Woman Wednesday: Brie

Q and A with Brie, Burnsville, MN, USA

“I don’t want to be known for what I look like, and I don’t want to be treated any differently just because I am a woman.”

Q: What are you passionate about? 

A: There are a lot of things I am passionate about. One is my job. I started my career as a correctional officer in a large metropolitan jail in Minnesota. While I loved the setting and population, I decided to leave to pursue higher education and a career in psychology. Thereafter, I earned a master’s and doctorate in clinical psychology, and I worked in several state and federal prisons throughout my training. Now, I work as a forensic psychologist. I complete competency, criminal responsibility, civil commitment, patterned sex offender, and risk assessment evaluations. My work consists of reviewing police discovery (e.g., crime scene photographs, video and audio recordings, legal documents) and other records, interviewing defendants, administering and interpreting psychological tests, writing a report, and then testifying in court as an expert witness. Recently, I started a private practice, through which I also provide supervision, serve as a business consultant, and review research proposals. Given that my work can be mentally and emotionally draining, I maintain balance with activities I am passionate about. Specifically, I always need to have both physical and creative outlets. For example, I train in boxing and Brazilian jiu jitsu (BJJ) and I have another business as a freelance makeup artist. Other things I am passionate about are cooking, traveling, salsa dancing, and gardening.

Q: What were your younger years like?

A: My parents started a business planning performing tours for high school music groups when I was three years old. My father brought my sister and me on the road with him and taught us about the business from an early age. This has hugely impacted my life, as I am now a business owner myself. The business also allowed us to travel as a family. By the time I was 18 years old, I had visited all 50 states and dozens of countries. Aside from travel, however, my parents made sure we were exposed to other cultures, customs, and languages. We had very close friends from Nigeria and three exchange students (they were from Mexico, Argentina, and Poland). I, too, studied abroad twice, spending a semester each in Mexico and Spain. I also backpacked around Europe for one month. I feel so fortunate to have had these opportunities. Travel has taught me independence and confidence. I have gained a new perspective in life and appreciation for what I have. I also learned the value of speaking another language. My goal is to always have traveled to at least as many countries as I am years old.  Another significant and related aspect of my childhood was cooking. My father loves to cook and he shared his love of it with me. It was something we often did together. He cooked two new dishes each week, and often, we tried foods from all over the world. Cooking for friends and family brings people together and is an act of caring and giving. It was also way I could connect with my Italian heritage and explore other cultures.

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

A: I hold several important lessons with me. One is to be humble, ask questions, and always be open to feedback. At the same time, however, know your worth, believe in yourself, and walk the world with confidence. Despite holding a doctorate in clinical psychology and being considered an expert witness in court, it took me a long time to feel confident. I always assumed there were so many other, more experienced clinicians than I. Likewise, it has always been hard for me to ask for the compensation I deserve. Nevertheless, you have to be your own best advocate. Second, as an introvert, I hated the idea of networking. It felt so disingenuous. Inevitably, however, most career opportunities arise via word of mouth. Also, it doesn’t have to be inauthentic. Form friendships, reach out, ask questions, and make an effort to stay in touch. Third, it really is a small world. This is especially true in my field. There are only two state agencies that employ forensic psychologists, so we all know one another. This is also the case throughout the country. Therefore, it’s so important to comport yourself professionally and never burn any bridges.

Your reputation matters. Fourth, I have learned I must always find balance. I have taken on a lot of endeavors and am always busy. I work full-time, own two companies, have several side gigs and contracts, develop professional presentations, write manuscripts for publication, and am seeking board certification. I also dedicate my time to several hobbies and need to set time aside for my family, my friends, and myself. This is a constant juggle and I am often overwhelmed and exhausted. It’s important for me to stay in tune with those feelings, self-care, and prioritize so I don’t get burned out. Lastly, I am always pushing myself to do things that scare me or that I don’t believe I can accomplish. Whenever I have doubts, I want to prove to myself that I am capable of achieving what I set out to do, even if it’s hard. As a result, I have earned a doctorate, started two businesses, run an ultra marathon, gone skydiving, and gone scuba diving in narrow cave passages, among other things. It is my perseverance in the face of self-doubt that I am most proud of.

Q: What does feminism mean to you? 

A: When I was younger, I hated dresses, the color pink, and anything else I perceived to be “girly.” I felt that the only way I could establish myself on equal footing with the boys and find acceptance was to reject my feminine side. As an adult, I have always worked in male-dominated environments and participated in male-dominant sports (e.g., hockey, mountain biking, boxing, BJJ). This led to a lot of inaccurate assumptions, unwanted attention, and unfair treatment. Being told I couldn’t do something because I was a woman was also a frequent occurrence. An ex-boyfriend once told me I couldn’t be a forensic psychologist, and my uncle told me girls don’t play hockey or box. Unfortunately for them, I like to challenge people’s assumptions and prove them wrong, so I did all three. As a correctional officer, my male co-workers didn’t think I was capable of performing my job as well as they were. I was dismissed as just filling a quota and I was the subject of sexual harassment. When I resigned from my position, they admitted they made bets about how long it would take before I cried and quit. Despite making a significant effort to dress professionally and conservatively while working in prisons, my physical appearance was the topic of conversation. People were always surprised when I told them where I worked, as if I didn’t fit the mold. I once had a female supervisor suggest I wasn’t even like the other female correctional officers because I didn’t play hockey (I did). Similarly, on the mats, men did everything they could to prevent being beat by a woman or they were patronizing. I don’t want to be known for what I look like, and I don’t want to be treated any differently just because I am a woman. Therefore, I am particularly interested in paving the way for other women working in correctional environments or joining male-dominated sports. My goal is to help women garner respect, rather than be patronized or objectified. I make it a point to try to address these issues whenever they come to my attention. I want to challenge people’s assumptions, or at the very least, advocate for what I believe in. I also want women to be able to both embrace their femininity and find success and respect in male-dominated arenas. As cliché as it is, I had to learn to accept myself, rather than trying to prove my worth or and what people expect of me. Who I am is a quiet, unassuming makeup artist who is trained in mixed martial arts and interviews murderers for a living.

Thank you for reading!

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Woman Wednesday: Jourdan

*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 Jourdan, originally from Honolulu, HI, and currently thriving in New York City.

“We rise by lifting others. It’s so important to bring others up with you.”

Q: What are you passionate about?

A: I am passionate about helping others and telling stories. I have a heart for people and a heart to serve. As humans, I believe it’s our duty to help one another and it really is the driving force of love. I stumbled into helping others through my career in television. My journey began in 2010 working for NBCUniversal at a nationally syndicated talk show and from there it took off. I’ve been in the entertainment industry for 10+ years, I’ve cast network shows, acted in national commercials, and sold a web series I co-created to BET Networks.


Click here to watch Two Grown, the BET series: 

I am on fire for helping others find their voice and build their brand. That is why I founded Vera Jean Media. Named after my grandma, it is a boutique agency specializing in content creation, social media strategy, email marketing, and branding for individuals and small businesses. Authenticity is key.


Q: What were your younger years like?

A: My younger years were built on the strength of evolution. I was born and raised in Hawaii. My grandfather was in the military and retired there. I was raised by my grandmother and a single mother. When I was ten, she married my step-dad, who was also in the military. We moved all over the country growing up. I think seeing the work ethic of my mom and grandmother truly molded me. I’ve been working since I was in middle school. I started a dog walking and lawn mowing business when I was around 13 years old. Being an entrepreneur has always been in my heart.


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

A: We rise by lifting others. It’s so important to bring others up with you. Know that you can’t do everything alone and there is so much abundance to gain through collaboration over competition.


Q: What does feminism mean to you?

A: We are a force to be reckoned with. There is nothing stronger than a strong, determined, fearless, woman. Feminism means to empower one another and that there is strength in numbers. When we are gathered with a mission on the brain…good luck stopping us. Period.

Thank you for reading!

I’d love to connect with you!


Instagram: @jourdanguyton

Thoughts, questions, or comments?

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Woman Wednesday: Helaina, 911 Survivor

*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.        

Helaina Hovitz from New York, New York

Helaina Hovitz was twelve and in middle school three blocks from the World Trade Center on September 11th, 2001.

“I started trying to put myself back together—first, in 12-step programs, where I learned to stop relying on substances to quiet the chatter in my mind.”


Anyone who has survived a horrific event knows that just because a body remains in motion does not mean everything will simply “go back to normal.” The chemistry of the brain and the body changes, impacting our relationships, our choices, and how we experience the world around us. Yet, we rarely find out what actually happens to people as they try to move on from a life-threatening experience—especially children, who are just beginning to develop an understanding of the world around them.


You remember where you were on September 11, 2001. We all do. For me, it was the second day of seventh grade at I.S. 89, the middle school just three blocks from the World Trade Center. My first-period teacher, Mr. H., was beginning a lesson when what sounded like a giant whirring motor interrupted him. Moments later a teacher knocked on the door and told us that someone had bombed the World Trade Center. We were quickly ushered to the cafeteria.

No one at the school knew what had really happened, but shortly after the second plane hit the South Tower, the bomb squad burst in and announced that we had to evacuate. Droves of hysterical parents arrived to take their kids. My mom and dad were stuck at their offices, but I spotted my neighbor Ann and her son Charles, whom I walked to school with every day. I wanted to go home. They could get me there. Through the oppressive smoke and ash, we tried to make it back, but police blocked our usual route. The street under us rumbled. Shards of glass and concrete screeched down all around. “Cover your faces!” Ann shouted. “Don’t look back, and run!”


At 22, I identified as an alcoholic and was often the youngest one in many of the 12-step meeting rooms (I didn’t need to go to rehab). I never picked up a drink again. Life became more fun than it had ever really been because my feelings were real. Girls my own age wanted to be friends and hang out with me, do things like go to the movies or have brunch. There was plenty to do that didn’t involve drinking when you knew where to look for it, and about two years into sobriety, when I had worked on myself, not just through CBT, DBT, meditation, and the steps, I had rebuilt the life and identity I never had the chance to when my world came crashing down at age 12. Like the woman I had only imagined, I would be my wildest fantasies—calm, patient, clever, understanding, selfless, and rational—I began to build a life and welcome people into it who made me feel happy.

Most of all, these tools made me feel safe in the world again, and safe in my own skin. Safe in my own ability to be “okay” no matter how painful or stressful things got. Changing my perspective and expectations for “fun” also changed the game—when I started thinking about what I could bring to or contribute to a situation, how I could help someone else laugh or feel happy, rather than what I could “get from it.”

A wise teacher once told me that before you can feel happy, or loved, or give love or make someone else happy, you have to feel safe. And that was when life became fun: because I had the capacity to feel it.

Through meditation, I found peace between my thoughts. Through yoga, which can still be a challenge, I began to focus on the moment. Now, when the subway stops suddenly, my adrenaline doesn’t surge. I distract myself with emails, listen to my favorite song, or think about what’s for dinner. Panic wants to creep in, but its seduction doesn’t work anymore. I can let it go. [Eighteen years ago] today, more than 3,000 people died and more than 6,000 were injured. Thousands more survived but were forever changed—myself among them. But today, I’m finally able to move on. I’ve learned the best way to work through my fear is simply to stay still. No more reaching, no more fighting. And no more running.

I have shared my story with the world.

In many ways, After 9/11 is the story of an entire generation growing up in the aftermath of America’s darkest day. It is the story of a group of children who directly survived September 11th, 2001, and bore its invisible scars for the rest of their lives. And, for one young woman, it is the story of a survivor who, after witnessing the end, got to make a new beginning.


The events and experiences that are now common knowledge to everyone were a very real part of Helaina’s life, and are still as vivid in her memory today: the sickening thud of falling bodies hitting cars, the crumbling towers, running for her life as she tried to get home, her universe engulfed literally in a cloud. Hundreds, including Helaina, were stranded in the neighborhood, also just blocks from the fiery remains of the Towers, without phones or electricity or anyone to help. For fear of subsequent attacks, not to mention the toxic substances in the air, everyone was urged to stay inside their debris-filled apartments.


Helvaina’s page

Medium feature

Glamour feature

Thank you for reading. What’s your experience or memory of 9/11?

Comment below.

Woman Wednesday: Helen

*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 Helen, Phoenix, Arizona

“Cherish every moment with loved ones as much as possible and also go for the dreams, feel through the fears, and make moves anyways.”


Q: What are you passionate about?

A: Great question! I am most passionate about the inspirations all around us and through us in this life experience. I’ve come to a point in my life that it doesn’t matter where I’m physically at, whether that be at home, at work, at a business event, in traffic, at a social event, etc; that I have the opportunity to inspire others through pure gratefulness of being alive in that moment. The thing that most ignites my passion is music. When I hear music, my heart gets excited and my body just wants to move. I often remind myself of pain and suffering around the world and of my own trials and tribulations to keep me humbled and grateful to keep moving forward. I’m consistently working on creative projects simultaneously that can inspire people from all walks of life to keep moving forward themselves.



Click here to watch her awesome video!


The passion has always been in me since I was a kid. I foresaw myself as a teacher of some kind one day, I just didn’t know what kind. It’s been an amazing ride to see the visualizations from childhood come true throughout the last ten years. I have been public speaking since 2008 and in 2018, I became an international author of my book, Nothing Sexier Than Freedom. I have two businesses, Sexy Freedom LLC and The Wild Movement LLC, which I co-own with my business partner, Sara Brooke Wolf. I’m also the host of my podcast, Sexy Freedom Media Podcast which is on 8 platforms, including Spotify and iTunes and is on it’s second year.


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Click here for video.

It’s crazy to think all of these were ideas or suggestions I’d heard to “try out” and then I did and that’s how it all came into existence. Currently, Sara and I are only weeks away from leading our fourth retreat, Wild Woman Alaska and only months away from leading our first co-ed all inclusive Wild Movement Mexico Retreat.

Q: What were your younger years like?

A: I think the best way to describe my younger years is to say that it was unpredictable. My mom was a free spirit, a gypsy woman, a dreamer, and a fighter. She raised five kids on her own when she fled my abusive dad. My dad was a drinker, party animal, very strict, but also a teacher in his own way. Although there was much suffering and pain in my childhood, both my mom and dad played a vital role in my belief system. I dropped out of high school, got married, and had a baby. I eventually realized how important school was and got my diploma. My education really came from my love for books. Self-learning and self-study have been my education for life. The first time I ever finished a program from beginning to end without dropping out was Yoga Teacher Training in 2015. Yoga definitely was the tipping point for me. I was already in the process of writing my book and even included a whole chapter of the challenges I faced while in the program. I have now combined my personal experiences, rituals, and yoga practices by leading retreats in tribal yoga, warrior awakening, and self-development.



Click here for second video. 


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

A: I’ve learned that everyone has their shit. Everyone has an ego. Everyone has intentions, desires, and choices. It was a valuable lesson to suffer because it taught me how to be truly thankful for love around me and how easily it can be taken away. Therefore, cherish every moment with loved ones as much as possible and also go for the dreams, feel through the fears, and make moves anyways.




My full story is written in my book, Nothing Sexier Than Freedom. I hope it continues to inspire as it has been, for people to live courageously sexy, wild, and free.


Q: What does feminism mean to you? 

A: I think the best way to explain what feminism means to me is more in visual action than in words and the best visual I can give is my mother. She was molested, she was beaten, she was a single mother of five kids, though she fell, she got back up and kept moving forward. Two years ago, my only brother took his life and I watched my mother take the biggest heartbreak of her life. Once again, though she fall, she got back up- this time on her Harley Davidson bike, at 60 years young, she rides long distance into the wind as the wild free gypsy spirit she has always been. She is courageously uplifted, self motivated, and determined to live her life the way she chooses no matter what anyone has to say about it. To me, my mother is and has always encompassed what feminism means—freedom.



For more information about me:
Helen Edwards, International Author & Entrepreneur
Book Available on Amazon & Barnes N Nobles


Connect with me! I’d love to chat with you! 

Comment below!

Woman Wednesday: Steph

*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.

“I want others to know that it’s OK to do more than one thing. People thought I was crazy in college for playing more than one sport, and people think I am crazy now for having three jobs. I love what I do, and I enjoy all of it. If you can find a healthy balance, do everything. Be a jack of all trades. Know a little bit about all things.” 

Q and A with Steph, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 


Q: What are you passionate about? 


A: It’s difficult for me to identify just one thing that I am passionate about. To start, my full time job is being a high school math teacher. I work in a small alternative school, and I find joy in encouraging my students and helping them to be comfortable and successful in a modified school setting. It’s challenging, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. There is nothing better than seeing a student succeed when others thought they wouldn’t.

Another passion that I put a majority of my time into is coaching. I am an assistant coach for a cross country team and a lacrosse team. I was a 3 sport athlete in college, so athletics are something that keep me driven and focused. I love being able to share my love of sports with others and helping them to learn life lessons through them.
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Lastly, but certainly not least, is my passion for photography and videography. I, along with my fiance, run a small production company called Ollie Productions. When we first met, we discovered that we had serious overlapping loves for the arts and most things dealing with visual design. It was inevitable that a business would be formed between our skill sets and our shared joy of working with people. Our business is something that we love working on together and have found success in. We have the opportunity to help people promote businesses, capture weddings, and simply create.
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Q: What were your younger years like? 


A: I was very active growing up. I was always doing something. My parents and family were very supportive of this (driving me everywhere and bringing me wherever I needed to go). I believe that this formed who I am now. I love to be busy, and if I am not working or working out, I am planning my next move. Something that impacted me more growing up than I ever thought, was running cross country. It taught me that I was powerful in my own unique ways and that literally anything is possible if you put in enough work and effort. I understood that being successful is painful. There are sacrifices that need to be made, but it is possible. Growing a business with my fiance has not been easy, but putting in those extra hours and finding the time to plan our success has made it a fast growing endeavor.  Most of my passions showed in me at an early age. Sports were an everyday thing that I loved to do, teaching was something that everyone else saw in me well before I saw it in myself, and my first camera as a kid pushed me to want to capture every moment in the way I saw it.

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

A: There are two things that I think are important for everyone to know. Teaching has taught me an immense amount of patience. You truly have no idea what any person is going through or what their story is, so be patient and take everything with a grain of salt. I think it is important to remember that we are all different, and it’s important to learn as much as you can about others in order to be the best for them and yourself. The second thing is that you are more powerful than you think and more prepared than you know. If someone asks you to do something or be somewhere, it is because they believe in you. Believe in yourself, and everyone else will as well.

Q: What would you like others to learn from your story? 

A: I want others to know that it’s OK to do more than one thing. People thought I was crazy in college for playing more than one sport, and people think I am crazy now for having three jobs. I love what I do, and I enjoy all of it. If you can find a healthy balance, do everything. Be a jack of all trades. Know a little bit about all things.

Q: What does feminism mean to you? 
A: Feminism to me is a broad and encompassing word. To me, it means empowering others and yourself to be our best in whatever situation. It means being kind and compassionate and loving, but also strong and willful and driven. To me, feminism means seeing where there are few females and asking why. It is being inquisitive and looking for changes where possible and wondering how if it’s impossible.
Our photo/ video website can be found at Ollieproductions.com. 
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