Category Archives: In This Issue

Murder in the British Virgin Islands? Stay Tuned… EPISODE ONE

By Tracey Parent

What’s a girl to do when she is literally tapped-the-f*ck-out, on empty, drained of every last bit of love, energy, effort and give of any kind? She finds a boat to sail her around islands aimlessly for a week. With strangers who can’t possibly NEED a thing from her. Which is a good thing because honestly she doesn’t have a damn thing to give and is ready to take what she deserves….and if she has to kill someone to get it, well….

Alexander Parent, TraceyI am a single mom, a business-owner, a daughter, sister, friend, neighbor and a thoughtful stranger. Some say I have boundless energy but I would beg to differ. There is nothing superhuman about me, but my greatest assets are my faith and passion. These things push me forward every day. What fills me up on a daily basis is going to work at a business I created that is warm, inviting to clients, and successful because it provides a good life and allows me to live it on my own terms. The ability to do something I enjoy and come home to my little happy family and spend time with friends feeds my soul and allows me to give of myself to others which also feeds my need for my life to have purpose, meaning and impact.

All that said, sometimes all the give is gone, tapped out and a “reset” is required. I have learned in life, whether in a relationship or not, one needs to love themselves enough to know when self-care is needed. A partner, friends, family, they have their place in meeting needs but your self and soul require an inner-connection. Some times YOU need to take care of YOU, and right now, I need to take care of ME.

So here I go to the British Virgin Islands on a very nice 50 foot catamaran for seven days with a boat captain I have become acquainted with through a friend on Facebook (friends of friends can’t be rapists right??) and a handful of strangers…oh and my girlfriend Kristi who is pretty much clinically insane (I meant Republican, sorry)…. I have one carry on, light enough to throw over my shoulder, and other than salt, sand and sailing I have zero expectations. No wait, I have one: That this birth control pill that my GYN gave me to prevent my monthly friend, aka el Diablo Rojo, from coming mid-sail actually works!! (A moment of silent prayer please. Amen.)

So at the gate at Dulles, of course, the flight has been delayed but TRUST ME, my chill has not been harshed just yet… I’m thinking about the other guests on the boat. I will change the names to protect their privacy (and in case one of them ends up overboard… just sayin’). First there is “Pam,” she is from Hawaii. From what I understand she is a super-zen chick who does yoga and reiki. She’s adorable and after stalking her Facebook, I was surprised to see we pretty much share very similar opinions and share almost identical posts. My first instinct is “I like her already,” but my second thought is “usually those earthy chicks can be a little nuts.” Besides, one of my best friends said to never trust a girl named Pam, so I guess we shall see.

Next meet “Joe.” Joe apparently owns like nine restaurants in Hilton Head. He’s older than I am (I stalked his FB too), but looks like he enjoys life. The REAL question is: Does a restaurant owner COOK? And will he be doing so on board because I have zero intention of making anything other than salsa and guac to go with my afternoon margarita.

Which brings us to “Ray”. Oh f’ it, I’m not changing his name… His real name is Ross and I feel like we are old friends at this point (we have, after all have had several FB chats). Ross is the captain of the boat. He is super-friendly, and lives the life we all say we will as soon as our kids are out of the house. He spends his time island hopping on gorgeous boats hanging out with cool people and lounging in hammocks while dragging his feet through powdered sugar-like sand. F’ this guy right? Yeah… but you can’t not like him. Well, as far as I can tell from Facebook.

I know nothing else about the other couple coming but will introduce them to you as this journey unfolds. OK, they’re calling my flight. And so it begins… Come along. And let’s hope nobody goes overboard!

It Took Me 22 Years to Find My Worth

By Patricia Seidel

Seidel, TrishLeaving home wasn’t hard. I would miss them, but I wasn’t sorry to leave my family or friends, I wasn’t scared of the future, I was simply focused on my goal, my dream. I had been watching everyone around change and now, it was my turn, and failure was not an option. I would not let myself, or anyone else, down.

I was moving to France to become an Au Pair and with all the excitement I never suspected was that I would end up being ‘Cinderella’ to one of the wealthiest families in Paris. Almost immediately, I was working 65-hour weeks, sleeping 5 hours a night, and constantly drowning myself with self-doubt under their scornful judgmental looks. I considered it a good day if I didn’t hide in the second kitchen, away from the paranoia of the hundreds of cameras, and burst into hot, angry tears at what a nightmare my dream had become.

I lied to everyone. After all, how did I have the right to be miserable when I had worked so hard to get here? What did I have to cry about when I was living in a villa in a luxurious Parisian suburb? I didn’t dare utter the words: “I am miserable.”

I thought of quitting many times, but one thing always stopped me. If I quit, the family’s indifference would turn into hate. I knew they would manipulate the situation to (somehow) be my fault, by calling me spoiled, ungrateful or just: selfish. The thought of them thinking that about me made me sick and I began to ask myself why?

As I reflected on my dilemma, I realized it was because whatever they said to me, I believed it to be a true reflection of myself.

This has been true my whole life; I claimed to have worth when I was only living through the opinions of others. If someone told me I was beautiful, I believed them and felt beautiful. If someone told me I was stupid, I believed that also. I put my self-worth in everyone else’s hands but by own. A power no one should have, but is frequently given away. After all, I never thought to tell them they were wrong, because I didn’t believe them to be. I counted on the opinion of strangers to become whole again.

The day came where I had finally had enough, I had enough of feeling miserable, of dreading going to sleep because I knew I would have to wake up and start all over again. The day I walked out the door of my job was when my world shifted. For this moment of liberation I will be forever grateful.

For the first time in my life, I was ready to fight for myself.

I think this is a monumental moment for every woman in her life, regardless of if she arrives there through anger, fear, joy or despair. The moment she’s able to let go of everyone else’s opinions, the day she realizes that peoples actions are a reflection of themselves and not of her, the day she realizes that she is the only one who can allow someone to make her feel inferior, is the day she finds out how much she is worth.

When we don’t know our worth we spend a lot of our time “being” for other people. Choosing our clothes based on what perfect strangers will find us attractive in, acting the way other people find agreeable or kind — it’s exhausting. When we know our worth, we do things for ourselves. We know what we like and stand by it. This does not mean living selfishly or greedily; disregarding anyone else’s feelings but, it does mean taking care of ourselves first. It’s empowering.

We allow so many things to define us that aren’t necessarily helpful to our mental health. Likes, re-tweets, reblogs, comments (positive or otherwise), and even the people we choose as our partners, best friends or coworkers. We hide behind them and list off our achievements like we’re presenting a résumé to strangers we meet to make ourselves feel worthy of their company. To make ourselves feel worthy at all.

The eternal question: worthy of what?

I think that depends on the person. If we’re lucky, we will never stop discovering ourselves; we will continue to grow and change, adapting and learning with every day that passes. Maybe one year you discover your worth for self-love, worth of intelligence, worth of romantic love, respect or professionalism. If we’re lucky, we will find we are worthy of everything that comes our way. If we’re lucky, we will accept whatever comes to us with grace and gratefulness.

While my self-discoveries were not instant, and are very much still in progress, I can say with confidence that while the future is uncertain, I do know that discovering this part of myself has unleashed a fire in me that is unmatched…

And I certainly plan on using it.


Living in Paris, Patricia Seidel is a recent university graduate working for the Women’s Worldwide Web (W4) — Europe’s first crowd funding platform for women’s empowerment — as a writer, translator and editorial assistant. Soon to be starting her master’s degree in Humanitarian Action, Patricia has spoken at several research conferences on the subject of women’s rights mainly pertaining to maternity, women in literature and the history of women’s rights. As well as working with W4, Patricia is also teaching courses in Business English, English/American literature, Conversational Fluency, and offering free language exchanges to refugees. After her master’s degree, Patricia seeks to continue her journey in the field of women’s rights by working with victims of Female Genital Mutilation and sexual violence.

5 Spring Trends to “Work” Into Your Work Wardrobe

by Annette Y. Harris

Spring 2016 SetYou’ve moved your clocks forward. The cherry blossoms in D.C. are at their peak. March Madness is down to the Elite Eight. Political “reality TV” is at its best. ‘Tis the season to shake things up a bit. Why not stir up your work wardrobe with this spring’s newest looks?

There are a lot of fab fashion trends this spring season –  vibrant colors, patterns that pop, sleek new garment designs and shapes and accessories that add just the right flair to round out your look.

Whatever you do though, don’t be a “trend offender,” wearing any and all trends you can get your hands on. This isn’t a good look, especially at work. As the great fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld once said:

“TRENDY is the last stage before TACKY.”

Instead of overdoing a good thing, find a couple of trends that you like and that:

  • are flattering to your body type and personal coloring,
  • fit your style,
  • are appropriate for work, and
  • easily mix into your existing work wardrobe.

Read on to find out five of my favorite trends for Spring 2016. And, don’t forget to like me @showupllc on Facebook and follow me on Twitter!

  1. Color: Orange. Orange really is the new black this spring season. If you feel bold, grab a great orange dress and pair it with your power pearls and nude pumps for a look that’s corner-office chic – but only if orange is flattering to your skin tone, eyes, and hair color. For the less adventurous or if orange isn’t flattering on you: Go for a “pop” of orange – maybe a handbag or pair of pumps – or, mix it with a neutral like navy, gray, beige or off-white to tone the color down (for example, an orange blazer, a navy or beige skirt, and a dressy blouse with a pattern that links the two colors).
  1. Pattern: Stripes. So, here is the thing about stripes – they are always in style. This spring season, though, stripes will take on new life. There will be stripes of every width, going in every direction from diagonal to vertical to horizontal to asymmetrical – and even stripes on top of stripes. The key with stripes is that you want to wear them strategically. Go for a vertical stripe if you want to look taller and leaner. If you are fuller on the top half of your body (larger bust and/or wide shoulders) opt for vertical instead of horizontal stripes or wear a solid top and limit wearing stripes to your bottom half and vice versa, if you are fuller on the bottom half (i.e. hips, derriere) of your body. For a more formal, conservative look at work, keep the stripes narrower, slightly wider than a pin stripe for greater visual impact. If you work in a less formal, artsy or creative environment, you’ve got more fashion freedom to make a statement by wearing stripes on the top and bottom.
  1. Design:Knife-pleats. Sharpen your work wardrobe and add a level of swagger to your step this spring with knife pleats (also called micro pleats) that add precision to your every move. You’ll find this apparel design element on blouses, dresses and skirts alike this spring. For work, balance a feminine pleated skirt or dress with a strong, fitted blazer that says you are in command. Go from day to evening by swapping out the blazer for a cutout shoulder top or an off-the-shoulder top – also two of this spring’s trends- along with a pair of statement earrings and strappy heels.
  1. Handbag: Saddlebag. Saddle up for work with this super-stylish’70s fashion trend. In general, this shape of handbag is more casual and therefore a great option for the less formal workplace. For more formal dress, choose a simple, conservative, high-quality version of the bag (like the white See by Chloe one pictured in the fashion set above). Wear it over the shoulder or go for cross-body if you want a more modern look. Insert your personality into your look by playing with the color, print, pattern and texture of the bag.
  1. Pumps: Block Heels. Block heels made their way onto the scene last summer and are making a comeback this season. You pick your heel height (no more than 3″-4″ for work), design (from lace-up to ankle straps) and finish (from leather to suede, python print to metallic, and in every color you can contemplate). And then, rock them at work with trousers, skirts or dresses. What I love the most about block heels is that you can elevate your height, which has a slimming effect (say what?….yes, you look slimmer!), and at the same time feel steady on your feet when you strut your stuff at work.

IMG_8458-Edit_CroppedAnnette Y. Harris is President & Founder of ShowUp, LLC a one-stop shop for all aspects of personal brand development from identifying and defining talents, strengths and unique attributes; and then activating a personal brand visibility campaign – to elevating executive presence in terms of professional dress, communication, and business etiquette skills.

Prior to ShowUp! Annette spent nearly 20 years managing global marketing programs and leading teams for multi-million dollar Federal government contract proposals for major corporations like Deloitte & Touché, MCI WorldCom and Verizon.

Annette earned her undergraduate degree from James Madison University, her MBA from George Mason University, and was later certified by the leading accreditation organizations in her field, the Association of Image Consultants International and the Protocol School of Washington. Annette is a 360Reach Personal Brand and Social Brand Analyst. She also studied under famed stylist Stacy London (of the hit show What Not to Wear). To learn more, about Annette visit: http://showupllc.com/annette/

Contact:
Email: aharris@showupllc.com
Phone: 703-725-7765
Facebook: showupllc
Twitter: @showupllc

Love hurts

By Davine Ker

I grew up believing that love hurts.

It took me a long time to understand my values. And my values involved learning how to please my future husband. I remember being twelve and in training: I studied how to cook rice, iron shirts and glide across the room like a quiet ninja. I absorbed the art of swallowing my words and my pride and the fine art of balancing between obedience and taking the lead.

When I was fourteen years old, I chose to obsess about this boy named François. In reality, I fell strongly in love with the idea of loving him. I thought by showing him all my skills, he would be interested in me. After all, this is what my parents had taught me. “If you cook rice, make him feel dignified, show him you can manage a home, bear and raise children…he will never leave you”.

François was also only fourteen years old, and couldn’t care less about my jasmine rice steaming skills. He even said I tried too hard. He wasn’t interested. What did he mean he wasn’t interested? I came from a well-respected, extremely traditional Cambodian family, I learned how to ‘wife’ at an early age, AND he wouldn’t even need to spend money on three herds of pandas to have me! I was a real bargain! He made me feel like Pepe Le Pew. I just wanted cuddles, someone to offer me sweet Valentines, hold hands with me, and have make-out sessions at the movie theatre…And then get married!!!

I think I scared him away…

I grew up around arranged marriages. I didn’t know people had to be attracted to each other, have chemistry. Wasn’t it enough that François and I loved speaking to each other? He wasn’t repulsive and I wanted to take care of him. To me back then, it was perfectly enough to become this perfect couple. I thought anyone could love anyone, as long as we both wanted it. Perhaps Francois was my first heartbreak. But it was more of an ego break…and tons of confusion.

Later on, my love life was a sum of one-way stories of “what ifs?” and “why not me?” Would I ever meet this person who would want to wait with me, if I met him then? If I met him later, would he embrace the fact that I waited for him, preserved myself for him? I was raised believing that my entire worth relied on this little fragile part of me—my hymen, in a world that craved for instant gratification.

I went on a few dates, but never got seriously involved with anyone. I thought I fell in love several times. But I mostly just fell in obsession, admiration. I fell for the love story.

Love hurts when you thought it was love. Delusion hurts.

My friends worried I was becoming too picky. That I would find love if I slept around, that I should be more open minded, and more open legged…

They were also concerned about my lack of dating experience, convinced that I would have to learn sexy skills in order to attract men and satisfy them. My parents worried about my cultivating any form of dating experience which would compromise my worth and perceived value to a man.

Everywhere I turned, the world seemed to tell me I would never find love. From my parent’s angle, I had no room for mistakes. From my peer’s, I needed to make mistakes.

My friends would share their love stories and the lessons they learned: “Love hurts, Davine!” Indeed I knew it did. And would. Especially on that wedding night. That night when people would all gather to celebrate the agony of my flesh ripping, to prove to them I honored my family code.

Eventually, I took my love life into my own hands. Finding loopholes to bridge my guilt from the way I was raised with this romance and passion I was yearning for.

One morning, after my mother said, “Clean up your room! Or else you will never find husband,” I cleaned my room. That day, he appeared. In my house. As if he was hiding under all these piles of clothes and mess. All of a sudden, I found my cure for all my heartaches. The Cure. We bonded over their Love Song.

I finally felt someone who saw through me, through my flaws and my charms. And I grew fonder of him and allowed myself to grow fonder of me.

I grew up believing that love hurts. But what I discovered was that love heals. And love isn’t just about holes in our heart…Love makes us whole.


Ker, Devine headshot

Having received the life time achievement award for snappy shoes and dress styles from PC world magazine, Comedian Davine Ker is leading the anti-vaccine movement against computer viruses. Davine makes a point of swimming the Potomac river every morning before performing on stage so her jokes are always clean.  Her motto is “Give a kid spaghetti dinner for breakfast and he’ll never cry at lunchtime.” Be sure to like her Facebook page by clicking here.