Lioness Magazine - June 2013

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ISSUE 21 JUNE 2013

Published by The Lioness Group. Founder, Natasha Clark.

Editor-in-Chief Katelyn Gendron Art Director Leonardo Pilares Director of Photography Denise Smith Columnists Crystal Senter Brown Kristina Chapell Aliyah Cherrisse Brenda’s Child Michelle Perry Higgins Contributing Writers Erin K. Corriveau Carley Dangona Lamara Hunter Paige Cerulli Emily Thurlow Jennifer Sawyer

Š2013 Lioness Magazine is the first online magazine geared toward female entrepreneurs. We deliver sharp and compelling information on a variety of topics that are relevant to female entrepreneurs and professionals. Our mission is to elevate, educate and support female professionals. We celebrate the unique challenges and achievements of women in business. We believe women are multi-dimensional creations who flourish, personally and professionally, when they take time to nurture their spirits.

welcome to editor’s letter Katelyn Gendron

Imagination births tangible success

The human imagination has come to be an unexpected theme of this month’s issue. While reading the various articles, the phrase, “If you can dream it, you can do it,” kept repeating itself in my mind. Why, you ask? Because the women and men featured here have birthed the wilds of their imaginations into tangible reality. Tess Gerritsen, best selling author of the “Rizzoli & Isles” crime series, was making her living as a doctor before she hung up her scrubs for the pen. She confessed to our reporter, Erin K. Corriveau, there was always a story inking pages in her mind but becoming a writer, at first, was not something her father believed she could make a living from. It wasn’t until she was on maternity leave with no patients to see that her imagination made its way into the world. Those featured in our Bachelors in Business section have also molded their passions into successful careers as a theater technician and a journalist in New York City, and a senior advertising executive in California. They’ve resolved only to be bound by the confines of their imaginations, as opposed to society’s definition of the 21st century Working Man. Imagination has also spawned the life’s work of Crystal Senter Brown, who sat down with our reporter, Carley Dangona, to discuss her balancing act as a modern day Wonder Woman. She juggles life as a wife, mother, poet, justice of the peace, author and screenwriter, whose work, “The Rhythm in Blue,” will be turned into a feature film later this year. Her only problem, she said, is streamlining her schedule to incorporate only those tasks that are aligned with her future. If her present is any indication of her future, it looks pretty bright to me. So here’s my question to you: If we can dream it, can we really do it? Or better yet, how are we helping – and not at the expense of – one another to achieve our personal and professional goals in this rat race we call life? If you figure it out, let me know.

Katelyn LIONESS JUNE 2013


BACHELORS In BUSINESS Occupation: Freelance Writer & Theater/Event Technician

Company/Organization: Self-Employed

Title and/or specialty: Production Associate/Light & Sound Board Operator

What do you do? As a Production Associate I assist with the load in and strike of OffBroadway plays and various promotional events. I specialize in light and sound operation for theatrical productions. In addition to that work I am writing my first novel, an urban fantasy set in contemporary New York.

Name: Kyle Leacock City, State: Brooklyn, N.Y. Hometown: Brooklyn, N.Y.

Why you do what you do: I’m not someone who likes sitting behind a desk all day. Even when I’m writing, I can only sit at the desk in my apartment for so long before I have to move to the couch and continue. I’ve always felt the need to be creative in some way. Even if I’m not working on my own artistic ideas, I enjoy helping to bring someone else’s vision to life; even if that means I have to climb a ladder several feet in the air and fix a Source Four lighting unit. I’d much rather do that than sit in a cubicle all day. It’s something I discovered about myself in high school and continued to nurture through college.

What is your motto in business? Surround yourself with a good team. When you have the right people around you, work never feels like work. Find people who are honest and will always keep it real with you – good, bad, or otherwise – and people who will also compliment your strengths and weaknesses.

What is your motto in life? As long as I can be happy with the person I see in the mirror, then life is good. I feel that if you are comfortable with who you are, people around you will sense that and be drawn into your presence. Hopefully you’ll attract like-minded people while not being afraid to try something new.

Favorite quote: “Art is what you can get away with.” – Andy Warhol

What are you passionate about and why? Telling stories. When I think about all of the things I’m into – writing, theater, movies, fantasy novels – all of them revolve around telling stories. A good story can create so many emotions and memories in a person. If I had to choose one thing I’d want people to say about me when I leave this world it’s, “Damn, Kyle was a hell of a story teller!”

Favorite pastime? I’m a big kid at heart, and an even bigger nerd. I like to relax by playing

PlayStation 3. I also like to watch cartoons, sci-fi TV and movies and read anything that stimulates my imagination. Music is a big part of my life, so you’ll rarely see me outside without some headphones.

What other boards/committees/or activities are you involved in outside of work? I don’t have many extra activities. Outside of work I try to spend as much time as I can with friends and family. But I am thinking about taking up archery lessons. I had my first lesson a few months ago and now I’m hooked! Do you have a unique talent? If so, what is it? I’ve been told I have a great voice. Not a singing voice per se, but a great voice for voiceovers and things like that. I guess some of that training from my high school acting classes stuck. The three adjectives that best describe you: Imaginative. Witty. Unique.

What accomplishments are you most proud of? A few months back I participated in a writing project. We were each given a few pages of an old vampire novel and were allowed to remix it any way we wanted. All of the pieces were compiled and presented as a book for download. It was a great feeling to see my name attached to an ebook. It was the first tangible accomplishment I had as a writer, and it gave me an extra boost to keep pushing to complete my own novel. The first thing you notice about a woman and why? I guess it would have to be her face and the features surrounding it. A cute smile and a pair of bright eyes do a lot for me. Not to mention I have a total weakness for redheads. A moderate use of make-up is more attractive too me as well. Too much is a definite turn off.

What do you appreciate in a significant other? Personality gets you everywhere with me. Your physical beauty may get my attention, but you have to be interesting to keep it. Be honest and open-minded like me. I like a woman who can be fun and willing to have an adventure, but is just as comfortable cooling out at home with a movie. She has to be passionate about something whether it’s art or a personal cause. She needs to have a focus in life and hopefully be as secure and independent as I am. What is a little known fun fact about you? I am a sucker for romantic comedies, especially on Sundays. I’ll wake up, make some breakfast, and check my movie channels for some sappy stuff to watch well into the afternoon. LIONESS JUNE 2013


BACHELORS In BUSINESS Occupation: Writer and Editor

Company/Organization: Men’s Fitness Magazine

Title and/or specialty: Associate Editor

What do you do? I edit various sections of the magazine and come up with ideas for stories. I also write a lot outside of my job as a freelance writer. Why you do what you do: I got into this business because people’s stories became my favorite thing in the world. Some kids collect comic books, but I have always collected and traded people’s stories. When I found out you could make a living at it I didn’t want to try being anything else.

Name: Matt Caputo City, State: New York, N.Y. Hometown: Elmhurst, N.Y.

What is your motto in business? “If being successful is all about who you know then I want to know everybody.”

What is your motto in life? “Never stop trying.”

Favorite quote: The end of “Rocky IV” in Russia when he says: “During this fight, I’ve seen a lot of changing, in the way you feel about me, and in the way I feel about you. In here, there were two guys killing each other, but I guess that’s better than 20 million. I guess what I’m trying to say, is that if I can change, and you can change, everybody can change!”

What are you passionate about and why? I’m passionate about my family, good writing and pizza. The idea is, being a magazine editor allows me to be passionate

about a lot of things and devote good attention to several things.

Favorite pastime? I like to read a lot, but I often go bowling to clear my head. Because you have to knock pins down and keep track of how many your opponent has to knock down there isn’t a lot of time to be bothered by outside influences. What other boards/committees/or activities are you involved in outside of work? Being a journalist, I try to limit any affiliations I may have in order to limit conflict.

Do you have a unique talent? If so, what is it? I can order a beer in German, but I’m not sure I have any unique talents. The three adjectives that best describe you: Determined. Restless. Independent.

What accomplishments are you most proud of? I never really think about it like that. I just try to keep going and get better all the time. Just the ability to have done so many fun stories about things I found interesting. I’m very humbled by my career as a whole.

The first thing you notice about a woman and why? Usually their shoes, somehow shoes are a big part of the first impression that I get.

What do you appreciate in a significant other? I appreciate someone that could stand on their own without me.

What is a little known fun fact about you? I starred in a commercial for “The Baby-sitters Club” on HBO in the 90’s.

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BACHELORS In BUSINESS Occupation: Advertising Executive

Company/Organization: Carter/Sartain Advertising, Marketing and Public Relations

Title and/or specialty: Senior Partner

What do you do? I lead a team of account managers in developing strategies for our clients and direct the creative department in coming up with innovative ways to promote our clients’ businesses.

Why you do what you do: It’s a lot of work, but it can also be a lot of fun. I love getting paid for the ideas that come out of my head. It’s quite a rush. Human behavior is also fascinating to me; why people make the purchasing decisions they do based on marketing. Advertising is the business of persuasion and there is nothing more satisfying than when someone is moved to action by my words.

Name: Reginald Carter City, State: Sacramento, Calif. Hometown: Stockton, Calif.

What is your motto in business? If you do what you love, you’ll wake up happy every day.

What is your motto in life? Do whatever you like, as long as no one else gets hurt in the process.

Favorite quote: “Money is only important when you don’t have any.” – Flavio Briatore, former Formula One team boss.

What are you passionate about and why? Travel and motor sports, especially F1. I’ve

been fortunate enough to have been to F1 races in four countries and counting.

Favorite pastime? Cooking. I love French and Italian food.

What other boards/committees/or activities are you involved in outside of work? None, at the present.

Do you have a unique talent? If so, what is it? I’m great with anything mechanical or electronic. The three adjectives that best describe you: Creative. Social. Professional.

What accomplishments are you most proud of? That I have lived and worked overseas (Australia), served in the Navy aboard a nuclear submarine and that I run a successful business.

The first thing you notice about a woman and why? Her confidence. I love a woman who knows her own mind and is not afraid to speak it. What do you appreciate in a significant other? Warmth, sincerity and a great sense of humor. I love a woman who is smarter than me and can make me laugh. That’s sexy! What is a little known fun fact about you? I once worked in Canada as a racecar mechanic.

Tess Gerritsen visits the set of TNT’s “Rizzoli & Isles,” based on her best-selling novels.

‘Rizzoli & Isles’ creator slices up best-seller list By Erin K. Corriveau

I’ve loved to read since I can remember. In fact, growing up I had so many books on the shelves in my room that they collapsed. They were filled with rows of fiction, biographies, cheesy teen drama series and mysteries. Many nights were spent sneaking the light on after bedtime to read just one more chapter.

As an adult my love for reading has not changed. The challenge is finding the time or a book that can hook me – the book that makes my eyes pop open with anticipation instead of droop with boredom. Enter Tess Gerritsen, a physician and bestselling author whose stories have been transformed weekly in the hit series “Rizzoli & Isles.” As I read the pages of her latest work, “Rizzoli & Isles: Last to Die,” I had to force myself to put it down so I could sleep. Finished in two days, I looked forward to what came next: speaking with Gerritsen herself. On a very cold day in

“I ALWAYS WANTED TO WRITE,” GERRITSEN SAID. “I KNEW THIS AT AGE 7, HOWEVER, I DIDN’T KNOW IT COULD BE A CAREER, AT LEAST THAT’S WHAT MY FATHER TOLD ME,” SHE SAID WITH A WARM LAUGH. January following a major New England snowstorm, I called the author to interview her. While the phone rang, I wondered what Gerritsen would be like. Not 30 seconds into our conversation I had my answer: Awesome. The first question I had to ask was the

biggest one on my mind: How does someone go from a practicing physician to an author? “I always wanted to write,” Gerritsen said. “I knew this at age 7, however, I didn’t know it could be a career, at least that’s what my father told me,” she said with a warm laugh. Instead, she chose the traditional, secure field of medicine. While on maternity leave, the urge to write was still present. She decided to listen to this urge and her first book, “Call After Midnight,” was born. Shortly after this she sold her first couple of books and it was then that she decided this would be her new career.

As a working mother myself, I was curious as to how Gerritsen was able to balance her career and home life, especially when the office was home. “I waited for the school bus!” she said with a laugh. “You learn to be flexible. Under the age of 5 was more difficult of course but you learn to

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One of the most fun features of our online community is Zip Code Matching, which connects moms with other amazing moms in their area. We also have a Mom-Owned directory and other resources that make moms life easier. Additionally, each year, we host the Let’s Play Expo, which provides moms and their families with resources in a fun, healthy and playful environment.

Photo courtesy of

Answers By: Tricia Brunton, founder and CEO of, LLC 1) How long have you been in business? I started in 2010 as a hobby. One day I was dancing with my then 3 year-old and I said, “Go Jevi,” and he replied, “Go mommy!” It started from there. I wanted all moms to have a cheerleader and to know that they [can] be amazing moms while pursuing personal success. Since then, has evolved from a hobby to an incorporated business.

2) Why have you chosen to dedicate yourself to this particular business/industry? I have always been a mom on the go. When my son was born, I was working full time, running a nonprofit organization – The Females’ Center of Excellence and Leadership Inc. – and was in the middle of my MBA program at Indiana University. I have always been committed to pursuing personal success so that I could provide a better life for myself and my son. Sometimes, it feels like a never-ending battle to find this thing people call “balance” – which is always evolving. I knew I wasn’t the only mom who felt this internal struggle and wanted to provide a resource for moms who are going through this to connect and obtain a support system. 3) What makes business/product unique? provides resources for moms to connect via its online community and events.



4) You could have worked for anyone and would have been successful, why become an entrepreneur? Though I am an entrepreneur, I have always maintained a full-time position. Currently, I am the Controller at Access Health CT, Connecticut’s health insurance marketplace. Ever since I was little, I have always believed that if you see a problem and you have the ability to fix it, you should. Over the years, I have grown to be a “social entrepreneur” and more specifically with a focus on the advancement of women and girls. It is a passion and for that reason, I dedicate my efforts to supporting women through, LLC and my nonprofit – The Females’ Center of Excellence and Leadership Inc.

5) What was your last, “why did I go into business for myself” moment? Gosh, I have these moments quite regularly! It has always been important for me not to recreate the wheel or duplicate another service. I strongly believe that when you are unique, there is no such thing as competition. I started with a different perspective on how moms can connect and support each other. That being said, my business is constantly evolving as I try to find a middle ground for my need to stay true to why I started and growing it as a profitable business. When I have these moments, it’s important for me to have a solid foundation and passion for why I started the business. Thereafter, everything else falls into place.

6) Every female professional should have __________. Financial independence or the ability to be financially independent. The reason for this is to ensure that she can maintain her desired standard of living without dependence on anyone. Of course, we may need to depend on banks, sponsors and investors to launch or sustain a business, go back to school, etc. But if she is not able to independently provide for her own basic needs (and that of her children) then she should begin to think about how she can best prepare herself to be able to do so. It’s not easy and there is no cookie cutter way to do it. But, it is possible. 7) If you could steal some business mojo from another mogul, who would it be and why? It’s very hard to choose one mogul. I have always picked bits and pieces of mojo from people around me and in the public eye

to develop myself as a better person and entrepreneur. However, if I would have to choose one it would be Oprah. She has always been inspiring, but one thing that has stood out about her to me is that when OWN’s ratings weren’t as high as expected; she didn’t sugar coat it or throw in the towel. She continues to change the formula to improve and that is to be admired. I think we all need to take the same approach to business and life. Now, that doesn’t mean that you should throw good money after bad, it just means that if you truly believe that something can work, you keep going. 8) What is your business motto? “Connecting moms on the go.”

9) If you could give other entrepreneurs three tips, what would they be? a) You should not do it all alone. Get as much help as you can (i.e. interns, get your kids and family involved, hire someone if you can). It’s not because you can’t, it’s because you will run yourself ragged if you do. I am speaking from experience. b) Identify your strengths and weaknesses. You work on the things you are strong at and delegate the things you are weak at until you have time to develop those weaknesses.

c) Always remain adaptable, but stay true to yourself. The world is forever changing and business strategies that work this year may not work next year. So, keep knowledgeable about your industry and aware of what is working and what is not so that you can constantly keep improving. Also, always solicit feedback. 10) Has there been a piece of technology or software that has been a lifesaver to you? Being able to communicate via tools like Skype is a great alternative to connecting in person. Additionally, my smartphone enables me to stay connected while on the go.

11) What is your goal for the next year? For the next year, my goal is to work smarter, not harder. I have found that what was “balance” to me a few years ago is not “balance” for me today. This translates into because my team and I will use the same approach to the way in which we enable moms to connect and support each other, especially moms on the go. Additionally, we aim to expand our outreach beyond Connecticut to provide moms with greater access to resources and network of amazing moms.

12) When someone is telling their friend about your business, what do you hope they say? I hope that they would say, “I have such a great support system through and I know that I can pursue personal success while being a great mom.”

Tess Gerritsen, author of the “Rizzoli & Isles” series, meets with fans during a recent book tour. Gerritsen’s beloved characters to life. Boston detective Jane Rizzoli is played by Angie Harmon, while medical examiner Maura Isles is played by Sasha Alexander. I asked if these actresses were what she had in mind when she wrote the series, imaging these characters in her head. “No,” she said with a laugh. “These women are gorgeous! I had pictured Jane as scruffy, not well groomed or attractive. But seeing Angie Harmon in this role, her voice, her mannerisms – she is Jane.” As for what’s next for “Rizzoli & Isles”? Gerritsen loves a series that grows and changes. “Series fail when characters don’t change or stay static. I figure it out as I go along but what happens, how they react, is [the] most fun,” she said.

TESS GERRITSEN work around things. For example, during naptime I could get a couple of pages written. Then once they get to kindergarten, you get a half day back.” The greatest benefit to staying home, Gerritsen said, is that she gets to do exactly what she wants to do. “If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life!”

While we’re most familiar with Gerritsen’s medical thrillers, she didn’t always write them. Her first books were romantic sus-

pense novels, something she read as a medical resident. “At the end of the day, you wanted a happy ending,” she said. Gerritsen continued to write about things that interested her, things she was passionate about, versus sticking to one genre. “I never planned anything out, it just happened. Whatever interested me at the time was what I wanted to write about. Being a physician, medicine was my background so it was easy to write about.” It was her book “Harvest” that kicked off her medical thriller career.

Fast forward to the present day where the hit TV series “Rizzoli & Isles” has brought

Gerritsen continued, “I’m currently working on my 11th book with Jane and Maura and I’m having a great time writing it. Most of my books are launched by my experiences. The idea for this book was born when I was in Africa on safari. Here we are surrounded by wild animals and all I could think was ‘A lion could jump in and kill us!’ The only person keeping us safe was the ranger. I started to think ‘What if we picked up someone else? What if this isn’t really a ranger?’” The topic of television led into further discussion about today’s technology and what it means to writers. One hot topic of late is e-publishing (electronic publishing or self

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Enthusiastic fans wait in line to meet Tess Gerritsen.

TESS GERRITSEN publishing). Some say that there are many advantages such as faster publishing times or a higher percentage of royalties as the financial layout is much less than that of the print editor. Others cite disadvantages, such as fewer sales due to its “newness” as well as the potential for piracy. While the majority of her sales are esales (online sales), Gerritsen is happy to remain traditionally published with no desire to self-publish, even at 70 percent royalties. Piracy, she said, is something that happens to everyone. “We’re all pirated. We can’t do anything about it,” she added.



“I find that most ‘piraters’ are not even avid readers, they just pirate for the purpose of pirating.”

Before letting her go, I asked Gerritsen about some of her favorites. Here’s what she had to say: Favorite Author: It keeps changing! A tried and true is Stephen King and of course Philippa Gregory, a historical writer. I tend to read out of my genre to get away from work.

Favorite Place You’ve Traveled: I most recently went to China last August and I’ll be in Peru next week. I’m very interested in the Middle East and I’ve been to Turkey three times. I’ll be going back to Africa this September as well. Favorite Book that You Wrote: I have two: “Gravity” and “The Bone Garden.”

Advice to a Budding Author: Reading is self-education! Teach yourself – read everything, every genre. Also, the most intellectual writers forget that writing is about emotion; use fact-based, but still use feeling.

By Carley Dangona

Wonder Woman has nothing on Crystal Senter Brown, 38, who, according to her website, is a “mama, wife, poet, author and maniac.” While currently working to transform one of her books, “The Rhythm in Blue,” into a movie, she also holds a full-time position as a Community Executive for the American Cancer Society, in addition to being a justice of the peace. Brown is also half way through the Nonprofit Management and Philanthropy graduate program at Bay Path College in Longmeadow, Mass. She expects to earn her degree at the end of this year.

“Everything I do, I want to do,” Brown said of her packed schedule. “I stay busy, but I’m in bed at 9:30 p.m. most nights.”

She signed a contract in August 2012 and wrote “The Rhythm in Blue” screenplay that fall. The characters are cast and the locations are chosen. Production is slated to get underway this summer.

“I want to make it match the book as much as possible. While there’s no release date yet, I expect that the movie will be wrapped and ready for festivals this fall. There will be a New York premier in the spring of 2014,” Brown said.

Brown is currently about 100 pages into a sequel to “The Rhythm in Blue,” a project she began before the movie was cast. She said she was shocked to see how well the actors cast for the movie matched how she pictured the characters in her head.

“I write on my phone when I have downtime. My goal is to finish the book by the end of June, but I won’t release it until the movie is out. I wrote



Crystal Senter Brown: Wonder Woman for the modern era

the first book in nine months and it sat for two years [before editing]. I’ll let this one sit for a month or two before I submit it to an editor,” Brown said of her writing process.

When asked what challenges her the most about her schedule, she said, “Finding the time to make each thing I do personal.”

Brown said she pictures two stick figures inside her head, one that’s “normal” and the other, her creative side, with “confetti and other items bursting from its head.” For Brown, creativity is a constant state of mind.

She elaborated on the “maniac” part of her tagline by stating, “I think I’m different than most people I know. I am crazy about writing and poetry. I think you have to be a little bit crazy to be an artist.”

Poetry is Brown’s main outlet for her writing. “There’s a freedom and versatility to poetry that I love. There’s really no rules. You can write whatever is on your heart,” she said, adding that she enjoys the performance aspect of reading poetry aloud.

For inspiration, Brown likes reading the work of other authors, citing Patricia Smith as one of her favorite poets. “When I read her poetry it always inspires me to write,” she said.

For the past six months, Brown has been working with a dream coach to help her “streamline” her schedule to only the tasks that are “aligned with her future.”

One project she would eventually like to pursue further is “Gabby Saturday.” That project is a children’s book that she and her mom, Janice Treece Senter, created so “children of color, especially females, had someone to look up to.” Brown’s mom illustrated the book. “I wish I had

the time to develop the character of Gabby further. I’d like to have a doll or maybe even a cartoon,” she added.

Brown noted that it is just as important to maintain professional goals as personal ones, even when things get complicated. At one point, being a justice of the peace became too personal – some of the brides wanted her to plan the entire wedding. While she does write the entire ceremony and meets personally with each client, she doesn’t have time to be a wedding coordinator, so she kindly recommends those clients to someone who’s schedule is better suited to the bride’s needs.

Interestingly enough, Brown became a justice out of her own need to find someone to marry her. She and her husband Corey have been married for 13 years, but initially had difficulty finding a minister that could accommodate their separate religious backgrounds.  She described the situation as “a whole big production” and said her motivation for becoming a justice was “wanting to be the person that helps.” Despite her schedule, Brown said that family is a priority. She and her husband spend time together every Friday for date night. One of her ways to spend time with her 19-year-old son is to sit back, munch on some pizza and watch movies.

“I love being with my family,” she said, adding that she takes after her dad who works at a hospital, owns a funeral home, is a minister and a bass guitar player.

When asked what she wants her legacy to be, Brown responded, “I want to be remembered as someone who helped others. I am good at mobilizing people to help. I would describe myself as a connector.”

Managing Me

Tips to blocking burnout By Brenda’s Child

Being a woman on the go it’s important to recognize the warning signs of burnout before you, well, burnout. Psychology tells us there are both physical and emotional symptoms that indicate we are exhausted and stressed. Some of these are obvious, such as headaches, insomnia, and irritability. Personally, I know I am on the verge of a burnout when: • I go to put on a sleeveless top and realize I haven’t shaved in weeks; • I drive off with my travel mug on the roof of the car; • I order food in the drive thru and pull off after I pay but before I get my food; • I am forced to wear closed-toed shoes because my toe nail polish is chipped; • I skip meals throughout the day and then devour take out at night.

Do you notice a pattern here? Sure I become absent minded, but what’s more detrimental is that I stop taking care of myself. Coworkers may notice I’m a bit snappy; people in my home will say I’m short tempered, and all of that’s true. What’s worse is when we lapse in caring for ourselves; that becomes an issue.

We cannot be as effective or efficient as we would like to be in any of our roles if we don’t care for ourselves. It’s more than the basics of getting a good night’s sleep, exercising and eating right. It’s also about making sure we look our best; not our dressiest, our sexiest, our best. It means taking the time to moisturize our skin, oil our cuticles, and all of the other rituals we sometimes skip or rush through. There’s nothing like being stressed and then looking down at your feet and seeing rough, calloused heels, or going to wash your hands and noticing the growth of a unibrow in the mirror.

Personally, I feel like I can take on anything, even with flip-flops and T-shirt as long as I am feeling good. When my burnout symptoms surface, I stop. I go sit down in a restaurant and have a meal alone, sipping and chewing slowly; or I go to the salon and enjoy having my scalp massaged as it’s washed. It’s small things like that which help me to get back on track. These temporary time-outs are what get me through long days and weeks until I have time to take an extended break.

What about you? What are your personal burnout symptoms and how do you handle it? Send your responses to Read more about this topic at

Brenda’s Child has made it her life’s mission to inspire people through poetry and stories and through leading by example with courage, confidence, and integrity. She emphasizes self-love, worth, and value. She also feels obligated to tell the truth ... even if it hurts. Visit



Money with Michelle

Don’t touch that retirement! By Michelle Perry Higgins

Planning for retirement can be a daunting task and for those who have faithfully fed their 401(k)s, the urge to dip into those funds can occasionally be tempting. I implore your to resist that urge at all costs.

One of the questions I receive most often from clients is whether or not they can use the funds in their 401(k) for one thing or another. My answer is always the same: I tell them that unless the need is an absolute emergency, the retirement funds are off limits until their golden years.

The discipline it takes to keep retirement funds intact is more important now than ever. People are living much longer than previous generations, and many of them are outliving their retirement savings. And with the future of Social Security currently uncertain, planning for retirement requires much more fiscal restraint than ever before.

Among my chief factors for planning a successful retirement is to remember that dipping into your account now may cost more than you think Touching your 401(k) assets for a vacation, home remodel, or your next car can be very enticing but is very expensive. If you are under 59 ½, you will pay a 10 percent Federal early withdrawal penalty, plus ordinary income tax. Not to mention, your state may also have a penalty.

Michelle Perry Higgins is a financial planner and principal of California Financial Advisors in San Ramon, Calif. Higgins specializes in wealth management, and has built a successful practice advising executive professionals into retirement. Her passion for financial management has helped hundreds of individuals better understand investing and financial planning. For more information, please visit



Occasionally there are times in which a retirement fund is the only emergency fund available but I still advise caution. Many 401(k) accounts provide for loans that can be made in certain circumstances, but be careful to read the fine print. Make sure you understand all the loan features and what will happen to that loan if you get laid off or quit your job. With some plans, if this happens the loan is due and payable immediately.

The bottom line is that your retirement savings is your nest egg so you should not only keep it intact, you should invest into it as much as you can. You should especially commit to saving at least the percentage your company matches. That way, you’re maximizing your investment.

If you are concerned about how you will handle financial emergencies or afford home improvements without touching your retirement fund, I recommend planning for individual funds, or as I call them, pots. Setting aside cash for the home improvement pot or vacation pot now may eliminate the urge to dip into your retirement account later.

For those who feel in need of additional assistance reviewing their financial plan, or guidance in gaining fiscal discipline, I advise contacting a financial planner to review other options and accountant to review the tax implications.

MotherWoman rewrites treatment for post-partum depression

By Carley Dangona

MotherWoman, a nonprofit organization based in Hadley, Mass., is dedicated to “Empowering Mothers, Creating Community, [and] Changing the World,” one mom at a time, and that’s just what they’re doing.

The organization was founded with the purpose of serving three objectives: To build a community of safety nets that support women by bringing together leaders among communities; to impact family policy by promoting legislation to assist women in their role as mothers; and to provide an outlet of support for women to network with peers.

“It’s really important for the people on the front line [those who assist women with the needs and struggles of motherhood] to understand that by working together in a multi-discipline collaboration we can create change and make an impact,” Beth Spong, MotherWoman executive director, said.

Leaders, she said, need to work together to identify and respond to issues such as postpartum depression in order to provide help to women that are suffering from it. She added that creating and promoting initiatives such as breast-feeding as a civil right empowers women in their role of motherhood.

She also noted that many women have no

alternative care when a child falls ill. “Many times, women are faced to choose between work and their family,” Spong said, adding that having to stay home to care for the child can create tension with employers and sometimes leads to the loss of a job if work duties are not fulfilled. “It’s important for women to have a safe place to share their truths about mothering – the joys and the challenges. A lot of times, women feel isolated and wonder what’s wrong with them,” she said of MotherWoman’s support groups, noting that they build a sense of community and enable women to realize that they are not alone.

Joan Barberich, a woman who dealt with post-partum depression and attended a MotherWoman support group, referred to the experience as “a safe oasis” and testified to its impact on her life.

“I walked in, took one look at the facilitator and knew I was safe – not in the dark, or, at least OK in the dark. I sobbed without hurting anyone’s feelings. I shared my frustrations without feeling guilty. Nobody tried to fix anything. The truth had been invited, witnessed and held with airtight safety,” she said.

Barberich continued, “This was my initiation into the unique MotherWoman model, which skillfully and reliably allows us to take

an honest look at the way motherhood is sold in our culture and what motherhood actually is. It does this every week, free, with childcare and food. Revolutionary.” MotherWoman doesn’t just support women, it provides the necessary tools to help peers who are also in need.

“A lot of people want to become support group facilitators,” Spong said. “We receive requests from across the United States for trainings.” MotherWoman currently offers seminars in Boston, Mass., Las Vegas, Nev., Seattle, Wash., Minneapolis, Minn., and throughout western Massachusetts where its office is based. “It’s so moving to me – the depth of the interest,” Spong commented. When asked how they’re able to stay financial viable given the challenging economic times, Spong replied, “As a small nonprofit, sustainability is always in question. There’s always a need.”

Spong explained that MotherWoman runs on gifts from individual donors, revenue from the trainings it hosts, and a combination of public and private sector grants. For more information about MotherWoman and its offerings, visit, call 413-3870703, or email





On May 10, Reign Entertainment Co. hosted the launch of 3D Art by S. Whittaker and her exhibit, “Time Signature.” Whittaker’s works are oil and acrylic-based portraits on wooden canvases featuring infamous entertainers from the past, present and future, ranging from Run-D.M.C. to Amy Winehouse to the Beastie Boys to Marvin Gaye.

Born in Panama, Whittaker now calls Brooklyn, N.Y., home and the inspiration for her innovative and vibrant works. She brings her intensity and soul to every brushstroke, and is loved by celebrities and avid art-buyers alike. This opening served as Whittaker’s official launch of 3D Art, and took place at Top of The Garden, where guests were treated to complimentary wine and cheese, while perusing the 3D art with the unbelievable backdrop of literally, the top of Madison Square Garden. For more information about Whittaker, check out:



Stiletto Statement

Are you well naked?

To be well dressed, we must be well naked! By Aliyah Cherrisse

Ladies, did you catch that? If not, no worries I am going to take you deeper in on this statement. When you are naked, simply meaning without clothing, makeup, or accessories, how do you view yourself? We as women have to face the struggle of stretch marks, cellulite, hard to get rid of muffin tops and tummies, as well as the comfort size of our girls; the twins.

When you look in the mirror, what do you see? What do you immediately think about at your first glance at the reflection looking back at you? Are you happy with what you see? Are you in love with who you are

when you are stripped of everything that helps to cover up all of your imperfections? Ask yourself, how much longer can you put up with the temporary fulfillment of the flaws you despise but have yet to truly address them, instead you just cover them up.

Often I have been told to worry about the things I have control over and let God deal with the rest. God did not give me the belly I have, birth and eating too much did. God did not give me the stretch marks I have; constant weight battles did that. God did not give me the size 38G twins; birth did that too. My point is this ladies, when I looked in the mirror in my complete nakedness I was far from satisfied with what I saw, however, I am working on my change right now in this moment as you read this. I joined the gym, I have consult-

ed a dermatologist, and believe it or not I have decided to change my eating habits. When we fill ourselves with toxins, whether in the form of food, negativity, or stress, we put that wear and tear on our bodies so there is no one to blame but ourselves. I feel that our confidence is built through our own strength to be selfmotivated because you see, “I can take you to the water, but I cannot make you drink it.” Dressing up in our designer clothing, changing our faces with our MAC makeup, or over accessorizing our outer appearance will not take away from how we view ourselves when all of that is gone. Don’t continue to trick yourself to believe that you are actually happy with where you are

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Stiletto Statement

or how you look or how you feel about yourself knowing that you want change. You must start thinking differently because when our mindset is transformed so are our ways in the world. We must have self-control and will power to be better individually. How are you truly going to be any good to anyone else let alone yourself if you are living in a lie of your own; covering up the things you have the ability to change. If this is you, I encourage you to stop over compensating on a false image

and really do something to become a more comfortable, confident, and authentic you! Believe me, you will feel a world of relief because there is nothing like feeling and actually being comfortable in your own skin. I can only say this because I know that I did not like the feeling I had when I was uncomfortable in the skin I am in, so believe that greater really does come later with faith and work. Are you willing to give yourself a chance? I hope so! Self-love is important and I pray you all

reading this will go after that.

"Don't ever be afraid to help yourself, love yourself and build your confidence level up. We are our own worse critics, so take the time out, figure out what you don’t like, and then take the steps to fix it. Don’t be afraid, for God gave us the spirit of love, use that love on yourself first!" – Signing off, Aliyah Cherrisse!

Aliyah Cherrisse, born and raised in Atlantic City, N.J., has grown to be a very educated, vibrant, and driven intellectual. As a graduate of Morgan State University, with a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Business Marketing, Aliyah has put her studies to use in branding herself as the “Multimedia Personality” she is to-date. Currently pursuing her love of entertainment, Aliyah is known for her titles of “Fashion Show Production Assistant, Radio/TV Personality, Curvy/Full-Figured Model, Red Carpet Correspondent, Host, and Blogger,” but let's not forget to mention: this is all while being a single mother! With no intentions on slowing down, Aliyah anticipates what God has awaiting ahead for her!






Hammacher and Schlemmer reveal the hottest gadgets for 2013’s technologically savvy

iPad Pen

This is the wireless stylus that makes taking notes on an iPad seem as natural as writing freehand with pen and paper. Comparable in size and feel to its ink-filled cousins, when used with free downloadable apps such as IdealNotes or FlyNotes and the included wireless infrared receiver, the pen transforms an iPad into a familiar note pad. The pen allows you to write fluidly, even letting you rest your hand on the screen, making it ideal for taking notes during meetings, jotting a quick memo, or sketching a playful doodle. Your work is saved as jpg images on the iPad, allowing them to be edited, shared via email or social media sites, or transferred to a computer via USB. Includes two SR41 batteries and replacement tip. Receiver plugs into 30pin charging port of iPad 1 or 2 or iPod touch running iOS 3.2 and later.

Wireless Page to TV Magnifier

This is the wireless scanner that magnifies written material up to 70X and displays the text on a television for easier viewing. As easy to use as a computer mouse, the device is simply guided over books, newspapers, or magazines and wirelessly transmits enlarged text and images to a television. An LED inside the scanner ensures onscreen images are bright and crisp and the text can be displayed in black on a white background, white on a black background, or in color. The scanner transmits the reading material up to 32’ from the included receiver that plugs into a television using the included 10' RCA video cable. Magnifies from 20X to 70X. Scanner operates for four hours after a five-hour charge via the included AC adapter. 5 1/4” L x 3 1/2” H x 3 3/4” W. (1 oz.)

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TECHNOLOGY Cyclist’s Virtual Safety Lane

This is the device that mounts to a bicycle’s seat post and projects two 5-milliwat red lasers onto the ground, generating a virtual bicycle lane. Providing motorists with a visual indicator of a cyclist’s riding width, it is ideal for increasing the safety margin around a cyclist during pre-dawn or dusk rides. Visible under headlights and streetlights from over a mile away, the 6’-long lane begins mid-cycle at the seat post and extends behind. An additional five red LEDs increase visibility as a standard blinking taillight. Includes two AAA batteries. (3 oz.)

500X Handheld Digital Microscope

This is the handheld microscope that provides up to 500X magnification for small objects, displaying them on its built-in, flip-out screen. Ideal for viewing stamps, coins, or serial numbers, its optics provide 20X to 200X optical magnification with up to 500X digital magnification. Eight built-in LEDs illuminate subjects while its manual focus sharpens images, which are captured by its 5 megapixel CMOS and displayed on a 3” TFT color LCD screen that provides 960 x 240 pixel resolution. Images can be stored as JPEGs at 2592 x 1944 resolution (AVI video stored at 640 x 480 resolution) and are saved onto up to a 32 GB microSD card (not included). It connects to a computer running Windows 8/7/Vista/XP with the included microUSB cable for downloading images and recharging; a three-hour charge provides up to four hours of operation. 5” L x 4 1/2” W x 1” D. (8 oz.)




Robotic Wet/Dry Mop

This is the robotic floor cleaner that navigates autonomously to dry sweep or wet mop floors. The device courses across hard surface floors in a back and forth manner and uses the included microfiber cloths to sweep up dirt, dust, and hair or the mopping cloths and water to wash floors. The included palm-sized terrestrial satellite sets up on a table or countertop and, similar to GPS, emits a signal that systematically guides the robotic cleaner through the room until it's covered the entire space. On-board sensors ensure the device avoids furniture, area rugs, and stairs and its rectangular cleaning head reaches into corners, along baseboards, and under furniture to thoroughly clean hard-to-reach areas. Its whisper-quiet operation enables it to clean without disrupting conversations and sleepers. The unit cleans for up to four hours and 1,000’ sq. as a sweeper and up to 2 1/2 hours and 350’ sq. as a mop, and recharges via AC in four hours. Includes two sweeping cloths and two mopping cloths. Includes two C batteries for satellite. Also compatible with widely available electrostatic or pre-moistened cloths. 9 2/3” D x 8 1/2” W x 3” H. (4 lbs.)

Hoseless Evaporative Cooling Fan

This misting outdoor fan makes a patio or deck as comfortable as an air-conditioned room without being tethered to a garden hose. Encountered in luxury resorts and outdoor cafes, the fan reduces the air temperature by as much as 30º F by gently misting the surrounding area. Its three patented nozzles create micro-fine droplets that feel dry to the touch and evaporate almost instantly, providing refreshing cooling without the soaking spray common with lesser misting fans. A 2 3/4-gallon reservoir holds enough water for up to five hours of continuous misting; the density of mist adjusts with a simple turn of a dial. The 18” fan’s high-velocity three-speed motor is waterproof and can oscillate 50º, cooling up to a 500’ sq. area. Because flying insects typically avoid wind and moisture, the fan also helps reduce these outdoor nuisances. The fan features weather-resistant powder-coated metal and plastic construction, with two wheels on the base that provide easy mobility. Plugs into AC. 55 3/4” H x 19 3/4” Diameter base. (40 lbs.)



The Lipstick Chronicles

It’s not always about men

By Kristina Chapell

The past month has been kind of quiet in terms of men and that’s OK with me. I instead focused on me because since I moved I kept wondering if I ‘d changed; if I was different.

It took a trip to Texas for me to find myself again. When I moved my job changed and I started questioning who I was and did my three descriptor words encapsulate me and my new job. After all, I was a “Connector” and in my new location I “knew” no one. I had four friends in town and knew no one else, which begged the question: How was I a connector? But it was in Texas when I realized who I was again and I now a new “air” about me.

What I realized though when I returned to Georgia is that it’s not always about men. Sometimes it’s about friends and the animals in your life.

When I moved to Georgia I moved in with Carol, who has a dog and two cats. They weren’t my best friends on day one but they didn’t hate me either. Over time they have come to know I am there to give them water, take them out, talk to them, etc. They have come to know me as the other person in the house.

I left for Texas early on a Wednesday morning and didn’t return until the following Tuesday, but before dawn. I quietly entered the house and went straight to bed; not waking until 11 a.m. I awoke to two cats sprawled outside my door, waiting for me to come out. In fact, Carol had said many times they would be there while I was gone. It’s like

they knew I had went to bed but I hadn’t been seen since (they were sleeping when I left). Her dog loved that I was home again, working from the couch, and able to take her out when needed. She was happy to walk over to “my spot” on the couch and know I was there.

I am not a crazy cat or dog lady, but I can say I enjoy having pets. I left my dog behind when I moved; he is now with my parents. He is the cutest little, white, fluff ball I know. He is a lap dog and loved snuggling with me whenever he could. I missed that. While Carol’s animals are not my Max, they have gotten to know me and recognize when I am not around. In fact, if I am still up and everyone else is asleep, often one of the cats comes to sit with me on the couch; something I revel in and enjoy, especially as this is the first time I have ever lived with cats.

But what my dog and Carol’s animals have taught me is that it isn’t always about a man. I can have a date, meet a guy, flirt with him – like I did tonight at dinner because our waiter was pretty cute – or even be rejected, but I can always come home to an animal or three who love and miss me when I am not there. They have unconditional love and it doesn’t matter what I look like or how I smell, they will still cuddle.

As for my friends, well they will tell me when I am laying it on thick but they also laugh with me and enjoy my craziness; they didn’t know tonight’s waiter had a baby and girlfriend either when he offered to come over and cook me dinner (and go in depth with what he was going to make). They are supportive and want the best for me, as I them.

Whether we are straight or not, we all want someone to love, cuddle with, laugh at our jokes (or what we think are jokes), and tell us ‘it’s OK’ after a long day but what we don’t realize is many times we can get that, or most of it, in friends and animals. I admit the animals don’t talk back but “hello,” isn’t that what we really want sometimes?” I loved talking to my dog Max about things because he wouldn’t judge or talk back. Sometimes all I needed was just to talk things through and he was the perfect listener. Imagine if your pet could talk?! Like Duke from Bush’s Beans, Giving away your secrets? OK, don’t imagine it, it’s too scary, especially after knowing what my dog has heard. What I am trying to say is that at the end of the day it’s OK to be “alone” and not dating someone. You don’t always have to have a man to feel whole; your friends and pets can and should help fill the void until the next “Mr. Right” or at least “Mr. Right Now” comes along. If you feel a man is the only way to fill the void (and we should have watched enough “Sex and the City” episodes to know there are mechanical toys to help) then there is something else going on, something else I can’t help with.

So, it’s June, boyfriend or not, get out there and enjoy the summer. Go out with friends, come home to pets, and revel in the relationships you have because, “momma told me there’d be days like this” and as Snow White sang “Someday my prince will come.” And, that he will. So get out, enjoy your friends, come home to your animals and don’t let life pass you by! ~ xoxoxo KC

Kristina Chapell is a single gal in her 30s making her way in the world. Passionate, savvy, and stylish; Kristina is a social relationship builder. You can often find her on Facebook and Twitter keeping up with the latest news and always supporting causes she is passionate about such as the Alzheimer’s Association, Link to Libraries, and The Business Channel.



UnityFirst establishes ‘Common Ground’ June 22, a communications consulting group that specializes in the online distribution of diversity-related e-news, will host its 2013 Common Ground Leadership Awards and Resource Reception at the MassMutual Center in Springfield, Mass., to honor people and organizations from all walks of life who are inclusive leaders and role model examples of excellence for corporations, communities and the next generation.

The resource reception will offer opportunities to network with professionals in varied industries, learn about certified diverse businesses, consider educational/career opportunities, shop with vendors, review multicultural resources and meet varied authors. Tickets and information can be found at

“This city, Commonwealth and country will be better off because of the leadership demonstrated by the Common Ground awardees – and with this recognition, we will include them as part of New England's inclusive history,” said Janine Fondon, president, who thanked the event supporters (partial list): MassMutual Center, PeoplesBank, Bay Path College, Pan African Historical Museum, Creative Futures, LLC, WTCC Radio, World Unity Inc., and others.



“We also welcome the support of the National Black Women’s Town Hall, a nationwide program designed to create sisterhood communities and conversations around the country, New York’s Harlem World magazine and performing artist Lawrence Watson, a professor at Berklee College of Music,” she added.

“Future success in the city of Springfield, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the U.S. will be defined by the new common ground we collectively establish through innovative collaborations and inclusive relationships – seeking to inspire a new engagement that will dispel institutional inequities and bridge the many widening disparities and gaps,” Fondon said.

The awardees, who are chosen by based on demonstrated leadership and/or submissions by community members, are local legacy leaders who are achievers at various levels and stages of their careers and disciplines. Some of the awardees to be recognized during this ‘Academy Awards’ styled event are: Dr. Amilcar Shabazz, Dr. Emily Lewis, Sara Ting, Dr. Sadie Burton Goss, Elizabeth Cardona, Kirk Smith, Dr. Sarah McAdoo, Eric Gouvin, Dr. Adrienne Smith, Dr. Lucie K. Lewis, Dr.

Sanford Jeames, James “JB” Bradley, Kathleen Kane, and others in this Common Ground Class of 2013 – a true legacy of leadership.

“We invite the community to celebrate and appreciate this stellar class of contributors who collectively represent a legacy of leadership that will define inclusion and success in the 21st century,” Fondon said. “Let’s get to know some of these accomplished awardees who are innovators of best practices in the areas of education, health care, talent management and recruitment, community engagement, minority suppliers, and cultural competence.”

Fondon noted, “I believe, as diversity researcher Harris Sussman says, ‘Diversity is about our relatedness, our connectedness, our interactions, where the lines cross. Diversity is many things – a bridge between organizational life and the reality of people’s lives, building corporate capability, the framework for interrelationships between people, a learning exchange, and a strategic lens on the world.’”

For more information on the event, call 413221-7931 or send email to:



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