherwise. However, I think there is a growing acknowledgement in the community that we can do a better job of working together to help these individuals - that was my takeaway from being Grace’s mom. We were so thrilled when she came home from the hospital but it was a very stressful time. Not only were we as a family learning and managing her very delicate around

that was up to us as parents to do (and any and all of the follow-up questions – many of them very technical). This was my family’s experience and I have heard similar stories from other families. I’ll repeat, we have a very caring community and many resources ready to help families. I don’t think the above scenario has happened because people don’t care. I think you learn so much by

going through the process and many of the people who have gone through this process are busy taking care of kids with medical needs and might not have time to advocate for changes that might make the process easier. That is what I hope to do in this role: be an advocate for patients and their families. That includes both while in the hospital and once they are home. I hope to create closer ties with organizations that also support our patients and families. When families leave the hospital I want them to already feel connected to these organizations – both the resources they provide and the other families they serve as connecting with families in the same boat can be hugely beneficial. Q2. What obstacles have you overcome in your life? Certainly having a medically fragile child and losing her at almost 17 months old has been a challenge but one I have learned so much from. I am a better person because of Grace... but this took work. Grief takes a huge toll. Addressing the PTSD from almost losing her many times and then her actual death has been a concentrated effort. These emotions once felt like a heavy weight. Now, thanks to therapy, I concentrate on what Grace taught me and continues to teach me. It feels good to use these lessons to help others and I





“My kids have taught me to be less selfish, to stop and enjoy the moment, to explore things I never would have explored before, to laugh because it feels good, to practice what I preach and to love without condition.”






{ WOMEN { {SHIFT+CONTROL COVER WHO STORY INSPIRE }} } “I have been floored by the support from our community for Grace, my family, other patient families and the staff here! The ways in which people help are creative and so touching.”

I now wake up inspired and grateful rather than consumed by sadness. Q3 who is the most significant person in your life and why? My daughters and my husband. Avery is our oldest. Grace was our middle child. Luciana is our youngest. My kids have taught me to be less selfish, to stop and enjoy the moment, to explore things I never would have explored before, to laugh because it feels good, to practice what I preach and to love without condition.

My husband Vinnie Esposito is my rock. I’ve always been pretty independent but he centers me and this has become more and more important to me as we grow and change as individuals and as a couple. I appreciate his listening ear and honest feedback. He amazes me with the details and stress he handles daily, all the while showing respect and building relationships along the way. He demonstrates how to not be petty. He encourages me be tough when I need to be also allows me to fall apart when necessary - which has happened several times since Grace entered our life. He loves me for who I am which has evolved over our 11 years of marriage.

Q4. Where can we expect to see you in five years? Professionally I have just started this new job but I would not have left the one career (TV journalism) I have ever known if I did not believe in it. I have ideas of what I want to achieve in this job but I am also taking the time to learn what is already in motion here at the Children’s Hospital and URMC - it’s an incredible place. Personally I have loved helping to coach my daughters’ soccer teams. I grew up playing sports and still use a lot of what I learned through them: teamwork, pushing yourself, recognizing the strengths of





“I am grateful to have lead the coverage of 13WHAM’s participation including raising money for Grace’s Garden at the hospital which is a healing garden in my daughter’s name.”

others as well as my own weaknesses and showing appreciation for those who support you. I love watching them enjoy these things but encourage their other interests too including theater, art and singing. My husband and I just completed the Four Season Challenge which is a half marathon in each season. That combined with 2 full marathons completed in the past, I might cool it on the distance running for a little while. I’ve really started to enjoy spin classes and other workout classes at M/Body. Q5. What are some of your most memorable experiences? From a professional stand point I am 74

proud of the reporting work we did covering Hurricane Katrina along the Gulf Coast for 3 weeks. We found out what people needed there and Rochester responded to our reports by giving, including Kodak that donated disposable cameras for people to document damage from the storm for insurance purposes.

helped take away some of the stigma. Seeing how information can lead to understanding and tolerance made me want to be a journalist. A story I did about a young man in the Rochester area who is struggling with CFS has been published internationally and is often used by CFS advocacy groups.

I became a journalist because I got sick as a teenager and could not pursue my passion of playing sports. At the time the illness I had, called Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), was not very understood. For years the public had little sympathy for CFS patients. A 1994 Boston Globe article about my battle

Finally, using the TV platform to raise money and awareness for Golisano Children’s Hospital has been both a personal and professional highlight. I am grateful to have lead the coverage of 13WHAM’s participation including raising money for Grace’s Garden at the hospital which is a healing garden in my









{ WOMEN { SHIFT+CONTROL WHO INSPIRE } } “Certainly having a medically fragile child and losing her at almost 17 months old has been a challenge - but one I have learned so much from.”

daughter’s name. I hear weekly from people about how much this space has meant to them. Q6 how have the changes in media (increased social media) affected your career? Social media has given us each a platform to share more of our lives. Reporters and anchors are able to share more with an audience than what people see on TV. And the audience can share more with the people they invite into their homes each day. That can allow us to see more of how we are alike - and that feels good to know we are not alone in whatever we have going on. This helped me as a journalist and a mom connect with others who may have had a sick child and/ or lost a child. It made me realize the need for the job I now have at the Children’s Hospital. But while social media has allowed us to relax the walls that separated us before, it has not meant journalists can relax their standards. We must still have at least two credible sources and we must still state fact and not opinion when it comes to the news. In this day and age of social media, almost anyone can represent herself or himself as a journalist and because of this the public might take as fact something that

does not meet the threshold of what a journalist would consider based in fact. I think this has led to confusion. I think it has allowed people to carve “their truth” out of the bigger picture. When everyone is eager to prove they are

right and to prove that a different view point is wrong are we really listening to each other? It’s sad that some really good and important reporting is being dismissed because some people don’t believe reporting without bias is still

possible. Q7 what are your hobbies? I do enjoy exercise but would say my favorite hobby is carving out family time. The work week is busy and we enjoy many charity fundraisers throughout the year but nothing beats a quiet night with a family movie or dinner with extended family and friends on our back porch. Q7 what social issues are you most passionate about? I am set up for success in life. I have a safe and warm home, a loving and supportive partner, an income and reliable transportation. Still, caring for and then losing our daughter was a challenge that tested all I had. I stay awake at night wondering how others who face more challenges in life might fare in a similar situation and it scares me. I’m not the doctor or nurse or researcher who is trying to cure or treat children but through this job I want to make a family’s journey easier by smoothing out some of the non-necessary bumps in the road. When our family was in crisis I had to not only connect the dots but find some of the dots in the first place. I want to take this stress away from an already stressed family. We thank Jennifer for sharing her amazing story with us, and wish her the very best on her new adverture. The best is truly yet to come.




“I enjoyed my nine years as anchor and reporter at 13WHAM News (eight years at News 10NBC before that) tremendously and am so grateful for the platform it allowed me to tell patient stories, spotlight research and help with hospital fundraisers.”








Most everybody, at a young age gets a view, a motivation, an inspiration to what they want to be in life. I, however was blindsided of what my inspiration was until I became a mother for the first time. As a young girl, I could never make up my mind on what my calling in life was. I wanted to be a vet at one point, then I thought, about as much as I was an animal lover, the thought of getting bit frighten me. Then I thought about being a Doctor or Nurse. I love helping people out and making them feel better.. But the thought of needles and blood made me feel faint, so scratch that idea...So I stuck with jumping in puddles while holding my cabbage patch dolls. Besides, that was much more entertaining than worrying about growing up. As the years went on and the puddle jumping, and doll playing slowly changed into mall dates with friends, and working after school jobs, it was time to start thinking of adult decisions. Besides that’s part of life right?! I knew I wanted to make people feel good about themselves, just didn’t know how. I was 21 when my high school sweetheart and I had our daughter. The first time that I looked into her bright blue eyes, I knew right then what my calling was. Maybe not in the career way, but in life. I knew that now I had to make sure that every move I made, every word that I said, every actions were set out to be a value to her. I knew that I had to be a role model for her to be proud of, to give her motivation, give her a vision for her future. A platform some might say. Now, being 21, young and naive, scared and a single mother without a college degree or a clue on what type of career I wanted, had no choice but to be 80

ready to hit life head first. I found myself getting a job at the airport working for at the time Piedmont Airlines now known as American Airlines. I thought that this was an amazingly great opportunity for a career, not a job to “just get by”. This was a fun job. Talking to pilots, learning aviation lingo and acronyms, being apart of the “behind the scenes and special effects” my reality was

at the airport I became pregnant with daughter number 2. Now the pressure was really on to be a role model! I had to set a great example while protecting them from the world. Now with two kids in stow, single yet again, and still not set of a career choice for my family of three, I felt like my awesome image that I had made for myself was crumbling in front of my eyes! I felt the pressure of my children not able to be proud of me, to not have an inspiration for them, to not have a motivation or vision of a future. A reliable one, anyways. I was scared, sad, mad, but mostly disappointed in myself. I felt like the biggest failure. However, I couldn’t just sit there and mope. I had to brush off the dirt, put my big girl panties on, and deal with the road that was laid for me.

mindblown! Not to mention, the power and control you get when you are the one that is handling a plane with everyone on it and you have to push it out of the gate safely. The adrenaline was exhilarating to say the least. As fun, and what a great career field it was, I didn’t feel like this was inspiring, for me at least. During the time of when I was employed


I decided to enroll in cosmetology part time. I didn’t know at the time, that this is where I had a talent. I had a niche for beauty, self esteem and awareness, and bringing out the loud in the shy. I seen the color in black and white.. Unfortunately, it was a great opportunity, but bad timing. See what happened was at that time, I met a man that I thought was going to be a happily ever after. I wanted a happy family and to be a working mother and wife. Who doesn’t right? Anyways I was so blinded by this man’s manipulations over me that I ended up dropping out of school. A beauty school drop out one may say. As sad as it is to say, I got lost. Lost in this man’s ways. So lost, that I forgotten about my inspirations, values and morals for life. I was a walking robot pretty much. Woke up, went to work, came home, went to bed. repeat. SO VERY LOST that I

{ WOMEN WHO INSPIRE } “If you can’t love yourself, then how are you supposed to love others?”




“forgotten” that I had two little girls that are still LOOKING up and LISTENING to and ABSORBING all natures of life. Good and unfortunately the bad. After five years of mental abuse and a dash of physical I knew that if I didn’t leave the situation my kids would never be proud of me. They would see that this is how life’s supposed to be, and it ABSOLUTELY is far from it! I didn’t want my kids to think that this is how love was suppose to be. They gave me yet again the INSPIRATION and STRENGTH to leave the insanity behind and start to rebuild myself to be a better mother to them and a better human to myself. If you can’t love yourself, then how are you supposed to love others? I still have struggles with being better to myself, who doesn’t, but tomorrow will be better than today and today was better than yesterday.

me my little umph back.. My little pep in my step! A weight got lifted because I felt like I gave my kids back there inspiration. However, school gave me an ultimatum. Either education or career. I was so baffled and blow back when they said that to me that I laughed at first. I mean how can someone ask anyone especially a single mother trying to get her and her kids lives back on track to choose between a job or education?! Being that I lived by myself and only my income that we were living off of, I had to choose my job. As much as it was great learning all the different techniques and basic knowledge of cosmetology and how much I LOVED being a beautician and how much I was going to regret it for the second time being known as the beauty school dropout, I had to pay the bills and feed my children.

A few years later, as our world was starting to get into a better stance, (mentally, physically, and financially) I wanted to try school again. While pretty much co-parenting with my mom, she said “no time then the present”! This was awesome for me because it gave

One night, an old friend of mine hit me up on FB asking if I would be interested in styling his friends hair for a Netflix series. Little did I know this is where my career would start, and a lifelong sisterhood is made. Through working as Michelle DiBernardo’s


personal hair stylist, I have had the privilege of working on movie sets, going to premiers, meeting amazingly talented people, getting featured in magazines, and traveling! I even had the pleasure of styling Robin Hertz , the beautiful other half of Daniel Baldwin, for her feature in CNY Women’s Magazine! While Michelle might of helped with meeting the right people, my hidden talent and my niche for beauty from within has gotten me to where my platform is today. Even though the life that is dealt to you isn’t always flat and narrow, don’t give up! When there is an obstacle in your way, that’s just lifes test. A test to see how strong you are. In my life I have had many obstacles and test thrown in my way and will continue to, because well that’s life, but no matter the test, or how big the obstacle will be or how much I felt like giving up, there was and will always be those two beautiful blue eyed girls giving me my hope, my strength, my inspiration. To contact Amber Judge email






When I think of role models the first to come to mind is my mother. She is a quiet warrior for justice. I think people would be surprised to know all the lives she has touched because she does it in such a genuine and individual way. She makes each person she encounters feel like the most important person to her. I love that about my mom, even though it is hard to share her with others.

My younger son was born with Down Syndrome that came with a variety of health complications. He was born with a bowel obstruction, which required emergency surgery. To care for Brandon I had to quit my job and eventually move into public housing. Before I knew it, I had become the recipient of public assistance of all kinds (health insurance, food assistance, daycare assistance,

Evelyn Ingram is another role model. Evelyn exudes poise and elegance. She leads with grace and integrity. She is extremely knowledgeable, but also not afraid to say “let me get back to you” if she doesn’t know something.

That is what I aspire to be. Speaking of leaders I think it’s vital for women to speak up.

I tell people often, don’t compare your “behind-the-scenes” to someone else’s “highlight reel”. Not too many people are sharing their failures. I have worked my way up from certified nursing assistant (CNA) from SUNY EOC to licensed practical nurse (LPN) at Central Tech.

In 2017 I earned a master of science in nursing (family nurse practitioner track) with a minor in nursing education from SUNY Upstate Medical University.

I think it is vital to talk about equity and inclusion for women in leadership, particularly women from marginalized groups.

I consider myself an open book. I made choices as an adult (if you consider 18 an adult) that changed the trajectory of my life. I became a mom at 18 and again at 20.

The “highlight reel” definitely shines brighter than the “behind-the-scenes” footage.

In 2008 I graduated from Syracuse University with a bachelor’s degree in social work. I also hold an associates degree in nursing from St Joseph’s College of Nursing and a postbaccalaureate certificate from Le Moyne College, both completed in 2011.

She is an example of a strong servant-leader.

Although we continue to make great strides in our community, we are overwhelmingly absent from top-level leadership positions in the for-profit sector as well as board chair positions of nonprofit organizations.

gave up on me and my children.

housing assistance, HEAP) and at the mercy of my family. I had become someone I didn’t recognize and neither did my family and friends. It was in those cold, dark, lonely moments of despair that I found a spark of hope through my faith and the few family and friends, and even some strangers, who never

In April 2019 I completed the Health Leadership Fellows program through the Health Foundation of Western and Central NY. I am currently on track to complete my doctorate in executive leadership with a focus on social justice from St. John Fisher in Summer 2020. My research focus is on strategies to promote well-being for the African American female executive leader working in racially isolated roles.





“Don’t be discouraged by the opportunities you think you have ruined. Keep trying.”

I am a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. I have had the honor and privilege of working as a nursing instructor for some amazing educational institutions, some of which groomed and shaped me during my educational journey. I was able to purchase a home for my children with the help of Home HeadQuarters in 2012. Most recently, I became Director of Community Engagement at St. Joseph’s Hospital. My education and career have afforded me many opportunities that I only once dreamed of. Most memorable was taking my oldest son to Ghana for a mission trip. My focus in life and career is to be of service to others and to advocate for social justice. Women’s empowerment means to show up for others, through your words AND 88

actions. Lead by example to show other women how to be unapologetic in the pursuit of their dreams. My personal mission statement is “to help people get from where they are to where they want to be”. Whether I am caring for patients in the hospital, acting as a nursing instructor, mentoring, or sitting at tables discussing policies, people may never reach their “mountaintop”, but if they create and share with me their realistic and attainable goals, my mission is to partner with them and do what I can during our time together to help them get as close as possible. Some advice I would give women who may not know which roads to take in their life is “Just start”. The road you begin on


may not be the road you end up on, but you won’t get anywhere if you don’t start! I thought I wanted to be an accountant. I remember being in the “projects” and writing out my life’s goals. I wrote in large bold letters that I would NEVER be a nurse. Well, the saying goes, “if you want to make God laugh, tell Him about your plans” So my advice is to move beyond your fear of failure. Learn from each obstacle. Keep your personal goals in mind when navigating difficulties. Everything is “figure-out-able”. Don’t be discouraged by the opportunities you think you have ruined. Keep trying. Find a mentor! That advice alone will change your life!







Hey ladies new year right ? How about showcasing a new you with a professional woman photographer who has over ten years of experience photographing events, corporate and individual headshots, as well as high school seniors and families. Ana Gil Photography Founded by Ana Gil who enjoys being involved in the community. Here are some of the services she provides:

Corporations: Depending on the number of people photographed, the location of the business, number of days, and any

Family portrait sessions can take place at your home, a park, at the fair, vineyard, or any other location that matches your family style and home decor. Ana Gil also knows of great locations you can discuss at your pre-consultation, if you do not have a specific location in mind.

Head shot sessions which can be either indoor (more traditional) outdoors or a combination of both. Photographing individuals as well as small to medium sized businesses.

Family Sessions include: - a pre-consultation either in person, FaceTime or Skype to plan your session. This includes wardrobe guidance and advice. - a full session, up to two (2) hours, where she will photograph up to 5 immediate family members.

Headshot sessions include: - pre-consultation

- a post-session viewing appointment at which time you will select your favorite portraits and place your order. - a delivery appointment for you to approve your order and take home your beautiful family portraits.

- depending on the goal these sessions can last from 45minutes to a full day. - a post-session viewing appointment where she will select your favorite head shots and place your order. - 3 digital headshots of your choice suitable for printing and social media profiles. 90

Families: Families change so quickly! Capturing your family as they are right now, so you can all enjoy it now and later, is the best feeling!

additional services provided such as, makeup and other add-ons can be included.


She is easy going, energetic, enjoys learning new things and meeting new people. Her role models are any women who go out there and hustle towards







{ WOMEN {{ CNY COVER SNAPSHOT WHO STORY INSPIRE }} } “To Ana Gil women empowerment means footprints and examples for young girls and women a like, to get inspired to make their own, our own mark.”

accomplishing what they believe their purpose to be, then keep going. What inspired Ana Gil to become a photographer was the desire to create and be around people. The icing on the cake was that her dad enjoyed photography as well. Some of the obstacles she had to overcome has been and still is, the perception some people have about the profession of photography.

“We can’t work for free”. – Ana Gil Highlights of her life have been being the proud mother of three children, making a living doing something she absolutely enjoys, and finally meeting the love of her life. To Ana Gil women empowerment means footprints and examples for young girls and women a like, to get inspired to make their own, our own mark.

Advice she would give women who may want to be an Photographer as well is “just do it”. You can find Ana Gil on Instagram: @anagilphotography Facebook: anagilphotography or her website








Whether you are a seasoned shopper, complete newbie or somewhere in between, building a real, functional wardrobe can be a challenging task for anyone. We have put together some tips for the seasoned and some guidance for the uncertain to help you build a timeless wardrobe that will last for years. First, let’s talk about style. Your style is what makes you unique because it’s the way YOU like to dress and it’s a reflection of you. It’s what makes you feel beautiful and as a result, confident. Style in regards to your wardrobe should be a reflection of you. They should be pieces that you are 100% in love with. If you are unsure of your style, that’s ok. Take a few moments to think about what works best for your body type and styles, cuts, colors, fabrics that you tend to be drawn to. If you need inspiration, think about your favorite Influencer or Celebrity’s style. Now that you have a good idea of what your style is, let’s discuss wardrobe essentials. Wardrobe essentials are those core items you should have in your closet because

from these core pieces, you can create many different looks and outfits. The main reason you should invest in these pieces is because they are classics which mean they are timeless

limited amount each season to add for newness and fun. We have curated a classic capsule as a guide to help you build the perfect wardrobe: *Classic Bodysuit *White Blouse *Black Cardigan *Grey Sweater *Moto Jacket *Black Skirt *Camel Coat *Leggings *White Tee *Classic Jeans Note that these colors can be interchanged with black, grey, white & navy depending on your personal palette preference and style. Starting with these classic pieces, you can create endless outfit options especially when you add in your shoes. These are investment pieces so be sure to invest in quality, as they will last you years, even decades.

and will never go out of style. If you only buy trendy items, they soon go out of style, leaving you with dated clothing & a hole in your wallet. You do not have to completely give them up but instead just select a

Shop our Classic Glow collection on to build the perfect wardrobe that will have you glowing year after year.



{ GLOW FASHION } “ Starting with these classic pieces, you can create endless outfit options especially when you add in your shoes.”








Beth will be speaking on understanding your business from a Spiritual perspective and how to apply these principles in creating abundance. Showing you the power and possibility you can love what you do everyday.

Beth will be guiding you into a meditation aligning you to an intuitive and creative experience. Lynch will also take questions and share intuitive insights. Beth's own personal experiences opened her to understanding life, death and everything in between. Forniver two decades she has been inspired to guide others understand the power of their Spirit and how this influences conditions around them personally and professionally. For more information or to contact for private, group or corporate gatherings:




/bethlynch444 for meditation, podcasts & more.






Sherry Hale has been an innovator from the start. Her father, and his father before him, were both businessmen and entrepreneurs. Sherry found that she had that same, innate capability that would eventually drive her to excel and succeed in the business realm herself. From the onset of adolescence, she was motivated to learn how to use a computer, so she taught herself. She also felt a magnetic pull to the beauty industry, completing her cosmetology license after high school. These are the stepping stones that lead Sherry down the long and winding road that has led her to where she is today: the CEO and founder of The SHALE Group; a Master Artist in Custom Beaute; a distributor of her own patented PMU tool, Sherry Hale Define brushes, as well as her own organic skincare line Sherry Hale “Silk”; and finally, as a New York State educator in her Cosmetic Micropigmentation training institute, Custom Beaucademy. Sherry’s success has been due to a culmination of calculated decisions that started very early in her adult life and that she continues to make every day. Sherry started work at Dow Chemical Company as a computer training coordinator, with the additional responsibility of supporting a large team of engineers. She started a family and, after five years of dedicated service, she left Dow to raise them. During her time as a stay at home mom with a 1 and 3-year-old, she learned to master the computer, the internet, search engines and web design. With these new tools in her belt, she went on to start her first company, ViaTheWeb Designs, LLC. From there, in 1998, Sherry was able to realize her first invention – the Virtual Office which was the perfect marriage of her passion for computers and her love of the beauty industry. A very successful

venture called, allowed her to stay at home with her children while earning a substantial income. The tool quickly accelerated in the internet realm where major corporations began to copy and replicate her efforts. Her web-based, interactive software and website subscription

her aunt, grandfather, grandmother(s), and an uncle that continued to challenge her motivation and drive. She continued to work her home business on a much smaller scale while fighting deep depression and trying to figure out how to overcome these personal struggles. In 2008 an opportunity presented itself to work on a three-year global computer project at Pfizer called LIMS. Pfizer had purchased a large amount of small companies around the globe and they needed to upgrade all the legacy systems that were used to test samples. Sherry reported to the Program Manager as the Global Working Group Coordinator for the project lifecycle. After working with highly skilled professionals outside of the walls of her home, she quickly discovered that she wanted to complete her degree as she thrived in this intellectually stimulating environment. At that time in 2008, she started online courses and went on to complete her bachelor’s degree in Web Design and Multimedia with Magna Cum Laude honors graduating in 2010. Sherry did this while simultaneously working her full-time job and raising two teenagers.

service (Virtual Office) now earns millions in annual revenues for companies across the globe. In 1999, Sherry’s life was abruptly devastated by the death of her father at age 51 who she was very close with. Following that, over a few short years, were the deaths of

At the completion of the Pfizer project, Sherry was still feeling that pull to the beauty industry and had a strong urge to complete education in Cosmetic Micropigmentation. So she completed the courses necessary to start her next adventures, where she started her second company: Custom Beaute. After working in the beauty realm for a year, she was once again called on for another computer project, this time by Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Buffalo New York.





“A very successful venture called, allowed her to stay at home with her children while earning a substantial income.”

The Facets project at BCBS was a fast-moving target project dictated by government mandates put on insurance companies. Sherry was brought on as the Project Coordinator, reporting directly to the Program manager, as well as serving as assistant to the Project Manager. The project successfully concluded in less than a year’s time and was later awarded with the esteemed recognition as Project of the Year award by the Project Management Institute. She was then put on multiple projects, supporting a wide range of the business departments at BCBS, as well as the IT department. She saw first-hand that there was a strong need for a SharePoint system to be implemented and started her quest to find approval for this roll out. After the system was approved and a job position was created for the SharePoint Systems Analyst, Sherry spent the next 3 years rolling out what is now the legacy system at BCBS. During this time working at BCBS, her passion for the beauty industry was still omni-present, and the need for Cosmetic Micropigmentation in the area was there. Custom Beaute found its home in small space in the city of Tonawanda, where she would take clients in the evening and some weekends. As the need and customer base evolved, so did the business. In 2013, Sherry moved into her first 2400 square foot business as the first of many expansions, offering a wide range

of spa services. She stayed in that location for 3 years and learned the difficulties of owning a business with staff. Despite the challenges, the business continued to grow where she then relocated to Northwoods Medical Building in 2015.

Over the next 2 years, she continued to evolve the business by adding new services as well as she continued her training quest to perfect her skills. But she wasn’t done, she still had goals for additional companies to build as additions that would complement Custom Beaute. In 2018 and 2019, she proceed to form Custom Beautech and Custom Beaucademy, which now make

up the SHALE Group which combined with Custom Beaute, form over 4000 sq. feet in Northwood’s Medical Building. Sherry has always focused on helping people. She has worked with her team over the past several years to deliver an unprecedented, multi-faceted approach through the SHALE Group’s three factions—Custom Beaute, Custom Beaucademy, and Custom Beautech—to deliver to her clients, and the clients of those who partner with her, life-changing experiences. Together these divisions are dedicated to offering the best products, best technology, the best teachers, and the best possible environment for the magic to happen for her clients, while also setting standards for the beauty industry to follow. This has been Sherry Hale’s vision and every move she makes is meant to further enhance the positive outcomes that others achieve when they meet her. The most recent expansion was with Aesthetics Gynecology, now offers her clients even more services to help them on their transformational journeys. She is where she is today because of her commitment, her passion, and her drive. Continued growth is always in her personal line of sight, and it’s evidenced by her incredible journey from the farm country of Michigan to the beauty mecca of Western New York.


{ WOMAN ENTREPRENEUR } “Sherry’s success has been due to a culmination of calculated decisions that started very early in her adult life, and that she continues to make every day.”



Custom Beaute’s growing brand provides a unique, all-encompassing mix of medi-spa services, products, and training for cosmetic enhancement. Sherry Hale, Founder and CEO of The SHALE Group, had a vision when developing Custom Beaute to help her clients feel and be their absolute best. “Let’s face it: Life is rough, and every decade brings more complications. Through our esthetics and wellness services, we help clients internalize their beauty, which is a very empowering thing. When you feel amazing, you can get through anything”, Hale said in an upcoming interview for Good Housekeeping, Woman’s Day, and Woman’s Health. The SHALE Group has recently expanded in two of their divisions, Custom Beaucademy and Custom Beaute, and we are very excited about sharing this news! Custom Beaucademy has continued to see exponential growth this past year, and we are now officially pending licensure with the New York State Department of Education. Beaucademy is now booking courses for December, January, and February; currently offering one class a month with the finest guest teachers the United States has to offer. Students benefit from a 2:1 ratio (two students to one teacher) per class, so as to optimize their learning experience by getting the attention that they deserve, and need, in order to thrive when they leave our classroom and start out on their own. There is, of course, room to

schedule two back to back classes a month to accommodate all of our interested students, who we welcome to go check out our website: custombeaucademy. com for more information on classes, and payment and financing options. The current course is a 6-day “All About Eyebrows” course, with more classes to be added very soon, including Lips, and Eyeliner! Custom Beaute, the services division of The SHALE Group, has seen growth and

diversification as well! With more than 30 years in the beauty industry, and 10 years in permanent cosmetics performing over 10,000 procedures; Sherry is also a licensed New York State educator and cosmetologist, with a bachelor’s degree in information technology and an evergrowing list of certifications. With her commitment to continued education and growth, she is always on the lookout for the latest and greatest in technology and services to offer her clients, so that she can

continue to help them on their individual journeys. Recent services that have been mentioned in previous articles are the Plasma Fibroblast treatment—which is a skin tightening solution—and Jet Fill, which a more natural, subtle-looking needless filler using hyaluronic acid, which your body produces naturally on its own. The newest expansion in our services division is incredible, as we have partnered with Aesthetics Gynecology, owned and operated by Dr. George Danakas and Dr. Armen Kirakosyan. Dr. Danakas is an obstetriciangynecologist in Amherst, New York and is affiliated with multiple hospitals in the area. He received his medical degree from Universidad Autonoma de Guadalajara and has been in practice for more than 20 years. Dr. Kirakosyan is also an obstetriciangynecologist in Elma, New York and is affiliated with multiple hospitals in the area as well. He received his medical degree from Crimea State Medical University and has been in practice between 11-20 years. Both doctors are highly regarded in their field and have been eager to expand their business and grow together with the Custom Beaute team. Dr. Danakas and Dr. Kirakosyan partnered to create Aesthetics Gynecology several years ago, hoping that they could serve women needing cosmetic enhancements,


{ CUSTOM BEAUTE } “Through our esthetics and wellness services, we help clients internalize their beauty, which is a very empowering thing. When you feel amazing, you can get through anything.”

or reconstruction in the gynecological realm. Sherry, who also strives to make women look their best and to help them feel empowered, felt like the stars aligned with this prodigious team-up. Matching Sherry’s excitement for expansion, the doctors have recently moved Aesthetics Gynecology into Custom Beaute and are ready to start seeing their patients in this, their new location in the Northwoods Medical Building at 3950 East Robinson Road, Amherst. With this move, they brought with them an awe-inspiring amount of new services. Geared towards

helping women struggling with some of the most intimate and sensitive issues they could ever go through, these doctors have worked tirelessly to ensure that the women that come to them for help are heard, supported, and treated in such a manner that they are able to feel whole, complete, and restored. The services that they have brought to our office include: Vaginal Rejuvenation, Labiaplasty, ThermiVa, ThermiSmooth, Clitoral Hoodoplasty, Hymenoplasty, Urogynecological surgery consultations, the O-Shot, and CoolSculpting. We are

absolutely thrilled to be offering our ladies these new services so we can help be a one stop shop that is able to accommodate all of their personal needs. Spearheaded by Sherry, this unification is already off and running and thriving, so the Custom Beaute family is proud to introduce its newest members, Dr. D and Dr. K!

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NUTRITION FOR YOUR MIND Have you set your New Year Resolutions yet? If you are like 71 percent of people (according to a survey of 2,000 people last year), your Resolution is to diet or eat healthier and for most of you the reason is to lose weight. This is a great goal because being overweight can increase your risk of diabetes, heart disease and a lot of other health ailments.

- Research now shows that major stress can reduce the amount of brain tissue in areas that regulate emotions and self-control. - Stress may amplify the immune response to asthma triggers such as pollen, animal dander, or dust. And if you are still thinking about you

- Stress can raise blood sugar, and if you have type-2 diabetes, you may notice that your blood sugar levels are higher if you are stressed.

We all want to be happy and as stressfree as possible. Being happy and being healthy are interlinked. In addition to yoga, meditation, and exercise, nutrition can have a huge impact on reducing your stress levels. Here are my top 10 food recommendations to combat stress: 1.) Salmon: Salmon is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of poly-unsaturated fat, which have been shown to decrease inflammation in the brain and body. Oftentimes, deficiencies in this nutrient can result in depression. Omega-3s help serotonin cross through cell membranes in the brain. Serotonin is a chemical in the brain that sends signals between cells, and serotonin balance is extremely important for mental well-being.

I want to challenge you to eat healthier for another reason—your mind! If you are like many Americans (55 percent according to a recent Gallop Poll), you experience a high level of stress daily. And almost everybody experiences situational stress. Did you know that stress is the basic cause of 60 percent of all diseases and 75 percent of doctor visits are stress-related? Stress is not just a mood state—it damages your organs. Here are just a few ways stress can affect your health: - If you suffer from chronic stress, it could be affecting your heart health. While an exact link between chronic stress and heart attacks isn’t clear, studies have shown that individuals who suffer from jobrelated stress have a 23% more likely to have a first heart attack vs. people with no job-related stress.

to cravings for sugar and fat. So yes, a fringe benefit of being less stressed is weight loss!

desire to reduce your waistline, stress can increase the amount of fat that your body stores and enlarges the size of fat cells. This can lead to weight gain and increase your risk for obesity, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Also, stress has a terrible impact on your food cravings! Do you find yourself reaching for that pint of ice cream when you’re stressed? There’s a scientific reason for that! Cortisol, a hormone released by your body when it’s stressed, is linked

2.) Avocados: We need B vitamins for healthy nerves and brain cells, and feelings of anxiety may be rooted in a B vitamin deficiency. Avocados are rich in stress-relieving B vitamins. Bonus: They’re also high in monounsaturated fat and potassium, which help lower blood pressure. 3.) Berries: Whether it’s blueberries, raspberries or strawberries, these little fruits are big on antioxidants that have stress-relieving properties. Berries are also an excellent source of vitamin C, which can keep our cortisol levels in check 4.) Nuts: Pistachios, Almonds, and Walnuts – The B and E vitamins in almonds are great for relieving stress. They



{ KELLY’S CHOICE } “As you are in the midst of the holiday season, keep your stress levels in check. Hang out with people who make you laugh and smile and limit your time with those who make your stress levels surge! “

also contain stress-reducing magnesium and zinc. Walnuts and pistachios also help fight stress thanks to B vitamins. 5.) Leafy Green Veggies: Green leafy vegetables like spinach contain folate, which produces dopamine, a pleasure-inducing brain chemical, helping you keep calm.

potassium in milk can help relieve muscle spasms triggered by feeling tense. 9.) Seeds: Flaxseed, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds are all great sources of magnesium (as are leafy

6.) Turkey: That sleepy feeling you get after eating Thanksgiving dinner is due to the amino acid tryptophan found in turkey. Tryptophan signals the brain to release the feelgood chemical serotonin, which promotes calmness and even tiredness. Just make sure that you ditch the skin and choose the white meat!

As you are in the midst of the holiday season, keep your stress levels in check. Hang out with people who make you laugh and smile and limit your time with those who make your stress levels surge! Take some time for yourself and choose to eat healthfully BEFORE the New Year. Work the above foods into your regimen and you will notice your stress levels decline. And enjoy the weight loss that will naturally come with these stress-reducing food choices. Here’s to a happy and healthy New Year to you and yours!

7.) Oatmeal: Oatmeal is another food that helps get the calm-inducing hormone serotonin flowing. Go with thick-cut, old fashioned oats that require cooking instead of instant oatmeal. Why? Coarse oats are higher in fiber and so they take longer to digest (meaning their calming effect lasts longer). 8.) Skim Milk: A glass of warm skim milk before bed is a time-tested remedy for insomnia and fidgetiness. That’s because milk is high in antioxidants, vitamins B2 and B12, as well as protein, potassium, and calcium. The protein lactium has a calming effect by lowering blood pressure, while the 118

10.) Dark Chocolate: I saved the best for last. Who doesn’t love chocolate? Chocolate has an undeniable link to mood; we eat more chocolate if we are depressed to make ourselves feel better. And it works. Just be sure to stick with dark chocolate, which not only has healthy antioxidants, but can also lower blood pressure, making us feel calmer and more relaxed.

Kelly Springer is the founder of Kelly’s Choice nutritional company. She’s appeared on many television shows, including Good Morning America! To hire a dietitian for yourself or your worksite, visit www. greens, yogurt, nuts, and fish). Loading up on the mineral may help regulate emotions. Magnesium has been shown to help alleviate depression, fatigue, and irritability.


Also, visit our website for more nutrition tips and recipes!

{ KELLY’S CHOICE } “We all want to be happy and as stress-free as possible. Being happy and being healthy are interlinked. In addition to yoga, meditation, and exercise, nutrition can have a huge impact on reducing your stress levels.“




Kyle Ruggeri founded Sober Dogs Recovery after his release from prison. He started the website to give voice to his experiences, so as to help others going through the process of recovery and sobriety by sharing his story. I connected with Kyle at Sandra Doorley’s press conference, and he graciously took the time to let me interview him, during which I inquired about his trials and what led up to his deciding to change his life. Kyle’s Background In middle school and high school, Kyle, along with a core group of friends, were involved in various sports (Kyle, football). As he stated, the thoughts that started substance use, “I had a wonderful family in Webster growing up—great parents—no alcoholism, no addiction, no trauma, nothing. But… there were these false expectations I put on myself all the time.” Part of those expectations he had for himself included keeping his grades up, playing well on the field, being respectful to adults, family, and friends, but also, the ails of adolescence. Kyle spoke of feeling awkward around girls and wanting to fit in with the popular crew like his older brother, his mind always racing “[be] the best, the best, the best.” Though his substance use began around this time, he noted his parents didn’t realize there was any problem until college. At parties, Kyle was always the first one to bring liquor and a bag of coke. Someone he worked with, who had been alienated by his group of friends, provided Kyle with coke; Kyle would often leave a party on Fridays, use, and would bring some back. However, his friends frequently inquired, “Why that much? You don’t need that

much.” Over time, Kyle’s tolerance built up against the effects of marijuana, and then marijuana combined with alcohol. On the other hand, as Kyle put it, “We all used excessively, and so it almost blinded my excess a little bit… ‘Okay, maybe I’m not that nuts for doing three grams of coke and a bottle of Captain tonight.’” Identity Loss: The Downward Spiral Once he began college, he initially achieved well academically, making it onto the Dean’s List. He would visit his brother, and they

would drink a lot, but he was still able to maintain his performance for classroom and field. But in his second year, after Kyle received his fifth concussion being knocked out in football, he began to turn toward opiate abuse. Already diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder and Major Depressive Disorder, he had good intentions—taking his medication as prescribed to recover and rejoin the team. At first, he went to a couple physical therapy sessions and was prescribed Percocet, which was unusual—concussions rarely receive painkiller prescriptions, but Kyle had severe pain in his neck from

the collision. He had used them before recreationally, but, “Now I actually had them.” Placed on injury reserve, Kyle was no longer required to show up for practice. “So my identity for the last twenty years was ‘football player’...” He lived in a house with five others, four of whom were on the team; once class finished at 2 p.m., he would be back home in pain instead of his usual place on the field. Having the Percocets on hand, he progressively began taking them irresponsibly, leading to his opiate addiction. RIPPLE EFFECT: THE VISE GRIP OF ADDICTION Kyle recounted the effect his addiction had on his family, specifically his parents. He knew his mom would start crying, and his dad would be in complete disarray, which was out of character for a person who was always prompt and organized. “The arguments would ensue from what I stole or what I did.” The only way Kyle knew to mitigate the pain he felt hurting others so deeply was doing more drugs, even though it would cause more pain. At one point, he broke into the safe in his father’s office, after which his father bought a shotgun safe only so that Kyle couldn’t break into that. “He [Kyle’s father] came into my room… ‘I have to put a deadbolt on my door in our house because of you breaking in—my son.’ He couldn’t comprehend why I was doing it… And that pain just destroyed me; I went right out and got as high as I could.” ROCK BOTTOM Four months after being released from prison, Kyle was sent to Monroe County Jail for the second time after committing

{ {BEHIND THE SCENES} } SHIFT+CONTROL “I had a wonderful family in Webster growing up—great parents—no alcoholism, no addiction, no trauma, nothing. But… there were these false expectations I put on myself all the time.”

a violation. He was in utter disbelief that he had wound up back there. “It was a combination of walking back into Monroe County jail after saying I would never come back, the depression of being in there, and then I called my parents. And that phone call I had with them was the worst phone call I ever had in my life.” His mother told him that they were planning his death: “We never thought we’d have to figure out tree plots and burial plots, but it’s going to happen. You’re brother’s getting married— we put the wedding and everything off so you could be his best man—that’s out the window. We’re trying to figure out our lives with just him and his family because you will be dead soon.” Kyle also talked some about his parents’ experience while he was in prison. They didn’t want to talk about what was going on with other people, nor did they go out. His father had a minor heart attack while Kyle was in jail, which he attributed to himself, causally. Along with prison and jail, Kyle also spent time in solitary: a total of twelve months and twenty-five days, five different trips. “The longest trip was one hundred twenty-three days… there’s not been one other thing in my entire life that even comes close to the pain and misery of solitary… For me, with the exception of one fight, every time I went to solitary was because of drug use.” Once he left solitary, a place without sunlight or social contact, he was offered drugs. He accepted, which sent him right back. “First three to five days for me are ‘sleep twenty hours a day.’ Day five to eight, it’s like your body can’t sleep anymore—you go nuts. And then eight to fifteen is the mental breakdown… reality stops.” During one of his stays, someone had drugs on the block. Without any money, he was unable to afford any. As it happened, about six or seven other people on the block overdosed, “...and they shut the whole block down, and the state troopers came in. I don’t know 122

how many died.” THE TURNING POINT: CHOICE TO CHANGE During one of his stays, a fellow inmate asked Kyle what he was going to do when he got out. He replied, “I’m gonna be sober for my family, get a job…” The inmate stoutly told him he wouldn’t, to which Kyle was affronted. Over time though, he realized that if he continued what he was doing, he would get the same results—a lesson that began to sink in at Willard. “Willard was exactly what I needed at the time; it was structured—up at 5 a.m. it was humility—all these guards yelling, screaming, you have to do push-ups—it’s basically Army boot camp, but when the Army would do combat and arms training, Willard puts AA and rehab in. So it was the structure, working out, (which I enjoyed anyway), humility, and then all these seeds of rehab and AA and being clean… it was a great three months of completely sober thought. I was also able to look around, and I saw exactly what would happen if I did not stop and I did not die.” The reality of continuing the cycle of addiction was “three minutes of pleasure followed by five hours and fifty-seven minutes of absolute misery, desperation, and anxiety. And then you get more drugs and it’s three minutes of pleasure and the same cycle again. And even the three minutes towards the end—not even three minutes.” When his sentence was finished, Kyle had made the choice to pursue the path of sobriety. He decided to become a part of ROCovery Fitness, an organization with members who pursue sobriety and enjoy various kinds of fitness (which, Kyle loves working out). A big fan of twelve-step and AA, ROCovery kept interaction interesting since different outings could have different people, creating a sense of community for him, also encouraging him to continue


in his journey. However, Kyle still felt a hole—he enjoyed his work, but it didn’t bring him a sense of fulfillment or passion he desired. A dog-lover at heart, he noticed a sense of satisfaction when volunteering or working with animals. Along with this void, Kyle and his parents had difficulty interacting with friends they ran into in a public setting—to share or not to share, and if so, how much? Growing tired of silence, Kyle started his website, Sober Dogs Recovery at, where he talks about his narrative. Not only has it helped others struggling with sobriety, but it also helps Kyle in his own process. Through sharing, he feels empowered and passionate, the name reflecting two things dear to his heart: sobriety and dogs. In his own words, “For [the] future, my goal would be to somehow get paid a full salary to do this—speak, write, whatever it is, something to do with recovery.” COMING FULL CIRCLE Kyle closed with excellent advice: “One of my biggest fears: getting sober is the end of my life. One of my main missions with Sober Dogs is to let people know how much more fulfilling life is without the drugs and alcohol and how much more fun I could actually have. That’s a huge, huge goal, and that’s why I use my dogs and the animals, which brings me so much joy with a lot of that too. Because I always told myself, ‘I’ll get sober so I don’t hurt my friends and family anymore, but I’ll just be a miserable shell all day.’ I associated fun with drugs and alcohol my whole life—without it, that’s it. There’s nothing. And that couldn’t have been further from the truth. And when I look back at the majority of the times, I look at the fun memories and parties in college—the only thing that made many of them memorable and/or fun was somebody fell and broke the table or it’s always trouble. It was never like a wonderful evening with beers or wine




SHIFT+CONTROL { {BEHIND THE SCENES} } “It was a combination of walking back into Monroe County jail after saying I would never come back, the depression of being in there, and then I called my parents. And that phone call I had with them was the worst phone call I ever had in my life.”

or like a romantic evening with a girl. My idea of fun was warped, and I want people to know that’s not what sobriety is—it’s not miserable. It could be very fulfilling and fun, but it’s not automatic either. You have to work on yourself, and then work to help others, and then that fulfillment comes full circle.” And when asked about how to talk to someone going through addiction: Definitely don’t put them down or belittle them, especially about their addiction. Be supportive without enabling, and one thing I think is very important is planting the seeds of sobriety. The first two or three rehabs I went to didn’t get me sober, but there was little things I learned and listened to in there that I still know to this day. And those little seeds—you never know when they’re actually gonna pop up. People always say, ‘You went to that rehab—it didn’t work!’ It’s not that it didn’t work, but maybe the person wasn’t ready. There’s 124

a million circumstances, but I would learn little things each time that when it finally does kind of all come together, I can use stuff that I learned at this rehab, this AA meeting...Yeah, I never think it’s a bad idea to plant positive seeds, even though the person might have another ten years of using, you know? Who knows? Something could pop up and help them.”

something wrong, but sports helped me my whole life, and taking away that identity at that age would not have helped. And I think a lotta times now when someone gets in trouble they punish them by kicking them off this inclusive, good, positive program they’re involved in—no. You can punish them, but don’t take away something that’s benefitting their life.”

Looking back, Kyle notably mentioned that he believes his identity crash might have come sooner when he was sixteen, had he been kicked off the football team. He has a DWI, and the athletic director deemed the consequence be immediate removal. “...The coaches ended up coming in and talking to him, ‘He’s a very good player; you don’t want him off the team,’ so they made me go to AA meetings. If they would have kicked me off the team—yes it’s a punishment, but I think that would have started my addiction way earlier. Yes, someone needs to be punished if they did

Though we as a society have a ways to go for resolving the opioid crisis, having valuable perspective such as this helps to close the gap between those who struggle with addiction and those who have a loved one who struggles. Choosing sobriety is arduous, but with increasing awareness, supports, education, and outreach, hopefully the choice becomes less onerous. “To know that even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson












Arthritis is the leading cause for disability in the United States and affects over fifty million Americans. In fact, about one in five people have arthritis. Cannabidiol (CBD) has been studied and tested as a more natural, holistic alternative for managing arthritis symptoms. One of these studies done in 2011 showed that CBD helps to reduce inflammatory pain. A more recent study done in 2017 concluded that CBD can be used as a safe and useful treatment for osteoarthritis joint pain. The Arthritis Foundation pushes for FDA regulation and the continued clinical studies of CBD for arthritis on their website. They acknowledge that people with arthritis are some of the top purchasers of Cannabidiol, and that it is both a safe and effective treatment for arthritis pain and inflammation. The way CBD helps manage pain and inflammation is by affecting receptors in your brain and your immune system. Everyone has an Endocannabinoid system filled with neurotransmitters involved in regulating cognitive and physiological processes. Cannabidiol (CBD) naturally boosts Endocannididol levels in your body which influences things such as appetite and pain sensation. In other words, CBD changes the way your body feels pain and inflammation by targeting receptors in your brain. CBD has also been linked to helping sleep conditions such as insomnia. Insomnia is a sleep disorder where people have a hard time falling asleep

and staying asleep throughout the night, causing them to have daytime drowsiness. Research suggests that around 1 in 3 people have insomnia. CBD has been shown in studies to improve REM sleep, decrease daytime grogginess, and even reduce nightmares. CBD interacts with receptors in the brain that control your body’s sleep and

awake cycles. It is a non-addictive, holistic approach to treating sleep disorder such as insomnia. Most prescription medications for sleep disorders are ineffective and have harsh side effects and ingredients. Some people that have tried CBD for insomnia were able to reduce taking such medications, and some cut them out altogether. Cannabidiol has also been shown to mimic serotonin in your

body, which is known to help people wean off harsh and strong medications. People who have low serotonin levels are also linked to talking anti-anxiety medications. Anxiety is currently the most common mental ailment in the United States. While experiencing anxiety, the neurotransmitters in certain regions of your brain become hyperactive. CBD works by targeting those neurotransmitters much like it does for pain. Brain scans have shown changes in the blood flow in your brain during periods of anxiety while taking CBD. The fear of public speaking is a common trigger for anxiety. One study showed that people with fear of public speaking had both improved performance and less anxiety while actively taking CBD. Social Anxiety is the fear of being in social situations and affects about 15 million Americans, myself included. Essentially social anxiety is the fear everyone is constantly judging you or analyzing your every move. Many people who suffer from social anxiety are prescribed anti-anxiety medications by their doctor. Long term side effects of such medications can be increased blood pressure, sleep problems, headaches, sexual problems or erectile disfunction, etc. CBD offers relief to those who struggle with social anxiety, without those harsh side effects. So now that you have heard off some of the benefits of Cannabidiol and how it provides relief to people suffering from many different ailments, the questions arises to why some people are hesitant to use it. Many associate CBD with



SHIFT+CONTROL { {YOUR CBD BEST OIL} } “The way CBD helps manage pain and inflammation is by affecting receptors in your brain and your immune system. Everyone has an Endocannabinoid system filled with neurotransmitters involved in regulating cognitive and physiological processes.”

hemp plant, which is a cousin plant to marijuana. Unlike it’s cousin plant marijuana, CBD does not produce a psychosomatic “high” feeling. CBD is legal in most of the United States, but some states still have some restrictions for buying and selling CBD. There are many clinical studies that have shown the effectiveness of CBD for reducing the number of seizures, and even stopping them altogether for some people who suffer from seizure disorders. The FDA has approved a CBD medicine, Epidiolex, for seizures but has not approved CBD for anything else yet. That is because more research and clinical studies are needed The CBD market is booming, and since CBD is not FDA regulated it is 130

important to do your research on the CBD product you are purchasing. It is important to select a company that does not import their CBD from overseas to avoid false labeling, pesticides, and even heavy metals. Try and choose a company that is third-party lab tested for quality. This also ensures you are getting what is on the label. Lastly choose a company that uses organic, natural ingredients. A good rule of thumb is that if you can’t pronounce and ingredient or if you don’t know what it is, stay away. Burgess, L. (2018, August 2). Can CBD oil relieve arthritis pain? https://www. Cherney, K. (2019, August 13). Using


CBD for Anxiety: Does It Work? https:// Grinspoon, P. (2019, August 27). Cannabidiol (CBD) – what we know and what we don’t. [Web blog.] Moore, G. R. (2019, August 15). Stress & Anxiety? How CBD Oil Can Help. Villines, Z. (2018, July 27). Can CBD oil help anxiety? https://www.medicalnewstoday. com






HELLO MY NAME IS SANDY ARENA AND I AM A SURVIVOR OF CHILDHOOD SEXUAL ABUSE The Worth More Nation name came to me in the summer of 2017 as I was running on a treadmill at my local gym one day. Fellow visionaries may know inspiration can come in the strangest of places – even on a treadmill in the middle of a dungy gym. Nonetheless since that day, we have seen this name and the work behind it accomplish much in the lives of hundreds of people who have been impacted by traumatic childhoods. The biggest surprise to me, however, is how the Worth More Nation name and what we do has impacted my own journey of healing after childhood sexual abuse.

no matter how our stories have unfolded. Can someone please say amen and put a crown on our heads? This month for Rochester Woman Online, I wanted to share more of my “why” behind Worth More Nation and the work I am so passionate about. The time felt right, as did the medium - a beautifully-appointed online magazine devoted to sharing and exploring women and the issues that may affect us all, including yes, childhood sexual abuse.

Ugh. I wrote it. Childhood sexual abuse. It’s never easy to say or wrap my head around it happening to me. Not now. Not then. Not ever. And fifty some years later walking out my own past can still present a mental struggle as I try to understand my own worth, despite the many successes and blessings I have experienced for which I am so grateful, and to which I give God all the glory. If you are not careful to overcome, a wise friend once said, you will become. I share this in great vulnerability because perhaps I am not alone in my admission to personal weakness, and maybe, if we are honest, we all need to be reminded and encouraged that we are “Worth More”, no matter what we have been through; and 132

Ugh. I wrote it again, but perhaps writing about this horror isn’t so bad after all, or at least that is what the experts say. The American Psychological Association reports in an article adapted from the Encyclopedia of Psychology that one way survivors of childhood sexual abuse can recover is by opening up. “Writing about difficult, even traumatic, experiences appears to be good for health on several levels – raising immunity and other health measures and improving life functioning.” Well then, touché to me. Other statistics I found paint a picture somewhat bleak. One in seven women will


suffer from this kind of abuse and the affects (without healing) can be dismal: Higher rates of substance abuse, greater incidence of suicide, lower academic performance, elevated high school dropout rates, increased mental health and emotional issues, depression, physical aggression, higher teen pregnancy, and on and on and on and on…. I had to stop reading – lest I cry, and lest I forget all I could have become, and all that I have overcome because of my faith, reliance and trust in Jesus. That is where my faith and healing come from, believing and seeing the manifestation of God’s power being made perfect in my weaknesses. And for that I give Him all the praise. This is who I am. This is what I believe. And I can’t write about my “why” and Worth More Nation without expressing that truth. I have had many years behind me living my life in a way that was hard. But, I have labored endlessly since then to recover and rewrite my story and my mindsets, and now live a life that is far from perfect, but one that I love. I choose to celebrate the latter, and hope my story of coming to this place helps someone else achieve the life of their dreams; the life they thought was never within their reach. I have found that childhood abuse has a way of whispering the lie that you don’t matter and that you are less than those around you. Today, I do all I can to help dispel that myth and help others know and find their worth. But first, back to the day I came upon the Worth More Nation name on that treadmill and how this moment in time has meant so much to me. I used to run, but now that I am over 50, I have found that I shuffle. On that day, I was shuffling. And praying.






{ WORTH MORE NATION } “The Worth More Nation name came to me in the summer of 2017 as I was running on a treadmill at my local gym one day.”

so much to me. I used to run, but now that I am over 50, I have found that I shuffle. On that day, I was shuffling. And praying. And praying. And shuffling. I felt as if I had more to do to help children who had suffered abuse - something my family and I had already been doing for many years, having welcomed at least a dozen or more hurting kids of all ages and circumstances into our home temporarily, and also for the long term. One time even after a dance outreach trip to Nashville (I used to own and direct a nonprofit, faith based ballet school), for example, we brought a 19-yearold boy who had been living homeless on the streets back to live with us. This was all wonderful, and maybe even a little reckless at the time, because perhaps we weren’t best equipped to do what our hearts were telling us to do. But nonetheless, it was a way of life for so many years, and like the miles I was shuffling on that treadmill that day, I had no plans of stopping. “Let’s start with a name God,” I prayed. “Show me some words that could be our organizational name,” I continued my silent 136

plea while expectantly scanning the room for any old word or word combination that could perhaps divinely come to light to communicate the yearnings of my heart. I was looking at people’s t-shirts around me reading what they said and trying to “see” as I shuffled what I wanted to see. I noticed three words stick out on three, different exercisers, and just like that, in an instant, I saw the words bobbing up and down on the t-shirts of these people working out in front of me - WORTH. MORE. NATION. Of course - Worth More Nation, I thought in excitement, frantically trying to thumb type the words on my iPhone as I shuffled, so I wouldn’t forget. It seemed perfect because the name said it all, and it seemingly embodied what I was feeling on the inside - a never ending call and desire to protect and provide for children who suffered from trauma and abuse – kids like the young girl I once was and the child who I desperately never wanted to be.


When I was a little girl, and for as long as I can remember until I acquired the language to tell my family in a way they could understand what I was saying, my grandfather sexually molested me. And this is my “why” for my work of today, and the work of my yesterdays, and the “why” for my quest for an organizational name that day. He did it in terrible, unthinkable and sick ways including forcing me to look at pornography as a very young child, and also touching me anyway and anywhere when he would get me alone. And get me alone, he did. He was cunning and intentional. He groomed me with toys, gifts, and special outings with the purpose of isolation and extreme attention that I -- as the youngest child in a large, dysfunctional, chaotic, and substance abuse filled home – found hard to receive. During those days, I would get lost in the middle of it all.



{ WORTH MORE NATION } “After he died, there was talk of what to do with their property. And I remember at the time thinking it should be turned into a home and safe haven to restore childhood sexual abuse survivors.”

“Child grooming is befriending and establishing an emotional connection with a child, and sometimes the family to lower the child’s inhibitions with the objective of sexual abuse,” says Wikipedia. And apparently, there are six noted stages of grooming which I chose not to read at the time of this writing because the thought of that level of manipulation makes me feel truly sick to my stomach. My grandfather saw me and doted on me like no one else did, except it wasn’t because he loved and cherished me as his granddaughter, but because he had an agenda. He violated me and took advantage of me in ways that no child or human should ever experience. I fell victim to his repeated schemes and trickeries that spanned years of my childhood as an attention-starved girl who was submissive, compliant, loving, and lost at home when things were going awry. My mother fell ill when I was born and couldn’t handle her life or her youngest children at the time. I grew up hearing how devastated she was when she found out she was pregnant with me – the youngest of five children. If abortion had been legal back then in 1965 maybe I would have been aborted. I almost died while she was in childbirth, and so did she. After the trauma of being born where she had a ruptured placenta and I was drowning in her uterus, I was sent away to live with relatives the first year of my life as a foster baby, including yes, I was sent to live with him. My abuser. My grandfather. The monster of my childhood. I shudder and sob and sometimes even vomit in deliverance to know how I lived out the first year of my life as a baby, and there are times including while writing this that I want to rip my skin off to rid myself of skin memories. There are some touches that never leave and are now scars that make up the fabric of my physical being.

When I first became a mother on June 4, 1992 when my beautiful daughter Alexis was born, I learned the power of motherhood and protection. We call it Mama Bear. Watch out for Mama Bear. I would battle for her and all my children like no other, and in realizing this fierce love and protection, I had to wonder why no one battled for me. Where were my protectors? Why didn’t they stop him? Why weren’t they watching me? It was more salt in these large, gaping wounds I already had. I spent years in disbelief – like did this really happen -- and more importantly, why? I had questions for which there were no answers, pain for which there were no pills during my early recovery, and emptiness that stemmed from a never ending quest to belong in a place where I felt like I would never fit in, never find peace and never feel safe. I went for counseling and my first counselor told me to take my power back and confront the perpetrator who should have been put in jail, and also to confront those around me who knew about the abuse. I was a young mother, age 27 at the time, and so in love with my daughter Alexis. I chose to leave my job as a lifestyle newspaper editor when she was first born and take up freelance writing because I could not think of anything else that I wanted to do in my life other than loving her, caring for her and protecting her. My love for her was so deep. I feared threats on her wellbeing, and trusted few, including those at day care. It was never an option in my mind because I cherished every moment I had with her, and couldn’t bear the thought of dropping her off each day, even for the career I had worked so hard to achieve. A few months into my counseling, I finally made those confrontation calls as directed by my therapist. I called everyone – except

him - which I was forbidden to do by my mother because, she yelled at me, if I did I would kill her mother – another lie I believed and took on as my own, as if my grandmother’s response to her husband’s crimes was my responsibility. My biggest offense at this time with those who knew about the abuse was how they used to make jokes about it and I let them know that I wasn’t okay with it anymore. It was as if making light of a terrible situation would make it go away. I grew up with stuff like this around the dinner table after it came out what was happening and the abuse finally stopped (I was around 12 years old when it stopped): “Remember that time out at Pop Pop’s when we did such and such.” And I would say, “No, I don’t remember that.” And then they would crack one liners like, “Oh yeah,” - yuck, yuck, yuck - “That is because you were in the shed with Pop Pop.” The shed. I could write a book about that place that was magically filled with antique tools and iron trinkets piled on his wooden workbench. There were oodles of interesting items and curiosities crammed in the shed to which a gullible child being groomed would be drawn. One day he made me a lead pencil carved out of a tree branch into which he drilled a hole and dropped a piece of lead. There was always fun to be had in their country cottage settled on a large piece of property tucked deep in the Pennsylvania forest on top of a hill in a suburb outside Philadelphia. There were grass covered hills we rolled down, icy creeks with moss covered rocks we inched our way through, fire furnaces with burning trash we watched smoke up from the distance, and a freezing cold swimming pool filled with soggy leaves and floating twigs where we lazed away on inflated tire tubes. There were picnics with fire crackers, afternoons playing Tiddly Winks, fat sticky

{ WORTH MORE NATION } “Forgiveness is a choice to make and a commandment to follow to live and love others, and to live and love well.”

hands searching for lollipops in the lollipop jars, and antique teddy bears we were not permitted to touch sitting on antique rocking chairs throughout the house. These are just some of the memories of mine that should have been the wonderment of childhood, but for me, they were always intertwined with nightmare memories of his isolation tactics, disgusting touches with his shaky hands and heavy breathing which still can be too much for me to carry, if I go there.

fighting back tears, and in shock – disgusted at myself for obediently following along with this charade once again. But then something beautiful happened that happens when personal worth flickers. Strength and dignity came upon me, and I realized I didn’t have to do this anymore.

Equally as devastating, but along a different stream of pain were the responses after confrontation attempts were made during this time period which left me far from feeling validated and definitely not yet empowered. Without going into full detail of this time in my life and all that transpired in my late 20s, I will share some the questions that haunted my mind: Why did my mother make a point of asking me if I had called him for his birthday or did I send him a birthday card? Why did she force me to continue to go to his home for holidays after I was old enough to finally have the language to tell in a way people understood me? Moreover, why did my uncle call me a liar? Why didn’t they tell him otherwise and defend me? Why? Why? Why? Soon after all of this, he died. They asked me to write his eulogy. And in an out of body experience as the perpetual good girl who never said no, predictably, I heard myself say yes. I wrote the last piece of positive prose about him under the guidance and direction of my mother. It was read at his funeral, after which my siblings and extended family stood before the crowd and somberly and proudly spoke of his greatness. I sat quietly, 140

I was a mother with a family of my own, a lovely child and a husband, who at the time, seemed to care. We had been through a lot with the counseling and my grief, and it was just all too much. Life was hard, but there seemed to be hope in this strength arising. I realized in that moment that I didn’t have to be there and that I could regain my power and leave. I was no longer


a victim. What a concept? Feeling self-empowered for probably the first time ever in this circumstance, I stood up in the middle of the funeral crowd and inched my way through the aisle not caring about “who” or “what” and what they might think. By the time we made it outside, I was shaking, my heart was pounding, and I crying. I was angry but relieved to be out of that space and in the late afternoon air. The parking lot attendants told us that we couldn’t leave actually until the funeral was over because the cars were all lined up for the procession. It would be impossible to retrieve the car, they said. My daughter’s father screamed at them and told them to figure it out, and that we had to go. At that, they got into the cars and started reorganizing the parking lot configurations like a real life game of “Parking Lot”. After standing there waiting and crying in the parking lot, our car was finally opened up and we were free to go. I cried the entire way home for all that had happened, and all that I knew was ahead for me to become the woman I knew God created me to be. After he died, there was talk of what to do with their property. And I remember at the time thinking it should be turned into a home and safe haven to restore childhood sexual abuse survivors. And while that never happened, I do realize now that what I have done in my own home as a family who provides safe haven for children who have been abused is an off shoot of this dream, and that Worth More Nation is a greater extension even of that. From time to time, I jot down my life vision. One entry says: My home would be beautiful. A safe haven for abused children. I would

If you are going to live and love – you will be hurt. It happens to all of us and maybe one could argue that some injustices are worse than other. The Bible says that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. We are imperfect humans in an imperfect world and my faith requires me to forgive. For me, this has been a huge part of my healing. Forgiveness is a choice to make and a commandment to follow to live and love others, and to live and love well. I have lived my life with love and the true love of Jesus Christ, and I have learned there is no better way to live and love than with Him. I clear out the darkness by forgiving – and forward giving my hurts to Jesus – in order to let His light in. The great Martin Luther King said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness. Only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that” even the kind of hate that can be born out of childhood sexual abuse.

Today I say my grandfather and all he did to me does NOT belong in my heart. He doesn’t get to be there anymore and if I choose a path of unforgiveness, he is there to stay. Forgiveness drives him away. What he did to me, is not bigger than what Jesus did for me. I will not take my painful yesterdays with me and give the evil that was bestowed upon me a prime place in my heart. My heart was made for beauty, light, purity and goodness. My grandfather does not belong there and I forward give all of that junk to Jesus. This is my faith. This is what I believe and if you do not know Jesus, then maybe you could give Him a try. It’s not a religion, but a relationship and one that has turned my life to hope, beauty and all that is good. Reach out to me if you want to know more (, and if you don’t that’s okay, too. I’m still here for you to talk, share, unload, vent, encourage, whatever. It’s a lot and I realize my story could trigger others, although I truly hope it inspires. Reading other survivor stories has helped me to keep going and never let

go of the dream. I am proud to write that I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. Sandy Arena is the founder and director of Worth More Nation that empowers people impacted by foster care to know their worth through comfort, giving, pageantry and fashion initiatives. She is mom to five and one son in law, and wife to Sam. She likes coffee, shuffling, Jesus and practicing the art of photography, not necessarily in that order. She writes to help, heal and find hope. She spends most her days taking care of her home, her three dogs and her very active children who are involved in sports, dance, pageantry and modeling. For more information, visit



“The great Martin Luther King said, “Darkness ca cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that” even sexual



annot drive out darkness. Only light can do that. Hate en the kind of hate that can be born out of childhood l abuse. �





Renee Soucy the label launched in September of 2018 in Rochester, New York. Owner and designer, Renee soucy, wanted to create a clothing line women would want to wear and would make them excited to get dressed each day. Renee soucy the label is a women’s brand with on trend styles, and contemporary, edgy items.

best. Fashion had always been a passion of hers since middle school, when she first decided she wanted to be a fashion designer, but the idea never truly took hold until she got that job. Renee would carry her sketchbook around with her everywhere she went, because she never wanted to miss an opportunity to jot down

Before Renee Soucy the label, Renee created Voulez, her first clothing business. Voulez, meaning “want” in French, was a little different than Renee soucy the label. All the clothing from voulez was silkscreened sweatshirts and tops made in Palmyra, New York. Voulez gave Renee the knowledge and stepping stones she needed to see and figure out what she truly wanted her brand to look like. She realized, even though she liked creating tops using the silkscreen and direct to garment printing (DTG) methods, she wanted to create customized items for her clients. Renee had been sketching and designing for years and she wanted to make her designs come to life, as well as create sayings for clothing. Renee used her experience from working in a printing shop to incorporate silkscreened items with those she designed. Renee’s idea was to create comfy, and casual clothing to offset the sexier, and extravagant looks she created. Renee began designing clothing back in high school when she worked at TJ Maxx. She loved working with clothing and loved helping give customers advice on what goes together, and what clothing looks

an idea. Renee got most of her inspiration working in the dressing room, seeing all the clothing women would try on, and she would envision her version of the piece. She liked to picture what she would do differently to the item, to make it so she would wear it. By this, she learned how to sketch different shapes, she learned

about patterns and all the wearable fabrics that make up the most popular clothing. While working, Renee would sketch and imagine her future business. Most of the designs she would draw were bridal gowns, bridesmaid’s dresses and prom dresses. Her idea for her business was to start with everyday clothing for women and eventually work her way up to bridal, and couture gowns. But for now, Renee has big plans for her clothing line. Not only is she able to be featured in Rochester area magazines, she is collaborating with some of Rochester’s biggest models to help bring her visions to life. In addition, Renee has taken it upon herself to take more advanced sewing classes to expand her knowledge of the art, in order to create more difficult pieces and work with more difficult fabric. She is also interested in pursuing a degree in fashion design, alongside her business administration degree, to learn more about the current trends. Currently, Renee is launching her 2019 winter line; the “Wonderland” Collection. This collection incorporates both casual and sophisticated styles in one look. Renee introduces four new pieces to her line for this winter season that everyone will love to give for gifts. Renee soucy the label has two new silkscreened tops; “Dreaming of a Wine Christmas” Tee in White, and “Okay, But First Presents” Henley Tee in Storm. Her remaining two pieces include the “Vannah Two Piece Sweater Suit” in Cranberry and “Queenie High Waist Sparkle Pants” in Coal. Renee’s “Wonderland” Collection launches on her website December 11.











{ SHIFT+CONTROL { FASHION FORWARD} } “Renee had been sketching and designing for years and she wanted to make her designs come to life, as well as create sayings for clothing.”































Ya know when you find that PERFECT song/album/playlist for your mood and literally everything is better? Anyone who’s met me for even ten minutes can testify that music is central to my life. I have it playing CONSTANTLY. When I fall asleep, as soon as I wake up, walking down the street, in my office. If music isn’t playing in a room, I’m usually biding my time to be able to connect my phone to some speakers. I sometimes wonder if I could go a day without music but honestly I don’t see the need. Music brings solace in times of pain, brings people together in times of conflict, and helps us celebrate times of joy. It’s gotten me through the darkest moments in my life, when I felt the most alone and didn’t know who to talk to. While I figured it out, I had music. I grew up in a home run on music, from both sides. My mom would play Joni Mitchell on Sunday mornings while we made brunch and she gave me an appreciation for a wide range of musicians from The Kinks to Jimi Hendrix to Dave Matthews Band. I could go on for paragraphs about the concerts my mom and I have gone to (maybe I’ll come back to that in a future article…stay tuned). My dad sang along to Teddy Pendergrass while chasing my mother around our kitchen singing at her while my brother and I cackled at his antics. My brother and I bonded over music from our earliest days, him teaching me the lyrics to Weird Al Yankovic songs and sending me links to songs he heard while he was in college. I owe him my love for Kings of Leon, Vampire Weekend, Andrew Bird, and so many others. I think this might be why music is important to me. It reminds me of home and family.

Music also can teach you a lot about yourself. Sometimes you hear a song that so purely speaks to your situation or that seems to be speaking directly to you and makes you realize something about yourself or your life. I felt that way the first time I heard Lizzo’s Good as Hell and every time I hear Saturn by Stevie Wonder. For me, there is one song that has given me more than any other. My dad wrote it for me, the day I was born. He recorded it with his close friend late at night. It’s got a simple chorus: “Hello you beautiful girl, Hello you beautiful girl Hello you beautiful girl, You brighten up my world” Straight forward enough right? But just those four phrases established some very important things to me right off the bat: I’m beautiful and I make his world better. Having those words come from my dad, the very basis of my DNA? How powerful is that for a little girl to hear before she even truly understands what is being said. I had that song on a cassette tape, then a burned CD, and now my iTunes. On those days when I feel alone, when I miss my family so much I feel a part of my heart is completely void, I’ll either seek out that song or I’ll trip upon it. I’m reminded, by my dad, that I’m important. That I’m loved. And it can sustain me until I’m back with the people I love most. That’s the gist of what I love about music. You’re linked to the person who wrote it, to every person who loves the same song or who feels the same as

you when you hear it. Music can be a lifeline and a way to find connection. So ladies, here are some of my fave songs and albums. I hope they help you as much and they help me. Happy Holidays and it’s time to fly! Devon For when you need inspiration: Songs in The Key Of Life - Stevie Wonder Homecoming: The Live Album - Beyoncé You Gotta Be - Des’ree Almeda - Solange Alright – Kendrick Lamar Shine – Madison McFerrin For when the rage is REAL: Don’t Hurt Yourself - Beyoncé Play Your Part – Leading Role Club Mix – Deborah Cox DNA – Kendrick Lamar FEAR – Kendrick Lamer Wake Up – Alanis Morissette Love To Hate – Cyndi Lauper For loneliness or heartbreak: Going In Circles – Isaac Hayes How I Got Over – The Fairfield Four I Been Buked – Revelations by Alvin Ailey Piece of My Heart – Janis Joplin Unhook The Stars – Cyndi Lauper For when it’s time to dance: Chelsea Morning – Joni Mitchell Party For One – Carly Rae Jepsen Juice – Lizzo Green Light – Lorde In The Stone – Earth, Wind & Fire I Feel For You - Chaka Khan





I took my daughter to the mall the other night to try to find something for her to wear to a sports banquet she had to attend. In the middle of the popular teenage store that displayed crop tops, micro-mini dresses and tube skirts that could challenge any pair of underwear I tried to steer her towards a black turtleneck dress. It was form-fitting but I saw it as a compromise. While that may be a go-to outfit choice for me tempers quickly flared, anxiety escalated and my facial expression clearly said more than anything my mouth could say. She blurted out, “you’re old.”

Where had she gone? I was faced with my own Linda Blair spewing pea soup in my face and for the first time in my life, I didn’t have a comeback.

l admit it; mid-drift shirts and jeans with too many holes don’t look good on young girls, I loathe the cell phone and all the secrecy it creates, she eats so healthy sometimes I want to scream “eat a sandwich”, I question why anyone under the age of 18 needs foundation and so many hair products and I’m completely lost when it comes to her music beyond her John Mayer playlist.

I was the grownup. I was the mother. When she was little, she made me feel young. At 40 years old I got back on the floor and saw the world from her perspective.


I smile now thinking about what we called fashion. The boys didn’t have a chance at ever seeing skin during a routine school day. We wore Lacoste polo shirts, under an oxford button down, topped with a Fair Isle sweater; three layers all neatly fastened together with a wide whale belt. It makes me hot just thinking about it. I stood in the store with my daughter, who had now turned away from me, wondering was she right? Had our age difference finally caught up to me?

She knew she hurt me, a single blow. This was no upper-cut jab. A punch right to me ego. I wanted to strike back and respond, “Well, those overly tight pants you just tried on should come with an arrow pointing right at your vagina.” I did not.

Saturday nights were spent in Blockbuster picking out movies we had both seen a hundred times. We would dance to the closing theme song. One of our favorites was “Night at the Museum” when Earth, Wind & Fire would play “September” and I would teach her my disco moves.

door. I was angry with my body because it was never where I wanted it to be and it was all my her fault.

Standing there I started to remember being my daughter’s age and what a nightmare it was trying on cloths. Dressing room, after dressing room, I would throw my mom’s discarded options for me over the top of


The only technology our phones had were push buttons and long cords. Privacy amounted to stretching the cord out as far as it could go, hopefully into the bathroom where no one could hear who I was talking to. If this phone had a camera on it, it would eventually have seen me wander into the living room where I would lay upside down on the couch, feet in the air with the cord wrapped around me while I rudely continue talking without regard for anyone else in the room.




“I smile now thinking about what we called fashion. The boys didn’t have a chance at ever seeing skin during a routine school day. We wore Lacoste polo shirts, under an oxford button down, topped with a Fair Isle sweater; three layers all neatly fastened together with a wide whale belt. It makes me hot just thinking about it.”

{ HER EDGE } } { SHIFT+CONTROL “I was faced with my own Linda Blair spewing pea soup in my face and for the first time in my life, I didn’t have a comeback.”

Nestles Quik, and Sugar Smacks were for breakfast, lunch was always packed with a bag of Fritos, and a HoHo. Only on fish sticks day was I allowed to buy lunch. Dinner was usually some sort of meat and potatoes and a glass of milk. There was no gluten free pizza, almond butter, or avocado toast on the menu at our house. ‘Breck’ and “Gee Your Hair Smells Terrific’ were the staple shampoos and in the summer would my mom allowed me to use lemon juice to lighten my hair naturally. Love’s Baby Soft perfume and Lip Smackers were extras that came in my stocking and had

to last until Easter. James Charles was not around to teach me a holiday makeup tutorial. I only had the drug store where I would sneak a little blue or green eye shadow, mascara and some blush for my locker to put on after I got to school. I can’t begin to don’t understand what mumble rappers are saying and I hate the profanity in so many of today’s lyrics. But did my mom know that to me, Boston wasn’t just the name of a city?

My daughter and I walked to the car that night in silence. We left the mall with heavy hearts and without any bags. Just when I thought she was about to say “Ok boomer take me home”, she said “I’m sorry.” Maybe we aren’t so far apart after all. I am old, old enough, to know it’s her turn.






Embracing Diversity, Got a minute? I have a little food for thought since our last meeting. I’d like to start with a quote I read recently in NonProfit Quarterly about diversity. “If organizations want to diversify their leadership, they need to be willing to challenge their past and shake their foundations, upending assumptions of who is capable of leading and managing.” Wow, that really hit me squarely where I work and live. In the past couple of months I’ve learned the shifting power of embracing diversity that is more than a soundbite, and sharing access is something that can shake the foundation of who people “say” they are and what they “say” they stand for. That is even at the expense of contradicting their former selves openly or sacrificing people they had previously worked closely with, supported, or even cheered. As a white woman, who has learned from the positions I’ve held in a national and international black owned company for the past seven years, I’ve seen this first hand the lack of sustained resolve to include people of color, or simply put, black people. I am often in the public eye as a representative of this company because my complexion and my blonde hair may be “less threatening,” in meetings or introductions of our work. However, at the same time I also face the challenges of being underestimated as a young, small in stature, woman in a position of power. People are quick to look at me as an “easy pushover” until our interaction proves otherwise. That said, I still have it nowhere near as challenging as a black person, black males specifically. Today allowing black people, women, and people who are considered different to have a true voice is promoted as a simple concept, which is exemplified by antiharassment policies, diversity training in 178

the workplace, and the seemingly touted Diversity Equity and Inclusion policies being promoted at every facet of corporate life. However, when faced with the simple act of inviting even the slightest control shift in a conversation on diversity, race, or politics, the traditional power dynamics historically controlled by white leadership still creates untenable friction. I am the Chairperson of a young professionals organization in Central New York. As part of the recent election cycle I proposed our organization be truly inclusive by changing our all-white model of historically choosing political moderators around election debates, and this cycle inviting an all Black panel of intellectuals from the community to be the questioning panelists of the candidates. In my 5 years with this organization and throughout its entire 15 year history, no solo black or moderator of color has ever been selected. Which means by default, that all previous facilitators have been white. My hope was not to have our organization create a panel with a “token” person of color, I wanted to be able to demonstrate true access and have their circles and ours interact with the Candidates themselves. The event was extremely simple and gave a large opportunity for participation, because it would be a FaceBook Live event. The format was even simpler, a “conversational format” between the candidates and the panel with the Facebook Live audience. Our organization had a board meeting, those attended made a quorum, and with excitement we voted this process into existence. After that meeting, where the format of black panelists was agreed to, suddenly before our next gathering, other members of the organization were no longer comfortable with turning the questioning solely over to a panel of color. Quotes were tossed around such as “By being inclusive you are being exclusive”, “Isn’t having a panel of color, having a ‘token panel’?”


and “Why don’t we just cancel the event and donate money to the NAACP.” When members could not change that aspect of the event, they moved to silence me as the face of the event. They additionally wanted input on my opening speech and thought it was necessary to “approve” my words. People say they want you to ‘speak,’ and say that women and people of color have a right to be heard. Yet, if it doesn’t benefit them, they don’t want to hear it at all. And then there are those who act like they want to help and give black people, or any group a platform, but when the time comes to make that happen, they are just as complicit, demonstrated by the silence of their actions. However, I share this revelation not so you take away ‘pity’ or even ‘anger’ towards the scenario’s I shared, but rather, let it ignite a flame for the path that you are on. I learned an incredible amount by this process. Not everyone you like is your friend. Just because you work together does not mean you are “together”. And if in the moment required you do not stand up for yourself, you are the one the others are standing on. So let’s clear a path for you to step up and start shaking the very foundation of oppression that America was built on. Start small, things that affect you in your life. I am feeling energized to do the good work because they pushed back on me. I’m just now clear about my goals. Is it going to be comfortable? No. But, change isn’t comfortable, it is rarely even bearable. You must feel the growing pains, learn to dress this new body as it develops, and realize that your words, your message, and YOU are capable of leading and helping others find their voice and be successful too. In fact the acts of helping them are the “push ups” of resolve you need in your work. So I’m ready for round 100, are you? I’m sure you are.

{ GOT A MINUTE? } “If organizations want to diversify their leadership, they need to be willing to challenge their past and shake their foundations, upending assumptions of who is capable of leading and managing.”









This talk show made me think, “Have women arrived at a place where we are ready to claim our power?”

Women need to step up and claim SHE POWER in order for the world to change. For every woman this means something different, but we all can use similar words and concepts to get into our power.

We are the change-makers and women see how the world can be better. I see that women are rising up and claiming

To BE unstoppable as women we must overcome the desire to run, hide or quit. We have to redefine power and what it means to women as leaders.

Are you willing to change the pattern and contribute to She Power? And if you have already claimed your power are you willing to lead others?

To collectively rise to power and feel the feminine voice of change we have to start with this language and reprogram how we view She Power. VALUE: Women must see power as valuable. And see herself as a powerful contributor. Begin to value yourself as a powerful leader, one who collaborates and connects with other powerful leaders. Adding value to the feminine voice is key for change.

Together we are stronger.

I was listening to a political talk about women and public office the other day. The radio show was reviewing the chance of a female winning the vote for United States President. The radio host started talking about women and power. She mentioned how women tend to avoid power and refuse to step fully into power. Men, on the other hand, grab power, honor power, and welcome it in. Men are taught that power is good and beneficial. Women are still being raised with message to hide power and play small.

the top as decision makers and leaders. And every woman matters. This new power structure is not a 1% power it is a community power.

Ask yourself, “Do I see myself as a valuable asset?” WORTH: See yourself as worthy of health, wealth and happiness. You are worthy. Your self worth is a game-changer. Ask yourself, “Do I feel worthy?” DESERVE: Begin to deserve. Deserve the positive changes you seek. Receive what you want. Deserving is a feeling that is imperative for power. Ask yourself, “Do I deserve to receive happiness, wealth and health?” a bigger and stronger space in the world. We are demanding for our voice to be heard and our values to be trusted. Although this trend is changing, we are still in need of a mass empowerment project to ensure that women rise to

These words value, worth, and deserve will help you begin to gain power in new ways. As you shift your language and begin to use these words, you will shed light on where you feel weak and disempowered and then you can strengthen the weakness. The strengthening is monumental to



to your path to power. To strengthen your She Power use the words claim and own. CLAIM: Claim your space in the world. When you Claim your space you are willing to let go of negative relationships, painful habits, and hurtful ways of living in exchange for positive power. Look to where you feel strong and live only from this space. Make sure to only do things that strengthen you. Begin to live your life from bravery and courage. Be fearless in your actions. Like you will go and

buy a pair of shoes with conviction. Take your power back and own it with conviction. OWN: Own your space and your power just like you would buy a home. Your power lives inside of you and owning your power is one way to say to the world that you mean business. When you claim your power you may have to revamp how you view power. For many of the women I speak to, they have been abused by the masculine form of power. There are old guard patterns of abuse that have been lingering in her psyche. This abuse has to be realized,

healed and released. By shifting your language look at your own power structure you will begin a new empowered path for your life and great achievements will be made possible. Start the New Year with a fresh perspective on power, we need you! Dr. Pam Denton is a speaker and author of She Means Business: Activating the New Leader. She speaks to audiences and trains women and men in the superpowers that redefine power for modern day advancements. More on Dr. Pam’s Superpower Talks at www.






3 STRATEGIES TO TAKE ACTION TOWARDS YOUR DREAMS NOW & HOW I CREATED THE ACTION PROGRAM As a model success coach and formerly a health coach one thing I notice similar among my clients is they have a dream or goal they are trying to reach. Their enthusiasm fuels my enthusiasm to help them reach their goals! But something I notice is many of us keep ruminating on dreams but don’t take the consistent action needed to reach them. Sometimes this is because of overwhelm, not knowing the right steps, or over analyzing the situation leaving us not taking any steps. Below are 3 strategies I’ve found help myself and my clients take the action needed to reach their goals. 1.) Progress over Perfection – otherwise known as Do It Badly – Procrastination has often kept me from taking action in my own life. Then I learned research shows procrastination is rooted in fear. Now, I try to live by Marie Forleo’s teachings to focus on progress over perfection and her mantra “everything is figueroutable.” If I waited until I felt like everything I was doing was perfect I’d probably never get much done. I challenge you to think of something that is a priority but you’ve been pushing off getting it done. Ask yourself why you aren’t taking action on it? Is it that you are unsure of the first step? Perhaps research needs to be done first? Maybe there is no time? What can you say no to or instead delegate, automate or outsource to your , kids, a Virtual Assistant, an expert so you

can make time for this priority to get done? 2.) Work Backwards and See Your End Goal – Dreaming is a muscle. A muscle most of us were never trained in strengthening. To get what you want you have to know what it is that your desired outcome is specifically. See it and feel it with all of your senses. Visualize the goal coming true in

your mind’s eye daily and feel the feelings of it coming true so that you can step into your future self and your desired outcome. Knowing your exact dream will help you come up with specific goals. These goals can then be broken into baby steps and these steps broken into actions and to-do’s.

Write small action steps into your calendar so they get done. Then set reminder alerts on your phone so you don’t forget. 3.) Avoid Analysis Paralysis – Better to do it badly than not take any action at all. We can easily read extensively on our topic, dream about it, ruminate, deliberate, procrastinate, watch another podcast or training video on the topic but still not take action. Taking action can feel big and scary which is why tiny baby steps can be the solution. Consistent small steps. You don’t need to see the whole staircase to reach your goal but simply the first small step. Feeling paralysis? Ask yourself what is a tiny action step I can take this week towards this goal? Then ask yourself when will I do this step? Put a reminder in your phone and schedule it your calendar. Small consistent action can lead to big accomplishments over time! Working as a coach, I see those succeed who are persistent, work hard, focus on gratitude, love learning new skills and take consistent action towards their goals. In 2014, I went back to school to become a certified health coach. I planned to finish my master’s degree in Health Coaching. But everyday people asked me questions related to modeling or getting started modeling or acting. I had spent almost a decade of my life working full time as a model and talent plus I’ve also worked in the offices of two talent agencies. One a a major market fashion modeling agency in NYC and the other a successful small market commercial talent agency. This experience on both sides of the camera made my experience unique. When first getting started in the industry I’d always wished and hoped for someone to help me get my start; an industry veteran willing to take time away from the bright lights









SHIFT+CONTROL {{ SPECIAL FEATURE }} “Working as a coach, I see those succeed who are persistent, work hard, focus on gratitude, love learning new skills and take consistent action towards their goals.”

to give me insider strategies and insights. And while I cannot go back in time to be that help for myself. A light went off in my brain and I realized I could be this help for others. My heart especially goes out to small town girls who have big dreams and are highly self-motivated as well as those in their 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, 60’s and beyond who are ready for a new adventure. After a few years of helping my one-on-one coaching clients succeed I realized it is time and energy intensive and I can only help a handful of people working individually. My new dream was to create an online program. 190

Accessible to rural and small town people across the nation and another goal was for it to be affordable. After 2 years of development I’m so thrilled that ACTION launched successfully this fall! In this program accessible from a smartphone or computer I teach a monthly training, have a monthly expert and have a live group coaching call. The program gives you a focus and accountability each month to reach your model and talent goals and dreams. Best of all if you miss any of the live components you can watch


later in your membership portal. Many busy people even do it completely as a self study although research shows people have the most success in online programs when they show up live at least part of the time. Special for RWO readers get 50% off your 1st month of the ACTION program by using code: HALFOFF1STMONTH Learn more about ACTION and sign up here:









The New York City Horror Film Festival is America’s largest and most recognized genre film festival focusing solely on Horror and Science Fiction. Each year the NYCHFF celebrates both the horror classics we grew up with and the new horror films & filmmakers who created them. The NYCHFF fills the city with special screenings, parties, celebrity guests, free giveaways, and a presentation of an Lifetime Achievement Award given to a Horror Genre Legend. Their Motto is… .” Yo u’ l l l ov e u s before you leave us” says festival Director Ronnie Hein “this motto has held true”. Yes indeed I personally can confirm this being someone who has covered the event as press and immediately felt a sense of family and became family with Ronnie and the entire NYCHFF team. I absolutely love everyone involved especially Ronnie. For the past 8 years Ronnie Hein has been in charge of the NYC Horror Film Festival. The 2019 Festival will be held in Chelsea NYC at the Cinepolis December 5th-8th. The accolades received after every show doubles each year. Hein states “the Lifetime Achievement Award is something very special and no other festival

gives one”. Famous names of those who made their mark on the horror genre who have been honored with Lifetime Achievement Awards at the NYCHFF include Robert Englund (Nightmare On Elm Street Actor) , Wes Craven (Nightmare On Elm Street Director) , Rob Zombie (Devil’s Rejects Director),

Tony Todd (CandyMan Actor) and Mick Garris (Stephen King’s The Stand Director). So many other exciting things take place during the festival such as tons of amazing films are showcased, so many horror lovers to meet and a great party atmosphere where Filmmakers can smooze, network, and always make incredible new friendships.

“Independent films help the artist show more gore and deliver a stronger message to its audience. It brings uniqueness and realness to the plate” – Ronnie Hein “Indie films are our voice and vision to the world, and the real home for horror to be as extreme and shocking as it can be”- Ronnie Hein Be c o m i n g t h e Festival Director was not something Ronnie had ever planned on, however when she lost her son Michael Hein, the Founder and original Director of the NYCHFF, she knew she had to step in. The family was not about to lose what he worked so hard to create. Having worked with Michael for many years she had the best teacher. When asked what are some of her favorite memories from the festival experience so far she mentioned: Seeing the filmmakers faces when the have won a certain category.. Priceless! The best memory however is in 2002 when her son Michael stepped on stage at Tribeca Cinemas and said…



{ WOMAN { CNY WOMEN OWNEDIN BUSINESS FILM } } “Independent films help the artist show more gore and deliver a stronger



{ CNY WOMEN IN FILM } message to its audience. It brings uniqueness and realness to the plate.”

”Welcome to the 1st NYC Horror Film Festival”. That was 17 years ago and Ronnie knows Michael would be so proud. Always and after every show, the filmmakers tell Ronnie and the team how much the festival and the staff made them feel ..So comfortable and welcomed. I too felt the exact same way .The comments on the quality of the films displayed during the festival gets outstanding feedback also. Key feedback is when she hears from attendees that they cannot wait to come back! I can’t wait either ! When I attended for the first time Ronnie welcomed me along with my close friend and business associate LaKisa Renee of LaKisa Renee Entertainment with love , positive energy, wisdom, respect, kindness and made us feel appreciated for being there . We were the ones highly thankful and blessed and appreciative to have been invited to cover a event of a genre we adore and to be around such inspirational people we now can call friends an family. Fiilmmakers who are selected to have their films screened are choose after a certain protocol that the festival programming committee follows. Filmmakers are judged on Directing, Cinematography, Script, Acting ,Editing, Sp/FX ,Sound Design, and Screenplay. The selection of the Lifetime Achievement Award Icon each year

is choose to only go to the best of the best, its always those who have garnered the most attention and respect in the horror community. Since 2002, the NYC Horror Film Festival has given the Lifetime Achievement Award to one legendary icon, and this is what sets them apart from other festivals. The 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award will go to Greg Nicotero who is the Executive Producer of AMC’s The Walking Dead TV Show. The amazing people Ronnie works with is who inspires her year after year and day after day. It’s the dedication of everyone involved, and the full year of planning that makes the event so special. It’s a lot of work, but a labor of love from start to finish. Ronnie would like to thank the festival family who all work together to keep the amazing festival alive. They are such an cohesive group that it is hard to single anyone out. However, if she must… Sean Marks, Chris Rowan and Alan Rowe Kelly have been center stage for the past 8 years. Every program and every night of the festival they pump up the crowd and introduce every single film. Sean is also head of programming and along with Brian Smith, Rob Hansford, and others who work tirelessly to make sure the NYCHFF have the very best films and screenplays. Ronnie cannot say enough about these guys. Advice Ronnie would give to anyone

wanting to become a film festival Director is to have a lot of money and backbone! For more information about the New York City Horror Film Festival visit



Born in Boston Massachusetts Toni Fernandez discovered writing and filming as a tool to express her emotions. The reaction she would receive from writing and filming music videos would soon lead her to writing and directing her most anticipated project to date “Still Got The Juice” . A Film Series based in the 90s when fashion and music told the stories of our lives . Toni released a visual teaser of “Still Got The Juice” in September of 2017 accumulating almost 70,000 NON PAID views in one month . Toni realized the buzz she created needed guidance. She then took her talents to New York where she met C R CAPERS the CEO and Founder of the Hip Hop Film Festival NYC in Harlem. C R Capers took Toni under her wing and continues to guide her to create the best quality project to present to the world. Toni’s accomplishments include winning the Bosschick Competition in June of 2018 at the Harlem Film House.


Being selected as a semifinalist in the Hip Hop Film Festival NYC 2018 for the Screen Writers Competition. Also being selected as a finalist in the 2019 Hip Hop Film Festival NYC Screen Writers Competition. With Toni Fernandez impressing all the judges with a performance she’d written and performed with her

cast, she walked away with countless opportunities. “Still Got The Juice” was featured on with a write up on the Hip Hop Festival NYC in August 2019 as the Top 3 Best of the Fest Nominees for the Screen Writers competition . Not only does Toni spend most of her time writing and filming her


first love has always been music. Winning Best Rap Female at the New England Urban Music Awards in Boston ,under the rap stage name Krystal Blayke back in 2008 . Toni’s love for music ceased when her sister died in 2015 . However she has found new inspiration to compose music for “Still Got The Juice”. The inspiration to be a filmmaker came from Toni’s Aunt who passed away this year . One day in 2009 s h e s a t To n i down and said, “Toni I’ve never met anyone who writes the way you do with your songs perhaps you should make visuals to really bring out your story”. To n i w a s s o against it however the more she was against it, the more Toni found herself losing interest in music and gaining interest in filming . The first film was an animation film called “One Cruel Summer The Gillette Murders” which received honorable mention at the Machinima Film Festival . The most current project is “Still Got The Juice” an upcoming film series about losing yourself only to



“With Toni Fernandez impressing all the judges with a performance she’d written and performed with her cast, she walked away with countless opportunities.”




{ CNY WOMEN IN FILM } “I couldn’t be more humbled with the ongoing experience and continued opportunities .”

find your way again. “The Word Is Out “ and “When I Knew You” are also projects in the making. CNYWO: What are some highlights in your career so far?

show “POWER” ...he was so kind to tell her all about “Still Got The Juice” before I arrived when he introduced me and said to her , “you remember I told you about Toni and “Still Got The Juice” and she said

To n i : Wo w highlights! Where do I begin ? Let’s start with the most important highlight. Understanding the business of the film industry and being mentored and guided by CR Capers the CEO of the Hip Hop Film Festival in Harlem / Harlem Film House and her team. I couldn’t be more humbled with the ongoing experience and continued opportunities . Her festival is amazing . “Still Got The Juice” was a finalist this year and was featured on as one of the best of the fest top nominees in the screen writers competition, which we still walked out with some amazing opportunities for development. Another big highlight was my friend Two Lewis introducing us to Naturi Naughton from the tv

lol.. What a moment! CNYWO: What is some advice you would give upcoming female Filmmakers? Toni: The best advice I could ever give any upcoming female filmmaker is to study your craft, always be prepared, learn the business, step out of your comfort zone, be professional take nothing personal and have patience for nothing happens overnight. Facebook - Toni Filmmaker Fernandez Instagram toni_filmmaker_ fernandez Instagram - the.juice

yes.. I was very humble and thankful for him making great people such as her aware of an upcoming filmmaker like myself. Honestly I held it all in ,but when me and my cast member drove home from New York we were screaming the whole ride to Boston CENTRAL NY WOMAN ONLINE :: DECEMBER/JANUARY EDITION 2019-2020







My name is Carley Eiten. I am 27 years old. I am originally from Long Island and currently split my time between two markets (New York City and the Western New York / Central New York areas).

to get into this industry. However, I did have an interest in a career associated with what I had studied in college and have always loved. I knew that I wanted to do something I enjoyed doing which allowed me

I earned a Bachelor’s Degree from Marymount Manhattan College in New York City where I majored Art concentrating in Photography and Graphic Design. I started in the film industry as a Production Assistant. I then started working at Panavision camera rental house in NYC while continuing to freelance as a PA. During the last handful of years, my focus has been working in the Camera Department as a 2nd AC / Loader. Like many people in college I was not really sure about where life’s path would take me. I wondered if I would go on to pursue photography or graphic design or perhaps both. At some point after college, I got to a point where I saw a glimmer of opportunity in the film industry and I took the leap. I did not have a role model that inspired me

a variety of projects in an array of genres. One of my favorite things is working on Sesame Street. I have been so lucky to be a part of something so well known and admirable. It’s just plain fun and let’s face it, who wouldn’t like to be up close and personal with Elmo? I also had an opportunity to spend a short time on the A&E Documentary Notorious B.I.G. Working on documentaries is something I definitely enjoy. Another job that sticks out to me was earlier in my career when I was working as a PA. I had the opportunity work some of the Marvel team in New York City. We spent the day scanning buildings for Special FX. This was really cool to see so early on in my career. I am constantly reminded how lucky I am to truly enjoy each and every job I am a part of.

to work with cameras. It has not been the easiest path, but one that I feel comfortable on as I continue to learn, grow and advance in my skills as part of the Camera Department. From commercials to TV/Film I have been lucky enough to work on

Some obstacles I had to overcome within my career that may inspire someone else by hearing my story is finding work and keeping my schedule full has always been the biggest challenge I face. For the most part you act as an independent contractor. Being a full time freelancer is not always the easiest way to make a living. So it is up to you to stay well connected, network




“ At some point after college, I got to a point where I saw a glimmer of opportunity in the film indust

constantly and dig up the work. I have made a lot of headway since starting in this field. It is extremely important to remain motivated, interested, and have a yearning to continue to grow and learn. Advice you would give women who would like to pursue a career in media and film is be prepared for long days. Be prepared for intermittent work schedules and little sleep. But also prepared for an exhilarating sense of accomplishment for being part of a team that successfully pulls together all the moving pieces and ultimately produces a finished product and art form. Be prepared to prove people wrong and always be excited about what you do! Carley has also worked on projects for NBC, USA Networks, Discovery Channel, Syfy, To contact Carley email Carleyeiten@




m industry and I took the leap. I did not have a role model that inspired me to get into this try.”





Syracuse native Brittany Wait, Founder and Executive Director of Just Wait Productions, is an independent filmmaker in both narrative and commercial film. Brittany works as a freelance editor for the Syracuse-based media company, Congruent. When not editing for Congruent, her freelance projects include camera operation in music videos and private event coverage. She is a key figure in the on-going multimedia documentary Look Now: Facing Breast Cancer with Syracuse University’s Tula Goenka. Her recent narrative work has included 1st Assistant Camera on horror feature film The Shed, which was shot in Syracuse in 2018, and went on to premiere internationally in Barcelona and locally in Brooklyn and on Amazon Prime. This passed October, Brittany reunited with the camera team behind The Shed to film the drama Frat Haze in Rumson, NJ. Frat Haze is expected to premiere in fall 2020. Prior to her work on these feature films, Brittany served as Director of 208

Photography on Syracuse’s very own Christian feature film, 12 Days With God, which is streaming on PureFlix. And earlier this year, Brittany served as a video coach at the annual U.S. Department of Defense Visual Storytelling Workshop in Charleston, SC. There, her video team won first

at Syracuse University. Upon graduation, her thesis short film, Rose-colored, garnered attention at film festivals worldwide for its cinematography and strong femaleled team. She has also partnered with nonprofits working on documentary films in Palestine, Israel, Kenya and Nepal since 2014. In the rare moments that she’s not hard at work on current film projects, Brittany can be found strength training, kickboxing at Burn in North Syracuse, and running 5Ks, 10Ks and half marathons. Brittany is currently based in Syracuse, helping to spearhead the growing movement of locally produced feature films. Please visit to keep up with her endeavors.

place and she was awarded Team Leader of the Year and invited back next year to coach the advanced video team. She first began her career in journalism as a video journalist, and later chose to pursue a master’s in photography at Newhouse School of Communications


Brittany Wait Just Wait Productions





Ruthnie Angrand is a Haitian-American communications professional and creative artist. Angrand is currently the Director of Communication and Marketing for the City of Syracuse where she is responsible for managing and directing the City of Syracuse’s external communication strategy to promote the Mayor’s agenda through traditional, digital, and social media outlets. This role also delivers the voice and vision of the Mayor’s initiatives to citizens and visitors, marketing the city to stakeholders and strategizing marketing efforts around the betterment of the city’s reputation. Prior to that, Ruthnie served as the principle marketing consultant for Communication in Mind, a strategic communication and marketing firm leveraging communications and marketing strategies to help businesses, solopreneurs, and organizations compete. Ruthnie has held various positions in communications from an Editorial Assistant at Syracuse University Press to Marketing Manager at HueberBreuer Construction. Ruthnie is a self-proclaimed “Swiss army knife of creativity, journalism, marketing, and organizational development.” Her experience in commercial and nonprofit business, multimedia journalism, and education has made youth development and business development her return on investment for bringing people and organizations together in meaningful ways. “Seeing young people and communities compete and grow is how I know I am paying for the space I take up in the word,” she says. In her personal time, Ruthnie writes, sings, and is a spokenword performer and slam poetry coach. She is an alumna of Brenau University Women’s College in Gainesville, GA and S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. 212

She speaks French Creole and Spanish. CNYWO: What contributions have you made to the Central NY Community? Ruthnie: I am deeply proud of the contributions I’ve been able to make to this city but this is the first time I’ve sat down and tried to quantify them. I came to study business journalism in graduate school at S.I. Newhouse School of Communications but I stayed because I found mentors and a city that allowed me to contribute.

Shortly after I moved to Syracuse and transferred job-markets working for AT&T, the markets crashed and the local b2b retail office downsized. I found a quick opportunity working with young people at the Dunbar Center. Sharon Jack-Williams, the Executive Director, made a large investment in me and her staff, sending us to copious youth development training and building a culture that allowed us to not just run youth and family programs but opened my eyes to the stories and value of community development. I applied what I knew to


not just grow the Each One, Teach One teen program at the center to 60 students a night, but to help the agency raise funds for summer camp and the Winter Jazz Fest with Frank Malfitano. It wasn’t the plan but it was an opportunity. It colored my experience at Newhouse and was an opportunity to do meaningful work. That work extended into volunteer communications work for the Alliance of Communities transforming Syracuse, SEIU 1199, and fighting for a Tops grocery store in the food desert of the Southside. After the Haitian earthquake of 2010, I took a break from school and began to volunteer with relief efforts between this region and New York City to help Haitians. Months later, I came back and continued working with Each One, Teach One in the evenings and weekends and during the daytime coordinating the Say Yes Collegiate Prep Academy with an amazing team of Academic Coaches at Say Yes to Education. I managed a portfolio of high school Arts Students across the school district and managed hundreds of students in daytime tutoring classrooms in Syracuse City School District. SYCPA was an extraordinary service and experience, especially for a service that made high school students as competitive for college as possible. It was a great fit for me because I went to a performing arts High School in Atlanta and studied music and communications at Brenau University Women’s College. Outside of the earthquake, I had other medical and financial challenges that disrupted my education and personal life but translated into time writing for Southside Stand, performing with Underground Poetry Spot, touring as a slam poet, teaching writing workshops to teenagers and adults with Verbal Blend and Writing Our Lives writing programs, and falling in love with the city




{ CNY WOMAN HIGHLIGHT } “I am deeply proud of the contributions I’ve been able to make to this city but this is the first time I’ve sat down and tried to quantify them.“

and region. I also began Communication in Mind at that time, a communications firm supporting nonprofits and small businesses with marketing and strategic communications. With a few years of getting healthy and a lot of community outreach work under my belt, I returned to SU as a student and as an employee with Syracuse University Press. I was a journalist by skill but could code so I dived into work with Sean Branagan and the media innovation team going to conferences, joining local teams for Hackathons in Syracuse and Hackathons for Google in North Carolina. I started a hyperlocal blog for our Salt City Slam poetry slam team to share the writing and experiences of local writers and performers. I took on an internship with Central New York Community Foundation and began storytelling about the foundation’s giving, local agencies doing amazing work to improve the region, and the foundation’s commitment to convening communities for good. I worked alongside the foundation to create a viral #givingtuesdaycny campaign for two years and produced about a dozen videos telling nonprofit stories. I worked with and participated in The Leadership Classroom supporting nonprofits in their growth and development—all while a graduate student. I continued supporting nonprofits and small businesses as a certified MWBE communications firm when I joined HueberBreuer Construction as a Marketing Manager and began engaging local contractors in building capacity to participate in the construction trade. I began to serve on the board for Syracuse Community Connections at Southwest Community Center, which helps thousands of families with community, family, and youth services. I volunteered on community committees helping with the first Sankofa Festival, volunteering at 216

the Dunbar Center in programming, and volunteering with Leadership Greater Syracuse to build more capacity and visibility for the next generation of leaders in the region who were eager to contribute and to do so collectively and strategically. I also serve on the Landmark Theatre Board and the board of directors for the Downtown Committee of Syracuse. Hindsight, I’ve done a lot and it was often at the expense of my own energy and resources but in doing so I learned to be wiser about the impact of my work and participation. I’m certain I’ve missed a few items but the attitude and culture of giving is strong in our city. No regrets. CNYWO: What inspired you to get into public/ community service? Ruthnie: After the New Year, the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that hit Haiti also hit very close to home. Until that point, my service was usually reserved for church or charitable outreach. I felt that I hadn’t done enough for the Haitian community as a whole to feel the kind of deep pain I did walking by newspapers with emaciated bodies on the cover. As much as I wanted to grieve, the city I was growing to love, Syracuse, was experiencing its own deepening struggle in reputation. The experience taught me two things in 2010: (1) feeling helpless is not my ministry. Inaction is a choice that we can make or not make; and (2) I deeply valued journalism but didn’t want to be a journalist. I wanted to connect people to solutions through storytelling and meaningful communication. I had the tools to help small to mid-sized organizations so I did. I had breath in my body to volunteer on relief work for Haiti, so I did.


I had an entire history of revolution, strength, courage, and passion in my heart and in my bones that I was not accessing. I had hit bottom. I was at the Salvation Army after losing my apartment and there was nowhere else to go except back home to parents I hadn’t lived with since I was 17 years old or stay and get wiser and let God use me in a way I didn’t think was possible. I chose the latter. It lead me to serve and grow. CNYWO: What social issues are you passionate about? Marketing, performing, diversity, and this city’s development. Ruthnie: I am passionate about marketing and performing. I’m not at City Hall performing songs and slam poems in the hallways, much to my colleagues’ disappointment, but how the City of Syracuse and this entire region shows up to the world is a game-on moment for me each hour of the day. I am a data-monger about how we show up and connect with each on social media, in-person, online and in use of traditional media through news and advertising. I use the data to be strategic in content and strategy. I’m a long-barrel thinker so having a diverse team of task-masters and quick thinkers keeps me balanced. Every impression is a lasting message on how the world views us and chooses to engage with us. Diversity is also a very unabashed point of passion for me. For me, I challenge us to see diversity as more than skin color. As a Haitian-American woman, I walk through the world in brown skin with parents who have a big heart and an accent. I spent years training on how to show up in a way that I can be proud of, is true to myself but also represents where I am from without reservation. It would be foolish to assume all brown people eat the same food, have the same hair, and want the same things. Data breaks up that ignorance in a way that allows




{ CNY WOMAN HIGHLIGHT } { SHIFT+CONTROL } “Hindsight, I’ve done a lot and it was often at the expense of my own energy and resources but in doing so I learned to be wiser about the impact of my work and participation.”

us to understand who we serve and value the diversity of their needs. Diversity is not just a social investment but a financial one. As a city that is punching above its weight class in innovation, smart city solutions, population growth, opportunity growth and the diversity of its leadership team, we are stepping into each opportunity excited and committed to talking about our city. It’s important to me to show this city as it is and not as it’s been perceived. At City Hall, I am focused on not just telling our stories but in building the capacity of our businesses, residents, and organizations to show our city as a smart city with real people and a no-limits attitude. We get busy in the SYR, haha. I am passionately working with partner organizations to promote our region, rebuild our website and brand, and create a pipeline internship and work-study program at City Hall to engage the next generation in our successes. CNYWO: Tell us about a day in the life working at City Hall? Ruthnie: I’d like to preface this by saying that I worked with project managers for a few years at a construction company so don’t judge how I know this breakdown. It’s on a huge whiteboard in my office, stares at me daily, and is evaluated an improved quarterly. It is by no means based on the traditional 40-hour work-week! I spend about 25% of my time performing communications tasks for our daily communication channels. We measure our responsibility to meet quality constituent engagement and response at dashboards. The drill-down charts look really cool and the goals are a beast to meet which makes it fulfilling. I spend about 24% of my time in meetings

whether project meetings, initiative meetings, board meetings, appearances with the Mayor and Deputy mayor to manage media or doing outreach meetings with the community. I spend 13% of my time working on project management, 11% of my time on long-term communications planning, coordinating, and capacity building for the communications office. I spend 13% of my time supporting department marketing needs and I spend 14% of my time eating or in transit. I carry two phones on me at all times to monitor our 17 social media channels with over 100,000 followers and growing which is more than twice the size of the following we inherited in 2018. Through all of that, the best part of my day is when all of that coordination translates into a connection that improves service, values our team members, or creates a magical moment for our residents. CNYWO: What are some accomplishments in your career so far you are most proud of? Ruthnie: I had some pretty awesome opportunities: performing for the MLK @ Carrier Dome Celebration twice as a poet, creating or managing successful marketing and social action campaigns, marketing for one of the best and busiest construction companies in our region (which is a space that lacks ethnic diversity across the industry), and most recently becoming a 40 under 40 award recipient.

and orator before he knew I was a datadriven marketer, and the endless work I do with teenagers. I am a champion for adolescents. I have a gladiator network of interns and mentees who are the most glowing demonstrations of success you can experience or hire. CNYWO: What is some advice you would give to women wanting to get involved in public/ Community service? Ruthnie: I recently spoke on the panel for a Leadership Greater Syracuse class (C/O 2016) and was asked what suggestions do I have for being a better leader. I got on my soapbox about asking people to think of themselves as people first and as people who serve next. That way, they were always asking themselves How can I be a better person and build up others rather than framing the question to be about themselves. Best the best human you can be. Particularly for women, because we serve without consideration for self sometimes, build the avengers team in your life as you get into this work. Go for impact and the acumen and balance will be there. Don’t go for hours or people served. Going for impact forces you to step back and evaluate how you are giving yourself to a task, organization, or commitment. The greater your impact, the more valuable your service.

It feels humbling to know that others are watching the journey God is allowing me to grow in. The proudest moments are knowing that Mayor Walsh met me as a performer CENTRAL NY WOMAN ONLINE :: DECEMBER/JANUARY EDITION 2019-2020




There are people who teach us that Christopher Columbus discovered America. Then, they give us tests as children and reward us when we repeat that, and other ‘facts’ that we have been taught. We all know that you cannot ‘discover’ a new place if people already live there. We just go along with it and let the next generation learn the same false information. Similarly, we are told that if we brush with fluoride toothpaste and/ or use fluoridated water, we will protect our teeth from cavities. Fluoride is actually a dangerous chemical and most toothpaste packages will instruct you to contact a Poison Control Center right away if too much of it is swallowed. The reality is that we use these products regularly and then take turns going to the dentist to get our teeth filled because of the cavities that were not actually prevented. What gives? Possibly the most dangerous thing that we are told or taught is that we are not beautiful unless we use all of the products that are marketed to us. We NEED to have makeup, killer fingernails (that can only be achieved at the nail salon), perms for our hair, weaves, wigs, eyelash extensions, perfectly manicured eyebrows, etc. The list goes on and on. Most of these products can be dangerous to our systems, our wallets, and also psychologically. Studies have shown that there are higher instances

of cancer in women who color and/or perm their hair than in those that do not. While I would much rather see women buy stocks and bonds than things to embellish themselves, I fully understand that it is always nice to feel good and feel like we are attractive.

The most important thing is to make sure that if we use any of these products, we are doing it for the right reasons. Just like we have been programmed to think that the things that we see in

the media, in school, in church and in our homes as children are all true, we have been led to believe that we should spend our hard earned money to match or somehow imitate the images that are projected to us about beauty. My thought is that beauty comes from within. When someone is truly beautiful, there is something about them that starts from the inside and shows up on the outside. We all know people who are physically attractive, but have a bad attitude or big ego. Then, in our minds, they no longer look as good to us as we had originally thought. On the flip side, there are people who physically look ‘average’ or ‘plain’ to us but have such a big heart and vibrant personality that we perceive them to be beautiful or handsome. We are told that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I want to always encourage everyone to take a good hard look inside of themselves and explore what is in there. Then, we should all ask ourselves about the products that are promoted to us. Do we use them? If so, are we careful about which ones we choose? Do they contain harmful chemicals or can we find options that have more natural ingredients? Are we using them because WE think that we look better with them, or because we saw someone on TV or a magazine or somewhere who is



“We are told that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I want to always encourage everyone to take a good hard look inside of themselves and explore what is in there.”



{ TRACY TALKS } “We should strive to be our authentic selves, and not worry about the images. We should set our own standards for beauty and understand why unattainable images are being shown to us.�

to imitate those people, or should we create our own individual styles? Do we do it to attract partners or maybe because our friends told us that we look good? In reality, are they actually telling us that we have successfully imitated the images in the media? Should we really worry about what

Beyonce and the gang are rocking? Or, should we recognize that a handful of people like her are paid a whole lot of money to create images of things that are part of a monster marketing campaign? Many of us know that the images that we see are not achievable by most humans. Those pictures are manufactured. There are all kinds of

lighting tricks, digital editing, and special effects at work to create those images. We should strive to be our authentic selves, and not worry about the images. We should set our own standards for beauty and understand why unattainable images are being shown to us. Understand the game and just do YOU.





We would like to introduce all of our Central NY Woman Online Magazine readers to one of our newest contributing writers Larry Stansbury. He is fashionable with a spice of sassy, confidence, and unapologetic-ness. Larry writes about relationships and dating, but also writes news, feature essays, poetry, and tips on how to be your best self. Welcome Aboard Larry! Larry’s The One and Only You column is for a women who make decisions by themselves without needing people. This column will give confidence as well give tips on how to be self-reliant.

things small, you can make the best of it with the following tips:

If you want to have that youthful look, try eating pistachios and grapefruit.

Ditch Sex & Relationship Advice from Girlfriends ● According to Cosmopolitan, when getting advice from our girlfriends on being un-single and getting our groove back, we need to ditch the advice. The only person who knows what they want is you and that’s what matters.

Less Working Out and More Self-Love With Your Body ● This is everyone’s resolution. Of course, they say joining a gym motivates you to workout, but that’s a commitment and money to be wasted. So, let’s give our bodies full of compliments.

It’s that time of the year where we make a new year’s resolution and set goals for ourselves. We can use advice to help us make those self-reliant decisions. Independence is the new confidence. We listened to girl groups like En Vogue, Destiny’s Child, SWV, to name a few, and listened to the lyrics to empower each other. We also watched movies like Waiting To Exhale, Steel Magnolias, and Thelma and Louise and had similar experiences like the iconic characters. They tried to break us, but that didn’t stop us. We are strong, beautiful, and cultivating women. While we only have a few weeks left of 2019, you may be someone who likes to make new year’s resolutions. If you don’t have any goals, that’s alright, because here are easy resolutions for the new year, new you. Even if it means cutting down carbs, revamping your love life, or starting 228

Step Up Your Skincare Game ● There’s nothing more refreshing than the feeling after you washed your face. If you’re into cleansers and serums, this is the perfect time to spend quality time with your skin to keep that everlasting glow. Add Citrus to Your Diet ● According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, a study states that people have less wrinkles and dry skin when they eat foods high in vitamin-C.


Spend Quality Time With Children ● Your children are older now and you want to continue having that strong relationship with them. In order to maintain your relationship, try setting up a daily call and spend countless hours with them. Let’s bring harmony together as if its our last time together with our kids. . Mastering Emotions ● Being human is having strong emotions. We need to learn how to master them. In order to do this, let’s maintain our emotions and show people they cannot take power over us. Power is one of our greatest strengths, not a weakness. Try Yoga ● According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, yoga helps your mind, body, and soul. It also helps to strengthen your pelvic muscles. So, let your body do that yoga, as Janelle Monae said it in her song “Yoga,” featuring Jidenna, taking yoga classes will give you life-changing lessons. To contact Larry Stansbury email



Nicole Tiovanni Hardy was born in Richmond, VA. She spent her childhood years with a microphone in her hand and everyone knew she was destined to grace many stages. By the age of 11, Nicole was awarded with an Oratorical Award from the NAACP. By the age of 13 she had landed a Developmental Deal with a local record label and began pursuing her dreams as a Recording Artist. After several years in the industry, Nicole decided she would rather focus on the business side of the industry and put her recording and performing on hold. Her corporate journey started in 2007 in the staffing industry where she saw immense success with HireOne- a boutique agency located in Washington DC. As the Director of Private Sector staffing she orchestrated mass staffing strategies for companies such as BET, Viacom and Comcast. In 2013 Nicole relocated to Miami, FL where she worked as a Business Development Consultant and helped a multitude of small businesses rebrand and relaunch. During this time she also created branding strategies for several award winning Producers and Songwriters. Nicole also lent her strategy expertise to several larger start-ups including In 2017, Nicole was given the opportunity to delve into the world of Private Equity and Venture Capital and became the head of Investor Relations for a Private Family Office. This endeavor prompted her to receive an Executive Certificate in Corporate Finance. In 2018 Nicole opened Sculpt Body & Wellness Lounge in Woodbridge, VA. Sculpt was a sanctuary for women to become their 230

best version of them. Although Nicole loved the spa industry, her plan was to build the company in a way that would eventually appeal to partners and investors. In the beginning of 2019, Nicole sold the majority

areas of Wellness, Cannabis, Technology and Entertainment. This year Nicole’s team has helped launch several incredible brands including O8SIS Hemp Water, Russ Beard Grooming and Green Table Enterprises. Her team also partnered with RAW & TaylorGang to host LightVibes LA and with Rebirth Multimedia Group to host the legendary CultureFest NYC. 1925 has also been highlighted for their recent partnership with Manhattan based technology firm- Digital Air Technology & Analytics and the Global roll out of several new software platforms. “My goal is to continue to kick doors down in multiple industries and be an inspiration for women all over the world.”- Nicole Tiovanni Hardy Her hard work and dedication has landed her several awards and accolades including being nominated as 2018’s Most Influential Woman by Prince William Magazine! CNYWO: Who are some women role models in your life and why?

of Sculpt and refocused her attention on Consulting. Nicole is now the President of 1925 Consulting based in Manhattan, New York. 1925 specializes in Corporate Strategy and Business Development in the


Nicole: My mom- Tanya Hardy for sure! My mom survived an extremely abusive relationship and went on to be a phenomenal single mother. She has been my number one supporter in everything I’ve ever done and now is an incredible Grandma to my 2 year old son Preston. Having a phenomenal backbone like my mom makes my entire life possible. CNYWO: What social issues do you



IN BUSINESS { WOMEN WHO ROCK } “Find your idol or role model in your field and study them relentlessly. Success always leaves clues! “

think are vital for women to speak up about today ? Nicole: Equal representation in Corporate America! There are times when I’m in meetings and I’m the only woman and times I’m the only woman AND the only African American. We’ve come a long way from where we started but I’m in support of as many Women in Executive positions particularly in Technology and Finance. CNYWO: What are some obstacles you have overcome to inspire others ? Nicole: Being in business for yourself is definitely not the easiest thing. I work in a predominantly male dominated industry and I’m a bald, young, Black Woman. This is could be seen as an obstacle but it is something that I haven’t allowed to stop me and I encourage all women to push past any obstacles and win regardless! CNYWO: What are some highlights of your life & career so far? Nicole: I’d say regardless of everything I’ve done in the business realm, my biggest highlight in life has definitely been having my son. I’ve survived and thrived with (not suffered from) Stage 4 Endometriosis for over 15 years and was told I would never be able to have children. My son Preston is a miracle baby and my greatest achievement yet! CNYWO: What does women’s empowerment mean to you ? Nicole: To me it means supporting women in every since of the word. Not 232

just attending an event or giving a speechbut real life support. Encouraging, loving and supporting women in public and in private- not just when it benefits you. CNYWO: What is some advice you would give women who may not know which roads to take in their life or want to do anything in your fields? Nicole: Find your idol or role model in your field and study them relentlessly. Success always leaves clues! Also, study your industry and become a subject matter expert. People pay for expertise. Understand your value and never sell yourself short! Build a strong support system! Shoutout to my mom and my team because without them no success would be possible! My firm recently partnered with a Software company called Digital Air Technology & Analytics to roll out their flagship ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning Software) called Maxwell Precise, Maxwell Precise is a tool that will allow small and medium sized businesses to operate efficiently, with real time data and processes that they’d otherwise not be able to afford. This partnership allows my firm and I to be at the forefront of Digitization and help not only my clients, but small business worldwide increase revenue by approximately 25%+. I believe this is the beginning of the pinnacle of my career because very few women have been able to lead a wave like this. Digitization is the beginning of a whole new world. This bridges all of my ventures because every company needs to run more efficiently and having a software that transcends


industries and makes this possible is a game changer! My company also has several major projects in Film, TV and Entertainment rolling out that will take the world by storm. Major shoutout to my partners that represent 1925 in other industries and make sure that we continue to bring the world the NEW, NOW and REVOLUTIONARY! To contact Nicole Tiovanni Hardy email






My name is Stacy “Honey” Bailey l am a mother of 5 and the Owner and Head Chef of the catering company The Taste Of Honey. I started selling food at work over 20 years ago to my co-workers as a way to make ends meet for my family. As a single mom the struggles are real. My co-workers often told me that I should be selling my food, but I never took them seriously. Upon moving to Upstate NY, and working in the kitchen at Upstate Medical Center, I was again asked when I would open a restaurant. This is when I started to take it serious and pursue the idea that I could be an Entrepreneur. In 2015, with the encouragement of my family, I began to sell dinners out of my home and Sean Herring of the Syracuse Black Expo brought a plate and told me he also believed that I needed further exposure. The Black Expo featured The Taste Of Honey 3 times as the Caterer for the Expo and my dreams were set in motion. The Taste of Honey takes comfort foods and puts a twist on it. For example we do Chicken and Waffles but, we do Chicken Chunks in a Waffle Cone! What inspired me to begin was out of necessity, as a single mom who made $11 too much to get any help from Social 234

Services I had to rely on resourcefulness. Some highlights of my career to far include getting my License/Permit in February 2019 and it’s been a rocket ride for me. Graduating from Center State CEO START IT Program. I have been recognized as a Center State CEO Economic Champion, as well as, getting my M.W.B.E City Certification

achieve their goals. Collaboration over Competition! Other endeavors I am involved with are working as a Community Activist here in Syracuse on the Anti- Poverty Initiative. My business has impacted my community because my prices are affordable, I have helped, as well as inspired other Black Food Entrepreneurs to know that with determination they too can be successful. Some obstacles I had to overcome as an entrepreneur for The Taste of Honey is the Transplant mentality, a lot of times I would be overlooked because I did not grow up here and I was not a familiar face. So I had to be everywhere. Get my face out there. Brand MYSELF. Funding as well, if you do not have the funding you have to very frugal at least for the first year.

and was the first Caterer to do so. I was asked to be the First Black Caterer of the Syracuse Black Pride, among other things. Although, the greatest accomplishment to me is showing my kids that it’s never too late to pursue your dream! Women empowerment mean to me means helping my fellow Queens to


Advice I would give upcoming Business owners is Do not GIVE UP. It will be very hard and you will get discouraged. DO IT AFRAID! there are others that are just as scared as you. Find a TRIBE of LIKE MINDED individuals lean on them because you need a cheer squad and an occasional shoulder to cry on and be Transparent. It’s okay! To contact Stacy email








One day, I looked up and it was completely normal... the highly anticipated sleep that was never on time, the ordering out daily because I couldn’t imagine another grocery store run during rush hour with 5 rambunctious children after wearing my “happy face” since 9am.

from ME”? They were right, I needed a ME! I needed ME to be there for ME... I was supposed to stick up for ME when he used me as his emotional punching bag. I was supposed to see through the “fake love” and not get too attached to people and things only meant for a season.

It was “normal” not to wash clothes until I absolutely had to! What was wrong with me?! Better yet, what was right with them? How could I ever get back to a place where there was structure and order? Routines and expectations?

How was I supposed to know that those closest to me were capable of the utmost deceit, and silently working toward a plan that allowed them to blame all of their flaws on me? A well executed plan that- unbeknownst to me- meant I needed to be punished for their shortcomings. It never occurred to me, not for one second... that people, “played the role”, to get what they wanted from me... and that they would eventually... callously and inconsiderably move on from the facade that I was fully convinced of in the first place.

How the hell did every single mother before me, and after me pull it together, and keep it together? It was a “gift” I certainly no longer possessed, at least not in this capacity. Sure, I had been a single mom before... for all of six months after 19-year old me, and my dimple-faced 4-year old daughter left New Jersey for good. I’ve actually spent most of my young life in a serious relationship to some degree. From the age of fourteen years old, until I was about thirty-two, I was busy growing my family, advancing my career, making hella bad decisions, and falling in love... not necessarily in that order. Again, being the leader, the mature friend, the one who over-achieved on was not expected that I fail. No one would’ve guessed that the smart mouthed, sarcastic, independent, valedictorian/teen mom from the “hood” who buried her mother at 19, and finished raising her 17-year old brother- needed the same help that I selflessly gave to others? My friends would often joke about how I, “made it out the hood” and often reminded me that they were proud of my success. “See, she doesn’t need MY help”, “What could she possibly need

Caring about others more than yourself is “selfless”, sure... it’s also extremely foolish when you have limitless bounds that allow you to forget that you even exist as anything other than a “problem solver”. What was a potential crisis for THEM, was usually a sunny day at the park for ME. I recognized the ability to comfort and assist others in need early on, and I submerged myself in helping others because it felt like the right thing to do. What I didn’t count on, were the wolves in sheep’s clothing, the sleepless nightsplanning and reassuring folks who didn’t care if they were wasting their lives by neglecting their own responsibilities and opportunities. How was I supposed to turn that off long enough to see that I was drowning in the neglected woes of my seemingly innocent predators? As a child, when they asked

me who I looked up to... after much thoughtful consideration, my answer was always the same. ME. I looked up to the ME I would grow up to be as an adult. I somehow accepted at a young age, that I was different. I also knew that being “different” wasn’t always readily accepted. In a sense, I very much predicted a “nontraditional” lifestyle for myself and in turn I anticipated quite a few hardships as folks don’t usually willingly associate with the unknown. I deduced that as followers of Christ, we were called to endure hurt and disappointment as we navigated life in the flesh, here on Earth... the same way Jesus did. I became numb to the idea that I deserved any better than what my life had already evolved into. It was almost as if I had chosen my “fate” by continuing to take on business that wasn’t my own. I convinced myself that this was my life... until my World completely stopped and putting me first was no longer optional, but required. In hindsight, I am able to watch the timeline of my passive self-destruction... One unsuspecting moment at a time... and see how a young lady- who consistently defied the odds stacked against herput her achievements on the shelf, to make room for more work! On behalf of others who aren’t strong enough to fight for themselves, I am exhausted! The same energy I give to helping others, I needed for myself a long time ago. Mission: “REfuel, REfocus, REadjust and REsume” is currently underway... and to MY surprise, it’s a lot harder than I thought to put me first. I’m working on it though. You should too! To contact Natasha email








New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision~Central New York Region~ Women In Criminal Justice Inspired by the late Assistant Commissioner of New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision Mary T. Bogan, who created the Elmira Hub Women In Criminal Justice in 2002. We share the vision-empowering all woman to achieve their fullest potential; providing a forum supporting emotional and spiritual well-being by both genders. We encourage both men and woman to reconcile when needed by joining all efforts together into the support of ethical opportunities for both genders within the criminal justice field; we intend to provide vital resources, education, training, professional development and community outreach, fostering leadership together along with emphasizing the importance of supporting one another through effective communication. We are the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, Central New York Women In Criminal Justice. We are dedicated to bringing awareness to the gender gap-supporting working in a cohesive, respectful and teambuilding workplace for the betterment of the department. By embracing our differences, both genders have the capability to promote equality

within a balanced workplace. Both men and women are essential in the workplace bringing unity that benefits everyone. Women In Criminal Justice committee members will promote patience, wisdom, fairness, poise and dignity through promoting physical, emotional and spiritual balance in a demanding workplace. Advocating for gender-equality in

female representation and participation as policy makers, within administrations at all levels-local, regional, and national leading to a culture of change for the entire criminal justice field. The only limit is the amount of effort. Together we have the capability to accomplish anything; When we earnestly strive to achieve mutual acceptance and respect. OUR INITIATIVES: Enhancing employee productivity via promoting; inner strength, confidence

and harmony-focused on emotional, spiritual and physical well-being. Educating, inspiring, and supporting the careers of all persons in the field of criminal justice; during these challenging times is paramount in bringing about gender equality in the workplace. Creating a fully integrated organization which is comprised of both men and women sharing: knowledge, experiences, and ideas respectfully. We supporting the philosophy of fair employment and equality. Encouraging all efforts to improve working relationships while promoting visibility of female employees, for the betterment of the criminal justice field. We able to award two academic and vocational scholarships annually at our training day foley through fundraisers . 2018-2019 ACADEMIC/ VOCATIONAL “Mary T. Bogan Memorial” SCHOLARSHIP Two (2) $1,000.00 Scholarships Female Recipient: Alexis Moyer of Mansville, NY, Attending Mohawk Valley Community College majoring in the Radiology Technology Medical Field. Male Recipient: Seth Gilmore of Cayuga, NY, Attending Cayuga Community College majoring in Childhood Education: History/Social Studies Concentration Program. Our 1st annual “Women In Criminal Justice Women of the Year Award” went to Deane Gardner, the Deputy



{ CNY COMMUNITY SPOTLIGHT } “We share the vision-empowering all woman to achieve their fullest potential; providing a forum supporting emotional and spiritual well-being by both genders.�

Superintendent for Administration at Elmira Correctional Facility. She holds a degree in Business Administration from the State University of New York at Delhi. Her career started in 1990 at Elmira Correctional Facility as a Calculation Clerk I in Industries. She has taken many paths in her career from Calculation Clerk I & II, Senior Mail & Supply Clerk, Payroll Clerk III, Principal Account Clerk, Head Account Clerk, Institution Steward and Deputy Superintendent for Administration. Her work has allowed her the privilege to work at Elmira, Southport, Five Points and Cayuga Correctional Facilities. Throughout her career with the Department, she has facilitated Concepts in Supervision, served on a clear majority of facility committees, served as facility liaison for SEFA and Make a Difference Day initiatives. 240

In addition to the facility Domestic Violence Liaison and Master Instructor for Domestic Violence and the Workplace, she is publicly active in promoting programs and events in the community to educate people on the signs of Domestic Violence and the programs that are available to victims of Domestic Violence. As a two-year survivor of breast cancer, she also advocates for early detection and supports funding for mammograms and testing for women who face financial hardships. Deane joined the Women in Criminal Justice Committee upon its inception and served actively for many years as a member and later as Chairperson. Some of her interests include history, (mainly Women in New York State), trivia, crossword puzzles and she enjoys several genres of music. The pride and


joy of her life are her son Joshua and daughter Madeline. They reside nearby in Elmira, NY. Meet our committee: Central New York Executive Committee Members Executive Liaison: PREA Deputy Superintendent Marcus Butler Committee Chairperson: Amanda S. Monette Assistant Committee Chairperson: Nicole Moon Treasurer: Wendy Reynolds Financial Secretary: Candance Canfield Secretary: Susan Rigby Parliamentarian: Deborah Bowen To learn more about us, please visit our webpage at We are always accepting new committee members, if interested in joining, please contact us with your name, agency name






Most people don’t realize they are born rich, with infinite potential already present within themselves. They allow their shortage of money or their current results or past events to keep them thinking thoughts from a place of lack and limitation: “I’m stuck in a dead end job.” “I can’t lose weight. After all, I’ve failed so many times, so what makes me think I can do it this time?”

never receive what you want. You’ll only receive more of a lack. Your lack created your mindset, and life will be a struggle. Why? Because your thoughts may go like this: You don’t have enough money in your checking account. You’re miserable in your relationship, and you can’t seem to stop the cycle of attracting volatile, codependent partners from appearing in your life.

“I’m not pretty enough, handsome enough, smart enough or make enough money to do what I REALLY want. I’ll probably be stuck like this forever.”

Even if there are things in your life you want (but you’re thinking of those things in a doubtful, negative, fearful manner) and coming from a place of lack, you’ll 242

Opportunities will open up. Experiences you never had before will present themselves to you. Life, and everything you have always wanted, will appear for you to absorb, enjoy and receive with ease. The rule about the law of attraction is this  send good thoughts out and receive good things back. Raise your vibrational state (by clear, focused, positive thinking), and you’ll meet your soul mate. You’ll rake in multiple streams of income. You’ll witness your health improve, and every area will work for you, instead of against you.

If you have had similar thoughts, then keep reading. Or share it with someone you know who is stuck, spinning their wheels and frustrated they are not moving forward in life and business. These fearful thoughts aren’t just a flittering, negative way of daydreaming your life away. It’s much more than a mere thought or attitude. Whether you realize it or not, these “thoughts” are creating the reality you exist in today. Negative thoughts about money, love, health, your goals, dreams and ambitions are sending out a vibration to the universe what you want more of.

perceptions of yourself and thoughts you send out, you get back (either immediately or with time). On the other hand, if you begin transforming negative thoughts into positive ones, your reality will begin to shift, and almost as if by magic, change for you and for the taking.

You want to stop smoking but just don’t think you can. More than anything, you want to start your own business but can’t seem to muster up the courage to really “go for it.” But isn’t life meant to be easy, joyful and full of abundance? Yes, it sure is. In other words, what feelings, attitudes,


How differently would your life be if it was no longer a struggle? Put the practice of attraction into your daily life as mentioned in this book, and you’ll no longer read about other people’s stories of success. You’ll know for yourself just how prosperous your life could truly be. One of the simplest ways to start to execute this in a very practical way is spelled out in the book called The Science of Getting Rich by Wallace Wattles. At the turn of the twentieth

{ DR P’S POSITIVITY } “Opportunities will open up. Experiences you never had before will present themselves to you. Life, and everything you have always wanted, will appear for you to absorb, enjoy and receive with ease.”



{ {DR P’S POSITIVITY ELITEMIND PRO }} “Being grateful for what you already have brings more good things to you, and being grateful for what you desire as if it already exists will bring it to you with greater speed and reliability than merely hoping or praying.”

century there was a plethora of so-called “success” literature that helped guide the American psyche into an age of incredible invention and economic explosion. The lessons taught in this book are profound yet simple. And the riches we speak of here are not just money, but the numerous other reaches that come from our inner potential and spirit.

with greater speed and reliability than merely hoping or praying. There is a specific way to construct a gratitude exercise to move you forward toward your goals. Express five things you are grateful for in your current life. It could be as simple as hot running water.

What are the steps of the science of getting rich and how dos gratitude come into place with this?

Know that there is a formless substance that pervades the entire universe and it is intelligent. Relate yourself to this formless substance by making your mind one with it. How do you make yourself one with the intelligence of the Universe? Gratitude.

Being grateful for what you already have brings more good things to you, and being grateful for what you desire as if it already exists will bring it to you 244

Now, go about your day in the firm conviction that you are receiving that which you desire and starts to notice when things start to show up in your life! Working with a coach will accelerate your results and give you clarity that just self-help will not provide. But you really now have the keys of how to grow rich through gratitude. I look forward to hearing your stories!

Create a clear picture of what you want.

You relate to it through gratitude – gratitude for what is and gratitude for what you desire as if it is already a reality in your life.

Write down guidance you receive. Next, send love to three people that bother you. Yes! Three people that bother you.

Next, list out five things you are grateful for that you desire, but expressed in the present tense. Next, spend five minutes in silence. Suspend your thoughts and just open up your mind to your inner wisdom.


Dr. Sraddha Prativadi is a Transformational Coach and Business and Personal Development Consultant and founder of She combines her expertise in coaching, holistic integrative health, energy healing, spirituality, medicine, and hypnotherapy to accelerate you to your big goals in a custom approach. Receive your Life by Design Accelerator Plan and coaching call at today. If you would like more guidance on your specific situation or guidance on how to implement the ideas in this article, then the Elite Mind PRO 13 Point Life by Design Accelerator plan is something great for you to receive with a free coaching call.










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We often hear the term “in sickness and in health” at weddings, but are so caught up in the excitement and joy of the day that we don’t give much thought to illness entering into the equation. But with almost half of the American population dealing with some type of chronic condition, consideration of illness and its affect on every part of the relationship is crucial. All relationships, as wonderful as they can be, can have their share of ups and downs; it’s only natural when you unite two people together who have different life experiences, backgrounds, lifestyles, personalities, and behaviors. Then, if you add a chronic illness into the mix, your relationship may begin to feel a little crowded. Luckily, with some discussion, planning, and most importantly, communication, chronic illness just may become the thing that brings you two even closer together. So how can couples build a solid foundation and work together to make the most out of life despite an illness? I don’t have all the answers, but as someone who has lived with lupus, a brain aneurysm, and other chronic illnesses for almost two decades, I have learned some things along the way that I’d love to share with you. When I first began dating my now husband over 14 years ago, he was well aware of my health conditions. And while I was transparent with him, I still wasn’t completely 248

comfortable telling everyone else. I didn’t want to be treated differently or known as just “the girl with lupus.” And even though he saw me as so much more than just someone with an illness, sadly, some people didn’t agree with him. In fact, they warned him not to marry a “sick girl.” It seems they were worried that he would have to take care of me for the rest of his life and that I couldn’t give him children. His response was along the lines of: “Marrying the healthiest person in the world doesn’t remove the possibility that she could become

sick or be in a horrible accident and need someone to care for her — people are in accidents or diagnosed with illnesses every day.” It warmed my heart that he stuck up for our relationship in the face of those who felt I would be a burden. While I’m grateful he didn’t listen to these people, when he shared some of the comments with me years later, it made me realize that chronic illness can easily unravel certain aspects of life if you don’t have safeguards in place.


And while people’s shocking comments or ill-intentioned advice is just one area you have to be prepared to battle when you are ill, the opposition won’t just stop there. If you are like me — you have a chronic illness and are in a relationship — there will undoubtedly be other challenging times. To help you face these challenges and keep your partnership strong, here are a few pieces of advice that have made a positive difference: • Therapy can be your most valuable incredible tool: Healthy communication in a relationship can be a challenge for anyone, whether you have an illness or not. Working with a neutral party (your therapist) can help you and your partner learn how to work together to communicate well. Therapy in the face of relationships and chronic illness can help you to strengthen your bond to one another, and make you realize you are on the same team and need to face life’s challenges together when life throws a “doozie.” Individual therapy can also be a great option; for instance, if your partner is having a difficult time adjusting to your chronic illness diagnosis, it can be very helpful for him or her to have a neutral person to whom they can express their feelings and concerns. And don’t give up if you don’t find a therapist who is a great fit on the first try. It may take a few times to locate the ideal counselor who works well with both you and your partner. • Accept help from those who offer it: One

{ THE LUPUS CHICK } “Marrying the healthiest person in the world doesn’t remove the possibility that she could become sick or be in a horrible accident and need someone to care for her.”

{ THE LUPUS CHICK } “So how can couples build a solid foundation and work together to make the most out of life despite an illness? ”

a water soluble that’s quicker acting, use a tincture if you need something that’s longer acting or use the beauty products such as our Collagen Cream which has CBD and Vitamin E in which both carry the anti- inflammatory properties. Your CBD Store is designed to create a warm and inviting environment where consumers can feel comfortable speaking with trained sales associates about their needs. Staff will sit with each customer and discuss an individualized wellness solution. Our goal is not to be just one more CBD store. We really strive to make a difference and improve lives. We are 250

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My name is LaToya Monique Jones and I was born and raised in Syracuse, New York. I am a woman of faith, a mother, a nurse, and a regional healthcare advocate in Central New York. I’ve raised three wonderful kids, and the youngest two are fraternal twins. Alana is the oldest, and the twins’ names are Nadia and NyShaun. I fight daily for social & healthcare justice. I come from a bloodline of servant women that extends back to my great grandmother, Pearl Frazer- Richardson. All of my grandmothers were successful in their rights as they exhibited strong and even “warrior-like” qualities which made them natural leaders within our family as well as in the community. They taught all of their descendants, including me, to serve our communities in our best capacity and to seed into others so that our own lives would be blessed. I’m proud to say that my mother, Pearl Jamison comes from this bloodline and I am the product of her and my late father, Mr. Charles (Charlie) Jones. An interesting fact about my dad is that when he was young, he and his family migrated to the Syracuse area from Dillon, South Carolina to escape poverty. My mother’s family migration story began with her mother Bertha Jamison migrating to the north from Orangeburg, South Carolina. She settled in the Washington D.C. area and when my mom came of age, she made her way to start a life in Syracuse. Most families of color that I know in Syracuse

and Central New York come from parents or grandparents who moved up here from the south for a better life. My mother still resides on Syracuse’s south side.

nursing student from my class that completed the program. I was 17 years old at that time and I knew that this was a major accomplishment.

I became interested in the healthcare industry as a child and had the opportunity to explore healthcare education while still in high school. During that time, the Syracuse City School district had a career-based high school in the heart of downtown called Central Technical High. I took my general

Programs like this are what allowed me to become a nurse and now a regional healthcare advocate here in Central New York. But times are different now because the support and scope of education are different, just like they are in healthcare. I believe that education should be centered around the individual and what it takes to drive him or her towards success to live an optimally healthy life. Everyone has a different road to travel, and not everyone will go to college, so why not give the people, especially the youth, a choice of a career path that they can take advantage of while in high-school or college? I chose the career path but then I continued my education at Bryant & Stratton College and eventually graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Health Services Administration. I am currently pursuing my master’s degree of Arts in Public Policy. Through my studies as well as my work, my goal is to help shape healthcare policy and legislation that works for all people.

education courses at Corcoran High School and my career-focused classes at Central Tech. I absolutely loved my healthcare classes and eventually graduated. Unfortunately, Central Tech closed and those valuable programs are no longer available. After graduation, I was able to transfer into an adult program at the same school and complete my nursing degree. I graduated the February following my high school graduation. I was the only high school

I possess over 25 years of experience within a variety of healthcare settings. I am a staunch advocate, organizer, educator, volunteer and promoter of health & wellness within the Central New York community. I am the owner of LaToya Monique LLC., a



{ HEALTHY WOMAN } “I possess over 25 years of experience within a variety of healthcare settings. I am a staunch advocate, organizer, educator, volunteer and promoter of health & wellness within the Central New York community.”

a contributing writer for Central New York Online Women’s magazine, and a co-host of the Women’s Power Huddle (WPH) in collaboration with Bishop Colette MathewsCarter which is an empowerment network for women of color in diverse professions and vocations. The purpose of WPH is to connect women through professional and social venues to foster sisterhood, business relationships, and general networking opportunities.

Mu Sorority Inc. serving on their public relations committee; a board member of the Syracuse/Onondaga NAACP serving as the Health Committee Chair; member of the American Association of Healthcare Administration Management; Onondaga County Immunization Coalition; Onondaga County Health Equity Coalition; a 2017 graduate of The Leadership Classroom; and last but not least, a 2017 graduate of Nourishing Tomorrow’s Leaders.

Also, I was honored to serve as the past president & founder of Black Nurses Rock – Syracuse. This is a grassroots nurse’s organization focusing on cultivating innovative nurse leadership and community outreach from within disadvantaged neighborhoods.

I would say that everything that I do is for my children and therefore I am trying to live a life that will speak for itself when I am no longer here to tell my own story. My children are my strong base of support. Therefore, I will continue to build a life of leadership with a strong platform for my children to be proud to stand on; a platform that will continue to stand for what is right in the

I’m currently a member of Lambda Kappa 254


healthcare industry; to promote wellness and decrease healthcare disparities in our communities; to promote preventative healthcare to improve the quality of life for my family members and our communities; to fight for the healthcare rights of all people; and to inspire mothers to push the envelope in a society that constantly tries to convey leadership does not look like them – women of color. I am not just a nurse leader, I am an advocate for what is right! Through my work as a nurse and healthcare advocate, I am living a life that will speak for itself when I am no longer here to tell my story! To contact Corporate Nurse LaToya Jones BS, HSA LPN email



Michele Lindor was born and raised in Syracuse, NY and is a graduate of West Genesee High School and holds a BFA in English from Cazenovia College. Michele’s grandfather and mother were founding members of Appleseed Productions and quickly thrust her into the theater world as soon as they were able, which didn’t take much coaxing. From elementary school to this very day, Michele is an active member of the Syracuse theater community and currently serves as a member of the steering committee for Rarely Done Productions. She was recently nominated for a 2019 Syracuse Area Live Theater Award for her portrayal of Lisa in Rarely Done’s A New Brain. Michele by day, is an animal behaviorist, by night a bartender at The Galley Holding Company, and is returning to school in the fall for her Masters in Theater Education.

her senior capstone work in order to graduate. Thinking she couldn’t go on, especially with her Nana’s passing, but theater helped Michele through it. Michele stated to Central NY Woman Online Magazine “As cliché as it may seem, I wouldn’t be


Michele: The highlights of my theater career so far have most definitely been having such a good theater run in college. I was blessed to stumble upon Cazenovia College’s hidden gem of an artist in residence, David Lowenstein and he believed in me and what I offered onstage more so than anyone else has. I wouldn’t have made it through college without being able to be onstage, but especially wouldn’t have made it without David and his pushing and reassurance. CNYWO: What are some of your favorite acting roles so far and why?

When Michele was 15 years old she was placed in the care of her grandparents and completely uprooted her life. The move was really, really rough mainly because being bullied relentlessly in high school for a plethora of reasons. Senior year of college her Nana was diagnosed with stage IV cholangiocarcinoma, or bile duct cancer, which is extremely rare and highly fatal. Michele juggled work, school, taking care of her Nana, and

in your career so far?

the person I am today nor would I even be standing here without musical theater”. CNYWO: What are some highlights


Michele: My favorite acting roles so far have most definitely been The Witch in Into the Woods directed by David Lowenstein and Dionne in Hair directed by Garrett Heater. The Witch has always been an extremely special role to me for many reasons. It was the first show that really captured my attention, especially because the The Witch was originated by my favorite Broadway vet Bernadette Peters. But also because this was my senior year old college production and the last role my Nana got to see me play. Playing that role for David and in front of my Nana, my personal cheerleader and the one so integral

{ CNY ONSTAGE } “When Michele was 15 years old she was placed in the care of her grandparents and completely uprooted her life.”



“As cliché as it may seem, I wouldn’t be the person I am today nor would I even be standing here without musical theater.”

{ { SHIFT+CONTROL CNY ONSTAGE }} “My advice to anyone getting into this field is to be true to you and your talents. Know when to (and that it’s 100% okay to) take breaks for your health.”

to my love of theater. She passed weeks after the performance and my graduation.

cast was fully made up of my closest friends.

Hair was simply a magical experience from the costuming to the groovy music, it was really hard not to have fun. The cast was also right by my side during my Nana’s passing and that helped a lot. Dionne was a HUGE bucket list character. She was unapologetically black and strong and that was inspiring. I never thought in a million years that a company in Syracuse would be bold enough to produce that musical and I’m so glad that one did!

CNYWO: What inspired you to get into your field?

I also deeply enjoyed playing Lisa in Rarely Done’s A New Brain. It was a super fun, yet challenging role and the 260

Michele: Running around Appleseed when I was kid during my mother’s rehearsals or my grandfather’s meetings, it was honestly natural for me to have the need to be involved in theater. My Nana grew up in New York City and went to many Broadway shows as a kid. She showed me plays and musicals from Mame to Annie Get Your Gun and I was instantly hooked. It also helped that as a kid, I was the biggest ham there could have been.


CNYWO:What is some advice you would give anyone who may want to get into acting? Michele: My advice to anyone getting into this field is to be true to you and your talents. Know when to (and that it’s 100% okay to) take breaks for your health - whether that be vocal health, physical health, or mental health! There will always be someone NOT rooting for you, but for that one someone there are a ton of people who ARE rooting for you; always listen to those people even when it’s hard. Oh, and have fun! That’s the most important one of all! To contact Michele email






Decide on what type of holiday look you want to go for. Make a stronger lip or an eye the focal point of your makeup, and go easy on the rest. If you wear a bold, dark deep or bright lip, then you don’t need much eye makeup. Go for a red, berry or rosy pink lipstick with low-key neutral eyes or switch things around and do smoky lined lids with a soft neutral lip. Doing a full face with both strong eyes and lips looks overdone. You can always go back and forth do and play up eyes one day and lips the next.

and then start your makeup. If you are going out for the evening and want to redo one step from your morning makeup application, make it the foundation. You can retouch the eyes and lips easily. setting with a translucent powder or loose powder will help to achieve a luminous look!


LIPS: If you’re going for a bold Smokey eye then keep the lips light and neutral. If you’re keeping your eyes light then go for a bold lip! Add a little extra festive touch with a sparkly lip topper! BLUSH: Always add blush! If you’re going for a bold lip, use a light subtle pinkish shade. If you’re looking to add a little extra glow use a coral shade, it’s very flattering on any skin type!

EYESHADOW: warmer shades for cool eyes, such as blue, gray or green, and cooler shades for warm brown or hazel eyes. The contrast works to bring out your eye color, and no matter how much you smoke up the lids or frame the eyes, they never look overdone. Choose palettes with a mix of light to dark shades and a variety of textures, including matte, satin and shimmery mix. FOUNDATION: Keep face makeup glowy and radiant. Choose a foundation, color-correcting cream or tinted moisturizer that gives you fresher, healthier looking skin. Going a little more sheer and luminous looks more appealing than a full coverage foundation and powder. For the dewiest look, wash your face and prep skin with a facial mask for 10 minutes prior to applying makeup. Gently massage on the moisturizer, let it sink in a few minutes

to really make your eyes look bigger and stronger. And start at the very roots so there are no gaps between mascara and the upper inner rims. Roll the brush up in a wiggling back-and-forth movement to saturate lashes.

C O N T O U R & HIGHLIGHT: Contour and highlighter are the perfect finishing touch for any holiday party and event! For contouring use a contour brush and sweep along the outer areas of the face. For highlight take a small detail brush and sweep along cheek bones, nose and cupid’s bow.

LASHES: Curl your lashes to open your eyes and to counteract sag. Use a curler with good spring-cushioned pads and a wide shape to prevent crimping, and curl before you add mascara. To apply, front-load your mascara — depositing more at the roots of the lashes, not the tips, in a black shade


With these tips you’ll be rocking this holiday season! There’s so many different combinations to choose from! Last but not least, always be sure to color coordinate with your outfit and accessories! Emily Marie Pangburn Owner of Makeup Artistry & Beauty







We’re currently in the month of November, during which we always celebrate Thanksgiving. Consequently, I’ve decided to devote this month’s column to the topic of gratitude. The dictionary defines gratitude as the quality of being thankful, as well as a readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness. However, I wonder how many of us, on a regular basis, really exhibit these characteristics of gratitude in our daily lives? All too easily, we may find ourselves living in the past, as opposed to being grateful for what we have in our lives currently. Just as easily, we may find ourselves postponing our gratitude for the things that we hope will take place in our lives in the future. I’m continuing to deal with multiple chronic illnesses in my life. I have learned, firsthand, the difference that cultivating an attitude of gratitude truly makes. At various times during the past several decades, I have experienced devastating effects of my chronic medical diagnoses, including blindness, paralysis, incontinence, and severe airway obstruction. Experiencing such significant types of symptoms really helped me to cut to the chase of what truly matters in life. Simply put, I powerfully learned to 264

no longer sweat the small stuff. I was forced to look at my life from a very different perspective; I began to cultivate deep gratitude for those abilities which remained, as opposed to continuing to mourn those abilities that had been lost. Unquestionably, this entire process was made a lot easier by having abilities that were temporarily, as opposed to permanently lost. Nevertheless, having lost such valued abilities to see, hear,

for my many blessings. As painful as my experiences of being seriously ill have been, on multiple occasions, I would never wish them to have never taken place. I have been forced to learn how to live more fully in the present, as opposed to either the past or the future. I’ve learned to pay closer attention to small, daily blessings, as opposed to always thinking that a major transition or accomplishment in my life would guarantee true happiness. I strongly believe that one of the major reasons why I have been allowed to experience such intense suffering is so that I could assist others who are also struggling. Working as a clinical health psychologist has afforded me the opportunity to witness, up close and personal, a great deal of suffering. I see clients who are struggling with both physical and emotional disorders.

walk, and simply breathe powerfully changed who I am. If I was ever going to cope more adequately with the card of hands I’d been dealt, I needed to radically alter my perspective. Prior to experiencing such dramatic health disturbances, I had been guilty of thinking of those very things that I thought were still missing from my daily life, as opposed to being truly grateful


Because I have personally struggled with both types of issues myself, I am much more compassionate in responding empathetically to my clients. Responding to their suffering has ceased to be a dry, academic exercise. When such clients appear to not be fully convinced that I truly understand the struggles they are facing, I retain the option to gently disclose my own personal struggles. This has profoundly impacted the therapeutic connection that I’m able

{ MENTALLY THINKING } “I strongly believe that one of the major reasons why I have been allowed to experience such intense suffering is so that I could assist others who are also struggling.”



{ {RWO’S MENTALLY MENTAL THINKING HEALTH} } “ I’d like to think that expressing gratitude on a regular basis has positively impacted how I interact with others each day.”

This season of thanksgiving, I challenge you to also develop an attitude of gratitude. Begin to slowly stop to appreciate your many blessings each day. Initially, this very exercise might feel foreign, since many of us are deeply accustomed to thinking about what is wrong with our everyday lives. Believe me, developing a more grateful attitude is possible over time. Like any other skill, it needs to be practiced on a regular basis in order to become second nature. Each day throughout November, I intentionally list one thing for which I am grateful, via Facebook. I have 266

found that engaging in this exercise helps me to increasingly count my many blessings, no matter how trivial they might appear to others. I find that I’ve also begun to feel much happier as a result of expressing gratitude. Everyday irritations no longer seem to both me as much, too. I’d like to think that expressing gratitude on a regular basis has positively impacted how I interact with others each day. I think that learning to cultivate gratitude has allowed me to become less irritated by the insensitivity of others. I’m much more likely to interpret their responses as


a reflection of distressing events in their lives, as opposed to somehow being a personal reflection of who I happen to be. This November, I challenge you to also develop increased gratitude. Promise me, it will powerfully impact multiple aspects of your daily life. You’ll have greater peace of mind, too.






Your “diaphragm” is the dome shaped muscle beneath your lungs. When it contracts and flattens, you breathe in. When it relaxes, you breathe out. But do you know your diaphragm plays an important secondary role in protecting your trunk and spine by controlling abdominal pressure? The muscles that support your trunk form a “canister.” The front and sides of the canister are created by your abdominal and rib muscles. The back of the canister includes those muscles attached to your spine. The bottom of the canister is formed by the muscles of your pelvic floor, while your diaphragm serves as the roof. Together, these muscles control your abdominal pressure and core stability. A well-braced core provides a stable foundation for moving your arms, legs, and head – in much the same way that when firing a canon, a large ship serves as a better platform than a rowboat. During normal breathing, your upper chest should remain relatively still. Patients with “dysfunctional” patterns frequently overuse their upper chest muscles instead of their abdomen and lower rib cage. This depressurizes and destabilizes your core, leading to other problems like back pain. You should not need to always think about proper breathing – this should happen subconsciously. Unfortunately, many of us have “learned” poor mechanics and need to re-learn proper breathing. One of the easiest ways to re-train proper breathing is to sit or lie still with one head on your breastbone and the other hand on your abdomen. When you breathe in, only the hand on your abdomen should move, while

the hand on your chest remains still. Your normal breathing rhythm should be about three seconds of inhalation followed by six seconds of exhalation. If you find that you are exhaling too quickly, you may try “pursing” your lips to gradually increase the length of your exhalation. The exercises that follow are essential for your recovery. Once you have restored normal breathing mechanics, you will enjoy increased core stability and your treatment will be much more successful. It is important to perform your breathing exercises consistently, as repetitive exercise will allow your body

only the hand over your abdomen should rise, and the hand over your chest should remain still. Once you are able to breathe by moving only your abdomen, you may use your lower hand to lightly compress your abdomen as you breathe in, then relax the pressure as you breathe out. Alternately, you may apply light pressure to the sides of your lower ribs as you inhale. The ideal breathing cycle (while resting) is three seconds of inhalation followed by six seconds of exhalation. If you find that you are breathing out too quickly, you may try exhaling through pursed lips in order to gradually increase the length of exhalation. You should practice proper breathing in multiple positions; first, lying flat on your back, then sitting, then standing, and finally, while performing more challenging movements, like squatting with your hands overhead. Perform as directed. Abdominal Brace Perform:

“re-learn” to subconsciously move in a safe and a coordinated fashion- thereby reducing your risk of injury. Diaphragm Breathing: Perform 1 set of 2 breaths, 1 time per hour. Note: 10-20 upon awakening and retiring Begin lying flat on your back with your knees elevated and feet on the floor. Place one hand on your abdomen, and the other over your breastbone. Breathe in slowly and deeply through your nose. If you are breathing properly from your diaphragm,

3 sets of 10 reps, 2 times per day. The basic goal of “abdominal bracing” is to tighten your abdominal wall in order to protect your spine. This exercise may be performed by imagining that someone is about to punch you in your stomach. Your stomach muscles should contract to brace for the punch. Your abdominal wall should not be “sucked in” nor “pushed out”. Do not move your spine or pelvis. This contraction should be performed during all movements throughout the day to assist in spine stability.





Yoga classes can be glorified stretching classes. To me, Yoga is attunement to mind and body. Should it not be an opportunity for us to be in union and attuned to ourselves? Asana practice alone is not enough. As a yoga teacher, I want to offer more than a flowing choreography and a good stretch. Why are we doing what we do in a yoga posture? How does it relate to our life away from the mat? Yoga can change life for the better right? When I tell my class what to do, how to be and what to think, they are right there with me – in union. And they are listening to me! Rarely are they listening to themselves. As a yoga student, you may like that I tell you to relax; that I tell you to love your body; that I tell you to be grateful; that I tell you to let go into the moment. But how long do you follow my telling once you leave my class? What I want, as a yoga teacher, is to support my students finding union with themselves – not with me. I want them to feel empowered to be with themselves and their bodies from an inner source of knowing. This means 270

I can no longer just go through the motions of asana practice. I’d been going through the motions for almost 10 years. And in order to gain experience in hands-on assists for these moves, I found myself at a Phoenix Rising Level 1 Training. The pictures in the advertisements were promising and showed examples of what it was

take rather simple positions and then, coached verbally how to pay attention to my body’s experience and its wisdom. As I held my arms overhead, I was asked to notice what my body was feeling at that moment. EXHAUSTION! WHAT?! Holding arms up was something I did everyday and for much longer than what I was experiencing in that moment. I was devastated to experience complete ov e r w h e l m i n g exhaustion in my arms and shoulders. I felt disappointed in myself. How could I be so out of shape, weak and tired? I was a yoga teacher with ten years of experience and now I felt humiliated. How could I have missed this exhaustion in my body?

I wanted to learn. However, what I discovered about Phoenix Rising Yoga (and myself) were surprisingly different from my expectations and more rewarding than I could have hoped. Fit and strong, I attended my first Phoenix Rising Therapeutic Yoga Class as part of training. Instead of just being told where to put and how to hold every detail of my body, I was asked to


The experience was so significant that it was to change my life. With further coaching, I saw how this experience was a metaphor in how I was living my life. I saw my body overworked and under cared for in my daily schedule. Chores, physical career, working out, and adventure recreation, demanded constant performance from my body. Yet, in return, my body typically received disappointing returns or feedback. It could never live up to my expectations or the demands I made of it: Olympic











Alpine Ski Champion, 6-pack abs, and cover-model beauty model.

truth: My body and I needed to form a much better relationship.

Regardless of going through the motions of asana practice for ten years, I had failed to be truly present with my body or myself. My ego and expectations created a denial of my body’s experience, intelligence and wisdom. It was the scapegoat for every fault and weakness. And now here in one moment of great awareness coaching, I saw the truth – how my mental conditioning convinced me that my body was the enemy and prone to dysfunction. That I needed to ignore its signals and messages for glorified ideas in my head. I saw the

Now I have become a yoga educator. I am very aware that by offering the Phoenix Rising approach to the student’s experience of yoga, I’m offering them opportunities to be attuned to themselves, tapping into their body’s wisdom, and eventually becoming more authentically empowered in their lives. Yoga with awareness is embodied presence – a way of being with the body where we can consciously receive much more from yoga than a good stretch. I want to help those I serve to focus at that level of awareness so that it provides the opening


for a potential life changing experience like mine. Now, in my yoga classes, students experience what, in Phoenix Rising Yoga, is known as Dual Process – movement and awareness coaching for self-inquiry – so they too can learn to listen to their bodies, gaining greater opportunities to enhance their lives away from the mat when they leave my class. Sarah Kaczor Greco is a member of the Phoenix Rising Faculty and will be leading Therapeutic Yoga Teacher Trainings in Webster and New Hartford in 2019 and 2020. For more information, email


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