Woman Wednesday: JoAnn


Q and A with JoAnn
from Sicily, Italy, living in Georgian Bay, Canada

“A theme that I include in my novel is that of the immigrant experience, the struggle, and prejudice experienced by many hardworking new immigrants.”


Q: What are you passionate about? 

A: I had never held a book in my hands until my family immigrated to Canada from Sicily in 1957. There were no libraries in our small Sicilian village in the 50s, and my family could not afford books. I was seven, so I was placed into first grade, and by the end of the year, I could speak and read some English. In grade three, my class was allowed to walk to a nearby library where we were allowed to borrow three books. The books suggested by the librarian were very thin children’s books. I would take three home, read them the same night, then wait patiently for two weeks to go by so I could go back to the library and bring home three more. That’s when I developed my passion for reading, which also inspired me to write. My other interests are baking and gardening, both of which require reading, whether you want to bake some really delicious scones or learn how to grow beautiful flowers. I have been a freelance journalist for many years, but I only recently published my first novel, A Scarcity of Virgins. It is a women’s novel with a feminist bent, that incorporates the immigrant experience as a backdrop since it is so much a part of me. I have almost completed a second novel, Island of the Vespers, a historical romance that takes place in Sicily during the 1860 unifications wars led by Giuseppe Garibaldi.


Q: What were your younger years like?

A: In elementary school, my favorite subject was composition, and I remember my grade-four teacher being so impressed by a story I had written, that he passed it around among the other teachers, much to my embarrassment. It was a silly story about a bear that attacked a hunter, but instead of eating the hunter, the bear preferred the hunter’s honey sandwiches. For some reason, my teacher thought it was hilarious. I thought, if my grade-four teacher liked my writing, maybe writing was something I should do. So, I always wrote stories at home for my own pleasure and had a diary going, even into my late teens. My parents didn’t speak English, so on parents’ night when kids were supposed to stay home, I had to accompany my parents to the school to translate. Because of that, and because of all the children of Italian immigrants that were enrolling in our school, I became the school’s official translator assisting teachers who wanted to communicate with the parents. My decision to study modern languages in university stems from this experience.


Q: What is something valuable you’d like others to know?

A: In spite of the women’s liberation movement, which was at its height in the 60s and 70s, many women of my era remained mired in patriarchal and misogynistic traditions. Fifty years later, it continues to exist. I just recently watched a series entitled Maid, based on a true story, a contemporary story, and was saddened to see how women are still treated badly, and how much they have to struggle. Even though my novel, A Scarcity of Virgins, takes place in the 80s, the subject matter, which includes, marriage, family, patriarchy, misogyny, feminism, fidelity and infidelity, is still relevant today. Women cannot allow themselves to be used and abused by men and are often unfairly disqualified from jobs or social assistance. Additionally, a theme that I include in my novel is that of the immigrant experience, the struggle, and prejudice experienced by many hard-working new immigrants.


Q: What does feminism mean to you? 

A: To me, feminism means the freedom to be ourselves, without fear of reprimand or retaliation, without physical or emotional abuse. It means being able to have control of our own lives, and most importantly, having equal rights and opportunities, without the consideration of gender.

MORE FROM JOANN: I lived my early years in Toronto, Canada, where I studied, married, worked, and raised my three children. After retirement, I moved farther north to enjoy country life on the shores of Georgian Bay. I am so happy that I was able to combine the launch of my first novel, A Scarcity of Virgins, with my mother’s 106th birthday on October 23rd. We had to have two separate cakes, of course!

Book to order: amazon.com/author/jo-annwrites

Website: joanncatania.com

Facebook: JoAnnCatania2

Twitter: JoAnnCatania1

Instagram: joanncatania1


Thank you for reading!

I’d love to connect with you! 🙂

Woman Wednesday: Normadelle


Q and A with Normadelle, Jamaica

Know your worth, your skills, and your value.”


Q: What are you passionate about? 

A: What am I passionate about is visual arts, art education/art therapy, children, nurturing, counseling, nature, ocean, and the outdoors. I grew up in Jamaica, and I always liked creating with my hands, acting, theatre design, hand painting on clothes, piano playing, music, collecting, making things, painting, collage, jewelry making, and paper mache. My parents allowed me to choose my profession, allowed me to be creative and to be me. I’m a retired art educator and art therapist. I worked at a psych hospital doing art therapy groups. I have a natural skincare business, creating body butters, soaps, scrubs, etc. I also teach part-time at an art studio.


Q: What were your younger years like?

A: I went to high school, art school, and received a master’s degree. I had an early exposure to the arts: ballet lessons, piano lessons, and acting classes. I also write poetry. Early exposure allowed me to have an appreciation for all things artistic—possibilities and opportunities, problem solving, etc. I’ve been asked and paid to do many artistic activities, set design, banners, workshops, curate exhibitions, and hang art privately and in a gallery where I was a director, wrote publications attached to exhibitions, made pinatas and face painting for parties. Any and everything art-based, I’ve experienced. That’s my passion!


Q: What is something valuable you’d like others to know?

A: Follow your dreams. When I was about nine years old, I sat on a rock and painted and declared that I would become an artist! Don’t be scared; just do it! Know your worth, your skills, and your value. When asked to do a job you’ve never done before but it’s within your discipline, pull on all that you know and utilize it! You can veer off from your intended career path once you’re passionate enough. Know and study yourself to know your capabilities.


Q: What does feminism mean to you? 

A: Feminism, to me, means empowering yourself with an education, financial know-how, self-esteem, confidence, and independence to succeed!

MORE FROM NORMADELLE: My organic skincare business evolved through my creative and artistic streak! So did my jewelry making. I love what I do; it’s my passion! I also love to write about personal experiences in the form of poetry. I’m originally from Jamaica, West Indies, and have lived in Atlanta, GA, for the past 27 years.


Thank you for reading!

I’d love to connect with you! 🙂

Website

Woman Wednesday: Maura


Q and A with Maura from Venice, Italy, living in Raeford, North Carolina

It is pointless to regret the past as we cannot change it. All we can do is understand that it is a piece to the puzzle.”


Q: What are you passionate about? 

A: I am quite eclectic in my interests, but I have always loved art in all its forms. In Italy, I had a band, and I have sung for several years and considered photography a hobby for a long time. I have always been fascinated by street photography because its extemporaneity freezes reality in a limbo between what the photographer sees and what it really is. When I moved to the US, I did not have the chance to go back to music right away, but the urge to create was very powerful. I started painting portraits and had my first exhibition at the Art Walkabout of Fayetteville, NC. My craft then eventually evolved into digital drawing, portrait photography, and now I am mixing all these skills I have learned into a mixed media style.


Q: What were your younger years like?

A: I grew up in Italy, not too far from Venice. I studied languages in high school and then graduated in psychology in college. Art run in my family blood: my younger brother is a very talented illustrator, my uncle a painter, and my grandfather used to play the organ, teach music, and was also painting oil landscapes as a hobby. I remember being fascinated by the smell of the oil colors. He was very creative.


Q: What is something valuable you’d like others to know?

A: I was not exactly a straight A-student growing up as I have always focused more on the subjects I loved the most and struggled to focus on the rest. I have often felt that I could not 100% fit anywhere and like I was an underachiever. That made me very insecure for several years, and I think that it limited me in many ways. I have come to realize now how much power our mindset has over what we can achieve. I am saying this because I want people to understand that our past mistakes and insecurities are part of our evolution as individuals as long as we learn from them. It is pointless to regret the past as we cannot change it. All we can do is understand that it is a piece to the puzzle.


Q: What does feminism mean to you? 

A: Feminism to me means equality. To quote Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: “Everyone should be a feminist.” Our value as individuals should not depend on our gender. It is important to keep pointing out that there is still a gender inequality that affects women. This is why we call it feminism, and we do not talk about human rights in general.


MORE FROM MAURA: I am currently working on a mixed media exhibition. The subjects are all women of various racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, and cultural backgrounds and various lifestyles, experience, and interests. My goal is to help all women to find the confidence and the love for themselves—regardless of their appearance. I want to fight the concept that we need to fit a stereotypical idea of beauty to appreciate ourselves and feel beautiful. As soon as I started sharing my idea, I have received wide support from other women. I think it is amazing to see how we can work together to elevate each other. It revives your faith in people.

Thank you for reading!

I’d love to connect with you! 🙂 Comment below!

Article on Maura, click here.

Woman Wednesday: Claire

*Note: Woman Wednesday is a part of our blog. Each Woman Wednesday post will feature a woman who would like to share information in the hopes of inspiring and motivating other women. Comments are welcome below.            


Q and A with Claire, from Olongapo City, Philippines, living in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

“You must be able to accept all the choices you made in life, forgive yourself for all of the mistakes you’ve made, move on, and just grow from it.”


Q: What are you passionate about? 

A: I am a very creative person, so I love to create and visualize things. As a photographer, I am very passionate about capturing the beauty in every person and showing the world their true beauty. I often tell my clients my job is to show the world your true beauty and the beauty you have never seen in yourself before. I do not take pictures; I capture memories and I save them for you. As a life coach, I am very passionate about helping women find their voice, strength, and beauty while overcoming past hurts. With faith in God, I help women and anyone in need fill their God-given purpose in life. I developed these passions solely based on my life experiences on earth; it is what drives me to be the best I can be, so I can help more people in the world. I am currently in the process of finishing my 6 weeks program (Release, Reflect, Release, and Restart), my women’s empowerment BBBM website/blog page, and my book, Broken But Beautifully Made, which is based on my story, the stories that birthed my women’s empowerment platform.

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Q: What were your younger years like?

A: I grew up in a 3rd world country, the Philippines. Life was very simple, yet hard. My mom did her best raising 3 daughters as a single mother. I grew up in an environment that is all about family. All our relatives were always around and we did everything together…birthdays, holidays, and just simply hanging out after school and eating (Miryenda) afternoon snacks in Tagalog. Mom raised me as a God-fearing woman; I was very active in my home church in the Philippines. I was a worship leader, youth leader, and a vacation Bible school teacher for the kids. I have always been very passionate about helping others and making a difference…no matter how big or small it is. I graduated high school at the young age of 15 years old and college by 16. I love learning, reading, and just trying to become the best version of myself. I saw struggle at such a young age that I promised myself I would do whatever it took to be better than I was yesterday.

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Q: What is something valuable you’d like others to know?

A: I have learned a lot of lessons from everything I had gone through in life. The one lesson that I find very valuable to me is understanding that it is not selfish to care for yourself first and to set healthy boundaries in your life. I learned to put God and myself first in everything I do in life. I learned to love me for who I was, for who I am now, and who I am to become. This is the one lesson I want anyone to learn from my lesson. You cannot love or help others if you are unable to do that for yourself. You must be able to accept all the choices you made in life, forgive yourself for all of the mistakes you’ve made, move on, and just grow from it.

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Q: What does feminism mean to you?

A: Feminism for me is fighting for equality for women. Seeing us not by our gender, but by our ability to perform just as any other person can.

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Q: Is there anything else you would like to share? 

A: I am married to my amazing husband of 10 years now; his name is Richard Torres. We have one fur baby kitty named Mew. We have lived in NM for 11 years now, but my husband was born and raised in Albuquerque, NM. I am also working on getting my bachelor’s degree and only have 2 years left. I will be graduating with a bachelor’s in business administration with a concertation in project management. I am also publishing my first book in July 2020. I will be coauthoring with 10 other amazing women for a devotional book called The Heart of God for Her.

I am a creative entrepreneur specializing in life coaching and professional photography. As a certified life coach, I specialize in transformational coaching with a keen focus on breaking harmful patterns and overcoming guilt and shame. With a compelling backstory of my own, I am very passionate about helping women find their voice, strength, and beauty while overcoming past hurts. With a backdrop of faith in God, I help women and anyone in need fill their God-given purpose in life. I founded Broken But Beautifully Made Women’s Empowerment Platform in March 2019; God has had this mission in my heart for 2 years. I created BBBM as a platform that allows women to speak, share, and see that she is not alone! I have overcome many trials and tribulations in my life that allows me to relate with other women and to testify how God saved me every single time…As a coach my mantra? “I help you release, reflect, refocus, and restart—Are you ready?”

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Thank you for reading!

I’d love to connect with you!

Mailing list 

Broken But Beautifully Made Insta 

Claire May Photography Insta

Claire Cregger Insta


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Woman Wednesday: Lisa

*Note: Woman Wednesday is a part of our blog. Each Woman Wednesday post will feature a woman who would like to share information in the hopes of inspiring and motivating other women. Comments are welcome below.         


Q and A with Lisa Maslyk, Winnipeg, Manitoba

“I truly wish I had gotten into it when I was younger, but it felt like such a big leap that I wasn’t ready to take at the time. Now that I am in it, I realize that it wasn’t such a big leap at all.”

 

Q: What were your younger years like?

A: I was born in England and moved to Canada when I was 10. I grew up in an entrepreneurial family. My mom and dad were always trying new businesses from full-size kit cars to online t-shirt designing. This is probably where I got my business mind. I ended up going the college route into a steady job but always yearned to do something else. It wasn’t until my kids were old enough and didn’t need me or my time as much that I finally ventured into network marketing and acting. It’s funny because both of these careers have really served each other!

 

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Q: What are you passionate about?

A: [Because of] acting and learning, I am way more comfortable presenting myself online and doing videos. My network marketing business has given me an income stream when I am in between acting jobs. Currently, I have several streams of income online. I have one direct sales company that I have been with since September of 2019. I am with this company because I absolutely love the product, so it made sense to me to sell it. I also am an affiliate for several other companies. 

My main focus for my business development and growth right now would be Pinterest and YouTube. I do like Facebook and Instagram, but feel there are too many restrictions in place, and Pinterest is growing so fast that I think everyone should be there! I am very seriously thinking of putting a course together to help other entrepreneurs understand how to use Pinterest for their business!

 

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Pictured: Me on set, ready for acting! I played a doctor in the 2020 movie, “Rage Can Kill.”

 

Q: What is something valuable you’d like others to know?

A: I absolutely love network marketing! I truly wish I had gotten into it when I was younger, but it felt like such a big leap that I wasn’t ready to take at the time. Now that I am in it, I realize that it wasn’t such a big leap at all, in fact, it runs very parallel to the business world that I stepped away from. It’s just that now the earnings and the income go to me instead of the company that I work for!

 

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Q: What does feminism mean to you?

A: To me, feminism is being able to earn the same amount of money as any other person for the job that is being done. I like what I do because the effort I put into it gives me the same rewards out of it. There is no discrimination of any kind.

 

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Thank you for reading!

I’d love to connect with you!

Click here to check out my IMD acting profile.

Click here for my website. 

 

 

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