Honoring Zainab Salbi

Honoring Zainab Salbi

Women & girls seem to be defined as the linchpin to prosperity in the US and in developing countries as well, while economic opportunities for women have been credited with substantially spurring growth in China and other countries over the past few decades. Here in the Midwest and across the country, it may be difficult to understand how growth for women can be such a significant variable. So today Thrive Theory honors an amazing woman whose own growth has led
to helping hundreds of thousands of women overcome unthinkable obstacles and create stability and opportunities, for themselves
and others.

Zainab Salbi grew up in Iraq, where her parents were close friends of Saddam Hussein himself. Her father was actually his personal pilot and her mother a biologist. As Zainab grew up as a frequent guest at his palace, unbeknownst to her she began to attract the dictator's insatiable (and terrifying) eye. Her mother, an uncharacteristically progressive Iraqi woman who believed in education and opportunities for her bright daughter, saw the dangerous situation unfolding and by the time she was twenty, she quickly arranged a marriage for her daughter that would get her to America and to safety, she hoped. Unaware of this situation or her mother's true intentions, Zainab was confused but wanted to please her parents. She married this Iraqi man who lived in the US, only to find him abusive. She divorced him, but could not understand how her mother could have sent her away to this misery. As the first Gulf War surged in Iraq, she could not go home, yet feared revealing her identity. So she kept quiet about who she was and where she came from. She started her own organization called Women for Women International, to help women in war-torn countries where violence against women is an effective weapon of mass destruction. After more than a decade passed since moving to the US, she still hadn't revealed her family's relationship to Saddam Hussein. Then she met a woman in Congo who confided the horrifying facts about the rebels who raped and tormented her and her family. She decided that if this woman could talk about the unimaginable things that happened to her, then she must also find the courage to share her own story. So she began telling it, and she continues to fight for the women suffering and seemingly forgotten amidst the battles and casualties of war. Women for Women International not only provides support for women who are learning how to become self-sufficient, they also provide direct mentorship to these women so they are aware that someone, on the other side of the world, cares for them and wants to see them succeed in their struggles. After 17 years they've distributed over $79 million in direct aid/micro credit loans, and helped more than 800,000 family members. They were the first women's organization to receive the Conrad Hilton Humanitarian Award in 2006; she's been on Oprah eight times; and she continues to receive awards and honors for her ongoing work.

Now she can add the Thrive Theory Award to her impressive list, because not only did Zainab Salbi overcome her own story of tragedy and suffering, she's helping other women move on beyond theirs, all over the world. What's the impact of just one woman? It can be infinite. That's Thrive Theory anyway. Thank you to Zainab Salbi for proving this so exquisitely.

You can read about Zainab Salbi's story as I did in Half the Sky, or in her own words in Between Two Worlds: Escape from Tyranny: Growing up in the shadow of Saddam. To find out more visit Women for Women International.


Men, Boys, Girls & Women

Last week the White House Council for Women & Girls held a call for women in Ohio to discuss how the federal government is addressing the concerns of women & girls at all levels of every department. Two questions came up that still have me thinking about Men, Boys, Girls and Women.

The first question: How to change the mindset of men & boys, to understand the importance of women & girls in business, in government, in the world. Their response was that there are incredible men partnering in this and they must lead by example (President Obama was their case in point). It made me think about how my own husband has taught me the importance of other female role models in my life. I grew up with many, but as I grew older I needed more. He comes from a family of strong women: his mother raised him & his two older sisters, singlehandedly, for several years until she remarried a man with three kids of his own. They are an extremely tightly knit family, and have taught me much about strength, love & forgiveness. The women in this large, Italian family support each other every day, and they certainly support their men. As a result, these men inherently know how important this is for all women, and they're quick to recognize when they're not getting it.

In my opinion, when women truly support and encourage each other, the men & boys around them can't help but notice how they benefit from the happier women in their lives; they provide more for everyone. It's a win-win, but perhaps some will have to experience this unfolding themselves to believe it. Many stories in the book Half the Sky about impoverished women stepping up to become empowered in their communities, and then successful, reflected just that: a turn-around in support from their husbands and even the live-in in-laws. Until these women demonstrated their own strength & capability in providing more for herself and in turn her whole family, they bore the cruel brunt of everyone else's frustrations.

The second question: How can we raise stronger girls, since girls today frequently have such low self-esteem and self-respect, leading to problems with eating disorders and bullying (her examples). The response was that it's out of government's hands, it's up to the rest of us to address these challenging issues. To me, that's the purpose of "Sustaining Vitality". Sustaining Vitality means fighting the lies of negative body image, eating disorders, bullying, jealousy, gossip, critical self-thoughts and unhappiness. It's about believing we all deserve a happy, healthy life and taking steps to make it happen; growing wiser, living with verve; overcoming what we've lost and celebrating what we have; challenging us all to help others and help ourselves; finding our passion and sharing it. It's about taking the next step, and relentlessly fighting fear. Girls can't learn HOW to do this without role models to demonstrate this behavior; in fact none of us can. Could it be there simply aren't enough of us modeling it? Or did we forget the power of our own impact?

We're being challenged to step up, for the sake of our girls. Perhaps for ourselves too. Don't perpetuate lies about others or fall for the lies you tell yourself. The truth is, strength begins within.


Honoring Christine Cooper Hill

To anyone familiar with this exquisite line of gold & sterling jewelry, it's obvious that Christine Cooper Hill has a timeless sense of style and an acute appreciation for detail. But to anyone who knows Chris Hill personally, they know how her desire to connect with others through her beautiful jewelry by making them feel beautiful is at the core of her identity as an artist. The simple, uncluttered sihouettes of the British Arts & Crafts movement recur in her work, while the philosophy of their lifestyle also inspires it: working close to home in small studios to strike a practical balance between working & living, they celebrated fine craftsmanship and encouraged leaving a small footprint in contrast to the emerging Industrial Revolution.

As we continue to evolve from that period today, she allows the practical realities of living a sustainable life to nurture her design decisions. They emphasize substantial yet fluid forms over cheaply reproduced trinkets; intentional brilliance over thoughtless bling; and inconspicuous consumption over conspicuous over-consumption. Her work enhances a woman of style, beauty and depth; a woman who is, perhaps, less aware of her own beauty than are those around her.

Through her own Cooper Hill Studio, Chris also acts as a mentor to other developing gold & silversmiths. From early on she has been an
advisor for Thrive Theory, while she was also one of the very first
to test and prove this theory true. So to one who creates beauty
for women to always help them feel beautiful, while fearlessly
and generously inspiring other talented artists, we recognize Christine Cooper Hill this week and thank her for encouraging
growth & sustaining vitality in us all.

Christine Cooper Hill's line of fine jewelry is available at the Diamond Cellar, and you can see it here. (For the record
Thrive Theory was not asked nor compensated for this article.)


Thrive Theory Honors Marie Wilson

Welcoming readers from DamesBond! This network of women business owners & female consumers has got it right: When Dames Bond, Dames Thrive! We think so too, and we're excited to be Dames ourselves! Our Thrive Theory Awards honor those who are helping women thrive, not just survive:

When it comes to encouraging growth for women & girls as we do at Thrive Theory, Marie Wilson is as good as it gets. She is President & Founder of the White House Project, a national, nonpartisan, not-for-profit organization which aims to advance women’s leadership in all communities and sectors, up to the U.S. presidency. (Wow!) Particularly interesting is her recent Letter to the Editor published in New York Times in which she commented on their article by Brian Stelter, “Seeing a Tilt in Sunday Talk.” His article suggested there is a lack of diversity in the experts featured on Sunday news programs. Marie has been talking about this since 2001, when research published by The White House Project found these talk shows featured women as experts only 13% of the time. Despite leadership & expertise women have earned in business & in congress, this report revealed that women simply are not invited to these shows. And when they are not featured as experts with their male counterparts, it subtly skews one's perception of women as experts and their ability to lead.

Even as recently as 2008, this issue was addressed in an article by Carol Jenkins in The Christian Science Monitor, "Voices Too Often Missing in Op-Ed Land: Women's," noting that only 14% of the Letters to the Editor were published in The Washington Post by women, and an equal percentage by minorities. Rutgers University found in their research of the same period that in Op-Eds published by academics, male experts were referenced 97% of the time in The Wall Street Journal and 82% in The New York Times. Jenkins points out the trouble with this inequity is that editorials influence decisionmakers and policies nationally. If they are only taking in voices from one half of our population, they are not reflecting real situations people are dealing with every day.

Marie Wilson is setting a great example by contributing a Letter to the Editor to a national newspaper to call attention to this disturbing imbalance. You can also be referenced as an expert in your field, it's perhaps easier than you think. The website connects journalists, producers and bookers looking for female guests & sources for an array of media outlets and expertise. is also sponsored in part by The White House Project, so thank you to Marie Wilson for working to change this reality and encouraging growth in us all!

(For the record, Thrive Theory was not asked nor compensated to discuss this issue)


Heart of the Theory

There are many ways of thinking about Thrive Theory. To kick off some of the principles it's based upon, I'll share a quote my friend Christine Wagner just gave me today, which is actually at the very heart of my thinking:

"And the day came when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom." -Anais Nin

I've been struggling with how to say this best and of course it's already been said. For me, I became aware that the work I loved doing as a designer was not always aligned to the values I held for myself and my family, personally. Sometimes I had even set my personal values aside to stay focused on the job or task at hand, which I believed to be the 'professional' way. Eventually it became very clear that this approach was not serving me well and I wondered if it was possible to align my life more simply around my personal values. So I challenged myself to let my design work reflect the things that matter most to me, in ways I could use to demonstrate to myself and my kids the things which are important to me and what I am doing, in my small way, to make a bigger impact in the world. This new approach I cautiously began to test, one small step at a time. My family, especially my mother and sisters, had always helped guide me to the decisions that kept me focused on using my talents and my abilities to their best use, my 'higher calling' my mother would say. Though this took me years to understand, these women were my inspiration for the Thrive Theory symbol, because I wished everyone could have the neverending love & support I grew up with. Over the years I had to open up to new influences, new friends, new opportunities, and let go of the outgrown ways in which I thought of myself. Though--or maybe Because--I've been fortunate to feel generous love & support from those around me, my biggest challenge to overcome has been my own limited thinking of myself.

As I have learned, "A seed must die to being a seed to become a tree."

The Thrive Theory symbol demonstrates the need for both love & support in one's life, and the beauty in that. It's just so easy to take for granted, how could one know for certain they didn't have enough? Perhaps when one can be the love & support for someone else they feel they need, one finds it within herself? Perhaps this is how we grow stronger and more vibrant. That's my deepest hope for us all.


Connecting to the Framingham Heart Study

Before I turned one, my family moved to Medway, Massachusetts and lived there til right before my eighth birthday. Medway is a small town less than an hour from Boston, and just a few miles from the town of Framingham. I've been reading a lot about Framingham lately, where researchers started following 5,124 residents age 18-91 in that community in 1948, checking in with their subjects every four years to determine what behaviors linked to cardiovascular disease. It led to discoveries about the risk factors of heart disease, including smoking and hypertension. This thorough data collection even tracked subjects' family, friends, and co-workers while it documented details on their emotional well-being in addition to their physical health. Recently another set of researchers combed through this information, mapping the social connections of all of these people which totalled over 50,000 for more than fifty years, to determine what patterns emerged. The results have been so remarkable it's been referenced on both PBS' This Emotional Life and Wired magazine's October 2009 issue. Their work demonstrates that not only do we have a significant emotional impact on each other, our impact ripples out and continues to impact our friends' friends, and even their friends, whether or not we even know them. It's not until four degrees of seperation, or our friends'-friends'-friends'-friends, that we do not impact their emotional well-being.

So I started to wonder about my life in Medway. It's entirely possible that my Dad worked with someone who lived in Framingham and was actually a subject of this study. If so, it's conceivable that events that occurred in my Dad's world and within my family could have statistically impacted one of the people in that study. Actually, my Dad and any of us could have been one of those colorful blips in that mapping study. There were several events that could have easily been passed along: when my siblings graduated from high school, when I started kindergarten, when my brother was born; happiness has proven to be as contagious as the common cold. And even if we weren't actually blips on the researchers screen, the remarkable thing is that we're all blips on someone's screen. It's impossible to know how far our reach extends without us even doing anything special, it's just the way we're wired. We can't even help it. It's impossible not to. So to think that our moods can make such an impact with our friends, that it actually keeps going through two more layers of people? I can't imagine a more compelling way of thinking of each person's power and potential.

As soon as I heard about this study, I felt like it was scientific proof that Thrive Theory's visual hypothesis is true. The study even confirms that 6-7 people are really the most very-close relationships one person can maintain. That's fortunate for Thrive Theory, because there's seven petals around the heart at the symbol's center, and each one represents a different person who encourages the little blossom to grow stronger. Debbie Phillips says that each blade of grass has its own angel above it, smiling & cheering it on to "Grow! Grow!" Wouldn't the world be an amazing place if each one of us felt we had those angels? Because each one tiny voice would continue to echo beyond each of us through our moods, even cheering on our friends'-friends'-friends. I wonder what would happen then?


Thrive Theory Honors Jamie Eslinger

This month's Thrive Theory Award goes to Jamie Eslinger, whom I was fortunate to meet recently at a Women on Fire event in Chicago. Besides being a striking beauty, (if I didn't know better I'd swear she's Gwyneth Paltrow's sister) she really personifies the inspiration behind Thrive Theory. She was gracious enough to share her story when I asked what 'sustaining vitality' means to her:

As a 19 year cancer survivor I think about sustaining vitality all the time.

I was 17 years old when diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Disease, a lymphatic cancer that was only discovered because I was an avid athlete and basketball player. One month later, my mother “Mama Sling” was diagnosed with breast cancer. Our lives changed forever: delete basketball practice and replace with surgeries and hospital visits, delete my mother’s dreams of seeing her daughter grow up and replace with creating memories of losing our hair together.

Yesterday was Mother’s Day. I am reminded I now have 11 anniversaries of motherless Mother’s Days. Eleven Mother’s Day celebrations without Mama Sling to call and say ‘I love you’, without her shoulder to cry on, and without her warm hugs every day in between.

Even though Mama Sling couldn’t continue this journey with me, she made it clear that she wanted me to survive and shine on. But surviving isn’t enough. Thriving is my goal --- and sustaining vitality is exactly how I think of thriving.

If there is one thing I have learned through my adventures in both sickness and health, it is the proverbial wave of “change” is always around the corner. Unexpected events happen. Plans sometimes change even if you don’t want it, sometimes before you are ready for change. And, sometimes change just doesn’t happen soon enough.

The magic formula for sustaining vitality is a personal mix of rest and rejuvenation, love and care, friends and family. It is just as much mental as it is physical: the thoughts we have, the food we eat.

We have one body. Even though it throws change at us --- how can it be that this same body has run a marathon, survived cancer, been a size 6 and a size 12? Embracing my body and physical abilities for what they are “in the moment”, is the best gift I can give myself to thrive. It’s not always easy, but acceptance and love is a key.

For me, thriving is a constant journey of reminding myself to take a break, to enjoy the moment I am in, to worry less, to move into my fear (even the really silly things) and to celebrate who I love and what I love with verve. To embrace who I am in this wonderful moment is vitality sustained.

To thrive is to belong to a circle of support. To support a friend, to share with a loved one, and to give back is vitality not only sustained --- but multiplied by two and then passed on. Just as Mama Sling passed a spirit to live and love on to me.

Thank you so much Jamie, those must have been tough 'adventures' but provide great inspiration for the rest of us. I must acknowledge that Mother's Day is not always an easy holiday to celebrate. But the ability we have to share our love & support and embrace each wonderful moment, whether the moment is happy or sad, is a gift of its own.

Here's to living & loving with verve!

Jamie is a marketing professional with over 15 years experience in consumer brands, pr & promotions and online advertising. A marketing consultant by day at, she is also the founder of, providing inspiration, leadership & coaching for women.



Happy Mother's Day!

As the big holiday quickly approaches this weekend, I hope everyone makes a special effort to celebrate the women who have helped shape their lives! Where would you be without them??

In honor of this year's occasion, describes the wealthiest Moms in the world. With just 70 billionaire mothers in existence, only 8 of them (that's just 10%) actually worked for their fortunes, rather than marrying or inheriting it. Isn't that fascinating??? This quote I loved from Margaret (Meg) C. Whitman, "You don't have to be perfect, but you can't be timid." This wise advice came from her own mother, before Meg went on to graduate from Princeton & Harvard Business School and climb her way onto the Forbes Billionaire List in 2004. Now she's running for Governor of California to replace Arnold Schwarzenegger? Of course she is, she can do anything she wants. Because she's a billionaire? Well, probably. Because her mother groomed her to be perfect? No. Her mother actually Encouraged her to Grow without being timid. Now, at age 53, the CEO of eBay and, as puts it, "the first self-made white female billionaire" seems as though she is just hitting her stride. At Thrive Theory, we call that Sustaining Vitality.

Let's encourage all our moms, sisters & friends our there to do the same... Sustain Vitality, that is. The Forbes Billioniare List may take a little more time.



A Birthday Blessing

My good friend Christine gave a Thrive Theory Charm Bracelet to her neice for her birthday. This is such a beautiful note, I appreciate her letting me share it with you:

Dear Ashton,

Happy Seventeenth Birthday!

Especially this year, I wanted to be sure and tell you how much I love you, and how much you continue to enrich my life. A good friend of mine has created a charm that speaks about women and girls supporting one another. She used the scientific symbol for women to begin. Then she put a heart in the middle of it to symbolize love and the open-heartedness we have for each other whether we are family or friends. Then around the symbol she added flower petals, to stand for other people who are there for us, loving us and supporting us throughout our life, in good times and bad.

The charm is an object that symbolizes for me all the loving support, all the reaching out, and all the unconditional acceptance women and girls can give to one another. You and your friends are part of an ever widening circle of women and girls who are lifting each other up, whether they are sending their support from a distance or laughing and crying in the same room with each other. Recognizing these supportive people in your life is a gift to yourself. They are the ones who will help you to thrive, which is why the designer has named the charms “thrive theory”. A theory is an idea, and “thrive theory” is the idea that together, we all can thrive.

And so, I recognize you. Thank you for the love and laughter you bring to my life.

I love you! Aunt Tina

How lovely, I feel so privileged to be a part of that exchange. Her neice will never forget the specific intention she bestowed upon it. She'll be reminded of something that is very easy to take for granted, yet can make all the difference in the world.

Thanks Christine, and Happy 17th to Ashton!!


Wise Words from Annie Leibovitz

Recently I happened to be on the Louis Vuitton website and was intrigued about a movie there which featured Annie Leibovitz and Mikhail Baryshnikov. The two were very casually shot reminiscing about what their working collaborations and friendship was like for more than thirty years. Her most famous photo of Baryshnikov was taken in White Oak, FL and featured him dancing on a piano against a simple backdrop in the woods. I appreciates this voyeuristic opportunity to see them talk about their creative process and what objectives they set out to achieve personally throughout their long, brilliant careers. (and I think it was probably the first time I ever saw Leibovitz in front of the camera) At one point she said something I really just loved, she mentioned something that "no one talks about that much... how interesting it gets—when you get older. You start to know what you are doing, and it's almost thrilling to get to be this age, on some level..." While some poeple might dwell on the legal issues that have come up in the past year, and I won't argue that she's got it all figured out, but the notion that growing older could be "thrilling" is a powerful thought, no? I mean, who ever says that?? Beautiful.

For her ability to Sustain Vitality through her creative expression as she has done so masterfully these past 30 years, Thrive Theory says, "Go Annie!" and thanks for the inspiration.


Thrive Theory Honors Valerie Jarrett

Last month I was so excited to see that the White House had created the White House Council on Women & Girls. Of course I thought that was perfect timing, since Thrive Theory launched just a month earlier to encourage the growth of Women & Girls also. But it's apparent that many people across the country and around the world are recognizing the importance of the development of Women & Girls to build strong communities, strong families, and strong lives everywhere. Then I read about Valerie Jarrett, the woman whom President Obama selected to chair this new council. She is credited with having a very close relationship with both the President and First Lady for many years, ever since she, as Chicago Mayor Daley's Deputy Chief of Staff in 1991, hired Michelle Robinson into his office and was introduced to her then-fiance over dinner. She helped introduce the future president to “a wealthier and better-connected Chicago than their own.” (This is all according to Wikipedia and the credits listed there, so if it's inaccurate I would never know). But this is the part I really love: "She attributes her switch from a private to a public career to their daughter Laura's birth and her own desire to do something that would make the daughter proud." Well, isn't that what we all strive for, really? So she takes this couple under her wing and now they're the First Family; she's still a highly trusted confidante of the President and member of his cabinet, and she chairs this highly prominent council established to "lift up the prospects for our daughters," according to the President's speech at the International Women's Day Celebration this year.

I'd like to honor Valerie Jarrett with a Thrive Theory Award, for her pioneering efforts in Encouraging Growth for Women & Girls in the United States. And I can't help but think of the other strong women who have helped the President & First Lady all throughout their lives on the path to the highest office in the land: their beautiful mothers & grandmothers in particular, and of the legacy they are creating for their daughters. Of course men are important, but women are equally important, sometimes especially when they are behind the scenes. It's a great case study to prove how important women's nurturing is to the lives of an individual, a family, a community, and the world. Thank you Valerie, you set a wonderful example for us all to follow!

For a link to the White House Council on Women & Girls, click here.


Gift giving

The last few weeks have been very exciting as I have been fulfilling lots of jewelry orders! Each occasion I feel so honored to be a part of: a wife's birthday; a dear friend's book publishing; daughters' birthdays; and Mother's Day gifts for moms, sisters & sisters-in-law. Many people are buying them for themselves, which I especially love, because I see their eyes light up instantly as they process what the Thrive Theory Symbol means to them. One woman even insisted this was the tattoo symbol she's been looking for! Mostly I interpret their appreciation as always knowing how special women & girls are, even if they're only thinking about the women & girls in their lives, and being able to honor and support them is a cause they're always open to. Even just talking about this concept has helped some of the women close to me share their most protected ambitions, which may be too fledgling to share with others yet. Being the confidante of these treasured hopes and dreams is something I have always aspired to. Now it is extremely satisfying to support others on their journey to fulfill their desires because Thrive Theory is that journey for me.

So for those of you giving Thrive Theory or receiving Thrive Theory, I welcome your stories about what it means to you, in your own words. I'd like to know if my intention of what the Thrive Theory Symbol means is actually what is being received.

And if you're thinking about giving Thrive Theory, right now there is plenty of stock available for Mother's Day on May 9. Gift presentation of each piece is quite lovely, which I haven't mentioned anywhere yet, but quantities are definitely limited so it's best to order early to get your preference.

Many thanks!


Women on Fire

Last week I was fortunate to attend a Women on Fire Tea Party here in Columbus, OH. There are so many things I want to say about this, I'll start by filling you in on some background. Women on Fire was founded by Debbie Phillips, an executive coaching pioneer whom I am happy to know; I consider her a mentor & friend. As Debbie puts it, she started the Tea Parties so the fabulous women she was coaching had a chance to meet each other to share Inspiration, Strategies & Support, in a very loose 'network' of friends. Now the Tea Parties take place regularly across the country, as do Women on Fire coaching groups; there's a book and a video; Debbie contributes to, and is featured in the new book, 'How the Fierce Handle Fear'. Could there be any doubt that Women on Fire impacted the creation of Thrive Theory?

I participated in the original coaching group that started in Columbus in 2008 and met the most wonderful women. The group was led by an amazing coach in her own right, Andrea Dowding, and though we've been 'disbanded' for a while we all continue to cheer each other on in our various endeavors. Last December I went to my first official Tea Party, when I was so excited about launching Thrive Theory I could barely contain myself. This time Andrea asked me to bring some jewelry samples along with me to share with everyone, and I was happy to oblige. It was thrilling to be able to show what I had been talking about and fill them in on what had happened since December, even though few of the attendees were actually there in December. It didn't matter, the feelings of support and enthusiasm are always constant and appreciated, no matter who's  'on fire', who's 'simmering', or who's 'burned out'. It's always a joy.

You may wonder, how did Women on Fire impact Thrive Theory? For me, realizing that all of us seemed to be juggling the same balls, no matter our age, career, family, history or ambitions, was quite powerful. Does everyone get the same things out of these experiences? Certainly not, but that's the beauty of it. It definitely delivers Inspiration, Strategies & Support, in whatever measure you need them.

So I will continue to write about my inspirations from Women on Fire in more detail. But to Debbie and Andrea and all the Women on Fire I've known, my deep gratitude for your friendship & everything else! And finally, a Women on Fire link is included on Thrive Theory for those of you who haven't had the pleasure yet.

Warmly, Jenn



Happy International Womens Day!

Well, it was yesterday, March 8, and I stumbled upon this occasion quite accidentally when I googled 'Mothers Day 2010' to confirm its date this year (it's May 9, BTW). Shouldn't I have heard of this before? Apparently, it's celebrated around the world, the way we celebrate Mother's Day. "Men are seen giving gifts, admirations, and flowers to their mothers, girlfriends, wives, sisters, daughters, nieces, and to all women in the world," reports, though there were so many ads on the page, I questioned if this story was in fact a story, or just another ad. They showed an awful logo of the event, and I felt sad that I had no awareness of this seemingly legitimate occasion. Who's getting flowers & gifts? No one I know of...

Then a note from empowerment expert Gail Straub confirmed that there are Americans who know of this day. She included a quote from Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn’s Half the Sky: “In the nineteenth century, the paramount moral challenge was slavery. In the twentieth century it was totalitarianism. In this century, it is the brutality inflicted on so many women and girls around the globe: sex trafficking, acid attacks, bride burnings and mass rape.” She goes on to say "there is also a growing consensus among government, business and grassroots sectors that it is the most effective way to fight global poverty and extremism." Wow, that changes my whole perspective. Who cares about flowers & chocolates when the violance and brutality women & girls are suffering all over the world is so relentless... we all have a lot more to celebrate, don't we?

Apparently the first IWD was in 1911, and this year's U.N. theme is “Equal Rights, Equal Opportunities: Progress for All." Apparently Diane Von Furstenburg celebrates the occasion every year; she hosted a small party in NYC for singer Estelle and Brazilian artist Panmela Castro-Anarkia to raise money for the group founded by Hillary Clinton as First-Lady to empower disenfranchised women, Vital Voices.

So we have our very own holiday in March! I think we've needed another holiday in March! And clearly, so much work to do to increase awareness & appreciation for women & girls in the US and around the world. This is definitely an occasion we'll celebrate at Thrive Theory from now on, I hope you'll join us!


Thrive Theory Awards

While the Academy celebrated it's brightest stars last night, I'd like to celebrate a few much closer to home. We received the terrible news this weekend that one of the Dudes from the "Dudes! Where's My Hair?" Show last month passed away on Saturday, March 6, 2010. Seth Jenkins touched our hearts as he shared his triumphant story of life, fun, good friends & family at the show, and then serenaded us on his guitar. I cried the whole way through it, and felt like I would not have been more moved if Carlos Santana himself were playing right in front of me. (Click here to see Seth's inspiring performance.) As I struggled to comprehend how this vibrant boy was heading into a bone marrow transplant within the next few months, he slipped into a coma just two days after the performance and never revived. My deepest condolences go out to his family and friends, I am so fortunate to have witnessed his strong performance and to know of his talent & story.

So to all of the Dudes, I continue to be particularly touched by what beautiful lives you have with all the love & support that surrounds you. I'd like to honor you all with a Thrive Theory Award. It's silly to separate the boys from the girls in this group, you're all growing strong with vitality! That's how we say it at Thrive Theory anyway. It's easy to celebrate life when we come out on top and everything is great, but you celebrate life even when it's really, really, really hard. You set a brilliant example for all of us to follow. I'm glad you have each other and such wonderful families, and of course Miss La Pats, to lift your spirits. I have no doubt that you will reach your dreams someday: Hannah will become a great teacher; Harrison will ride motorcycles and do the Beatles proud; Coryn be singing on Broadway; and Noah will reach the Olympics and the Big Screen someday. Together with Sam & Seth, you're all the brightest stars. While I'll never forget them, I can't wait to see what comes from you next!

Your biggest fan, Jenn Bajec



Inspiring the Thrive Theory

I've credited The Girl Effect with inspiring the development of Thrive Theory, but I was never aware of any personal connection to a third world country until I was preparing to launch it. That's when I learned that my daughter's after-school caregiver Miss Beth, whom I'd known for almost a year, had started her own mission in Uganda together with her husband. Transformed from a previous visit, they secured land in the Mayuge district near Lake Victoria, and defined their mission to help secure basic needs for the people there such as clean water, mosquito nets, and medical resources, while envisioning goals in child care, education, and developing skills for youth and adults alike. They had already filed for a charitable organization tax status so they could start collecting donations that will send them, along with their beautiful, toddler son, to actually live in this area of desperate need.

To say the least I was amazed. Here is this energetic teacher and young mother, excellent at her job and seemingly very happy with her family situation, who would rather leave all the conveniences of a developed nation so she can move across the globe to help improve the lives of others in greater need. She will face challenges on her journey that I probably can't even imagine, and yet together with her family, she is radiant in her determination to use her talents to make a greater impact in the world. I am certain they will succeed in the goals they set out to accomplish despite whatever obstacles they encounter. She inspires me because she proves the Thrive Theory by demonstrating The Girl Effect: when women are socially & economically stable, everyone benefits. Not that we all have to literally move to a third world country, but what good, what help, would more people fearlessly seek, for themselves & for others, if we were all encouraged to grow to our full potential? That's what Thrive Theory seeks to encourage anyway, because I wonder just how strong and how stable could this world, and each one of us in it, possibly be?

Information regarding Miss Beth's mission and her lovely family is available at


Made in the USA

I've had a few inquiries about where this jewelry is produced. It makes me glad to see others share my concerns about where things are produced, particularly since we've seen so many issues of toxic contaminants showing up in products coming from overseas. I'm proud to report that all of the Thrive Theory Charms are produced and hand-finished in the US, just as all of the sterling chains currently featured on this website are produced in the US, of solid .925 sterling silver.

Today I also had a request for a custom piece featuring the Thrive Theory symbol. That's very exciting for me to talk about and I'll do my best to accommodate special requests whenever possible. As always, thanks for all of the wonderful feedback, product inquiries and orders, keep 'em coming! 

Warm wishes, Jenn


Dude! Where's My Hair?!?

Tonight I was honored to be part of Hair Theater's show featuring Pat Wynn Brown, the Columbus BlueJackets, and the amazing Dudes who have all been battling serious diseases which have impacted their own hair stories. Truly amazing! Thanks to Hannah Stull, Seth Jenkins, Harrison Ringel, Coryn Lord and Noah Schaefer for sharing their stories and their talents, I look forward to watching your stars continue to rise! And to the beautiful Samantha McCarthy who passed away last October at the age of 11, what a heartbreaking loss to those her life touched. Her grandmother Mimi read her story and was crowned as the night's Queen by Miss LaPats and 10TV News anchor Andrea Cambern. I presented the first official Thrive Theory Charm Bracelet to Mimi, and felt so privileged to help make the night a special celebration for her.

This show raised money for the Hair Theater Wig Fund at the Columbus Foundation, to buy hats & wigs for women in need who are losing their hair to cancer or alopecia. Thrive Theory will contribute to the Wig Fund 10% of all jewelry orders as well as $5 from any The Original Thrive Theory Tee sales at til the end of March. Pricing is now available and you can submit your requests for orders on the 'Sterling Jewelry' page until direct purchases are available. Quantities are limited so get on the list early, and thanks to everyone for all the awesome feedback!


Many Thanks

Since this is my first entry, I'm figuring anyone who actually reads this is probably the friends & family I've sent this link to. So it's a good moment to give special thanks to some of the people who have been so supportive to me. Most especially thanks are due to the amazing boys in my life, Dennis & Garrett, who are never far from my thoughts or my side even though I focus most attention here on the twin chromosomes. None of this would be possible without them as they seem to complement everything I do, think & feel.

My Dad is the next one I owe many thanks to, together with his wife Ruth. The support they have both given me has been unwavering for as long as I can remember, and if I ever start to waver they're right there to cheer me on. You're the best.

To my extended family & friends who have helped me share this work more easily, particularly Jane O'Loughlin, Chris Hill, Pat Wynn Brown, Maria Shust & Jenny DeCapua, I am so grateful for your support & friendship.

Wait, this is no award show, it's just the beginning!

Cheers, Jenn


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