From corporate executive to elephant dung scooper, and loving it

You’re on a successful career path. You’re making good money. You’re respected. You’re being sought to fill positions with more power and higher income. And yet, you’re not happy. You’re not fulfilled. And you find yourself aching for the dream you’ve had since you were a child. Do you do something about it?

Melissa Haynes was in that very situation when she dared to take action, defying conventional expectations. Her DTBF story begins this way:

Dreamers spend their lives asleep. The early bird gets the worm. Keep your head down and work hard. Your job is your worth. If you don’t have a good job, you don’t have anything. Money makes the world go round. You are your bank balance. Your title defines you. No one will like you if you aren’t successful in business. Things matter. Appearance is everything. Grow up. Get real.

Melissa got real by being true to herself and doing what she’d dreamed of doing since kindergarten: going to Africa and helping the animals.

Have you ever lifted elephant dung? It’s as heavy as a bowling ball. Mucking out ellie stalls took hours of backbreaking, stinky work. But you know what? It was great. I loved every grueling second of it.

Read her DTBF story: “A Life-long Dream Realized: Volunteering with the Big Five in Africa.”

Haynes also wrote a book about her experience in Africa. It has the provocative title, Learning to Play with a Lion’s Testicles. Look who noticed:

Jimmy Fallon features book by Melissa HaynesMelissa Haynes book on "Ellen"

Ricky Gervais reading Melissa Haynes' book

Here’s to fulfilling your dreams. To heeding a personal call to make a difference. To facing your fears. And to creating a new path all your own. Hey, you never know just what might happen!


A story from your friend with schizophrenia

Imagine if your friend, colleague or neighbor of almost 20 years suddenly and publicly revealed that she had paranoid schizophrenia. Our new story comes from Rebecca Chamaa, who candidly shares her experience of secretly living with this mental disease and her decision to finally reveal it to friends and family.

Before my husband and I went public with the secret we had kept for over 17 years, we had many discussions about how people might react and how we’d respond. We had some near sleepless nights. We were very anxious because we felt our whole world was about to change.

Read the full story here: “Revealing my secret: I have paranoid schizophrenia” by Rebecca Chamaa.

Often, when you dare to share your own personal story, you not only empower yourself, you also empower others. Rebecca has not only divulged her secret of having paranoid schizophrenia, she now has her own blog about living with the disease and has even written a book.

Maybe my honesty will make it easier for the next person to share. Hopefully, I can and will be a voice that helps pave a new path for those who want to live out in the open.

Empower yourself. Empower others. We are always open to new story submissions. Consider sharing a DTBF story of your own! Check the story submission guidelines for more information.


Hot, wet, and daring

As temperatures reach well into the 100s across the globe and vacationers head to cool water for a much-needed reprieve, Dare to be Fabulous brings you two stories to complement that experience. Lounge back on that beach chair (or that blanket, sofa, chair or bed) and enjoy.

Jenna Jolovitz and Stephen Colbert

Jenna Jolovitz and Stephen Colbert perform a skit on his final show at Second City

First, our newly featured DTBF story. This one comes from Jenna Jolovitz, an improv writer and actor who was a troupe member at Second City in Chicago alongside Stephen Colbert, Steve Carrell and many others. (You can watch her and Carrell in a Second City pilot through a link in her story’s introduction.) Jenna has also been a writer for a number of notable TV comedies, including Saturday Night Live.

Jenna’s DTBF story is about an improvised experience in her own life. When in France, do as the French do: go topless at the beach in Cannes. Well, here’s what happened when Jenna did just that. Read “Isn’t that Fabulous” by Jenna Jolovitz.


Swimming by Lisa Chun

The second story was written by moi, DTBF’s editor. It’s highlighted with Jenna’s story, because it is strikingly similar in theme: a young woman traveling solo during the heat of summer and experiencing bouts of self-consciousness as she heads into the water. This one was published in Moxie Magazine years before Dare to be Fabulous came into existence. The magazine is no longer in print but the story remains online and is linked here. It’s about a solo road trip from L.A. to Yosemite just after I turned thirty. Read  “Communion” by Johanna McCloy.

Here’s to overcoming self-consciousness and seizing the day. Stay cool and keep daring, everyone!


New story from Molly Caro May and Truckin’

Map of EnoughOur new featured story comes from Molly Caro May, author of the critically acclaimed memoir, The Map of Enough: One Woman’s Search for Place, which is now out in paperback. The book is about when she and her fiancé built a Mongolian yurt from scratch and lived on 107 acres of wilderness in Montana.

“The Map of Enough is moving, poetic, and addictive. May’s sense of wonder at her new world and adventurous spirit is admirable and contagious, but even more important is the way she inspires us to question our own deeply-held beliefs about home and happiness.”—Elle

Molly Caro May’s DTBF story is “what is hot in the heart these days,” she says. May candidly recounts how pregnancy and motherhood didn’t go exactly as she planned. Click here to read May’s story, “What I Never Expected.”

Also, as the Grateful Dead play their Fare Thee Well tour in Santa Clara (June 27-28) and Chicago (July 3-5), Dare to be Fabulous is revisiting a blog/story about when I rode shotgun in an 18-wheeler with my college beau as he drove long distances for Truckin’ Movers, a company run by a couple of Deadheads who used the song title and boot logo with the band’s permission. The story has been slightly edited since it originally appeared. Click here to read “Truckin’ “

Dare to be Fabulous is always open to new story submissions. For those who might prefer to share a story in audio or on video, those formats are also welcomed. Read the Submission Guidelines for more information.



Every little step we take

“Every time we take care of some piece that we have a little resistance to – ‘it’s going to take too much of my time, it scares me’ – we become more whole, more alive. We’ve dealt with stuff that’s been bugging us consciously or unconsciously, and it’s not bugging us anymore. As we do that, we help the whole interconnected life be less bugged. Something else will come up soon, and that’s okay because that’s how we keep growing. We’re taking care of everything, whether we’re aware of it or not; it’s what we call cosmic resonance. When we take care of something we think is just in us, we’re affecting the whole world. With every little step we take, we’re affecting everything and everyone.”

– Roshi Bernie Sanders, from his book with Jeff Bridges, The Dude and the Zen Master

Yes, indeed. The personal is universal, and the universal is personal. It’s all connected, maaaan. And that’s what Dare to be Fabulous is about: experiences of facing up to our own personal resistance. Sometimes, such an experience might even be surprisingly spontaneous, but in the doing of it, you realize how good it makes you feel, and that positive charge then resonates with the people around you… and the community… and the world. Dare to be Fabulous provides a platform to help boost that positive charge.

Buddhist teacher Roshi Bernie Sanders founded the Zen Community of New York, which later became Zen Peacemakers, an international order of social activists. His book with Academy Award-winning actor Jeff Bridges is a dialog between them, a deep and often hilarious conversation about incorporating the spiritual in our daily lives and doing good in a difficult world. It’s a delightful and insightful read.

Sohini Chakraborty and her Dance for Revolution

Sohini Chakraborty

Sohini Chakraborty, photographed by Daniel Pepper

I first read about Sohini Chakraborty in TIME Magazine in 2010. I was taken by her story, her mission and her work and immediately contacted her organization to extend my support. Talk about daring to be fabulous! Sohini’s non-profit organization, Kolkata Sanved (sanved is Sanskrit for “empathy”) helps thousands of former child prostitutes, victims of trafficking and other abused women and girls to dance their way into healing and ultimately, into empowerment.

“Dance can help you break free, Dance can bring us together – Dance, Move and Rise for Revolution!” This is the tag line that Kolkata Sanved and One Billion Rising’s “Dance for Revolution” campaign launched earlier this year. I’m including a link to the video about that campaign below, because it’s the best way to give you an idea of the energy, the positivity and the power that dance can and does bring to so many girls and women. Activist and playwright Eve Ensler joined in for this celebratory launch, as did a number of famous Indian musicians and many, many others.

This month, Dare to be Fabulous features a personal story from Sohini about her early decision to become an independent woman in a traditional Indian culture where that wasn’t considered “normal.” She also ends her story with a brief DTBF video message for women (in Bengali with English subtitles).

Click here to read Sohini Chakraborty’s DTBF story, “An Independent Woman.” 

Also, watch Kolkata Sanved’s “Dance for Revolution” campaign video below:



A DTBF story from Alcoholic Anonymous

Our new DTBF story is titled “The Fabulosity of Simplicity” and comes from a fabulous woman who also happens to be a personal friend. This contributor has shared versions of her story probably hundreds of times by now, always prefacing it with the following words: “Hi, I’m [her first name], and I’m an alcoholic.” On these occasions, she is in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous, where she is surrounded with supportive individuals who, like her, are traveling through the arduous and often profound journey of addiction and sobriety. In sharing her story on DTBF’s platform, she has opted not to provide her name and has asked to be referenced simply as Alcoholic Anonymous.

What could be more daring and ultimately more fabulous than to come through addiction and find solace in the beautiful simplicity that sobriety can bring?  Personal stories shared in the rooms of AA (or any other support group) are unique to each individual, but there’s a comfort that comes from the collective understanding of everyone in the room.

We may at times feel alone, different, misunderstood, isolated or even unknowable but here’s the thing, we’ve all been there. Some of us might be more adept at publicly masking our feelings of insecurity or vulnerability, but in experiencing them, we aren’t quite as alone as we might think. And certainly not unknowable. That’s why 12 step programs work for so many people. When they start owning their stories in these supportive environments, it helps them to  stop feeling so alone. And in sharing those stories, they actually help others who see themselves reflected and recognize the same thing. It’s humbling to speak up, but it’s also empowering.

It takes courage to look within, to acknowledge ourselves fully and to take actions contrary to everything we’re used to in order to find our way to peace, health, or fulfillment. It can feel scary and raw, but ultimately liberating. In this particular DTBF story, that road also led to the unexpected and wonderful experience of basking in all the joy that day-to-day simplicity can bring.

Read “The Fabulosity of Simplicity” by Alcoholic Anonymous



2015 GRAMMY nods to two DTBF contributors

Congratulations go out (again!) to two of our DTBF story contributors, Terri Lyne Carrington (“Full Circle”) and Dianne Reeves (“Talking to the Devil”), for receiving a 2015 GRAMMY nomination for Best Jazz Vocal Album, Beautiful Life.

Here’s the notification we received this morning:

Produced by Terri Lyne Carrington, Beautiful Life features an all-star cast that includes bassists Esperanza Spalding and Richard Bona, vocalists Gregory Porter and Lalah Hathaway, pianists Robert Glasper and Gerald Clayton, Raul Midón, Sean Jones ​and Reeves’ cousin and frequent long-time collaborator, George Duke.

Nominated for the 2015 GRAMMY for Best Jazz Vocal Album, “Beautiful Life” showcases Dianne’’s sublime gifts in what is a melding of R&B, Latin and pop elements within the framework of 21st Century jazz. “”At its essence,”” says Reeves, ““Life is beautiful, and I wanted to celebrate that which is too often overlooked.””

“Beautiful Life” features singularly memorable covers of Bob Marley’’s “”Waiting in Vain”,” Fleetwood Mac’’s “”Dreams”,” Marvin Gaye’’s ““I Want You”” and Ani DiFranco’’s self-empowering “”32 Flavors.”” The rest of the twelve tracks cover a spectrum from jazz to soul, along with two new songs, ““Cold”” and “”Satiated””, which are emotionally volcanic.

Here’s to Terri Lyne, Dianne and all these fabulous jazz artists.


Female characters in films today

Did you know that the ratio of male-to-female characters in film today has remained the same since 1946? Yes, you read that correctly: the same since 1946. This comes from the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in the Media, which recently released the results of a study titled Gender Bias Without Borders, investigating female characters in 120 popular films across the world. There are more statistics to go with that, none of which should be surprising if we pay close attention when we watch movies, but here are some:

  • crowd scenes contained approximately 17% female characters
  • only 30.9% of all speaking characters went to women and girls
  • ratio of men to women playing attorneys and judges were 13:1, and professors 16:1
  • females were over two times as likely as males to be shown in sexually revealing clothing, partially or fully naked, thin, and five times as likely to be referenced as attractive

Here’s a three minute interview with Geena Davis from CBS News:

Geena Davis suggested two easy steps that Hollywood and others can take to make their films less sexist:

The first step was for writers and producers to sift through the projects they’re already working on, and immediately switch several of the male characters to female ones. “With one stroke you’ve created some colorful unstereotypical female characters that might turn out to be even more interesting now that they’ve had a gender switch,” Davis contended. If this exercise was practiced across the industry, this would acclimate audiences to seeing significantly more females in traditionally male roles such as plumbers, taxi drivers, politicians, scientists, techs and engineering experts. Davis argued that by exposing young girls to shows depicting more females holding such jobs, the result would be more girls growing up to pursue these jobs in the future.

The second step Davis advocated was for writers to specify in the script that the story’s crowd gatherings include “half female” gatherers. “That may seem weird, but I promise you, somehow or other on the set that day the crowd will turn out to be 17 percent female otherwise,” Davis insisted.

-excerpted from Casting Frontier

The Geena Davis Institute’s motto is “if she can see it, she can be it.” We couldn’t agree more.



Renel Announces the World Series (Again)

It’s October and Renel Brooks-Moon will once again announce World Series games at the San Francisco Giants’ AT&T Park. Dare to be Fabulous is highlighting her DTBF story, “Finding My Voice” in honor of the occasion.

Renel Brooks-Moon

Renel Brooks-Moon at her announcing booth

“My first day of announcing was a totally out of body experience! Last week, I heard my voice announcing the Yankees line up and I was beside myself.” – Renel Brooks-Moon (excerpted from her DTBF story)