2019 Year In Review
Lisa Harris ~ January 12, 2020
Today is January 12, 2020! We are officially 12 days into a new year and a new decade… how is that possible? With the holiday craze, family vacation, and falling a bit under the weather (10 days to be exact!), we are delayed in publishing our 2019 Year In Review.
How dare we fall off calendar? The world is expecting immediate results in real time. If you don’t publish before the end of the year, you might as well forget it… the world has simply moved on. Right? Well, the glorious thing about running your own privately-held business is you can choose if, when, and how you share.
With that said, we decided it was important to reflect on the past year, take a moment to celebrate our 2019 wins, and acknowledge those who contributed to our success. Here are our highlights:
- Welcomed six new Fashion Meets Poetry brand ambassadors to round out our team of ten.
- Created a fun Galentine’s Day event in partnership with ModernWell and shared 10 unique video love poems from women in our community.
- Guest hosted our first-ever LIVE radio show, Unveiled Beauty: Women, Bravery & Stories on KFAI 90.3 Minneapolis on International Women’s Day (March 8, 2019). LISTEN Here.
- Featured in Latin Evolution TV discussing the diversity of our platform and highlighting Maricella Herrara, our first Mexican-American woman to share her story on the Unveiled Beauty stage. WATCH Here.
- Launched Unveiled Beauty in St. Cloud, Minnesota, sold out both our Spring and Fall events, and joined in sisterhood with +120 women.
- Coached, guided, and mentored twenty women across the Twin Cities and St. Cloud to boldly share their stories in our Unveiled YOU! program.
- Served on the Distinguish Panel of Judges for the Miss Minnesota 2019 competition where Miss Minnesota went on to compete LIVE on NBC for Miss America 2020.
- Family featured in Lake Society Magazine, Summer 2019 Issue.
- Shared my talk: The Power of Storytelling at several events and organizations including: Dress For Success Twin Cities, Accelerated Global Connection, Rock What You Got, and A Night of Wellness, plus discussed Mentorship with Hmong American Partnership (HAP).
- Partnered with our first charity, Dress For Success Twin Cities for our November event and with the help of Kendra Scott in the Mall of America raised money for the organization.
- Appeared on our 9th TV segment with the lovely Miss Minnesota, Kathryn Kueppers to promote our November event. Thank you Fox 9!
- Produced our 20th Unveiled Beauty storytelling event at the beautiful Minneapolis Institute of Art.
- Launched our Unveiled YOU! 12 week women’s empowerment program, a transformational, personal development program that guides women through self-reflection, writing and giving their story a voice on the Unveiled Beauty stage. Learn More About Here.
- Expanded our brand into merchandise with the pre-sale of our Bravery is Beautiful t-shirt to be delivered early Spring 2020. Pre-sale available – ORDER Here.
- Published our first-ever Unveiled Beauty blog story: A Mother’s Imperfect Love written by Ivy Kaminsky. READ Here.
- Delivered a 3X growth in attendance since our 2017 launch event and expanded our social media following and exposure.
Thank you to our 2019 team who supported this platform above and beyond anything we could have ever asked for! With the dedication and commitment of the women in our community, we delivered our mission and built heart connections.
Thanks to these extraordinary women:
Special Event Producers – Amber Rose Bjerke (Spring 2019), Beatrice Adenodi (November 2019), and Mandi Moon & Jessica Sparks (St. Cloud)
Event Emcees – Anahita Champion (Spring 2019), Maria Johnson (November 2019), Kelly Radi (St. Cloud)
Art Director – Tressie Schneider
Last but not least, a special shout-out goes to all our sponsors throughout the year. With your generosity, talents, and time, we were able to provide a premiere experience for our women.
Famiglia Meschini Wines
Yoga Pants Bakery
Lumber Exchange Center
Tressie Schneider Creative Services
Gina Watkins Hair
Fox Face Studios
Strategic Visionaries Financial Planning
My Social Drive
Minneapolis Institute of Art
Schmidt & Salita Law
Mai o’ Mai Floral & Gifts
Maria Johnson Speaking Mastery
Select Wise Ink Authors
St. Cloud, Minnesota
Wingnut Tattoo & Body Piercing
White Peony Boutique
Tina Scepaniak Real Estate
J. Sparks Ink
Mandi Moon Consulting
E & Co. Clothing
Kelly Radi, Author & Speaker
Arbor Hair Studio
Angel Schneider Makeup
Joshua Schneider Photography
Above all, it was a rewarding and powerful year. We laughed, we cried, we boldy stepped into our bravery, and we built authentic connections with each other. Together, we continued to rise above with our heads held high and our hearts full. We supported one another behind the scenes and practiced our message of love and women’s empowerment.
It is my greatest honor to serve the women in our community and I look forward to embracing new faces, new stories, and new connections in 2020… we have lots up our sleeve. Stay tuned.
For now, I simply say THANK YOU! I am grateful to all those who played a small and large role in helping us get to where we are today…
We believe storytelling has the power to heal the world.
This is us.
This is what we do.
Making Heart Connections.
One Story at a Time.
A MOTHER’S IMPERFECT LOVE
Written by Ivy Kaminsky | December 23, 2019
Unveiled Beauty Guest Blogger
My innocent, nine-girl-old heart pounded a million miles an hour and tightness began building up in my chest. The familiar sound of shouting took over our house as I sat on my bed listening. No matter where I was it was impossible to block out. With fear as my courage, I slowly crept down the hallway a short distance from my bedroom to the spare bedroom. It was there when I saw her.
Her slight frame lie curled up on the bed as he towered over her with rage. Like a machine gun firing multiple rounds, he spouted venomous words just inches from her tear-streaked face. Witnessing her in that position, looking so small and meek, so afraid and under attack, made me spring into action. I was determined to make it stop and do whatever was necessary.
Without thinking, I quickly wedged my thin body in between them and declared willfully, “Don’t hit her; hit me!”
Thankfully, he didn’t hit either of us. You see, my mother was my world; I loved her to the depths of my tiny being and I could not watch her being abused one more time.
Four years later, no longer a little girl, I found myself powerless at the hands of the same man. It was a warm, Friday afternoon in early June and the sun played hide and seek behind the clouds. School was still in session, but I was bored. Sitting in the second row near the window, I stared outside. I felt unchallenged and distracted when my thoughts were interrupted by a classroom phone call.
My teacher answered it and said, “Ivy Kaminsky, please gather your things and go to the office.”
A good student, I did as I was told. Uncertain as to why, I wondered. What could be happening? Did I get caught for something? At thirteen, I was starting to do things that one could get caught for doing.
When I arrived, they said my stepdad excused me early from school and was waiting outside – odd. There he was sitting in my mom’s old Ford Elite. I slid into the passenger seat, looked at him staring straight ahead, and closed the door. I immediately knew something was wrong. He mentioned receiving a call from the family I was planning to babysit later that day, but first, he had to stop home to change. His story didn’t quite make sense. Then, with a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach, my feet gripping the floorboards, and my mind racing, we drove the short distance to our house.
Our house was quieter than usual. My mom was vacationing in Las Vegas with her girlfriends, so it was just the two of us. When I think back to that day, some details are a blur and others are forever ingrained in my memory. I distinctively remember how my mother’s queen-sized bed almost filled up the space in the room, and my stepdad saying, “Take your pretty little clothes off or I will take them off for you.” The details of what I wore are also vivid. It was my favorite outfit: mint green, petal pusher pants and a matching sherbet–colored, plaid crop top with crisscross cutouts at the shoulder. My mom bought it especially for me from Dayton’s department store and it was a big splurge. It made me feel special. Plus, it matched my pearl pink jelly shoes perfectly. I will never forget the room, the words, the outfit and the horror of what happened next.
My stepdad raped me and violated everything sacred within me. Immediately afterwards, I took the longest shower of my life hoping it would wash away the shock, the nonstop tears, and perhaps even the memory of everything that happened. Not wanting my shower to end, I let the hot water run for what felt like forever. In the shower, I was safe; and all I could think about was how I was going to escape. Some months later, I sat terrified, yet calm in a packed courtroom alongside my mom. After hearing my case, the judge delivered a guilty verdict. This would change the trajectory of my life.
Finally, he was gone. Now, my mom and I could build a life together, safe and free from him, or so I thought. On the one-year anniversary of my stepdad’s prison sentence, the phone rang. My mother answered, and I could instantly tell it was him. She was drunk and he was charming. Powerless over him, this was the beginning of their regular phone calls and her visits to prison where he convinced her daily that I lied about the rape.
My mom would say, “It’s ok Ivy, you can tell me the truth.”
How could she say such things? What did she think of me?
Later, in one of her drunken states, I overheard her say to a friend, “She’ll probably be pregnant by the time she’s sixteen.” To hear these words from my mother, the woman who was supposed to love and protect me, simply crushed my teenage heart.
Feeling betrayed I acted out. I smoked, drank, lied, ditched school, and ran away. I would continue to be in and out of shelter homes experimenting with drugs and alcohol until I finally landed in a good permanent foster home until college graduation. Eventually, my mom was deemed neglectful and I became a ward of the State of Minnesota, a system that cared for me and had my best interests at heart. During this time, I was assigned a public defender, a compassionate caseworker, and an ongoing social worker. The state ensured I attended AA (Al-Anon and Alateen) meetings, saw a therapist regularly to process the trauma, and most importantly, was provided safe housing so I could further my education. I am grateful to the State of Minnesota and the resources I received as a young woman to overcome and one day thrive.
Given these life events, it’s no surprise that my mother and I had a strained relationship. She moved to Florida with my stepdad and we didn’t talk for several years. Eventually, he admitted to the rape and at some point, they finally separated. This started the mending and healing process for us both, which required significant forgiveness.
In 2003, on a business trip to Orlando, I chose to extend my stay to spend time with my mom. It had been a long time since I’d seen her. I was excited to catch up, maybe go thrift-shopping, work on some creative projects together (she was a talented seamstress and enjoyed DIY home projects), and simply hang out. Plus, I couldn’t wait for her home cooked Mexican lasagna and hamburger gravy over mashed buy viagra online superdrug potatoes. Yum! When she greeted me at the airport, I barely recognized her. An otherwise skinny woman, her mid-section appeared severely bloated and she looked unwell. In recent phone conversations, she failed to mention any health concerns and downplayed recent stomach pain. Needless to say, I was surprised by her overall appearance and demanded I accompany her to the doctor. Quickly thereafter, she was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer, which started in her liver, spread throughout her stomach, and finally to her chest.
I was completely in shock and unprepared. Chemotherapy started immediately and I was with her during everything. Halfway through treatment, we brought her home and I stayed by her bedside. She was not herself. She was sleeping, but not restfully. She was hot, but her body felt cold. She would ramble nonsense and I couldn’t make her feel comfortable. As I watched back-to-back HGTV episodes, I had a lot of time to think. How long would she be sick? Could I handle caring for her? Feeling incredibly ashamed, I was not sure I could. In the end, I was not given the chance.
The following day, October 11, 2003 at exactly 10:00 am, my mother passed away at 54 years old. From diagnosis to death in two short weeks, my whole world was rocked upside down and sideways. I was not given the luxury of time to accept her diagnosis, not to mention her death. Going through the motions, I kept busy making arrangements, going through her belongings and honoring the only mother I would ever have, in the best way I could. I arranged two memorial services, one for her friends in Florida and another here in Minnesota for our family. Pushing my fear of public speaking aside, I honored my mother in front of both strangers and loved ones at both services. I talked about the complexity that was my mother, and my deep love for her. This was my responsibility, my obligation, and my gift to her. In the end, I was her only child and no one knew her they way I did. I had to show my strength and her living legacy.
My mother’s passing kept me in a state of grief for several years. Despite her poor choices and our complicated relationship, she loved me and I loved her, deeply. After years of personal growth and healing, today, I choose to remember what made her special and the happier moments we shared together.
I’ll always remember this one Christmas morning. As a young girl, I was eager to see what kind of magical gifts Santa left under the tree, only to find nothing, not one thing. Can you imagine my disappointment? Did I do something really bad?
Waking my sleeping mother, I said, “Mom, I think Santa forgot me.”
She replied, “Oh, I’m sure that’s not true. He’s probably just running behind schedule or something.”
In the meantime, she kept me busy with several chores, which included taking the garbage down three flights of stairs and out the back door. By the time I made it back to the living room, the empty Christmas tree was magically full of presents. Santa didn’t forget about me after all. He left an Easy Bake Oven, some Shrinky Dinks, which I loved coloring and watching transform in the oven, and a Lord of the Rings Trilogy book set. The little bookworm in me couldn’t wait to start reading! Plus, my stocking was full of Bonne Bell Lip Smackers, an M&M candy cane, a Life Saver book, and lots more goodies. In a matter of moments, my mom pulled it off. I still don’t know how she did it. Although one thing is for certain, she made me believe in miracles and Santa Claus for another year.
My mother was a beautiful, smart and witty woman. She possessed the most gorgeous, thick, naturally curly, chestnut brown hair. Oh how I miss it. If only I could touch and smell it again. She instilled kindness and generosity in me, and she valued education. It was never questioned that I would go to (and be the first one in my immediate family to finish) college.
In many ways, she lives within me. We share the same sense of humor, love for travel, bold and beautiful eyes to see the world, an appreciation of the English language, a joie de vivre, and also our free spiritedness and chill demeanor. She is the reason I am who I am today, and she is also the reason I feel compelled to do the work I do to empower women, especially those in abusive situations. Watching my mother’s life play out has given me purpose. I intend on sharing what I’ve learned along the way about life and my own journey to self-worth.
This is my story. Despite its trauma and pain, I would not change a thing. It certainly has been one hell of a ride. I’m here today standing stronger than ever. Growing up with a functioning alcoholic mother who chose men poorly, I knew from an early age that I would never allow a man to lay a hand on me or fall in love with someone addicted to drugs and alcohol. As I reflect on everything that I’ve endured, I can see both the positive and negative impact my mother played on my life. I also see love.
I learned so many lessons that have served me well in my life. The fact is people don’t always do the right thing, believe you, or believe in you. So you have to believe in yourself, know what you stand for and what you stand against. And be willing to say, “No, that’s really not ok.” Simply put, Believe in yourself – no one else can do that for you. Value yourself first, so that you won’t allow others to treat you poorly.
Or as I tell all of my girlfriends, “Never settle! You get what you settle for.”
Oh, and one last thing – make sure to keep treasured family recipes and Christmas decorations! They ARE difficult to recreate and impossible to replace.
Ivy is the Founder and CEO of Find Your Power, a nonprofit that connects women with resources, opportunity and each other. Find Your Power’s main work supports underrepresented women by expanding their access to the Internet. Ivy and her team support their efforts through mentoring, consulting, workshops and elevating the work of purpose driven professionals. Ivy is a connector, a resource curator, and a community builder who values integrity, personal growth, and connection; and is passionate about helping women find their power. Some of her greatest strengths are as a deliverer, relator, motivator, and innovator.
Learn More About Find Your Power: www.findyourpower.org
Candid Photos courtesy of Ivy Kaminsky
Photography credit Watt Second Studios
I’LL NEVER FORGET THE FIRST TIME I SAW HER: AUTUMN JONES
Lisa Harris ~ May 30, 2019
In the shadows of the Golden Gate Bridge, on the other side of the Bay, I became friends with a woman named Autumn Jones. I’ll never forget the first time I saw her – tall, striking, and owning the space around her. A fierce and fair negotiator, she earned the respect of her team and business partners. I, too, was in awe of her. With style and grace, Autumn embodied women’s empowerment long before it was a buzz word and she was a leader in the making. Our professional paths merged as corporate retail buyers on the same team in the Spring of 2000. In the beginning, we were merely colleagues, never knowing at the time, I would one day hold her first born child, travel with her on business trips from New York City to Los Angeles and spend hours sharing our hopes and fears. Almost 20 years later, I know now, God simply had so much in store for us.
Our time together in California was short, only 2 years. However, our friendship was just beginning to deepen. Through business and family travel, we managed to see each other almost every year since leaving the Bay Area. In 2014, I invited Autumn to walk beside me in a new chapter, one that would require both of us to dig deep, lean in and further strengthen our friendship. Every conversation and every stolen moment with Autumn, only solidified my belief that the world needed to know her. With an abundance of love, outbursts of laughter and a few curse words, she accepted my invitation to model for my new passion project. At first, it was the website, then my book, Unveiled Beauty: Handwritten Stories from a Poetic Heart and finally, sharing her story on the Unveiled Beauty stage.
With God’s grace, all knowing, all-powerful, Autumn Jones boldly took the Unveiled Beauty stage on Sunday, November 11, 2018 at the Unveiled Beauty X Fashion Show. This video served as an introduction to Autumn and gave the audience a window into our forever friendship.
That night, +200 people in the Twin Cities community had the honor of baring witness and supporting Autumn as she courageously walked us through her story, a 12 year fight with cancer, and the importance of having both empathy for others and caring for ourselves. Here, at Fashion Meets Poetry, it is our promise and commitment to the women on our platform to never share the intimate details of their story unless that is their intention. Today, I would like to share with you my thoughts of the evening and a little bit of what Autumn had to say.
When I look at this photo, I am reminded that a picture is simply a snapshot in time. It is the memories and the emotions that breathe life into this singular moment. In this particular moment, I am holding my breath and gently unwrapping my own bravery in order to gift it to her. I see her in ways others may not. Fierce – yes. Confident – yes. Strong – yes. Scared – yes. Knowing Autumn as I do, it was her intention to show the audience her strength, yet her heart was craving to be seen. With the soft fluttering sound of angels’ wings all around her, the audience watched as Autumn boldly stepped into her vulnerability and stood in her divine beauty and bravery. Slowly, I began to breathe again. The melody of her voice and the power of her story commanded a room full of people and captured their hearts. My heart soared as each person fell in love with her just as I had many years ago.
I wish everyone could have been there to witness the beauty of that moment and the richness of her story. Like I said before, Autumn’s story is not mine to tell, but I will leave you with a few words she shared with us that night:
“This season has been longer than I could have ever imagined. However, the things that have kept me going are important lessons for all of us especially when we are going through difficult times. One is the importance of self-compassionate care. As I grow older, I have learned that “life happens” to many. I empathize with others, sometimes to the point in which I diminish what I am personally going through. Empathy for others should not equate to diminishing care for oneself. I struggle with this and give so much to others that at times I have very little left for myself. It is okay to say “no”, and to put energy into yourself first, so that you can continue to give to others.
My name is Autumn Jones. I am a woman, a wife, a mother of two. I am a daughter and sister. I have amazing friends who always make my gratitude list. I am a Human Resources professional who thrives on helping people win at living their best life. I love to travel, scrapbook, laugh, dance, and to sit curled up with a good book or watch a good movie. Oh, and did I mention that I have breast cancer. I have had it for over 12years. It is a part of my life and yes, at times it sucks. But it does not define my story. I think Stuart Scott, an ESPN Sportscaster who battled cancer, said it best with, “You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, and in the manner in which you live.” Along with leaning on my faith and support from my village, the way in which I have fought cancer is to live my best life, because it is the only one that I have. “
IT’S NOT ALL RELATIVE: THE ART OF SELF-COMPASSIONATE CARE
Life-altering and devastating news can arrive unannounced at any point in our lives and leave us in a state of despair. In 2007, Autumn received this type of news. To fuel her inner strength, she pushed forth wearing her invisible ‘survivor badge’. Throughout the years, people reacted in shock and with that, a powerful revelation unfolded. When we discover someone is dealing with a more difficult situation than our own, we often downplay our personal struggles with beliefs that “it’s all relative”. What if it’s not relative? In the trap of comparison, we diminish the reality and enormity of our own journey and sacrifice self-compassion. In this captivating talk, Autumn shares her journey of navigating a 12 year fight with cancer and reminds us of the importance of having empathy for others meanwhile administering self-compassion care.
Autumn is an executive leader in human resources within the software industry, with over 20 years of experience in leading, coaching, developing, and training others. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Hampton University in Virginia and is pursuing her masters from Pennsylvania State University. Born and raised in Southern California, where she currently resides with her husband and two very active children. Autumn demonstrates resilience and strength as she continues to balance family, a high-demanding career and her fight with cancer. “Cancer has taught me how deep my faith is in God, and just because man says it is so, does not make it so.”~ Autumn Jones
Video courtesy of The Producers, Kirstie House & Ellie Dress
Photos courtesy of Andrew Schroyer and Amy Jeanchaiyaphum
I KNEW OF HER BEFORE I KNEW HER: JESSICA IMSE
Lisa Harris ~ December 12, 2018
In a quiet town off Interstate 94 between Milwaukee and Madison, Wisconsin, I became friends with a girl named Jessi Wachendorf. Some may have called us teenagers, but as a mother now, I know we were only kids. As I think back to those gravel roads and Catholic prayers, I am reminded that God had a plan from the very beginning. I would have never imagined 25 years later, that same girl would be the first to encourage me to share my poetry with the world. In 1989, we were merely freshman cheerleaders performing amateur stunts on a high school basketball court – innocent, full of life and full of dreams.
Despite distance and time, Jess and I managed to stay close over the many years. In 2014, I invited Jess to join me on THIS incredible journey – a journey that began with modeling in my soon-to-be published poetry book to sharing her story on the Unveiled Beauty women’s empowerment platform. Again, who would have ever thought life would lead us here. Then again, I now know this path was intended for us all along. It has undoubtedly enriched our friendship in countless ways and has revealed to us the power of storytelling.
With snowy flurries, a sign of Elliot’s presence, Jessica Imse gracefully took the Unveiled Beauty stage on Sunday, November 11, 2018 at the 2nd Annual Unveiled Beauty X Fashion Show. This video served as an introduction to Jessica and gave the audience a glimpse into our long-standing friendship.
That night, +200 people in the Twin Cities community had the honor of baring witness and supporting Jessica as she revealed her story and spoke about the heartbreaking loss of her baby boy, Elliot and how she has spent countless hours in a state of both grief and joy on her journey towards peace. Here at Fashion Meets Poetry, it is our promise and commitment to the women on our platform to never share the intimate details of their story unless that is their intention. Today, I would like to share with you my thoughts of the evening and a little bit of what Jess had to say.
Looking at this picture, I can feel the intensity of the space. It reminds me of the quiet right before a storm when you know something powerful is about to happen. Jessica is standing in her divine beauty as her story begins to unfold. Her body language reveals her secrets and suggests that we might witness the internal struggle between her fears and the fierceness of her heart. In this fight, in this space, her heart wins and declares, “I am brave. I will be seen.” More than anything, I see my dearest friend who knows she must lean into her inner strength to allow her vulnerability to take center stage. On November 11, 2018, she did just that. Jessica Imse buy cheap viagra next day delivery removed the masks, peeled back the layers, and captivated a room full of people with her story. Standing before us, she unapologetically said, “This is me.”
I wish everyone could have been there to witness the beauty of that moment and the richness of her story. Like I said before, Jessica’s story is not mine to tell, but I will leave you with a few words she shared with us that night:
“If it is my dear friend Lisa’s intention to bring a community together to tell stories for their own healing as she has most masterfully done here tonight, then it is my intention to let you know how to hear those stories with grace. HEAL YOUR OWN HEART FIRST. I am giving you permission to go out there and throw your own sand around for any of the reasons that I have mentioned . . . I have learned that the most gracious thing you could do for yourself, is to learn how to sit with your own desire to throw sand into the wind. Give yourself the space to be imperfect, sad, tired, hurt, ornery, abandoned, or any other feeling that breaks your heart and spills your guts on the floor. Cry a million tears. Give yourself permission to sit with that pain.“
PERMISSION TO THROW SAND: LIVING WITH GRIEF
Grief is not a four-letter word, not literally or figuratively. Although, anyone trapped in its desolated walls, will tell you it is living H-E-L-L. Jessica knows… because her sweet Elliot is no longer here. Experiencing the heartbreaking loss of her baby boy and raising her three beautiful children, Jessica has spent countless hours in a state of both grief and joy. While the world expected her to grieve in the moment, smile and move on, Jessica realized feeling the pain and anger was the best thing she could do for her own happiness. How can being sad lead to our happiness? Repressing our emotions is dangerous and sitting with grief is actually the ONLY way we can become one with our souls and find peace. In this moving talk, Jessica will share her emotional journey of loss and love and remind us that it is certainly ok to occasionally throw sand. At times it is even necessary.
Jessica embraces the richness of life’s journey. For Jess, most days are filled with the adventures of mothering four children and working alongside her husband, as co-owner of General Property Solutions, a building contracting business. With two bachelor’s degrees in business and English from the University of Wisconsin and a master’s certificate in teaching, Jess worked as a high school English teacher at a magnet art school before devoting herself to motherhood. With faith and hope, Jessica continues to persevere after losing her son. Today, Jessica believes that giving lightness to our dark sides is when darkness losses control over who we are and who we are to become.
Video courtesy of The Producers, Kirstie House & Ellie Dress
Photos courtesy of Andrew Schroyer and Amy Jeanchaiyaphum
What Fashion Meets Poetry Taught Me
Lisa Harris ~ January 30, 2018
The world is alive right now. On the surface, it’s angry and tormented with polarized political views, misunderstood racial divides, and gender inequalities. Its stories are rooted in sins of our fathers and generations of mistrust, betrayal, and tragedy. We often find ourselves walking in undiagnosed depression and fearing the darkness. Or is it really that we are afraid of the light?
This world is ours, like we often say in our family when referencing each other, “she belongs to us” and beneath her seemingly dark layers rests her heart. Unlike our lungs, which sole responsibility is to keep us breathing, our hearts are tasked not only to pump blood throughout our bodies, but also to love. Every day, despite our differences and anger, we still hope and dream. So like I said, we are alive. There is anticipation in our voices as we witness women break their silence and compassion within us as we learn how to truly listen. We are not in darkness if within each one of us is light.
All this is a reminder of what I have seen all around me since both darkness and lightness have gleaned their presence on my journey. After publishing Unveiled Beauty: Handwritten Stories From a Poetic Heart, I never expected to find myself in the heart of the women’s empowerment movement, yet here I am. Every day embracing new women as I continue on my own journey of healing and peace. One by one, through launching our Unveiled Beauty: Cultivating YOU women’s empowerment events to celebrating the women in our community at our sold out Unveiled Beauty X Fashion Show, they taught me about Beauty and Bravery. So, as the world continues to rage with judgment and amateur listening skills, I aspire to unveil the courage, strength, and love that’s not only seeping through the cracks, but also exploding within our hearts. Today, I share with you what Fashion Meets Poetry has taught me through the hearts of women:
We Are Not Strangers
The Unveiled Beauty empowerment stage has become a space where both our protected selves and authentic selves agree to embrace and the culmination of hidden confidence, buried memories and self-love is powerful. As I watched the women share their stories, hold back their tears and find their inner courage, I began to recognize myself. The stories spilled from their lips with layers of shame, sadness and strength as the memories came alive. Stories much different than my own, but within them, I knew a similar loneliness. Whether we were new acquaintances or old friends, it became evident that we were never strangers. If within another person, we can witness their heart and embody their pain, that person no longer becomes somebody else’s friend; they become someone we have always known. In essence, they become us and we become them.
The Answer is The Journey
As a philosophical and introspective woman, I have always been motivated by the quest for answers and stimulated by the pursuit of understanding. I have convinced myself that within every circumstance, situation or sequence of events lays a reason, a solution, or an explanation. There MUST be an answer. This mindset slowly began to breakdown and disintegrated as I became emotionally invested in each woman and her narrative. How beautifully she stood in front of her community revealing stories that shattered your spirit and crushed your heart. Once again, I found myself asking, “Why?” With tears over a father’s grave, abuse at the hands of a loved one or feelings of hopelessness and unworthiness, SHE endured. It was in witnessing these women, when I realized there was no answer. In life, the hardships that show up at our doorstep and the heartaches that break us are part of the journey complete with its own tragedies and blessings. If we begin to accept the path, it’s only then when we can recognize the journey itself IS the answer.
Collaboration Wins Over Competition
Coming of age, professionally, with a business degree and almost 20 years of experience in corporate America, I was taught that success is determined by how well a company differentiates their product, understands their target market and knows their competition. I was reminded of this recently when buy phentermine india speaking to investors who asked me, “Who is your competition?” For the first time, I struggled with that question, not because I didn’t know the answer, but rather, I didn’t see them that way. I’ve come to believe that competition is just a concept created to motivate and push companies and individuals to move faster, work harder and be more innovative. Through the hearts and minds of women, I discovered that the most successful ones were not only leaning into their own unique talents and building profitable businesses, but they were replacing outdated concepts like competition with community and collaboration. If we begin to shift our competitive spirit to creating partnerships with shared goals, we all win and there is room for all of us. Together, we reach more, empower more, and on the shoulders of each other, we individually and collectively change lives, communities and yes, run successful businesses.
Words Can Heal
Since the beginning of time, words have always possessed the unparalleled power to free our thoughts, imaginations and souls. On their wings, we are sent to far away lands and imaginary worlds. On good days, they help us rewrite history and fall in love. And on bad days, they betray us by fueling hatred and fear. Words are essential in learning, relating, and connecting with one another and their mere existence, whether written, spoken, sung, or heard, brings people together and divides nations. These are the facts. Although, it wasn’t until I began my own journey did I discover the healing power of words. Poetry and writing saved me. However, the Unveiled Beauty: Cultivating YOU women’s empowerment events highlighted another form of healing. As one would expect, our speakers inspired our attendees with their stories, but being witnessed and heard became vital to the speakers’ own healing process. Openly sharing their truth and revealing their authentic self was empowering. If we begin to see words as building bridges and remedies for the soul, we can address the wounds of our hearts and the world we live in.
Bravery IS Beautiful
Every single woman who has graced the Unveiled Beauty empowerment stage is undeniably beautiful – the kind of authentic beauty that surpasses all definitions of conventional beauty. Whether they spoke on stage or modeled for the very first time, the courage and kindness I saw within these women is nearly impossible to describe. Despite any fears and unwelcomed insecurities, each woman harnessed her inner warrior, walked on that stage and owned it. Beneath the perfectly applied makeup and styled hair, there she stood; proving her vulnerability was her brave and her bravery was beautiful. Not only did she emerge triumphant, but she also encouraged the women around her so they too could shine. I continue to be in awe of the women I meet and the true beauty and bravery that lies within each one. If we begin to challenge the world’s definition of beauty and recognize it as the depth of heart, mind, spirit, we will discover beauty blossoming all around us.
As I said in the beginning and I will say again, we are alive! There is no question about it. Love, compassion and kindness still exist and it’s time to give them center stage. We cannot allow the world to lead us into darkness and overshadow what we know to be true. If we have been taught anything, it should be, that true Beauty and Bravery reside within all of us and we have the power to choose how we engage and lead in this world. After all, “she belongs to us” and deserves to be loved, to belong and to be seen and heard.
Fashion Meets Poetry was a journey I was meant to take and everything I shared with you only scratches the surface of what I have learned and continue to learn. More importantly, I am forever indebted to the women who have shared their stories and dared to unveil themselves. With their courage and strength, they inspired those around them and reminded us that we are not alone. There will always be darkness, tragedies and heartache, but in the end, we must ask ourselves… are we brave enough to embrace the light?
I choose to embrace the light. I invite you to join me.
A Letter to Glennon from a Crazy, Mom Fan
(crazy in the fact that we all are… the good kind of crazy mixed with a little of the crazy kind of crazy)
Lisa Harris ~ January 5, 2017Glennon’s photo credit: Amy Paulson/ Lisa’s photo credit: Phil Nwafor
Good day, my friend… or more accurately, my secret desire to be friends. Let’s be honest, we both know how social media and being a writer makes complete strangers feel as though they have a special and unique bond with you. Who knows, maybe some day we will meet and find we really could be friends. For now, I suppose I am an admirer and a reader. However, like you, only with much fewer followers, I am also a writer and a recently published indie author. Wow. I can hardly believe I just called myself a writer. It took nearly forty years to publicly admit I was a poet, let alone concede to being a writer. I guess when you officially publish a book; you are in fact an author, which therefore means you cannot deny you are a writer. Apparently, my days of hiding behind that insecurity are over.
Anyhow, I’m going to attempt to make a long story short because I know you are inundated with fan mail or crazy, Mom mail (crazy in the fact that we all are… the good kind of crazy mixed with a little of the crazy kind of crazy). And yes, ‘we’ means I, too am a Mom. Miraculously, I just finished reading your book, Carry On, Warrior. I say miraculously because although I am a writer, I have been a lackluster reader most of my life and well… kids, husband, career and life often get in the way. You see, over the years, I vaguely recall your name and blog being brought up in conversations, but then I would go on with my day and fail to recall the name of your blog and apparently didn’t take the time to look it up. In social media world, this is where the hashtag #realtalk comes in. However, if I have learned anything in recent years, it is that when the universe speaks, we should listen and sometimes I do… and sometimes my dearest friends make sure I do. Jess is one of those friends. I’ve known Jess since high school; she’s one of the models in my book and she mailed me a copy of Carry On, Warrior right before I left for vacation. Vacationing is when I secretly disguise myself as a reader and I believe it works quite well for me.
Like thousands of others, Carry On, Warrior resonated deeply with me and aligns so beautifully with my purpose and passion in life: to connect with women of all ages at all stages in life with a focus on building confidence, facilitating conversation, learning, self-discovery and healing. When I received your book and looked at the title, I was a bit taken aback. The title of one of my signature poems is Warrior Women and I sign all my books, “Carry on, brave Warrior Woman!” I don’t know why it took holding the book to make me see something so obvious, but as my sister would have you know, my memory is garbage. Therefore, if I did know this was the title, it is likely I may have forgotten. Regardless, the universe is speaking and our worlds are aligning.
So, today I am simply writing to say, “Thank You!” Thank you for all the reasons I am certain your crazy, Mom fans have already given you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for writing this book. As a gift to you dear, Glennon for being what I call, BEAUTIFUL and BRAVE (the premise of my future TED talk… maybe – I could change my mind or convince myself that I am not qualified to speak on such topics), I present you a copy of Unveiled Beauty: Handwritten Stories from a Poetic Heart. I won’t bore you with my story. I’ll let the preface/introduction of my book give you a window into my life. I hope you enjoy it and if you do, from one author to another author, from one Mom to another Mom, from one woman to another woman… I hope you share it in whatever way feels right for you.
I look forward to hearing from you and congratulations on your well-deserved success. Keep doing what you are doing. Thousands of women need you!
“Carry on, brave Warrior Woman!”
*Lisa Harris is the founder and creative director for Fashion Meets Poetry, LLC and author of Unveiled Beauty: Handwritten Stories from a Poetic Heart. With over 18 years in corporate America defining strategic direction, guiding product development, and leading marketing initiatives for Fortune 500 companies. Today, Lisa’s passion is to inspire and heal women to reach their highest potential. She will be launching her first women empowerment series, Unveiled Beauty: Cultivating YOU in March 2017.
8 Accomplished Women Praise
Lisa Harris ~ September 2, 2016
A little over two months ago, eight different women sat in their respective corners of the country leading eight exceptionally successful, yet diverse professional lives—each woman utilizing her unique talents, sharing her personality and making an impact on the world. It’s also safe to say that most of these women never expected their names to be sitting in quiet company with each other. Individually, they each possess their own success stories and personal journeys. However, together, they are a powerful force. Collectively, they embody the intelligence, strength, and beauty of so many women. Today, they join together to offer their praise for the forthcoming poetry book titled, Unveiled Beauty: Handwritten Letters from a Poetic Heart.
8 Women. 8 Careers. 8 Perspectives. 8 Hearts. 8 Lives.
~ A national award-winning journalist and TV host
~ A director at a world-class university and lawyer
~ A CEO and active community leader
~ A celebrity chef and award-winning cookbook author
~ A senior editor and radio host
~ A lifestyle expert and published author
~ A psychotherapist and writer
~ A design business consultant and former Fortune 500 executive
These women represent the best of the best of what women can achieve. More importantly, they value and recognize the significance of supporting other fellow women in their personal and professional pursuits. We are honored and humbled by their praise. Here’s what a couple of them have to say about Unveiled Beauty:
Contessa Brewer, a national award-winning journalist and TV host wrote, “Women from different cultures and walks of life all will find a story, an image, a truth that speaks to them. Lisa Harris offers a little something for everyone in Unveiled Beauty and does so with clarity, honesty, and of course, beauty.”
Meanwhile, celebrity chef and award-winning cookbook author, Katie Chin said, “Poetry juxtaposed with beautiful photographic images elevates Unveiled Beauty from a poetry book to a poetic odyssey. Lisa Harris invites you to tap into your innermost self with poems that send chills down your spine, tears to your eyes, and happiness in your heart.”
Before its release, Unveiled Beauty has already unified an array of women. Along with the reviews above, Lisa Castro Gutzmer, Allison Kaplan, Dorri McWhorter, Jasmine Brett Stringer, Susanne Sung and Valerie Hildebrandt Wulf, have also graciously shared their thoughts and praise for the book.
As I set-out on a journey to publish Unveiled Beauty, over three years ago, it was the women I knew and the women I was soon to meet who would become my constant inspiration. Women like these women not only inspire me, but they are also my audience and at some point in life, they may have shared the same emotions as the women in my poetry. On the surface, they appear to be widely different, but beneath the layers they are more similar than one might think. Today, specifically, they share one thing in common and that is their belief in Unveiled Beauty as a universal story, a truth, and a beautiful work of art.
To hear what the rest of these women have to say about Unveiled Beauty, follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. We will be highlighting each woman and sharing her review every day starting this weekend and throughout next week.
For more information about Unveiled Beauty (Release Date: September 30, 2016), check out our website: www.fashionmeetspoetry.com
*Lisa Harris is the founder, poet, and creative director for Fashion Meets Poetry, LLC and author of Unveiled Beauty. With over 18 years in corporate America defining strategic direction, guiding product development, and leading marketing initiatives for Fortune 500 companies, Lisa now aims to inspire and heal women through her poetry. She also hopes to share her knowledge to bridge the gap between business and the arts.
Discover Your True Essence
On An Old Cassette Tape
Lisa Harris ~ June 28, 2016
Look at this beauty. It’s pastel pink. It has a mint green ‘play’ button. It’s retro. It’s throwback. It’s like totally fresh. It’s a 1986 Sharp radio cassette recorder or, in other words, a vintage boom box.
Yes, I said, “vintage”. And, yes, I said, “like totally fresh”. In all seriousness, if you owned one of these, like I did, or if you listened to your favorite songs on any boom box, you are not a Millennial. It’s likely you no longer stand in line to get into the hottest clubs or stay up all night with coffee in hand, to study for your final exams. Nope. Been there, done that. You, my friend, are a distinguished member of Generation X. We are the generation that grew-up on cassette tapes, jelly shoes, answering machines, “Who’s the Boss?”, Nintendo, Michael Jackson and the original MTV – back when it actually played music videos.
What this also means is that right now you’ve lived a little bit of life. You’ve experienced the many highs and lows and perhaps took a few shortcuts or wrong turns along the way. At this point, you may have even found yourself at a crossroads, either by choice or new life circumstances. But regardless of how you found yourself in this place, it can be a time of deep reflection, self-discovery and purpose.
As I insinuated, often this happens when we enter our forties, however, we can face uncertainty and challenges at any time in our lives. I am reminded of this after talking with so many women from all stages in life, who have come to a crossroads. Whether they are searching for their first job out of college, transitioning into new careers, experiencing the difficulties of divorce, balancing family, or rediscovering themselves in their retirement years, they are all at pivotal points in life. In the end, it doesn’t really matter if you listened to your favorite song on a turn table, recorded music onto a cassette tape, or downloaded a new track on your iPod, there inevitably comes a time when you need to silence the world around you in order to listen to your inner self.
It’s in this quiet where we can begin to remember who we are. We need to become introspective in order to follow the path that honors our true selves. Therefore, if you are in this space right now, I recommend you stop for a moment and look back before you attempt to push forward. Your future where can i buy generic viagra online safely lies in rediscovering the true essence of who you are and your happiness and life’s purpose depends on it.
I know this, because I was there. I was at a crossroads and still on a journey of my own. There was a moment when I had to look myself in the mirror, figure out who I was and determine what was missing in my life. The only way to accomplish this was to turn back time. Who was I before life happened? Before I feel in love for the first time, graduated from college, established my career, married and had children… before all that stuff and the responsibilities of every day life. To figure who I was, I had to press the ‘rewind’ button on my vintage, pastel pink boom box, back to a small town in Southeastern Wisconsin.
The year was 1987; “Head to Toe” by Lisa Lisa and the Cult Jam was playing on 94.5FM – WKTI out of Milwaukee. If iPods were around in the late 1980’s, this song surely would have been on my playlist. Instead, I was sitting on my bedroom floor with my finger hovering over the record button patiently waiting for the DJ to stop talking in order to record my favorite song. I was a 15-year-old girl who spent her time listening to Casey Kasem’s American Top 40 Countdown, writing poetry in a spiral notebook, and sketching dresses for her mother to make.
Back then, as a multiracial girl growing up in a predominantly white community, I turned to music, writing, and designing as a form of escape. And writing poetry, specifically, became the chosen outlet that offered me both comfort and peace. Poetry, music, and fashion were the true essence of who I was… that was me before life happened.
It took being at a crossroads in my mid-thirties and deep reflection into my childhood to remember and rediscover my true essence. Although I pursued fashion in my professional career, I had stopped writing. During this time of reflection, I began to realize what was missing and came to the conclusion that I had not been honoring my true essence for all these years. My lifeline has always been in writing with a passion for poetry and so today, I finally honor my true essence in releasing my first poetry book.
Now, it’s your turn. The only way to rediscover your true essence is to turn back the hands of time, hold your finger above the button on the old boom box in your mind and if you dare – press rewind.