OTK Issue 06

Page 1


Her Words. Her Journey. Her Story.


Our mission is to

support empower and

women of all ages and any race through traditional

journalism, storytelling, illustrations and photography.

supports diversity, inclusion and equality for women This magazine


Our hope is that the stories in the magazine illustrate this through the telling details of our everyday women’s inspiring lives.


No problem

Scan the QR code below to purchase your copy today.

FROM THE EDITOR One Year This sixth edition concludes One To Know Magazine’s first year in print as a bimonthly publication. Looking back, Adrienne and I think about all of the women’s lives we have encountered, shared, loved and inspired in just our first year. I wish we could list every one of them here. But if you flip to our Ponder section on page 80 in the back of this book, you get an small idea.

Women of Fort Worth Who Inspire


Our writers have shared essays about food shaming, being OK with failure, social awkwardness after isolation, workaholism (thanks to the Pilgrims) and short stories about immigration, love, identity and time, that have all helped us gain insight. Stories of women-owned businesses gave us ideas of new places to support and experience. Maybe they even inspired us to start our own. But the most in-depth and impactful might be the cover profiles. To Mariell Guzman, Tamara Albury, Alexis Ruddock, Rambo Elliott, Claudia Casas and Yanira Borges, thank you. Our gratitude for you is endless. Your willingness to share your story of not just current success, but what you’ve overcome to get there, has helped so many readers identify with their own stories. When this happens, I believe that we feel less alone. It’s the reason Adrienne and I work so hard to get each book out to readers. Looking back through the pages of the magazine and the entire year, the word that comes to mind is authentic — it is genuine, original and honest. Not only is it Fort Worth’s first and only women’s magazine, but it was never going to be the mere lifestyle, home or gossip production that some women’s magazines turn into. We believe women deserve more, and this one is full of meaning and purpose. So, when Adrienne came to me with her idea to create a magazine for women that wasn’t about fashion, makeup and sex, I was intrigued, and it wasn’t long before I fell in love with the project. Her ideas to support and highlight local female artists by having them illustrate the cover based on their interpretation of the feature profile was also special to me for several reasons. See, our goal is to highlight women who are not already within the frame and fame of the media’s lens. For the most part, they operate under the radar (or behind the lens in Rambo’s case). To lead the magazine visually with abstract illustrations so beautifully intrigues and supports the artists and women behind the cover. Then there was our shared passion good storytelling.

With endless gratitude,


Executive Editor

We don’t know what next year will bring, but if it is anything like our first year, we can hardly wait. Thank you for being on this journey with us. Words and stories are the most powerful connectors, and we hope the words in these magazines point to our similar hopes, passions, dreams, fears and goals as a way to unite, not divide.

CONTRIBUTORS What has music done for you in your life?

S a ra h A ng l e

Amb e r Bailey



Ja d e E merson

Amb er Davis I L LU ST R ATO R

E mily Fi al a



Music transports me. I sing along with artists on the radio and am always amazed when they mess up their own words. But, I just go along with it.

Music is my greatest muse.

Music offers both escapism and grounding. With the right song or playlist, I can fall into another world or better understand my own.

Music makes me feel like a time traveler. Taking me to places I’ve already been— brief flashes of happier times, laughter, and some moments of sorrow.

Co nny Go nza l ez

Ce c il Le n ze n

Zelly M a r tin

Angie M a r tinez

E r in Rati gan






Music has kept me motivated through many challenging moments in my life. I can’t imagine my life without my favorite songs keeping me company through the ups and downs.

Music has provided an emotional blanket for me during the most stressful, chaotic periods of my life.

My earliest memory is listening to music with my parents—the “Pulp Fiction” soundtrack. That’s what music has always done for me—connected me to the people I love most.

Music stimulates memory for me. Music transports me to each season of life corresponding with a different genre. From strong female ballads from Rocio Dúrcal to the slow mellow of a Deathcab album.

Music melts, rebuilds and heals me. When I learned to speak, I started to sing. She was my first friend.

El i za bet h S e h o n

Az u l S o rd o

Step hen Tob in




Shilo Ur b a n WRITER

Music is a chance for me to plug in all of my emotions, which are a roller coaster at times, and find the right chord and lyrics to help me feel understood and at peace.

Music has gotten me through every overnight study session, last-minute essay assignment, and impending photo deadline. Shoutout to lo-fi hip-hop radio — beats to relax/study to!

Music as a musician has taught me attention to detail, expression, and teamwork and leadership. Music has brought me to some of the highest highs and lowest lows of my life.

Music has saved my life. In my darkest days, when I had no one to turn to — not even a dog — music was there.

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Music reminds me of where I’ve been, where I want to go, and who I can be; it speaks to the brightest and darkest spaces and places in our souls and meets us, brilliantly, wherever we may be.


One to Watch

40 I.M. Terrell Choir Women of Fort Worth Who Inspire



44 Revolutionary Women Poetry

50 Identity Crisis

One to Know

30 YANIRA borges She Dares


AURELIA Albers • PERLA Alvarado • JULIE Alvarez • CALLIE Anderson • SARAH Angle • AMANDA Arizola • AMY Arriaga • AMY Atkins • TIQUANNA Austin-Wright • CYNTHIA Ayala Cedillo • AMBER Bailey • JULIE Baker • MARIA R Balandran • REBECCA Balcarcel • ASHLEY Barbee-Christman • KYOKO Bass • ANDREA Bell • MARISA Bell • ROSA Berdeja • CHRISTINA Berger • JUANITA Bermejo • EVA Bermejo • MELINDA Bermejo • LATONYA Berry • VALERIE Bigler • JILL Black • CHELSEA Blackmon • LASHAUNN Bold • EVA Bonilla • YANIRA Borges • LISA Botello • DANA Brewer • SHANNON Bull • MARIA Burke • OLGA Buster • MERCY Call • ALEX Cambora • DONNA Campbell • KRIS Canfield • NYDIA Cardenas • KENYAIL Carr • ELVIRA Casarez • CLAUDIA Casas • JENNIFER Casseday • ALMA Castillo • TANISIA Castillo-Queppet • LAUREN castleberry • CONNIE Cervantez • BRIANNA Cervantez • CYNTHIA Chabot • VICKI Cisneros • SARAH Cohen • TRACY Colmenero • TONI Contreras • ALEJANDRA Contreras • LATONYA Copeland • EVELYN Covington • LEILA Daniels • AMANDA Darden • PAUL Darr • LANESHA Davis • ARIEL Davis • FRANCES De Leon • DIONNA Deardorff • VICTORIA Deauman • PATRICIA DeLeon • DORA DeLeon • ANGELA DeQuesada • VEIDA Dima • VIRGINIA DiPierro • MELONDY Doddy-Munoz • CORRIE Donovan • JACKIE Dugas • BRITNEY Duke • ANNA Dykema • MICHAEL Edwards • NICOLE Ellis • MARY Helen Enriquez • DAYNA Epley • PRISCILLA Esparza • CARI Feehan • STEPHANIE Fenyes • ROBIN Fielding • LAUREN Findley • STEPHANIE Flores • LAUREN Foster • LINDA Foster • DANIKA Franks • ROSANNA Frias • REBECCA Galindo Castro • EDDYE Gallagher • STACEY Garcia • JUANITA Garcia • ALLYSSA Garcia • AMY Garland • MARIA Isabel Garza • ALICIA Garza • JANINE Glassman • MARTHA Gonzales • NANCY Gonzales • MYRIAM Gonzalez • CONNY Gonzalez • D.M . Goodman • ADRIENNE Grant • EDWARD Guerra • LAUREN Guerrero • CAMILLE Guerrero • DENNISSE Guerrero • GLADYS Guevara • FIGEN Gundogdu • MARIELL Guzman • LINDA Hailey • ANGELA Halbach • JENNIFER Hamrick • MEAGAN Hardy • NICOLE Hawkins • JADE Hebbert • LAUREN Heimburger • LEE Henderson • JENNIFER Henderson • TAMAR Henderson • VANESSA Hernandez • JANET Hernandez • VICTORIA Herrera • SARA Herrera • LAURA High • ANNETTE Hill • FLO Hill • MALIA Hill • KOBRIE Hodge • INDIANA Huffman • MARIA Huizar • PATRICIA Hull • KIM Johnson • JACLYN Justice • HEATHER Kauffman • SAMANTHA Keaton • LYNNETTE Kile • LINDSAY Kinzie • ANNE Kline • REILLY Kristin renee • LOREE LaChance • BLAIZE LaFleur • KENDAL Lake • KELLY Lancarte • BENEDIKT Langer • ELLIE Lasater • LAURA Loftin • ELVA Lopez • EMMA Lopez • LINDA Lopez • CYNTHIA M Lopez • JOCELYNE Lopez • GINA Lopez • AMANDA M Brotherton • DONNA Martinez • ERIN Martinez • VERONICA Martinez • ANGELA Martinez • MATT Martinez • NELLIE Martinez • JESSIE Martinez • MARY Lou Martinez • LANETTE Martinez-Vidaurri • JENNIFER Mayer • SHANNON Mccourt • COURTNEY Mckeown • VICTORIA McLaughlin • MARCIA Mederos • JESSICA Mejia • MORIAH Mendez • LEEANNA Mendoza • MAGGIE Mercado • KALI Messer • PEGGY Miller • ANAKA Mittal • DANA Moody • ANGELA Moore • AMANDA Morris • MONICA Moszkowicz • LIZ Nelson • ANNA Noyce • KAITLIN O’Connell-Owens • VALERIE Ochoa • BOB Of DFW • RACHELLE Ohlhaber • DIANA Oliveros • SUSANNA Olmos • MARIA Orand • LUCINDA Ortega • ROSEMARY Ortez • LINDA Owens • EMILY Paine Smith • ELSA Pais • SALLY Palmer • EMMA Patino • JULIE Patrick • TAYLOR Pels-Hernandez • KENDA Pennington • MICHELLE Perry • LAUREN Phillips • TAMMY Phillips • JENNA Pinder • CARLA Prieto • HELI Prilliman • BEATRICE Ramirez • PAULINE Ramos • SKY Ramos • THERESA Ramos • DONNA Ratigan • HEATHER Reck • BECK Reed • REBECCA Reyes • JAN Riggins • ROSIE Rios • CAROL Roark • KAITLYN Robertson • KARINA Rodriguez • BETTY Rodriguez • MARIA Rodriguez • CYNTHIA Rodriguez • DIANA Rodriquez • KAREN Rogers • BARBARA Rosales • DANIEL Rosales • SUSAN Russell • SANDY Russell • JULIE Sampson • CIRO Sarmiento • GISELLE Saucedo • LATOYA Savala • MONICA Savino • RACHEAL Scanlan- Ruiz • BECKY Scheffrahn • JUDY Schell • KAREN Scott • ALICIA Servin • WES Shannon • SANDRA Sharp • DEBRA Sherman • MANYA Shorr • COLLEEN Shutt • NICOLE Sinclair • CHRISTY Smith • SUSAN Smith • MARISSA Smith • ERICKA Solis • MERARI Solito • KAREN Solito • LINDA Soto • KATHLEEN Soye • AMANDA Stallcup • KATHERINE Stephens • CHRISTINE Stivers • JULIA Sutterfield • CHERYL Sutterfield-Jones • TERRIE Talbert • JOCELYN Tatum • DEVONNE Tatum • JULIA Taverna • RACHEL Taylor • PJ Taylor • RUTH Tijerina • HERLINDA Tijerina • BECKY Tobin • JEAN Tocco • CRISTINA Toledo • TRISH Torres • CANDY Torres • BAILLIE Troskot • JOSIE Trujillo • ESTHER Turner • SHILO Urban • SHARON Urban • SHARON Urban • ANGELIQUE Urquidez • JODIE Utter • LAURA Valdez • ELISA Valdez • CLAIRE Varnon • CRYSTAL Vastine • VANESSA Villasenor • LORENA Waits • NAYA Walker • ANDREW Walker • CARRIE Ward • CAROLYN Watson • REBECCA Waugh • GEORGIA Norfleet Webb • SUSAN White • NICOLE Whiteside • ALISON Wicker • HAILEE Wood • MONIKA Worsley • APRIL Yandell •






Women of Fort Worth Who Inspire






Dancing to Your Roots

Undefinable Style — Undeniable Talent


Dynamic Female Voices

20 TRYING Noted

A Fort Worth Ode to Mexico City

Coping with Trauma

26 31:13


The Potential of Paper

Sitty’s Cooking



Thoughtful Thrifting

Losing a Pregnancy Does Not Always Mean You’ve Lost Everything


Life as a SAD Girl

2 Editor’s Letter 3 Contributors 28 Craft 80 Ponder


“When we spoke once at an art fair, she shared that her work is often from the unconscious. I immediately identified with this sentiment;

her mind is where the wild things live and breathe

and find release in her crayons and acrylics.” - Undefinable Style, Undeniable Talent, by Sarah Angle, P 12 “For

a long time, men had a wife at home to help build their empires, and now that women are reaching out for this, we need to know how it’s done. That’s how we learn from each other — when we’re open and honest.” - Dynamic Female Voices, by Liz Sehon, P 16

Publisher & Owner Adrienne Martinez

after we realized there weren’t any coffee shops in the area … every neighborhood needs one.”

- A Fort Worth Ode to Mexico City, by Jade Emerson, P 22

Editorial Inquiries editorial@onetoknowmagazine.com Advertising sales@onetoknowmagazine.com Design Adrienne Martinez, art director Editorial Jocelyn Foster Tatum, executive editor Contributors Editorial Sarah Angle, Jade Emerson, Emily Fiala, Cecilia Lenzen, Zelly Martin, Angie Martinez, Erin Ratigan, Elizabeth Sehon, Stephen Tobin, Shilo Urban Illustrators Amber Bailey, Amber Davis, Conny Gonzalez Photograhpy Azul Sordo, MARIAFLASH Have an idea or see a mistake? Tell us about it: editorial@onetoknowmagazine.com One To Know Magazine is a bimonthly, subscription-based publication. All rights reserved. Views and comments expressed by individuals do not necessarily represent those of the publishers, and no legal responsibility can be accepted for the result of the use by readers of information or advice of whatever kind given in this publication, either in editorial or advertisements. No part of this publication may be reprinted or duplicated without the prior permission of One To Know Magazine LLC.

The day my pregnancy ended was not the worst day of my life. To those women, I am so sorry. Please speak out

as much as you’d like to. But to those women whose miscarriage was perhaps a more confusing event — I want to hear that story too. And to the journalists and media outlets who are picking up these stories and repackaging them for further consumption, please stop telling me that I’m tragic. - Losing a Pregnancy Does Not Always Mean You’ve Lost Everything, essayist Zelly Martin, P 52 “I don’t want to compare it to war, but for us, it was our war.” - Coping With Trauma, by Erin Ratigan, P 62 “My

11-year-old daughter has had me in her life and by her side. Once I get that career, we are going to be on

top of the world [...] One day we are going to own our own house. We can go on vacation. [But] fifteen years ago if you had passed me on the street, you would have said, ‘Look at that crackhead.’” - Climbing the Ladder, by Jocelyn Tatum P 72


@onetoknowmagazine VISIT US ONLINE onetoknowmagazine.com

Her style of leadership is one of authenticity, not polish and pantsuits. This flows into her verbiage — her voice sounds casual and unrehearsed. She stumbles [...] But her candor doesn’t come from a place of insecurity. Quite the opposite; she does it to encourage everyone to be themselves. After all, that is what her organization is all about: daring to be true to yourself. - She Dares, by Erin Ratigan, P 30

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“Opening a coffee shop was always my husband Joseph’s dream, but we both fell in love with the idea of opening one in the Northside


Women of Fort Worth Who Inspire



Dancing to Your Roots

A local dance instructor keeps her Spanish tradition alive through dance. By Elizabeth Sehon Photos by Azul Sordo

Folklórico in the world during a time when men dominated the dance and choreographer arena, which still fascinates and influences Anastasia, who is now 25. Years later, and after graduating from Texas Christian University in 2021, Anastasia made the move to start Anastasia Flores Dance Company, which practices inside the United Performing Arts Company studio, after an unfortunate dismantling of the business where she once taught. Other than her role as female business owner, Anastasia takes on many positions within her company — director, main instructor and choreographer — but says her favorite part is building a familial bond and community with her students who are of all ages and backgrounds. She brings her unique approach to the competitiveness of the dance world, which can be harsh at times, leading to low morale for students and instructors, but Anastasia says her goal as an instructor is to teach her students to brush off the negativity and to compete with themselves, rather than others.

OneToKnowMagazine.com | ISSUE 06


nastasia Flores’ life’s fabric has been woven by the richness of Mexican and Salvadorian culture, and she has recently dedicated her dancing career to preserving Spanish tradition by launching a dance company primarily dedicated to Ballet Folklórico. The Fort Worth native was 6 years old when she saw a dance ensemble of brightly colored skirts bouncing in the air as they floated across the stage to lively Hispanic music performing at a church festival — she fell in love with Ballet Folklórico from that moment on. “Right after my parents signed me up for the dance, and as a young child, I knew right away this was it,” Anastasia says. Anastasia’s parents, who performed Ballet Folklórico in high school, heavily influenced her passion for the Spanish culture; her father is Mexican-American and mother is Salvadorian, but she also says Amalia Hernández Navarro, founder of Ballet Folklórico de Mexican in 1952, inspired her to be confident as a female leader. Amalia was a pioneer and founder of the most famous Ballet



Ballet Folklórico


“It’s very competitive, and it can get hateful and envious, which breaks my heart,” she says. “When we go to competition, of course we want to win, but overall, we just want to be the best that we can be — that’s the most beautiful part.” Anastasia says Ballet Folklórico blends traditional Spanish folk music, dance and costumes by heightening these traditions into more extravagant expressions known as Spectacular Dance, which is what it sounds like — a vibrant, colorful and elaborate spectacle. She also describes the two fundamentals pertinent to the ballet: the faldeo (skirt movements) and pasos (foot movement) techniques that are specific to each Spanish region. Many movements and costumes began with the Mexican Revolution.

And that same passion is what also drives the Fort Worth Hispanic community to carry on the time-honored dance to future generations, she says. Alex Gutierrez, dancer and instructor for Fort Worth-based Compañia Folklorica Mexico, has been teaching Ballet Folklórico for more than eight years. Ballet Folklórico is “ballet and folk dance that our old people danced to, and we represent that tradition,” Alex says. He says for many of his students, the dance signifies much more than gaiety and entertainment. “The children that were born here, and not in Mexico like their families, are brought here [Compañia Folklorica México] to learn the culture and to carry on traditions,” Alex says.


Skirt colors and design also help identify certain Spanish regions, and that skirt décor keeps evolving with sequins, ribbons and colors. But yellow, red, blue, green, purple, pink and red are among the many “bright and happy colors” used today that make the dance so vibrant, she says. “Red is used a lot for no particular reason — possibly because red is a color of passion, love and sangra [blood],” Anastasia says.

Anastasia admits that she’s still learning about the rich history of Ballet Folklórico but has found a new outlook and sense of assurance after creating her own female-led company. “My self-worth as a person and as a woman has gone up immensely,” she says. “I feel worthy in the community, strong and empowered — I know what my dreams are and can let go of negativity so that I can build my empire.”

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Goddess of the Moon


Undefinable Style, Undeniable Talent By Sarah Angle


Photos by Azul Sordo

ady Di walks into the door at Crude Craft Coffee Bar off South Main and finds me instantly in the corner. Her fingers are wrapped in cool copper rings. There’s a tattoo on her palm. She looks about 25. “How old are you?” I ask. “I’m 40,” she says. “NO, YOU ARE NOT.” “I am.” She stares at me, wrinkle free. “What’s your secret? Spill it,” I say.

An optimistic pajama monster sits behind a city bench, inviting passerby to interact.

“Resting bitch face helps a lot,” she says as she doesn’t smile. “People always think I’m mad, but I’m not.” But really, she says, “to care for others but not care what others think about you. That is none of your business. That’s the secret.” Lady Di, also known by her Instagram handle @RedMilkCrone, is petite with long curly hair. She’s got the type of self-confidence that makes the rest of us question our own life paths. Her name comes from a family who

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Diane Pereira, Lady Di, leans against one of her “pajama monsters” located in Sundance Square. Lady Di says the monsters, which are scattered across downtown Fort Worth, are her response to the COVID-19 pandemic. She hopes the pieces will encourage people to explore and be curious.


Goddess of the Moon


loved Dianas. “My older brother had a crush on Princess Diana. My younger brother had a crush on Wonder Woman (Diana Prince). And my grandmother said I needed to be named Goddess of the Moon.” That goddess was named Diana in Roman mythology. The family settled on Diana Pereira, but today it’s just Lady Di. She tells me I should be a full-time writer. I tell her why I can’t, but she’s resolute. Something about having one life to live and pursing your happiness.

In 2020, she became a full-time working artist with a style, she says, that makes her difficult to categorize for her clients. “I don’t have a style.” But she does. It’s: I don’t give a f--- what other people think. Right now, she’s trying to get into galleries. She randomly sold some pieces to the Amon Carter Museum of American Art’s director Andrew Walker. He is a fan. “Diane’s paintings attracted me at once,” Andrew says. “I have always had a soft spot for creatures of all sorts, and Diane’s characters have an expressive authenticity to them. There is beauty in their sometimes horrifying, distorted forms. When we spoke once at an art fair, she shared that her work is often from the unconscious. I immediately identified with this sentiment; her mind is where the wild things live and breathe and find release in her crayons and acrylics.” She’d love to have a solo show. “I’ve always been the one to paint what I like; if I like it, then I know somebody else will, too.” Lady Di is super nice. She says that about other people; I think that about her. And there is one defining feature of her artwork: the price. “I want everyone to have the chance to have original artwork. Not s--- from Pier One or whatever.” With that mentality in mind, her work ranges from $20 – $1,000 per piece because she wants ordinary people to be able to afford it. “One day, I want people to say: ‘Oh man, is that an original Red Milk Crone?’” I immediately place an order.

Above: Lady Di sits below one of her “pajama monsters,” each respresents a pandemic-era experience. This monster is meant to portray anxiety, Lady Di says. She also goes by Red Milk Crone @redmilkcrone. Right: One of the two “sibling monsters” hides in plain sight on the walls of a Fort Worth alley.

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Dynamic Female Voices

Legitimizing womanhood in Fort Worth through podcasting By Elizabeth Sehon Illustrations by Conny Gonzalez

Local female-led podcasts



fter taking the gutsy leap to open her own Fort Worth-based obstetrical-gynecological practice, Dr. Carolyn Moyers was faced with a dilemma — how could she reach women beyond the exam room? The answer came quickly to Carolyn, and with only her iPhone and air pods, she created her first podcast to share stories ranging from pregnancy to menopause to dealing with divorce. “My podcasts help women get through those difficult conversations, including sexual wellness — for example, they made the little blue pill for men but didn’t listen to the women who were having sex with those men taking that little blue pill,” she says. Carolyn joins the list of many local female-led podcasts whose dynamic voices connect all of us through humor, insight and inspiration. And the topics range from female entrepreneurs and health to the best drinks in town, motherhood, therapy and relationships. Explore the list below and listen to these empowering women who have charted their journeys and are willing to share their wisdom to help women everywhere.

The FoundHers Club

H O S T : Cortney Gumbleton, assistant director of TechFW



iTunes, Spotify and all podcast platforms (feeds.transistor.fm/ the-foundhers-club)

“A strong female voice is important, and I wanted to create a podcast to raise women’s profiles and give them a media platform,” Cortney says. “I feel like a lot of people don’t know about so many amazing women in Fort Worth, and they need to be celebrated. I want to give hope to an entire generation of women.”

The Creative Suite Podcast

Lauren Cockerell, founder and president of Kwedar & Co., and Nicole Ellis, founder and president of BBN Agency HOSTS:

Inspiration, stories and creative ideas (whether you’re creative or not) to turn your passion and/or side hustle into a reality. LISTEN FOR:



iTunes, Spotify and all podcast platforms (thecreativesuitepod.com/)

“For a long time, men had a wife at home to help build their empires, and now that women are reaching out for this, we need to know how it’s done,” Lauren says. “That’s how we learn from each other — when we’re open and honest.”

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L I S T E N F O R : Texas femalefounded companies and the grit, failure and perseverance they endured to achieve success. Hmmm … sounds like an audio version of One To Know Magazine or vice versa.


My So-Called Fabulous

Sky Women

Badass Ladies Club

Dr. Carolyn Moyers, OB-GYN and entrepreneur

H O S T S : Jessica Weckherlin, hairstylist, and Lawrie Wallace, makeup artist — Jessica and Lawrie are also intuitive healers/ coaches and co-founders of the Badass Ladies Club




Local female-led podcasts


H O S T : Tiffany Blackmon, local

influencer, chef and cookbook author and CEO of Tiffany Blackmon, LLC


Vast range from health and wellness, sexual wellness, divorce, motherhood, and menopause and more


Marriage, parenting, sexual wellness, wellness and health, fitness, culinary arts, careers, diversity, disease, influencing, dating, favorite brands LISTEN FOR:

Healing journeys, stories from individuals who are unapologetic about who they truly are and celebrating badass people



iTunes, Spotify and all podcast platforms WHERE TO TUNE IN:

“By allowing women of all ages to hear stories from me and my guests offers insight into the world of being a woman that many might not have access to. Allowing women to feel heard, understood, and empowered is something that I strive to do.”

iTunes, Spotify and all podcast platforms (anchor.fm/skywomen) “My hope is that my podcast helps empower women in their lives through knowledge and opening our minds,” Carolyn says. “We need to normalize these difficult topics to empower women to advocate for themselves when they’re in the doctor’s office.”

W H E R E T O T U N E I N : iTunes, Spotify (badassladiesclub.com/)

“Women’s voices can’t be amplified enough,” Jessica says. “The more women, the merrier … so many times women are brushed off, ignored, or seen as less significant, but we are all worthy of being heard.”

This Won’t be Done by 5

Beth Lewis, LPC-S, owner and therapist at Beth Lewis Therapy Group (@bethlewistherapygroup)



iTunes, Spotify and all podcast platforms (bethlewistherapy. com/this-wont-be-done-by-5/)

“My podcast has licensed therapists disclosing their own human conditions and owning that we also struggle, recover and celebrate just like everyone else,” she says. “While we know a lot, and we pride ourselves in being on an evolving path, we also have no problem owning that we, too, are flawed and experience ups and downs.”

Corks in Cowtown

H O S T : Robyn Risenhoover, “your friendly neighborhood champagne aunt” and former online radio host


Best cocktails and dining in town, trendy local influencers, dating advice, current events, real-life struggles and stories LISTEN FOR:


iTunes, Spotify and all podcast platforms

“A female-led podcast is important because so many of us stay in our heads or feel like we need to be smaller/quieter based on modern societal standards,” Robyn says. “Female intuition is exceptionally strong, and we need to share our innermost thoughts and feelings even if they ruffle some feathers.”

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L I S T E N F O R : Anxiety, compulsivity issues, relationship ups and downs, obstacles with everyday life, and other therapeutic topics



A handwritten note can go a long way (no pun intended). Story and photos by Adrienne Martinez

Send A Note



he bell rings, I grab my notes and spiral and head to my next class. But before I get to my next class, I hand my friends notes that are folded in some origami fashion and a spiral notebook with our names and doodles drawn on the front. When was the last time you received a handwritten note from someone? Before there were cell phones, tweets, DMs and Snapchats, I remember writing notes to my friends by hand. We had a special way we would fold them; I wish I could remember how, and we would hand them to one another before and after class. We even had spiral notebooks that we would write in, and that’s how we kept in touch throughout the day or learned about any interesting gossip. These were a way we could vent about our issues, good or bad, or even send words of encouragement. I never really thought much about how powerful a handwritten note could be until the pandemic hit. We had done pretty much all we could think of doing while stuck indoors when one day I told my son and daughter, let’s write a letter to your cousins and mail them. Any idea that involved their cousins meant an automatic yes, so off they went to grab paper and colored pencils. They wrote a nice note about how much they missed them and wished the pandemic was over so they could play together again, and a picture was included with the letter to complete each note. We addressed the letters and put them in the mail and off they went. Days passed, and when we went out to the mailbox, the kids were so excited to find a letter addressed to them. The joy it brought to their little faces was priceless. They ripped open the letter with excitement and were so happy to receive this piece of paper in the mail from their cousins. A little note goes a long way. It doesn’t have to be a lengthy detailed letter, but a simple “I miss you” or “thanks for always being there for me” is just as powerful. Here are just a few places you can find notecards around town. I hope the next time you are out, you pick a few and send your friends and loved ones a nice little note with words of encouragement and kindness. We think it is something worth trying.



Who needs cards? Looking for places to pick up a few note cards?

LOVE LOCAL COFFEE & ART SHOP 4612 SW LOOP 820 Fort Worth, TX 76109

Here are a few local spots I came across that carry fun, unique and colorful cards. Happy writing.

Cards by onderkast

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THE MARKET AT RIDGLEA 3400 Bernie Anderson Avenue Fort Worth, TX 76116

$7.50 $4.50

Card by Mad Paperie


V i v i d Ve n d o r


Card by Herbal Rabbit


T h e G re e n Q u e e n B Ve n d o r


Card by lz Aurand Art


CREATIVE COLLECTIONS 2907 Race St, Fort Worth, TX 76111 Handmade Card by Aunt B



A Fort Worth Ode to Mexico City Like Our Abuelita’s Houses



By Jade Emerson and Jocelyn Tatum Photos by Adrienne Martinez

nette Landeros stands at the counter laughing with her husband, Joseph Landeros, who is taking orders at the cash register, after a long day at her office job. Her blue linen suit is shades lighter than the cobalt exterior walls of this old home-turned-coffee shop swaddled in Fort Worth’s old Northside. Anette and her husband own this little jewel and picked the name Casa Azul as an ode to Frida Kahlo’s house in Mexico City. “We love the beauty, the art, the culture and the artistic feel of the city,” she says. Also the president and CEO of the Fort Worth Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Anette hears neighborhood requests for the Northside often, which are consistently Chick-fil-A and Starbucks. However, she says they do not cater to the demographic in the Northside, so she brought them her charming little place all on her own.

“Opening a coffee shop was always my husband Joseph’s dream, but we both fell in love with the idea of opening one in the Northside after we realized there weren’t any coffee shops in the area … every neighborhood needs one,” Anette says. Around the entrance, hanging plants decorate a brilliant turquoise wall. Stepping inside, white shiplap walls and antiquated hardwood floors contrast the jewel-toned exterior, but pops of color that Anette would describe as strong Latino colors are found in the furniture, chandeliers, shutters, paintings and potted plants throughout. A thick and sweet aroma dances around the room, blending with the bitter warmth of the brewed coffee. Anette was certain their coffee shop would have a Latin-inspired vibe and offer nostalgic flavors from their Hispanic upbringing. That heritage, warmth and oldhouse comfy vibes captured the hearts of cousins Emily Conteras and Lucy Rangel who

I can connect to [this coffee shop] through my cultural background. It just reminds me of whenever I would go to Mexico and I usually get the Cafe de Olla, and it reminds me of my grandma’s coffee. It feels like I am more at home.” ~ REGULAR LUCY RANGEL.

The menu also boasts authentic and cultural flavors not found anywhere else in Fort Worth, with drinks like a Tres Leches Latte, Mazapan Latte or a Mexican Mocha, and of course, the Cafe de Olla. “Casa Azul is meant to be a warm, inviting, and humble place like our Abuelita’s houses,” Anette says.

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drive across town to study for college exams together and order the Cafe de Olla because it reminds them of how their grandmother makes coffee. “I can connect to [this coffee shop] through my cultural background,” Lucy says. “It just reminds me of whenever I would go to Mexico and I usually get the Cafe de Olla, and it reminds me of my grandma’s coffee. It feels like I am more at home.” Her cafecito de olla is a traditional, sweet Mexican coffee beverage brewed with cinnamon, piloncillo, and ground coffee, just the way her grandmother made it. Paired with pastries from Esperanza’s, a local sweet shop down the street, the drinks are nostalgic for the girls.


Thoughtful Thrifting By Emily M. Fiala

The Most Sustainable Clothing Is What Already Exists


Mercy Call stands firmly on her choice to wear thrifted clothing. Emily Fiala-Dagnan Photo


rom her head to her toes, 29-yearold Mercy Call is the essence of cool. Dressed in a denim jumpsuit, a yellow neckerchief accents her wispy ginger hair. Hipster clogs add more height to her already tall frame. She is a reminder that good fashion is often timeless, or from another time, and can be worn on the East Coast, West Coast, Cowtown or in between. Cool doesn’t have a price tag, nor does it come from the most expensive stores, and Mercy says, “the most sustainable clothing is what already exists.” The clothing she sources for her monthly subscription service are all found in secondhand shops around the city. Thoughtfully curated, laundered and wrapped for their new owner. Coming out of a postpartum fog, she craved something more for herself. Mercy was a professional photographer and needed some new inspiration. She searched for a way to empower not only herself but other women. Her mother shopped at thrift stores to clothe her family as a child. It was something she had done out of necessity, but it turned into a love affair for Mercy and her sisters as they eased into their teens, finding hidden gems amongst the chaos at thrift stores. “Thrifting turned from necessity to joy. I enjoyed it much more than going to the teen stores in the mall,” she says. For fun, Mercy loved showing off her thrift style and finds on Instagram. After a few posts with rave reviews, Third Sister Thrift was born

March 2021. She wanted more than a onetime style for her clients — instead, providing a stylish and affordable monthly wardrobe box, filled with secondhand clothing. Mercy is focused on bringing confidence to women in what she calls your “right-now body.” She encourages women to stop putting off feeling their best and putting self-expression on the back burner.

Each client is given a questionnaire detailing their wants, needs and dreams. Important factors for Mercy are how her clients want clothing to feel, with texture, style and fit all being important factors. Mercy arms herself with a tape measure, along with the information and personalized Pinterest board each client creates for her. She then heads out to her favorite thrift stores in town in search of the perfect garments. She is not hesitant at the sight of racks upon racks with layers from every decade. Instead, she eases into the search for the perfect outfits meant to empower their new owner. “Most sustainable clothing is what already exists,” she says. Mercy focuses on sustainable brands and clothing made with better fabrics for laundering and better cuts to last for years, not seasons. Thrifting runs far deeper than just saving money. It is the realization that landfills will be filled with cheap clothing not meant to sustain wear past a season, she says.

What’s next In the Summer of 2022, Mercy introduced her own clothing line — a fun, funky, confident line of dresses sourced from estate sale bedding and towels. Knowing that she had an audience for repurposed clothing, Mercy spent a year on her dream, sourcing, searching and creating her own clothing line. “I have a passion for reducing textile waste and emissions and making an impact on the unfair labor and wages that fast fashion benefits from. I knew I absolutely had to use materials that were already in circulation, and vintage towels and linens were an obvious choice for me because I love funky patterns and colors,” she says. The line will consist of 12 dresses, each created using sustainable textiles and will be size inclusive (XS-3X). Each garment is handcrafted and individualized. “These aren’t just sundresses; they are vintage art pieces, and each one has her own history and story to tell,” she says. Mercy Call at Arts Goggle 2022 wearing on of the 12 designs in her new dress line. Each garment is what she calls vintage art pieces with an emphasis on longevity, durability and sustainability. Jocelyn Tatum Photo

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How it works


[S U PP ORT] 3 1 : 1 3

The Potential of Paper And the Potential of Tschaner Sefas Azubuike By Jade Emerson Photos by Azul Sordo

Turning Something Discarded Into Something New



ieces of paper slide between Tschaner Sefas Azubuike’s fingertips. She’s checking for thickness, determining if the pages will become a bead, a vase or a canvas. Paper thrills her because she doesn’t see what it is but rather what it will become. It’s that same transformative nature of paper that she sees in herself. “I was very connected to paper,” Tschaner says. “It was reflective of my own journey and the journey of humanity and how we’re able to be reclaimed and redeemed and renewed.” Tschaner first learned how to make paper beads when teaching an art class to senior citizens. But as she began to roll paper into beads, she was the one who fell in love with turning something discarded into something new. Now, as a full-time artist and jewelry maker for the past four years, Tschaner creates earrings, rings, bracelets, home goods and artwork in her store and studio named 31:13. While working, she listens to everything: fusion jazz, hip-hop, R&B and even country. Anything that makes her inspired. She doesn’t want to listen to anything that holds her back. She applies the same thought process to her art, stretching the limit of paper alongside her own creativity. Nothing goes to waste in her studio. A stripe of orange on a magazine catches her eye. She sees color everywhere. Rolling the paper in her hands, she creates a triangle for an earring or the face of a woman for a canvas. She named her business after the proverb that reads, “She seeketh wool and flax and works with willing hands.” The chapter in Proverbs lists all the things a godly woman should be. Tschaner said at times she doesn’t feel she can live up to all these things, but — like paper — she has the pieces. More than anything, Tschaner wants the people who wear her jewelry to feel joy. “I also want to inspire them to see the mundane things that we often utilize in life as something that can be made new,” Tschaner says. Maybe like our mistakenly deemed broken selves.


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Tschaner Sefas Azubuike at her shop on 308 W. Main St., Arlington, Texas

[C RA F T] P E R L E R B E A D S

Static-Disrupted Patterns By Jocelyn Tatum

Women of Fort Worth Who Inspire


While she had been creating artistic pieces with Perler Beads for a few years, it started taking shape, or actually taking on no shape, in February 2021 when she had to quarantine for two weeks after contracting COVID-19. What was she going to do with all of that time? “You should make a giant blue square,” a friend said sarcastically. “F**k you, I am doing it,” cover artist Megan Zamie said. What happened was random, literally. She created a giant blue square with organized patterns in various shades of blue on the periphery, but on the inside she tossed beads onto the board that created what she calls a “static” effect. There is no deeper meaning; it is as random as where the beads fall. “I do things because I think they look cool,” Megan said. That’s it. The static disrupts the order.



Megan, how did you feel being asked to design a magazine cover? “It is very surreal, and it is definitely not something I would have ever expected. It is exciting, and it is fun. It goes back to my imposter syndrome where I am like, really? I am just happy I did it. I am flattered.” Like most of us, Megan struggles with confidence and “imposter syndrome.” She asks herself why she is inclined to call herself a crafter but not an artist, something she brought up with her therapist days after she submitted this art for the cover. MEGAN:


17,399 B






She used a total of














Each issue we ask a local artist to design our cover, and we write about what inspired her design here in the Craft section of OTK Magazine. If you are interested in designing one of our covers, email art@onetoknowmagazine.com.

Above images: A few images of Megan’s process creating the cover. Photos courtesy Megan Zamie

Opposite Page: Photo of Yanira (left) and Megan (right). Photo by MARIAFLASH

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I met Megan when I was “walking my beat” at Arts Goggle in April. That is journalese for finding story ideas. Hanging in her booth was one giant orange square and one giant blue square with these static-disrupted patterns. I thought they were beautiful. My son loved Perler Beads when he was about 5 years old, so I was familiar with these tedious and tiny crafting materials. I then thought, how cool would this be as our feature profile-inspired, abstract cover art? She said yes. When Megan read Yanira Borges’ story, she loved it when she mentioned Wonder Woman. She thought: I wonder if she is a closet nerd, like me? “I could relate to that,” Megan said. She watched a video Yanira took for the writer giving a tour of her garden. At one point Yanira mentioned a hummingbird. Megan saw parallels in Yanira’s story and her movements, flitting all over her garden and Fort Worth helping others grow. Megan also latched on to that because she remembers being fascinated with the tiny creatures on long walks when visiting her grandparents. Static has a lot of movement, but it can be difficult to see individual colors in her static creations, so on the back she created larger dots that echo the smaller ones on the front.

Women of Fort Worth Who Inspire


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Yanira Borges and the power of authenticity By Erin Ratigan Photos by MARIAFLASH

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hen Yanira Borges speaks to a crowd, she does it imperfectly. “My name is Yanira, pronounced like ‘Ya need a’ cup of coffee?” She makes the Italian hand gesture known as a finger purse, laughs and flips her untamed brown hair. Her style of leadership is one of authenticity, not polish and pantsuits. This flows into her verbiage — her voice sounds casual and unrehearsed. She stumbles. She might mention how flustered she is from getting stuck in traffic on her way there or how ready she is for the weekend. But her candor doesn’t come from a place of insecurity. Quite the opposite; she does it to encourage everyone to be themselves. After all, that is what her organization is all about: daring to be true to yourself. Yanira is the founder of She Dares Collective, a business and networking organization for women from all industries and backgrounds, including designers, healers, saleswomen and event planners. “I’ll be like, ‘Look at me, I’ve got a stain on my shirt’ or whatever, just to show humanity. Because I have seen the power. If they feel safe and they feel like ‘It doesn’t matter what I look like here,’ they do the damn thing, and they show up real hard,” she says, sounding awestruck. “Women accelerating other women” is the group’s tagline, a play on words for being like an accelerator or incubator for women-owned businesses, and it’s a concept Yanira knows intimately. Born in Puerto Rico in 1980, she came to the U.S. when she was 2 and grew up in the Bronx in what she calls a “female island,” raised by her grandmother and 12 aunties. Her “female island” is a reference to the fictional island of Themyscira in DC Comics’ “Wonder Woman,” where amazon women train as warriors and care for one another without male involvement. Her comparison feels poignant, for Yanira’s father was noticeably absent much of her life, having left her mother for another woman when Yanira was a child. “There weren’t a lot of men around in my life, because it wasn’t only my father who wasn’t around — lots of other people’s fathers weren’t around,” she says. Once they arrived in New York, her mother started going to nursing school, meaning Yanira spent most of her time with her grandmother and aunties. Despite not having access to many resources, these women taught her about determination, independence and how to build her own future. “I also gained a lot of strength and a lot of power from them, you know? If there’s a leak, if there’s a problem, guess who’s doing it? A woman was doing it! There was no dude to default to, to do repairs around the house or to figure out paperwork,” she says.

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Yanira led the operations and launch of State Farm agencies in both New York City and later Texas starting in 2005. In 2008, she began working as the buyer and then the director of operations for a direct sales jewelry startup based in Texas. A year after her son was born in 2014, she founded a team training and accountability app called SidekickCheckins, which allows business administrators and employees to keep track of their assignments and workflow through check-ins and increased communication. Being new to the area, she didn’t have many friends. What she did have was stakes in multiple businesses. “The challenges I faced as a mom and CEO of a startup set me out looking for female peers who knew the struggle,” she says. With so much time and energy going into her work, she wanted to meet likeminded women who shared her passion for business and leadership and started visiting some local networking groups, including the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. They were all too confined and conventional for her liking. Her ideal group was one where unpolished and authentic women like her could gather in an informal atmosphere. Somewhere comfortable and unintimidating. That was when she discovered FemCity Fort Worth, a local branch of the FemCity international women’s networking group. There she felt comfortable and started forming meaningful connections with other local businesswomen. When the chapter closed two years after she joined, Yanira saw an opportunity to fill the space by forming a new kind of women’s leadership group. Drawing inspiration from FemCity and inviting members from their now-closed chapter, she founded She Dares Collective in 2020. “I think I just showed up, and we created this space where, ‘It’s OK to be late, it’s OK to be scared, just get in here.’ And everyone’s really kind and open. So, there’s a culture of welcoming,” she says.

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From left to right: Yanira and her mom; Yanira getting ready for basketball; Yanira riding her bike; Yanira and her grandmother Photos courtesy of Yanira

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Meghan Jarrell met Yanira through FemCity Fort Worth and owns Moxxie Concepts, an event management and consulting company. She’s been a member of She Dares since its inception. “I needed to know that it’s OK to be in your T-shirt and sports bra at 1 o’clock in the afternoon on a Monday, and you can still run a business. … I don’t go there feeling like I need to have on a pencil skirt,” she says. When Meghan met Yanira, she was struck by her energy and vivacity. She describes Yanira as a dreamer with a beautiful, creative mind. “She’s just full of life and passion and energy. A little fireball,” she says. Through Yanira’s guidance and mentorship, Meghan says she has developed confidence and new professional practices which have helped make her business stronger than ever before. Yanira also referred Meghan to her therapist, resulting in Meghan being diagnosed with ADHD — a diagnosis she says empowered her and changed her life for the better. By meeting Yanira, Meghan says she’s gained not just professional experience — she’s gained a friend. “She’s incredible. I think she’s slowly changing the world, but she literally changed my world,” she says. The Collective started in 2020 just before the pandemic forced businesses to close down (some temporarily, others permanently). Mentoring and supporting businesswomen during lockdown required Yanira to host meetings through Zoom, while happy hours were held either virtually or socially distanced outdoors. She says the group’s program focus at the time was on keeping their businesses alive and thriving during the shutdown. She also encouraged members to take care of themselves despite the stresses and uncertainties of the pandemic. In a patriarchal society, Yanira says women shouldn’t be trapped by antiquated ideas about “powering through.” “‘Power through,’ I’ve learned, looks different. Doesn’t always have to be with force. Sometimes it is with a pause. Sometimes it is with your breath. Sometimes it is with gentleness,” Yanira says.

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talking about the personal growth she’s seen in She Dares members over the years, like the member who built up her confidence and decided to travel the world with her family. She says her members inspire and motivate her every day. When women collaborate and motivate one another, she says it has a snowball effect, increasing creativity and innovation for everyone involved. “I have seen collaborations happen. I have seen new products born out of it. I have seen new revenue streams; I have seen just gatherings and seen people evolving with each other, and that’s really neat. So, there’s some power, and I feel like the results are powerful,” she says. Some of the personal successes she’s witnessed from members have included one woman getting her pilot’s license and another leaving an unhealthy relationship. She does not take credit for helping them achieve these successes, but says having an encouraging, supportive group has helped foster growth in her members’ lives. Yanira has a holistic, almost spiritual approach to leadership that flavors her work with She Dares. It may be a business and networking group, but she says she ultimately wants her members to gain more than just contacts and business resources — she wants people to change their definitions of success to include their own happiness and emotional prosperity. “I want to change the metrics on how we measure success and how we define wealth. Like, I would spell wealth with W-E-L-L-T-H.” That mentality even seeps into Yanira’s parenting style, which Meghan says she greatly admires. At one point, she picks up her phone to show an Instagram video from her birthday party the week before, which Yanira and her family attended. The video shows Yanira’s 6-year-old daughter, Mila, in sparkly shoes and a tutu, holding a fake rifle and playing Duck Hunt. Meghan says seeing Mila’s joy and free spirit speaks to how Yanira always promotes authenticity and freedom of spirit.

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Even though businesses have since reopened, Yanira says the group still focuses heavily on mental health awareness and self-care. For her, being a wellrounded businesswoman requires balancing one’s professional interests with one’s emotional well-being. Yanira finds this balance in her extensive garden at home. She says this is her husband’s love letter to her because it took time and it’s a process. Strolling through her backyard garden, she gets excited when she gets to the tomatoes. She coos to the plants, like one would a family pet, reaching out to touch the leaves affectionately. Around her are pots filled with all manner of produce — peppers, sweet potatoes, watermelon, cucumbers. She points to a few pots with nothing in them but dirt. “This is the land of hope. I hope that something happens. We’ve got some things dying and some things growing,” she says. To find balance and extend this holistic approach to small business, She Dares has even hosted a discussion with a sex therapist, who presented on the correlation between sexual fulfillment and financial success. “That’s the kind of thing that will not happen at your local networking group but will happen at She Dares Collective because if that’s how we support the whole woman, we also have to talk about orgasms,” she says. Balance also means addressing the challenges women frequently encounter while trying to advance professionally — challenges which are usually social constructs. For example: money. Even though the women in Yanira’s life were self-sufficient, held jobs and were used to taking care of themselves, she says they still never talked about finances, even though they were on welfare. She believes their hesitance was likely tied to antiquated beliefs that women shouldn’t handle money. She says cultural influences were involved, as well. “Women had a certain role in the family, and it was only after the husband died or left that the women were forced to figure out money for survival,” she says. When women overcome their social constraints, she says, it’s almost magical. She becomes wistful when


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“The way that she parents and raises her kids is also, I believe, how she runs her business and loves on her friends. It’s like, ‘Be free. Be unapologetically you,’” she says. Yanira says she wants her children to be comfortable with being themselves — something she said she never felt growing up. She remembers hiding in the closet when there were lots of people in the house because the noise was too loud and struggling to understand why she felt different from other kids. She also experienced sexual abuse as a child, something that made her feel shame and grief — and incapable of talking about it. “There was nobody to really walk me through that because there’s so much shame. I was really little when it happened, and I didn’t talk about it for years till I was a teenager in college. So why does that happen? Why does a little girl not feel safe to tell anybody?” she says. She has since learned that she is on the autism spectrum, which she says has validated and encouraged her to stop hiding her voice. “Now, I’m not hiding shit!” Meghan says she particularly appreciates that She Dares has been promoting mental health and awareness and neurodiversity in recent months. As someone with ADHD, Meghan says understanding how to run her business while embracing her neurodivergence is empowering and validating. “It’s a place to still be professional but showing you that there’s a different way to do it,” she says. Like Wonder Woman, Yanira’s husband, Sloan Clark, says Yanira has a superpower: never angering people. Her natural positivity and generosity attract other positive people, he says, which sometimes leads to them having full conversations with waiters or baristas. He remembers a time when they received their order for free because Yanira had made the cashier’s day. “It doesn’t even make sense, ‘cause I make people mad all the time … I’ve never seen it happen that she’s ever had a beef with anybody.” He believes Yanira’s experience taking care of her chronically ill mother has made her an effective leader. He says she has mastered the art of nurturing others and is a strong advocate for him and their two children, Mateo (8) and Mila (6). He laughs and says sometimes it’s like their kids are in She Dares. “She wants to make sure that they have confidence. Their self-confidence is very important and making sure that they’re really getting behind their passion,” he says. What gave Yanira confidence during her own tough childhood was youth basketball. Through sports, she learned the value of having a troupe of girls her age who encouraged and motivated one another. She says the same was true of her family life; that though there were hard times in her life, she always had people to smile and laugh with. “I got through all this hard shit because I was on a team. I was on a basketball team. There was extracurricular activity. There was community,” she says. Perhaps it’s no surprise that now that Yanira has another team — or that this time, she’s the coach.

I got through all this hard shit because I was on a team. I was on a basketball team. There was extracurricular activity. There was community.” -Ya n i r a B o r g e s

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Rising Stars


Growing I N


The I.M. Terrell choir is a choir to watch. By Jocelyn Tatum

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In what ways has choir brought meaning or purpose to your life?

Choir has brought meaning and purpose to my life because it is a safe place for everyone to come together and make music. Music has

Choir has helped me express myself around others. I used to be so

shy, never wanting to talk to others —

helped me through so much, and without it I don’t know where I would be.

but choir changed that. Ever since I joined choir in middle school, I opened up and realized that singing was my passion.

- Ellie Bernard

- Amber Scott

It gave me teamworking

experience and helped me meet new people, see new places,

and make tons of friends. Choir keeps me active and helps me sing to people, which I love to do.

- Patience Montoya

Being a part of choir has quite literally formed my life into what it is now. It brought a whole new meaning of what

teamwork and companionship are like, while also displaying

individuality and a range of what I’m capable of.

- Maggie McNeely


SCAN THE QR CODE to hear the girls practice for a UIL concert.

It has given me something I’m good at and a way to tell a

story without really telling someone directly.

- Layla August Choir is one out of two of my biggest passions in life, the other being art. I am constantly working on art projects as an emotional outlet, and choir allows me to do the same thing but in a different way.

Listening and singing music gets a lot off my chest, and it allows me to share my strong emotions with others and give them a sense of relatability.

- Savannah Claudio

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I.M. Terrell Academy’s vocal director of music Mary-Margaret Soknich handed out sheets of music to teenage girls wearing hoodies, baggy jeans, hair shades of the rainbow, Converse, Nikes and medical masks as they poured into the classroom just after lunch. They were preparing for the UIL Concert and SightReading Contest to occur the following week, which means they had to perform a song for the first time without ever seeing the sheet music that their teacher just handed them. Their first step was to sing the entire song in their head, in silence, while they moved their hands to the notes in their minds, each motioning like a composer in front of an orchestra. The second round they sang it together out loud, and the room was transported to an ancient chapel in Oxford echoing the ever-beautiful evensong. The ethereal collection of sounds juxtaposed the teen spirit that also filled the room. This group of women have won competitions right and left. And this experience working with their peers to create this music has changed them. It has changed them not only during one of the most poignant rites of passage in life — into adulthood — but kept them focused during a pandemic. Mary-Margaret wants to make these team members good individual musicians too. They are in private lessons and in state competitions, and some are out in the city performing as individuals. They also explore music from all different genres to expand their skill and interests.

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It is for this reason that freshman Aubrey Henderson loves music. “I come from a long line of history nerds. Based on different regions and different time periods, if you look at the different evolutions of music and how it’s changed,” Aubrey says. Music is not just a study of history and ideologies for Aubrey but also human nature through emotion. “A song is basically an emotion put to music,” she says. Mary-Margaret chimes in saying life influences art and art influences life. Also, music is about connection for these young women, not only between each other in the choir but connecting their audience through the musical form of storytelling. “Before it was about entertaining, it was about human connection,” Mary-Margaret says. “Relating, telling a story, a message, a communication.” Aubrey says she wants to teach when she’s older to return the joy choir has brought to her. “Music had a big impact on my life, but I want to try to give that impact to other people and give them the same. To give them the chance to experience something that is so much bigger than themselves,” Aubrey says.

How have you been changed by choir, such as in working as a team

Being in choir has made working in teams and working with other people so much easier.

We have to listen to each other and work toward one common goal every

like our

day. When we receive accomplishments such as our UIL sweepstakes awards, it makes the hard work a thousand times more worth it.


- M’Kayla Rice

and achieving group goals

awards at the UIL Contest?

I have become more of a team player and have

developed meaningful relationships with my fellow choir members. Being in choir created a wonderful community for me, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

- Meirah Koenig

Choir has definitely brought me out of a shell that I never knew I had.

It brought out a big trait of leadership, hard work, and determination that I

never really demonstrated to others before.

- Maggie McNeely Choir has allowed me to learn how to value other people’s skills and how to learn that, when you work hard and you work as a team, it can really pay off and allow you to truly appreciate what you do.

- Aubrey Henderson

Choir made me more confident in myself and changed my teamwork abilities. I used to hate working with others, but now I know how to participate, engage, and even lead my team.

- Amber Scott Being able to work in a team is a very important skill to have. Without everyone else contributing and giving their all, our goal would not have been accomplished. I was changed because I had

to rely on others,

which was not something I was used to doing. Being able to rely on your team is important for success.

- Ellie Bernard

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They won big at the UIL concert they practiced for that day. The judges gave all four of our choirs unanimous I ratings (Superior) in both the Concert and the SightReading events. They earned what’s called a Sweepstakes award for receiving a top rating at both events. Mary-Margaret explains that the choir is not ranked by first or second place but rather given a rating — a rank of I is “Superior” and the highest a participant can get from a judge, rank II is “Excellent,” rank III is “Average,” and rank IV is “Below Average” and rank V is “Poor.” Aubrey says she feels aspiring musicians are celebrated at I.M. Terrell. Living in Texas, she says football can often be a priority in public schools — not that she’s not a fan of football. “You get to really focus on something that is different, and music, all fine arts, are just an extension of yourself, emotions and feelings, and you really get to hone that into something that’s beautiful,” Aubrey says. When these girls found their passions, they found themselves. Being creative with others, the collaboration and the unity that comes from that, is healing. In this, they have found success.

would you like the world to know about the benefits you’ve seen from being in choir, especially the choir program at I.M. Terrell Academy?

The choir at I.M. Terrell Academy is like a family. The upperclassmen have been such good mentors and friends, helping all of us freshmen to get used to the high school experience. Our choir

director is amazing, and she has helped me grow so much. All the opportunities that we get at I.M. Terrell are better than what I think I would have gotten anywhere else. I have made so many connections here with important figures in our district’s musical world and have had the joy of meeting college professors and opera singers during choir class and our special masterclasses (one of which I performed in).

- Meirah Koenig

The choir at I.M. Terrell Academy is very different from any other. It is very

detail orientated, yet balanced. There

is a strive for excellence while keeping things fun and steady. Our choir director, Mrs. Soknich, is a perfect example of a choir director. She pushes us to be our best and keeps us cozy at the same time. She works hard at what she does and is quite stellar at it, and without her, I don’t think I could handle anyone else.

- Maggie McNeely It helps with my confidence in singing in front of people and to know that a person will be there to help give me good feedback or notes.

- Patience Montoya

OneToKnowMagazine.com | ISSUE 06

What else


I gained more social skills. I was really quiet. I still am, but

not nearly as much as I was before. I think it is because this school is really inclusive and filled with a lot of fun and outgoing people who understand you.

- Layla August The choir program at I.M. Terrell Academy is truly extraordinary.

The preparation I have been given for competitions is a lot more than I would have received if I went to any other high school. I am so, so grateful for these opportunities!

- Ellie Bernard

[ P R O F I L E ]

Five Courageous Females




Heroes of America’s War for Independence Meet five fast, fierce, and fearless females who played vital roles in the hard-won victory over our British oppressors. By Shilo Urban Illustrations by Adrienne Martinez

When a ragtag backwater of 13 fledgling colonies defeated the mightiest empire in the world, it was “little short of a standing miracle,” George Washington said. Britain had the largest, best-equipped, most well-trained army and navy on the planet. America had farmers with pitchforks and part-time volunteer militias — and nary a warship in sight. But we had something they didn’t: ordinary people who were willing to make extraordinary sacrifices to fight for freedom — freedom for themselves, for their families and for the generations to come. You may not have heard their names before, but these five courageous females are just a few of the unsung heroes who risked everything to create a country they believed in.

[ P R O F I L E ]

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Betty Zane


Betty Zane was under attack on the Virginia frontier, besieged at Fort Henry by hundreds of enemy combatants. She’d been awake 40 hours. The 16-year-old had spent the last two days pouring hot lead into molds to make musket balls, which were desperately needed by the Patriots. But now they faced a grave new problem: Their gunpowder was running out. Only one powder keg remained, but it was stashed 50 yards outside the fort in a nearby cabin. Retrieving it would require running straight through the firing lines — twice. It’s a near-suicide mission. Yet young Betty volunteers to go, banking on the hope that the attackers won’t shoot a girl. And at first, they don’t. She races out and finds the stockpile but soon realizes that the keg is too heavy for her to lift. So, she improvises. Betty fills her apron with as much gunpowder as it will hold, then she starts her daring dash back safety. This time, the British are onto her — and they unload. Bullets rip through her clothes as she runs. If the powder is hit, she’ll be blown to smithereens. But somehow, Betty makes it back. With the fresh supplies, the Patriots can hold the fort one more day until relief arrives — all thanks to the brave actions of a bold teenage girl.

[ P R O F I L E ]

200£ Five Courageous Females


helping to save hundred s of POWs before the B ritish finally caught on.

Elizabeth Burgin RESCUES THE DOOMED Rats, filth, disease, malnutrition … the infamous British prison ships were tantamount to a death sentence for captured Continentals. It’s estimated that 12,000 Americans died on these decommissioned hulks during the war, compared to 8,000 deaths in battle. Designed for 350 crew, they were often crammed with more than 1500 POWs. Every morning, a dozen lifeless bodies were hauled out of each fetid ship and buried on the seashore. The Redcoats had a standing offer for the doomed men inside: Swear allegiance to King George and go free. But day after day, the prisoners refused, preferring to die as Patriots below decks instead of living above as subjects of the Crown. Few people knew of the ships’ atrocious conditions at the time, but Elizabeth Burgin did. A humanitarian and mother of three, she made regular trips onboard to deliver food and provisions. But Elizabeth didn’t just give the prisoners comfort — she hatched a plot to give them freedom while risking a death sentence for herself. It’s unclear how her plan worked, but legend says she smuggled in a potion for doping the latenight guard. After knocking him out, the prisoners could steal his key and escape through the hatch on deck … just as Elizabeth and her collaborators appeared in rowboats alongside. She did this again and again, helping to save hundreds of POWs before the British finally caught on. She slipped away and was never captured, despite a huge 200£ bounty on her head — the equivalent to 20 years’ pay for a soldier.

[ P R O F I L E ]

Nancy Hart TURNS THE TABLES Deep in the backwoods of Georgia, six Loyalist soldiers burst

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through the door of the log cabin where Nancy Hart lived with her husband and eight children. Tough and resourceful, the outspoken redhead was a quintessential pioneer woman. She was also an ardent Patriot, which the Tories knew well. With her husband off with the militia, they tried to intimidate her by shooting her last turkey and demanding that she cook it for them. So, she did but not before quietly dispatching one of her children to fetch her husband. The gracious hostess served the intruders a delicious turkey dinner and gave them plenty of strong corn liquor to wash it down. As the men slowly became inebriated, Nancy snuck away their muskets one by one, passing them through a hole in the wall to her daughter to ferry away. When the soldiers realized what was happening, she held them captive at gunpoint until her husband’s men arrived — but not before shooting two of them that tried to call her bluff.

[ P R O F I L E ]

Anna Stron G SPIES TO SAVE LIVES If you would have sailed up the coast of New York during the Revolution, you might have noticed a line of laundry flapping in the

Five Courageous Females


breeze by Anna Strong’s house in the town of Setauket. But this wasn’t your average clothesline, and Anna wasn’t your average American. She was an integral member of George Washington’s Culper Spy Ring, and she used her laundry to send coded messages to other secret agents. She hung one black petticoat on the line to signal that it was time to rendezvous, then added a certain number of handkerchiefs to indicate which local cove would be the meeting spot. While Anna’s cloak-and-dagger tale isn’t in most history books, she and her fellow spies played an incalculable role in the colonists’ victory. It was the Culper Spy Ring that exposed the treachery of Benedict Arnold, who plotted to give the Hudson River stronghold of West Point to the British — a move that could have easily turned the tide of the war.

[ P R O F I L E ]

Deborah Sampson FIGHTS LIKE A GIRL Only the finest soldiers were selected for the Continental Army’s light infantry companies, elite warriors of superior physical ability. They were the strongest, fittest and fastest men — and in one case, a woman. Massachusetts native Deborah Sampson signed up to fight when she was 22 years old, claiming to be a man named Robert Shirtliff. She had chopped off her long hair, dressed in men’s clothes and bound her breasts with linen. At 5 feet, 9 inches tall, Deborah was tall for a man, much less a woman — and her ruse worked superbly. For the next 17 months, she fought front and center on the battle lines of the American Revolution. She laughed to herself when enemy troops surrendered at the tip of her bayonet … If they only knew that they were surrendering to a woman! But she hid her sex well, even removing a musket ball from her thigh with a penknife to avoid seeing a surgeon. It was only when she became too ill to resist that a doctor discovered her secret. But when the truth finally came out, Deborah wasn’t jailed, flogged or despised as she had feared — she was admired. She received an honorable discharge and military pension, later becoming the first woman in America to embark on a national lecture tour.

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h S t r e b o R

ff i l t ir

[ P O E M ]

IdeNtitY CRisIs By Angie Martinez

Illustration by Caya Crum

The Way I Fit In


Brown skin, freckled. Jamón, La consentida. Tomboy. Domingos con Abuela. Large family gatherings. El arroz famoso. Edúcate. White skin. White schools. No boys. La Sagrada Familia, Acropolis. No boys. Sorority. Why no boyfriend? Boyfriend. Hips. Love. Ivory & Black. Baby carriage.

Grown, A house, that twists & winds. Tanglewood mom. El barrio. A house, now a home. Ser Bilingüe, te avanza. Non-denomination. La Virgen María. No extra pay, Bilingual. Banda in the backyard. Indie rock. Podcasts. Everything bright. Black sheep. Everything beige. 10-year career. Masters. “Mas educación,” Papi says. “Hay mas tiempo que vida,” Papi says. Me acoplo donde quepo.

SCAN THE QR CODE to hear Angie explain the meaning behind her poem.

Please Stop Telling Me That I’m Tragic

[L I F E] P E R S O N A L E S S A Y


Losing a Pregnancy Does Not Always Mean You’ve Lost Everything By Zelly Martin Illustrations by Amber Davis

the doctor said. But I’m pretty sure it was a baby because that’s what I screamed at the top of my lungs in the car with my boyfriend, holding my knees against my chest and sobbing, “I want my baby back.” I’m pretty sure it was a baby because I talked about names with my best friend, even as we lamented that I would be pregnant on my 21st birthday. I’m pretty sure it was a baby because I heard that fast, soothing heartbeat and talked to that heartbeat every day for a month. I had a miscarriage at 20 years old and found out I was one of many. My pregnancy fell in that (conservatively) 10% to 20% that ends on its own. All of us, it seems, are unaware of the likelihood until it happens to us. And all of us, it seems, have the same response: It’s “the darkest of days” (said Chrissy Teigen), “the day the joy was over” (said Meghan McCain), “almost unbearable grief” (said Meghan Markle). But thank God, they all say, for the other children or the children that will come.

That’s the miscarriage story, I told myself. That’s the miscarriage story, the media told me. But recently I’ve begun to revise the story. I think this is what actually happened: When I was 14 years old, I read What to Expect When You’re Expecting because I wanted to be a mom so bad. Then I got pregnant at 20 with a boyfriend I wasn’t sure I wanted in my life forever. I wanted that baby, but I also wanted to be 20 and graduate college. I worked in a restaurant, and I was on my mom’s health insurance, so when I started bleeding, I called my mom and said, “Hope for a miscarriage” and laughed. And then it happened. I found what I still think was fetal tissue and threw it away — then I dug it out of the trash and saved it in a contact case. I went to the doctor and was told, “Yep, there’s no baby in there,” and I was sad. I was deeply sad, but I was also relieved. Some days I was devastated, and some days I wasn’t — at all. But somewhere deep in my subconscious, I thought, “How do you grieve a miscarriage?” and society’s resounding answer is: You’ve lost a baby, and you’re a woman, so you grieve hard.

OneToKnowMagazine.com | ISSUE 06

“Well, it wasn’t a baby,”


[L I F E] P E R S O N A L E S S A Y

Please Stop Telling Me That I’m Tragic


The representation of pregnancy loss in the media is no longer taboo — as it was 20 years ago — but it remains completely, and therefore problematically, tragic. What do I mean? In People Magazine, Us Weekly, The New York Times and The Washington Post, in which I collected over 200 stories about miscarriage in the year 2020 for my master’s thesis, a reader is offered a single take-away: the only thing a woman wants to be is a mother, and the loss of that opportunity is the worst experience she could have. This single story of miscarriage is borne out both through what is said and what is left unsaid: Nearly every miscarriage story is devastating, and all the women are grief-stricken. And this is not coming solely from the women who have actually miscarried but from the journalists, too. Headlines like, “Alanis Morrisette reveals heartbreaking struggles to become a mom” (from People) tell the reader just how awful it is for a woman not to be a mother. And when a woman “opens up” or “reveals” her miscarriage (it used to be a secret, after all), she is constructed as brave for coming forward — do you bravely come forward about something that’s not shameful? In short, we don’t have miscarriages, we suffer them. This is grief capitalism. Sensationalizing women’s grief to sell magazines. In truth, however, there are a lot of ways to grieve a miscarriage, and one of them is not grieving. Some researchers have found that women do not grieve pregnancy loss when they have not yet identified as the mother of that unborn child. Feminist philosopher Victoria Browne wrote that we can think of pregnancy loss as a relational death. If you concede that we’re all made up of our relationships — what is Zelly if not Alicia and Clancy’s daughter or Jay’s wife? — then that may define, or at least largely contribute to, how you feel when you miscarry. If I think of myself as the mother of that baby, I might be devastated when she dies. If I don’t, I might not.

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[L I F E] P E R S O N A L E S S A Y

Please Stop Telling Me That I’m Tragic


But that’s not to say miscarriage is solely an individual experience. It’s socially constructed, both as devastating and blameworthy. Pregnancy loss is situated squarely in the American culture of individualism — you’re responsible for your health, you’re responsible for your choices, and you’re responsible for the health of your baby. Don’t drink, don’t sleep on your back, don’t exercise (wait, do!). So, when your doctor or your friend says it wasn’t your fault, do you believe them? Of course you don’t. One comment, no matter how sincere, can’t make up for the millions of messages we encounter every day. You’re told all of the ways that you might hurt your baby, by being stressed or drinking coffee or hitting a joint. When it dies, the first place to look is at yourself. So, no matter whether you’re sad or relieved, you’ll probably feel guilty and at fault. Miscarriage is deeply entangled with narratives surrounding abortion, too, which means that feminists might have a hard time reconciling their emotions and their beliefs. If

I’ve spent my whole life passionately arguing that life doesn’t begin at conception, is it OK to be sad when I miscarry? Am I sad? Now pile on top of this a whole bunch of stories in the media that unequivocally say you should be sad. Not just sad but devastated. Heartbroken. You’ve been struck by tragedy. The miscarriage experience is complicated, much more complicated than is currently being depicted in our media. As we bring this conversation into the public sphere (which very much needed to be done), we need to think carefully about what we are actually communicating. If we think back to Barbara Welter’s cult of true womanhood — the media tell women to be pious, pure, domestic and submissive — can we see that being reproduced in discourse about prenatal death? What does it say about women if the worst possible experience is the loss of potential motherhood? If our only comfort in this loss is our other children or the possibility that we will have more? And how will we think of ourselves when

The day my pregnancy ended was not the worst day of my life. To those women, I am so sorry. Please speak out as much as you’d like to. But to those women whose miscarriage was perhaps a more confusing event — I want to hear that story too. repackaging them for further consumption, please stop telling me that I’m tragic.” - Essayist ZELLY MARTIN

we are framed this way? If the worst day of my life is the day I lose the potential to be a mom, what is my highest potential? And I know what you’re thinking: feminist killjoy. We’ve opened up the conversation, we’re moving away from the taboo, we’re bringing a women’s health issue to light and centering women’s perspectives — what could be wrong with that, and isn’t that enough? But it isn’t enough. It’s a noble effort; it’s a good start. But next to the story of complete devastation, I want to see, “I had a miscarriage, and I didn’t really care about it.” Next to the woman who takes solace in her other children, I want to see the one who finds strength in herself (notably, Beyonce implies this about her miscarriage experience). I want to see what Zeynep Gurtin wrote in the The Guardian — the miscarriage experience is varied; the experience is culturally constructed — it doesn’t exist in a vacuum. But I want more of that — I want to see it in The New York Times and in People Magazine. What I’ve seen so far has been heartbreak, pain, devastation, and

tragedy. The decidedly pronatalist celebrations of the successful pregnancies that follow. And I fear that what we’re implying in all this is that the highest, best, most fulfilled woman is and must be a mother. I’m ashamed. I’m ashamed I drank while I was pregnant. I’m ashamed I wished for a miscarriage. I’m ashamed I didn’t protect my baby. I’m ashamed about being sad, and about not being sad. I’m ashamed for sometimes thinking that when I die, I’ll meet that baby again. And for thinking that maybe when I do have a baby, a little piece of her will be that one I lost. But I am not devastated. The day my pregnancy ended was not the worst day of my life. To those women, I am so sorry. Please speak out as much as you’d like to. But to those women whose miscarriage was perhaps a more confusing event — I want to hear that story too. And to the journalists and media outlets who are picking up these stories and repackaging them for further consumption, please stop telling me that I’m tragic.

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And to the journalists and media outlets who are picking up these stories and

[L I F E] S O C I A L

Life as a SAD Girl Coping with Social Anxiety Disorder By Erin Ratigan Illustration by Amber Bailey

Social Anxiety Disorder


In a world where extroverts and socialites reign supreme, one woman will risk it all by doing the unimaginable — going to Walmart for some bread. I like to imagine this is the point in my “Nature” special when the likes of David Attenborough would come in to narrate: “Here we see the lesser-spotted North American hermit gathering her snacks for the weekend. But if the self-checkout line is too busy, she will be forced to try again another day.” Some days I feel like I’ve overcome my social anxiety disorder [SAD]. Maybe I’ve comfortably done all my shopping, made my cold calls and successfully bantered with a check-out guy. Other days I take on my gremlin form and, upon finding I’ve run out of bread, decide to go glutenfree for a day instead of going to the shop. But it’s not because I’m afraid to leave the house — rather, I’m afraid of possibly having a panic attack once I do. That is how social anxiety differs from shyness or introversion. Introverts become drained in social situations and recharge through rest and solitude. With SAD, we feel unable to function at times, wanting to flee a situation despite knowing there’s no physical danger. This means we are likely to cancel plans — even though we really want to see our friends or go to that concert — because anxiety and fear are smothering us. The fear can manifest in different ways, like profound dread, elevated heart rate, difficulty breathing and nausea. I usually experience all of the above (with occasional panic attacks just to keep things spicy). Courtney Guhl Huckabay, a licensed professional counselor for Terra Therapies in Fort Worth, says social anxiety becomes a disorder when it inhibits or challenges our daily lives. She says that can make it hard for someone to engage with family, friends or coworkers and frequently leads

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[L I F E] S O C I A L

Social Anxiety Disorder


to their seeking solitary professions (like, well, writing). She says she’s seeing more patients experiencing anxiety since the pandemic began. “There’s a lot of discomfort that comes with being in social situations, and I’m seeing a lot of people who are having a hard time transitioning back into what we used to do,” she says. Often, anxiety can feel like an ambush, appearing suddenly and triggering a fight, flight or freeze response. In those moments she suggests finding healthy ways of coping with one’s panic. “I tell a lot of clients, one of the easiest things you can do without any other resources is just paying attention to your breath,” she says.

No one defines your life but you … You are always your best advocate and your worst enemy. You choose which one you want to be.” – L A S H O N D A T H O M A S , marriage and family therapist with Lioness Counseling in Fort Worth

Specifically, she recommends the seven-11 technique where one breathes in for seven seconds and out for 11. “The idea is to focus on your outward breath being a lot longer because that’s telling your body that ‘I’m calm and I can relax,’” she says. She also suggests having an exit strategy beforehand to help situations feel less intimidating. Licensed professional counselor Christie Jones says bringing friends to social events could help mitigate some anxiety and allotting downtime so you have time to rest. She also suggests seeking counseling so a therapist can determine whether medication is needed. While cognitive behavioral therapy is an important tool for identifying the source of one’s anxiety, LaShonda Thomas, a marriage and family therapist with Lioness Counseling in Fort Worth, says treatment for SAD also entails exposure therapy. “The best way to start working on those fears is being able to find yourself in those situations that you are fearful of, but on a very small scale,” she says. LaShonda says pushing through that mild discomfort helps build confidence over time, and we should remember to be kind to ourselves in the process, adding, “No one defines your life but you … You are always your best advocate and your worst enemy. You choose which one you want to be.”

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Coping with Trauma How nurses are overcoming pandemic pain By Erin Ratigan Illustrations by Conny Gonzalez

Working Through the Struggle


Teresa Hiza, a respiratory therapist for several Fort Worth hospitals, struggles to speak when she remembers the patients she’s lost to COVID-19. And there were many of them. Last summer was arguably the deadliest phase of the pandemic, as it was when the delta variant — the most deadly strain of virus thus far — began sweeping the country. Teresa was responsible for intubating patients, managing the ventilators, and taking them off the ventilators when they died. “A lot of the time we would have to FaceTime their family and let them see them die through a screen,” she says. She stops mid-sentence, taking a moment to cry. When she continues, her voice is hoarse. “It’s traumatic,” she says. Among the cases she remembers most vividly was a man who came to say goodbye to his wife after she’d contracted the virus. He then tested positive and died a week later. With life and death hanging in the balance, nursing is not for the fainthearted. But despite that untouchable and resolute image many associate with the field, nurses are still people who experience trauma and grief. According to the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses, the pandemic has exacerbated the country’s long-standing shortage of registered nurses (RNs). A recent study by the staffing firm Incredible Health found over a third of RNs surveyed planned to quit their jobs by the end of 2022. From the start, Teresa says nurses were scared of the unknowns — particularly how COVID was spread and how to keep people safe. “It was kind of traumatic when everyone else was home, and we were kind of thrown into the battlefield not really knowing what this looked like,” she says.

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Things quickly escalated, and soon they were struggling to free up enough beds. After spending five minutes with a patient, Teresa would be called to see another patient. Then another. And another. “One would either leave or die, and then another would be rolled in, and it was like that for years, basically,” she says. She says the appearance of the Delta variant was the most overwhelming and emotionally taxing stage of the pandemic. “Everyone was dying. Literally everybody,” she says. All nurses prepare to witness death at some point in their career. But in her 21 years in medicine, Teresa had never experienced anything like COVID. “You learn to compartmentalize over your career, and I’ve learned to do that. But when it’s a flood of constant death, you run out of compartments,” she says.


Working Through the Struggle


Teresa’s experiences over the last two years have left her shaken. As an empathic person, she went into medicine wanting to help people at whatever cost. But after having to remove a man’s breathing tube in front of his 15-year-old son, she says she realized it was becoming too much to handle. “I hate to say it, but it’s turned me away from what I’ve done for 20 years. It’s like I really don’t want to do it anymore. And I think if another heavy strain came around again, I would find any way out,” she says. Vanessa Smith, an RN in the intensive care unit of Medical City Alliance, says among her close friends in nursing, she can count on one hand how many are still working at bedside. She understands why some nurses are leaving, as many nurses are also grieving the loss of their own loved ones. She and her husband have lost three family members to COVID. Since visitation was limited, Vanessa and other nurses often sat with patients in their room so they wouldn’t feel lonely. In that time, they heard their stories — got to know them and care about them like their own family members. She says that added to the grief when those patients died. Vanessa remembers trying to hide her tears while holding a phone up to a patient’s face so they could say goodbye to their family. Since severe COVID started decreasing earlier this year, she and Teresa don’t see many COVID patients now. For Vanessa, the reprieve came with a caveat: enough downtime for the trauma to start sinking in. Sometimes it feels like the last two years were just a bad dream. But then she goes to bed and the real nightmares begin; disembodied voices of patients’ families crying and screaming; patients accusing her of giving up on them; never-ending shifts repeating like “Groundhog Day” throughout the night. “I would say probably the scariest ones are when you start seeing patients’ faces. And it’s brief, but you still see them, and it just brings back those memories to where you wake up and you’re sweating,” she says.

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Working Through the Struggle


Vanessa and Teresa said the pandemic has left them and their coworkers with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Though often associated with military action, PTSD is common among nurses, according to health researchers. “I don’t want to compare it to war, but for us, it was our war,” Teresa says. She has since cut down on her hospital hours and spends more time working out and reading to support her mental health. Meanwhile, Vanessa is working through her struggle through counseling and open communication with her husband. She encourages nurses to pursue healthy coping mechanisms and not to resort to dangerous behaviors like drinking or drug use. Even before the pandemic, studies found nurses are more likely to commit suicide than the general public. A 2019 study from the University of California San Diego found that in 2014, suicide rates for female nurses was almost 58% higher than those of American women overall. Suicide rates of male nurses were 41% higher than those of American men.

I D O N ’ T W A N T T O C O M PA R E I T T O W A R , B U T F O R U S , I T W A S O U R W A R .” – T E R E S A H I Z A , respiratory therapist

When the nation went into lockdown in 2020, Americans took to their front porches each morning to cheer for the health care workers in their communities. Two years later, Glenn McBride, an RN at an area hospital that he wishes not to mention, says that support has dried up. After mask-wearing and vaccines were turned into political talking points, he says nurses were subjected to animosity and distrust from the public — even from COVID patients. He says this has nurses feeling disregarded and invalidated, contributing to the burnout. He says if North Texans left politics out of the pandemic, it would make nurses’ jobs easier and help reduce some of their stress. “It invalidates every hand that we’ve held, every tear we’ve wiped away, and every death that we have seen,” he says.

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For Glenn, self-care comes in the form of stained-glass art, a hobby he embraced at the start of the pandemic. Among his creations are window hangings, night lights and table displays. A lot of his work is centered around cardinals — birds which symbolize mourning in many cultures. Some of the units at his hospital have bought his pieces to give to nurses experiencing bereavement. “I’ve made them for many people through the pandemic because it’s how they memorialize their loved ones. It’s been therapeutic, not only for me but for them as well,” he says. The pandemic is far from over, with almost 4,662 new COVID cases in Tarrant County in May alone, according to data from the New York Times’ COVID case tracker. Though the possibility of future spikes and new COVID strains lurk in the back of Teresa’s mind, she says the downward trend of cases has her cautiously optimistic about the future. She says those struggling with trauma should speak with a licensed mental health specialist. “Grief doesn’t just go away, and ignoring it doesn’t help either. So, I think just finding someone you can talk to really helps, and you’re feeling grief because you care,” she says.


Sitty’s Cooking,

and Other Stories of My Culinary Heritage By C. Stephen Tobin

Making Their Traditions My Own


When she wasn’t decked out in a sparkling gown sipping her whiskey sour at a biannual Lebanese Convention and other society escapades, I remember my Sitty spending a lifetime preparing food by hand. “Sitty” or “Sitti” is how many Lebanese Americans refer to their grandmother. A child of Lebanese immigrants, Sitty was a pianist and socialite who knew little about cooking until she married my ambitious and charming Giddo (pronounced with a soft-G) and started a family in the Faubourg Marigny neighborhood just outside the French Quarter. Giddo wasn’t more than a “bachelor cook,” but he encouraged Sitty to learn from the other Lebanese women in the community. They taught her to mash garlic into salt at the bottom of a wooden bowl before mixing in lemon juice and olive oil to form the dressing at the heart of many classic Lebanese dishes, from a garden salad to hummus to roasted chicken. They showed her how to roll grape and cabbage leaves stuffed with rice and meat and to soak the #1 bulgur wheat to incorporate into tabouli and kibbi. And she learned how to make Giddo’s favorite breakfast: “sim-sim” biscuits.

Sitty on the porch of her New Orleans home with the me holding my Winnie The Pooh. Photo courtesy of Stephen Tobin

Sim-sim biscuits feature the buttery, flaky layers of a hand-cut biscuit adorned with a mixture of sesame seeds, olive oil, and sugar pressed into its top. Baked until the sugar caramelizes atop the golden-brown dough, sim-sim biscuits are a true Lebanese-Southernfusion delight, which are best enjoyed with a cup of thick dark coffee and cream to offset the biscuit’s decadent sweetness. Sitty mastered her cooking with incredible skill, through hard work feeding her husband and five children every day. I spent many holidays enjoying kibbeh nayeh and “Sitty Tea,” all made lovingly from scratch and designed to bring people together. Sitty continued those cooking traditions long after Giddo died in the early 1970s, passing them on by rote to her four daughters and one son like family treasures. They did not take to cooking equally. But luckily for me, my mom was Sitty’s right hand in the kitchen.

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The first thing I remember cooking with my mom was biscuits. I loved bellying-up to the counter on a stepstool, flour everywhere, rolling out the dough to just the right thickness, then using a glass or cookie cutter to form perfect little rounds. Sometimes we added sim-sim, but usually we would just butter them and pop them in the oven. For a special treat, Mom would roll the dough thin and flat before applying butter, cinnamon and sugar and rolling it all up to be sliced and baked.

But plain biscuits and cinnamon rolls? It seemed I was on track to be just as Americanized as Sitty started out to be. I did not like hummus or the garlicy salads my mom made. Gag me with a spoon and give me a hamburger instead. I loved cooking but never attempted any of that “weird” Lebanese food. I do not remember tasting bottled salad dressing until I was in my teens, and I thought finally, something that makes salad taste GOOD. Things began to change when I took a job in Brookings, South Dakota. Despite treading a path far from all known members of my sprawling family, I was told we had an elderly cousin living in the town whom I must visit. As an arrogant, 20-something know-it-all, I was reluctant to spend a Sunday with an old lady with whom I was sure I shared no more than a tenuous family connection. Boy, am I glad I did. Well into her 90s, the diminutive Marie Bozeid was a dynamo in her tiny kitchen. Every Sunday she would fill me beyond comfort with homemade Lebanese delicacies as she told of the years she and her husband hosted Thanksgiving for the international students at the university where I then worked. I grew to love her hummus, tabbouli, baked kibbeh and pita bread. As I waddled painfully to the door each week, she would yell, “Take some candy!” as more of a command than an invitation.


Making Their Traditions My Own


My favorite of her dishes was a layered eggplant and ground-meat casserole that is the Lebanese version of the Greek dish, moussaka. Served over rice with vermicelli, it seduces the palate with toasted pine nuts, onions and a savory tomato sauce piqued with cinnamon and allspice — the earthy eggplant lending a humble and satisfying balance to the hearty dish. She had lit a spark in me. I had to learn how to make it for myself. I asked her to explain it and dutifully scribbled down each step in detail. I followed them to the letter, but it was a disaster — practically inedible. The next Sunday I returned and asked her: “Marie, the eggplant turned out tough. I sliced it like you said.” “No, no, no,” she scolded in her gruff heavily-accented voice, made powerful from years as an eighth-grade teacher. “You must peel the eggplant first.” Palm to forehead — my notes said nothing about peeling. The second attempt proved little better than the first. I peeled the eggplant, but it was still tough. “No, no, no! You must brrroil them first,” she said, rolling her Rs. I am agape. Broil them? Ok, let me start at the beginning and treat this like a deposition or a debriefing after a military special ops mission. I need every detail. Peel the eggplant? Check. Slice them — not too thick — not too thin? Check. Brush with oil, sprinkle with salt, and broil until soft? Now those were the details I was missing. The third try was a triumph. Marie had no idea what she had awoken in me, and frankly, neither did I. After reconnecting with Lebanese cuisine, I turned my focus to the other culinary tradition from my past: Cajun food. And what sprang from those adventures and continues to this day is the love of exploring flavor and technique; the excitement of challenges and successes in the kitchen; and the joy of bringing people together through the shared experience of a transcendent meal. And all that got me to thinking: Now, 20 years after Sitty sipped her last whiskey sour, I still connect to her through these recipes and traditions. Will they reach all the way to Giddo, whom I know only through his legend? If I make their traditions my own, add to them, and share them with those I love, maybe they will know me better. And there is a chance they will see in me a glimpse of Sitty, of Marie, or of my mother, each of whom taught me to love and appreciate food in their own way and to love others through food. I don’t know. But I will happily spend a lifetime finding out.

If I make their traditions my own, add to them, and share them with those I love, maybe they will know me better. And there is a chance they will see in me a glimpse of Sitty, of Marie, or of my mother, each of whom taught me to love and appreciate food in their own way and to love others through food. I don’t know. But I will happily spend a lifetime finding out.” –C. STEPHEN TOBIN


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Climbing the Ladder By Jocelyn Tatum

Teaching Computer Skills to Women Survivors


She thought she never had a chance. It started at 6 years old when an uncle took interest in her. By the time she was 12, she felt something was wrong, so she started to fight back. He gave her drugs and alcohol to numb the pain and make the abuse easier on both. She was soon addicted. Maybe it was the way substance abuse eased the pain and made things blurrier. But by 14, she had already started using “needle drugs.” Her choices afterward came from a place of chaos, hurt and confusion. By the time she was 32, she had 13 felony convictions. All of this was happening when her brain was in its most important stage of development. “My mind was so screwed up at such a young age. I ran the streets and went to prison. I lost my kids to CPS and have been homeless,” Veronica Gravelle aka Lady Vi says. In 2013, she had just been released from prison a few months before, sober and pregnant with her fifth child, when the local nonprofit The Ladder Alliance sent a teacher into the Union Gospel Mission where she was seeking shelter. The Ladder Alliance operates in the same building as One Safe Place, and its “mission is to provide women of domestic violence and low-income women with the tools to lead selfsufficient, successful and independent lives” through computer and professional training skills. They served 125 women in 2021 alone. Veronica started taking the course, but when her daughter was born, her baby became very ill with RSV at the shelter. It would be years before Veronica got to where she is today, but she was determined to finish.

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Veronica Gravelle Azul Sordo Photo


Teaching Computer Skills to Women Survivors


Executive director Melondy Doddy Muñoz says what sets the Ladder Alliance apart from other nonprofit educational programs for women is that all of their staff are trained to teach students experiencing “trauma brain.” While some places find aggressive behavior unacceptable, it is important to the staff at Ladder Alliance that any woman who seems abrasive, aggressive or rude is not turned away from services. The staff knows that behavior is a coping mechanism developed when enduring events of their traumatic past. “They have developed this DON’T MESS WITH ME mentality,” says Jessica Seidel, director of programs and operations at the Ladder Alliance and licensed professional counselor. “It’s not personal.” The staff asks the students, not “What’s wrong with you?” but rather, “What happened to you?” Jessica says they also follow Unconditional Positive Regard, a therapeutic term used to describe complete acceptance of their students no matter what their behavior. Through this kindness, Jessica’s team witnesses much change and says they are in the business of building confidence. They fill them up and show them what a healthy friendship can look like. Melondy emphasizes that she calls them students, not clients, and they more often find the Ladder Alliance through word of mouth or referrals through Texas Workforce Solutions of Tarrant County or One Safe Place. Both programs are located in the same building, effectively making it a one-stop resource for women in poverty or survivors of domestic abuse. There are even police and fire departments upstairs. Jessica says often women will come in looking for classes, but once they learn they are partnered with One Safe Place and offer domestic violence services, they are able to connect them so they can get help. It is more than job training or continuing education; Jessica says the staff practices compassion and creates a safe place for the women so their brains can start to heal from the trauma. If they don’t feel safe, then they tend to live in their “hind brains,” a place where people in survival live, vacillating between feelings of fight or flight. “People who have gone through trauma in life, their brains work differently, and they just function differently,” Melondy adds. Only when the brain feels safe can it begin to process and retain information, Jessica confirms.

Melondy Doddy Muñoz, executive director. Sharon Ellman with Ellman Photography

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Teaching Computer Skills to Women Survivors


Jessica Seidel, director of programs and operations. Sharon Ellman with Ellman Photography

Jessica says she gets a little nerdy when she gets to speak about trauma and the brain. “When we experience untreated trauma, the brain is in what we call survival mode … but essentially you are functioning in the hindbrain, or lizard brain, and so everything we do is based on an emotional feeling, on a need to survive, on a hyper-vigilant state,” she says. This gets even more complex if the trauma is experienced in that younger state as it did with Veronica. Because between the ages of 11 - 25, people go through a very significant amount of brain change. Your prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that functions on a higher level and helps one make decisions, goes offline when it has experienced trauma. When this happens, decisions are very emotionally driven because the amygdala triples in size. Feelings are stronger and emotions are heightened during one’s teen years. “If we experience trauma during that peak point of brain development, we can get kind of stuck in it,” Jessica says. She says grown-ups who tend to act like teens with big and uncontrolled emotions may be experiencing this phenomenon, and all of this is considered in Ladder Alliance’s holistic approach to education and healing. These intangible and fundamental elements are so much more than keyboarding skills.

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Melondy will soon finish her Ph.D. in higher education with a focus on program and policy. She appreciates a holistic and human approach to education. The organization has been around for 20 years, but she would say she has transformed a lot of the program in her six months there, adding a data-informed approach to what they do with her love for quantitative research. “What really sets us apart is our holistic intentionality and how we serve people, where we are located, the instructors we hire, the training we have with instructors with them being trauma-informed, with them understanding adult learners and with the intentionality of how our classes are structured,” Melondy says. “The stakes are too high to not be intentional about what we are doing.” Trauma rarely exists in a vacuum — it is a very complex situation, and usually if a person has had one traumatic experience, they’ve had multiple, Jessica says. And she says most of what they’ve experienced is before the age of 18. Trauma during developmental years and times in their lives affects the way they interact with people and the way they see themselves in other people. “By being able to give our students a different experience, it helps them to heal in knowing what their worth is and what it can be like to have someone truly care about you, potentially for the first time in their lives,” Jessica says.


Teaching Computer Skills to Women Survivors


But once the brain starts healing, it can start moving forward. “We have to help the brain feel safe so they can move out of the hindbrain function and into the prefrontal cortex to reason and logic,” Jessica says. Otherwise, learning QuickBooks and Microsoft Word would be an insurmountable hurdle. Veronica came to the program with no computer skills, but doors have opened since she started studying with Ladder Alliane. Basic computer skills were needed just to get her college basics. She had dropped out of school when she was in ninth grade and had been in and out of jail or on the streets until the first time she got clean at 32. “When she first arrived in class, Veronica had incredibly low self-esteem and self-worth. She didn’t believe that she could learn anything new or could even be taught, but she had the will to try,” Jessica says. She has since come a long way. She started to feel safer in class. Her teacher would make sure to point out when she had succeeded or accomplished a new goal. “As classes continued, Ruben would share during our weekly meetings the stories that Veronica was becoming comfortable enough to share with the class. As she developed, [she] felt the safety that is required for the prefrontal cortex to process information,” Jessica says. Often it is as simple as knowing that just one person cares — and learning how to use a computer, Veronica’s life is improving at a pace and upward trajectory that few from her past would have believed possible.


“I don’t want to train women to be administrative assistants and executive assistants; I want to train women to be what they want to be, including being administrative assistants,” Melondy says. She doesn’t want to “box in their potential” by putting strict labels on what’s possible for them. “You’re worthy of being whoever you want to be.” A few days before she started her college basics, Veronica got other good news and sent an email titled, “New Beginnings” to a few women she’s connected with at The Ladder Alliance. “Hi ladies, just wanted you all to be the first to know that I have been offered a job as a recovery advocate at the Nexus Recovery Center. I’m so excited and can’t wait to start the next chapter in my life.” The director of development at Ladder Alliance, Katie Purcell, responded within minutes. She was sitting with Jessica at a communication conference. “We almost all are flooded with tears in such JOY of your new trajectory helping others,” Katie writes. “You are now a phoenix rising [...] We are excited to be on your side and are always available to you as your advocate and largest supporter. GO VERONICA!!!!”

PROGRAMS AVAILABLE: Basic Computer Skills Training Professional Office Skills Training Microsoft Office Specialist Training Professional Development Series

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Ninety percent of the Ladder Alliance’s clients are women. “It is a really big deal to help women because you don’t just help that one woman; you help the whole household and affect the entire household’s future,” Melondy says. This elevates the entire community, she says, and helping women find employment also helps keep formerly incarcerated women from reentering prisons. Veronica has stayed out of prison since she started at Ladder Alliance. She completed the training needed to start her first set of college classes at Tarrant County College. Her daughter is proud, and she smiles ear to ear when she hears her daughter bragging about her to her friends. “My 11-year-old daughter has had me in her life and by her side. Once I get that career, we are going to be on top of the world [...] One day we are going to own our own house. We can go on vacation,” Veronica says. Veronica wants to make a career out of sharing her story so others can find hope in it. She plans to get an associate of arts degree with an elective in social services and public speaking. “ I will be on the stage somewhere reaching out to someone who needs to hear my story. There is someone out there who understands, and it’s possible to bring yourself out of it,” Veronica says. “Fifteen years ago if you had passed me on the street, you would have said, ‘Look at that crackhead.’” May 26, 2022, she started at Tarrant County College at 44 years old.



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