Why You Should Travel The World With The Lady Project

The Lady Project is a well-established national movement of connecting and showcasing women - and one that is ready to go international!

It’s with great excitement that we announce our newest endeavor: Lady Project Travels. A collaboration with G Adventures, the world’s largest small-group tour operator, this female-only small group program will showcase various countries, inspire female travelers, and connect us with each other and the world.

We are excited to announce our first exclusive trip will be to Morocco in November 2017! Perfect for women looking for a fast-paced trip, this short but sweet adventure offers up a great combination of Morocco’s must-see highlights and a little free time to explore on your own. Together we can discover the history and rugged natural beauty of mysterious Morocco.

If you’ve ever thought about exploring one of the most unique places in the world, here’s why traveling with the Lady Project may be the best way to do it.

FEMALE GROUP TRAVEL IS TRANSFORMATIVE

The Lady Project has created a welcoming environment of compatible women. From New Member Meet-Ups to the annual Summit, networking and collaborating while engaging in local communities has encouraged women to do remarkable things. Capturing the energy and familiarity of chapter events and applying it to travel could encourage women who may have never traveled before to feel confident enough to get a passport photo taken. Or it could encourage women with well-worn and well-stamped passports to see the world from another angle.

Lady Project Travels is a new way to build even more confidence in women. Learning about other cultures, seeing how women live (and are treated) in other countries, and meeting women from around the country can only serve to create an indelible ripple effect of positive transformation.

SAFETY IN NUMBERS

As a proud feminist who thinks nothing can stop her from conquering the world, I hate to admit that international solo female travel can be a risk. Unknown streets, foreign languages, and strangers with cultural differences can be daunting, even prohibitive when choosing a destination.

That’s one of the many reasons G Adventures provides a local tour guide (or as they call them, a CEO, a “Chief Experience Officer”) throughout the entire tour. They know the lay of the land, the language, and can make suggestions for safe and unique places to explore during free time – like the neighborhood shop that has the best naan, or local vendor that sells the best quality Moroccan lanterns.

This trip is perfect for beginners who want to try something completely new with the comfort of others, and for experienced travelers who prefer to leave all the planning and organizing to us.

SMALL GROUP TRAVEL IS IMMERSIVE

G Adventures has defined and re-defined small group travel for 25 years. Traveling with the Lady Project and G Adventures is the very best way to get up-close and personal with your planet in a way you’d never manage on your own. During your time in Morocco, you’ll be encouraged to step off the beaten path, embrace the unexpected and immerse yourself in the extraordinary.

The world opens up a little more for a small group than it does for a solo traveler or a big-bus tour. Small groups offer more security, access, camaraderie, and affinity with your destination than traveling any other way.

The Lady Project trip to Morocco will have a maximum of 12 passengers, so you’ll get the opportunity to do things like ride a camel out to a Berber Desert Camp in the Sahara and sleep under the stars. Something you didn’t even realize you wanted on your bucket list until you’re experiencing it.

TRAVEL, DONE RIGHT, CAN CHANGE THE WORLD

The main belief of our new partner is that by directing dollars to the correct place, the world can benefit from travel. By focusing on sustainable tourism and engagement with the communities they visit, G Adventures perfectly aligns with Lady Project’s mission. G Adventures even has a non-profit organization Planeterra that has built projects around the world that focus on improving the lives of women.

As a traveler on a G Adventures tour, you will visit some of these projects and see how tourism can be a source for good.  During our time in Morocco, we will eat a traditional home-cooked Moroccan meal and learn a bit of Arabic while meeting the local women. In addition to a unique experience, the proceeds from this lunch program help support vocational training for rural women, allowing them to support their families and children.

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As women, we have the power to change the world. Now let’s go see it together.

To learn all about the new Lady Project Travels, visit www.ladyproject.org/lptravel

Bethany Hodge grew up on Cape Cod, Massachusetts which instilled a love and appreciation of the benefits of sustainable tourism. After receiving her graduate degree in Intercultural Communication and living in Alicante, Spain, Bethany has worked in product, sales, and marketing within the travel industry for the last nine years. Her vocation has brought her to more than 30 countries, including Israel, Jordan, Colombia and Antarctica. She has a dedication to negotiating her way to equality; a love for puns, her cats, and passport stamps; and is co-captain of The Rolling Stones, a competitive Downtown Providence bocce team.

Interview // Jennifer Brousseau and Alexys Garrep, co-founders of alexys ryan jewelry

Tell us how alexys ryan started.

After decades of creating trend-setting designs for some of the nation’s top retailers, LDC, Inc., the company behind alexys ryan, decided to move in a new direction with the launch of its first collection. This is an exciting step for our team. We approached the challenge like any other - we did our research, looked at where we could make our mark, and landed on our concept for alexys ryan.

Why did you want each piece of jewelry to be inscribed with an inspiration saying?

These classic pieces carry simple messages, projecting confidence, and strength. We love creating designs and messages to help women tell their stories through their jewelry.

What is in the future for alexys ryan?

More designs. More boutiques. More fun.

If you could describe yourself in five words, what would they be?

We will let alexys ryan do the talking. Here are some of our favorite messages to describe our lives:
Balance – wear all the hats
Endurance – stronger than you think
Practice – trial and error
Risk – bend th
rules Love – feel the fire

Tell us about your co-conspirators. Who are the ladies you collaborate with on a regular basis?

Each other! As colleagues and sisters-in-law, we are bouncing ideas off each other all day - asking for advice about what works for our jewelry designs to ideas to cook for dinner.

How can young women get involved with an organization like The Lady Project?

It’s as easy as checking out their website for programs and following all their great work on social media.

Talk about the importance of finding your tribe.

alexys ryan is all about finding your tribe. For our first collection, we wanted to create stunning, affordable necklaces and bracelets to complement the wardrobe of the woman who balances everything. Too often jewelry takes a back seat to the demands of the day. These pieces reflect our lives as moms, wives, sisters and friends. The collection reminds us it can still be fun and easy to feel great about how we look, and that we are all facing the same challenges and successes at home and work. Our tribe is big and keeps us moving forward.

Who inspires you these days? (Can be contemporary or a historical figure.)

Our moms. Their love, support, and encouragement keep us going. And as we balance our own careers and families, we are even more grateful for all they did, and still do, for us.

What changes to your business are you hoping to make in the next year?

Adding more designs. Adding more boutique locations.

When things get rough, how do you keep yourself going?

Glancing at our wrists to let alexys ryan inspire us - - her messages remind us to keep going, persevere.

Do you label yourself a feminist? Please explain.

alexys ryan = girl power. And perseverance. And endurance. And risk.

What's your favorite restaurant in the city where you live?

Whether it is staying at home in Cumberland to make a pizza from scratch with cheese and vegetables or heading to Picasso’s Pub in Warwick for a pie or two, it is great to spend time with our husbands and kids after a long day. And yes, there is always a cold beer in the mix for the parents.

What do you like about being part of the Lady Project?

The Lady Project is an excellent space – online and in person – for women, of all backgrounds, to connect and learn. It’s important work, keep it up!

Is there anything else you'd like to tell us?

Follow us on Facebook and Instagram. Let us know if you have ideas for words and phrases we should consider for alexys ryan.

12 Arab Women You Should Know // Abeer Abu Ghaith

Abeer Abu Ghaith is the Managing Director of StayLinked, a start-up company that acts as a talent broker between skilled Palestinian freelancers and businesses with project needs that can be delivered leveraging remote service resourcing.

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Honesty In The Workplace: How To Lead With Your Heart And Still Be Respected

You have an idea for a project, but don’t feel you’re allowed to make suggestions. 
You need help, but don’t feel you can ask your employee because you’re the boss.
You don’t like the way you’re spoken to by your boss but can’t say anything.
Your team doesn’t open up to you because they feel you’re unrelatable. 

These are real-life problems you face on a weekly basis at work. But the conversation around these issues usually sounds like this:

“Advocate for yourself!” 
“Lean in!”
“Don’t look weak”
“Know your stuff”

Although these mantras can certainly be helpful in the right setting, with the right people, and the right mindset, we’re not always that fortunate.

The problem with these approaches are that they lack 2 essential qualities:

Heart and humanity. 

Why aren’t we allowed to address problems in the workplace with heart? Why is it not acceptable to not know something? Why can’t we ask for what we really need?

Our hearts are a place for love and acceptance. We all need love and acceptance. Yet, somehow, when we go to work, we’re supposed to shut that down. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that in our bodies and minds. 

But in our aggro, perfectionist work settings, it doesn’t feel safe to seek these things out. 

So where’s the disconnect?

Humanity. 

Where do we stop acting human?

On our commute. We are literally deciding to leave our human needs at the door before we get to work. And as bosses, we are deciding to forgot our employees are people and that they have human needs. 

Want to be wildly successful? Stop doing this.

People perform at their best when a few things are present:

- when they feel they have impact
- when they feel they have decision-making power
- when they feel heard and respected

You can bring these things into your workplace by using your heart and humanity. 

- If you’re a key decision-maker at your job, ask for feedback and suggestions from your team. They may just surprise you with their ideas! 
- If you’re new to your job, ask your boss what you can do to have a greater impact on the company’s mission.

Make it a point to align your heart and humanity with your work. You could create a positive disruption in your workplace!

3 Lessons I Learned From My Sito

On April 7, 1997, my sito passed. (Alzheimer’s. A monster. A thief.) At the time, I was eight, and, luckily for me, I got to spend a lot of time by her side. In my moments of greatest clarity, I can recall vivid snapshots of our time together: watching Flipper and The Lawrence Welk Show. Playing together on the player piano she kept in her living room. Singing love songs to each other, and laughing as she tied a scarf over my hair. The smells of spices in the kitchen as we sat together with my mother and aunt cooking maneesh, kafta and potatoes, meat and spinach pies. The texture of the bulgur wheat between our fingers as we mixed tabbouleh. The soothing sound of her voice whispering into my hair every time we said goodbye. Ana bahebak. I love you. 

It’s been 20 years since I’ve heard Sito’s voice—but the lessons she taught me haven’t left my mind for a second. In so many ways, she’s been a guiding force in my life. Today, I’d love to share with you three of the most important lessons she imparted in our time together. 

1. No obstacle is insurmountable.

The daughter of Lebanese immigrants, Sito grew up with the great responsibility of serving as a translator while growing and learning herself. Hers was a difficult life, and it made her one of the strongest women I’ve ever known. Mother of nine, trained as a Red Cross nurse during World War II, she worked long hours to support her family. Any moments of joy or pleasure she felt were hard earned. Maybe that’s what made her laugh so special. It wasn’t something she’d ever use falsely or gratuitously. 

Sito worked hard. After hours spent working at the Golf Ball Division of Acushnet Co., she was a homemaker. She cooked and cleaned for the family, taking time to ensure everyone had enough to eat. To this day, my mother will even share stories of how Sito would go out of her way to make sure each of her children felt special—baking cakes on their birthdays, giving candy and small treats during holidays, and writing notes to ensure they felt loved. Her exhaustion after a long day never stopped her from taking care of the people who mattered most to her. 

When I come home after a long day at work, I often picture Sito. Her memory reminds me that no matter how tired or stressed I am, no matter how big the job I am doing might feel, it’s in my blood to face it, head on—with enough love left to share with my husband as we cook dinner together. 

2. Music is a gift you can share forever.

I will never forget the sound of Sito’s voice singing Doris Day to me as we hugged:

“I love you
A bushel and a peck
A bushel and a peck, and a hug around the neck . . .”
 

She loved music, and she loved when we would sing together. That shared love of music has stayed with me: today, my closest friends and I have made music a pastime, singing and playing together on the weekends as a celebration of life. Few gifts in this world have the staying power of music, or the warmth that is shared when you create a song together. Sito taught me this. I like to think it’s something she’s still teaching me, even now.

3. Let your last words be “I love you.”

I can’t imagine babysitting a young child while coping with the early stages of Alzheimer’s could be easy. But for the life of me, I can’t recall a single moment where Sito treated me like a burden. With her, it was always love. My brother and I had no doubts that Sito loved us unconditionally—she made sure of that. No matter what was going on in a given day, she made sure to stop and tell us she loved us. To her, everything was insha'Allah—if God wills. In other words, you never know when you’ll be seeing someone for the last time. So leave them with love.

In the time since Sito has passed, I’ve adopted her philosophy. Whenever I see or speak with someone I love, I make sure to let them know I care. It’s a lesson that has never steered me wrong.

12 Arab Women You Should Know // Charlene Mekled Elder

Charlene Elder is a judge of the 3rd Circuit Court (Family Division) in Wayne County, Michigan. She was appointed to the court by former Governor Jennifer Granholm in December 2005 and assumed office in January 2006. Elder was then elected to the court in 2006 and re-elected in 2008, for a full six-year term ending on January 1, 2015. On November 4, 2014, Elder was re-elected unopposed for another six-year term commencing on January 1, 2015, and expiring on December 31, 2020.

Elder is the first Arab-American female judge on the 3rd Circuit Court. She is also the first female, Arab-American, and Muslim judge in the country.

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Reflections On Honesty From A Therapist's Perspective

Let me start by first saying I am always so impressed at how resilient and amazing each and every one of my clients are! I am a mental health therapist and every day I am filled with stories from all walks of lives and different perspectives. Some of them are inspiring, some of them are horrifying, and some of them- if I’m being honest are a little bit boring. Regardless of the type of story I’m told, I know that each story I am told takes courage to share.

Sharing is really, really scary!

If we’re being real here, and I hope we all are (it *is* honesty month at the Lady Project Blog after all), sharing and being vulnerable is really, really scary! Don’t believe me? Just check out any of Brene Brown’s books, talks or research. When we’re honest, we leave ourselves wide open to be judged, criticized and possibly even rejected. 

In therapy, we often tell ourselves and our clients the therapy room is a “judgment-free zone.” Though the reality is that while I and other therapists try our best to keep that commitment true, we are all human beings with our own thoughts, feelings and opinions. While I can’t promise I will never have a human reaction or judgment about something you’ve shared, I can promise I will do my best to have a real, genuine conversation about these interactions. Often with a little discussion and clarifying our experience, we can learn that being honest doesn’t have to be so scary. In fact, it can be healthy to experience these scary feelings to realize they don’t define who we are or our worth as person.

I don’t expect you to tell me everything

In the first session with a therapist, you will be asked a lot or really personal questions about all areas of your life. Some of these questions may seem totally unrelated to your reason for starting therapy, and honestly that may be true. As a therapist, it’s my job to help my clients notice any patterns or factors that seem irrelevant but could actually be contributing to your presenting problem.

The truth is, I don’t expect my clients to be totally 100% honest with me right away. While I know my clients come to me because they trust and value my expertise, there is always a growing period in the beginning of any new relationship where trust needs to develop. In therapy, we call this building a therapeutic alliance, or therapeutic rapport, with each other. My clients and I need to be able to trust each other in order to feel comfortable being honest, and that takes time. This period of time is often referred to as the Beginning Phase of Treatment. 

The process is where it’s at

Beyond that first phase of treatment, most individual therapy sessions average 45-50minutes per week. This leaves a lot of time outside the therapy room to experience life. It would be impossible to discuss everything that happens outside of the therapy room. Nor would it be beneficial to my client’s progress. The truth is that I don’t necessarily need to know everything. In therapy, the circumstances aren’t always the most important piece to the story. As a therapist, I am interested in helping my clients identify their process and how this impacts their experience of a situation or emotion that has been distressing to them. As with anything, there are of course exceptions to this rule. However, if we can build awareness, or insight, to these patterns, that is where real change and growth can occur.

The most important person to be honest with is yourself

While I would love it if all of my clients were honest with me in all of our sessions, I know that it’s more important they are real with themselves. The best I can do is provide the space, skills, and reflection to foster this type of thinking. The real work comes from my client’s being honest with themselves. The truth is, we are always with ourselves. If we can’t be honest with ourselves, how can we expect others to be honest with us? It can feel horribly uncomfortable when we start getting real with ourselves, which is why it’s also important to be gentle, kind, and loving to ourselves also. When we value ourselves, we make it easier to trust ourselves. The truth is, we all know the real reasons we feel the way we do. We may even know what to do to change. We may just need a little help learning how to implement the best changes for our lives so we can live full, meaningful, and healthy lives! 

12 Arab Women You Should Know // Dr. Hayat Sindi

Dr. Hayat bint Sulaiman bin Hassan Sindi is a Saudi Arabian medical scientist and one of the first female members of the Consultative Assembly of Saudi Arabia. She is famous for making major contributions to point-of-care medical testing and biotechnology. She was ranked by Arabian Business as the 19th most influential Arab in the world and the ninth most influential Arab woman.

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Three Honest Conversations You Need To Have With Your Aging Parents (Because We’re All Adults Now)

When I was growing up I had a lot of conversations with my parents that I’d like to forget. Now that we are all older, I’ve realized that they had my best interests at heart. I’m also realizing that there are some talks that we need to have now…and that I need to be the one to initiate them. 

I know these discussions will be difficult for both me and my parents, but I want to channel the same energy they used when talking to teenage me and make it clear to them that I have their best interests at heart.

Finances

It’s unfortunate, but our ability to do most of the things we want to do in life is determined by our ability to pay for them. What do your parents want to do in the next ten or twenty years? If they aren’t already retired, when do they plan to do so? It may be helpful for them to talk to an accountant, and while we’re on the subject, you may want to chat with one as well, because if your parents needed your help financially, would you be able to help? 

Living Arrangements

There are so many other options out there when it comes to living arrangements for our parents, like retirement communities, home healthcare, or in-law suites. I sometimes imagine my mother and I being like Sophia and Dorothy from The Golden Girls when we get older; we’ll spend our days eating cheesecake and talking about boys. Future circumstances may limit your options, but it’s good to discuss their ideal living situation now, regardless.  

Final Wishes

Even that term makes my skin crawl. It is by far the most difficult conversation to have, but it’s important. A crucial thing to know is, do your parents have a will? If they don’t, encourage them to talk to a lawyer. I know that when either of my parents die, I will be a mess, and the last thing I’ll want to worry about is minutia of funeral planning. 

Interview // Devin Donaldson, Founder & Chief Optimist of The Optimist Co.

Tell us about your business / current project.

I founded The Optimist Co. three years ago to bring natural cleaning products to our customers with ingredients they could easily read as safe. My industry is full of mistrust with green-washed labels and confusing ingredients. I wanted to help inspire others to make natural choices for cleaning but also educate and inspire them with what is safe to clean with. Our business has evolved over the past few years and our customers are loving our new and fully customizable subscription options.

If you could describe yourself in five words, what would they be?

Optimistic (of course) 
Resourceful
Energetic
Collaborative
Motivating

How can young women get involved with an organization like The Lady Project?

When I began my business it was a complete switch for me professionally. I felt a little lost at sea with all I had to learn and it could get overwhelming. Being able to talk these challenges through with other women in all stages of their business and professional growth is key for success. You also get to be part of a group of women who are doing "it" and that is different for everyone. What matters is that you share that motivation and drive and share support to take your dreams out of a what if and into what's next.

Talk about the importance of finding your tribe.

Being part of a group like The Lady Project provides a network women can access to not only grow professionally but grow through career and business pivots as well. You can't do it alone. You need a tribe that has your back and that you can lean on during the hard times and also celebrate the good times.

Why did you choose the career that you have?

You think you are on one path and a few other paths tend to find you. I studied forest ecology in college and then switched majors to business. I then took a break from consulting and did Asthma Education with Americorps. A few years later a natural cleaning product gave me an asthma attack and I ended up starting a natural cleaning product company. I feel like I was always on this path without even knowing it. Now I am working on a few new projects as well that continue to leverage what I have learned as a product based business founder. 

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How do you think your work helps women locally and nationally?

I hope I serve as an example to other women of what you can build in your local community. My primary customers are national yet I can run and build my business from my small, local community on Cape Cod. I do have to go a little further to network sometimes and it took me a little longer to find my tribe and support but it's not impossible. You can't always move to your ideal location to start a business and sometimes making it work at home can really be an exciting opportunity as well.

What current events do you think are impacting you or your business directly right now?

It's an amazing time to run an online business. I am able to in a few hours add functions to my website like a subscriptions model that would have taken months and a large expense to have custom built in the past. That being said you can go a little app crazy so you need to have a plan for implementation and testing.

What's the best piece of advice you've ever been given?

I was told to just go for it by my family and friends when I was just getting started. I had very little money to fund my idea so I sure lived that idea of a minimum viable product. Instead of being afraid to fail we have to be willing to test our ideas. You will not know unless you try and you only improve by testing.

If you had a theme song, what would it be and why?

I'm walking on Sunshine. I always dreamed of walking out on stage and that song came on. I think we can achieve and do more with positivity then negativity. It's not always easy but every time I have though how do I make this more personal and positive my message has always resonated more.