When Sascha Rothchild walks into a room heads turn. This Miami Beach-born green-eyed, majestic red-haired bombshell can knock you off your feet not only with her silver knee-high-heeled boots but also with her expertise in (unsuccessful) relationships. Rothchild’s book, How to Get Divorced by 30: My Misguided Attempt at a Starter Marriage, was released January 26, 2010, after Penguin Publishers came across the article and wanted to publish a memoir. Rothchild has also written for Psychology Today Magazine, Women’s Health Magazine, match.com and dippolitics.com. Although always busy freelancing articles for various publications, or flying out to book signings all over the country, Rothchild still finds time where she resides in Los Angeles for the little things in life like her cat, Spork, her love for frozen yogurt, and her obsession with vampires and black nail polish.
“I always knew that I wanted to be a writer,” said Rothchild. “When I was 11 or 12 years old, I read an ‘Interview with a Vampire.’ I was so completely immersed in those books that I realized if I can create my own world with my writing then I can control my own environment with my writing. I always had the habit to jot down funny conversations I heard while out with my parents. Because my father was a writer, it just made sense. I grew up surrounded by writing and watching him write. I must say it is probably the least glamorous job in the world because you sit alone in a room wearing sweatpants. But there is something glamorous to me about people reading what I write.”
From a very young age, encouraged by her father, this now 33-year-old Jewish Boston College graduate always felt the need to write. Her philosophy is that if she doesn’t write it, it isn’t real. Always propelled to write down everything, whether it is something that happened to her or a story idea, Rothchild’s mantra is about writing things down to define her reality. “The process of sitting down and writing can be very scary for a lot of people,” she said. “Some dread it and continue to put if off. For me, I’m not afraid of it. Maybe I’m afraid sometimes that the writing won’t be very good. You have to do a little bit everyday, and because I’ve been doing it since I was seven or eight years old, it comes naturally to me. I feel if I don’t write, my life isn’t complete. If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound? For me, if I live my life and I don’t write about it, I haven’t really lived my life.”
Moving to LA upon graduating with a degree in theater specializing in playwriting, Rothchild soon realized that living in LA and getting in touch with the big-screen people was more than just tough love. One night, prior to her moving to the west coast and while she was eating out for dinner with a few college friends, Rothchild was deep in conversation and David Black, the executive director of Law and Order, overheard her. At the end of dinner, he had given her his business card and told her that he liked her spunky personality and he would give her a job after she graduated. Thinking she would get many offers down the road, Rothchild didn’t find it necessary to keep track of the card and lost it within a few weeks. Years later, while struggling to balance freelance writing and waitressing, Rothchild had learned a valuable lesson and has kept every business card she’s received since.
The hardest part about being a freelance writer, according to Rothchild, is that the need to write should always be there. “If you don’t write all the time, then you aren’t a writer,” said Rothchild. Writing for at least five hours a day, six days a week, this freelancer, memoirist, and screenwriter calls writing her cardio. “I do write like it is a job and as if I have a deadline even if I don’t have a deadline because it forces me to produce good material, said Rothchild. “Eventually I hit a wall, but usually in five hours I accomplish a lot. You have to build up to writing a lot. When you get used to it and when you’re really feeling it – it zips right along. I enjoy writing in coffee shops because I can sit in a corner while there is this soft chatter around me and I don’t have to focus on it. If someone says something that gets my attention I’ll listen for a few seconds. Afterwards, what’s going on will have energized me and then I can get right back into what I’m writing.”
Rothchild has continued to freelance. After she pitched and published the LA Weekly article “How to Get Divorced by 30,” following her actual divorce from her husband of three years, both Penguin Publishers and Universal Studios showed an immense interest in getting a memoir and movie out of it. Readers can tell the article and memoir has proven anything but anti-male. “If anything, I’m hardest on myself,” she said. “The book is about not buckling under pressure to get married. The whole general response to the book has been that I have had such a weird life but that I’m really relatable.”
Now with the recent release of her book and meanwhile in the process of writing the script for Universal Studios, Rothchild feels like she has obtained the expert title in relationships. Although she does not have a psychology background, Rothchild claims that she has always been obsessed with analyzing people and relationships. Her regular columns for Psychology Today and How to Get Divorced by 30 – both the article and the book version- have gotten Rothchild labeled a professional and expert in this particular field. Having been asked to be on an episode of VH1’s Tough Love, which will air within the next few months, and constantly interviewing for many women’s websites and magazines, she has been deemed as the relationship expert. “By failure, I have been the expert.”
by Michelle Golden
Two summers ago my mother landed up in the emergency room; her heart rate was at a low four and the nurses were pumping something in her veins to reverse the drug effects of her attempted suicide. I remember staring at my mother, wondering if she was experiencing the same kind of internal emotional pain my sister and I were going through.
When she was later seen by a social worker we were told that she’s bipolar. My sister and I had been prepared for this answer for a while due to her years and years of destructive behavior. But when we finally had the answer in front of us, I don’t think either of us knew what to do next. Then, as if the social worker knew this was what we were thinking, she told us, “Your mother needs to get her self immediate help.”
We learned that bipolar disorder consists of disruptions in brain chemistry. The parts of the brain that control emotions don’t operate the way they should and because of this, individuals with the disorder experience certain moods more strongly and frequently than others for a longer period of time.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health approximately 5.7 million American adults or about 2.6 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older in a given year are affected by bipolar disorder, a disorder that severely affects mood swings. Out of the 5.7 million Americans who are affected by this disorder a lot of them are not aware of it and some may not even do anything to receive the right treatment.
For a number of reasons people who suffer from bipolar disorder don’t get the necessary help they need from a doctor. They may ignore their family and friend’s plea to seek treatment. Most of the time the number one reason for not seeing a doctor is fear. When people suffering from bipolar disorder live in denial they don’t have to face themselves, their fears, and reality. They can continue going about their everyday lives – even if their relationships with family, friends, and co-workers are at risk.
When getting treatment isn’t a priority people can risk becoming suicidal and one’s long-term physical health is at risk as well. And that’s the stage my mother was in when we found ourselves at her hospital bed. For years we didn’t know what the problem was and for years she never thought she had a problem.
Millions of Americans have bipolar disorder and it can develop at any point in an individual’s life. It’s not only a personality disorder but it is also a real disease. It requires medical attention just like cancer or diabetes requires treatment. The right treatment is out there for everybody. Medications are available to help stabilize moods and in therapy one can discuss feelings, thoughts, and behaviors. Through seeking professional help people can learn to cope with the bipolar disorder and learn how to fully engage in ways to better live a more gratifying and functional life.
One thing to realize when you’re dealing with a family member who has the disorder is that it isn’t your fault. For years my mother put the blame on my sister and I for her divorce from my father, or for her health, or just for even being born. But it is important to understand that all of these are irrational thoughts and though they may hurt, it really is the bipolar disorder in the parent speaking. Sometimes I think that maybe there is hope and she will change. But then those thoughts are interrupted when I remember the harsh names, the hitting, the shoving, and the manic state she was capable of getting stuck in. I used to think I was just the bad daughter. But when I moved out and my sister then had to deal with it, I knew that I had been wrong for many years and my mother’s daughters weren’t the problem. The fact that she wasn’t getting the right help was.
Although it’s been two years after my mother’s diagnosis and she still isn’t seeking the right help, I know that it takes time. It is true that her life has gone in a downwards spiral since then. She isn’t emotionally and physically healthy and stable to have a job. My mother is still suffering from the tremendous effects of the disorder. But I do have faith that at some point she’ll be ready to take the right medication, to speak with the right professional, and to trust in her own self and others that there is a light at the end of the long and dark tunnel. Like with anything, the first step is admitting when there is a problem. And after that, it’s about taking one day at a time.
RCG Mag Editor-in-Chief, Nikki Roberti and her soon-to-be fiance are entered in an online contest to win a $10,000 engagement ring and $5,000 toward their wedding.
They are currently in first place in the Simon G. Jewelry “Perfect Proposal” competition, but other couples are not far behind. An eHarmony couple is just 60 votes away!
Please, please vote for them so they can get the wedding and engagement of their dreams! And spread the word! They announce the top 5 every Friday on the Simon G. Jewelry Facebook and the top three will be announced on Nov. 1st. If Roberti and her boyfriend make it to the top 3, they will have until Nov. 30th to get enough votes to win the ring!
To read their brief story and vote, click here.
Thank you again and please! Spread the word!
RCG Mag staff wanted to take a moment to shout out to their special mom’s this month! So take a moment and read up on why we love our mom’s…then go hug yours or any other inspiring woman in your life. Here’s to the strong, empowered women of our lives! Happy Mother’s Day!
My mother is my best friend… maybe it’s a special bond we have because we share the same birthday, or maybe it’s just because she is such a compassionate, comforting and understanding woman. My mother is stylish… we share our clothes. My mother is more popular than I am… we can’t go to any store without her seeing someone she knows. But most of all, my mother is an inspiration. I have never met a person with more strength and optimism than my mother, and I doubt I ever will. There’s nothing she can’t do. She graduated from college, had a full time job, raised two kids, and most amazingly, fought cancer. The things she has gone through just within the past year of her life are more than most people would ever be able to bear. But not my mother. Sure, there are tough days… she’s only human. But the way she faces the world in such a confident, optimistic and fearless way, makes me want to look life in the eyes and challenge it the same way. Seeing my mother’s strength and heart gives me the strength to get through the tough days. She gives me the power to see the good among the painfully unfair things that have been thrown our way. And most of all, she gives me support, love and solidarity when I feel like life may be falling apart right in front of me. I have never stopped learning from her, and I know I never will. So, thanks mom…you’re pretty great. Happy Mother’s Day, I love you!
Words can’t describe the love and respect I have for my mom. The older I become, the more I realize all she has done for me. Not only is she my mom, but she is my best friend. This past year has brought some difficult situations my way, and my mom has stood by my side through them all. She is there for me no matter what I say or do, and I can never thank her enough. What I love most about her is that she strives to be a Godly example for me. The way she lives her life is a testimony to me, and I am forever grateful for this. Her patience, love, kindness, and courage are all parts of her loving and charitable personality that I respect and hope to attain. God has blessed me with a wonderful mother who loves and worships Him, and radiates compassion and forgiveness. I am so thankful for her, and I couldn’t ask for a better mom.
When I look at my mom, I see the kind of woman I desire to be. With four children, she takes joy in putting all her time into supporting us in everything we do. She is such an encouragement to my life and has taught me what it looks like to be a hard-working, genuine, compassionate and godly lady. I am amazed at her selfless desire to help other people, no matter who they are or how busy she is. My mom is the epitome of the godly woman described in Proverbs 31, specifically verses 25-26: “She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future. When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness.” My mom is not only my role model, but she is also one of my best friends, and I so much appreciate how she is always there to listen to me, understand and offer godly advice. Even when I don’t treat her the way that I should, she chooses to love me no matter what. I cannot begin to express how thankful I am for my mom. God has really blessed me with her and my dad; I could not ask for a greater example of Christ’s love. Happy Mother’s Day Mommy…I love you!
When I was a senior in high school, my senior prom fell overnight into Mother’s Day. When they didn’t have enough volunteers to work the 11pm to 5am after-prom event, my mom chose to begin her Sunday in a high school cafeteria. And when we woke up mid-day after getting home, she made a full breakfast for ten people. This is why my mom is amazing: she has been a caterer, a driver, a hostess, a boss, a chaperone, a psychologist and an audience. She has sat through enough bad violin concerts and grade school plays to fill a scrapbook. She has two kids but plays an integral role in several of their friends’ lives. Yes, sometimes I think she mothers too much and we have our share of squabbles. I still get frustrated when I’m home from college and she makes me text her telling her I’ve reached a friend’s house. But I know she does it because she loves me. She’s always looking out for me. If the world had more people that cared as much, it would be a better place. Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.
I would like to wish my mother Cheryl Neal a Happy Mothers Day. My mom has always been there for me when I needed her to. Ever since I was born she has put in a hundred in ten percent to help me an anyway that she could. I know sometimes we can have our arguments, but I believe it’s because we’re so much like each other. I want to thank her for raising me to be a beautiful classy young woman just like herself. I wouldn’t trade her for anything in the world. At the end of the day in many cases she is the only one who understands. I don’t tell her enough how much I appreciate her and love her so I want to take the time out and thank my mommy. I love you!
From my genes to my strength, I am my mother’s daughter. Most importantly, she is the reason that I’m alive, but she’s also the reason behind who I am. She gives me my independence when I need it and she offers advice when I ask. She accepts me and she loves me. I admire her from a distance as she leads by example, running her own company and being a successful woman in a patriarchal corporate world. She’s my best friend, but let’s not forget, she’s also the reason for my great hair. You always hear people say that they can never repay their mothers and it’s at this point in my life when I realize just how true that is. I can only hope to one day become for my daughter what my mother is for me – my core.
Happy Mother’s Day to my wonderful mom, Christine Louise Russell Gonzalez. I love you for “oofy poofy oofy poofy, nope!” and “Koala Lou, I love you.” I love you for all the years of home schooling I wouldn’t trade for anything (if I’m a genius—and I am—it’s only because of you!). I love you for being my favorite person to weep copiously about movies with. I love you for raising me to love God, and for not raising me to be one of “those girls.” I love you for all the times in the last few years you’ve pushed and encouraged me, to help me become the kind of woman I want to be. Not to mention you’re way more beautiful than all the other *cough*-year-old moms around! I love you Momma, big as the world.
By Michelle Golden
The new hit web-series Anyone But Me’s Nicole Pacent looks like a spitting image of Angelina Jolie. Created by one of the writers and Consulting Producers of The L Word and ThirtySomething, Susan Miller, and independent filmmaker Tina Cesa Ward Anyone But Me introduces a new post 9/11generation struggling with homosexuality, identity, and modern long distance relationships. Pacent flips her freshly salon highlighted brown hair, flashes a Crest-white smile and tells me she has been acting since she could put one foot in front of the other. Placing her Au Bon Pain coffee near her computer, she explains how she was nominated as one of Shewired.com’s 2009 Gay Women of the Year and what it means to her to be a part of Anyone But Me.
“We’ve amassed such a wonderful, small niche following for Anyone But Me,” said the New York University Tisch School of Arts graduate who plays 15- year old Astor, Vivian’s (played by Rachael Hip-Flores) on-screen love.
“I think people really relate to the Vivian and Astor characters and the fact that in that first [SheWired.com] interview when I came out, people were really psyched about it. I guess it’s just not that typical,” says Pacent. “It’s funny to me now because it’s just so second nature for me. I don’t even think about it. I talk about it because it is who I am, and it’s part of my life.”
After coming out publicly to the press as bi-sexual on April 21, 2009, shortly after the release of the first season of the web-series, Pacent has been contacted by devoted fans saying they have been touched by her efforts. “It’s why I act at the end of the day. Besides my own love for it, it is to do something that makes a difference with people.”
As a kid in the early days of her acting career, Pacent often played the little mermaid during recess, always showing admiration for the song, “Part of Your World,” to the point that even to this day, she still relies on it as her audition song. Theater was always something that just “made sense” to Pacent.
“Anything that was theater or music related I just loved. When I watched a movie or went to see a show, I was just completely transfixed,” she said. “I went to see Red Riding Hood when I was seven and all I wanted to do was be red riding hood.”
But the confident and smiling actress reminiscing about her musical production and community theater days on and off the playground actually used to be a little girl scared of coming out to her peers, and more importantly, to herself.
“It’s such a funny idea this whole idea of coming out because if we lived in a world where people didn’t assume that you were straight until proven otherwise, then maybe things would be different. But really you come out everyday to people.”
One would never think that in the middle of a hockey field where practice was being held, someone could have an identity crisis. However, for 15-year-old Pacent it was possible. During a summer afternoon, her and her teammates saw, what they thought, was an attractive-looking guy across the field. A few minutes later they found out that this guy was actually a girl, when he, or rather she, took off a baseball cap to expose a shaved head and a face that had very apparent girl features. That moment was the turning point in Pacent’s awareness of her sexuality. As all the other girls laughed at the idea that they could possibly think this ‘guy’ was “cute,”
Pacent still could not get it out of her head that she still thought the girl was attractive in her eyes.
“I remember looking at her intently and being like, ‘That’s a girl. You know it’s a girl now. Why are you so attracted to her?’ I had to keep on telling myself, you know this is a girl, right?’”
At 15, coming out was a scary process for Pacent. It was different and she did not know anyone her age that identified as gay.
“It was so the other. As soon as it came in my conscience mind that this just might be who I am, I suddenly was alienated in my own head. I became the other that everyone could talk about, and to me, that was very scary. It was scary because it was real.”
Able to relate on a very personal level with her character on Anyone But Me, Pacent says Astor is very confident.
“She’s much more myself now than myself in high school. Myself in high school was a little more Vivian,” says Pacent. After moving from New York City to Westchester, Vivian has to deal with coming out to her peers in a new school and neighborhood and subsequently has a hard time adjusting to that idea while still maintaining her relationship with Astor back at home.
“Sometimes I was comfortable with it and sometimes I wasn’t. In terms of owning to who she is, she is more mature than I was. Astor is the kind of girl that I would date, not necessarily the person I am,” says Pacent.
Performing as Astor on the show makes Pacent think a lot about her identity as an actress, saying that often where people have trouble in acting is where they have trouble in life too. Sometimes during scenes where she needs to become vulnerable, Pacent finds it hard to do so in front of other people when she is not in control. “There have been times in scenes where I’m like, ‘Should I cry in this scene?’ and I found myself so uncomfortable at the idea of crying and I ask myself ‘Is that me being uncomfortable for Astor or me being uncomfortable for me?’
Since coming out to her peers and family, Pacent is finally comfortable forming relationships with other women and not afraid of being judged. The Angelina-look-alike is starring again on the second season of Anyone But Me.
“You know, my ex-girlfriend in the beginning thought I looked like Angelina Jolie but then over time said ‘Yeah I saw it when I first met you, but I don’t see it anymore. You’re just…you.’ That’s what I get from most people. They see it at first and then they don’t see it anymore. I mean it’s an incredible compliment. That woman is outstandingly beautiful. Can’t argue with it.”
When you’re young, older people try to be politically correct around you and shield you from the “bad” things in the world. But really, we all see it, regardless of the age. I’m going to be in my 20’s soon and I think about my teenage years a lot now. I have a 14 year old sister and more than anything, I don’t want her to live my mistakes as a teenager. I don’t want any teenager to live it really. This is my story about how the love of one person, helped me get to my 20’s.
I never went to church before middle school, but I started going to church because of a friend and because it was a boost to my social status. How pathetic a reason is that? But anyway, adjusting to middle school was hard on me. My supposed best friend started getting new friends and ditching me at every chance she got. She herself lost a ton of weight and started obsessing over her body about how it wasn’t skinny enough. I am not skinny by any means. I’m quite plump actually and have been all my life. Her obsession with her body started affecting me along with the constant rejection from my only friend and feeling like an outsider everywhere, started affecting me in every way possible.
In April of that year, I went on a trip with my mom and grandmother. An argument with my mom led me to a breaking point. I was about to jump of the proverbial cliff and do the one thing you can’t take back when something stopped me. At the time, I had no idea what stopped me. It was just this nagging feeling that this wasn’t the thing to do.
I learned a month later what that nagging feeling was. A guest speaker came to my youth group and like every Wednesday, I was there, listening. No one around me knew what had happened. I hadn’t told a soul, and there was no way this guy knew what I had almost done. But God did. The man started speaking about how short life is and how we can’t afford not to face reality and start a relationship with God. It was like he was talking straight to me. That night I accepted Christ into my heart.
However, the story doesn’t end there. The acceptance allowed me to realize I’m worth something and helped me make friends. God knew that there was more to me and to my story than that one night. The new friends became my accountability and I was able to open up to them about my depression and suicide thoughts.
Life was definitely better afterwards and I felt loved by God and people. The hardest thing I did after that was to open up about everything that had happened. I was super nervous about it, but I felt God was supporting this decision full-heartedly. Again, I didn’t understand it.
But a few years later, it really occurred to me why I needed to do it. I felt myself slipping back into that darkness that consumed me before. I felt it, but I didn’t have the heart to do anything about it. I slowly changed who I was and it wasn’t for the better. I stopped caring about school, church, and friends; alienating myself in every possible way. The friends that I had opened up to noticed the change and started reaching out to me, allowing my parents to notice. My parents faced reality themselves and got me to the doctor to get prescribed for antidepressants.
It sounds like an easy fix, but it wasn’t. The antidepressants helped me but it took God pushing me to try to live my life while on them for me to get back to a “normal” life. God saved me from myself. I would have destroyed myself if it hadn’t been for Him and the people He placed in my life. He’s my lifesaver in more ways than one and He can be yours too.
She’s young, fashionable and so New York. With nothing more than a small savings she’s earned since she was 15, a suit case filled with hope, and a one-way ticket to JFK, Lindsay A. Tigar packed up her life (and favorite pairs of heels) to move to the city of dreams and fresh starts.
While many people her age are worried about getting an internship or finding their first job right out of college, this 21-year-old is already working on hers as the Editor-at-Large for ChickSpeak.com. A popular online woman’s magazine, ChickSpeak acts as a weekly outlet for college-aged women to seek advice, find inspiration and build community. While currently pursuing her lifelong dreams in New York, Tigar still has time to manage ChickSpeak and even spare a few moments to share her secrets to success with RCG Mag!
RCG Mag: How did you get involved with ChickSpeak (www.chickspeak.com) and how did it ultimately end up falling under your control?
Lindsay A. Tigar: While I was in college, I worked at the campus newspaper, The Appalachian at Appalachian State University as the Lifestyles Editor one year. It was my responsibility to check the newspaper’s e-mail account for press releases that pertained to entertainment, lifestyle or human interest. I received an e-mail about ChickSpeak in 2007 and responded to request more information. I eventually chatted with our founder, and she offered me a writing position for the “Relationships” section of ChickSpeak.
Earlier this year, in April, the founder approached me with the idea of becoming the editor for the site. Her life had taken a different turn and she didn’t want to see all of the work and progress of ChickSpeak go to waste. While the position was (and is) unpaid, it is a great learning experience about how to manage a staff and promote a publication, so I gladly accepted.
Also, I saw the Editor-at-Large position as a great opportunity to expand on what ChickSpeak believes in: big dreams, strong morals and success in the world. I truly believe young women are the voice of tomorrow, and I knew if I accepted the editor position, I could work hard to make ChickSpeak an outlet and incredible reference for budding beautiful ladies!
L: It’s the best of both worlds: I love editing and writing, but it’s stressful to manage not only writers, but photographers, partnerships with other online magazines, website upkeep and troubleshooting. It takes a lot of time to keep everything together and stay organized. I wish I could spend more time training and meeting with the writers, but because it is an online publication, most of the writers I’ve never met! It’s great to see such brilliant pieces from people I’ve only spoken to on the phone or e-mailed with. I’m so inspired by the talents of each of the writers on staff.
My responsibilities include managing and hiring writers, editing articles and publishing and formatting articles online. I also am in charge of creating and maintaining partnerships with other online magazines with similar readerships and website management.
I also work with columnists, a new addition to the perks of ChickSpeak. We have columns that cover everything from pregnancy, marriage and fashion advice to fitness, astrology and art.
R: Have there been any difficulties or obstacles you’ve had to face?
L: With any publication or leadership position, it’s natural to face difficulties. With ChickSpeak, I want to make sure the publication stays a source of uplifting information that is inspiring and full of lots of rich voices and opinions. As I mentioned before, our mission statement is to “inspire big dreams, strong morals and success in the world,” and it’s my personal goal to make sure all articles reflect that mentality. Part of the difficulty sometimes, is getting everyone on the same page and being a friendly editor while also making sure my job is complete and efficient. I try to come up with creative ways to turn articles or steer writers in a direction that fits ChickSpeak’s mission and prospective.
It’s also been difficult to keep up with my own writing! I’ve found editing a bunch of articles sometimes kills my motivation to write, sometimes! However, I pushed myself to start a From the Editor’s Desk column that’s weekly, so I’m forced to write something for the week.
However, at the end of the day, ChickSpeak has been more pleasure and a learning experience than a job that feels mundane or difficult.
R: Where do you get your drive from? What got you into journalism and magazines to begin with and what have you accomplished so far?
L: My drive comes from passion. While it sounds cliché, I’ve always been a go-getter and I’ve been lucky enough to know what I was put on this planet to do from an early age. I sincerely want to inspire, uplift and help women through the written word, and I’ve dedicated my complete drive and mindset towards accomplishing that goal. ChickSpeak has been the pinnacle of my success so far, and I’m so thankful I was given this opportunity.
I first became interested in journalism when I was five years old and my mother bought me a Playschool Recorder. I interviewed party guests, my neighbors and just about anyone who would talk to me. I used to bring it with me to the grocery store and talk to strangers. Once I finished interviews, I would go home and create a story, bound by string, and present it to my parents. While my readership wasn’t very large (mainly my parents and neighbors), my intentions were sincere and heartfelt.
I decided I wanted to become a magazine journalist when I was in middle school and first became exposed to women’s magazines. I begged for a J-14 , even when I wasn’t 14, and eventually, my mother gave in and bought Teen People, Teen Vogue and J-14 for me when we went to the grocery store. I would go home and make marks all over the pages, critiquing them and coming up with ideas or putting stars next to articles or pictures I liked.
Over the last five years, I’ve held internships at various newspapers and magazines, including Cosmopolitan magazine in New York and Sophie magazine in Asheville, N.C. I took part in a blogging opportunity for Seventeen.com through Seventeen’s annual Acne Skin Clinic, and I currently freelance for Engagement 101 Magazine and The Beauty Bean , in addition to ChickSpeak.
I’m in search of my first entry-level position into publishing in New York currently, and moved to the city with a one-way ticket to JFK this past month with nothing but a suitcase and a dream. If anyone has openings and is reading this, please e-mail me!
L: One morning, as I was checking my e-mail and responding to inquiries and writers when I came across an e-mail from a young woman at a university who thanked me and the ChickSpeak staff for creating such an incredible magazine that gives her a daily dose of information and inspiration. She talked about how she had been looking for something to check every day that would give her news she wanted to read and something to look forward to that was up her ally, and ChickSpeak was it for her.
It was so nice to hear that our mission statement was actually being accomplished and within our readership. Sometimes when I’m having a rough day, I go back and read that e-mail to gain some enthusiasm and keep moving forward.
R: Why is ChickSpeak special or important to you?
L: The position of Editor-at-Large came at a very shaky time in my life. I had missed writing for ChickSpeak because the site had been on a hiatus for a few months, and I wasn’t chosen for a position at the student newspaper that I badly wanted, and while I was offered an additional internship in New York, I couldn’t take it due to financial reasons. I was feeling incredibly loss in my career and was convinced everything I had worked so hard for was falling apart before my eyes, and I couldn’t stop it.
I called the founder to check up on her to see if I could e-mail her some articles for ChickSpeak, and within a few days, she approached me with the idea of Editor-at-Large. In many ways, ChickSpeak renewed my faith in women’s publications, in myself, in my career and in what my future holds. I hope the site gives every young woman the drive to succeed and a sincere confidence in themselves, just as it has given me.
R: How can other young women get involved in the site?
L: We are always accepting applications for writers and photographers! While the positions are unpaid, they provide great experience and clips. Generally, we hire college-aged women or recent grads. Writers write for two sections and submit articles and ideas once a week. While experience is encouraged, it is not necessary.
Those interested can e-mail me their resume at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also, if you’d like to just submit any question you have about anything –from fashion and fitness to relationships and career, you can be included in the new Ask the Chicks column. E-mail us at email@example.com.
R: What advice would you give to others who aspire to break into journalism, magazines or online media?
L: Put on your stilettos and start stomping down the runway towards your dreams! The industry doesn’t wait for you to be ready –it keeps going with or without your consent and it’s up to you to keep up. If you want to be a magazine editor, start stalking Ed2010 and MediaBistro. Get experience in New York or L.A., not just your hometown’s newspaper or magazine. Perfect your resume and your cover letter. Keep in contact with editors who turn you down, e-mail you back or the ones you intern with. Always have your eyes and ears alert to who you are talking to –networking is essential. Make personal business cards and always have them handy. Look at every opportunity as THE opportunity. All experience is good experience.
And most importantly, listen to your heart and gut. They give better advice than any friend, article, mentor or expert. You know you and what you’re capable of more than anyone.
R: Where do you see your personal future going?
L: I moved to New York on savings, Ramen noodles and educated (not blind) ambition. A small part of me is completely terrified (I’ll admit it), but most of me is so ready to start this new stage in my life. Through ChickSpeak, I’ve met some incredible women that are helping me along the way, including a nice futon to stay on, and a wonderful mentor who listens to my every worry or fear. I know I will find a job that will suit me and I will enjoy and succeed in. I sincerely hope I’ll be able to keep ChickSpeak as a big part of my life and one day we’ll be able to expand.
I plan on staying in New York for a long time and to establish myself as an editor for a major publication, book publicity or publishing house, public relations company or online medium. I’m also writing a book (who isn’t), and I would love for it to become a best seller! I really look forward to the day where I live in New York, have a steady and paying (imagine that) job and have some sort of a normalcy to my life. I want to actually make New York a home, not just this dream location I’ve always wanted to live in.
And like any woman, I hope my future holds the presence of a wonderful man that I will share my life with. Through all the ups and downs, blunders and beauty of dating –I still have faith in finding The One, and can only hope he is looking for me and wishing for me as much as I am for him. And one day, many, many years from now, I want to have children and a little bakery on the corner.
R: What does the future hold for ChickSpeak?
L: So much is ahead for ChickSpeak! We’re in the works of creating even more partnerships with companies, online magazines and other organizations that have similar goals. The founder and I are working towards building ChickSpeak’s readership through online mediums and providing even more content and expansion of ideas and articles.
We have the following new columns we encourage readers to follow weekly:
The Young & the Pregnant (http://chickspeak.com/blog/2010/01/25/the-young-the-pregnant-everything-out-in-the-open/)
Beyond the Honeymoon (http://chickspeak.com/blog/2010/01/26/beyond-the-honeymoon-what-happens-after-the-wedding/)
Of course, check us out on Twitter and on Facebook.
Most importantly, I want ChickSpeak to continue to be a forum for young women to voice their opinions, obtain inspiration and information to lead successful, beautiful lives with confidence and compassion. In the future, I would love to hold conferences where young women can attend and hear from powerhouse speakers and meet with other ladies with their same goals and mindset.
Overall, I just want ChickSpeak to continue to grow in whatever capacity is best for our readers.
By Katherine J. Chen
At the dinner table, I had surprised my parents with tickets to see “Wicked” on Broadway. Over steaming plates of pork buns and bok choy, I waved three tickets triumphantly in the air. My mother was ecstatic; it had been such a long time since the three of us went out together to watch a show. My father, being the more practical one in the family, asked how much the tickets had cost. I simply shook my head and returned to shoveling spoonfuls of rice into my mouth.
I had only just graduated from high school, and was offered a job over the summertime to work as a student mentor for an education start-up. Having little to no talent for financial affairs, I splurged half of my first month’s earnings on these three precious, emerald-green tickets. I could picture it now: my parents sitting in the front row, as costumed actors pranced across the stage belting out show tunes. New York awaited. The sweet smell of garbage billowing up from the sewers. The glittering lights of neon signs. Skyscrapers that plunged into the gray clouds above. I finished my dinner with zest that evening, thinking that nothing could go wrong.
Looking back, I realize that I was more than a little naïve. Two years ago, my father was diagnosed with colon cancer. He wore a colostomy bag for several months during chemotherapy and radiation treatments, and was later informed by his doctor that he could remove it by undergoing a simple procedure. In mid-July, we went to the hospital together, thinking that he would be out in time for both the “Wicked” show and my upcoming birthday. A few hours after the operation was deemed a “success”, he began to vomit blood. Suddenly, every part of his body was fighting to survive what should have been a straightforward and easy operation. I still remember that summer as being one of the worst seasons of my life. Thankfully, I was able to work at home during that time, which allowed me more hours to spend at the hospital with my parents.
The situation today is not much better. In light of the economic situation, it came as no surprise when my father’s company of twenty years finally closed down. My father was not only out of a job but also still extremely weak. He could barely function without breaking down from sheer exhaustion. Lifting a lightweight chair could cause his arms to buckle and his rectum to bleed from the strain. As a result, my mother and I were forced to take over the family. She began working part-time at a major department store, and I balanced my university coursework with a job at a consulting company and several writing/editorial internships.
Pursuing a career when personal problems are raging at home is no easy task. We have no health insurance, which means that the bills for my father’s upcoming operation will require us to pay the money directly out of our own pockets. I have no interest, however, in becoming a typical sob story. My mother and I both work hard for the money we earn, and I have my eyes fixed on the bright future ahead of me.
My regular weekly schedule usually runs as follow: Two to three days spent living on campus, attending lectures, seminars, and precepts, and three days in New York City, working in the office as an editorial intern for a major magazine. After getting off at 6 o’clock and taking the 194 home, I usually begin working on writing assignments (which range from articles for magazines and websites to American literature essays) and any internship projects that are due soon. My mother’s work ethic inspires me, and my father’s sad situation invigorates my spirit. I know that after working for over twenty years in a printing factory, he deserves to be taken care of during these difficult times.
In any job, personal problems are bound to come up at some point or another, whether it is at the peak of your career or at the edge of retirement. However, it is also important to do what you love in life. I would never compromise my passion for writing for any reason, despite what is going on in my life or in the lives of others. Instead, I try to schedule time for my own creative writing, even when tensions are running high at home and my mother is all but pulling out her hair.
My parents and I have hopes and dreams for better times ahead that aren’t plagued with so many financial worries and health problems. I dream still of New York; Skyscrapers that plunge into gray clouds, glittering neon lights, dancers belting out show tunes on stage. I work for my dreams, for my career, and also, of course, for my parents.
She sat on the rocks at Lighthouse Point and closed her eyes. She felt the soft breeze blow against her pale skin as she listened to the musical sound of waves crashing in front of her. She kept her phone right next to her side, but it was set to silent.
‘I should be doing this,’ she thought to herself. ‘I need to be doing that.’ These were the first eight hours she had to herself in ten years. What should she be feeling guilty about? Her family would be fine without her and would still be there when she came back. Besides, this was her birthday and her husband felt she deserved some time off from being a mother to a son with severe needs and on top of that, a business owner.
In order to brush away her internal guilt, she cracked open A New Earth, a novel by Eckhard Tolle that she had been reading for what seemed like an eternity.
After she read the last page of her novel, she gazed at the clouds through her brown bangs that fall in front of her eyes, took some pictures with her cell phone, and let her mind wander. Tears rolled down her cheeks as she attempted to understand all that had happened to her in the last few years. After sitting on the rocks for six hours, she could not keep her mind occupied any longer. She left her place of peace, and later found herself pushing a cart down the long aisles of the local grocery store in attempt to get a head start on the next day.
Dina Vernon does not look at what she does as inspirational. All of those who have had the pleasure to meet her, though, would absolutely beg to differ.
Dina has three and a half-year-old twin children, her own company, clean floors in the house, the laundry done and folded on the kitchen table, and the sweet aroma of spices filling the house from cooking. Many women with children lead a similar lifestyle, so what is so impressive? Not only does Dina manage all of that, but throw in doctor appointment after doctor appointment, physical therapy sessions, occupational therapy sessions, speech lessons, developmental programming, traveling the country to see different specialists, and you have one woman who barely sleeps.
Dina and her husband, Walter, were married in Connecticut and lived there for eight years. Together, they started a residential remodeling company called Renovations by Design, and found it very easy to work together. A love for outdoors and a laid back lifestyle, the couple decided to move to Virginia and started their company again there.
While successful and happy in Virginia, Dina’s twins, son Grayson and daughter Ava, arrived after only 32-weeks along in pregnancy. As Grayson was developing, something went wrong and he landed in the hospital for 88 days. Over time he started to regress and at four-months-old, he was sent to the hospital again where this time he stayed until he was 11-months-old. He was diagnosed with hypsarrhthmia, an abnormality in his brain pattern, which caused him to have seizures.
“We called him our beautiful little blob,” Dina said. “He just slept, cried and ate.”
Grayson experienced stem cell reinfusion, all different types of specialists, and a ketogenic diet, which is a high fat diet that is supposed to help with seizures. This worked for sometime, but his seizures came back, landing him back in the hospital.
Dina and Walter have taken Grayson to top-notch hospitals, including Yale and Johns Hopkins, and still no doctor has been able to figure out what it is that affects Grayson.
“We have yet to see a doctor say, ‘we’ve seen a kid like Grayson,” Dina said.
Frustrated, Dina and her husband moved from Virginia to Connecticut in December of 2007 to be closer to their family members for support. The family restarted everything.
“Needless to say the move put an enormous strain on our financial situation. We did everything we could that year but the economy was going down hill,” Dina said. “So here we are again in November of 2008 and I am trying to figure out how we were going to pay for the medical, therapy, and other expenses that come along with relocating, having twins let a lone a child with significant needs and a terrible economy.”
While Walter continued to run Renovations by Design by himself, the family needed more money. Because he runs the business, he starts his days a little later so he can take Ava to school. While Dina cooks the meals, Walter washes the dishes and does the laundry. The couple takes turns with night duty and alternates who wakes up when Grayson cries during the night.
“We definitely have defined rolls and consistent chores we take care of but overall we are a team and when one team member is down and out the other team member comes through,” Dina said.
Walter tries to be home for dinner every night, but if he has the opportunity to take a late shift, he will because he is responsible for the household income. And because the Vernons are a family with high expenses, Walter needs to work as often as he can to pay for what they need. The family pays $11,000 a year for health insurance, $30 co pays for every specialist and therapy session outside of the school system that Grayson goes to, $5,000- $10,000 a year for attendance to the Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential, plus costs of treatments that are not covered by insurance.
“At one point we were spending $1200 a month on medical formula for a specific medical diet from Johns Hopkins that the insurance did not cover,” Dina said. “$1200 a month just on formula!”
Add the costs of traveling hours away to visit specialist doctors and days when her husband could not work because the couple was spending everyday in the hospital.
“Walter and I spent over 125 days in the hospital the first year the kids were born,” Dina said. “That alone made it difficult to bring in an income.”
The idea was sitting there, literally. On the shelf in front of her was her husband’s Grandmother’s cookie mix that Dina began making during the holidays to keep the tradition. While living in Virginia, Dina made these organic spice cookies for family and friends.
When Dina realized oil and water were the only wet ingredients needed to bake these cookies, she thought to market her cookies as a dry mix. Originally her idea was to create a fundraiser.
“The more we investigated we realized it was actually easier to turn it into a company,” Dina said.
And so began Creative Organics, which Dina sells through her website, two farmer’s markets, a café, and through numerous volunteers. In just one year, the company sold 900 bags of cookie mixes for $6 each, which is more than Dina ever imagined.
While the company does not cover medical expenses, Dina has been able to put the money towards one or two insurance premiums.
Although there has been start up costs for the company, such as licenses, advertising and supplies, the family is not losing any money by running Creative Organics.
“Overtime the company has the potential to cover our expenses and support our family,” Dina said.
Dina is constantly trying to expand the business, which takes up even more time from her already busy schedule. Now Dina knows she needs help, but she used to think she could do it all. It took time for Dina to get the courage to finally reach out for help.
“Your ego kind of gets in the way,” she said. “What I realized about volunteers is that they’re getting something out of it as well.”
Dina has occupational therapy students from Quinnipiac University come to her house to help with Grayson, and last year QU sorority Alpha Chi Omega helped by selling and promoting her cookie mix in the school’s student center.
“It really was a rewarding experience,” Nicole Grossi, senior member of Alpha Chi Omega, said. “Dina talked to us about everything she went through and we felt for her. Each mix we sold actually meant something to us, since we knew it was going towards someone who really needed it.”
With the financial help Creative Organics has provided, Grayson has been able to see more specialists. At this point, Grayson is stable and no longer regressing. Although his brain pattern is still abnormal, his seizures have stopped. He is able to communicate through a machine with a “yes” and “no” button, and is visiting a movement disorder specialist soon.
“It sounds like a silly milestone, but last year he couldn’t go to the fair,” Dina said of Grayson’s recent accomplishments. “This year he was able to go and I even brought him down the potato sack slide.”
Dina’s eyes get wide as she happily tells the story of this accomplishment in vivid detail. She explains how Ava would be able to go down the slide easily. With Grayson, it took two people to get him up the stairs and into the potato sack.
“It’s a lot of effort you take for granted,” she said.
Everything that Dina does comes so naturally to her, because she only tries to do what is right. It is easy to get so wrapped up in Dina’s life that you forget she’s a person herself.
“When you have children, I think, you’re willing to do anything for your kids,” she said.
Everyone knows perfectly well that not every mother is as dedicated to her children as Dina is to hers. But her beliefs in her responsibility as a mother are the reason she knew she had eight hours to herself, and still continued to check her phone for messages, just in case. Her beliefs are the reason she ended her only day of freedom at the grocery store shopping for household needs. Her beliefs are the reason she had a hard time letting herself enjoy her time away as she sat thinking and attempting to clear her head for eight magical hours at Lighthouse Point that day.
Suddenly things clicked. That’s how rising singer/songwriter, Lena Stein described the first time she switched from playing electric guitar to acoustic. And now around a year later, Lena has been rocking it out on her beloved guitar she fondly calls Toby.
As a 16-year-old junior at Concord Academy, a small private high school is Massachusetts, Lena writes her songs from the heart, basing her lyrics on events and situations that personally have effected her, not just as an artist, but as an individual.
“If there’s something bothering me or upsetting me and I can’t figure it out or can’t figure out how to deal with it, sometimes the process of writing about it helps me sort things out,” Lena said. “So often people keep how they feel bottled up inside, but writing lets me be open and honest with myself.”
She said she has been singing and performing her entire life, but it wasn’t until her switch to acoustic guitar that Lena started really writing and pursuing her talent as a singer/ songwriter. The way she started playing was by learning every Taylor Swift song.
And similar to how Taylor Swift writes about specific people and situations, especially about boys who’ve broken her heart, Lena uses her music to not only express her emotions about situations, but also as a means to cope.
“Right now I’m really enjoying my newest song ‘Soon’ because it’s about a break-up I went through recently,” Lena said. “I see him in the halls and all over school and I just hum it to myself and it reminds me to play it cool and just rise above the situation.”
Currently a local performer who lives for open mic nights and talent shows, not only is this young talent constantly pursuing a means to share her music with the world, but she also believes in the power of following her dreams.
Lena’s music is what get’s her through the day, however she does find the support of her friends and parents to be a strong encouragement through everything in her life. Amidst all the papers and homework due dates like every high school junior experiences, Lena said focusing on her music is what helps her endure what she describes as the “go, go, go!” pace of high school.
“I have to admit, I’m a bit of a day dreamer and I whenever I’m spacing out, I’m thinking about songs I want to write or shows I want to play or recordings I want to make,” she said. “It helps me not get too sucked into high school drama.”
Although her main hope and focus for her future is in her music career, Lena said she understands and appreciates the value of education.
“No matter where my music takes me, I definitely plan on going to college,” she said.
Lena is currently working with local producer Casey Barth in the recording process for her first demo this year. Fans can also look forward to the launch of Lena’s Web site in January 2010.
“In music, there is nothing more important than being honest, and just telling your story,” Lena said. “I love telling my story and putting myself out there to see if anyone else can relate.”
Click the links below for videos of Lena performing!