Wednesday
May082013

Half the Sky

Tomorrow is the annual Keyholder event for The Women's Fund of Central Ohio. Every year I look forward to this event as much as some people excitedly await their favorite sporting event or holiday. It's such a great way to connect with other women and see what kind of work is being done to support and raise up women & girls in my own community.

This year is especially great, because one of their guests is someone I deeply respect and admire, Sheryl WuDunn. Together with her husband, Nicolas Kristof, they wrote the book Half the Sky, which is the most defining book of our time.

Its impact hasn't been limited to bringing awareness to the oppression of and opportunities to help women & girls around the world. For those of us who have hardly come face to face with our own limited views of our choices, our freedom and our shared world, it is beyond eye-opening.

Who hasn't found it difficult to read the stories which documents real lives interrupted with brutal, merciless, humililating and heartbreaking actions that repeatedly manipulate populations into submission, control and fear? When I read this book a few years ago, I barely knew the words to articulate what it had to teach me, and how deeply I felt about the realities that existed in places far from my home. But it also disturbed me as much to know that there are people in my own community and in my country who know these realities more intimately than I ever could from reading about them in a book. It made me so sad to think that as difficult as it was for me to communicate my feelings, to express my sadness and despair, anyone who had lived through or understood these experiences themselves might have an even harder time unlocking their stories or their trauma. Could they ever rid themselves of the shock and pain they had survived?

As a graphic designer, I felt I had to try, somehow, in my own impossibly small way, to share what I understood about overcoming grief. Otherwise, I might be haunted by this neverending sadness forever. Just as it could take generations to replenish the spirit burdened with such abuse, I felt that ignoring my newfound awareness without taking action might actually turn every cell in my body against me, and destroy everything I held dear.

What came from that need for action was this symbol that Thrive Theory represents. Believing that each one of us needs to have the strength and power to tell our stories, find our passion, overcome our challenges and fears, so that we can champion the cause of any other woman we believe in, who may not know that her voice and her story is as significant as any other in the world. Until we can all stand up and say that we won't let ourselves be taken advantage of, underestimated, or fall short of our potential, we can help the woman next to us stand up with courage to fight her battles. In doing so, we find the strength & courage to fight our own.

Sometimes the challenges come from external forces in our world, from a young bully to a malicious adult; both try to keep us in a lower position of power. But sometimes the challenges come from within ourselves, as a tiny voice that cruelly reminds us of our perceived limitations, our past mistakes, our deepest fears. These voices may be difficult to discern, let alone quiet. It takes constant love & support from those around us to allow us to forgive ourselves the lies we whisper over and over again, that no one else will ever hear.

This is what I understand. That the reality we create for ourselves is formed by both our brilliant gifts and our limiting beliefs. How do we know which to rely on, which to trust? What are our gifts? When are we ever brilliant? As Marianne Williamson wisely advocates, Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.

The answer lies in putting faith in those who love us, those who will teach us to discover the truth about ourselves. Their love reflects our light, our own strengths, right back to us. It is the only way we can move ahead in this complicated, imperfect, beautiful world.

Joining hands to find our way, back to our own center of strength. Renewing ourselves, just as nature renews itself with each season. Sustaining vitality. Being centered and connected, loved and supported. Celebrating every day, even when it's not easy. Celebrating the challenges with the successes. Honoring our stories, our journeys. Together, we help us one and all.

Deep gratitude to Half the Sky for helping me express my thrive theory.

 

Tuesday
May072013

Thrive Theory Journals

With Mother's Day this Sunday, I'm so excited to introduce our new Thrive Theory Journals to our assortment! They're so cute, I'm thrilled they're finally available! Since I go through so many journals myself, I thought it would be fun to make some books and share what I use mine for. So this Saturday, May 11, from 2-4pm, I'm hosting a Journaling Workshop at the Dames Bond Marketplace in the Short North. The workshop is free but space is limited, so register in advance here at Dames Bond. Come alone or bring your Mom, sister, daughter, best friend, whoever you love to make memories with. See you Saturday!

Tuesday
Feb122013

Happy Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day is probably my favorite holiday, I have to admit. Though for some it may carry its own baggage, to me it's significant because it comes with a lot less work than the other holidays. Personally, I don't believe you can only celebrate the occasion if you have a significant other, of the romantic kind. I love the opportunity for kids to deliver valentines to classmates, friends to gather for dinner, families to say an extra I love you... on top of the extra special ways couples mark the day.

Maybe I'm lucky, but my husband has never used an excuse to get out of celebrating Valentine's Day with a special dinner or gift, even when I didn't think it was necessary. The bonus to me is that it's no extra work in reciprocating the gesture and spreading the love: we enjoy a night out together, I buy a couple cards and hug my kids, done! That's uniquely simple compared to the rest of the holidays, at least with my big family!

This year there's even more reason to love Valentine's Day: we're sharing it with all the yogis at Harbor Yoga in Dublin, Ohio, and spreading the love with The Women's Fund of Central Ohio! So the 10am class that I teach on Thursday, Valentine's Day morning, will be FREE. And everyone who comes to class at Harbor on Valentine's Day will receive a complimentary gift from Thrive Theory and Harbor Yoga. All in honor of loving yourself, feeling your heart beat, and helping women & girls in Central Ohio. 

Hope to see you on Thursday! To reserve a spot in the FREE 10am class go to www.HarborYogaStudio.com.

 

Tuesday
Dec112012

A Story Unfolds

Yesterday I watched the movie Miss Representation. It was amazing
to see a woman document what the media culture is like right now in America, and how that impacts her, all of us—including our sons and daughters. These issues have concerned me for the past several years also, as I've tried to be a good mom to my 12-year old son & 9-year old daughter. As a graphic designer who has spent most of my career building retail brands by creating marketing, store environments
and brand imagery for many leading brands, I am highly aware of
this media culture. At times I myself have been responsible for propagating these unrealistic ideals. Anyone who has art directed beauty photoshoots or retouched their glamorous images has certainly played a part in it.
 
What could I do to be sure my kids wouldn't fall for this false impression of reality? Growing up, my mother always insisted I understand who was behind the scenes and what their motivation
was to get me to buy what they were selling. Perhaps her over-protectiveness made me curious and aware of this game from a young age. Perhaps I became fascinated with perception and wanted to be in on shaping it, rather than oblivious to it. Perhaps this influenced me to become a designer.
 
Particularly after the birth of my daughter, I felt compelled
to prove to her, and my son, what was real and true in the world. Remembering my own teenage years, I feared one day my sweet
little babies would rebel against me and not believe a word I said.
If I could produce something that reflected my own values, rather than work for clients who paid me to help position their products, maybe it would help mount my inevitable defense. 
 
At the time, I happened to read the book Half the Sky. It shook me
to my core. Though I had no personal connection to women in third world countries and the stark realities it documents, I felt I had
to do something that, ultimately, might potentially help them too. Most people I knew didn't seem to be talking about these issues
that were affecting women & girls daily. I didn't know how to change
the conversation to be more meaningful, or when it would ever be appropriate. But I really wanted to create something that would strengthen the self-image of women & girls, rather than making
them feel like they were lacking in anything; something that would strengthen the vital relationships in the life of a woman or girl, rather than leave her doubting; something that would help her feel her value and potential, rather than making her overwhelmed by that. Something that would honor our beauty and strength, together. To me, that's what we truly embody, yet it's just too often overlooked.
 
If I could express myself regarding these issues and what this means to me, then maybe that would encourage other women to express themselves too. Maybe I could remind them that at any stage of life, our choices create our reality, but our support system may have a bigger influence on how we perceive those choices than we realize. I felt blessed by mine, yet pained to know too many others weren't quite so fortunate.

When we ensure we have a healthy support system, our own personal cheering section, we don't question our self-worth. When we know we're loved unconditionally by these people, it doesn't matter whether we stumble or succeed. Currently, the statistics are dramatic: American women are holding ourselves back from leadership opportunities. On top of that, we're often holding each other back without even realizing it. What would happen if we started encouraging and celebrating and forgiving each other instead? Maybe more people would be positively impacted by each other. Maybe we'd change how we feel about ourselves, how we treat each other, be less critical about ourselves, more critical of the media, and more fearless about going after our hopes and dreams.

My dream forced me to step out of a world of consulting to forge my own wild, uncertain path in an effort to share an idea that I believe in deeply. I always thought that if I built my own business or my own brand, it would be centered on service. But my awareness had shifted, and my mind had to shift to becoming a producer. Starting with jewelry, I pursued my own manufacturing vendors (and am endlessly sourcing to get the best pricing). I created a symbol that reflects my vision of encouraging growth for women & girls. It's cast into a sterling silver charm and crafted into beautiful pieces so that anyone may share this idea with a woman or girl they simply want the best for. My goal is to create even more products that share this message, so that it stands out in our media & brand-driven culture with its sincere message.

It's not easy. I'm used to working hard and fast, relentlessly. This unexpected detour in my path has caused me to slow down, think deeply, open my heart wider, and actually write. Though the market typically demands a sense of urgency, I'm taking my time. It's perfect timing for my family, because I'm no longer consumed by the need to bill every waking hour, nor travel for work as often as I used to. Now I can be more present with them and support them more fully. This means a lot to me since I lost my own mother to cancer suddenly, when I was a teenager. The memory of her and the reality of her
loss inspires me to put my health before my work. To keep this as a priority, I started teaching yoga. It's another effort to increase my strength, endurance, and balance. I can only pursue my vision and care for my family if I do it without sacrificing myself. Finally, I feel like I am aligning my life around all of my priorities. 

The third anniversary of my first product launch is quickly approaching. The line is called Thrive Theory because I believe the world will be a better place when women & girls are empowered to reach their potential. Each one of us makes the world better... though it usually takes someone who loves & supports us to make us see the truth in that for each one of us.
 
Last month a Nigerian woman was visiting the Dames Bond Marketplace in Columbus' Short North district. This ground-breaking shop features a striking collection of female business-owners and artists who support each other's work (including Thrive Theory). This visitor produces jewelry in Nigeria that is sold in the shop under the name Badala. It is the lifeline for women who make it because it keeps them from a life of prostitution, their otherwise only option for supporting their children. She said the thing she learned on her trip was that she never realized how hard American women work. She believed all the media hype too, that we have hours of rest and leisure every single day, with little need to actually work. She would go home and reveal to her friends that American women were actually working as hard as they do.
 
There is much we have to change about the stories the media tells about us and our American culture. We can only succeed if each one of us steps up and tells our own stories. We have far too much to celebrate together, not to.
 
(Miss Representation is featured on the Oprah Winfrey Network & available for download on iTunes)
Monday
Jul022012

Beat the Heat

We've been so excited to see the premier edition of Pimlico this summer, it's here! And not only are there page after beautiful page of great ideas for summer gifts and celebrations, they feature an interview about Thrive Theory... don't miss pages 36-38!

It's always exciting to see a new magazine come out with helpful tips and features, but for our summer collection to be featured as well makes this one beyond thrilling. Whether its wedding planning or terrariums or ways to stay cool in this crazy heatwave, there's something for everyone inside. Enjoy!

Monday
Jul022012

Behind the Scenes



This past spring I got a note from Connie Hieatt, a
remarkable woman whom I've enjoyed crossing paths
with for years. She needed to replace her Thrive Theory
pendant because she left hers in Kenya on a recent trip.
As her beautiful story goes, she had given it to this
fourteen-year-old girl, Rosemary, whom she got to
know at the Rafiki Children's Center there. Rosemary
had big dreams of becoming a doctor, and Connie
believed Rosemary had the ability and determination
to make those dreams come true. To help demonstrate
her confidence, she gave her own Thrive Theory
pendant and explained the meaning behind it. She told
her to hold tight to her dreams and believe in the people
surrounding her who would help her achieve them.

We all need that kind of encouragement at some
point, especially when the odds are stacked against us.
But as we reach our goals, we're fortunate to have the
opportunity to help others find their way also. Thanks
to Connie for sharing the Thrive Theory symbol in Kenya!

The second chapter of this story came when Debbie Phillips, 
founder of Women on Fire heard about her kind gift to Rosemary,
and replaced Connie's pendant in appreciation of her kindness.
Thank you Debbie for helping to honor Connie with a new
Thrive Theory pendant, it was a joy to deliver it on your behalf!

The good feelings just keep coming over here, and it's our
delight watching these moments unfold!

Friday
May252012

Father's Day

At Thrive Theory, we celebrate everyday. We don't need a special date on the calendar to wrap up a gift of appreciation or just because.

Sometimes though, the perfect gift is not so easy to find. This time of year you might encounter your boss' son's graduation... of course, if it's her daughter's then Thrive Theory is certainly the perfect gift.

But undoubtedly the men we love need to be appreciated too. That's why Father's Day was invented, which is fast approaching on June 17. Times like these call for expert reinforcements.

Pimlico Magazine is one of our favorite resources for this very reason. If you're looking for the latest, most thoughtful gift ideas, or you're tired of searching for just the right things to kickup any celebration, they have endless ideas that will make you look like a star every time. Editors and friends Jen & Allison keep their fingers on the pulse of what's new & great in online gifts & celebrating splendor, and they're just a click away. Check 'em out!

 

Tuesday
Mar272012

Laughter is the Best Medicine

Beauty School! is coming and I am so excited.

Pat Wynn Brown, humorist writer, performer, and founder of Hair Theater, tells stories that always makes me laugh so hard I double over with tears streaming from my eyes. It's not worth fighting against, and it's my favorite way to laugh. Growing up with three older sisters, I always loved being let in on every beauty tip and secret. My earliest memories were (pretending I wasn’t) watching soap operas with them and my mom; carefully studying the rituals involved with preparing for a night out; and when I grew up a bit, devouring any old, forgotten issue of Cosmo I could get my hands
on. My poor mother.

Even now, the amount of time and energy I spend maintaining any sense of "beauty" seems to border on ridiculous, yet I have to admit, the more I scrutinize my own vanity the harder I have to laugh about it. Which truly can only make things worse. But I look at these newly forming wrinkles & crinkles and appreciate the lifetime of laughter that has put them there. I love being a girl, and Pat’s lessons about what makes one beautiful is inspiring, and a great way to demonstrate Thrive Theory’s Key Principle #6: Beauty is more than skin deep... It’s a reflection of the love that was received. And also Key Principle #1: When Women are Happy, Everyone is Happier... and Key Principle #2: Surround Yourself with Those who Bring you Joy. And this year, also particularly Key Principle #7: Family is Everything, especially Sisters, Moms & Daughters, and Girlfriends!

That's why Thrive Theory is always delighted to participate in her shows. She honors her “Honor Society” representatives and her Beauty School “Valedictorian” with Thrive Theory pins and jewelry, and it's one of our favorite, most fun ways to share it. And this May 6, with
a great sponsor like the Mt. Carmel Foundation, it will be one of her most memorable shows yet. Her shows always sell out, so grab someone you love to laugh with and don't miss it!

For show details and tickets, click here.

 

Wednesday
Mar072012

Competition.

Last weekend my husband and I went to a dinner party. A few of the guests present had just returned from last week's TED conference in California. They were still excited about it and shared some of the most memorable talks from the most inspiring presentations happening anywhere. Another guest, who happened to be pregnant with her second child, commented that it's challenging to hear about all these impressive and accomplished people. She has to remind herself that the most inspiring thing to her is raising a healthy family.

I appreciated her comment a lot. It can be easy to lose sight of the importance of our hard work when we get caught up in the excitement around the work of someone else. No parent could argue that raising kids isn't both difficult and spectacular at times, yet it's so obviously critical that it's often times overlooked. This it seems to be especially when it involves taking care of people, whether they're our own children or those of others, or the elderly or anyone who is incapacitated or suffering. It is challenging work, and critical to those who receive it.

What I'd like to add to this thought is a reminder that no one can be outdone by anyone else's accomplishments. Just because one person may have done a good job at something and maybe they get some attention from it, that does not diminish anyone else's ability to accomplish any task they set out to do. We can all be accomplished for our own work, especially when we allow ourselves to be of service to others. No one has a crystal ball, and there's no point in worrying about what time will bring, because the only thing we can be certain of is change. If we can attend to the job at hand and give it our best effort, sometimes we find our own unique purpose despite ourselves. Many times sticking to the present challenge helps us find our own treasure.

Getting immediate attention for it, or featured in the next TED conference, can't be the only goal.

Tuesday
Feb282012

Namaste.

Hard to believe my first yoga class was over twenty years ago. It was spring quarter at the Ohio State University, my sophomore year. Back then yoga wasn't so easy to come by, at least not in the Midwest. I didn't know anyone who had ever done
yoga or admitted any interest in it. Somewhere along the line I heard
it'd been around for thousands of years and was considered the "health care system in India." Though that didn't quite make sense to me, I tried to rationalize the saying about the difference between Eastern & Western medicine, which went that in Eastern cultures, health practitioners were paid to keep people healthy, while in the West, doctors were only paid when people got sick.

Fascinated by these confounding rumors and curious to try it for myself, I quieted that nervous voice that questioned if yoga was truly the domain of hippies and new-age gurus on the coasts. Regardless, from the first class I was hooked. There was a recommended book
for the class, but our teaching assistants discouraged us from buying it. They said that the best way to learn yoga was to do it. To this stressed-out and cash-poor design student, that was the first note
to what would become music to my ears.

Over the next 12-weeks we met twice a week, learning the Sun Salutation and many poses, or asanas. And we learned to meditate. Thinking back, that quarter was the beginning of me finding my center. Or maybe it actually started the year before, and it probably never ended. The summer before my freshman year at college, right between freshman orientation and the beginning of classes, my mother was diagnosed with liver cancer. OSU happened to be down the street from my house, so at my Dad's request, I transferred from my school of choice before classes even started. That September I started school on schedule with everyone else. Conveniently, my sister Cap was already in graduate school there, so she'd drive me
to campus and home each day, while my mother literally fought for
her life. Cap's words of encouragement are still with me today:
"Don't forget to breathe, and you'll be fine." Thankfully, that was
just simple enough for me to remember.

After a year of both tragic and ridiculously funny ups & downs,
(it was college after all) finding a class that reinforced that focus
on my breath, and on the constantly-present subtleties of life, was extremely comforting to me. Though it was a few years later until I actually started a regular yoga practice, the meditation that I learned in that class became my go-to relaxation technique for a long time.
By reliably bringing me restful sleep whenever I was challenged to
find it, I was able to handle challenging projects, difficult clients, and exciting life transitions, even long after I graduated.

Now my yoga practice is a very physical discipline, and the only meditation I incorporate is a few moments of well-deserved bliss in Shavasana. But for years, yoga was something private I rarely thought to share. For this reason I'm ecstatic to find myself teaching yoga and sharing it with new and old friends alike, with every level of yoga experience, all these years later. And I'm thrilled that this coming Sunday, Thrive Theory is sponsoring a Lululemon Trunk Show at Harbor Yoga Studio in Old Dublin. Of course, no name was more fitting to me than: The Don't Forget to Breathe Trunk Show.

Relishing all the challenges & triumphs in life is what feeling centered is all about, and what Thrive Theory works to remind us. WE'LL BE RAFFLING OFF SOME BEAUTIFUL THRIVE THEORY ITEMS!
So take advantage and stop in on Sunday 12-2pm and say Hi. Meet Angie O'Brian & Heidi Bell, the incredible owners at Harbor Yoga, check out Lululemon's rockin' new workout apparel and have some treats while you're there. Hope to see you...

Namaste!

 

Friday
Feb032012

Outstanding Women

A few years ago, I wasn't aware
of many people talking about the importance of Women & Girls in
the world. After I read Kristof
and WuDunn's book Half the Sky,
I felt very far from the stories
they shared about the oppression of women in developing or underdeveloped countries. However I knew there were women
and girls here in Columbus, Ohio and across the country who have countless opportunities at their fingertips, yet who hold themselves back from creating the change they want to see in the world. We don't have to look far to see those who are afraid to let themselves change, learn and grow.

I thought about my mother, who graduated from high school
seriously believing her two options in life were to get married and have children or become a nun. And I thought about my kids, and
all the hopes I held for them. What could happen in the world to cause my daughter's opportunities to shrink to what they would have been 50 years ago, or 100 years ago? It didn't seem so hard to imagine. So I asked myself what could I do as a graphic designer
to help prevent this. My professional career to that point had taught
me many things, but nothing I thought had so much relevance for
my own kids. How could I grow to amplify my tiny impact in the world?

I developed Thrive Theory to demonstrate a positive example for
my kids. To show them that if they believe in something, they can make anything happen. How does anyone truly Thrive? It may take
a lifetime to discover, but no one can do it alone.

Since 2008, Sunny 95 has been recognizing women who don't let anything hold them back from helping others along this path, wherever they may be. This year they have included me in their
20 Outstanding Women You Should Know. To get to stand alongside women who have been recognized for what I value so deeply, I am touched and honored. And I am grateful that there are others who
see the value of celebrating the strengths of others, in both times of success and challenge. We are all connected, and we are the company we keep. Let's not forget to take care of ourselves so we can spread more L-O-V-E in the world...

And Happy Valentine's!

Click here to read Sunny 95's feature article.

 

 

Monday
Nov142011

THANKSGIVING

With Thanksgiving just a week away, we're very thankful for all the great support we've had since we launched at the beginning of 2010. This year has forced us to question what we truly want to provide for our amazing customers.

The answer has always been simple:

To help women & girls deeply connect with each other in love & support, while sharing this explicit intention:

When women feel empowered, there is more Peace, Health & Prosperity in the world.

To me, these ideals are critical in trying to build a more sustainable world. Just as Carl Jung argued, If there are problems in the world, they rise from problems within the individual... we define our time.

As a designer, I must satisfy my need to create products that promote my own values in the world, and I don't see them reflected often enough. This is the message I want us to rally around and share, to lift each other up one by one, so that we not only live fuller lives as women, not only do our daughters fulfill their potentials more often, but that all those ripples of love & support will envelope the entire world in more Peace, Health & Prosperity. This is, afterall, what all the data proves happens when women are empowered!

So a portion of all jewelry sales will continue to go to groups that encourage growth for women & girls through our Thrive Theory Foundation. For 2012, I'm designing-with-integrity many new & beautiful products that will make it even easier to share this message with the women & girls in your life. For now, my gift of thanks to you this holiday season is to keep our sterling silver jewelry collection, which is all hand-crafted in the USA, based on 2010 sterling silver costs, not the 2011 costs that have nearly TRIPLED over the past year!

This means that there are only a few items available in these jewelry styles, so once they're gone, they're gone!

Enjoy the new Paypal and shipping features on our site, and everything this holiday season brings!

Wednesday
May182011

Thank You Women's Fund!

 Last week Goldie Hawn graced Columbus, Ohio thanks to the Women's Fund of Central Ohio's annual Keyholder event. What an amazing night! Goldie talked about her book, A Lotus Grows in the Mud, where she shares her uplifting reflections of her life
in and out of the spotlight. It's
a rare perspective, for sure. She also shared the work she's done establishing the Hawn Foundation to develop a curriculum for kids
in school that nurtures their mindfulness. This roughly includes
their perception of happiness, their ability to handle stress, and their ability to build & maintain relationships. Not a small challenge by any means, but a well-proven approach that addresses concerns shared by many of us. By engaging experienced neuroscientists, educators and psychologists, she challenged them (and us) to provide better education & awareness for our kids so they have the skills necessary to create a more peaceful & sustainable future for us all.

Apparently it takes an Oscar-winning actress to not only call attention to these problems but also drive the collaboration to consider a solution. After reading her insightful book, it comes
as no surprise that she sees children's happiness as the key to unlocking our future progress. It's a fascinating and brilliant approach. It supports my belief that our future progress is inherently linked to supporting the passions of women and their ability
to connect with others to create a more sustainable world.

That's why we're such big fans of the Women's Fund, who grants money for women & girls in Central Ohio. They seek to drive social change by empowering women & girls. They are supporting our community in one of the most efficient ways possible. And they inspire us with icons like Goldie Hawn!

Thrive Theory is grateful to have been a part of that beautiful, Golden night last week. The Women's Fund asked to give Thrive Theory to their most dedicated volunteers, and as their appreciation gift to Goldie as well. To the Women's Fund, a big thank you for supporting Thrive Theory and sharing our message with so many amazing women in Columbus! We look forward to another inspiring event next year!

Friday
May062011

Queen Bee Syndrome?

Yes, it's Mother's Day weekend but I am distracted by a report that was featured on the Today show a few weeks ago. Apparently the latest news being discussed among psychotherapists and academics before the Royal Wedding kicked off was that by the time women make it to the top levels of leadership in the workplace, she's so fearful & insecure of losing her spot at the top that she becomes mean, vindictive, backstabbing, and generally makes the worst boss you could ever have. It also suggests that only the most competitive, ruthless women make it to the top in a workplace culture that encourages these kind of qualities in their successful males, yet they are not as appreciated in women--whether they're successful or not.

These experts also explained that ironically, the social theorists foretold a future where women bosses would be more compassionate and more supportive leaders. And their innate nurturing abilities would help foster the development of all their subordinates, particularly if they were also women. But no, these new studies show that pretty much the exact opposite is true. Women are actually more likely to help their male reports get promoted over their female reports to boot.

So what's going on here? The experts featured on the Today show seemed to have different ideas about why the Queen Bee Syndrome exists, but no one mentioned the biggest problem that seems blatantly obvious to me: Where are the nice women, the smart & capable women, and the nurturing women in this theory? Do they fear accepting higher roles in business because they don't want to be perceived as a Queen Bee, or a plain old be-ach? Do they have better things to do with their time than walk this path? What good does it do to label the successful women as bad, evil or overly masculine when they are so highly outnumbered by men, if not to keep it that way? Some stats help inform this perspective: according to the US Department of Labor, women made up 46.8% of the labor force in 2009, yet only 15.7% of corporate officers are women1. That is such
a disproportionate figure about today's workplace, I don't know how one can talk about working women without acknowledging such a severe imbalance.

Considering that Fortune 500 companies with a high percentage of women as corporate officers show an average 35% higher return on equity, it's not difficult to argue we need more women in the senior levels of business, not less. With more women at the top leading higher-performing companies, perhaps these associates would have better things to talk about than their Queen Bees.

Thrive Theory is the idea that we all need to be surrounded by people who want the best for us to actually achieve our best. Here's a good test: ask yourself if you're holding yourself back for fear that those around you might resent when you do succeed. If your gut response says yes, then you probably need more support in your life to become who you dream of being. We all need to be cheered on as we step into our futures, whether we're hitting our stride or hitting a speed bump. Everyone needs love & support to thrive, and we'll either help each other get there together, or we'll continue to hold ourselves back.

Take care of your Mothers and yourselves this holiday weekend!

 

1 2008 Catalyst Census of Women Corporate Officers and Top Earners of the Fortune 500 

Tuesday
Jan042011

Happy New Year!

We're rolling into 2011 and I hope it holds many wonderful discoveries for all of us. Thrive Theory has lots of exciting plans
for the coming year, including introducing new pieces each season. 2010 was the year to launch Thrive Theory and see if it all these random thoughts could come together and make any sense! The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, so much so that what seemed like a far-out theory when conceived in 2009 doesn't seem the least bit out of place heading into 2011. The TEDx Women conference last month confirmed that the tables are turning, women make over 50% of the workforce today, and we are ready to lead the way in increasing strides. This is a good thing, there are just too many indicators in the world reinforcing Thrive Theory's Key Principle #1: When Women are Happy, Everyone's Happier! And truly our mothers, daughters, sisters, nieces and friends need our support in making the most of these new and potentially overwhelming opportunities. 

The test for 2011 will be to evolve Thrive Theory from a promising new concept to a sustainable business. For me the initial startup 
was an exciting challenge, though not something I could do alone. Again, many thanks to everyone who helped us get Thrive Theory
off the ground in the past year. It will take more collaboration
and partnerships in the coming year to get it to the next level, so
we welcome you to share what you like about Thrive Theory and what you'd like to see, as well as who you'd like to see receive a Thrive Theory Award, and why. There are so many more people who are Encouraging Growth for Women & Girls and Sustaining Vitality for themselves whom we can't wait to share, we've only scratched the surface. We'd love to hear about who helps you Thrive too!

None of this would have been possible without the love & support I feel in my own life, and I hope everyone can become more aware of the love & support they need and receive in their life as well. The future is what we make it, and this recognition is truly an important place to start.

To much love & support in 2011!
Sunday
Nov282010

Thank You

We've just celebrated a long Thanksgiving weekend with lots
of family and friends in Columbus and Cleveland. Before it's officially over and the next holiday is upon us, I want to give a shout out to all the people who have been so generous with their support for Thrive Theory this year! I am grateful to all of you: those I've known forever, those I've been so fortunate to meet more recently, and more still whom I haven't even met yet! This has been an incredible year all about taking an idea and bringing it to life so it could be shared with others, and testing whether anyone else would get it or not. I'm so delighted that people not only get it, they share it, give it, and ask for it. It feels like a very good beginning. So as Thrive Theory heads into our first holiday season, I just want to thank you all from the bottom of my heart for everything you have done to make this possible.

Wherever you are, whatever you're celebrating, share the season
with the favorite people in your life and relish the joy it brings!
Then we'll all be sustaining vitality!

Sunday
Nov212010

Giving Thanks

This week of Thanksgiving,
Thrive Theory wants to honor someone we're very grateful to have met this year: the dynamic founder of Dames Bond, Mary B. Relotto. For those who read this post each week from the Dames
Bond newsletter, you already know what an amazing person she is. And for those of you who don't yet, I have to share. Dames Bond is
an organization that connects women-owned businesses and women-in-business with female consumers—so that pretty much includes
all of us. Besides a website recognized by ForbesWoman.com and Forbes.com as one of the Top 10 Career Sites for Women, monthly meetings are hosted by members which provide social opportunities
for women and businesses to connect. But that's just the beginning for Mary B. She's so connected to women in Columbus that when
the White House Council for Women & Girls and TEDxColumbus
want to connect with women here, she is one of the first they call.

Even forgetting all that, her sparkling & generous spirit just makes it
hard not to love her, especially since encouraging growth for women
is a passion we share. So I am also thankful that she's planned
a very special holiday event for Dames Bond next month! Saturday,
December 4, Dames Bond is hosting their holiday event "Peace of
Mind," to benefit Mental Health America of Franklin County. In
addition to being treated to celebrity host Shawn Ireland and a
fashion show sponsored by Role Model magazine, guests will see
local vendors, including Thrive Theory! It's a great opportunity to
check out the beautiful jewelry you see on this site, try it on, and
find the perfect gifts for the women & girls closest to your heart.
We're working on some new pieces that aren't even on the site yet...
here's a hint: they come in pairs. OK yes they're our very first
earrings, and I can hardly wait!

So come check us out at Easton at MI Homes Design Center (across from Pottery Barn Kids store) from 4-7pm. Please RSVP here. Thanks to Mary B. for supporting all the women in Columbus and beyond, because what she says is true: when Dames bond, Dames thrive!

For more information about Mary B. and Dames Bond, click here.

Friday
Nov122010

Honoring Catherine Scipione Forbes

This week's Thrive Theory Award
winner is someone who has made
a huge impact on my life, someone
who has sustained vitality through
tremendous transformations herself.
She's a woman who holds a PhD in
Statistics, is a professor at Monash
University in Australia, and together
with her husband raises two beautiful
children. But to become who she
was meant to be in this world,
she literally turned it upside down.

Cap, as she is affectionately known in my family, is my sister. The closest to me of my six siblings growing up, she's also seven years older than me. This made her a formidable rival as far as siblings
go (my favorite way to get under her skin was by insisting I was really older than she was, and in on the conspiracy with my parents). As we grew older, she was very much a wise mentor, advising me about boyfriends, girlfriends, school, and career ambitions. It was she who first encouraged me to pursue design. And though she decided to move home during graduate school as a cost-saving measure, when my mother became sick and quickly passed away, she was the glue that held my family together—for a little while anyway.

For not long after, she fell in love with a handsome Australian
PhD candidate who graduated before she did. She continued their relationship even when his visa expired and he returned to Australia. She knew she needed to see the other side of the world before she determined if she had to let him go or not. So after her graduation, she joined him in Melbourne. What started out as a two year plan soon became indefinite. They got married here in the US at a beautiful civil ceremony before she completed her religious conversion, became pregnant and took their Jewish vows in
Australia. My dad and I attended with some of our family,
but I returned feeling like maybe I had lost her forever.

She's been there over 18 years now, and though most visits seem too short and too far between, we always pick up where we left off like it's just been five minutes. Then a recent visit gave me new insight. She brought her entire family in the spring and hosted us for a Passover Seder dinner. She made the most delicious brisket and kugel. She served it wearing a funny headpiece, which we were all wearing thanks to her kids who had helped plan games during dinner to remind us how the ancient Israelites escaped slavery in Egypt.

I realized at that moment that my Catholic sister had truly become a Jewish mother, and clearly it was no accident. She identified strongly with the Jewish faith. One of the aspects that appealed to her was the more equal role in which women could participate. Women are eligible to become rabbis, equal to men at the highest level of leadership. And the special role Jewish mothers embody is a deeply honored tradition, because the responsiblity of passing down this faith to their children falls squarely in her hands. Cap was always a very spiritual, faithful person, but in my eyes, part of her was skeptical that our church's tradition provided the structure and respect for the knowledge and experiences that she sought. So I watched her grow to fulfill her dreams of having a brilliant family by moving to the other side of the world, embracing a new continent, a new culture, a new religion, and new challenges to become more fully herself. Though it was difficult for me at times, she demonstrated strength & courage, fearlessness & adventure, which I greatly admire. Without her at my side I set forth on my own adventures to overcome new challenges with a different support system, knowing she'd always be there for me, Down Under.

Neither one of us let the other, or ourselves, hold her back, and that's a pretty remarkable thing. We still cheer each other on no matter where we are. So this week I'm very happy to honor her,
my sister Cap!

Sunday
Nov072010

Discovering Virginia Hamilton

How is it that I am just learning about Virginia Hamilton, America's most honored writer of Children's literature? I don't remember learning about her when I was
in school, even though she was the first African-American writer to win a Newbery Award. It's likely a librarian introduced
my class to her books during Black
History Month at some point, but maybe the fact that I wasn't aware of the term "multiculturalism" until I went to college reveals my ignorance. Now I'm quite impressed that she's a female writer
whose papers have been catalogued in the Library of Congress, and that she's the first Children's book author to receive the MacArthur ("genius") Fellowship, among dozens of other lofty recognitions.
And I'm fascinated that the Conference in her name on Multicultural Literature for Youth at Kent State University has been going on
for 25 years.

A recently published collection of her writings by her husband
Arnold Adoff, with writer/editor Kacy Cook, entitled Virginia Hamilton: Speeches, Essays & Conversations finally introduced
her to me. In these speeches, she talks about her creative process,
her family, and her passion for writing every single day. She
explains that none of her characters ever die in her stories, despite the sometimes overwhelming circumstances she created for them. Instead she insisted they overcome and survive, because she thought real life was already full of senseless death. 

I am inspired by her words, by her ability to write so powerfully,
and by the example she set that I'd like to think made the reality
of race in my lifetime less of a barrier separating each of us from one another. Though there is still much to learn from her stories
as issues of race, culture and equality continue to complicate our
world, the ripples she cast out from her work did help change it.
My impression is that at the time she wrote these stories, she wasn't entirely convinced that they would. Sadly she passed away in 2002 from breast cancer, so I thank Arnold & Kacy for highlighting her wisdom and remarkable contributions, and honor them both with this week's Thrive Theory Award. My hope is that Virginia Hamilton will
be known to many more people outside of the literary world and
Black History Month as simply an iconic, American writer.

More information about Virginia Hamilton is available here.
Kacy Cook's highly acclaimed novel Nuts, the first in a series for
kids, is also available here.

Saturday
Oct302010

Honoring Beckie Boger of Divine Equines

The Thrive Theory Awards honor those who are encouraging growth and/or sustaining vitality for women & girls. Our latest recipient has a very unique perspective to share from her work helping women & girls overcome trauma and tragedy. Beckie Boger, President of Divine Equines, provides Equine Assisted Human Development to those dealing with a wide range of challenges. She describes the attraction to and connection many women and girls have with horses as "the stuff of the mythical heroes' journey inward to the authentic self, resplendent with dreams of flying and escape and the freedom of rising above to find ourselves... to be come more fully human, more powerfully feminine."

How does this notion of a woman's deep psychological, or even spiritual, connection to a horse help them overcome trauma? More frequently these days, she says her clients are overcoming experiences of sex trafficking or combat military service. With the modern interest to promote equality in every level of government, the goal has been to allow more women to serve in the armed forces, including engaging in combat. Rarely does anyone talk of the unique toll this takes on women, though its toll on men has been well documented. And those words, "sex trafficking," regarding women who live in Central Ohio, women in my community who have survived this reality and also need tremendous healing. How difficult it must be for those in either of these situations to return to a "normal" life and tend to the needs of others, even in their own family. This is what Beckie says about connecting with a 1,000 pound animal, who is highly intuitive and sensitive, to teach these women how to thrive in their lives with purpose and worth:

The clients who find their way to the experiential counseling services we offer at Divine Equines arrive at our barn emotionally exhausted and unable to express and process their true feelings in a healthy, productive way. They are depressed, anxious and often angry at the world. Due to their traumatic life experiences they are suffering from loss in one form or another: loss of self-worth and respect, loss of loved ones or important relationships, or loss of their dreams for a happy life. By partnering and building a relationship with a horse during their eight-to-twelve weeks of emotional growth and healing sessions, they learn how to have confidence in themselves and begin to trust their world again.

It's important to note that not every client is involved with her horses at such a deep level. Some come for team or leadership building, while others use the opportunity to grow their self-awareness without overcoming deep levels of trauma. But especially for her ongoing work to help women and girls overcome the loss of her personal power by creating such a fantastic bond with a magnificent horse, we honor Beckie Boger and wish her continued success. She is a true model of our shared ideals at Thrive Theory! Thank you Beckie.

You can learn more about Beckie's incredible work at www.dequines.com.