Category Archives: #WCW

Vulnerability On and Off My Mat

By: Karen Jaynes

My dad passed recently. We knew it was inevitable after his numerous strokes. He was sick for a while, fighting the repercussions of a life lived hard. He was a truck driver, worked nights, slept days, smoked Lucky Strike cigarettes, and ate like a Philadelphian. As a result, his life over the age of 60 was consumed with diabetes, emphysema, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and Alzheimer’s. Even after quitting smoking, he struggled for breath; in yoga we call breath “Prana,” which means life. Living this way left him vulnerable to disease, as his body was certainly compromised.

His passing left me feeling emotionally vulnerable. Although my dad and I had a decent relationship as adults, the child in me did not like him. Growing up with my dad was difficult; he was rough and tough around the edges, and we feared him a lot. We felt vulnerable around him and his moods, never knowing how he was going to be around us: tired, angry, agitated, or playful. Even in jest, Dad’s humor touched on my vulnerabilities.

Growing up, I learned how to protect my vulnerabilities by growing a thick skin and being quick witted. When I am vulnerable, I feel uncomfortable, like my under-skin is showing and I have an exposed soft spot. My vulnerability reflects what I see as my weak points, my insecurities, places where someone could hurt me or bring me down. As a child, I was vulnerable because I wanted my parents to love me and accept me. Now, wanting those things still sometimes makes me feel that same vulnerability.

That’s the ironic part about being vulnerable. Without it, we can’t experience love. We have to open the soft spots within us to let love in. In loving, we chose to accept disappointments along with the joys. In loving, we chose to look past the flaws and imperfections. In loving, we chose to forgive and find acceptance. Because, without forgiveness or acceptance, the emotion you confess as love is a shallow and conditional “like” suitable for Facebook but not a life well lived.

Vulnerability allows us to learn. It is the opportunity to say, “I don’t know” or “I don’t have the answer.” It’s like the day we realized my dad’s terminal situation and I said, “I don’t know what to do next,” and “I didn’t expect to feel this way.”

As a yoga teacher, I realize that sometimes just showing up in a yoga class makes students feel vulnerable when they don’t know what to expect. On our yoga mats, we are faced with our biggest critic: ourselves. It’s just you, your mat, and sometimes a mirror. If you are going through a tough time and I am asking you to begin your practice with a deep breath, this maybe the first deep breath you have taken all day, maybe even longer. If I ask you to take a pose deeper, you may reach deep and find your past experiences are still lingering and hanging around in your present. It may expose your emotions. They might just all come out through that release of breath and end up all over your expression and your mat! (We keep those rooms lit dimly for lots of reasons!)

The beautiful unexpected gift that vulnerability reveals is freedom. Once it is out, you are free from the burden of carrying it and feel peace in its acceptance. Going from the paralyzing unknown to realizing facts helps us move on to contend with the issues at the root of our insecurities and helps us understand what makes us stronger and safe.

My mat has seen the most vulnerable sides of me. If you see me on my mat, you may see my strength. I see them both as the same. Namaste.


Karen Jaynes eRTY200 is the Founder and CEO of All Ways Yoga
Find her on www.allwaysyoga.com
Comments welcome at karenjaynes@allwaysyoga.com

One-of-a-kind Design

By: Lauren Moss

Imagine yourself, sitting front row at a swanky Washington, D.C. fashion show, gazing at a new collection of beautiful garments moving swiftly down the runway. The show concludes and the designer, Kim Elleen Atkins, presents herself. She is a ravishing young woman who appears right at home when standing on the runway surrounded by her creations. Little does the audience know, she is not your run of the mill fashion designer. By day, Kim works as a journalist covering the Supreme Court for a group of legal businesses and newspapers. By night, she is busy designing and creating pieces for her fashion company known as Kim Elleen. She is a prime example of what can happen when you kick fear to the curb and follow your passion wherever it leads you.

Growing up with a mother who was a seamstress, Kim learned at a young age how to sew and create clothing. In adulthood, she pursued a career as a lawyer and then turned to legal journalism, which she has been thriving at since the year 2000. She had never considered following in her mother’s footsteps until she attended a ball during the most recent presidential inauguration and realized she was wearing the same dress as seven other women. “After that, I started making clothes for myself. I was dissatisfied with the selection of clothes that I was given, especially for special occasions”, said Kim Atkins, designer and creator of Kim Elleen. After creating a few dresses for herself, friends and impressed strangers started requesting custom made clothing from the talented designer. Since 2010, business has been booming and it doesn’t look like it’s going to slow down anytime soon.

Her garments have been featured in numerous fashion shows around the D.C. area, in magazines such as Brides, Veux, and Luxe, and worn to countless high profile events. She even created the dress worn by Bliss Magazine’s very own superwoman and Publisher, Maimah Karmo, on the cover of this month’s issue. “To make a dress for Maimah was such an honor. I feel like it is a product of the greater D.C. area’s vibrant fashion community and close connection to a lot of charity organizations,” said Atkins when describing how elated she was to have the opportunity to design a custom dress for the cover of Bliss.

Kim’s passion lies in her ability to showcase herself as a custom clothing designer. Unlike men, women often do not have access to custom apparel such as evening wear, wedding gowns, or even one-of-a-kind cocktail dresses. “A proper fit is so important in order to look your best and feel your best in order to project your best self,” explains Atkins. The brand, Kim Elleen, is not solely about the clothes that don the company’s name but about how those clothes make the wearer feel. If a woman puts on one of Kim’s custom designs and gains the confidence to pursue her goals and dreams, then she has accomplished her goal as a designer. Kim Atkins believes that each client is an extraordinarily unique entity that deserves to have a garment that reflects her individual self. “There can be a lot of pressure in the fashion industry, or in any career, to try to label yourself and fit yourself into a category; but if you don’t fit into a category, that’s ok,” said Atkins when expressing why custom fashion designing is so important to allowing women to embrace their individuality.

Fortunately for the fashion world, when the going gets tough, Kim Elleen Atkins keeps going. She has endured many sleepless nights in order to meet deadlines. She has stood her ground when people tried to stray her from her unique vision. She has succeeded in a world that believes you can only pursue one career at a time. Kim is a mover and a shaker that never lets fear or doubt hold her down. “By keeping my mind open and keeping myself open to big possibilities, big things came out of it,” said Atkins. “Be open to the universe of possibilities!” Kim Atkins embodies what living a life of bliss is all about; confidence, strength, and perseverance. Until her next fashion show or magazine appearance, I am certain that Kim will continue to spread her message of positivity one dress at a time.

For more information visit kimelleen.com.

Fearless Females

By: Lauren Moss

A little girl from Kansas, with a love for the outdoors and exploration, took her first unofficial flight when she was just a child. She attached a ramp to the top of her family’s toolshed and, using a wooden box as a sled, flew into the air momentarily before crashing to the ground. On that day, a busted lip and a newfound sense of exhilaration filled the face of young Amelia Earhart. At that moment, she became fearless. Fifty years later, a young girl from Mississippi was raised in extreme poverty by a single teenage mother. She endured countless years of abuse and hardships before moving to Tennessee to seek a better life for herself. Starting at a small news station in Nashville, she worked her way up to becoming one of the most famous and successful people in history. Her name is Oprah Winfrey and she is fearless. These extraordinary women proved what can happen when you kick fear to the curb and start living courageously.

Even though most women aren’t flying planes across the Atlantic or starting their own television networks, they can still live fearlessly on a daily basis. A fearless female is a woman who choses to live passionately and confidently no matter what negativity is thrown her way. It is the single mother who juggles gymnastics’ practice, soccer games, and tackles the grocery list all while running her own small business. It is the quiet girl who tries out for the tennis team and makes it after rejection the year before. It is Violette Sproul, the CEO and founder of the multinational company Femfessionals.

If you were to look up the definition of a strong, fearless female, you would see a picture of Violette. A beautiful, confident woman who has served as an advisor to the City of Miami Mayor, been a part of The White House: Women Environmental Leaders in South Florida, and has been involved in countless charity organizations throughout her life. As a longtime business leader and former owner of a Pilate’s studio, Sproul has always had a keen eye for entrepreneurship and a love for helping people reach their highest potential. She started her first business, a personal training service, at the young age of 23 and has embarked on multiple entrepreneurial ventures since. After she closed the doors to her Pilate’s studio, she didn’t let herself get discouraged. Instead, she kicked negativity aside and decided to use her lifelong skill of connecting people to change the lives of others.

In 2009, the bubbly mother of three realized that there was an overwhelming need for a community event where business savvy women could gather together to share ideas, encourage one another, and learn how to grow as professionals. She decided to take action. Sproul began planning meetings and events in order to connect with other professional women in her community. After multiple gatherings of business women in Miami and a year of hard work and planning, Femfessionals was born. According to the company’s website, Femfessionals.com, “A Femfessional is a savvy business woman characterized as positive, open-minded, driven, professional, ambitious and desirous of forming strong strategic connections with similar minded professional women to benefit each other personally and professionally and to benefit their community.” When Sproul and her team officially founded the business in 2010, they knew they had something special on their hands but they had no idea that it would take off across the nation. At the founding FemCity location in Miami, the turnout for workshops, meetings, and social events began to grow exponentially. The more women that attended, the more people they told about their life changing experiences. “When you have 200 women that are coming together to help one another out, there is no greater power than that,” said Sproul, when explaining the ability for groups of women to work together to change their own lives and the lives of others. The positive feedback from the first few hundred Femfessionals led women across the country to beg for new FemCity locations so they too could be part of the movement. Right before her eyes, Sproul saw her dreams of “helping women generate revenue and make connections” become a reality.

As of 2014, there are 60 FemCity locations across the U.S., including two in Canada. With such rapid growth, Violette is no stranger to facing business challenges. She explains that it has been a struggle to teach women that female unity is crucial to successful businesses, partnerships, and growth in the professional realm. Women are taught from a very young age that we should treat each other as competition, not allies, on the path to success. Sproul works everyday to break out of this societal pitfall and show women that, “They really do grow more, faster, and stronger if they use each other, if they endorse each other, if they support each other.” Through Femfessionals she has witnessed the harmful competitiveness disappear and the female support system grow. When fear starts creeping in, women need to have that support system to fall back on; the group that places them back on their feet and pushes them forward.

“When you walk into the room you feel the warmth and love and respect they have for one another. I think that is the most amazing thing because with that their revenue increases, their support system grows, and then their vision amplifies of what they can really achieve. They use each other for that, like a sisterhood. That is the most amazing thing of all,” explains founder and CEO of this professional female networking revolution, Violette Sproul.

Sproul is the true definition of what it means to be a fearless female. She conquers every adverse situation with positivity and grace. She does not let her adversaries bring her down because she chooses perseverance over all else. She believes that all women, including herself, have the ability to accomplish whatever they set their minds to. Her wish for every woman, Femfessional or not, is for us to, “be kind to one another. Encourage one another. And be there as a sister.” Just like Earhart and Winfrey, Violette Sproul made a choice to live fearlessly and the decision has certainly paid off.

Fearless Females

 By: Lauren Moss

A little girl from Kansas, with a love for the outdoors and exploration, took her first unofficial flight when she was just a child. She attached a ramp to the top of her family’s toolshed and, using a wooden box as a sled, flew into the air momentarily before crashing to the ground. On that day, a busted lip and a newfound sense of exhilaration filled the face of young Amelia Earhart. At that moment, she became fearless. Fifty years later, a young girl from Mississippi was raised in extreme poverty by a single teenage mother. She endured countless years of abuse and hardships before moving to Tennessee to seek a better life for herself. Starting at a small news station in Nashville, she worked her way up to becoming one of the most famous and successful people in history. Her name is Oprah Winfrey and she is fearless. These extraordinary women proved what can happen when you kick fear to the curb and start living courageously.

Even though most women aren’t flying planes across the Atlantic or starting their own television networks, they can still live fearlessly on a daily basis. A fearless female is a woman who choses to live passionately and confidently no matter what negativity is thrown her way. It is the single mother who juggles gymnastics’ practice, soccer games, and tackles the grocery list all while running her own small business. It is the quiet girl who tries out for the tennis team and makes it after rejection the year before. It is Violette Sproul, the CEO and founder of the multinational company Femfessionals.

If you were to look up the definition of a strong, fearless female, you would see a picture of Violette. A beautiful, confident woman who has served as an advisor to the City of Miami Mayor, been a part of The White House: Women Environmental Leaders in South Florida, and has been involved in countless charity organizations throughout her life. As a longtime business leader and former owner of a Pilate’s studio, Sproul has always had a keen eye for entrepreneurship and a love for helping people reach their highest potential. She started her first business, a personal training service, at the young age of 23 and has embarked on multiple entrepreneurial ventures since. After she closed the doors to her Pilate’s studio, she didn’t let herself get discouraged. Instead, she kicked negativity aside and decided to use her lifelong skill of connecting people to change the lives of others.

In 2009, the bubbly mother of three realized that there was an overwhelming need for a community event where business savvy women could gather together to share ideas, encourage one another, and learn how to grow as professionals. She decided to take action. Sproul began planning meetings and events in order to connect with other professional women in her community. After multiple gatherings of business women in Miami and a year of hard work and planning, Femfessionals was born. According to the company’s website, Femfessionals.com, “A Femfessional is a savvy business woman characterized as positive, open-minded, driven, professional, ambitious and desirous of forming strong strategic connections with similar minded professional women to benefit each other personally and professionally and to benefit their community.” When Sproul and her team officially founded the business in 2010, they knew they had something special on their hands but they had no idea that it would take off across the nation. At the founding FemCity location in Miami, the turnout for workshops, meetings, and social events began to grow exponentially. The more women that attended, the more people they told about their life changing experiences. “When you have 200 women that are coming together to help one another out, there is no greater power than that,” said Sproul, when explaining the ability for groups of women to work together to change their own lives and the lives of others. The positive feedback from the first few hundred Femfessionals led women across the country to beg for new FemCity locations so they too could be part of the movement. Right before her eyes, Sproul saw her dreams of “helping women generate revenue and make connections” become a reality.

As of 2014, there are 60 FemCity locations across the U.S., including two in Canada. With such rapid growth, Violette is no stranger to facing business challenges. She explains that it has been a struggle to teach women that female unity is crucial to successful businesses, partnerships, and growth in the professional realm. Women are taught from a very young age that we should treat each other as competition, not allies, on the path to success. Sproul works everyday to break out of this societal pitfall and show women that, “They really do grow more, faster, and stronger if they use each other, if they endorse each other, if they support each other.” Through Femfessionals she has witnessed the harmful competitiveness disappear and the female support system grow. When fear starts creeping in, women need to have that support system to fall back on; the group that places them back on their feet and pushes them forward.

“When you walk into the room you feel the warmth and love and respect they have for one another. I think that is the most amazing thing because with that their revenue increases, their support system grows, and then their vision amplifies of what they can really achieve. They use each other for that, like a sisterhood. That is the most amazing thing of all,” explains founder and CEO of this professional female networking revolution, Violette Sproul.

Sproul is the true definition of what it means to be a fearless female. She conquers every adverse situation with positivity and grace. She does not let her adversaries bring her down because she chooses perseverance over all else. She believes that all women, including herself, have the ability to accomplish whatever they set their minds to. Her wish for every woman, Femfessional or not, is for us to, “be kind to one another. Encourage one another. And be there as a sister.” Just like Earhart and Winfrey, Violette Sproul made a choice to live fearlessly and the decision has certainly paid off.