5 Fem-Powered Podcasts You Should Be Listening To (…that AREN’T by NPR.)

5 Fem-Powered Podcasts You Should Be Listening To (…that AREN’T by NPR.)

Community Tips + Tools WANT Women Work

Look.

I am NPR’s self-elected fan club president.

In a storm of biases and opinions, I can count on NPR to fill me in on what’s going on in the world, open my eyes to opinions that might not entirely match my own, and challenge me in all the very best ways. When everyone is talking about the new Taylor Swift album or the latest musical trend, NPR (and specifically, their LA-based KCRW) is busy introducing me to new, innovative musicians I might not have heard of otherwise.

Books. Theatre. Culture. Society. NPR and its affiliate stations offer up alternatives to mainstream everything and I am HERE FOR IT.

However…do a quick search of “best podcasts” and you’ll be hard pressed to find a roundup that’s not dominated by NPR-produced shows. I love me some Invisibilia and How I Built This (two of my fave NPR shows – I even mentioned the former on my first must-listen list back in 2015), but NPR-produced podcasts are just one small slice of the pod pie. You wouldn’t just watch TV shows that appear on ONE channel, would you?

This week, I wanted to shine the spotlight on some of the best self-hosted, self-produced, female-driven podcasts you should be listening to right now. Because what most people don’t realize when they listen to the glossy episodes produced by both large organizations and one-woman-shows alike is that there is a LOT of work that goes into podcast production.

From scheduling and recording a thoughtful show, to making your guest(s) feel comfortable enough to open up to you, to the literal hours of editing that are done just to normalize the sound levels and omit any dragging “ummmmmmm”s, each minute is meticulously crafted to create the best possible experience for the podcast’s listening community.

Podcasts take a lot of work to get from the mic to your ears – and when you’re a team of one (maybe two if you’re lucky), you’ve gotta love it enough to make that work worth your while.

Here, five podcasts (by women!) you should be listening to if you’re not already – I can promise you you’ll hear the love coming through loud and clear:

For the mindful foodie (or mindful foodie-wannabe), try…The Actor’s Diet Podcast

What I love about The Actor’s Diet Podcast, an extension of Lynn Chen‘s site by the same name, is that it’s rarely just about the food. Because really, food is rarely just about the food, right? It’s about our heritage, our history, our families and our memories. It’s about how we relate to our bodies and how we interact with the world. Oh, and this isn’t your typical food-centric podcast where it’s all about the chefs and culinary whizzes – expect to hear from actors, musicians, bloggers, and all types of creatives (along with Lynn herself, who is a blast to listen to – you can check her out on the WANTcast here and here for proof!). LISTEN HERE


For when you need some company on your hour-plus commute, listen to…Let It Out by Katie Dalebout

Katie, as a podcast host and as a person, is genuinely one of the most curious, engaged people you will ever meet. Her enthusiasm is contagious, and her episodes are typically over an hour long because she is SUCH a good, present listener that she always finds one more amazing question to ask or interesting place to take the conversation. And she listens to everyone equally – from Danielle LaPorte to the owners of her favorite coffee shop, she treats every single person like her best friend (who she has also interviewed, ps). I adore this woman, and listening to her podcast while I’m stuck in way-too-slow traffic makes me feel like I’m hanging out with her IRL. LISTEN HERE


For a docu-style inside look into the book publishing world (and what the path to achieving a big-ass goal really looks like behind the scenes), try…The Cookbook Deal

OG MVP (most-valuable-podcaster) Jessica Murnane wrote a book last year. It was also the craziest year of her life. And she documented it ALL. You don’t need to be an aspiring author to get totally sucked into this binge-worthy podcast – I may or may not have recently re-listened to all eight 20-ish-minute episodes in succession over the weekend – but if you ARE interested in learning about all the twists and turns that happen behind the scenes when you see someone out there accomplishing amazing, big-ass professional goals, you’ll be hooked after the first few minutes. This podcast is SO important for those of us who are go-getters and goal setters: we aim high and we think things need to be perfect. When things don’t run smoothly, we think we’re probably failing, because no one ever talks about the hard parts. When we scroll through Instagram, it can seem like everyone else’s plans are unfolding without even so much as a hiccup. In true Murnane style, Jessica keeps it real and bashes any sort of notion that the road to success is easy-breezy. Like the saying goes, things rarely go the way you’ve planned. Listening to Jessica navigate these insane twists and turns in real time (and with SO much grace) is a serious lesson in resiliance and persistance. LISTEN HERE

For the bride-to-be who isn’t all about That Wedding Industry Life, you MUST listen to…Bridechilla

Bridechilla has been a godsend ever since I found out about it from WANT Woman Jennifer Dene (thanks, Jen!). I only wish I had started listening before we got engaged! Aleisha McCormack covers everything from out-of-the-box ceremonies and what happens “When Vendors Go Bad” to overcoming wedding stress and creating your very own “Fuckit Bucket” (you’ll have to listen to learn what that is). Aleisha and her fellow Bridechillas have helped me navigate our upcoming wedding with so much mindfulness, ease, and humor – because being a Bridechilla isn’t about not caring or not having an opinion. It’s not about ditching traditions just because they’re “stereotypical.” Being a Bridechilla about recognizing that your wedding day is about YOU and your partner, and celebrating this new chapter in your life together in a way that is the most meaningful to you two. Whether that includes chair covers or not. Aleisha, totally hitting you up to be on the WANTcast in Season Three. Just a heads up. LISTEN HERE



For the activist who also loves pop culture, try…Tamarindo Podcast

When my former neighbor (< full disclosure) Brenda Gonzales first talked to me about wanting to start a podcast focusing on Latinx social, cultural, and political issues, I knew it would be a hit just because of her personality. What I didn’t realize is how much I, someone who is not a member of the Latinx community, would get out of it on a weekly basis. Each week, Brenda and her co-host Luis Octavio discuss politics, food, music, and life, all through a Latinx lens. They’re absolutely hilarious (waiting for them to have their own morning show, Regis-and-Kelly style), whip-smart, and have introduced me to SO many concepts and issues that I never knew about. And this is, I think, my favorite takeaway from Tamarindo. It’s made me realize how much I DON’T know about things that don’t affect me, and helped me combat the effects of that ignorance/white privilege by actively seeking out more information on issues that affect ALL variations of people no matter the race, gender, religion, etc. You might start listening for the music or pop-culture breakdowns…but you’ll stay for the eye-opening conversations about ways our country (and world) can be a better place for EVERYONE. LISTEN HERE

Looking for more? Here are 7 of my favorite podcasts that’ll make any crazy-long commute actually enjoyable.


WANT yourself:
What are some of your favorite female-driven podcasts out there? Why do you love them? And – here’s a bonus – who would YOU like to hear on Season Three (dropping January 2018!) of the WANTcast??

The WANT Woman: Lauren Bille of Cycles + Sex and The Big Quiet

The WANT Woman: Lauren Bille of Cycles + Sex and The Big Quiet

Community WANT Women

We talk about our Through Line a lot on WANT: the common theme in everything you love and the common goal in everything you do. An alternate way to think about your “purpose,” looking at life through the lens of your Through Line makes things a lot less about what you do and a lot more about why and how you do it.

The best part of acting based on your unique Through Line instead of what you think you “should” be doing?

It gives others permission to do the same.

By leaning into your fullest potential, you create a domino effect that helps others follow suit.

Lauren Bille’s Through Line is the kind that creates a major chain reaction wherever she goes: she facilitates experiences for people to connect and reflect deeply with themselves and others, so muchso that it spurs them into action.

Lauren’s passionate about equality, social impact, building meaningful communities, and shifting cultural paradigms. She’s a master at bringing people together to activate their inner activist. With that kind of Through Line, you’re bound to make shift happen no matter what you do.

Lauren is currently a partner at The Big Quiet, where she helps organize mass meditations (mass = literally thousands of people) in iconic locations like Central Park and Madison Square Garden, and a co-founder of Cycles + Sex, an event that gives people the kind of education, tools, and empowerment on sexual, menstrual, hormonal, and reproductive health that we wish we would have learned in health class.

She’s spent the last 15 years working on social justice causes like race, gender and class politics, education policy, immigration resources, sustainable food, climate change/its effects on third world countries, and democratizing mindfulness. If you’re part of the WANT community here in NYC, you might remember her from our How To Activate Your Inner Activist panel back in February, where she dropped some major wisdom on everything from owning your privilege to mindfully engaging on social media.

So many of us are looking to make a difference in our messy world right now. Lauren is proof that change starts not with the WHAT, but the WHY. We create the meaning in our own lives.

WANT Lauren:


Name: 
Lauren Bille


How you’d know me (occupation or role): 
Partner at The Big Quiet , Co- Founder of CYCLES + SEX

What I love about myself (and why): Love comes naturally to me. I’m good at loving people. Also I’m really childlike in spirit.

What is your definition of “positivity?” Seeing things through a lens of gratitude, hope and trust.

When did you start to love yourself – did you have a self-love “turning point?” 
When I was 17 I was given some tools to deal with life that helped me to see that my probs were of my own making. Essentially I was very self centred. Having low self esteem is just as self centered as having too much pride. It’s all ego.

Once I could see that, I had the opportunity to seek humility and a life when I think about myself less and think of others and how I can be of service more. When I try to live this way- I feel good about myself. It’s a daily practice. But truly, whenever I am very upset, it has to do with me and my thinking about myself.

Low self esteem is just as self centered as too much pride. It's all ego. - @laurenbille Click To Tweet

How/where negative talk shows up in my life: 
It shows up when I’m tired, hungry, not taking good care of myself. And taking care of myself involves lots of diff things. It shows up as pain, fear, wanting to give up and run away, feeling less than (again this is all self centered and ego- like the world revolves around me)

When I talk negatively about myself, it’s usually… I don’t want to type it or say it out loud because it’s putting it into the universe, and manifesting. All forms of I’m not good enough, which can be broken down to I’m not loveable.

When others talk negatively about themselves… 
I show them love and then help them think of adding to the world. Watching others talk negatively about themselves shows me how self centered it is.

It baffles me that women still… Get liposuction, fake tan, straighten or perm their hair, don’t leave the house without eye liner. It’s wild all these things we do for the approval of men. Of the systems of beauty set up by men and reaffirmed by women who conform to them. I still conform to them.

I wish that more women… Were brave and honest and bold and independent. Were truly themselves. Let their natural beauty be revealed.

The coolest thing about women is… 
They are the most powerful. They have the solutions to all the problems inside themselves. Together (tribes of women) they are like the ultimate eternal force of nature.


My favorite way to shift a negative into a positive: 
Remember that it doesn’t matter! It’s all my thinking! I create the meaning in my life. So I try to look at the big picture, stop being so self centered, pull out of the fear and ego, and be grateful.


I create the meaning in my life. - @laurenbille Click To Tweet

My top female role models: Fannie Lou Hammer, Angela Davis, Alicia Keys

Men can help women crush their negative talk patterns by… 
LISTENING to us. Becoming aware of patriarchal systems. Making choices not to conform to society’s beauty standards. Stepping aside to raise us up.

Favorite negativity-busting activities: Being with powerful women. Creating. Serving causes I believe in. Exercise. Sleep. Meditation.

Fave self-love ritual: 
To do all these things: Foot bath with special essential oils, water or tea, good tunes, pause and feel grateful


Favorite feel-good food(s): 
Water. Smoothies.

Favorite movie(s) to watch when I’m feeling down: Rom-coms

Favorite empowering book(s): 
Pema Chodron,
 When Things Fall ApartAnything by Brené Brown


My feel-good playlist:

Frank Ocean
Blood Orange
Nirvana Unplugged (lol)
Neutral Milk Hotel

Advice I would give my
…4 year old self:
there’s nothing to be scared of

…14 year-old self: same
…24 year old self: same

5 Things, personal or professional, on my bucket list:

• Make lots of money
• Run for office
• Be a part of revolutionary social change
• Experience revolutionary romantic love
• Build successful businesses that do good for the world

My best tip on self love: 
Treat yourself like you are a friend or a child who you love so much, unconditionally. Think of what they may need, what’s best for them.


When I truly love all of myself… 
I take good care.


Right now, I am most excited about… 
Working with incredible people to shift culture and make positive social impact.


My body is: 
Healthy and grateful.


Three words to describe me: 
Brave. Curious. Childlike.


Current mantra: 
“Rage, rage against the dying of the light.” -Dylan Thomas

Learn more about how to get involved in The Big Quiet here and Cycles + Sex here.


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How To Activate Your Inner Activist: Jahan Mantin of Project Inkblot

How To Activate Your Inner Activist: Jahan Mantin of Project Inkblot

Community WANT Women

Activism doesn’t always need to be loud to be heard. What resonates with one person might fall on deaf ears with another. What might make one person fired up might make another person want to run for the hills. Activism can be portrayed as complicated or extreme – but it doesn’t have to be either.

After the election last year, I started to think about ways I could make a difference that were in alignment with who and where I was: sure I’d go to a protest or march here or there, but I was more intrigued by the ways I could make a big difference, every day, in small ways.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for a powerful march. But I know that’s just ONE part of the equation. I think it does a disservice to whatever cause you’re fighting for to force one “form” of activism on everyone. It makes it seem like activism only looks one way – and can often lead to the kind of black-and-white thinking (You’re selfish if you don’t march! or How can you call yourself a feminist/activist/ally if you don’t XYZ?) that discourages newbie activists from taking that powerful first step of their own. Which is where it all starts: with those powerful first steps.

The more we can find ways to speak up in ways that are in alignment with who we are, the more comfortable we get with getting uncomfortable, the more we’ll cause a ripple effect within ourselves and others. We’ll eventually feel more comfortable with getting more and more uncomfortable. What once felt awkward and fearful will feel awakened and fearless.

And this is why I’m starting a new series on WANT called How To Activate Your Inner Activist. Inspired by the live event series we kicked off earlier this year in NYC, I’ll be talking to WANT Women who are making a huge difference…in ways of all shapes and sizes.

Through this series, you’ll get inspired, have epiphanies, and learn how to make a difference in a way that’s in alignment with who you are. Right here. Right now.

To kick off this series, I’m chatting with powerhouse strategist, artist, and activist Jahan Mantin.

project inkblot jahan mantin

Jahan Mantin is the co-founder of Project Inkblot, a media, service, and program design consultancy that uses their unique Design For Diversity approach to build inclusive campaigns for organizations and companies. She is also the co-creator/executive producer of Fit the Description, a video interview series between Black male civilians and Black male officers.

The coolest thing about Project Inkblot – and what makes it different than other strategic agencies or consulting firms – is their Design For Diversity” model. Instead of merely working with the perspectives already present, Jahan and her co-founder Boyuan Gao (who you may or may not meet soon on the WANTcast, hint hint) help brands expand their worldview by discovering overlooked touch-points and reframing them as breakthrough opportunities.

Start where you are. Make sure it’s rooted in something you really care about - @projectinkblot Click To Tweet

From what she loves about the world right now to her best advice when it comes to handling the haters, I’m so stoked to have Jahan here kicking off this important series. Here we go…

WANT Jahan

Name: Jahan Mantin


How you’d know me (occupation or role): Founder of Project Inkblot and Co-creator/Co-producer of Fit the Description


What I love about myself (and why): I have a good sense of humor and I’m able to laugh at, and make fun of myself.


What are some causes you feel strongly about? Women’s issues, racial equality, creating a code of ethics around technology development – way too many to list.


When did you start to identify as an “activist” – or just realize that you had something to say? Don’t’ know if I can pinpoint a “time.” I’ve always had a lot to say – being opinionated and outspoken runs in the family.


What was your first PDA – Public Display of Activism? I remember writing a letter to The Village Voice as a teenager. I grew up on the Lower East Side of Manhattan and the neighborhood had started descending into hipster/yuppie gentrification. This was during the late 90’s – I was walking into a new/gentrified bar, with all white folks listening to hip-hop with my then boyfriend and brother.

We weren’t allowed in.

There was no probable reason. I actually remember the bouncer, a Black man, apologizing. I can remember the frustration and resignation from my brother and boyfriend, both men of color. We felt rejected, as if we didn’t belong in our own home. It was a microcosm of what was happening, on a larger scale, in our neighborhood. I was frustrated and angry so I wrote this letter, and it was published. I remember feeling like I had been heard and had stood up for something.


I wish that people realized that activism… doesn’t have to be a scary word, it can take on many different definitions and forms.
I wish people realized 'activism' doesn’t have to be a scary word. -Jahan Mantin, @projectinkblot Click To Tweet


What I love about the world right now:
I love that historically identified marginalized people are making their voice heard. Truthfully, we never stopped – but I do love that folks are using their voice. It’s a weird time to be alive. I feel like something is bubbling to the surface, about to implode. It’s scary but also a bit exciting.


What I’d love to change about the world right now: Our dependence on technology and some of the insidious ways technology is being used to collect date and eradicate privacy. It’s gotten to a level I think is supremely unhealthy; for our nervous systems, state of mind, energetic levels etc.


The coolest thing about women is… women have some kinda profound well of innate strength that can be accessed at a moment’s notice.


Finish this sentence: Social media… is dos muchos.


My favorite way to shift a negative into a positive: Masssssssssages.


My top female role models: Basically all of the women in my family, Frida, Toni Morrison.


Favorite negativity-busting activity: Massages, massages, massages.


Fave self-love ritual: Massages!


If people want to activate their inner activist, they should read/watch/listen to… Read anything by James Baldwin. Watch Moonlight.


My best advice when it comes to haters or people who disagree: If you don’t like it, make it better.
If you don’t like it, make it better. -Jahan Mantin, @projectinkblot Click To Tweet


5 Things, personal or professional, on my bucket list: Having Fit the Description make a positive impact worldwide! Traveling to Iceland, Rwanda, South Africa, Italy, Cuba (all places I want to visit).


My best tip on activism: Just start with where you are. Make sure it’s rooted in something you really care about.


Right now, I am most excited about… summer being around the corner – meeeeh to the cold.


Three words to describe me: optimistic, curious, silly


What is your definition of “positivity?” Being around good people who really know you and lovingly call you on your bullshit, being kind to yourself and others, having enough self-awareness to not take things too personally.


Current mantra: Thank you, thank you, thank you.

project inkblot activist activism
WANT Yourself:

What is ONE way you “activate your inner activist” and make a difference in your own way? Nothing is too small – I want to hear! Leave a comment below and share your ideas…


photos by Seher Sikandar



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Aspiration, Inspiration: GOOD + My Relationship With Wellness.

Aspiration, Inspiration: GOOD + My Relationship With Wellness.

Body Community Motivation + Inspiration WANT Women

I don’t often post about the events I do or the places I speak. I feel like, for me, it borders on self-indulgent and sets a precedent that I’ll write something about every event I do or place I speak. But I do like sharing with you the ones that spark something new inside me…the ones where I can sense a shift happening. The ones that offer up more than just a recap and some fun photos. The ones that blow my mind.

This weekend, I had the immense honor of speaking at The GOOD Festival, an all-day wellness festival in Philly for anyone wanting to live well and “make choices that are in alignment with their body, their career, and their lives.” Basically, the GOODfest focused on all of the things I love about the wellness industry: the community, the curiosity, and the small choices that end up making a big difference in the long run.

But I’ll tell you a secret: I don’t love everything. A couple years ago, I felt my relationship with the “wellness” community starting to shift. Because wellness was shifting as well. And I didn’t really like much of what I was seeing: elitism, ego, judgement, and a focus on the external WHATs instead of the internal WHYs. Leaders and “gurus” encouraginig spiritual bypass, the use of spiritual practices and beliefs to avoid dealing with hard things, was becoming just as if not more common than encouraging spiritual growth.

I felt torn. The wellness world had introduced me to some of my very dearest friends, launched my career, and helped me realize my through line. Heck, if it hadn’t been for the wellness world, I would have never started sharing my writing publicly or be even close to the person I am today (fun fact: my first blogs and first freelance jobs circa 2008 were all in what’s now considered the wellness realm). I owed so much of who I was to the wellness community – and yet I felt like I was watching a genuine and loving best friend get lured in by a Mean Girls-esque squad of crystal-carrying, sage-burning, side-eyeing Regina Georges. All aspiration on the outside and very little inspiration on the inside.

It broke my heart.

~

I’ve been very vocal about ways I feel the wellness world can shift, and every single WANT Woman that’s been featured on the site or the podcast is a shining example of what wellness can be if we lean into the parts of us that make us unique and let them lead the way. Literally, every single one of them. 

But still. It’s so easy to get caught up in the parade and charade of the opposite end of the spectrum when you’re scrolling through Instagram or reading an article and then all of the sudden it’s 12:42am and you’re paralyzed by fear that you’re not only doing everything wrong, but that your idea of what leadership means in the wellness world is no longer relevant.


One of the reasons GOOD was such a reaffirming experience for me was that it reminded me why I fell in love with wellness in the first place. Wellness, after all, isn’t just about the “well.” It’s not just about the adjective – or rather, the noun we’ve created from the adjective.

It’s about the verb – the “LIVING” part of living well.

“Well” is subjective. We cannot possibly know if what works for one person will work for someone else.

 

But living? Living is action. Living is experience-oriented.
And living well is…well, it’s moving forward fearlessly into the you you know you’re meant to be.

 

The GOODfest team blew me (and everyone else there, ps) away with their thoughtfulness and attention to detail. They’d carefully curated the day to reflect their mission and their values, and it showed in not just every single speaker and sponsor, but in all 300+ people who chose to spend their day with us. Deep conversations happened within a matter of seconds – real, no-bs, walls-down conversations – and each time a speaker walked onstage it was like they were being greeted by a room full of old pals.

Speaking of the speakers – the SPEAKERS! Oh my god the speakers. Being a part of this group was a dream come true. Some people were old friends (Jessica Murnane, Katie Dalebout, Jordan Younger), some were new friends (Gianne Doherty, Kristin McGee, Cassandra Bodzak, Sara DiVello, Kimmie Smith), and some I met specifically because we were both speaking at the GOODfest and then one month later we were the best of travel buddies (hi, Talia Pollock). In an industry that can sometimes seem so cliquey and elite, the GOODfest was anything but. It revived my love for wellness; for how *I* view living well. Which is all about being proactive, not reactive, when it comes to how you want to feel. All-around. Mind, body, soul.


Living well is about being proactive, not reactive, when it comes to how you want to feel. - @katiehorwitch Click To Tweet

This post is obviously about the wellness world, but I think this disconnect between aspiration and inspiration applies across industries and even life stages. Maybe your thing is fashion. Maybe it’s academica. Maybe it’s music. Maybe you’re just starting a family, or have been single for a while, or are just about to graduate college or enter empty-nestville. There are so many opportunities for us to doubt that what we’re doing is right or where we are is where we’re supposed to be (yes, social media is a big way we can get triggered into self-doubt).

But what the GOODfest reminded me is that those people who seem to have everything perfectly manicured and are “too cool to care” are in the minority. WE are in the majority. Side by side. No one has it all figured out, but if we join forces in our curiosity, we can explore the options together.

And that’s what I love about wellness: I love the CONNECTION. The community. The willingness to open up and move forward fearlessly…on the same team. We might not know anywhere near everything, but each of us knows something – and when we all work together to both hear and be heard, we’ve got a whole damn lot of options on the table.

Thank you Kate, Jess, Jen, Sienna, Brea, and the rest of the GOOD team for creating a space for women to unlock themselves and fully exhale. To my fellow speakers, I adore every single one of you and am honored to have been in your presence.



When we all work together to both hear + be heard, we've got a whole lot of options on the table. - @katiehorwitch Click To Tweet


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The WANT Women: Nicole Sciacca on Taking Big Risks, Prepping For Curveballs, and Laughing At Life

The WANT Women: Nicole Sciacca on Taking Big Risks, Prepping For Curveballs, and Laughing At Life

WANT Women

No matter what, the future is based in my reaction. - @nicolesciacca Click To Tweet

If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the last few years of building a career, birthing a business, quitting a job, moving across the country, and getting engaged (it’s been a busy few years.), it’s that no matter HOW far you think you’ve gotten, there is still so much more to learn. And moreover, you don’t have to go at it alone.

I recently started working with a coach to help gain clarity around a few big-time goals of mine (more on that in the future – both the coach part and the goals part). After unpacking stuff like my alternative definition of “accomplishments” and my love affair with structure, she asked me about role models. And after listing people like Jenny Lewis and Glennon Doyle Melton, I told her about one of my first friends to truly show me what I was capable of. That friend is today’s WANT Woman: Nicole Sciacca.

If you live in the Los Angeles area, you’ve probably at least heard of Nicole if not experienced her Force Of Nature-ness firsthand. Nicole Sciacca is a yoga teacher, professional dancer, actress, host, personal trainer, and (most importantly) a mother to her three year-old son Beau. She is currently the Chief Yoga Officer of Playlist Yoga in West Hollywood, where she spearheads their programming and works with teachers to turn each class into the kind of unique, music-driven experiences that have earned Playlist the nickname “The SoulCycle Of Yoga.”

This LIFE business is scary. And beautiful. And unnerving. So let's just laugh. - @nicolesciacca Click To Tweet

Backstory: Nicole moved to Los Angeles from Birmingham, Alabama over sixteen years ago. After suffering a horrible back injury in 2006 that changed the trajectory of her dance career, she needed to find an outlet for her energy and genetic disposition for sweat. What originally seemed like her biggest roadblock ultimately introduced her to her greatest passion. Nicole simultaneously began yoga while recovering…and knew she was onto something. Although she had swam and danced professionally her entire life, it was yoga that transformed her mind, body and spirit all at once.

Nicole has always believed in the power of “the journey, not the destination,” so when her Venice Beach studio Hustle and Flow was forced to close, she knew something big was bound to be on the horizon. Days later, she met Playlist owners Jorden Cohen and Rob Rubano. The timing could not have been more perfect – and Nicole found her new path as the face of Playlist.

women against negative talk playlist yoga nicole + i at the one year WANTiversary party in 2016

Our story? Well, I need to preface this by saying that I have spot-on friendtuition. I don’t know how, but I can so much as hear about someone from someone else and have a gut feeling that we’re going to be friends. I’ve learned this about myself in time, but when I met Nicole eight years ago in her spin class and had that friendtuition feeling right off the bat, I was so confused because I was also ridiculously intimidated by her.

It wasn’t that Nicole was actually intimidating or scary in the least. It was that I was in the midst of figuring myself out. I was just finding my voice as a writer and fitness instructor, was battling self-doubt when it came to calling myself a leader…and here was this woman who freaking OWNED THE ROOM the second she walked in.

I’d never seen anyone foster such a deep sense of community (“a following,” if you will) like Nicole did. She made people work hard without even realizing it was hard work. She made people laugh but never at the expense of anyone or anything else. She looked you in the eye and listened to what you had to say, even if she’d met you three seconds beforehand. And she didn’t apologize for being herself.

She was badass. She was soulful. She was exactly what I wanted to be like but didn’t know I could become.

Fast forward to the Now, and she’s one of those “lifer” friends of mine. We’ve seen each other through some high highs and low lows, and I can say on my end that I’m not only a better person to have had her cheering me on, but am a bolder person for bearing witness as her story unfolds and seeing her move forward fearlessly through it all. Injuries. Relationships. Speed bumps. Successes. She’s the definition of fearless: when the fear is less than the faith.

The more comfortable I am being uncomfortable, the better prepared I am for surprises. - @nicolesciacca Click To Tweet

I realized the other day that I hadn’t spotlighted a WANT Woman on the site since last year – crazy, right? Especially since one of the things I value most is connection. This means not only introducing you to WANT Women around the globe, but helping you connect with women who can ultimately help you find a deeper connection with YOURSELF. And so I thought, who better to get back into the flow of things than one of the WANTiest women I know. I love our WANT community so much, it was crazy to me I hadn’t introduced you to Nicole yet. So. Here. Done and done.

They (whoever “they” are) say that you need to see it to be it. And for me, Nicole was one of the first people to show me the kind of person I could become if I was brave enough to go there. Our story is never finished, our practice is never perfected, and if we just hold the mirror up and reflect our light onto one another, we’re able to surpass our wildest expectations.

WANT NICOLE.

Name: Nicole Sciacca


How you’d know me (occupation or role):
I have been teaching yoga, group fitness, and indoor cycling as well as private training for almost a decade in Los Angeles, California. I formally owned a cycling and yoga studio called Hustle & Flow Fitness on Abbot Kinney Blvd in Venice. Currently I am the Chief Yoga Officer (CYO) at PLAYLIST. Yoga in West Hollywood.


What I love about myself (and why):
One of the things I love about myself is my sense of humor, because what are we doing, you guys? This LIFE business is crazy. And awesome. And scary. And beautiful. And unnerving. So please…let’s just laugh. Also, my resilience. I’m pretty sure that is a new found quality over the last 4-5 years but I can tell you I see the importance in resiliency now more than ever.


What is your definition of “positivity?”
 The energy that is extended when the deepest motivation is love, compassion, joy, and kindness. Or Katie Horwitch. I’m not saying that because this is your site. I honestly would define you as “positivity personified.” True story. (note from katie: omg.)

When did you start to love yourself – did you have a self-love “turning point?” Oddly I don’t remember this “turning point” but I do recall my mother and father really establishing my self worth and the value of my individuality at a very young age. They let me wear the same self chosen outfit 4 days in a row to kindergarten (thankfully my mom washed it every night!). There was a prominent shift when I began to dedicate my life to helping others through fitness and yoga but I was certainly raised with an awareness of “self love.”


How/where negative talk shows up in my life:
Paying off debt. Debt that I incurred from taking big risks. Strange thing is that I don’t necessarily regret those choices because the lessons are plentiful. Negativity shows up at least once a month when I feel bloated or hormonal. Sometimes as a mother I find my inner critic beating me up as I compare my parenting to other mamas.


When I talk negatively about myself, it’s usually…
If I feel a lack of energy or physically lethargic, I blame my diet and for not having the discipline to eat more carefully. If I get a piece of mail that worries me, I doubt my capabilities to run my business. If I’m struggling on my mat, I tell myself my priorities are out of whack… There is a great deal of personal critique on my end and that has been a voice that I’ve battled my entire life.

When others talk negatively about themselves… I have a completely different reaction. I listen and immediately drum up all the reasons they are shining, glorious, star fairies!!


It baffles me that women still…
make less than men dollar to dollar. Seems like we should just cut that shit out now.


I wish that more women…
would praise, support, nurture and enable one another. I surround myself with some incredibly strong and driven ladies which makes me proud to be a woman in this industry, at this point in history. We are a great force for good and the world NEEDS us. Our children need us.



I wish more women would praise, support, nurture, and enable one another. The world NEEDS us. - @nicolesciacca Click To Tweet

The coolest thing about women is… we can bring life into the world. Cliche? I don’t care. I have been blessed to do this and it is the coolest thing I’ve ever been privileged to experience. Also, we can multi-task like a BOSS.


My favorite way to shift a negative into a positive:
Pray or meditate or sweat. Nearly all my problems can shift when I do one (or all) of these 3 things. Also, I call my mom.


My top female role models:
This is a random list here…. I’d say Elizabeth Lesser. Her life’s work and exceptional use of language as seen in her books is just incredible. Johanna Gaines from the HGTV show Fixer Upper. I only know what I see and read but from the dynamic she shares with her husband, her 4 children, their farm, and businesses, I’m constantly inspired.


Favorite negativity-busting activity:
Spending quality time with my son. He fuels my heart in ways that I can barely explain. He reminds me of where I’ve been and that no matter what, the future is based in my reaction. I can shift energy by actively loving him.

Fave self-love ritual: beauty upkeep. Hair cut, a facial, a nice manicure and pedicure. IS THIS SHALLOW? My non-shallow answer is getting a good night’s sleep. Actual rest.


Favorite feel-good food(s):
My mom’s cooking. Specifically her homemade red velvet cake or her German sourkraut, potato, and pork recipe. It has a name but I don’t know it.


Favorite movie(s) to watch when I’m feeling down:
This is 40 or Deadpool. (sorry.) Strangely, I don’t really re-watch movies. THIS HAS BEEN A POINT OF CONTENTION BEFORE. I think it makes me an oddball…so I don’t have an answer. Outside of Love Actually and All About Eve. Those are my all-time Favs!!


Favorite empowering book(s):
Broken Open by Elizabeth Lesser, You are a Badass by Jen Sincero, Welcome to your Crisis by Laura Day


My feel-good playlist:

Like That – Memphis Bleek
How Do You Want It – Tupac
Lemonade (the entire album) – Beyonce
Rock and Roll or Ramble On – Led Zeppelin
Stand Back – Fleetwood Mac
Sweater Weather – The Neighbourhood
River – Leon Bridges

Advice I would give my…

…4 year old self: It’s okay that you like micro machines and dirt. And maybe eat less Velveeta cheese.
…14 year-old self: You’re not too tall. You’re perfect. Don’t worry about boys and take more ballet classes.
…24 year old self: A partner should compliment your life, not fill the holes. GO TO YOGA RIGHT NOW.

A partner should compliment your life, not fill the holes. - @nicolesciacca Click To Tweet

5 Things, personal or professional, on my bucket list: A trip or yoga retreat to New Zealand or Iceland. Go on safari in South Africa. Maybe another child. Build a house. Ride in a hot air balloon.


When I truly love all of myself…
I feel enamored and in the presence of God.


Right now, I am most excited about…
my haircut and color this Wednesday. Also, the rest of 2017!! I have a couple big things in the works and am excited to get the ball rolling on my potential collaborations.


My body is:
a freaking temple. I am shocked that it puts up with me. haha. We stay healthy 98% of the year, we breakdance at weddings and we operate on less than the desired amount of sleep.


Three words to describe me:
goofy, hard-working, and compassionate


Current mantra:
The more comfortable I am BEING uncomfortable the better prepared I am for any and all surprises. Or: I am becoming my best self and living my most fulfilled life here and now.

I am becoming my best self + living my most fulfilled life here and now. - @nicolesciacca Click To Tweet


WANT YOURSELF:
Loved Nicole’s answers to this one, so now I want to hear from you in the comments…
What is YOUR definition of “positivity?”


WANT more Nicole?
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Photo credits: Caddie Hastings

How To Activate Your Inner Activist: On Finding Your Voice (In A Way That Works For You)

How To Activate Your Inner Activist: On Finding Your Voice (In A Way That Works For You)

Community Tips + Tools WANT Women

I think we can all agree: it’s been quite the year so far (*LOL to the understatement of the decade). Every single person I talk to says some combo of the same things: I’m fired up. I want to make a change. I’m ready to fight. I’m exhausted. I don’t know what to do. I feel called to action.

Overwhelming, right? I know how you feel.

Over the last few months, I’ve had politically and culturally charged conversations with people I would have never expected to talk about these things with so candidly. A common concern I started to hear from most people was that they were worried they weren’t overtly “activisty” enough to be an activist – which, really, was a worry rooted less in their desire to help and moreso their fear of being shamed or judged. Oof.

As I talked to more and more people, I realized I wanted to help. I wanted to meet them where they were at and help them go outside their comfort zones *gradually,* so that eventually the uncomfortable would become comfortable. I realized that while I was on board with all forms of activism, I was most interested in exploring the seemingly small but huge things people could do NOW to make an impact, not exhaust themselves, stay in this for the long haul…and do it all in a way that would feel aligned with who they are.

'Conversation is a dialogue, not a monologue.' - @cantpatthis Click To Tweet

Last Sunday, I had the honor of making my dream panel come to life: an intimate yet powerful conversation with five activist-minded WANT Women and Men (Lauren Bille of The Big Quiet and Cycles + Sex, actor and playwright Patrick Burns, Christen Brandt of She’s The First, Jahan Mantin of Project Inkblot, historian Natalia Petrzela of Past Present) about how to make a difference in a way that’s in alignment with who you are. This dynamic discussion, held at the gorgeous HUBseventeen space below Lululemon’s Flatiron flagship, was for anyone who was new to activism, struggling to figure out ways to make a difference in their OWN way, or just curious as to what “activism” can look like beyond marches and protests.

I wish I could adequately express the energy in the room. It was...electric. Comforting. Eye-opening. On-the-edge-of-your-seat. A big long exhale and ‘I thought I was the only one!’

Here are some of the best takeaways from the day:

1) Use social media wisely. Instead of using social media as a venting ground, use it to share events happening this week (awesome suggestion by Lauren). Without pushing your viewpoints on someone else, share everything from rallies to donation-based yoga classes happening nearby. Social media can be a great way to help people find options that might work for them, whether YOU are able to attend or not. You never know who’s reading that has been looking for a way to take action.

2) …Speaking of which, focus on the common ground instead of the shakey ground. Natalia stressed the importance of educating yourself and learning about the “whys” behind the “whats.” Not just for your own personal benefit – but so you can have more nuanced, productive interactions with the world around you. People who, say, voted the opposite way you did – they have hopes and dreams for this big world, too. Instead of grilling or shaming someone about their choices, ask why and actually listen. Maybe they’re worried about affording healthcare. Maybe they’re passionate about education. Whether it’s on social media with acquaintances or around the dinner table with family, find the things you agree on. You’ll probably realize you have a lot more in common than you thought – and maybe, just maybe, each of you will be able to learn about a new perspective. 

3) Be proactive, not reactive. One of the biggest themes of the afternoon was the importance of listening – and then doing something with that information. It’s really easy to let our emotions go crazy when things get under our skin, but now more than ever is the time to press the pause button. Just like negative self-talk, it’s easier to bond over what we loathe instead of fighting for what we love. Instead of fuming about the latest headline with your friends, probe as to why each of you feel the way you do – and then ask, non-rhetorically (as Christen said), So what are we doing to do about this? In order for progress to be made, the days of venting ad nauseum need to come to a close. As Patrick said, “Conversation is a dialogue, not a monologue.”

4) Privilege is complicated, but it’s not something to feel guilty about. Privilege is a sticky subject. Some people argue that being able to be an “activist” is a privilege in and of itself – however, many people will also say that some don’t have the privilege of turning a blind eye and NOT being an activist. One big takeaway from Sunday was to be honest with yourself about whatever your situation or life has looked like and then do something with it. Christen spoke about how powerful it is to create “safe spaces” – how it’s important to show up time and time again and know not only when it’s important to speak up but when to shut up. We take cues from each other. And she’s realized that her “privilege,” so to speak, can help model the behavior she wants to see out in the world – one that doesn’t assume what someone else’s experience is like or discriminate by class, race, gender, or who we love.

'Show up, know when to speak up, know when to shut up.' - @cjbrandt, @shesthefirst Click To Tweet

5) Small actions can lead to big impact, from the inside out. It doesn’t matter what you do or who you are, you CAN make a difference. If you’re an employee who wants to create change within their company, for example, keep throwing ideas into the mix and eventually one will stick. The first one might fall on deaf ears, but keep going. Something as small as a conversation with someone in the grocery store can shift lives. “You never know what is going to start a ripple effect,” Jahan told us. “You start with one ripple, then another, then another – and eventually, that’s how you make waves.”

'You start with one ripple...eventually, that's how you make waves.' - @projectinkblot Click To Tweet

6) Activism doesn’t always need to be loud to be heard. Okay, that one’s my own. What resonates with one person might fall on deaf ears with another. I think it does a disservice to the causes at hand to force one “form” of activism on everyone. It makes it seem like activism only looks one way – and can often lead to the kind of black-and-white thinking (You’re selfish if you don’t march! or How can you call yourself a feminist/activist/ally if you don’t XYZ?) that discourages newbie activists from taking that powerful first step of their own. 

Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for a powerful march. But I know that’s just ONE part of the equation. The more we can find ways to speak up in ways that are in alignment with who we are, the more comfortable we get with getting uncomfortable, the more we’ll cause a ripple effect within ourselves and others. We’ll eventually feel more comfortable with getting more and more uncomfortable. What once felt awkward and fearful will feel awakened and fearless.

Activism doesn't always need to be loud to be heard. Click To Tweet

Activating your inner activist doesn’t have to be complicated or obvious – it can start with one conversation and go from there. Inch by inch. Step by step. That’s how you build up a voice that resonates in the long run.

HUGE thanks to HUBseventeen for being such fierce supporters of WANT and allowing us to take over your space for the afternoon, and to Lauren, Patrick, Christen, Jahan, and Natalia for sharing so much of yourselves and making the very first WANT panel in NYC a wild success –  and to YOU, the WANT peeps, for being the reason this community is as powerful as it is. Not only did you pack the room, but your questions and enthusiasm had us all on the edge of our seats.

All proceeds from this event went directly to Planned Parenthood.

Photos by Anke Kuballa

Want How To Activate You Inner Activist to come to your town? Get in touch here.


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