Empowered Women Empower Women

Happy International Women’s Day!

This day is not just another holiday on a calendar, or one that is even completely celebratory, but is a reminder to the call for action, each and every day.

While we may celebrate in the advancements made, the call can never go stagnant. And while we work for a bigger mission, to help those in need, women can also be taking care of themselves in the process.

That’s the message of Monica Inestroza-Curtis, writer and blogger of ToGETherJOY.com. Monica lives in Northville, Michigan with her husband and two sons.

“There are so many organizations of women who decided, I think we can do better…in all of the chatter and the negativity, the divisiveness, all the people trying to separate us, there’s still a really massive movement to be good and do good for each other and be good human beings, and how do we capture that,” Inestroza-Curtis said.

The focus of Inestroza-Curtis’ blog is, as she puts it, a call to action, to pause, reflect, and redirect. She says she uses her voice to blow up the false narrative of perfection that many strive for, yet can never achieve. Her message is down to earth, advocating to live one’s truest self, and in the moment.

“Through my blog, what I say to women is, ‘I applaud you, good job to you, and yes you're doing it all, and your doing great, but by the way, what do you want to do for you?” Said Inestroza-Curtis.

She says this to all of the women in service roles especially, because the work they do is always for someone else. Inestroza-Curtis says that while that is a beautiful thing, we should also pause and do something for ourselves. This is why she created her blog, to wake up the, as she calls them, the ‘sleeping beauties’ of the world, and say, “if we wake you up to your fullest, I just can’t imagine what women would do, we would just completely take over, in the best possible way.”

She also uses her blog to give a self-positive message and affirmations, as well as interviewing women nation-wide, in their own individual quest to do better and make a difference in the world. “Of course I’m leaning towards women because these are the people showing up,” added Inestroza-Curtis.

The Kindling Project is another venture of hers. It’s a collaboration with two other women, Melissa Halpin, CEO of Memora, and Amy E. Parravano Drummond, LMSW, ASW, RYT, Founder of Cricket & Roots.

The mission of The Kindling Project is to make space for the untapped potential in women. But that’s easier said than done, and they know it, so their method of doing so, is by exploring the obstacles, the mindset, and the wins. ‘The Kindling Project is creating space for that tiny fire inside all of us that needs fuel and fanning. Sharing their careers and life experiences, they invite guests, all different stages with their own pursuits, to do the same. These professionals have it all planned out, combining Amy’s background as a social worker and therapist (the mindset), Melissa’s background as an entrepreneur and creative director (the make it happen), and Monica’s background as a blogger and influencer (the narrative).

“This is not a movement of women empowerment, men are no good, no, no, no, no. I love my husband, I love my boys, I love tradition, I have no problem making dinner, it doesn’t take away from me as a women. But it’s more of a movement to say, we hear you, we see you, we validate you, and guess what, you are worthy of also creating space for yourself,” added Inestroza-Curtis.

The kindling project’s mission is to give space for the tiny fire inside that won’t fan out. Thus, they created a community, started a podcast, created events, going out there and nudging women to say, ‘hey, just asking, what do you want to do?’ Whatever each person’s passion project is.

“It could be I want to write a book, I want to start a company, it could be as simple as I used to draw, why don’t I draw on canvas anymore. Or I wanted to write, take pen to paper,” describes Inestroza-Curtis.

She also noted how we all tell our kids to reach for the stars, that they can do anything they set their mind to; but asked when did we stop believing that for ourselves?

“The first thing that women do is come up with all of the reasons why we can’t. And we are here to say, well I’m going to give you all of the reasons you can … Not to replace your life, not to quit being a mom, or wife, or partner, just to add one more thing to your to do list, and that is adding permission for I. What is it that I want,” added  Inestroza-Curtis.

“That’s sort of the awakening, and that’s what we’re trying to do, a little movement to go around with women, but also applaud the many, many women, who are just killing it.”

Through both ToGETherJOY.com and TheKindlingProject.com's blogs, the trio have interviewed countless women, all doing selfless work, each making a huge impact on their community. Nicole Gonzalez is one of those women. Inestroza-Curtis describes her as the kind of woman who knows what she wants and goes after it with everything she’s got; a 'fierce chicky-chic.’

According to Inestroza-Curtis, Gonzalez, founder of Hardcore on the Floor, is a celebrity of sorts in certain circles. Her company is a private Facebook group with over 400,000 followers. She is a certified personal trainer, who uses her skill to help her community, coaching teams and volunteering at her kid’s school. As you can imagine, time is not something she has to spare, but that doesn’t stop her going after what she wants. #getter_ done is her leaderboard name on Peloton, which Inestroza-Curtis says sums her up beautifully, and that she is ‘a bad-ass role model.’

Gonzalez is a busy mom of two, and understands the time restraints for women to carve out for self-care, knowing how easily mom’s needs get derailed when serving others. Yet, she knew that for her to be the best version of herself, and for her husband and daughters, she needed to take care of herself, physically and mentally. So instead of making excuses because of lack of time, she instead choose to wake up hours before the rest of the family, financed a Peloton bike, and sweat it out.

As she pushed herself to new levels, she looked forward to her new Peloton community that she felt made her more accountable, to show up, for herself. From there, #getter_done established a private Facebook group, Hardcore on the Floor, with like-minded Peloton lovers. Her initial small community grew into a team of men and women showing up with uplifting vibes.

Using the Peloton app, Gonzalez designs monthly calendars with daily suggested workouts to tag to rides/runs/rows on the Peloton equipment, and post them for her community. “And by design, I mean she leans on her fitness credentials to curate a well-balanced workout schedule to hit all body parts, including recovery days; staying healthy and avoiding injury is a top priority,” describes Inestroza-Curtis.

Rachelle Vartanian is another example of local women giving everything they have to help others. She left her high paying executive career, and founded the Living and Learning Enrichment Center. The LLEC provides services and programs for those on the autism spectrum and other related challenges, along with providing a resource and space for their families. Vartanian did so after her own son was diagnosed, and she could not find programming that taught young people living on the spectrum, how to become self sufficient adults, in a way they can adapt to. Her concern was always, ‘who will take care of my adult son after I’m gone?'

One of the many challenges Vartanian found was that people living on the spectrum have a tougher time find a job, which can lead them on the path to become self sufficient. Thus she began Mod Market, an enterprise of the LLEC. It opened in September 2019 to provide a supportive working environment for anyone with autism or related challenges can gain employment, to develop critical job skills necessary in order to gain work experience. The market sells inclusive artist's work, in a variety of mediums of art, as well as handmade goods.

These messages align with society’s newest realization, the importance and essence of women uplifting each other, and even just showing up for one another. Though there is still more work to do in that department, and many, including Inestroza-Curtis believe, that it starts with our younger girls.

“We need to do a better job of that …it’s about, I’m proud of you, and I’m here as your sister, as a women. And it is so important to teach this to the young girls who I see also struggling, especially with social media and the comparison game; and say, no, no, no, no, we don’t do this, we need to help each other,” Inestroza-Curtis added.

International Women's Day is a United Nations–a sanctioned global holiday that aims to celebrate women's contributions to society. It takes place every year on March 8th to celebrate women's rights, to raise awareness, and to inspire people to take action in the ongoing fight for gender equality.

According to the International Women's Day’s website, 1911 marks the first official International Women’s Day gathering. Though some believe that it unofficially started two years prior in America. The American Socialist Party wanted to honor garment workers who had protested against inhumane working conditions the previous year, and so they marched the streets. It happened and February 28th, and was called National Women's Day. The next year, Women's Day was established in Copenhagen, Denmark, by the Social International, to celebrate those working for women's rights and universal suffrage. Then in 1911, Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland celebrated the first official International Women's Day on March 19th. They were said to have more than one million people in attendance, which focused on suffrage, representation, education, and workers' rights.

More European countries joined over the next few years. Then finally, on March 8th 1975, during International Women's Year, the United Nations celebrated it as an official holiday. Since then, the holiday has gained awareness worldwide, as a way to recognize women, their achievements, and the long road ahead.

Each year has an official theme. Unofficially, many people use it as a day to remember all the women that have made an impact in their lives. 2023’s is #REVOLUTION.