A Love Letter To The Inclusive Woman.

A Love Letter To The Inclusive Woman.

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The woman who walks through life with open arms. The one who laughs the loudest, focuses the feelings, who looks you in the eye like you’re the only one that matters.

You know her. She’s the steady rock on the shaky ground. She’s the shaky hand with the steady gaze. She’s the one who breaks first and shows you her wounds, then also shows you how to repair them – and then later when you’re hurting, you remember the one who showed you how to move through it all instead of around it.

She’s the inclusive woman.

Inclusive is infectious.

Inclusive is knowing loneliness and instead of putting up walls to protect yourself from hurt, plowing them down to make sure you feel WITH people, not AT them. That’s what walls always end up doing, anyway. Breaking the WITH, driving the AT. Handball courts. River dams. The red rubber ball bounces back even harder; the water smacks the sides and breaks up the otherwise steady current. Or worse, stops it altogether, so all you see is glassy nothingness. A mirage that folds over itself as if to say, Nothing to see here. Forget what’s under the surface, that flow never mattered anyway.

To be inclusive is to let go of the cynical crutches that are so easy to lean on when we’re scared or unsure. It’s to invite people in with a hug and a smile, to keep your wits about you but give everyone a chance. It’s to banish the “prove,” disarm the doubt, and raise that second eyebrow to meet the other and turn judgement into joy.

Raise that second eyebrow to meet the other and turn judgement into joy. Click To Tweet

The exclusive has standards to be met and hoops to jump through. The exclusive asks you to “earn” their time, their trust, their attention. The exclusive is the fabulous in-crowd and the fabricated Instagram captions; the stuff that makes you FOMO and fear that you’re just not welcome there. Somehow, though, you still feel you should try.

And yet underneath the exclusive facade of wild self confidence and sky-high standards is a person who just longs to be loved. They have forgotten that the way to get love is to give love, the way to belong is to invite in the world, and the way to be seen is to look inside yourself for validation. The exclusive creates cliques and mocks others and has checkboxes to be filled before giving the green light.

Living in the exclusive is no way to live. Because when you only let in some, you really let in none. When you censor yourself for most, you limit yourself for all. You’re looking to protect yourself and you’re looking to be safe, but in the process you’re telling yourself to always stay on the lookout for the enemy. Exclusive is where judgement breeds, where rifts are dug, and where even true love can turn sour.

And yet INCLUSIVE can sting, too. It can claw at your skin and slap you in the face. The more accepting you get, the more truth you see. The more truth you see, the more accepting you’re challenged to be. It’s like the universe or whatever is haunting and heckling you. Ya think you’re so altruistic huh? Ya think you’re sooooo empathetic? Well try THIS on for size, why dontcha?! (and yes, the universe sounds like a 1920s mobster in this scenario.)

Inclusive can feel like walking on fresh-polished marble wearing brand new socks, each mini-step feeling slipperier than the last. Fighting for control is useless and will keep you in one place. The only way to move forward is to make each step deliberate, strong, grounded, and sure.

Life opens up when you open up to it. Click To Tweet

But the tradeoff to resisting the fight and strengthening your step is that life opens up when you open up to it. And people open up when you open up to them. Not always, but most times. Not immediately, but eventually. And as they come around, they’ll bring others along with them. And so on, and so on. We say we’re sick and tired of seeing people display tropes of the human experience instead of experiencing the experience itself – but it’s got to start somewhere.

And so the only question really is, how bad do you want it? Enough to open? Enough to let go?

The way to banish the exclusive is to be the inclusive. The way to open what’s closed is to turn your own key. We’re all just looking to do our very best with this life we’ve been handed – and your “very best” only floods in when your dams have been blown open and washed away.

 


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WANTcast 043: On Woke Wellness, Feminist Fitness, Having Hard Conversations, and The History of “Happiness” with Natalia Mehlman Petrzela

WANTcast 043: On Woke Wellness, Feminist Fitness, Having Hard Conversations, and The History of “Happiness” with Natalia Mehlman Petrzela

Most Popular Posts the WANTcast WANT Women

Today’s guest is one of the coolest chicks I know (and you too, soon!), and a conversation that’s a LONG time coming: scholar/writer/teacher/activist Natalia Mehlman Petrzela.

 

natalia speaking on our how to activate your inner activist” panel in 2017


Natalia is a historian of contemporary American politics and culture and is currently writing a book on American fitness culture. She is the author of Classroom Wars: Language, Sex, and the Making of Modern Political Culture, and the co-host of Past Present Podcast, a show that turns hindsight into foresight by examining what’s going on in America today through a historical lens. Natalia is Associate Professor of History at The New School, a co-founder of wellness education program Healthclass 2.0 and a Premiere Leader of intenSati, a fitness class that combines cardio with positive affirmations to make the ultimate uplifting workout. 

In this episode we talk about talking to kids about what’s going on in our country/world in an “appropriate” way, where our quest for happiness and “following your bliss” really came from and if it’s actually serving us, making wokeness more than a gimmick, locker room talk (no, not in THAT way), feminism/activism’s place in the wellness industry, and so, SO much more. 

WANT Natalia:

Listen on iTunes | Listen on Stitcher | Download | Support the pod by shopping on Amazon

Maybe the next phase of happiness + fulfilment is a more realistic assesment of it. - @nataliapetrzela Click To Tweet
What you do in the fitness studio is a low-stakes template for what you can do out in the world. - @nataliapetrzela Click To Tweet
Finish this sentence: I want to be strong SO THAT I CAN... Click To Tweet

Show Notes:
Website
Past Present Podcast
Instagram
Facebook
Twitter
Choose Love, Not Fear in 2013
How “Empowered” Speech About Your Body Might Mask The Same Old Issues
Derek Beres (introduced us!)
Gerren Liles (asked an awesome question!)
Photo cred: Elena Mudd

 

Like this episode? I’m so glad! Sign up for The (Good) Word, WANT’s weekly email group, at womenagainstnegativetalk.comleave a review on iTunes (the more reviews and five-stars, the more our message is spread), share it on Facebook, tweet it out on Twitter, or post it on Instagram (and tag Natalia and I so we can send you love!). Be sure to use the hashtags #WANTcast, #womenagainstnegativetalk, and/or #WANTyourself!

 

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5 Empowering Books By Women I Can’t Freaking Wait To Read In The New Year (Plus Two That Haven’t Even Dropped Yet!)

5 Empowering Books By Women I Can’t Freaking Wait To Read In The New Year (Plus Two That Haven’t Even Dropped Yet!)

Community Tips + Tools WANT Women Work

Last year, I did something I’ve wanted to do since I was in elementary school: I joined a book club.

 

Okay, the book club consisted of two people. One of them being me. The other being my husband.

But still. We met. We read (Gloria Steinam’s My Life On The Road, fyi). We discussed.

It was a freaking book club, okay??

 (was it really, though…)

Whether it’s multi-colored lists posted on Instagram Stories or conversations IRL, one of the most popular, most reoccurring resolutions I tend to see within my community is something so simple it feels almost silly:

Read. More. Books.

Unlike goals attached to career, success, physicality, or relationships, reading more book is one of the most non-labor-intensive goals you can achieve. All you need is basic elementary school level comprehension skills, and you’re good to go. You don’t need to invest tons of money, you don’t need help from anyone or anyTHING else – heck, you don’t even need to do anything besides literally turning a PAGE to see signs of success!

So why don’t we do it? Why, if reaching goals is so gratifying, don’t we pick up the damn book and turn the page?

Some hypotheses (and solutions) I’ve drawn:

PROBLEM: Carrying around a book. When I lived in Los Angeles, this was no excuse for not reading more books. I had a portable storage device – aka a car. I was able to lock my latest page-turner in the glove compartment, stash it under my seat, or throw it in my trunk for later. But now that I’m in NYC and walk, cab, or take the subway everywhere, my backpack space is precious. Plus, like almost everyone else…I’m a little too tethered to my phone.

SOLUTION: Read on your phone or device. If you’re short on space or don’t want to literally add to your load, “reading more” is as easy as hitting Download. I know, I know, it’s not a physical BOOK – but your goal is to read more books, not possess more books, right? I LOVE physical books – underlining, dogearing, and making sweet notes from my husband or long-ass to-do lists my makeshift bookmarks. But I also know that sometimes it’s more important to focus on the goal and not get so hung up on the ins and outs of how we get there.

PROBLEM: Reading without a goal in mind. Sometimes we think more about WHAT we’re going to read instead of WHY we’re going to read. But reading just to read is like watching a movie just to watch a movie: eventually, you’ll just zone out.

SOLUTION: Get clear on what you want your takeaways or experience to be. Do you like to learn, escape, think, discuss…or a combo of these things? We all read for different reasons. Think of the books you love most. How are they structured? How do they “sound?” Why did you love them so much? Choosing a genre isn’t enough: go one step further and look into things like the voice used (is it in first or third person? narrative or ___?) and how the book is structured.

PROBLEM: Finishing the damn thing. (there’s a that’s what she said joke somewhere in here.) Whenever I put down We get hung up on completing the task instead of taking the journey.

SOLUTION: Cut yourself some slack. What are you most likely to finish? Are you even concerned with finishing? Does “reading a book” = “finishing a book” to you? If so, cool – but then you need to choose books you’re likely to finish. Look at how the book is structured. Is it super short? Broken up into bite-sized bits or spread out over an arc? Do you prefer shorter reads, or do you like a long, winding story? Do some research, ask your local bookstore employees (they work there because they love books, after all!), and choose a read that’s not only a genre or topic you’re interested in, but a style and structure that resonates.

And…this might be a controversial stance…but if you get honest and you’re not really that tied to finishing a book, don’t let that stop you from picking it up altogether. I personally am VERY tied to finishing novels and memoirs, books I read to escape or empathize – but not research-driven or self-improvement-style books I’m reading to learn something from. That doesn’t mean I like them any less, I’ve just gotten what I need at the time and can come back later. No shame in that game!

If you’re like me and looking to up your literary game this year, grab a friend, sibling, or significant other and start your own two-person book club. Need some suggestions? Here are five books written by women I freaking can’t wait to read this year – plus two that haven’t even come out yet! – that you might like, too:

Braving The Wilderness by Brené BrownHigh priestess Brené is at it again. This time, she’s talking about what it means to truly belong – in our communities, in our organizations, in our culture – in an age of increased polarization. Brené’s style is thoughtful and witty – personal where it needs to be and academic where it needs to be. I just love her and cannot wait to dive into this one. GET IT HERE

The Power Of Meaning by Emily Esfahani SmithI first found Emily Esfahani Smith’s work last summer in Quartz. After going down the rabbit hole that is Google, I loved how most of her writing centered around the notions of success, fame, and true fulfillment. She draws on historic and literary examples as well as extensive research to answer her One Big Question: if a happy life is a meaningful life, then how do we create meaning? I’ve already started The Power Of Meaning and I’m in love. GET IT HERE

200 Women Who Will Change The Way You See The World by Geoff Blackwell + Ruth Hobday, Photography by Kieran Scott
This stunning book is half coffee table piece de resistance, half interview series. Coupled with gorgeous photography, this book features some of the most inspiring interviews from some of the most game-changing women in all fields. GET IT HERE

Extreme YOU by Sarah Robb O’Hagen
Sarah Robb O’Hagan has seen it all. From climbing the corporate ladder at places like Virgina Atlantic and Nike to becoming the CEO of Flywheel and formerly Equinox (yep, where I teach classes), she’s seen it all. Although we never got to meet in person while she was with Equinox (hi, Sarah!), I always heard wonderful things about this Wonder Woman…which is why I was THRILLED when I learned she was releasing a book sharing her badassery with us all. In Extreme YOU, Sarah dives in and digs deep on what it means to be an “Extremer” by developing ALL parts of yourself – quirks included – to hone your potential and lead a life of greatness. GET IT HERE

It’s Messy: On Boys, Boobs, and Badass Women by Amanda de Cadenet
Amanda de Cadenet was one of my main role models in my twenties when The Conversation launched, and continues to be a HUGE source of motivation and empowerment for me now (I even got to speak on a panel she led back in 2015 at SXSW). I’ve always admired her ability to connect with others, to ask the kinds of questions that exist between the lines, and to tap into the down-to-earth, beautifully flawed humanity of everyone she interviews. In It’s Messy, she’s shining that same kind of light onto herself, proving that our experiences as women are way more universal than separate. GET IT HERE

 

Feeling overachiever-y? Put these two on your reading list for later in the year when they launch:

Give A Sh*t: Do Good. Live Better. Save The Planet by Ashlee Piper
Ashlee has been featured on WANT multiple! times! and is a bona-fide badass in the eco-friendly space. You’d be cray not to sign up for pre-order.

On Being Human by Jennifer Pastiloff
Jen has been a dear friend of mine for years now and is one of my absolute favorite writers. SO excited to see this beautiful piece of work she’s been manifesting come into existence. You can bet I’ll be sharing more about this when it’s share-able – for now, keep your eyes peeled.


WANT Yourself:
What books are you looking foeard to reading this year? I’m always looking for new, exciting, fascinating books to add to my shelf (or my newly downloaded reading app)…tell me what you’re loving! Also, can I join your book club?

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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 Most Popular Posts 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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