Fierce Females: Nikki

Nikki

What is it that empowers you most?
I think I feel most empowered when I’m doing what I love. It gives me a sense of purpose and allows my gifts to shine. More than anything, I think empowerment comes from a sense of mental freedom. There are many times in life when we feel like we have lost our power. Empowerment to me simply means remembering that our power was never lost, just forgotten. In this moment, we have the ability to take back our power and stand strongly in it. From this place we can make choices that makes us feel good; what we are all striving for in some way!

What is it that you love most about yourself?
I always work on loving and accepting myself, but I have never thought of one specific thing that I love most. If I were to choose something today, I would say I love my overly optimistic nature. In life there are setbacks, failures and losses, but I have this voice inside that always tells me that everything is going to be more than okay. A voice inside that tells me to trust the journey. A voice that assures me that everything happens for a reason. This optimistic characteristic has given me a sense of resiliency that has allowed me to bounce back from negative situations and still remain open to the world. I see a universe full of possibilities and I know deep down that anything great can happen.

What makes you feel most beautiful?
I think confidence is beautiful. Expanding on that, I think that living your purpose and doing what you truly love gives you confidence. When I am helping others, whether it is through coaching or teaching yoga, I feel beautiful. I also grew up as a dancer so when I dance, I feel alive and beautiful.

Who is your biggest role model and why?
This is an interesting question because I think that my role model changes all the time. When I find someone who is teaching a certain message or doing something that aligns with me in that moment, I tend to follow them and try to learn their ways of living. My role model for following your passion is Danielle LaPorte. She fires me up and makes me believe in myself. My role models also lie in the people I am closest with. My mother teaches me how to be caring. My father teaches me how to work hard. Every single person I meet seems to have something special to teach me in my life. I am definitely grateful for human connection!

Who are your favourite cultural heroines and why?
My favourite cultural heroine is Mother Theresa. She makes the definition of selfless what it is today. She had such a caring heart and wanted to help so many people. In essence, she was here to serve and to give. I think about how the corporate world is structured and ran, while so many people in this world are suffering and realize there needs to be more people like Mother Theresa. If we all chose to give something to the world, the world would be a more thriving, beautiful and loving place. She inspires me to continue serving others as that is why I believe we are really here in the first place.

 

“I see a universe full of possibilities and I know deep down that anything great can happen.”

 

If you could pick one fictional female character to be for a day who would it be and why?
This may sound silly, but I would want to be Ariel from The Little Mermaid. I have always been fascinated by the ocean and all of its treasures. Since I was a kid, I was drawn to water. There is something so healing and magical about it. I would love to spend a day “under the sea,” freely swimming and enjoying a ‘world’ that still has so much yet to be discovered.

What is your biggest life goal?
My biggest life goal is to create a thriving business doing what I love. I think that there are so many women out there that are torn when it comes to choosing a career. “Do I do something predictable to get a predictable income, or do I take a chance on following my dreams?” For some of us, we may not know what that is. I want to coach women, teach yoga, host self-love workshops, write a novel and travel for motivational speaking. I know I have the ability to help so many women. Inspiring others fills my cup leading to a rewarding, fulfilling way to spend my life. It’s an exciting journey!

What is your biggest accomplishment?
I don’t know if I have had an accomplishment that is big, but maybe that is my post-perfectionism talking! I really value all of my little successes. The ones that I make along the way that contribute to the larger successes. I think for me, it would be doing what I love right now, in the present moment (coaching and teaching yoga). Many people wait their entire lives to start, but I took the leap and have been expanding it day by day. In the beginning, it was scary. Each day, I build on my skills and do one more thing that I’ve never done before (like this interview). I do guided meditations, host workshops, hold group coaching calls and it all started by taking a course three years ago that would certify me as a Life Coach. I think seeing my development and growth feels like a big accomplishment. I’ll be honest though, sometimes we don’t give ourselves enough credit.

What is your favourite quote?
My favourite quote is: “everything happens for a reason.” I have had many ups and downs in life and this quote has reminded me that it’s never the end of the world. It is simply a redirection to where I’m supposed to go next (even if I can’t see it). I like to call them “blessings in disguise”. Every situation and experience in my life (good or bad) has helped me in some way become the person I am today. For that, I am endlessly grateful!

If you could tell your 12 year old self one thing what would it be?
I would tell my 12 year old self that she is loved, worthy and beautiful. It was an age for me when I felt awkward. I went through so many changes with my body and I felt very ashamed a lot of the time. I was shy and curious at the same time. I would want her to know that life is going to have ups and downs, but everything will always turn out for the best. I would tell her how special she is exactly as is. I would tell her to ignore people when they are mean or hurtful. I would tell her to do what she loves and that she can do anything her heart desires in this world. I would say, “dream big, Nikki”.

What does feminism mean to you?
To me, feminism is empowerment as a woman. I think it is important that women have the ability to fully express themselves in this world. Throughout history, there have been a lot of restrictions and I think feminism brings to light issues that need attention. I believe as humans, we are always dealing with some sort of oppression whether it is with race, class or gender. Our power lies in believing in ourselves and loving who we are fully. From that place, we, as women can collectively create a movement that is stronger than any law or regulation.

Nikki is a Life Coach and Yoga Instructor in Indio, California.
Connect with NikkiWebsiteFacebookTwitterInstagram or Pinterest.

Fierce Females: Nikki

Fierce Females: Alex

Alex

What is it that empowers you most?
I am empowered by my ability to take control of what I’m feeling and create something from it. I surround myself with insanely creative people who turn parts of themselves into books, photographs, videos and games on the daily. They are constantly inspiring and empowering me to do the same.

What is it that you love most about yourself?
I love my competitiveness, my drive and even my stubborness. I love that I can be hurt, but that I will always rub some dirt in it and move on. Also, my butt, I love my butt.

What makes you feel most beautiful?
I never feel sexier than when I’m dancing! On the stage, in the kitchen, the car, at my desk, it really doesn’t matter.

Who is your biggest role model and why?
My Grandmother, Mary Wagner never ceases to amaze me. She is kind to everyone (whether or not they deserve it), her time is always someone elses, she has battled, been scarred and continues to completely rock a pair of heels. Somehow she managed to raise a house of four girls and still find time to be a determined career woman. She is everything I hope to be one day. (Plus she looks like Meryl Streep’s more attractive sister.)

 

“I am empowered by my ability to take control of what I’m feeling and create something from it.”

 

Who are your favourite cultural heroines and why?
Clara Hughes: Not only is she the only athlete to ever win multiple medals at both the Summer and Winter Olympic Games which is hella amazing. She now also works with mental health initiatives such as Bell Let’s Talk and Clara’s Big Ride. For her, success means that she is able to use her voice to reach out and help people, specifically those affected with mental illness the way she was affected by depression.

Misty Copeland: Long before becoming a soloist for the American Ballet Theatre and Under Armour campaign star Misty was told she had the wrong body type for ballet, and frankly at 13, was too old anyway. Nevertheless she quickly became a dance prodigy. She should be the answer inside every girls head when they tell themselves to quit.

If you could pick one fictional female character to be for a day who would it be and why?
Samus Aran (the insanely badass chick from Metroid.) She had every trait of a true heroine, plus she still manages to be one of the least sexualized female characters in video games. I first started playing Metroid Zero Mission when I was a 5-foot-tall, flat chested, baggy jean wearing 14-year-old. The fact that the main character was a girl and that she bucked gender stereotypes long before Peach and Zelda ever shook the glitter out of their hair made me feel like maybe I wasn’t totally wrong.

What is your biggest life goal?
I’m going to pull a Beyonce here and go with “to be happy”. It’s taken me a long time to realize that I need to put my happiness at the forefront of all my goals. If I’m doing something because it makes me feel good then I can’t go wrong.

What is your biggest accomplishment?
Hopefully I haven’t accomplished it yet. Is that a cop out? I think that at this stage in my life my biggest accomplishment was learning that it’s okay to go all out for what you want. And it’s okay to fall down a couple times in the process. I’m learning that only I can define success for myself, it’s not something that can be given. You have to get it all on your own.

What is your favourite quote?
“Show up. Shine. Let it go.” – Danielle LaPorte

This quote is simple and sweet, for me it is drive, openness and self-reflection/self-forgiveness.

If you could tell your 12 year old self one thing what would it be?
Never try to be normal. People are going to spend their whole lives trying to make you feel like you should be less of what you are, embrace it. At least you’re not boring.

What does feminism mean to you?
Feminism means complete equality of the sexes. As a feminist I have every right to pursue and obtain anything that a man can. Access to education, choice in careers, ideas about sex, and society should be the same for both sexes.

Alex is the Communications Coordinator at Big Fizz Inc. and Gurevich Fine Art in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Connect with Alex
: Twitter

Fierce Females: Alex

Growing Up Skinny

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skin·ny
/ˈskinē/
adjective
1. (of a person or part of their body) very thin.
“her skinny arms”
synonyms: thin, scrawny, scraggy, bony, angular, rawboned, hollow-cheeked, gaunt, as thin as a rake, skin-and-bones, sticklike, emaciated, waiflike, skeletal, pinched, undernourished, underfed;

Growing up I was always called skinny and it never bothered me, because as a young girl it was always considered a good thing.

There was one incident in high school where I was performing in a musical. My friends mother heard another woman saying that I was anorexic to which she responded, “that girl eats like a horse”. Before I heard this story I never considered that people thought I was under nourished or unhealthy because this was the body I was born with and the body I’ve always known.

If we look at my family history both my parents were very tiny not to mention it goes all the way back to my grandparents. Nanny always reminds me, “I was 98 pounds on my wedding day.” So good genes have had a huge hand in creating the body I have always known.

To supplement my good genes I was a dancer for 18 years. Dancing builds lean muscle so while I didn’t appear to be gaining weight it was because I was gaining muscle weight. I still miss and admire my dancer legs and I’ve been working to get them back.

The point being, I was blessed with a great metabolism and to this day it is no easy feat for me to gain weight. This is where all the women reading this post grumble, “lucky skinny bitch”, but the truth is that I am probably as self conscious about my bones as some women are about their rolls.

At some point throughout my 24 years being thin turned into a horrid, ugly and negative thing. But, calling me “skinny” is no worse than me calling someone “fat” they are both ugly disgusting words that can be incredibly hurtful to an individual. I have seen it pop up more and more on social media with images such as these:

This photo bothered me most. It spread like wild fire all over social media and most were saying that the women on the bottom were “real women” not the women on top… I am definitely going to have a problem with that. I am infact a real woman and have been for 24 years but I don’t identify with any of the women on the bottom but I can relate to the women on top. The unfortunate comments tell me I’m not a “real beauty” and I don’t take being told what I am or am not very well.
This photo bothered me most. It spread like wild-fire all over social media and most were saying that the women on the bottom were “real women” not the women on top… I am definitely going to have a problem with that. I am in fact a real woman and have been for 24 years but I don’t identify with any of the women on the bottom but I can relate to the women on top. The unfortunate comments tell me I’m not a “real beauty” and I don’t take being told what I am or am not very well.
Well, that's rude and very untrue.
Well, that’s rude and very untrue but dogs DO love me.
Unnecessary, no one should be compared to the goddess that is Marilyn Monroe. Nowadays that is like comparing a woman to Beyoncé, it just ins't fair.
Unnecessary, no one should be compared to the goddess that is Marilyn Monroe. Nowadays that is like comparing a woman to Beyoncé, it just ins’t fair.
Fake chicks be like...
Fake chicks be like…

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And anyway, Cassi Van Den Dungen said it best:

I think a lot of overweight girls are hypocrites. I’m naturally skinny, I eat what I want, I don’t starve myself, and I am beautiful. So why are you allowed to love your “curves”, but it’s wrong for me to love my “bones”? Why is it okay for you to call me anorexic, but horrible for me to call you fat? If you can feel beautiful for being big, I can feel beautiful for being small. Get over it.

In the past few years I have become less confident in my body than I once was and it began to affect me psychologically. I went through a time in the past few years where my body image interfered with my regular eating habits. At times when I was out with others for food I became self-conscious and physically could not eat or I would have to run to the bathroom to vomit. Just so we are clear this was not a case of bulimia I really wanted to eat but as soon as the plate was set down in front of me I got hot, sweaty and my heart starting pounding faster and faster. I would work myself up to that first bite and once I put it in my mouth I would start salivating and not in that good way, in the bad “I’m about to be sick” way.

This problem got worse as time went on I was turning down dinner dates with my then boyfriend and feeling so incredibly guilty for it. I broke down and told my parents one day and they were unbelievably supportive. I told my doctor about my situation and she explained to me that I was having anxiety attacks. I was prescribed a very low dose of antidepressants and began seeing a councillor. Seeing the councillor really helped, while she didn’t fully understand what I was going through it felt like she did. I think the problem stemmed from people constantly saying, “you’re so skinny!”, “do you even eat?” and “go eat a burger!”, it made me furious and it still does, only now when someone calls me skinny I call them out on it. I am happy to report that I am doing so much better and I am eating burgers, bacon, pork tenderloin and steak by the pound as I used to.

Everyone has body issues and everyone can find something wrong with themselves, no one needs help finding more flaws. I really just want everyone and especially other women to know that as #FierceFemales we should support each other, celebrate our differences and be proud in our own skin because we can do anything.

No1

Growing Up Skinny

Fierce Females: Michele

Michele

What is it that empowers you most?
What empowers me is knowing I can be who and what I want to be everyday. I can wake up and have the ability to go out and achieve all my hopes and dreams.

What is it that you love most about yourself?
I love my ability to find humour in almost any situation. Laughing really is the best medicine.

What makes you feel most beautiful?
I feel the most beautiful when I am dancing on stage. When the lights hit you and your heart practically leaps out of your skin and you are taken over by the movement and for those few minutes nothing else in the world matters.

Who is your biggest role model and why?
My role model is my mom. She has the biggest heart and wants to do everything she can to help others even if putting herself last.

Who are your favourite cultural heroines and why?
Someone like Mia Michaels is definitely up there for me. She is a choreographer who doesn’t look like your typical dancer. She has a curvy figure and doesn’t pretend not to. She owns her movement and creates pieces that connect with your mind, body, and soul. She is a legend.

 

“When the lights hit you and your heart practically leaps out of your skin and you are taken over by the movement and for those few minutes nothing else in the world matters.”

 

If you could pick one fictional female character to be for a day who would it be and why?
Maybe Elphaba from Wicked: the life and times of the wicked witch of the west. She is a character who is willing to give up her success for something she believes in. She is a different then everybody else but that doesn’t stop her following through on her dreams.

What is your biggest life goal?
I want to have a steady musical theatre career.

What is your biggest accomplishment?
Winning The Young Choreographers Award and Best choreography in the same year.

What is your favourite quote?
“Great dancers aren’t great because of their technique, they are great because of their passion.” – Martha Graham

If you could tell your 12 year old self one thing what would it be?
Spend less time worrying you don’t look like everybody else and more time focusing on the things that make you different and therefore make your stand out.

What does feminism mean to you?
To me Feminism is the belief men and women should be given the same rights and opportunities and have their gender not enter into any equation. Not that one gender is better than the other it’s about equality.

Michele is a actor/choreographer/dancer/singer from Toronto, Ontario.
Connect with Michele
: Twitter

Fierce Females: Michele

Fierce Females: Caity

Caity

What is it that empowers you most?
Meditation. The best thing about meditation for me is that it has given me access to the infinite resources within myself and the knowledge that whatever I need I already have and whatever I want to be I already am. It’s also a practical skill I can use to bring about change in my daily life. I was intimidated by the prospect of meditating for a long time until I tried it and instantly realized every meditation is new which means you are always a beginner and that everything you experience is entirely perfect so you can’t get it wrong.

What is it that you love most about yourself?
My inquisitive nature. I struggled with this a lot growing up because i felt alone in it. I didn’t hear others around me asking the same questions and I wondered why I couldn’t just let things be. I’ve come to realize only recently that my insatiable desire for exploration and understanding is propelling me on an exciting and ever-changing journey. Now my questions are an adventure, answers are a bonus!

What makes you feel most beautiful?
Self expression. When I allow myself to be open and vulnerable in front of others, especially creatively. When we share our truths together and reveal our hearts. There is nothing that feels more beautiful.

Who is your biggest role model and why?
Gosh I really can’t pick just one. My wonderful friends, family and strangers alike – anyone who dares to live with truth, courage and an open heart. Someone who cries in public, who dances by themselves, who breaks the rules. Anyone who isn’t afraid to be themselves, or better yet who is but does it anyway.

Who are your favourite cultural heroines and why?
I’m constantly inspired by people I know…my friend Jenna is a Melbourne based artist who works under the the title Musings From The Moon. Not only does she make beautiful art and writes poetry she has just started a course in yoga teaching. What inspires me most about Jenna is her willingness to share her journey, to inspire others with her honesty and the gifts that come from her living her truth everyday.

 

“whatever I need I already have and whatever I want to be I already am.”

 

If you could pick one fictional female character to be for a day who would it be and why?
Actually, I would be Brad Stevenson from the movie A Family Stone. I’m not all that interested in him as a character so to speak but he gets to kiss Rachel McAdams** and hang out with Diane Keaton and Claire Danes. **Rachel McAdams is my Hollywood wife.

What is your biggest life goal?
To live in clarity, truth and love.

What is your biggest accomplishment?
Acting with compassion and love in the face of challenges.

What is your favourite quote?
“The only one I meet is God, the only street existence.” – Emily Dickinson

If you could tell your 12-year-old self one thing what would it be?
I love you, you’re perfect.

What does feminism mean to you?
Equality.

Caity is a musician (Acoustic Guitar / Keys / Vocals) with the band Playwrite from Melbourne, Australia.
Connect with Caity
: FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

Fierce Females: Caity

Fierce Females: Veronica

Veronica
What is it that empowers you most?
One of the things I find most empowering is the idea that, even with all the random events and occurrences that act as agents of change in my life, I can choose to be the most active agent in my own life. We often can’t control the things that happen to us, but we can control how we choose to respond to them. And, in that, acknowledging and letting go of what I can’t control is enormously freeing as well.

What is it that you love most about yourself?
I feel like I’m good at making people feel good about themselves. That’s really special.

What makes you feel most beautiful?
Being outside and in nature. Everything natural is beautiful, and when I’m surrounded by and physically connected to it, it’s impossible to not feel a part of that beauty.

Who is your biggest role model and why?
I’d have to say my mother and father equally, but for the purpose of this blog I’ll reflect on my mother. She was an artist, a writer, a teacher and a homemaker for almost 20 years. She taught me to create, to have a voice, to travel and to find beauty and adventures in the everyday. Then, at the age of 40, when we her four children were starting to leave the nest, she decided to pursue post-secondary education for the first time in her life. After four years studying history and teaching in university, she made the bold decision to take a run at med school. Fast-forward five more years and she has graduated as an MD. She is a family medicine resident in Red Deer, AB – she and my father sold their family home and moved across the country together on their brave new adventure. She has taught me that you can pursue your dreams (and, in fact, pick up new dreams) at any point in your life, and to not be afraid of hard work. She has modelled artistry and sacrifice and grace under pressure. She and my father have modelled the commitment and compromise it takes to make a relationship work. They’ve taught me that unconditional love is a choice; to respect oneself and honour one’s partner, and to weather the storm. I could go on and on ad infinitum. It’s really incredible to me.

Who are your favourite cultural heroines and why?
Tina Fey would be my favourite pop-cultural heroine – it takes guts to make it as a woman in a male-dominated worlds of business and mainstream comedy, and especially in the business of media/arts and entertainment. Her comedy is a wicked triple-threat of managing to be empowering WHILE self-depricating AND pant-wettingly hilarious. Pfff. Ridiculous.

I also have a pretty big crush on Margaret Atwood. And Harper Lee.

 

“I believe every person, in recognizing his or her gifts, must then choose what exactly they’d like to do with each, and to what degree.”

 

If you could pick one fictional female character to be for a day who would it be and why?
Princess Leia – intergalactic bad-ass.

What is your biggest life goal?
I believe every person, in recognizing his or her gifts, must then choose what exactly they’d like to do with each, and to what degree. I have always taken great joy in the art of communication, and I feel I express myself best through written and spoken word, and illustration. I also feel strongly compelled toward charitable, social, environmental and humanitarian causes (what good are my gifts if not applied full-bore to doing good?). My ultimate goal is to dedicate my life and talents to educating, informing and inspiring public action for positive change through the multimedia and channels of advertising. To me, advertising is an incredibly powerful vehicle that marries imagery with the written word to communicate complex ideas, bring people together and inspire action. I’m still learning the ropes and working out the bits & bolts, but at this time I believe the long-game ultimately manifests in my owning a (likely nonprofit) advertising/branding/creative agency working for non-profit organizations.

What is your biggest accomplishment?
I’m very proud to be an accomplished solo (budget) traveller. I’ve lived and worked in many areas of the world with very little money and have seen myself out of many difficult situations. I’m very excited to continue my journeys with a new adventure to Morocco next month.

What is your favourite quote?
“Don’t panic” – Douglas Adams, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
“Do more of what makes you happy” – Anonymous

If you could tell your 12 year old self one thing what would it be?
It’s okay to make mistakes and not be perfect. It’s not up to you to make everyone happy. Love yourself, it’s okay to fail.

What does feminism mean to you?
Feminism to me means not being afraid to take up space in the world, and to set my moral and ethical and physical boundaries and live by them, not forcing them on others but not allowing them to be trampled or compromised along the way.

Veronica is the Marketing Manager at Edge Marketing in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Connect with Veronica
: Twitter

Fierce Females: Veronica