Overcoming the High School Blues By Robyn

If happiness has a measurement, then how does someone know if they’re happy? I remember being a junior in high school, hating everything and everybody that I came across. Girls I used to be best friends with in sixth grade until my junior year of high school totally flipped on me. I could never understand why they lied to my high school sweetheart and told him I was unfaithful. I could never understand why they thought it was funny when everyone was whispering in the halls that I had a black eye, due to the lies they spread about someone they called their “best friend.” I was clearly in a dark place mentally because I felt like everyone I knew had turned against me.

The following year I was in a different place in my life. I had “glowed up” and no one could make me feel like I had the year before. The “mean girls” still made comments when I walked past them, but after a while, the comments began to fade, and I began making new friends who encouraged me to be myself in different ways. After this experience, I spent hours conducting research and studying which paid off, as I was accepted into my first choice college, Ohio University.

Now let’s fast forward to 2019, as I have almost completed undergrad and I couldn't be prouder of the growth I have seen within myself. My two best friends moved away from high school before junior year, so they did not exactly understand the struggle I had to go through in my senior year. My best friends, “the twins,” had a slumber party and asked me to come. They disclosed that the “mean girls” would be there. But I didn’t see it as an issue, as it had been years since these events had occurred.

Preparing for the party made me feel anxious because I haven’t seen some of these girls since graduation and never planned to see them again. While driving to the party, I received a video from Snapchat from one of the “mean girls” asking when I would arrive at the party. They couldn’t wait to see me. I was so baffled, and thought this must’ve been a joke! When I pulled up to the party, I was even more surprised.

The girls who had done me wrong had seemed to forget and they acted as if we were best friends. It was the most uncomfortable thing I’ve experienced thus far, but in a good way. Although I was no longer friends with these ladies, they congratulated me and told me they were proud of me, which made me happy. It showed me in a way we all had grown, and I had to let go of the past. It felt so refreshing to be able to relax and have a good time with old friends.

While in high school, like many others, I suffered from depression and anxiety,  and I use to feel so alone due to my struggles. When I got to college, I met a woman who was from the same city from me and we had a very similar past. Instantly we clicked, and became inseparable, people swore we knew each other since childhood. She was able to help me deal with my depression and would help me get out of the house to get me in a better mood. This was one of the ways I was successful in college and I have always been grateful for our friendship I do not know where I would be now had we never met.

Jazmyne and I created an organization called Ebony Minds, which educated the community about the issues that black women faced in the past and continue to face in the present. I never recognized my love for politics until Jazmyne and I began to look into new things, and we found something we both love. Together we spread knowledge and served the community in numerous ways. While doing all of this, we were able to join a sorority together and become a part of a sisterhood with many other women who were like us in different ways. They all taught me things about myself and about others. While with this group of women, my relationship with God grew and my life began to change in many aspects. The sisterhood I found in college even before joining a sorority was so impactful it changed not only my views but also my life.  

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Don't Mourn Your Pants by Gretta

For years, I was in a strenuous relationship with my favorite pants. We were always on the verge of “almost-too-tight.” I endured the discomfort of wearing them, sucking in my stomach and ignoring the pressing of the waistband into my back, because they were just so cute and they went with everything. It was hard to find a pair of pants that stylistically flexible, despite their inflexibility on my skin.

A month ago, while wrapping up my first year of college, I finally dumped those pants in my dorm’s donation bin. As they tumbled down the shoot, they confirmed the uncomfortable reality I had been trying to ignore for months: my pants no longer fit. I had put on the freshman fifteen, and I had the stretch marks and cellulite to prove it. 

This weight gain is typical for young adults, especially in college. There’s a reason the term was coined, after all. But I don’t often hear about the psychological effects of it, especially for people, like me, who have a history of eating disorders. 

Instead of focusing on losing weight to feel better about ourselves, I want to change the narrative of weight gain to accept the changes and celebrate our bodies no matter what, and I want to help those with a history of EDs learn to protect themselves from relapse.

In high school, I injured my spine and had to wear a back brace, which severely limited my ability to be physically active. During this time, only a year after my first battle with an ED, I gained ten pounds. This may not sound like much, but for me, each pound was a noticeable, painful reminder of my lack of “control” over my own body. 

This was my first confrontation with rapid weight gain, and it’s a fairly common one. Injuries, depression, the college buffet—these are just a few of the many reasons people’s bodies change rapidly in ways often seeming out of their control. Social media and advertisements often promote a virtually impossible lifestyle that in turn causes us to feel disgusted by new love handles or looser arms.

After years of battling both ED’s and spine complications causing weight gain, I am still working to rewrite my idea of self-worth apart from my appearance. In the process, I have discovered some helpful ways to care for myself, physically and mentally, as I learn to navigate the new—but NOT any less deserving, powerful, or beautiful—me. 

Below are a list of suggestions for anyone who has gained weight—whether through an injury, the freshman fifteen, or just because—and wants to process it in a healthy way, rather than be embarrassed by weight gain, as society often implies we should be. To preface, some of these suggestions may not be right for you. This is not a prescription. Rather, it is a list of helpful actions that worked for me. If something clicks with you, try it. If not, that’s totally okay.

  • Make small changes—like drinking more water and serving one more vegetable for dinner—if it helps you, but try not to punish yourself through restrictive diets, and don’t feel as if a diet change is necessary to change your mentality on weight gain. 

  • Explore your new you. As weird as this sounds, looking at and feeling my stretch marks helped me embrace them. Ignoring them, I realized, instilled in me a type of shame, as if avoiding them was necessary so other people would, too—but why? Why should it be something I hide and refuse to accept? For me, exploring these marks normalized them.

  • Use social media to boost your mentality about weight rather than harm it. I wrote an article about this on GLO Hub, but I’ll reiterate here: craft your feed to erase body toxicity and enhance body positivity. Unfollow any accounts—like fitness inspo accounts—that leave you anxious or set unrealistic ideas of how your body should look. Instead, actively seek out accounts that promote self-love for bodies of every shape and size. 

  • If you like to post candids and selfies, then don’t stop just because you think you look different on camera than you did a year ago. Take those pictures. Take lots of pictures. Be unapologetic about it. Love yourself, and don’t stop because you’re scared more cellulite might be visible. Human bodies are art, as are photos, and combining the two can help you see yourself as art, too. 

  • Don’t give up on your passion for fashion. This was a big one for me—I had to get rid of a lot of pants, and because fashion is a huge method of self-expression for me, I felt that my shrinking closet limited who I was. However, fashion is made for everyone, regardless of what Victoria’s Secret wants you to believe. Do some research and follow some body-positive fashion accounts, and they’ll help teach how to make your closet work for you and hype yourself up exactly as you are. 

These next few suggestions are ones intended specifically for those with an ED history, although of course anyone who thinks these will help them should pursue it.

  • Pay close attention to your eating, speaking, and exercise habits, as they can be indicative of potential relapse and your mental health. This doesn’t mean to obsess or over-analyze yourself, but be conscious about how you speak about your weight and if your eating and exercise habits change. If you feel like you’re reverting back to ED habits, it may be time for you to reach out. 

  • While therapy is not accessible or financially feasible for many, if it is an option for you, I highly recommend it. Seeking out a professional can give you a support system and safe space to have conversations about weight, and they can provide next steps and assistance with whatever you need.

  • However, therapy is not the only way to seek help. You can also talk to someone you trust and feel comfortable with, especially if they already know about your ED history. Whether that be a close friend, a parent, a teacher or mentor, letting someone know about your conflict with weight gain gives you a safe outlet to work through things, allows you support, and notifies someone to watch out for you if you’re concerned about relapse.

  • Journal. Journaling is a great way to work through your thoughts, especially if you’re uncomfortable talking about your weight and body image out loud. It’s (basically) free, super therapeutic, and aesthetic af.

  • If you’re scared of relapse and feel like you have nowhere else to turn, call the National Eating Disorder Helpline at 1-800-931-2237. While NEDA’s hours are mainly during the weekdays, there are 24/7 helplines you can call, like The United Way’s number at 2-1-1, which can help with information and referrals about ED treatment. You can also text the Crisis Text Line at 741741 and they will connect you to trained volunteers to discuss confidential advice, support, and referrals. 

We live in a society that still often castigates stretch marks, cellulite, love handles, and loose skin, making it difficult for some to view weight gain as a normal process. If you’re healthy and happy at the weight you’re at, regardless of what it is, that’s awesome—keep doing what you’re doing.

For anyone who struggles, however, with their weight gain, I hope this article was helpful in giving you steps to reshape how you view your body. Because no one should get the freshman fifteen and feel like they somehow failed. No one should see their stretch marks and feel inherently lesser because of them. And no one should feel ashamed about donating a pair of pants. 

Empowered & PoisedComment
Always Be Creatively You

During our elementary and middle school years, many of us are expected to conform. Oh, Skechers are no longer acceptable to wear in public? Better throw my pair away. Heelys are now in? Now I have ask mom to take me to the shopping mall. All the girls in my class are wearing makeup now? When I get home, I’ll watch YouTube makeup tutorials and learn how to apply eyeliner and foundation correctly.

During these awkward adolescent years, most girls blindly accept the “status quo.” They never think to themselves: “What if I like my Skechers?” or “Heelys are going out of style soon anyway” (which they did) or even “What if I like how I look, and don’t feel the need to wear makeup?”

This “conformity trend” goes far beyond physical appearance and material fads. It often affects one’s taste in music, favorite movies and celebrity crushes. At an early age, we’re expected to conceal our personal interests if they don’t line up with whatever’s “in” at a certain point in time.

In reality, this doesn’t need to be the case, and our Empowered & Poised team seeks to teach girls differently. We want girls to truly express themselves!

On August 17, we’re partnering with the Muldoon Center for Entrepreneurship at John Carroll University to plant a creative seed in young girls’ minds. Titled Creatively You,  this event will spark self-expression and, well, creativity through two activities: creating a vision board and tie-dying. 


After cutting snippets from magazines, each girl will create a vision board that describes who they are, and what they identify with. This probably goes without saying, but each board will be individualistic and pertain for their dreams/goals for themselves, which directly correlates with self-expression.

As for tie-dying, choosing different colors to design a t-shirt will also give these girls individual freedom, as they decide which colors will appear on the shirt, and which will not. They can also dye the shirt in a variety of ways, which speaks to their own individuality and expression.


At our Creatively You event, attendees will also learn more about empowerment and the importance of community. To learn more about this exciting and insightful opportunity, check out our Facebook page!

As always, remember to stay true to yourself - trends will always fade, but individuality never goes out of style.

The Emerging Butterfly by Shanté

It’s been three years since my mom went home to be with the Lord. I didn’t know it then, but the day she died was the day my life changed. A new me was emerging, but I didn’t know it. I didn’t really have time to think about it. What I knew was everybody relied on me to fill her shoes; an impossible task. I can only be me. But, who is Shanté remains the question….?

I’m the leader, the manager, the consoler, the counselor, the financer. The list goes on. When there’s a need, everyone calls on me. It’s not like I hadn’t been through many storms before, but this time was different. The storms were raging. One storm would hit, then another, then another. Meanwhile, I’m carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders. No one knows it. To the world, I’m the strong woman who has everything together. If it needs to be done, Shanté will take care of it. I was giving and pouring myself into the world, and no one was pouring into me. So, I continued to pour until I was empty.

God was, and continues to be, my strength. It is His strength that carries me, that sustains me. So, I’ve given all I can give. I arrive at a place I call the wilderness. I feel lost, alone, disconnected. I don’t know who I am anymore or why I’m here. I thought I knew my gifts and my purpose. I lost that too. What I’m feeling is my reality. I’m experiencing tangible losses that are impacting every area of my life, and I don’t know why. What I know for sure is the vision God gave me, and that I’m called to a higher purpose.  I’m trusting that everything I’m going through is for my good.

Through my storms and being at a loss in my own life, I continued to focus on encouraging other people to pursue their dreams...to know it’s possible...to live the life they want...to know they are a gift to the world, and give them a platform to share their stories on my talk show. I believe our power is in our story and our stories have the ability to transform lives. I hosted a large event for business owners. By the grace of God, I made it through. It was the testimonies of attendees that encouraged me and let me know I’m serving a greater purpose. I want to impact lives!

The best way to help ourselves is to help others! There’s no greater reward.

Now the event is over, I’m totally disconnected. I change my environment and go into solitude; free from distraction and worry about what’s happening outside of the space I’m in. It was necessary for me to be selfish this time. It had to be all about me. I desperately needed to discover me again. So, I’m away...just me and my dog, my books, writing pad and laptop. I disconnected from the social media..another distraction. This is a time of soul searching, prayer and seeking God’s guidance and understanding his plan for my life. I am an emerging butterly who has her new wings.

This is the rebirth of Shanté...the new me who I’m discovering everyday. I’m starting over in life and in business. God is restoring everything I lost. He is showing me who I am. I a queen. I am a light in this world. I am a disrupter of the status quo. I am a visionary. I am an innovator. I am a dream creator. I am a legacy builder. I am a healer. I am an encourager. I am a gift giver. I am more than a conquer. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. My story is to be shared with the world to give hope and help others to fulfill their purpose.

I am empowered by God. What makes me empowered is my willingness to reinvent myself, to go through the process and to empower others as I’m empowered. I am poised with grace and knowing I am a gift to the world and sharing my gift. I am empowered and poised as a daughter of the Kingdom of God to carry out His plan for my life and to make this world a better place. His Kingdom come on earth as it is in Heaven!

Girling Pains By Dana

When grade school begins (and even before then), it’s made clear that boys and girls are different. Whether we’re split into separate lines to go to the bathroom, have designated “play areas” or have boys versus girls games at recess, gender barriers are clearly defined - for better or for worse.

While boys and girls are made out to be different early on, the struggles of being a female didn’t really hit me until middle school. Along with the unavoidable (often embarrassing) physical changes that occur during adolescence, my outlook on the world and my future changed drastically as well.

In America, it’s expected of women to focus on and perfect their physical appearance. Makeup, name brand clothing and dietary restrictions are advertised to women at an extremely young age, which can easily create unhealthy habits on both physical and mental levels. As Beyoncé so elegantly proclaims in her hit song “Pretty Hurts”: “Perfection is the disease of a nation.” In America, her words couldn’t ring truer.

When I was faced with these “feminine” struggles in middle school, I noticed how my brother (who’s only a year older than me) didn’t experience the same obstacles. As I became entranced by my physical appearance and perfecting it, my brother’s interests didn’t seem to change. He still watched football every Sunday, played video games and ate however much he wanted without regret. I began to wonder why I had to change and my brother didn’t. I asked myself more than once: “What good comes out of womanhood?”

As it turns out, a lot. Coming from a single parent household (my mother is the matriarch), I learned a lot about independence and strength at a very young age. Once my middle school years ended, I realized that I didn’t have to conform to society’s feminine expectations, which my mom tried to instill in me years ago. Although boys and girls are different in a variety of ways, they can achieve the same goals.

While gender barriers have been clearly defined over time, we must remember: Boys and girls aren’t all that different. Although society has clearly separated the two genders, we must keep in mind what we have in common. Like their male counterparts, women enjoy watching sports, playing video games and reaching career milestones - most of these “differences” are simply social constructs - all aside from inconsistencies in male/female biology, which have been scientifically proven.

By recognizing this, I’ve empowered myself. If men don’t have to follow these societal expectations, then why should I? There’s much more to women than physical appearance, so why should I be consumed by my own reflection?

I shouldn’t be. While guys and girls are physically different, they have a lot in common. I learned this at an extremely young age, as my brother and I were encouraged to play the same sports and express our creativity in similar ways. When my confidence began to waver in middle school, I became confused by society’s expectations for young girls, and this continues to occur today.

We can even start with designated “boy colors” and “girl colors” that are established basically at birth. My niece, Sadie, loves the color blue, and she thought this color preference made her a “tomboy.” When I was the same age (she’s nine), I thought loving the color pink made me a “girly girl.” My favorite color was primarily determined by what society perceives as “girl colors,” and I strived to avoid “boy colors.” This same ideology persisted into my middle school years, as I twisted my interests to meet 13-year-old girl norms.

To prevent these norms from being accepted (and even encouraged) by society, we must address the issue head on, at an early age. If boys can love blue, then girls can love the color, too. If boys can love sports, then so can girls. Women are groomed to think that appearances are everything, but have we recognized what damage this belief can cause? Any flaw that a woman (myself included) finds in her appearance is amplified, as the female gender is expected to appear physically perfect and presentable. Returning to“Pretty Hurts,” this emphasizes how “perfection” is a disease.

My advice to any girl who doubts herself is to look to the empowering female role models that surround her - whether it be your mother, an aunt, a friend or even Beyoncé herself - you’ll begin to see what women are truly capable of.

The Power Of Performing Arts By Cindy

Hello everyone! My name is Cindy Tran Nguyen and I am a senior at The Ohio State University double majoring in Theatre and Marketing and minoring in Asian American Studies. I am currently interning with Empowered & Poised, working as a student ambassador at The Fisher College of Business, and taking three summer classes.

As of right now, I am doing relatively well for myself. However, the path I took to get here was far from easy: filled with self-starvation, heartache, suicidal thoughts, and self-doubt. My experiences led me to believe I was never enough for the people around me. My parents constantly verbally (and oftentimes physically) assaulted me. Boys were only using me for my body. And my friends seemed like they were leaving left and right.

The loneliness and pain I experienced in middle and high school caused my mental health to decline, but the one thing that got me through was a love for performing arts.


I have loved singing for as long as I can remember, but did not get the courage to audition for theatre until my sophomore year of high school. I did not audition my freshman year of high school because I was still trying to figure everything “high school” out and did not think that I could have committed enough time to the art.

Sophomore year, I bit the bullet and went for it. And lo and behold, I got casted and in a named role nonetheless! She had her own story and solo and it felt like I was living the dream. I was able to run away from all of my issues for four hours every night and just be someone else for a bit. There was no time to dwell on my personal life because theatre is a community effort.

Through high school theatre, I learned how to express myself and communicate better, establish lifelong friendships, and prove to myself that I was enough and that I was good at something. Theatre really helped me to build my confidence.


With this in mind (and thankfully a prescription for antidepressants and mood stabilizers), I was able to carve a new path for myself in college. Theatre still is a big part of my life, so much so that I have decided to try to make a career out of it. Just this last year, I was given my first main leading lady role and I could not have been more excited! It was exhausting, grueling, and debilitating, but I would not trade any part of it.

Despite the long hours and hard work, the last three years in the theatre department at OSU have continued to give me lasting relationships, an increased sense of self despite prejudice, and the ability to be comfortable in my own skin. I truly feel I am a better person because of theatre. Even if I don’t end up making a professional career in theatre, it is not leaving my life any time soon. What started out as a hobby has become one of the most important aspects of my identity.

Letting Go By Maneke

“The choice is pretty simple: Keep letting fear sidetrack you, or take what you've been given, maybe even told from God above, and say 'yes.'” ~Yvonne Orji

I am Empowered & Poised enough to let go of my fear of the unknown and just DO IT. In 2017, I started on my quest of letting go of things that were stopping me from uttering the ever so heavy word, yes. As an introvert, natural homebody, and total non-risk taker, I spent my time researching and planning before making a move on just about everything in my life. Most times I would over analyze to the point of no action. To me, things had to be just right to work out well. I figured I could reduce any risk or stress on myself if I just planned accordingly. It also did not help that I was a paid planner as a Project Manager. My day job entailed planning, mitigating risks. and outlining the best processes to follow. I even received a certification in my field to help solidify my top-notch planning skills. However, what I was not doing was living my best life. I was not mitigating risks but saying no to anything that took me out of my comfort zone or tuned down things that really challenged me. I was going day-to-day in a circle of routine tasks.

Get up. Go to work. Get off work. Cook something or figure out what to cook. Clean something. Run a kid to an activity. Come home and go to bed. Get up and repeat the cycle the next day. I considered it a perfect day if I could sit for hours and binge watch a new Netflix series or finally watch a movie that I had missed in the theatre. I know it’s slightly depressing.I was happy with just sitting still. While I was blessed to have my family and a job that used my skills I knew there had to be more. This was no way to live. Turning 40 made me take account of my life and realize that I was not where I wanted to be, and if I was totally honest, I was not going to be based on the planning path I was accustomed to following. Something had to change. I had to change. So the journey of change began. Over the last two years I have had the most significant personal transformation of my life, not in the physical kind of way that can be seen by others,but in the most intimate way I have ever experienced.  What I didn’t realize then that I can see so clearly now is I was stagnant and not living fully alive as God wanted me to live. While I am still on this journey, I can see the great strides I have made all from the simple response of “Yes."

Yes, I am open to trying something new. I am still fearful of the unknown, but I now trust myself and God enough to press on. I still plan, but not to the point of analysis paralysis. I look at new opportunities as a way to grow, evolve, and to try something totally foreign to me. I don’t have to have all the answers, nor do I have to figure out all the steps ahead of time. However, now I can move forward with a comfortable yes, knowing that I will learn as I go. I can lean on my support system for help, or at any time I can make a different choice, and that is ok too.

I have said “Yes” to several new things, and I am so happy that I did. I am taking my volunteer work to the next level as a new Advisory Board Member with a local youth program through the YMCA. I am using my passion for creating and empowering women through a new business, Nourish + Soul. I am even headed out of the country for the first time this year to help celebrate the birthday of a new friend.  I am so grateful for how all of these opportunities have challenged me. They have helped me find my passion. They have helped me realize that I am more capable than I realized. Also, it is OK not to know all the answers before saying yes to something unknown. They have helped me improve my self-esteem. Moreover, I believe the most significant change is that they have made my life so much more fulfilling.

I am Empowered & Poised because I can look fear in the face and say, “Bring it! I’m doing it anyway”.

Planning Meals For A Busy Fam By Ali Hively

Planning meals can be stressful. Even the best laid plans can be thrown off by a busy schedule or unexpected commitment. Too often our fridges are full, yet we run out of time to make anything!


Here are a few quick tips that you can implement today:

  1. Make a list of your family’s favorite meals:  

    In order to create this list, have a conversation about it with your family.  Don't assume you know what they want without asking - this is a great opportunity to talk about dinner ideas. Keep this list on the fridge so you or your family can add to it anytime!

  2. Look over your week:  

    Be realistic when you think about how many nights you are actually going to cook.The majority of us aren’t able to keep up with cooking every night, and that’s totally okay! Make a mark on your calendar for nights you are going to cook.

  3. Pick a night for leftovers:  

    Plan for them. Cook a little extra the night before and enjoy the night off cooking.

  4. Have themed food nights:  

    For example, you can have a Mexican, Asian, Greek, Italian, Hawaiian, Thai or any other fun themed night. Then, plan your menu for that night around the theme. Have fun with it!  If once a week is too much, you could do it every other week.

  5. Allow for flexibility:  

    If something comes up, be ready to throw your chicken into the freezer and move on!  


So your weekly calendar could look something like this:

Monday - Family Favorite

Tuesday - Taco Night - Theme Night!

Wednesday - Leftovers

Thursday - Family Take Out Night - Find a healthy dish at your favorite restaurant. When you order in, make one large order of the healthy dish instead of several single-serving dishes.  For example: chicken fajitas or fattoush salad to serve the whole family for dinner.

Friday - Homemade Pizza and Salad Night

Then, all you need to do is pick a few meals each week and plug them into your calendar!

Here are a few recipes to get you started:

Easy Naan Personal Pizzas

  • 1/2 cup basil pesto and/or tomato sauce

  • ¾ c. shredded mozzarella cheese

  • ½ c. parmesan cheese

  • Your favorite toppings - roasted veggies, peppers, olives, pepperoni, mushrooms, spinach, etc.

  • 4 whole wheat naan bread

Preheat oven to 425 degree F. In a small bowl stir together the mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses; set aside.  

Spread with basil pesto and/or tomato sauce.

Arrange naan on a baking sheet.

Sprinkle each with cheese mixture and toppings of choice.  

Bake for 8-10 minutes or until cheese is bubbly.

Burrito Bowls

  • For the bowls:

  • 3 cups of cooked rice

  • 1 Rotisserie chicken, chicken pulled

  • 1 jar of your favorite salsa

  • Black beans, drained and rinsed

  • Corn, fresh, canned or frozen

  • Lettuce, chopped or shaved

  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

  • Guacamole

Prepare your burrito bowl toppings by transferring them into bowls.  

Heat your chicken and shred the meat, feel free to add taco seasoning or salsa to flavor.

Fill each bowl with cooked rice, and/or cauliflower rice top with shredded chicken, salsa, and desired toppings to build bowls.

For another option, substitute rice with riced cauliflower or shredded lettuce.

Chocolate Chip Snack Bars

  • 2 cups raw cashew pieces

  • 12 pitted Medjool dates

  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract

  • pinch of salt

  • Mini chocolate chips or chocolate chunks

  1. Line a 8x8  pan with parchment paper.

  2. Pulse cashew pieces and dates until they begin to form a paste. Add in vanilla extract and salt, and continue to process until the mixture is blended into a paste. Add in chocolate chips and pulse.

  3. Spread mixture in the pan, press down and spread evenly.

  4. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours until firm.

  5. Picking up the parchment paper, remove from pan and cut into bars. Save the bars in baggies and store in the refrigerator for about a week.


I would love to help you more with what this could look like for your family, please don't hesitate to reach out with any questions!

Ali Hively

Founder of Kijia




Follow The Leader By Stephanie

Do not be the woman who sits and watches things get done; be the woman that gets things done!

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Life, as we know it, has almost always been dominated by men, especially in politics. Even though in recent times women have been given more opportunities to contest and achieve the highest post, there is still a sort of “unstated” distrust toward women. However, women are constantly proving many of society’s outdated and untrue assumptions and stereotypes wrong.

Women have what it takes to lead and to lead well. We have the power to stand up to all of the political turmoil that is sweeping through our country and help change laws and public policies in a way that has never been done before. Women are making their marks, making a difference, and leaving their footprints in the sands of time.

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This is exactly what I am striving to do. I have always had a passion for politics and, after a 20-year career in politics, have become one of Washington’s most sought after advisors and strategists.

Originally from Gainesville, Florida, I graduated from Harvard and later became the the General Counsel to U.S. Senator Bill Nelson of Florida. I have been recognized for my contributions to the legal field, garnering the Black Women Lawyers Rock Award, as well as recognized by Loop 21/Impact DC as one of the 40 Under 40 Most Influential in Capitol Hill. My political commentary can be heard on numerous outlets including The Hill, Sirius XM Radio, and One America News Network. Currently, I am the CEO of the elite political consulting company, Mickle Public Affairs Agency.

My book, Follow the Leader: Believe in Yourself. Craft Your Future, was written to empower and motivate women to get involved in the political process. All it takes is confidence from a leader who genuinely cares and understands why women hold back.

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In my book, I hope to help women learn:

  • Why it’s important for them to get involved in the political process.

  • Which topics are taboo.

  • How to close the gender gap.

  • How to let go of the superwoman syndrome.

  • Where women of color fit in.

  • How the divine influences women.

It is within us to reach out for our goals and aspirations and, if we can only believe, we can achieve it.

Interested in reading it? Order here.

Growing Though Challenges By Debora

My name is Debora Laizer. I am from Tanzania. I came to the U.S. to pursue my Masters in Business Administration at John Carroll University.

      What empowers me is believing the fact that, every human being in this world, has a part to play and purpose to fulfill. It takes a long time for many people to identify their inner self or their strengths. As a matter of fact , it took me a while to discover my inner strength and to be able to accept myself. There is a saying that “You cannot make an omelet without breaking some eggs”. The reason I am stating this is due to what I have experienced in life. Nothing comes without a cost. It takes constant courage, faith, patience, hope and being able to accept the reality that failings and problems are a part of success.

      My dream is to become the biggest and most successful entrepreneur. I have a plan to start my own Food Truck Business here in Cleveland, Ohio. Let me briefly talk about my history. I was born in Tanzania, in Arusha. I will never forget the year 2004, when I lost my best friend and the only person who knew me better than anyone. That person was my mom. It was a tragic event, and it took my whole family to a place that was full of pain and family drama. My dad was hurt by what happened and became very distracted. It took him many years to stabilize since his wife left him with very young children. This resulted in a huge set back as a family. There was a huge attack from my mother’s family towards my dad. Her family started accusing him for the cause of my mother’s death.

      The attack made the situation even worse to the extent that they started going for his wealth. Sadly, they took advantage of the situation, and the fact that my dad was still grieving from what happened. When this happened, we were still young and my youngest brother was still breastfeeding. We lost everything and basically had to start over again. This resulted in us losing the whole year at school by staying home, since my dad had to look for other options to be able to take us back to school.  

        This made me realize that no matter how much life knocks you down, you have to choose to get back up. If my dad gave up to the fact that he lost everything they fought for with his wife, then I probably wouldn’t even be here in U.S pursuing my masters. Based on this situation, my dad services as a role model to me. He helped me to believe that in no matter the hardship I experience there will always be an exit plan. This reminder keeps me believing, hoping, and having faith that there is nothing in life that can hold me down. Having to lose my mother at a very young age was one of the biggest, roughest, and most heartbreaking moments in my life. However, I was able to overcome the hardship I experienced.

       Generally, any heartbreaking moments that we experience in life should not determine our fate. As Bradley Whitford said that, “Infuse your life with action. Don't wait for it to happen. Make it happen. Make your own future. Make your own hope. Make your own love. And whatever your beliefs, honor your creator, not by passively waiting for grace to come down from upon high, but by doing what you can to make grace happen... yourself, right now, right down here on Earth.” So, always try to be optimistic in life. There is no problem in life that has no answer. My advice to everyone is, always try to look for the good things in the bad things. Always opt to win or learn in life and erase a mindset of losing. Your mindset shapes how you react towards most problems you face. Remember that life is 10% of what happens to you and the 90% remaining, is how you react to it.

         Jim Rohn said that, “Learning is the beginning of wealth. Learning is the beginning of health. Learning is the beginning of spirituality. Searching and learning is where the miracle process all begins.'' As I said before, problems are always a platform to grow. Great things always come from great challenges.