Life Happens In The Ampersand

FullSizeRender-8Nayyirah Waheed, Karen Civil, and Hannah Brencher. If you were to ask whose Instagram accounts intoxicate me with that poisonous brew of admiration and envy, I would list those women for you, in no particular order. Those are the first names I’d offer when someone tells me comparison is the thief of joy and I have to fess up to why my spirit’s house has been ransacked.

There’s Nayyirah who never needs to adorn the words with anything, who has what so many female writers, self included, struggle to attain: esteem unattached to how she looks and reverence based entirely on her words. There’s Karen who I saw at St. Louis International Airport once as we were both on our way to the same speaking engagement. Her travel attire struck me as effortless and chic as she glided up to the gate, making me all too aware of the hole in my leggings and the pretzel crumbs in my lap. There’s Hannah who seems to thrive in a life I’ve only dreamed of, living off of her writing, teaching, and speaking. It’s the kind of life I relegated to an alley in my boulevard of broken dreams, the kind of life I somehow convinced myself I won’t ever have because of student loan debt and a fear of the unknown.

Nayyirah. Karen. Hannah. See, it’s easy to paint the story of my insecurities in broad strokes. It’s much more gut-punching to fill in the final details and tell you the names of the women whose Instagram accounts sometimes become land mines for my sense of self. It’s more gut-punching, but it’s also necessary. It’s necessary to reveal dark truths just as evenly as beautiful ones, to undress the most fragile parts of our humanity and face them head on.

It’s necessary to tell you that this year I’m treading water instead of competing in the 3M springboard competition. It’s necessary to tell you that I am starving for permanence, for something in my life that feels lasting and true, but no matter how much I attempt to enjoy the fruit of my labor, nothing ever seems to fill me quite enough. It’s necessary to tell you that I’ve never done well with silence, and right now there seems to be a blaring amount of it. It’s necessary to tell you that these days everything I want feels like a moving target, and I just can’t seem to position myself properly to fire.

Maybe it’s because this is the first year I stopped dressing my voids in designer brands of denial. It’s the first year I am not buying boom boxes of distraction. This year I am trying in earnest to let the silence speak, even though many days I’m unsure of what she’s hoping to say.

So, these are the days I crave summer sun, Cheryl Strayed, and Cabernet Sauvignon. These are the days that Brave Enough becomes a religious text for me and I find God in between quotation marks. These are the days I have to be most gentle with myself, looking less at how much the road ahead spans and more at how far the one behind me stretches. These are the days I assure myself it’s not a sin if I forget to sweep up cat food crumbs or if I save that pile of laundry for another day. These are the days life points out that self-love is not a seasonal kind of sport, but instead it is perennial–every minute, all the time, 365 days a year, especially when your feet are stuck in the shit. These are the moments I’m reminded that some of the most beautiful and pivotal morsels of a woman’s life happen in the ampersand, in the undefined place, in the bridge between the life she knew then and the life she’ll know soon enough–if she would only give the life she has now its fair chance.


INCYoutubeCover1This post was written with love and chutzpah as part of Yetti’s Certified Words campaign, an initiative that aims to show society how women absorb negative words spoken upon us, how these words manifest themselves within our everyday lives, and how we’re working to reverse the harmful impact of these words. 

You can learn more about Certified Words here, and be sure to check out the first episode of the Certified Words web series. Thank you, Yetti, for having the courage to live out your purpose and the resolve to see this vision through. 


Wounds We Don’t See: Q&A With Founders of Moredinary + Certified 10

Moredinary and Certified 10 are teaming up for Think This Way! Don’t forget to enter for your chance to win a ticket to the event after reading this Q&A.

You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love & affection. ~Buddha

You can Google self-love and find a wealth of quotes. But loving yourself is a concept that takes years, guts, and next-level courage to truly harness in everyday life. There are two women leading the charge when it comes to empowering other women to love themselves, accept their flaws, and bask bravely in their true selves. Those two women are Roconia, founder of Moredinary, and Yetti, founder of Certified 10. In a few weeks, the pair will team up for their first joint event, Think This Way, a workshop that will equip women with ways to reshape negative thoughts and transform them into something much more positive. In this Q&A, they each discuss what sparked them to create their organizations, what they hope attendees get out of Think This Way, and why it’s so important for women to come together in person for these sorts of events. 

1) Tell us a little bit about your own self-love journey.

Roconia: I wouldn’t exactly call it a self-love journey. 1. Because I don’t really use that term and 2. because I didn’t  wake up one day and decide to embark on any kind of  journey. But in recent years I kind of realized I was alive and decided I should treat myself as such.

Yetti: Well it’s pretty short, and a tad a bit cliché. I learned to berate myself at a fairly young age. Berating turned into self-mutilation. Self-mutilation turned into a stint at the hospital, and after realizing that years of being shitty to myself wasn’t working out so well, I figured I’d try something new. I’ve been experimenting with this self-love thing ever since.

Roconia Price, founder of Moredinary
Roconia Price, founder of Moredinary

2) What sparked you to create Certified 10 and Moredinary?

Roconia: In a way both you and Yetti helped spark the beginning of Moredinary. Moredinary is something that I’ve always wanted to do, I just didn’t have the words to describe it because it wasn’t an occupation I could find in a career handbook. With Moredinary, I get to utilize every single one of my best skills from writing to event planning to creativity to building genuine connections. I’d say the idea for Moredinary was officially sparked at your event last spring, Mimosas & Men. With the help of Yetti, and her passing all of her Mimosas to me, I’d officially decided, then and there, that I was going to get started on my organization. I’ve been in a frenzy ever since.

Yetti: February 16, 2016. I didn’t want another woman to feel as lost, or as sad, or as empty as I did that day. I didn’t want this to be something my little sister ever felt. We learn how to add and subtract in school, but we’re not taught to take care of our self-esteem, or our mental health. We go to doctor offices or the hospital when we are physically wounded, but what about the wounds you can’t see?

That’s pretty much it. That’s why I created Certified 10. To fill a void the world refuses to acknowledge.

3) Roconia, Moredinary envisions a world where every woman is exactly who she wants to be–mentally, physically, and professionally. What do you think that will look like for our society and what is the top way women can get to that state on a personal level?

I think it looks like women getting up every morning and putting on whatever they want–be it a bowtie, a skirt, a dress, or pants–and going about their day without regard to societal norms and the pressure they place on women to be a certain way.

On a personal level, I think it starts with belief. If a woman believes she can, God help the (wo)man who stands in her way.

3) Yetti–Part of the Certified 10 vision is for every woman to celebrate, own, and love her individuality. Of those three actions (celebrate, own, and love), which do you feel is the most difficult to do and why?

Yetti, founder of Certified 10
Yetti, founder of Certified 10

Oh, boy. They’re all hard to do because they all pretty much go hand in hand. To love yourself, and I mean to truly love yourself, it also mean you own and accept bits and pieces of yourself that others do not understand, that society has taught you to hate, or that you have neglected for whatever reason. Owning what you bring to the table and what you are worth means you celebrate your existence and things about you that are different, or stick out like a sore thumb. It’s you practicing self-care, which brings you right back to loving yourself because that is the ultimate way to self-care. They all go together, and are all very much difficult to do, but not because they’re daunting tasks, but because if you fail at one, you will eventually fail at them all.

4) Why is it important to move beyond the online world and host live events for women?

Roconia: There’s a certain connection that you can only get in person. You can’t  feel the electricity in a room through Google Hangout.

Yetti: Because everything is better in person, let’s be honest here. Writing about it doesn’t have the same impact as watching someone be about it. Not to mention with the live events Certified 10 and Moredinary put together, one of our major goals is to foster a community women feel comfortable in. I think it was you who actually said it best in a “snail mail” letter, that you appreciated the intimate setting of the first Back 2 Basics event. You can’t create that kind of setting on the Internet. You just can’t.

5) What do you hope attendees gain from Think This Way?

Roconia: I hope that women gain a new appreciation for their thought life. I hope they find the activities that we do at Think This Way to be applicable in their everyday lives. And I really hope they gain a new friend. I know some amazing women coming to the event.

Yetti: Honestly, I hope we can help them see the beauty and the benefits in a positive mind. After this event, I want our attendees to feel absolutely in the wrong when they have a negative thought about themselves. I want that thought to feel uncomfortable. I want them to continue questioning negative thinking and then correct it. Out with the self-deprecating, in with the celebrating. I’m also hoping they leave feeling like they have a close-knit community they can always count on.

6) How do you envision Think This Way building on the previous momentum you both have generated with the Back 2 Basics series and She Who Believes?

Roconia: I see Think This Way building on women’s betterment in one of the most important areas of their lives: their minds. I think this will help women get on their way to being as Moredinary as possible.

Yetti: I never really thought about it, but I do hope this won’t be last time we see these beautiful women. Like mentioned before, we’re a community. I hope they see this and come back for more.

Yetti, of, provides the average twenty-something-year old with the uncensored truth sometimes served with a side of wit, sarcasm, and a few curse words. She’s also founder of Certified 10, the organization and movement teaching women to fall madly and deeply in love with themselves. Twitter | @yettisays + @thecertified10
Roconia \ruhCONNuh\ (n.) a beautiful balance between blessed and broken. Founder of Moredinary. Creator of Ever So Roco. Storyteller. Revolutionary. Twitter:@eversoroco Website: Ever So Roco

Love what you’ve read from these ladies today? Enter below to win a free ticket to the Think This Way event taking place on Saturday, March 19 at noon in DC!

And, don’t forget to chime in during the Think This Way Twitter chat tomorrow, March 2, at 9 p.m. EST using the hashtag #ThinkThisWay.

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