FULL CIRCLE by Terri Lyne Carrington

Teri Lyne Carrington

A story about being a jazz drumming protege in a male-dominated music world . . .

Read her personal story, and many more, in the new book.
Released in August, 2022
Dare to be Fabulous: Follow the journeys
of daring women on the path to finding their true north 

“This book holds together the power women find when they are honest and courageous and truthful. Some of these stories moved me to tears, others made me believe in humanity again, many I could identify with. This book brought me tremendous joy, insight and brought me back to believe in the human spirit.”

~ JULIANNA MARGULIES, multiple award-winning actor and author of Sunshine Girl: An Unexpected Life

ABOUT TERRI LYNE CARRINGTON 

Terri Lyne Carrington was given her first set of drums at the age of seven. By the age of 11, she received a full scholarship to the prestigious Berklee College of Music. She has toured with Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Stan Getz, Al Jarreau and others. She is also a three-time GRAMMY award-winning artist and producer. She is also the Founder and Artistic Director of the Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice.

A SHY TV ANCHOR by Wendy Tokuda

Wendy Tokuda

A story from a successful TV news anchor about her extreme shyness . . .

Read her personal story, and many more, in the new book.
Released in August, 2022
Dare to be Fabulous: Follow the journeys
of daring women on the path to finding their true north 

“This book holds together the power women find when they are honest and courageous and truthful. Some of these stories moved me to tears, others made me believe in humanity again, many I could identify with. This book brought me tremendous joy, insight and brought me back to believe in the human spirit.”

~ JULIANNA MARGULIES, multiple award-winning actor and author of Sunshine Girl: An Unexpected Life

ABOUT WENDY TOKUDA

Wendy Tokuda was a San Francisco Bay Area television staple for more than 30 years, as both TV news anchor and feature reporter. She retired from broadcast journalism in 2016.

MEET A MUSLIM by Moina Shaiq

Moina Shaiq

A story from an American Muslim about hosting her own Q&A events after 9/11 . . .

Read her personal story, and many more, in the new book.
Released in August, 2022
Dare to be Fabulous: Follow the journeys
of daring women on the path to finding their true north 

“This book holds together the power women find when they are honest and courageous and truthful. Some of these stories moved me to tears, others made me believe in humanity again, many I could identify with. This book brought me tremendous joy, insight and brought me back to believe in the human spirit.”

~ JULIANNA MARGULIES, multiple award-winning actor and author of Sunshine Girl: An Unexpected Life

ABOUT MOINA SHAIQ

Moina Shaiq has been living in the United States for 43 years. She is a mother of four children and a grandmother of six. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and Economics. She is also a community activist, devoting herself to building bridges of understanding. 

REVEALING MY SECRET: I HAVE PARANOID SCHIZOPHRENIA by Rebecca Chamaa

A story about revealing her secretly-held diagnosis to friends after 20 years . . .

Read her personal story, and many more, in the new book.
Released in August, 2022
Dare to be Fabulous: Follow the journeys
of daring women on the path to finding their true north 

“This book holds together the power women find when they are honest and courageous and truthful. Some of these stories moved me to tears, others made me believe in humanity again, many I could identify with. This book brought me tremendous joy, insight and brought me back to believe in the human spirit.”

~ JULIANNA MARGULIES, multiple award-winning actor and author of Sunshine Girl: An Unexpected Life

ABOUT REBECCA CHAMAA

Rebecca Chamaa’s work has been published in Glamour, Good Housekeeping, Teen Vogue, Business Insider, Hope for Women, Woman Alive, and other magazines. She also wrote a book titled, Pills, Poetry & Prose: Life with Schizophrenia.

AN INDEPENDENT WOMAN by Sohini Chakraborty

Sohini Chakraborty (Micky Wiswedel photographer Photo Courtsey Vital Voices)

I decided at a young age that I wanted to live my life as an independent woman. I know a lot of women are independent in spirit, but in my case, I also wanted to live on my own, outside of my family’s home. In the cultural context of life in India, this was very bold, as family is a big thing. The traditional way of life in India is that children continue to live with their parents or their families until they are young adults, usually until they marry. I was single, and I wanted to stay single, but I also wanted complete independence. I wanted to not only live in my own space, I also wanted to have financial independence. That was my choice, my decision alone. I was considered a rebel.

My mother died young, so I grew up living with my father. I was a dancer, but I had a degree in Sociology, so I think he wanted me to get a good government job. My decision to live independently was not a decision against him; it was a decision for myself. This was very different from the traditional or “normal” life of a woman in India and it was very, very challenging.

When I was 21 or 22 years old, I had a big idea that dance could change lives. I began to fully pursue that idea when a lot of people were saying that it wouldn’t work. It was a bold decision, but I’ve chosen to live life on my own terms. I think that my independent spirit has helped me to be successful.

Prior to starting Kolkata Sanved in 2004, I had spent about nine years pursuing my dream of changing women’s lives through dance. Most of that time was a constant struggle, but I decided that all those challenges provided me the opportunity to move ahead in life. That’s how I got to where I am today.

I had a daring dream that dance could change lives and I transformed it into an organization: Kolkata Sanved. It was only my dream, one person’s dream, but now it’s the collective dream of many women, and it is truly transforming lives.

For all women who speak Bengali, I share this video message (I have also inserted English subtitles:)

 

Sohini ChakrabortySohini Chakraborty is a sociologist, Ashoka Fellow, dance activist, and Founder/Director of Kolkata Sanved, which has expanded the notions of dance and traditional rehabilitation programs. Through Kolkata Sanved’s groundbreaking dance/movement therapy program, survivors of violence and trafficking release trauma, develop confidence, identify their own potential as human beings, and become independent and empowered individuals rather than victims.

A BODY OF WORK by Kelly Dobbins

Kelly Dobbins photo by Juan Carlos Lopez

I was raised in a small farm town in Oregon in a very athletic family. My brother was a professional fighter and a Gold Medal Champion, traveling around the world to places like Romania and Russia. He started boxing when he was six years old, and he would quite literally train all day long, so I pretty much grew up around a gym. Despite this exposure, I didn’t feel personally drawn to it.

I went to college and majored in business, but I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do in terms of a career. After graduation, I got a job at a construction company doing their accounting. I also started working out at a local gym. One day, the gym owner approached me and said, “You should get into bodybuilding.” I didn’t know anything about it, so he explained what it entailed. He added that he would be willing to train me for free, reasoning that it would be good publicity for his gym. He also told me that there was a show coming up in Portland, which was 60 miles from my hometown. I was naive at that time, not knowing what I was really getting into, so I said, “Cool, let’s do it!”

In the middle of my training, and before the Portland show, I found myself having to make a sudden move to California, which was a bummer. I was getting into bodybuilding and I didn’t want to stop. As soon as I got there, I immediately joined the local Gold’s Gym and became consumed with training — the bug had bitten me. I loved it so much that I even took a job there working at the front desk. I was 21 years old and I knew what I wanted to do.

Bodybuilding in California was big stuff compared to where I came from in Oregon. There were lots of competitors and bodybuilders around me. The support was strong and my body got even stronger. When I finally did my first amateur show, I won! And from there it went. I just kept going and learning more about the sport. I just loved it. My major goal was to “do the Sacramento,” because it was a big National qualifying show. To qualify for the Nationals, you have to place in the top three, so it’s not easy. I trained and competed and guess what? I won. I qualified for the Nationals!

After “the Sacramento,” I took a couple of years off from competing to train, because I was really small and the girls competing in the Nationals were relatively big. I just couldn’t compete with them at my size. I started training hard and was always at the gym. That’s when I met my husband, Rick. He was also at Gold’s Gym, working out. You might say he was dedicated; he totally set his sights on winning me over. Rick would sit on the steps and wait for me and wouldn’t leave. What can I say? It worked. He stole me away.

Rick became my personal trainer and that’s when I really took off. He became my trainer, my nutritionist, and my choreographer, which could make our relationship rough during pre-contest time. I’ve gotta say, it was not very much fun. Sometimes, I was just exhausted and I wanted him to focus on being my husband, not my trainer.

To train for a contest, we start 16 weeks prior to the event. The diet is a huge part of it. At that 16-week mark, I cut out dairy and fruit. The fructose in fruit is the main source of carbohydrates from sugar, and it goes straight to your liver, so if your liver is already full with glycogen, the sugar turns into fat. I also start limiting alcohol. Believe me, I like my daily glass of wine, but I start cutting down to maybe four days a week, or three. At the 12-week mark, it gets tough; I start weighing and measuring everything down to the ounce. There are limited amounts of things I can eat: small amounts of protein, broccoli, yams, and brown rice. At 10 and 8 weeks out, I carb-deplete a lot so I can go into ketosis. Fortunately, Rick monitors me on a daily basis.

A typical day during pre-contest means that I get up at 4:00AM. and do an hour of cardio. Then, I do some weight training. Then, I head to work and train my own clients. At mid-day, I do another hour of cardio and more training. And finally, I do one more hour in the evening. The last week before the contest, I don’t train at all. That’s because the cuts won’t be there. You want your muscles to relax so your cuts will be visible when you pose.

Every contest is a challenge. When I get four to six weeks out, I think to myself, “Why the hell am I doing this?” When you can’t eat and you’re carb-depleted, you’re weak-minded. Everyone around you is eating, but you need to stay strong. It’s different when you’re one week out, because you’re almost there.

My goal to compete at the National level happened at the 2007 USA Championship in Las Vegas. I took third, which is huge, because there are so many women competing at that level. Most women do those shows to turn pro, which is not a goal of mine. Honestly, if I turn pro, I’m toast. They’re huge women.

I work harder than most of the women in the amateur contests, because there’s no test for performance-enhancing substances, and many of the bodybuilders take advantage of that. I see what using them will do and I have no interest in doing that to my body. I have a life ahead of me, you know? Fortunately, they now want us to compete at smaller sizes, so that’s to my advantage. I came in 6th in a recent championship, because they thought I was too hard, too shredded. The rumor was that they wanted us to come in 20 percent softer. It’s difficult, because you never really know what the judges are looking for.

For national competitions, you weigh in on Thursday night. On Saturday, they do the pre-judging. There’s a pump-up room in the back and there are bodybuilders there that oil you up. Then, you go up to the stage and do quarter turns and a 60-second routine without music. They want you to look simple for the pre-judging. Nothing fancy. Your hair is usually up. When you come back and do your one-and-a-half-minute routine to the music, you get dolled up. Rick stands to one side of the stage, coaching me as I pose. People in the audience cheer. Friends come from all over. It’s quite exciting.

There is so much discipline involved. Everyone asks me why I love it and I can never give a definite answer. I love taking my body to the limit, but I also love to compete. I love the actual training and I love to see my body progress.

I should see a psychiatrist, because I work my ass off, but I’m uncomfortable going out in public! I’m kind of a freak in public. I joke about this, but it’s true. I stay covered up. I’m getting a little more comfortable, but even when it’s hot, I’ll probably cover up. If I’m with a guy or with my husband, I’ll go sleeveless, but otherwise, I won’t.

I’ve been competing for over 20 years and I can’t think of any negative things that would happen by showing my body in public. I get positive reactions, but I’m just uncomfortable with the attention. People always stare, even if I’m not in pre-contest shape. I had my own personal training gym for a long time, and whenever I was out with clients, they would comment on the way people stared at me. I don’t like that, even though I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished. Go figure, right?

Fortunately, my mother and father are super supportive and proud of me. They love it. My mom actually got pissed off when she didn’t get any pictures from my last contest. I laughed and said, “Mom, I didn’t get any pictures.” I also have two girls of my own and they’ve always been proud of me. They’ve seen me train and compete since they were very little.

I’m proud of myself for being so disciplined. Doing this isn’t easy. I don’t know if I’ll continue. I’m not sure if I’m up for the intense dieting. We’ll see. I started dieting a little this week . . . just in case.

Kelly DobbinsKelly Dobbins has been competing in amateur bodybuilding championships for over 30 years. She resides in Oakland, California, and owned her own personal training facility appropriately named Kelly’s Gym. 

IT’S ALL ABOUT THE CLICK by Barbara Stitzer

All About the Click

When I was a little girl, every shooting star, every coin tossed into every fountain, every candle blow of the birthday cake candles resulted in the same wish: to be the same as everyone else. I used to make lists of how different I was from everyone else. I had dark, curly, frizzy hair, in the land of the blonde and blue. I was way, way taller than everyone else, 5’10” by the time I was twelve. My parents were 43 and 47 when I was born, so everyone told me that I was adopted or that I was abandoned by my “real” parents and living with my grandparents, and I kind of believed them.

The lists grew. I couldn’t draw a straight line, or even color within the lines. I was left-handed, which meant that I had to use those little snub nosed left handed scissors, as if by virtue of the fact that you’re left-handed, you are going to lose control of your left hand and start flailing around and stabbing yourself if you have a real scissor.

I had the highest IQ in the State of California at the time, which I desperately tried to hide. But every single month, a group of adults invaded my classroom with pads and pens and “studied” me, which of course made me immensely popular with the other kids. I skipped a grade, so that I, with my one of a kind holiday birthday, the Fourth of July, was almost two years younger and now even more uncoordinated and immature than all of the other kids in my class, which was really great when I was ten years old in sixth grade and looked on in horror from my Barbie Friendship as take two of the Summer of Love raged on five feet from me. Tod Fisher, bless his sweet little redheaded soul, would walk up and hold a softball on my bat for me to hit it. Even then, actual contact with the ball was iffy at best.

I joined a group of kids who put on musicals to raise my self confidence. When I sang, people actually, physically turned around and asked me to stop. So I mouthed. For four years.

Although I got into Stanford, Harvard, UCLA, and more, my mom made me go to the crappy loser school down the street, because when I started applying to college, I was only 14. After graduation, I couldn’t muster any enthusiasm to interview. Besides, my mom had a big dream for me: a job at the DMV. “It’s so safe”, she’d coo, her minty green eyes shining. “Once you get in, you’re in for the rest of your life, benefits, two whole weeks vacation,” she pleaded. So I did the only thing I could do: I became an actress. Big mistake for someone with no self-confidence. In one day of auditions, I was too tall, too short, too fat, too skinny, too pretty, AND not pretty enough.

When my mom came down with lung cancer, I went to stay with her while I decided what I wanted to do with my life. Well, things got really sad, and I bought a used Canon AE1 camera to keep my mind off it. There is a riverbed behind my parents home in Los Angeles, and when it rains, which isn’t very often, some bright guy gets the idea to take a boat down the riverbed and they usually drown, so about three days after I bought my little camera, the news crews were there filming a helicopter that was training with a dummy to rescue those guys, so I took my camera and ran down there.

I didn’t have a press pass, so they wouldn’t let me around the 8 foot chain link fence to get to where the action was, so I was trying to shoot through the fence, and this guy turned around and asked me what I was doing. “I’m taking pictures, duh” I said, and he’s like, “Well, you’re on the wrong side of the fence.” I said, “I know, I’m new at this, and they said that I couldn’t go over there.” He said, “Look, if you want the shot, if you really want this shot, just jump the fence.”

I’m still not sure why I decided to jump that fence. But something inside me welled up, and even though I was in high heels, a little short skirt, nylons, and was holding my purse, I did it. I jumped the fence. And he just thought it was so funny — there I was with my little manual pawn shop camera, and he had this super space age digital model. But I didn’t care. I shot for all I was worth. I bobbed and weaved, I laid down and shot up, I shot through a broken bottle top. I felt powerful, invincible.

After it was over, he asked me to “come to his ‘place’ and develop the film.” I wasn’t about to go to any guy’s “place” — I had, after all, just gotten OUT of that business s –but then he gave me his card, and it turned out that he was the head of a large Los Angeles area newspaper’s photo department, so I went back to the newspaper’s office with him, and lo and behold, my picture was better than his. “Whoa, that’s so cool!” he said. Where did you get an eye that let you see like that?” It was the first time that anyone had ever looked at my difference as a good thing. I was stunned. He published my shot and gave me a job.

Things just clicked after that. For the first time ever, everything I did was right. The Northridge earthquake came and our paper won a Pulitzer for coverage, and then everyone under the sun wanted to see my portfolio. I shot fashion, food, jewelry, editorials, magazine covers, everything. I got on an airplane to North Dakota for an assignment to shoot an RV show, switched seats with a guy, and wound up sitting next to the cutest, sweetest, funniest, most fascinating man who I married exactly a year later in a dream ceremony at the Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel, followed by a dream honeymoon on a private island in Fiji.

I opened a studio in my new home state, and was booked a year out immediately. Why? Because I was different! I had my subjects wade in a waterfall, balance on train tracks, roll in mud. Nothing was too out there for me. Everything I touched turned to gold. I started winning awards. I got invited to a press trip in St. Kitts, in the Caribbean, got bored during the presentation and went out to feed the monkeys. An older gentleman came and sat down with me, and we started talking and laughing at how stupid the meeting was. It turned out that he was the Minister of Tourism, and that was his meeting! He invited me back to shoot a calendar, and again to shoot all of the tourism for the island. I insisted on bringing my own models from North Dakota. None of them had ever been on a plane before, much less seen the ocean. Watching their faces was awesome. People saw those shots, and we kept getting invited to different islands to shoot. My oldest daughter, Zoe, has been to 16 islands shooting with me, and my youngest, Tenley, nine.

I learned to digitally paint my photographs, and my work has taken a new turn. One of my paintings won grand prize in a contest and was sold at auction for $25,000 to a collector in Austria. When he flew me out to sign it in front of him, I asked him why he would pay so much for my painting, and he took my hand, looked me squarely in the eye, and replied, “Oh my dear, it’s going up. Way up.”

I’ve been busy photographing and painting people from around the world who fly to see me or fly me to their area of the world to work with them. I’ve built a reputation on having an individual sense of style, and people seem to really value my view of who they are behind the facade. Now if only people would quit asking me to stop when I sing.

Barbara Stitzer

Barbara Stitzer is the mother of two perfect, popular, and brilliant daughters, Zoe and Tenley, and her fabulous, handsome, athletic right-handed husband, Buzz, who, despite her utter lack of respect for keeping anything neat and clean, treats her like the princess she always hoped she was. She has won over 400 local, regional, and national awards, and is available for photographic commissions throughout the world.

IN VINO VERITAS by Ginny Lambrix

In Vino Veritas Ginny Lambrix

Writing about what makes a person fabulous is incredibly easy, unless that person is you. Suddenly you are struck with writing something similar to a personal ad and my first few lines were something like “loves slugs, and ice cream, but not slug ice cream”. Perhaps my ad would go unanswered? But seriously, one of the hardest things about writing this story was realizing how difficult it must have been for my parents to watch a daughter whose sole goal in adulthood was to flee her childhood. I wish that I could instead write about them and the friends who have helped me along the way. I am sure it was not easy for them and they are truly fabulous. But here is my story.

I spent much of my adolescence roaming the fields around our farm in upstate New York, planning my escape. In retrospect, it was not that life was so bad. Shoveling up after cows was just such a far cry from the pages of the fashion magazines that I subscribed to. I wanted to live in a city, be sophisticated and look bored and mysterious. When I was accepted to Colgate University and awarded some scholarship money, I knew that my calculated efforts were paying off. With glee, I shed my McDonald’s after school polyester uniform, loaded up my mother’s car, and promised to never look back.

Even though the university was a short 45 minutes drive from the farm, I spent the holidays at school working. I could not see beyond the campus that held the promise of success, glamour and a glimpse of a world that was so completely foreign. My new friends willingly made me their project, giving me makeovers and things to wear. It was surreal. At some level though, I never quite left behind my love of the land and the outdoors. In the summer, while my friends took off to work as interns in NYC, I was holding a garage sale to raise money to move to New Mexico, where I lived and worked in a state park selling hot dogs and hiking. Not the fast track to corporate success, but I was happy. While I could now dress reasonably well and navigate a cocktail party, the core of who I was proved to be much more resilient…

I am grateful that the twists and turns of life have led me back to farming. Ironically, when I went to apply for a job as viticulturist at De Loach Vineyards, the biggest impediment seemed to be that I was dressed too well to possibly be a farmer! I had to convince the French owner of the company, Jean Charles, that I could be completely happy in grubby clothes, with dirt under my nails. My Colgate friends would have been so proud! I think I even said “I can be really dirty” and then turned eight shades of red as I back pedaled. Fortunately the opportunity was granted.

My work is now completely interwoven into my life. I help guide our farmers (that Truett-Hurst sources fruit from) towards organic and biodynamic farming practices, showing them the things that their piece of land is trying to tell them. A combination of awe, when a conventionally farmed vineyard suddenly comes to life when the chemicals are removed, and passion for making great wine have forged friendships that are real. The people I work with both at the wineries and in the fields have become a second family.

I have no illusions about being the most beautiful, intelligent, athletic, or interesting woman around — the competition is too fierce. Although more than one person might nominate me for being the most stubborn!

What makes me unique is a reverence for nature, a commitment to being true to myself, and the ability to open other people’s hearts to the lessons that can be learned from the earth. Each season, together, we learn new things about the complexity and beauty of life. These resonate within us, and, if we are lucky impart the finished wines with a fresh and elegant voice.

As partner, Ginny Lambrix oversees winemaking for the brands of Truett-Hurst Inc. which also consist of VML Winery , named after her (Virginia Marie Lambrix). Not only is Ginny one of a handful of women vineyard managers blazing trails in the wine industry, she has led the way for establishing sustainable farming in grape-growing practices.