SHEro Code 004:




SHEro004 (1)

 She was born a slave, but was so shielded and lived so comfortably, that she wrote “I was born a slave; but I never knew till six years of happy childhood had passed away.” Her mother died when Harriet was only 6, and she was sent to live with her mother’s mistress, who taught her to read, write, and sew. Harriet was sold to a physician when she was 11, and, after loosing her father as well, Harriet became deeply unhappy. The doctor made Harriet miserable with his unwanted advances. The doctor’s wife was vindictive and jealous. To Harriet’s knowledge, the doctor had fathered nearly a dozen children to slave mothers. Harriet would not be one of them.

The doctor refused to let Harriet marry a freed black carpenter, and she soon began a relationship with a white lawyer with whom she would have two children. Meanwhile, the doctor was fed up with Harriet, and she was moved to his brother’s plantation. When Harriet heard of plans for her children to be sent to join her on the plantation, she immediately began making plans to escape. If she was gone, the children would stay with Harriet’s grandmother, and be spared life as plantation slaves.

“Whatever slavery might do to me,” she wrote, “it could not shackle my children. If I fell a sacrifice, my little ones were saved.”

 So she escaped to friends homes, then eventually to her grandmother’s home. She hid in a small space above a store room. It was seven feet wide, nine feet long, and only three feet high. She could not even stand up in it, but there she stayed for seven years. She was able to hear and see glimpses of her children. The father of her children finally purchased them, as well as Harriet’s brother, with the promise to free them. She and her children eventually made their way to New York, where a sympathetic friend bought Harriet in order to set her free once and for all.

She began writing Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl in 1853. When efforts to publish the book failed, she had it published “for the author” in 1861. The book was published in Britain the following year.


 Harriet went on to teach, nurse troops, and run a boarding house. She died on March 7, 1897.

What most impresses me about Harriet Ann Jacobs is her resilience. She remained in hiding for seven years– in a space where she could not even stand up! During that entire time, she never revealed herself to her children. When she finally did gain her freedom, she did not waste it. She served others and shared her story.

And that makes her one heck of a SHEro.

Learn more about Harriet Ann Jacobs here

Beauty is…strength and confidence

She holds four degrees, including a Doctorate in Engineering and a Masters in Business.

(Image from

 She has designed rovers for Mars exploration and robots destined to help study climate change in Antarctica.  

She has contributed to seven books and published over two hundred academic papers.

She has been the recipient of numerous awards including the 2001 Lew Allen Award for Excellence in Research from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers Early Career Award in Robotics and Automation in 2005, the National Society of Black Engineers Janice Lampkin Educator Award in 2009, and the Georgia Tech Residential Life Cornerstone Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Community in 2013.

She is also a wife, a mama, and downright beautiful.

Dr. Ayanna Howard (image from


Who you are: Dr. Ayanna Howard

What you do: Robotics Engineer, Professor, Entrepreneur

Where you do it: Georgia Institute of Technology, Zyrobotics

Ienhanced-buzz-9274-1365708848-3 read that you were inspired to pursue a career in science after watching the TV show The Bionic Woman. What was it about the show/character that clicked with you? Before watching the show, what did you want to be when you grew up?

As a young girl, I was always into sci-fi – anything with robots, space, super heroes – if it included any imaginary futuristic technology or world, I was hooked. The Bionic Woman attracted me, in particular, because it engaged me into thinking about my role in society. Here was this amazingly intelligent, beautiful, super hero that, not only highlighted the strengths of a woman, first and foremost, but had the primary purpose of saving the world. And then I knew that what I wanted to do was pursue a career that allowed me to build the Bionic Woman. Before that, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to be when I grew up. I was always good at math and science, but didn’t really know what kind of career I wanted.

What were some of the biggest challenges you have faced on your professional journey? How were you able to move through them?

When I was younger, the biggest challenge was in learning how to not take things personally and push forward, despite any implicit biases expressed by others. Basically, the biggest challenge was dealing with the Imposter Syndrome, especially as, many times, I was the only female or minority present in a given situation. I once heard someone say “Fake it until you make it.” I realized no one feels confident 100% of the time, so you just press on until you do.

You are a role model for kiddos who are interested in robotics and engineering. Who were some of your role models growing up or as you went through university?

I float through role models – basically, I find individuals who are doing what I’d like to do and figure out how they got there and the lessons they have learned through that process. I also like to surround myself with ‘advisors’ – i.e. individuals whom I can seek out when I need advice. In essence, they function informally, at various instances of time, as my mentors, colleagues, confidants.  

Your list of awards and publications is staggering (your CV is 17 pages long!!). You have worked on building rovers for Mars, artificial limbs for kids, and robots that can explore the Arctic to help scientists study climate change– what are you most proud of?

I’m usually the most proud on the things I’m working on now.  Right now, I’m most proud of releasing the Zumo Learning System, which is an accessible electronic learning system for STEM. It brings together technology licensed from my lab at Georgia Tech, aspects of machine intelligence, K-12 math education, and addressing the needs of children with differing abilities.

What is your favorite ice cream flavor?dsc_0884-copy-584x386  

Rocky Road

What is the best song to sing to in the shower or when you are alone in the car?

Don’t actually have one. When I’m listening to music – it’s usually Zumba music (since I teach a weekly Zumba class and the rule of thumb is – know your music).

What was the best piece of advice you have received? What was the worst?

The best piece of advice has been when someone asks a question that makes me think (causing me to give myself advice or seek advice to answer the question) – Why haven’t you written a book? Have you ever thought about starting your own company? Have you ever thought about an academic career?  

The worst piece of advice – I’m actually not sure since I tend to push negativism out of my life.

You have been interviewed and featured by just about everyone, from TIME magazine to PBS. Is there anything you wish they would ask, but they never do?

I wish they would ask: “You’ve done a lot and seem to be quite busy. How do you balance?”

My answer would be: My family – they keep me sane and grounded. They help me to say NO when it’s time that I should.

What is your definition of beauty? Or, when/where do you feel most beautiful?

Definition of beauty – strong inside, exuding confidence outside. Honestly, I feel the most beautiful when I’m on stage speaking to a general audience. Each time – it challenges me to rise above self – becoming stronger inside and more confident outside.

Dr Howard definition


Learn more about Dr Howard here:

The History Makers



SHEro Code 003

SHEro003 (2)


Daniela Delgado is fighting her own battle. She was born with Von Willebrand Disease, a rare bleeding condition that she will have to deal with her whole life. It keeps her from participating in contact sports and climbing to the tippy top of the jungle gym. But it doesn’t keep her from baking beautiful birthday cakes for kiddos who are fighting life threatening diseases, or dealing with any situation that might make them “feel sad or different.” She bakes and delivers the cakes at no charge to the families. She sings Happy Birthday and watches as they blow out the candles. She could be sitting around, feeling sorry for herself and complaining about her condition. But instead she is spreading love, and bringing smiles to kiddos who deserve a few more smiles in their lives.

And that makes her a SHEro in my book.

(Check out more SHEroes here)

Beauty is…resilience

I feel the most beautiful when I watch myself in the mirror during physical therapy. I feel so much pride when I see myself mastering things I never thought I would be able to do again after my amputation like standing or walking. I see resilience in the mirror and I think resilience is beautiful.

 Being a mom is not easy.

Being a mom before you enter college is hard.

Being a mom and going to college is harder still.

Being a mom, going to college, spending the better part of a year in the hospital fighting Ewing’s Sarcoma, and losing your leg as a result? Impossible.

But this mama is doing it.



Who you are: Irene Blum


What you do: Mom, college student, childhood cancer and limb loss awareness advocate.


Where you do it: Stamford, CT


Tell us your story.Motivated

I was born and raised in Stamford, CT. I used to play softball, volunteer at my local hospital, and was very social. I got pregnant at 16 years old. I had my son Jason during my senior year in high school. He’s the best thing that ever happened to me. I wanted to be a good role model so I became very motivated. I worked in social services helping at-risk youth and went on to study at the University of Connecticut. When I was 20 years old I was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of pediatric bone cancer called Ewing’s Sarcoma. I had to stop working and going to school because my treatment was a year of high-dose chemotherapy and countless surgeries. I had many complications along the way, the most significant one resulted in an above-the-knee amputation. I have been in remission for 10 months now and am very blessed to be alive.

You have had more than your fair share of challenges and trials. What do you consider your biggest challenge? What got you through it?  

Jason (1)My biggest challenge in life was my battle against cancer. The chemotherapy drugs I was given were so toxic that I became debilitatingly sick. I spent nearly 10 out of 12 months inpatient. I was working so hard to just stay alive that I couldn’t be the amazing mom that I wanted to be to Jason. I went from being his primary caregiver to being lucky if I could see him during weekend visits at the hospital.

Treatment became so brutal that the folks at the hospital called me “Murphy’s Law Girl” because everything that could go wrong, did. I wanted to quit so bad and just go home to be with my son. My doctors talked me out of quitting because they would remind me that if I did, the time spent with Jason would be short because Ewing’s Sarcoma is aggressive and would most certainly return with a vengeance if I did not finish my protocol. If I finished treatment, I could return home and live a fulfilling life with my son with little chance of relapse.

If Jason weren’t here, I would have quit treatment because it was torturous. I wouldn’t be here answering this interview if my son wasn’t born… Fun fact: The name Jason means “the healer.” I definitely feel like he popped into my life early and unexpectedly for a reason. Another reason why I am lucky to have him is because my cancer treatment ruined my reproductive system. I am technically infertile. I would love to have children in the future but will probably have to adopt.

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 If you could have coffee with any woman, historical or living, who would it be and why?

Mayim Bialik because she’s brilliant, progressive, outspoken, and has a great sense of humor.


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 Who is your favorite Disney Princess?

Mulan because she was one tough chick. Instead of being a damsel in distress, she protected her disabled father from going to war and saved her entire country.


What is the best song to sing to in the shower or when you are alone in the car?

“Fight Song” by Rachel Platten

What was the best piece of advice you have received? What was the worst?

“You can’t take care of anyone else if you don’t take care of yourself first,” was the best piece of advice I have ever received. The worst would probably be, “don’t do chemo, just pray and eat papayas.”

Good advice, bad advice
Good advice vs bad advice

What books or TV shows do you think everyone needs to read/watch, like, right now?

Grey’s Anatomy is my all-time favorite show. Grey’s is the best part of every Thursday. Jodi Picoult is my favorite author and after going through treatment, I re-read “My Sister’s Keeper” with a newfound appreciation for it and was moved to tears multiple times throughout the book.

What is your definition of beauty? Or, when do you feel most beautiful?

Going through treatment taught me to find beauty in absolutely everything. I define Rainy daybeauty as anything or anyone that provokes positive emotions when you look at it/them. Before cancer, I would look at a rainy day and think “jeez, what an ugly day.” It was a rainy day in March when I got discharged from the hospital after being inpatient for nearly 5 months. I cried tears of joy as I felt raindrops on my bald head. A year later, I still look at rain and remind myself how much joy rain brought me. I can look at a rainy day today and think, “what a beautiful day.”

I feel the most beautiful when I watch myself in the mirror during physical therapy. I feel so much pride when I see myself mastering things I never thought I would be able to do again after my amputation like standing or walking. I see resilience in the mirror and I think resilience is beautiful.

Beauty is...resilience

SHEro Code 001: Do Your Homework

Mrs. Freeman knew the root of the problem was unjust and unconstitutional laws. So she fought to change them. That is why she is my SHEro.




Frankie Muse Freeman is a civil rights attorney in St Louis Missouri. She was the first woman to serve on the US Commission on Civil Rights. She won the case that ended segregation in public housing in St Louis. Instead of sitting in the “colored” section of the bus, Frankie walked. Instead of making a scene when she was denied service at coffee shops or restaurants, she promised “Later for you” and got busy changing laws. Mrs. Freeman knew the root of the problem was unjust and unconstitutional laws. So she fought to change them.

That is why she is my SHEro.

Supporting the Autism community, today and everyday

Bethany works with folks and families effected by autism every day. Here is what you need to know about Autism, and how you can support the Autism community.

Bethany Peralta spends her days serving folks and families who are affected by autism, ADHD, and other neurodevelopmental disorders. She is also a wife, a mama, and a Mexican food enthusiast.

Bethany with her hubby and little one


Who you are: Bethany Peralta, Intake Coordinator at The Center for Autism & Neurodevelopmental Disorders

What you do: The last 7 months I have had the privilege and responsibility of guiding families through the process of seeking a diagnostic evaluation, enrolling in therapy services, and providing help and hope to individuals and families affected by autism, ADHD, and other neurodevelopmental disorders, through resources, research opportunities, and parent education and trainings. I have also been very involved in community outreach through our partnerships and affiliate programs in the community.

Where you do it: The Center for Autism & Neurodevelopmental Disorders, in Santa Ana, CA.

Beth at work
Bethany (far left) at The Center


Let’s start at the beginning. What drew you to work with folks on the spectrum? What keeps you coming back to work everyday?

I returned to school for a second time in my mid-twenties after working in early childhood education for over 10 years. My second time in college I sought training to become a Certified Medical Assistant. I knew once I finished my program that I wanted to stay working in pediatrics to some capacity, but my work opportunities lead me initially into the world of physical therapy. After 5 years working as an Office Manager, I left the small PT company and applied to positions through UCI (University California Irvine). An old friend of mine was working at UCI in the School of Medicine and pointed me in the direction of For OC Kids. Shortly before I came on board with The Center, the For OC Kids organization had received a catalytic grant from the Thompson Family Foundation that propelled our small specialty clinic into the leader in Autism assessments, diagnostics, care coordination, and family support that we are today. When I was first hired at The Center, I was a receptionist/scheduler. Within my first year was promoted to become our Therapy Service Coordinator guiding families through insurance coverage benefits and limitations and helping them get enrolled or connected with therapy services such as Occupational Therapy, Speech Therapy, and ABA (behavior therapy). In August of last year the need for a full time Intake Coordinator was brought to my attention and I began working with families contacting our office with case management support. I had not intended to take over New Patient Intake, but knowing that I can provide information and support to parents who are seeking help for their child makes my job so fulfilling and meaningful. It can be a very stressful and emotional role, but knowing that the information I have can make a direct impact on their family life makes it all worth the struggle.


When we say “autism” what are we really talking about– what IS autism?

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a lifelong impairment most associated with communication and social behavior. ASD deficits can be wide ranging, including nonverbal and self aggressive to high functioning with social interaction limitations, and everyone in between. Many individuals affected by Autism may also have sleep issues or gastrointestinal problems. Research is ongoing to better understand these connections and how they impact individuals.  In May of 2013, the DSM-5 was released. It is the current standard reference tool healthcare providers use to diagnosis mental and behavioral health disorders. Previously under the DSM-IV, a patient could have been given a diagnosis of Autism, Asperger’s, Pervasive Development Disorder-not otherwise specified. Now under the DSM-5, it is an all encompassing umbrella that addresses the wide deficits and  impairments of Autism Spectrum Disorder.

What are some misconceptions about autism that still linger today?

The biggest misconception I hear from people is that ASD means their child, if diagnosed, will become nonverbal, stop making eye contact, will start rocking or pacing, etc. And although that may be true for some individuals, it is not true for everyone. I like to think of a diagnosis of Autism as a tool to help guide and direct patients into the therapies that will really help them excel and overcome the challenges that they are facing.

What are some things people can do for Autism Awareness month?

Autism Speaks has several great ideas for supporting and participating in Autism Awareness month:

  • The 8th annual World Autism Awareness Day is Saturday, April 2, 2016. Wear your favorite blue clothing to show support and use it as a fundraising opportunity. For example: organizations can allow employees to wear jeans or other casual wear to work and to participate donate any set dollar amount (say $5-10 per person to participate). Donate those funds to local Autism related recreation or wellness programs or to Autism Speaks directly through their #LIUB campaign (raising funds to continue research in the field of Autism.)
  • Light it up blue! Is the annual event to light up your home or office building in support of Autism. Go to  to register your home or business. (You can also pledge to wear blue on April 2nd from this page.)
  • Finally, people can register to create/join a team or volunteer to help assist at their local Autism Speaks Walk. These walks are vital for gathering funds to continue much needed research and provide awareness for this complex disorder.

AS Walk

Outside of Autism Speaks support, I encourage families to look into their local Universities and other community programs that offer many events throughout the entire month. For example:

  • our Center is having an Ask The Experts” panel where several clinicians will be available for questions and answers with our Education and Training Coordinator, Anna Laakman, moderating the evening.
  • Chapman University is hosting their annual Autism Social. This event is geared towards teens 16 years and up (through adult). Its a coordinated, cost-free event with music, dancing, art, games, food, and caregiver resources. There is also a designated quiet area, which is so necessary for large scale events like this. They really have thought of everything!!
  • OC Autism and Fullerton Cares Autism Coalition also have their annual events which include no-cost or low cost admission with family friendly entertainment and activities.

Train + Bethany.jpg

Time for some fun questions: Pepsi or Coke?

I think I would pick Pepsi. But really, as long as my cup has enough ice, I am happy to drink anything!

What is the best song to sing to in the shower or when you are alone in the car?

My current guilty pleasure includes Justin Beiber’s Love Yourself or anything from Fleetwood Mac.

What was the best piece of advice you have received?

I worked with an amazing Pediatric Psychologist when I first started in this field. She always quoted Maya Angelou when we hit a rough spot in our NCS research project: “ I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” That still is ever so true in the work that I do. Even if I don’t have the answer, I can take the time to listen and be patient and polite to a parent. And that really does make all the difference.

What was the worst?

Before I took over my current position, there was not an established resource/referral list for community clinicians. The worst advice I had prior to generating a frequently used and sought after list was giving parents pretty hopeless resources. I’m very proud of how far we have come and the service that I can provide to families.

What is your definition of beauty? Or, when/where do you feel most beautiful?

My definition of beauty is to be yourself. Be confident in what you know and be proud of who you are. I feel the most beautiful when I stand up for myself and I accept opportunity for change. Looks can be fleeting, so don’t limit your self worth to that alone. Have a kind heart and a sharp mind. They’ll last longer anyway.

Bethany (1)

What do you want people KNOW after reading about what you do?

Autism is not a death sentence. Early assessment and interventions do help to produce stronger personal advancements. But for those with teenagers or young adults, don’t give up. Know that a variety of clinicians, such as Neurologist, Psychologist, Psychiatrist, or a Developmental Behavioral Pediatrician, can all help. If your pediatrician or family doctor is comfortable making the diagnosis, they are also qualified to do so. And they can certainly make the necessary referrals for treatment services. If you have any specific questions or want to learn more about Autism, you can visit our website at:

Look into programs like Regional Center for low cost or no-cost screenings or contact your local school district for an education assessment as a place to start. There are a lot of resources available to families, and sometimes it’s as simple as starting with your pediatrician.

Emma Watson’s Book Club: All About Love

Emma Watson’s book club selection for March was All About Love: New Visions by bell hooks. I had been hearing fantastic things about Ms hooks and I was super pumped to jump into this book!

In the first discussion thread, Emma posted an interview she recently had with bell. One of my favorite quotes from bell is:

I look at how to bring that whole self out. I’m interested in fashion, too. I’m particularly interested in fashions that are comfortable and beautiful. I have an overall obsession in my life with beauty. I’m always wanting to surround myself with the kind of beauty that uplifts you, that runs counter to some of the stereotypes of feminist women.

I was drawn to this for obvious reasons– I too am drawn to and interested in this idea of beauty and I loved how she kind of called for a challenge to the stereotypes that might come to mind when we imagine a feminist.

Emma and bell! (Picture from @bellhooksinst via Twitter)


After announcing the book, several discussion threads were quickly started.

The most popular by far was Not Feeling It.


I really wanted to love this book, after hearing such great things about the author. But, alas, something just did not click. Turns out, I was not alone. Here are some laments from the Not Feeling It crowd:

  • Several members thought the book was too “self-helpy” for them. Though it was largely based on personal experience and filled with opinions like a self-help book, the lack of practical advice makes it a tough fit for the self-help shelf.
  • Many folks, myself included, were put off by some blanket statements that seemed to be presented as well-known facts. For example, when discussing Nicole Simpson, hooks states that Nicole “kept herself and her children in a dangerous, life-threatening environment in part because she was not willing to sacrifice her attachment to a superficially glamorous lifestyle among the rich and famous…” (p. 112, emphasis added). Now, had bell talked to Nicole? Had Nicole expressed this to hooks? We don’t know for sure, but this is just one example of an opinion that seems to be presented as a truth, but is not supported with any “evidence.”
  • hooks is an advocate of love as a powerful force, but this idea came across to some readers as a bit extreme. More than one book club member expressed discomfort with the idea that any one solution can be applied to all problems.

My biggest struggle with the book came in the connection that was made a few times between being abused in youth and therefore being unable to love in adulthood.

Not too long ago I stumbled upon something online (a video? an illustration?) that was very touching. It was done by an adult who had been abused as a child. The individual remembers seeing and hearing this idea that all abused children grow up to be abusers. This only galvanized his feelings of shame and depression. He was horrified at this idea that he would have no choice– he would grow up to be an abuser BECAUSE someone had abused him.

It is tragically un-empathetic and unloving to continue to make such claims. Certainly, folks who were abused as children have a tougher task learning what healthy relationships look like, but to say things like “…the parents who came from unloving homes have never learned how to love and cannot create loving home environments…” (page 27) is truly hurtful. It makes me ache for the folks who have been through hell and work everyday to make sure that their children, or children they know, don’t know what abuse feels like.
I also have to take issue with her ideas that spirituality and religion are the key to being loving. On page 74 hooks writes, “Imagine how different our lives would be if all the individuals who claim to be Christians, or who claim to be religious, were setting an example for everyone by being loving.” As a non-religious person, I feel I am not off the hook when it comes to being an example of love. So let’s re-work this a bit: “Imagine how different our lives would be if all the individuals who claim to be humans were setting an example for everyone by being loving.” Ahhh. That’s better.

Lessons learned from All About Love


Though the criticism were many, I think that the overall message of the book is an important one. And there were some points that really jumped out at me:

I loved her discussion of “cathexis,” a word I had never seen before. Apparently, it cathexisrefers to the emotional investment we make in another person which is often mistaken for love. Very intriguing!

I loved her definition of love as an action. Borrowing from M. Scott Peck, hooks defines love as “the will to extend one’s self for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth” and as a combination of care, commitment, trust, knowledge, responsibility, and respect. Her words rang true when she wrote: “Undoubtedly, many of us are more comfortable with the notion that love can mean anything to anybody precisely because when we define it with precision and clarity it brings us face to face with our lacks–with terrible alienation.” (cue mic drop)

Don’t get along with your co-worker? Here, let me shove you into the same t-shirt. Not cool for adults = not cool for kids. (Image from BuzzFeed)

“Care and affirmation, the opposite of abuse and humiliation, are the foundation of love.” I can’t help but think of those terrible pictures floating around the internet of crying kids sharing an over-sized t-shirt with the words “This is our Get Along shirt” scrawled across the front. Or videos posted on social media with the sole purpose of humiliating a child who mis-behaved. What if we did this to adults? Have a co-worker you just can’t seem to get along with? You get to share a shirt for an hour and I will post pictures online! We wouldn’t stand for it. So let’s not do it to our kiddos, mmk? Humiliation is not the answer. We can do better than that.



Discussing TV shows geared towards families, hooks laments that they often favorably represent  kids who are overindulgent, disrespectful, or acting out. I could not agree more! Though the book was published a decade and a half ago, this is still the norm. Shows like Lab Rats teach us that dads are self-centered and arrogant, and that children should be ridiculed for their appearance (I swear, if I have to hear about how Chase is ‘too short’ or Leo is ‘too skinny’ one more time…!).

“When we hear another person’s thoughts, beliefs, and feelings, it is more difficult towhen we hear project on to them our perceptions of who they are.” Yes! YES! YES!! Please, for the love of all things good and beautiful, listen to people! Learn about who they are and why they understand things the way they do. And don’t be a jerk.

Quoting Richard Foster, hooks writes “Greed has a way of severing the cords of compassion.” Though an often repeated idea– that greed and money are ultimately hurtful– I liked this reminder that compassion is a necessity that can be overlooked if we find ourselves becoming focused on “getting more.”

“The more genuine our romantic loves the more we do not feel called upon to weaken or sever ties with friends in order to strengthen ties with romantic partners.” I wish I had heard this when I started dating!

I have to admit, this one was a bit of a tough read for me. But I remain hopeful that some of bell’s other works will make this one shrink from my memory and help me better see her as the incredible force she is known to be.

All About Love did make me think, which is the whole point, right?


If you are curious, next month’s book has been announced.

In April, Our Shared Shelf will be reading How To Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran.



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Beauty is…confidence

Beauty comes from within. It shines through when you are truly happy with who you are, confident and feeling good in your skin. This also reflects on the way you treat others and the way you see the world around you.

What is beauty? I asked some experts! 

Check out my conversation with the lovely Melissa and Deynece of Deux Bella ❤️

Melissa + Deynece = Deux Bella

Let’s start with a little background: I understand you ladies are now living miles apart, but stay in touch via your blog, Deux Bella. How did you meet? How long have you been friends?

We met when we were both managing for different cosmetic lines at Nordstroms. It was basically love at first sight! We have been friends for 10 years- the funnest, craziest 10 years of our 20’s (and late teens for Dey). We have had the best times and the hard times together. Weddings, babies, moves, careers advancements, illness, deaths, breakups. All of it.

 What is the silliest thing you have done together?

Hmmm honestly there’s a lot to choose from- probably grocery cart races down the very steep hill from our state capital at ungodly hours. This wasn’t some random crazy night either, it happened pretty regularly and became kind of an epic event.

What are your “day jobs”? BobbyBrownLipstick

Deynece is an education and artistry coordinator for Bobbi Brown cosmetics, and an A- Team national featured artist.

Melissa is a semi-retired makeup artist, esthetician and psychotherapist, but mostly a momma right now.

What is the biggest challenge you have experienced in your professional life?

Melissa: I broke my hand when I was in medical school and had to really re-evaluate what my priorities were and the path I was taking and why.

Deynece: Learning to manage +50 employees all of different ages when I was only 22.

What is the best song to sing to in the shower?

Melissa: Punching In A Dream by The Naked and Famous or anything Britney Spears or Taylor Swift 🙂

Deynece: Don’t Stop Believe’n by Journey

What is the best piece of advice you have heard? What was the worst?

ADVICE from Melissa (1)Melissa:

Best: Never cook bacon naked. Ha But seriously, a bunch of old grandmas told me you can’t spoil a baby so I just snuggled and held my baby so much and I am so glad I did!

Worst: Don’t go to bed mad. This is the worst advice. People prolong fights and a lot of things could be avoided by stepping away and taking a break, eating and getting some sleep.


Deynece:advice from Deynece

Best: Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.

Worst: When you’re not first you’re last.



How do you spend your down time? Favorite books, shows, movies?

Melissa: What down time? Ha jk. Binge watching Netflix late at night while I work. I love Game of Thrones, Downton Abbey, House of Cards, Law & Order SVU even though it’s not the same without Stabler.

Deynece: Netflix and chill- while working on a  million other things for the blog.

If you could have coffee with any woman, past or present, who would it be?

Melissa: Queen Hatsheput of ancient Egypt or Queen Raina of Jordan (current) she is the epitome of class and beauty and strength. She has done so much for women and children not only in the Middle East but on a global level- and she’s stunningly beautiful and classy. I would ask her how she does it all.

Deynece: My grandma because I didn’t really get to say goodbye. She went in for a routine clogged artery and then had complications and passed away during the surgery.

Who is your favorite Disney Princess? Why?

Both of us said Belle! Because she is intelligent, strong, kind and beautiful!

You are experts on beauty– what is your definition of beauty?

Short answer- it comes from within. It shines through when you are truly happy with who you are, confident and feeling good in your skin. This also reflects on the way you treat others and the way you see the world around you.  Long answer- we’ve been answering in our Exploring Beauty series!

Beauty shines



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Beauty is…everywhere.

I like to think my sense of the beautiful only grows as I come to recognize more forms of caring and resilience and to appreciate a wider range of shapes and sizes and colors and textures. On my best days, I see it everywhere, and the more I see it, the more space it takes up, which is wonderful.

In celebration of Women’s History Month, I chatted with Dr Penny Weiss, the Director of Women’s Studies at St Louis University.


Can you give me just a little bit of background. Where are you from? Where did you go to school? What brought you to St Louis?

I am a native of Miami, Florida and a graduate of the University of South Florida. I went toslu_vert_blue university-of-south-florida-logograd school in the Midwest and have since spent most of my adult life here. I came to STL in 2008 because I had the chance to move from a position in a political science department to one in a women’s studies program, and from a rural setting outside a small city to the big city. It was a phenomenal switch!


What drew you to Women’s Studies? Was there one turning point or “ah ha!” moment?

I came of age when WS programs were starting and the women’s movement was hitting another peak. What drew me? Everything: the questions, the people, the politics, the passion, the purpose, the activism, the festivals. Women’s Studies, like feminism itself, made (and continues to make) sense of my life.

What is a common misconception you encounter when you are discussing feminism?

I think, unfortunately, that people know more about what anti-feminists say feminism is than what feminists say. Among the most persistent misconceptions: reproductive justice only means a right to abortion; most religions are incompatible with feminism; feminism means whatever any individual chooses to say it means (and feminism means you can’t criticize any choice anyone makes); and then there are the oldies but goodies…feminists hate men, are all lesbians, are selfish, are (too) aggressive and demanding, are unreasonable in their demands, etc.

It’s Women’s History Month; who are some women from history you have loved learning about?

Emma Goldman, Anna Julia Cooper, Christine de Pizan, Mary Astell, Mary Wollstonecraft, Sojourner Truth, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, Jane Addams, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and many more. Just as important, I loved learning about the work women together did to bring about change, in organizations from anti-slavery associations and women’s labor groups to peace leagues and suffrage associations. And all that work is still being carried on around the world!


I recently came across this image and the idea it reflects online:

What are your thoughts on this? Can we fairly say that general history courses are to men what women’s studies courses are to women?

The cartoon is still all-too-true. We know that we still do not know about women’s lives to the extent we know about men’s. It is the accomplishments of men (especially in politics and economics, narrowly defined) that have been deemed historically important, the deeds of men (especially in war, industry, and government) that have determined the ways we distinguish one historical period from another (such as pre-Civil War or post-industrial), and the arenas in which men acted (military, legal, etc.) that important things worth recording were said to happen. This leaves out three things: the impact of all of these deeds and events on various groups of women, the stories of women’s lives both within these boundaries (at work, in political office) and beyond them (in the community, participating in street riots, as victims of gender-based violence, as caregivers, raising crops and children, as activists, etc.), and how we might reconceive historical eras (and philosophical schools of thought, etc.) once we read women into them. I’d say that “general history courses are to men what women’s history courses are to women,” rather than “what women’s studies courses are to women,” because we teach much more than women’s history (including the study of masculinity).

Who are some women in your life that have inspired you?

My two daughters amaze me. My colleagues and students in Women’s and Gender Studies amaze me. The women in my neighborhood who keep on keeping on amaze me.

What is your definition of beauty?

That it evolves (I’m not attracted to the same things or people I was 20 years ago, nor do I aspire to the same ideals I did then) and mostly involves appreciation. I like to think my sense of the beautiful only grows as I come to recognize more forms of caring and resilience and to appreciate a wider range of shapes and sizes and colors and textures. On my best days, I see it everywhere, and the more I see it, the more space it takes up, which is wonderful.

Beauty is everywhere (1)