Yolanda Schlabach – Changing the Landscaping of Human Trafficking

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First TEDx Talk, August 2016

Yolanda is one Remarkable Woman. I had the pleasure of interviewing her recently on our Remarkable Unfiltered Conversation Series. I left our conversation with so many questions and wanted to follow-up with her here in case you felt the same way.

Yolanda has been involved as a Human Trafficking Advocate in Delaware since 2012. She married Dan in 1990 and is a mom to three beautiful children. As this issue has been brought to the forefront in Delaware when it had been previously unacknowledged, everyone is asking Yolanda – “Who are you?” In a sense, they are asking, “Where did you come from, what’s your background, and how did you get here?”

Yolanda has a clear calling. She’s on a mission.

How did you get involved with Human Trafficking in Delaware?

In 2012, we formed our 501(C)3, Zoe Ministries, Inc.. Along with my board of directors, I was praying and seeking to determine our direction. Our original thought was to operate a facility for homeless, pregnant women. So, I started calling various state agencies to determine the voids in services and the needs.

Someone within a State agency told me, “We don’t have anything for trafficking victims.” I had no idea what she meant. I thought a trafficked victim was someone who had been hit by a car. She told me about human trafficking and I was dumbfounded and horrified. I started talking to friends, lawyers, social workers, law enforcement and court employees, and the majority responded with, “That doesn’t happen in Delaware” or “There are no stats for that. We just don’t see that in our state.”

I went online to Polaris Project, the national anti-human trafficking organization. Their heat-map displays red dots for suspicious/actual activity. I found the I-95 corridor was covered with so many red dots, I couldn’t even see Delaware! I was confused -I was looking at the Polaris map with indications of heavy human trafficking activity, yet none of us knew about it. There was a definite “disconnect”.

Finally I found one person who worked at Department of Justice– one of the top prosecutors, who agreed with Polaris. He told me, “It happens. ..and unfortunately, we don’t have state legislation to fight human trafficking.”

So, we were covered under federal legislation (TVPA of 2000), but Delaware had no arrests or prosecutions, partially because there was no legislation at the state level. I thought, “If we aren’t prosecuting the perpetrators, then we aren’t identifying or assisting the victims, either.”

What is that like for your family?

I have three kids and an amazingly supportive husband. They all are informed and supportive of my work, but my youngest son, who is only 9 years old, understands elements at only the most basic level–that there are people who make bad, evil choices to hurt others, and that Mom wants to help the victims. Mom is a modern-day abolitionist.

My fifteen year old daughter knows how dangerous people in the world can be, as she has heard my presentations and attended one of my TED talks. I shield her from nothing because she’s the target age. And my 22 year old son is aware of the reality of trafficking and how I spend my days. Even with the common discussions of the topic in our home, we still recognize the goodness in people and that every person is made in God’s image– but we all have freedom to choose. We are not robots. I don’t want to become jaded or skewed in my perception of people, but it can be a challenge in this type of work, dealing with this level of degradation every day.

My husband has been phenomenally supportive. He’s always encouraged me– whether it was my desire to return to school or start this organization. He would always tell me, “Whatever you want to do, I want to be the platform from which you jump. Whatever it takes to meet your dreams, I want to help you launch.”

We’ve been married almost 30 years, and he’s still never sure what’s going to come out of my mouth.  He’s been my organizational security blanket, helping build the foundation of Zoe as I navigated through developing a solid board of directors. He has offered me much entrepreneurial wisdom throughout this journey. He knows business, finances, and has expertise in the areas in which I lack. We make a really effective team.

What Are a Couple Challenges That Have you Overcome in Life that You Don’t Mind Sharing About?

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Second TEDx Talk, November 2017

I had a pretty typical childhood. Although when I was 14, I was diagnosed with cancer and required two separate surgeries. I was not promised a positive outcome. At that age, teens often consider themselves indestructible.  So did I. I did not truly consider how many young people do not have desired outcomes. But- surgeries and annual follow ups were clear, thankfully.

At age 16, I had a car accident that could have killed me. I was hit by a drunk driver, going 75 mph in my Pontiac T1000. My car spun around several times before slamming me into a telephone pole. But by the grace of God, I was spared again. I immediately got out of my car and suffered only minimal injuries. It was truly a miracle.

In 1996, when I delivered my first son, I suffered a severe post-partum hemorrhage. I coded twice: no heart rate or breathing. I woke up in ICU on a ventilator. It was pretty traumatic for me. The surgeons emergently removed my uterus to save my life. I was only 26. I delivered a baby one night and the next morning, woke up to discover that I would never carry another child.

We’ve walked a challenging, roller coaster journey in order to bring our other two children into our family. We adopted our second child, our amazing daughter, when she was three months old (don’t ever let anyone tell you that adoption labor is easier than physical labor!). She is the one God had for us, without a doubt. We needed her as much as she needed us. I cannot wait to see what God has in store for her. Her entry into our family is every bit as miraculous as her brothers’ stories, but I want her to be able to tell her own story one day–and it is hers to share, not mine. So, out respect for her and her birth mother, I will refrain from details. Just know that we had other opportunities to adopt during the three months we were waiting for her to come home, but we declined those other offers. I knew this baby girl was already ours, God-designed and divinely-orchestrated, as a perfect fit for our growing family.

Six years later, we had another incredible journey….this time through IVF, with our son. One of my life-long friends, Rosena, invited us to visit them in their new home in Lancaster, after just having moved from Florida.  Many phone calls were spent, in the recent years, sharing the pain of the sudden infertility we didn’t see in our future, but was now our new reality. She walked through life with me. She was there the night I almost died in childbirth. When went to Lancaster to visit them, and they took us out to dinner. She told me about that night I almost died. She said, “We knew you were going to live. And God impressed upon me that I will carry a baby for you someday…but not to tell you about it until He prompts me.”

It had been 11 years at that point that she kept quiet–that she held onto that promise All I could do was cry. The overwhelming provision that God plans for us is beyond my comprehension.

In my humanity, though, I was a bit gun-shy about getting excited. However, she assured me that she was certain that God impressed on her that she would carry my biological baby. Today, that baby is alive and well, nine years strong, and a gift to both of our families.

Can You Share A Success Story from Zoe Ministries?

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First Statewide Human Trafficking Professional Training Conference, hosted by Zoë Ministries

There was a trafficking victim who was addicted to heroin when I first met her. In every way,  many people would have considered her beyond repair. A team worked closely with her, piece-mealing case management, trauma therapy, housing and education for her. She was able to escape her situation, and is currently working two jobs and is attending college! It’s amazing. To watch the resilience within the human spirit is incredible. She had been brutally abused and exploited by the only person who had ever told her that he loved her. I was blessed to watch her not only survive, but thrive– because she had the right resources, long-term housing and caring, competent professionals trained in trafficking and trauma-informed care.

If she didn’t have housing, she would’ve been vulnerable out on the street, and risked being exploited again. If she was starving, she may have had petty theft on her record because she was desperate to eat and stole food. If she was being trafficked and discovered by untrained law enforcement, she would be cited for prostitution. The cycle continues then as she would be unable to gain employment to support herself because no one wants to hire a former prostitute. It’s the epitome of a vicious cycle.

However, when we are able to provide them with long-term safe housing and trauma-informed resources, we can watch survivors launch from that platform. And they do. However flawed and however bruised – redemption is possible.

I believe God said that He will change the landscaping of human trafficking in Delaware. I want to be a willing participant and my heart is to serve Him in obedience. I always give Him credit for all of the dynamics that occur because I know it’s not me that holds the power to move this state forward in anti-trafficking efforts. In 2012, there was virtually no discussion of this topic, no state legislation, no protocols in our state, and no professional trainings or protocol development. God has changed all of that in the past 7 years. It is exciting to watch and even more exciting to be a part of His big plan! I am very humbled by what He has allowed me to accomplish in this state–and I give Him all glory for it.

People are actually asking, “Who is she? Where did she come from?” I’m just a mom who cared, listened, learned, and decided to do something about it, led by divine directives.

What are some things you do you do to recharge?

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Target shooting with a compound bow for a change (from the usual .22 Reuger or .38 Smith & Wesson

I need physical outlets, so I work out 3-4 times a week at the gym–and I love to target shoot. It’s a release for me. There is something incredibly therapeutic about unleashing a round of a hundred magazines into a target attached to hay bales from 50 yards. Both of these activities require total and complete focus for different reasons, but it clears my head of anything except what I am focused on in that moment.

I’m also very intentional about taking two “me-cations” a year. I may take a long weekend, four to five days, and go away by myself. Sometimes I just get in the car and start driving to see where I land! Usually my destination is a quaint, quiet town. I’ll grab my favorite wine, watch movies, read, and eat Turkey Hill Ice Cream and just recharge. I love to shop and meet new people wherever I go.

Where do you seek out inspiration?

Honestly, on my knees. My inspiration comes from God, Himself.

What Are a Few of Your Favorite Books or TedTalks?

  • The Key to Success: Grit – everyone can relate to it. It levels the playing field.
  • Any books by Brennan Manning, but especially The Ragamuffin Gospel – we all screw up and God loves us anyway!
  • My Utmost for His Highest and Devotions for a Deeper Life by Oswald Chambers
  • Black, Red, White – Ted Dekker (trilogy)
  • The Shack
  • Redeeming Love

Do You Share Some Remarkable Friendships with Women?

Yes! Many women come to mind.

For example, Rosena, my dear friend, the woman who carried my baby.

Also, I have made some amazing friends through the work that I do. What began as a working relationship in anti-trafficking efforts has blossomed into connections that I cherish. Leslie Brower, Mary McDonough, Rita Landgraf, Kristan Hudson and Patty D’Angelo (now my assistant), and Lauren Arnold are just a few of the women that I have come to love, respect and admire. Their hearts are an amazing blessing to me.

Sharon Stevens is one of the most remarkable women I’ve met. I’ve known her for less than 7 years, but we were kindred spirits immediately. We think alike, talk alike, and enjoy taking trips together. She is the one in my adult life who spoke truth into who I am. She went right to the “heart of the onion”, and didn’t bother peeling back “one layer at a time”. God spoke to her, through her, to me, about who I was, and it changed me. There’s an instant forever bond between us. I look to her for keeping me straight. She can say things to me that no one else can get away with. She takes responsibility for herself. She will always apologize for her part, and not more. And I love that.  We both are able to lay issues on the table, leave them there after sifting through, and then move on. Everyone needs a close friend like Sharon in her life.

I have a very special inner circle of about  6-8 friends to whom I am very close–and so many just outside that, even. The common thread is being real– being transparent. Knowing that we’re broken, but it’s okay, because we are all broken together. There is never condemnation or judgment. We are able to separate who we are from what we have done.

And thank you to my new friend, Jennifer Sacco, for this opportunity to share more about me and the anti-trafficking efforts made in the state of Delaware! You are a remarkable woman with a great heart to encourage.

A Bad Chapter Doesn’t Mean a Bad Story – Remarkable Unfiltered Conversation with Kim Violette

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I got to connect with a great friend, Kim Violette around a topic that is near and dear to my heart: Blended Families. We have traveled a journey through divorce and remarriage, and while it was no walk in the park, we are both in a place where we are happily married again and our kids are doing just fine. We’ve learned that “a bad chapter doesn’t mean a bad story” in life. It’s just one season and doesn’t need to define everything.

Kim Violette is a Remarkable Woman working a dream job as a Mortgage Loan Officer with Integrity Mortgage. She is married to a Prince William County Police Officer, lives in Stephens City, VA, and has raised four girls – a combination of “yours, mine, and ours.” She loves encouraging others by sharing any wisdom she’s gained from her own life and has even written a book, Annie’s Miracle inspired from her childhood, and has another book in the works!

During our unfiltered conversation, Kim shares authentically about her own story, being married at a young age, and quickly realizing it was not the right choice, but not wanting to leave the relationship based on experiences from her own childhood. But she came to a point where she knew the relational toxicity was not healthy for herself or her girls, so she made a beautiful decision. She determined to make herself marketable in order to gain the freedom and confidence she needed to have choices and ability to take care of herself and her girls.

During this time in her life, the hardest part was just feeling very alone. I could relate. Separation and divorce are painful, and no one would wish for it, but there are times when it seems necessary. For myself, I didn’t want my daughters to look at my first marriage as an example for marriage. I wanted so much more for them, and knew I had to model it. But the “chapter” was certainly lonely.

We’ve learned how to roll with being blended families! It’s quite an adventure, and we both feel like we are winging it and working at it every day! For myself, I’ve told my step-daughter, that I’m not her mom, I’m just “bonus.” And we’ve both found healthy ways to maturely get along with our former spouses and even “team parent” when needed.

Kim and I want you to know that if you can relate to any parts of our story, please reach out to us. We want you to know that you are not alone. Post a comment below, or email us privately. We’d love to hear from you.

Click below to watch our unfiltered conversation on YouTube:

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Live and Work In Your Strengths

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As you can imagine for a person who runs a website called Remarkable Women, I sure do have the privilege of meeting a lot of remarkable women! But today I want to talk about a good friend (and a former guest on my podcast) who truly lives one of the most unique lives of anyone I know. Her name is Sonya Dalrymple, and she and her family live a largely nomadic existence.

Along with her husband and three kids, Sonya has been traveling around the western United States for a few years now, seeking out new adventures, skills, and relationships along the way. She and her family have lived in the major cities, visited most of the national parks, and enjoy beautiful hikes, trail running, snowboarding, and much more in between.

How cool does that sound? Now, you may be wondering how this lifestyle is even remotely practical. How does the family get by? What about school for the kids?

Well, Sonya offers a great piece of advice to remember in our professional and social lives: “Live and work in your strengths.”

She says that, as women, we tend to focus on our weaknesses and often compare ourselves to others. It’s better to honestly embrace our own unique strengths and run with them—and that’s exactly how Sonya lives her life!

She and her husband own several businesses. In their management consulting company, Don advises owners and executives with strategy and systems to drive revenue, and Sonya helps them set up online marketing platforms to find and grow loyal customers. Their businesses give them the flexibility to enjoy a blended life of work and play, homeschool their kids for a season, and find lots of ways to get outside to recharge.

Sonya has a passion for helping others and pointing them to the right solutions, be it around business, education, adventure, or health. She loves helping families make positive changes in their eating habits, and educating them on the negative impacts of sugar, dyes, and other harmful chemicals in our food and skincare products.

I think Sonya is an amazing resource for anyone seeking to live and work in their strengths—to go after something new and exciting. As she puts it, “Life is more efficient, fun, and meaningful when we do.”

Follow Sonya on her website and read more about their family’s unique adventures at Freejourners.com. I know she’d love to hear from you!

Freeing Yourself From the Performance/Achievement Trap – Remarkable Unfiltered Conversation with Connie Jones

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Connie Jones is a Remarkable Woman from Peachtree, Georgia. She owns Arise Counseling and Coaching and works with leaders and owners to help them discover their strengths and hone their natural gifts so that they are equipped and empowered to achieve their business objectives. Most importantly, she helps them own their success and pursuits in a way that is fulfilling and meaningful, and not burdensome or lost.

Connie shared great wisdom throughout our interview. I know we only scratched the surface of her insights and experience. But one of the first things she said that really made an impact me was that most of us are asking ourselves one of two questions: Am I enough? Am I too much?

Those questions stem from a comparison mentality, looking around at others and wondering how we measure up. We are searching for our value and allowing others to define it for us. It is often the reason we allow ourselves to be caught up in the performance/achievement trap. It’s never a fun place to be. We are always chasing something and feeling like we need to “do” more in order to “be” more. We cannot win. Really, we need to rest in our own identity. And then live a life of passion stemming from that authentic place.

Her one main success tip, quoted from Brene Brown, addresses this:

OWN IT

We talked about our own journeys as passionate women who sometimes feel like we are “too much.” We both have great vision and want to make a difference in the world around us. If we shrink back from any of that, we’ve learned that we are not happy. Connie says we are actually robbing the world of the gift that we have to offer because of who we are. There’s no other individual like us with a story quite like ours.

As Remarkable Women, let’s all own our own stories! Imagine what the world would be like if we committed to that boldly each and every day. I know it’s not always easy, but I’m sure it will lead to more happiness, freedom, and impact in our lives!

Connie is writing a new book this year, Warrior Arise – Live Boldly, Bravely, and Authentically You, so definitely keep an eye out for that.

Connect with Connie

And she would love to connect with you. You can find her everywhere online:

Watch Our YouTube Video of Our Remarkable Unfiltered Conversation Below:

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Have You Outgrown a Friendship? – Remarkable Unfiltered Conversation with Dr. Carleah East

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Dr. Carleah East is one Remarkable Woman. As a Clinical Psychotherapist, Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Psychology Professor, Author, Speaker, Wife and Mom, she juggles much every day. After listening to her speak, though, you can see how. Her energy is infectious and her passion for helping others drives her. She created The Sapphire Woman as a way to encompass all of her pursuits and to help women, “reclaim their power, embrace their truth, and design their destiny.”

Dr. East and I could have spoken about people and relationships for hours! Today, we focused on how to handle friendships that we may have outgrown. It’s not an easy thing to acknowledge and hold onto the “power” that each of us can own for ourselves. It’s hard enough figuring out how to break free from the strong messages given to us from society at large. It’s trickier to stop any negative scripts when they are part of our closer network of friends or family. But sometimes it’s necessary when we start changing our perceptions and thought processes for what we want for our own lives. Like Dr. East says, sometimes we may need to “put certain friends on the shelf.”

We also talked through some ideas on how to process those bumps in the roads in friendships. Sometimes it’s not about us or our battle. Sometimes it’s theirs, and we have to lower our expectations for the relationship temporarily and meet them where they are because we care about them. There is no need for hard feelings. But it does take a certain presence and awareness to be proactive in the friendship instead of being sensitive or reactive.

Dr. East is full of great insight and wisdom. She shares much of it in her book, The Hangover, 12 Steps to Emotional Sobriety. Many of us as women are not aware of how we connect ourselves to people and the consequences – good or bad – of that. This book helps women heal from emotional addictions and focus on growing themselves, knowing that they can feel perfectly imperfect all by themselves. They can move towards emotional freedom and greatness.

Her one success tip for us is:

Don’t let others define you for you are your own definition.

Connect with Dr. East

Dr. Carleah East would love to connect with you. You can find her at The Sapphire Woman, on Facebook and Instagram and Twitter at @TheSapphireDiva. She’d love to work with you or your organization as a guest speaker, coach, or counselor.

And remember, “You are great today, just as you are.”

YouTube Video

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The Reality of Human Trafficking in the United States – Remarkable Unfiltered Conversation with Yolanda Schlabach

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This is one of those unfiltered conversations that needs to be taking place all over the country. When people hear of human trafficking, they typically associate it with something that happens internationally or in movies. The hard reality is that it is happening right in our “backyards,” in every state in the US, and we often are just not aware of it.

Yolanda Schlabach is a Remarkable Woman from Delaware, and she is passionate about bringing awareness and reform around this ugly reality. She is the Executive Director of Zoe Ministries, whose vision is that every girl under the age of 18 and from Delaware that is freed from sex trafficking is provided the opportunity for full rehabilitation. She believes that if we educate ourselves and others on what to look for as signs of the presence of human trafficking and offer proper training for law enforcement, we can curb the statistics and bring about reform.

During our unfiltered conversation, Yolanda educated me about some of the statistics around human trafficking in the United States and the difference between prostitution and trafficking. The numbers are staggering. About 300,000 cases were reported last year in the US, and familial trafficking is on the rise. 83% involves US citizens. I was shocked to also learn about the rise of trafficking involving international women and that massage parlor trafficking has become big business.

It’s almost overwhelming to think about, which is why I think these conversations are so important. There are things that we actually can do to help. Yolanda pointed to some great resources where we can learn more about the issues around trafficking. She shared how to report suspicious activity through the National Human Trafficking Hotline at (888) 373-7888. And we can always volunteer or donate to organizations like Zoe Ministries that are providing support to victims rescued from the bondage of trafficking.

Connect with Yolanda

You can also listen to her TedTalks, Sex Trafficking in the U.S.: Young Lives, Insane Profit and Life After Trafficking: The Bridge From Trauma to Triumph  and reach out to connect with her if you have any questions or interest in helping her combat this issue in the United States.

YouTube Video

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Remarkable Conversations Unfiltered – Jennifer Seven – Changing Lives Through Weight Loss

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Jennifer Seven

Jennifer Seven is a Remarkable Woman living in Ashburn, VA (a suburb of Washington, DC). She owns a weight loss and wellness center and aims to change people’s lives by helping them overcome obesity and diabetes through weight loss.

Jennifer uses the Ideal Protein weight loss method – which was very new to the U.S. when she opened her business in 2010 – along with ElectroSlim treatments to help people affect metabolic changes and reduce their need for medications for a variety of obesity-related conditions.

My favorite part of our interview was hearing Jennifer talk about the heartfelt success stories she hears from clients. Since opening her center, she has seen hundreds of people regain their health. Just a few of these include moms who hated being in family photos and now are happy to be included; people who can travel again and participate in activities like zip-lining; and parents who can now get down on the floor to play with their children or grandchildren.

Jennifer’s one piece of advice to women is: Focus on gratitude. It is so easy to focus on what we don’t have rather than the bounty that we do have. As we focus on the positive, we will bring more abundance and positivity to ourselves.

Jennifer shared an example from her own life about losing nearly everything and becoming depressed after a difficult divorce. She began keeping a gratitude journal, and though it took a lot of time and soul-searching, she continued until she filled the entire book!

Connect With Jennifer

Jennifer would love to hear from you! Connect with her via her website or on Facebook.

Watch our video interview on YouTube:

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What To Do With Toxic Friendships

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Tammy Bjelland and I instantly connected as friends. We met professionally through our networks, but quickly found that we resonated in so many areas. We both love working with passionate, capable people, stretching our creativity, and making a difference in women’s lives. The more time we spend together, the deeper our connections grows. We especially love collaborating with each other on new ideas and vision for our growing businesses.

Tammy is “that friend” we all talk about having – she is reliable, supportive, caring, and brilliant! You just feel good being around her. You know, just easy. We talk about how chemistry is so important in a relationship with a man. Well, it is just as important with your girlfriends, and our chemistry is off the charts!

Tammy and I could talk for hours about a whole range of topics for women, personally and professionally. In this video, we discuss what to do with toxic friendships. Can we get better at identifying them earlier? And how can we gently bow out once we recognize their toxicity without causing any extra drama?

We’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas on what has worked for you as well!

Click below to watch our YouTube Video:

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Unsupportive Friends – Really?

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We all have them. They are in your circle. Hell, you even say she is a part of your tribe. You honestly think you couldn’t imagine having their friendship in your life. You do happy hours, you do weekend getaways you know all the stuff you would do with one of your BFF’s. Then it happens. Yep! An opportunity presents itself, and you are almost dumbfounded when you share the excitement, and it is not reciprocated.

I know how you felt. Disappointed, shocked, hurt and angry. All of these strong emotions that you are just not sure how to process. You then question your friendship. Was our friendship ever reciprocated the same? Did she really trust me? When we were together was it really real and was she just that good at pretending? Then you go into the mindset of you not being able to just wrap it around your head that she was not being supportive along with all those thoughts I just shared above. Then you ask yourself, has she always been this way or was there something in her life that made her be that way? You go over and over it again because you just can’t accept it. It’s devastating! I mentioned anger, and I also mentioned disappointment especially when you valued, respected and always supported that friendship.

You see I am a someone that in any situation has to have a resolution. I can’t let it linger. I can’t ignore it, and I can’t act like it didn’t happen. I am not sure if it is the right answer as we all process things differently and some of us have more of a tolerance to be able to let it go or ignore and forgive and be okay with that, but as I mentioned I can’t do any of those things without a process. So for the women out there that are all about resolution like I am, I will share what I do and it might be extreme. I always ask how do I feel about it? Is there something different I could have done? Can I say to myself that I have not a tad bit of guilt about how I approached the opportunity? Be real with yourself when you ask that last question because that can change it all – if you feel good about it, and you came from a good place with good intentions I don’t know that the friendship can be the same.

You have a choice. You accept that you are good with how you handled it and you decide to work on that friendship. How I work on it is when I go to visit her I ask myself how do I feel on my way (anxiety, happiness etc). I ask myself when I am with her, how do I feel and when I leave, I ask how do I feel. I evaluate my feelings. If I don’t feel good, the answer is clear. I don’t want that friendship in my life. I cut it out. Most think that is extreme after all it was just one fight or misunderstanding. I am here to tell you that if you have someone in your life that does not make you feel good where is the value and goodness in that? I will refer to what my husband always says. “Jennifer you have only one go around”!

How do you move on? How do you find a resolution? When you have a friendship that turns unsupportive.

Don’t be that girl. Collaborate instead of Compete.

Remarkable Conversations Unfiltered – Jennifer Myers – Prison Advocate, Author, Speaker

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Jennifer Myers is a Remarkable Woman living in the beachside community of La Jolla, CA. An author and speaker,  prison consultant and advocate, she co-founded a nonprofit to empower girls and women to make positive choices.

Jennifer’s story leaves a huge impression on all her listeners. Early in a dance/choreography career while living in Chicago, she became involved with a marijuana trafficking organization due to a romantic association. In 2003, as one thing lead to another, she found herself arrested for her involvement, and subsequently served 17 months of her three-year sentence in federal prison.

Jennifer described how this experience opened her eyes. She was shocked to meet so many women, mostly mothers, who were locked up for non-violent crimes. She became determined to speak about this experience and make a difference in the prison system. After her release in 2007, Jennifer worked hard to get back on her feet and began a consulting business to help advise women going into prison for the first time. She also wrote a memoir about her journey, published in 2013, titled Trafficking the Good Life.

Today, Jennifer co-runs her nonprofit, R.I.S.E. To Empower, and continues to consult with women going into prison as she empowers girls and women to make positive choices. She has spoken to youth in schools about her experience and, last year, helped produce the first TEDx inside a men’s prison in San Diego. She also recently spoke at TEDxWilmingtonWomen about reducing recidivism by empowering women inside prison before they are released.

Jennifer’s piece of advice to women is: Turn your adversity into a gift! Stay present to the moment, and give yourself the opportunity to follow the threads that are presented to you in life.

Connect With Jennifer

Jennifer would love to hear from you! Connect with her via her website, www.jennifermyers.co.

Click on the image below to watch our Remarkable Conversation Unfiltered:

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