Success You Can’t See.

Success You Can’t See.

Community Most Popular Posts Motivation + Inspiration Work

Vincent Van Gogh only sold one painting in his entire lifetime. As such an iconic artist, it’s natural to assume it was one of the “greats.” Starry Night? Irises? Sunflowers? One of his many, famed self portraits? Nope – it was a golden auburn-toned piece entitled “Red Vineyard.” A depiction of farmhands harvesting crop at a wine plantation. Not the one that I, at least, would expect. His life was tumultuous, his paintings underappreciated, his world not ready for what he had to offer.

And yet…he kept painting. He kept expressing himself in the unique way he knew how.

We are so lucky he did.

I’ve been contemplating success a lot lately. What it means to succeed, who it is that determines success.

So many of us desire to be lasting or expansive, or maybe simply useful. We long to make a difference that goes beyond us or lasts way past our own existence. Whether than means a change within the four-ish walls of our apartment uniut or on a big huge global level, our sense of mortality can sometimes scare us into a scramble for success that’s visible, success we can SEE.

Whether our definition of success involves the immediate future or posthumous celebration, we want to be sure it’s gonna happen. We want to know we’re being the change we wish to see in the world.

But how do we know what is actually lasting?

When it comes to success, what is more important:
success that lasts a lifetime, success you can scale and be sure of…or success that is not shown to you directly, but is impacting the world on a level that’s beyond your awareness?

Social media and technology provide us with amazing tools to connect with and impact each other. It’s now easier than it’s ever been to gain signs and signals of our success. Whether it’s likes, shares, or just a message from a friend saying how happy they are to know you, in some ways we’re able to be hyper-aware our influence. Seeing our impact, however small, can keep us fueled and connected.

But not everyone reaches out. Not everyone is connected. And as dialed in as our culture is, in many ways the true tell-tale signs of success are old-school. You don’t always know.

And then there is the work we do in the world that we’re not necessarily recognized for. Work that, centuries from now, our society might deem revolutionary. So what’s more indicative of success: that the success materializes, or that we see its impact?

I’ve come to the conclusion that seeing our impact can be a metric of success – a symptom of and supplement to the success itself. But if we’re truly successful, there might be a whole boatload of impact we don’t see. Lives we’re never aware we touch.

And we need to be okay with that. Because lasting impact is the one thing we cannot control.

Success you can’t see is scary (“Does what I do really matter?”), but it’s also kind of empowering. Success you can’t see is what drives us to be fully and completely self-expressed, for how will we know if we don’t even try? If you’re one of those people who believes we are all put on Earth for a reason – and I for sure am one of those people who believes we are all put on Earth for a reason – then we must let ourselves fully and completely live on purpose, and look for the little signs telling us we’re doing the thing that’s in our DNA to do (or at least on the right track).

We see only one star in the dark night and confuse it for a lack of sky, when instead we should be taking it as proof that there’s a huge universe out there filled with way more stars that we can imagine.

It might be a smile from a stranger. It might be a comment on your blog or a tweet from a stranger. It might be your best friend’s child expressing gratitude, or hearing a family member repeat a word of wisdom you offered up randomly one day. Maybe at first glance they don’t seem like much, but that’s the sneaky thing about success: it shows itself in the micro moments, but the macro effects often are so big  – so many collective moments upon moments – we can’t accurately gauge what a difference we’re making. 

If you keep your eyes open and live your life to its fullest, its fullness, you will start to see signs everywhere that you’re a lasting force in this world. It’s only those people who actively choose NOT to create change that don’t.

Whether you’re far along your path or just beginning to let it live, please know and trust that what’s right in front of you is just the tip of the iceberg. A star in the sky. One painting in the collection. Simply desiring to make a difference means you’ve probably already made one.


Simply desiring to make a difference means you’ve probably already made one. Click To Tweet

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The WANT Women: Erin Bagwell on Determination, Depression, and Dreaming Big

The WANT Women: Erin Bagwell on Determination, Depression, and Dreaming Big

Community WANT Women Work

As a brand new New Yorker (well…I’m getting there!), I’m realizing now more than ever the power in the pack. Whether it’s a group of tight-knit friends or just familiar faces walking through the gym, I feel the most productive, passionate, and generaly my very best self when I am surrounded by like-minded souls. Call it a tribe, call it a community, call it whatever you want – there is so much that comes to life, both within and outside us, when we find our peeps.

For my entire adult life, I’ve been searching for that thing to call my own. When WANT was born, it was like finding a piece of myself I didn’t know was able to exist. I wanted to be a leader, but didn’t want to be my then-boss. I wanted to help women be their fullest, most actualized selves, but I didn’t want to be a “life coach.” I wanted to write, to speak, to make, to shift, but I didn’t want to be a “freelancer.” I only knew how I wanted to feel, what I wanted to shift, and why I knew I needed to do it. I was craving a space to create major change – but I didn’t know how it would come to life.

A big part of this? I wasn’t seeing or hearing stories of women like me – women who wanted to create, expand, and flourish…on their own terms.

Oh how I wish the messages and mission in Dream, Girl had been around to carry with me in my back pocket during that intense (and confusing!) period of my life.


Dream, Girl is a documentary that tells the inspiring stories of female entrepreneurs and CEOs in order to empower the next generation of girl bosses to dream bigger. It follows the stories of these amazing, ambitious women who work in everything from brand new startups to million dollar industries. The Dream, Girl mission is all about showing girls what it means to be a leader, not just telling them they can be anything they want and leaving it there.

You might remember meeting Dream, Girl’s producer Komal on the WANTcast earlier this year.

Today, just one week shy of Dream, Girl’s official premiere, we’re diving in and digging deep with Dream, Girl’s director and creator, Erin Bagwell.
I wish that more women became their own role models. - @erinebagwell, @dreamgirlfilm Click To Tweet
Erin is a feminist blogger and filmmaker from Brooklyn. After founding Feminist Wednesday, a feminist storytelling blog, and conducting numerous interviews with female founders and CEOS, she realized there was a huge gap to fill when it came to inspiring women to be bolder, bet higher, and truly blaze their own path. The idea for Dream, Girl was born – and after raising over $100K on Kickstarter in less than one month, Erin, Komal, and the Dream, Girl team were officially making moves.

Fast forward to today, and Dream, Girl has been covered by Forbes, Upworthy, The Huffington Post, Fox Business, Elle Magazine, and more. Erin and Komal have been featured by Clinique in their #smartideas campaign in partnership with TED. And if that wasn’t enough, the final product has been screened at the freaking White House – all before its official premiere at the Paris Theater in NYC on June 9th.

Watching Erin’s dream come to life has inspired me in a way I’ve never been inspired before: here is a woman around my age, who thinks like me, talks like me, and dreams like me. Here is a woman who had a seed of an idea and the bravery to put in the heavy lifting to make it blossom. Here is a woman who is badass to the bone, inclusive to the core, and maybe most importantly, believes in what is possible when we believe in not only each other, but ourselves.
My body is my center, my shell, my gift wrap, my powerhouse. -@erinebagwell, @dreamgirlfilm Click To Tweet
Being a woman is like being a part of a collective. We’re not just forces to be reckoned with, we’re leaders in our own right who are able to shift the world by working in unison. We are inherently inclusive by nature, although the society we live in sometimes seems like it would rather us exclude others and compete for space. Dream, Girl shows us our fellow women, our fellow tribemates, our fellow LEADERS, all defining their own hustle and lifting other women up with them along the way.

WANT to attend the world premiere next week? Click here for all the deets. Until then…



Name: Erin Bagwell

How you’d know me (occupation or role): Founder of Feminist Wednesday (a feminist storytelling blog powered by beavers) & the Director of Dream, Girl (the documentary showcasing the stories of inspiring and ambitious female entrepreneurs)

What I love about myself (and why): My determination and ability to get things accomplished. I don’t spend a lot of time questioning myself or why I want to do something – I just do it.

What is your definition of “positivity?” Being grateful.

When did you start to love yourself – did you have a self-love “turning point?” I’m constantly discovering and exploring self-love. I make it a practice to try to find things that inspire and keep me passionate, which gravitates me towards a lot of love.

How/where negative talk shows up in my life: When I stop doing the work and start questioning if I’m the person who should be doing it.

When I talk negatively about myself, it’s usually… About financial instability and money.

When others talk negatively about themselves… I tune it out :-p

Marie Forleo Interview 33 (1)

It baffles me that women still… Get paid less, get objectified, fear walking home at night, get genitally mutilated, become child brides, fear being a woman.

I wish that more women… Became their own role models.

The coolest thing about women is… That their stories are still waiting to be unearthed.

My favorite way to shift a negative into a positive: To be grateful for what I have.

My top female role models: My mother and my business partner Komal Minhas

Men can help women crush their negative talk patterns by… I think it depends who the man is and what his role is in her life. I think negative talk stems from a personal burden or scar that one must heal on her own, so just listening and being supportive and not judgmental would be nice?

Favorite negativity-busting activity: Meditating

Fave self-love ritual: Getting my nails done

Favorite feel-good food(s): Ramen or french fries

Favorite movie(s) to watch when I’m feeling down: Sex & the City (not a movie but my favorite thing to turn on anytime)

Favorite empowering book(s): Big Magic, The life-changing magic of tidying up

My feel-good playlist: No Nets

white house

Advice I would give my
…4 year old self: keep crushing
…14 year-old self: depression isn’t something you should be ashamed of
…24 year old self: keep looking for what inspires you

5 Things, personal or professional, on my bucket list:
– have a child
– win an oscar
– buy a house
– make a million dollars
– produce 20 films in my lifetime

My best tip on self love: Forgive yourself

When I truly love all of myself… I allow myself to have fun and be goofy

Right now, I am most excited about… FINISHING THIS MOVIE

My body is: My center, my shell, my gift wrap, my powerhouse

Three words to describe me: Creative, passionate, hard working

Current mantra: Let it go


WANT more Erin?
Attend the Dream, Girl premiere in NYC

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The WANTcast Episode 001: On Creative Depression + Facing Your Fears with Artist Delia Brown

The WANTcast Episode 001: On Creative Depression + Facing Your Fears with Artist Delia Brown

Body Community the WANTcast

I cannot think of a better guest for the first WANTcast (if you want to read a little bit about the pod’s launch, click over to this page).

When I was younger, I thought I was going to be an artist. Not in the esoteric, all-inclusive way. The drawing and painting way. I studied the classics in art class every Saturday morning, copying Monets, Manets, and Reniors, wondering if I could ever grow up to be like them.

As I grew older, I realized I didn’t know what that looked like as a profession in a time other than the 1800s. I didn’t have role models. And so that desire just…faded away.

I first met Delia Brown a couple years ago when she became an indoor cycling teacher at Equinox, and was instantly drawn to her down to earth, inclusive, sassy but soulful personality.

As I got to know her, these little pieces of information started to surface… Like the fact that she rapped. Or that she swam in the ocean every morning.

Or that she was literally a famous artist.

Like will-be-in-art-history-books famous. Like the-kind-of-famous-I-wanted-to-be-as-a-painter. Like, BIG TIME fame.

(She’d never admit to it so blatantly, of course. But I like to brag about her talent. So yes. Big time.)

Earlier this year, something else surfaced: that she had been diagnosed with, in her words, a pretty gnarly strain of cancer.

In this episode, Delia she talks about falling into a creative depression that lasted years, doing things because they’re scary, finding role models that reflect who you know you can be, and – of course – her rap career (she opened for Wu Tang Clan, now writes/performs wonderfully hilarious parodies on YouTube), her Real Housewives project, and her appearance on one of her fave Daytime TV soaps.

We also, of course, talk about the Big C – and why she actually doesn’t wish she “didn’t have to deal with it.”

If you are into living life to the fullest – yes, I‘m going to be that general – this episode is for you. I love her and I know you will too.


Play in new window | Download
Listen + subscribe in iTunes
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WANT more? Come back on Thursday for Delia’s WANT Woman spotlight…

Show notes:
Delia’s blog
(+ blog entry “Chemo Is Done, Boo-Ya-Ka”)
The Fuzz demo tape from 1993 on SoundCloud

Delia on The Young & The Restless
Rap parodies: (These Hoes Ain’t) Lawyers, Whole Foods Parking Lot rap response: Revenge of the Black Prius
Information on uterine papillary serous carcinoma
Donate to support rare cancer research at Memorial Sloan-Kettering
Theme by Christopher Given Harrison
Jessica Murnane of One Part Podcast

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Like this episode? Shoot me a comment below, leave a review on iTunes (the more reviews, the more Delia’s message is spread), share it on Facebook, tweet it out on Twitter, or post it on Instagram. Be sure to use the hashtags #WANTcast, #womenagainstnegativetalk, and/or #WANTyourself!
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photo credit: Wallpaper Magazine

#WANTwisdom: A Pragmatically Positive Guide For Writers + Creatives

#WANTwisdom: A Pragmatically Positive Guide For Writers + Creatives

Tips + Tools Work

Hey WANT peeps!

A weekend post – kind of fun and unexpected, right? I hope you’re sitting back and relaxing today, soaking in the last few hours before Monday rolls around.

I know that for me, Sundays are a time of very focused, grounded reflection and creativity, They’re when I get my best ideas, and when I’m able to look at the week (sometimes month, if I’m being ambitious) ahead with clear eyes and a soft gaze. Sundays are for me to reflect on who I am and who I want to be.

photo: creative start
photo: creative start

This week, I got to jam with Kit Steinkellner – an award-winning playwright and screenwriter who is also currently an editor at Hello Giggles.

Kit has been celebrated for so much in such a relatively short amount of time – a breadth of work some people take a lifetime to accomplish, she’s done before 30. She’s an inspiration to me and to so many other writers, not just because of her external success, but because of her relatable voice and special way of looking at the world. (if you haven’t read her interview yet, check it out here)

Humble, pragmatic, and spot-on, I asked Kit to share her five best pieces of advice for aspiring writers – which, honestly, can apply to anyone. Here’s what she said:

ON ART AND BUSINESS: Work on being the best artist you can be and the best salesman you can be. It’s 2015, you need to be both, but please try not to get the two mixed up.

ON SPEAKING TO YOUR AUDIENCE: Write the book you want to read, the movie you want to see, the story you want to hear.

ON THE STRUGGLE: Every writer you love to pieces had a hard time. It’s okay to struggle. You’re in good company.

ON PREDICTING THE TRENDS: Do not worry about the marketplace. The world doesn’t know what it wants next.

ON WHAT YOU CAN CONTROL: You can’t control whether or not someone will like your work. Here are some things you can control: working hard, showing up on time, being kind, writing thank you notes whenever you get help.

I know, for me, I sometimes forget that “the struggle” is universal – we hear stories about the tough times, long hours, and writers block after the fact instead of when people are still in it. It can be tough to remind yourself that where you are is exactly where so many have been – and frankly, probably still are, just in a different incarnation.

A few things that help me stay productive and focused on a positive, forward moving direction?

A JOURNAL OR NOTEBOOK YOU LOVE. I’ve been through so many notebooks and journals and then given up on them because they’re what works for someone else, not for me. You’ve got to find what works for you. I know that mini-notebooks aren’y my thing, and neither are clean, blank pages. I’ve got a hard-cover, ruled Moleskine I adore, though. Sure it’s a bit more difficult to fit into my purse and a bit heavier than your average paperback version. But I actually love that it’s a bit more substantial, that it’s got lines to help me put structure to my sentences and ideas, and how its neat little elastic band prevents it from flailing open and pages getting smushed (if Moleskines are your thing, you can get your own for a pretty reasonable price here).

Moleskin notes + papers I've stuffed between pages.  Also, good reminder - no need to get too tied to labels when it comes to your work. Life is meant to be full and varied. Be it ALL.
Moleskin notes + papers I’ve stuffed between pages. Also, good reminder – no need to get too tied to labels when it comes to your work. Life is meant to be full and varied. Be it ALL.

STRUCTURE + RHYTHM. No one but you needs to know about this one – but having a sense of structure and rhythm are key to your sanity and follow-through, no matter what creative work you’re doing. When I feel at a loss for good ideas or (on the opposite end of the spectrum) completely scatterbrained, I come back to my core principles of WANT and the way I’ve structures a typical WANT week/month.
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If a calendar system helps you, great! (I personally use a combination of 30 Boxes, a big ol’ desk calendar, and my Google Cal – did you know that you can get G-Cal to text you before a big event or to-do?) But even just a general sense of what kinds of things you’re producing and when you let each of them live is a lifesaver in those rough patches.

ENGAGEMENT + INTUITION. If you’re doing something creative and actually putting it out into the world, get a keen sense of how you can be of service. Like Kit said, the world doesn’t know what it wants next, and there’s no use trying to be everything to everyone or predict what’s going to be trending next. However. you can take a look at how people are responding to your work, exactly what they are responding to, and analyze the “why” behind it.
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How are you connecting with the core of someone else’s being? What about you is striking a chord in others? There is something unique about you that resonates with others. Even when you think you have an idea of it, keep digging. Keep searching. It’s the quest for connection and purpose – and how you engage in the process – that will keep you authentic no matter what the marketplace says it wants. Because the secret, I think, is that it just wants to connect.
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WANT Action Plan:
What helps you stay productive? Any genius finds or strategies I (and we!) need to know about?

The WANT Women: Kit Steinkellner On Great Art, Great Butts, And Saving The Human Race

The WANT Women: Kit Steinkellner On Great Art, Great Butts, And Saving The Human Race

WANT Women

As a writer – and heck, as a member of the female species – strong female characters in all forms of entertainment have always appealed to me.

From the Narrator who ran the entire show in Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, to Joan Holloway-Harris and Betty Draper, to the latest happenings in the Kardashian world, there’s something about how women are written (and written about) that can invoke a strong gut reaction from other women.

Writers expose us to these ladies – some of them characters, some real humans – and whether they realize it or not, are able to band us together or tear us further apart. How many times have you cringed at the headline of US Weekly, or high fived yourself when your on-screen girl crush finally expresses herself eloquently and effectively? Whether they’re characters in a play or real-life women on the street, it’s the writers of the world who are able to convey their stories in a way that speaks to the rest of us.

When Kit Steinkellner gave me her answers to this WANT spotlight, I had to giggle (no pun intended, see two sentences from now). Because reading it, you’d never know the Grand-Canyon-wide breadth of success this woman has had and how much she is leading the way for the next wave of young artists – specifically, writers.

Kit is an award-winning playwright and screenwriter, an editor at Hello Giggles (there it is), a webcomic author, and a writer on pretty much every site you probably already read and love. As a playwright/screenwriter, Kit has been applauded by New York Times, LA Times, LA Weekly, and Backstage for her work both Off-Broadway and here in Los Angeles – and as Hello Giggles’ weekend editor, she’s responsible for (what I believe to be) some of the most thought-provoking, girl-powered pieces on the site (saying a lot, since Hello Giggles is pretty much all women-are-awesome).

After a dozen-hundred times clicking on links that intrigued me and fist-pumping by the last line, I finally stopped being surprised by the fact that all my favorite pieces had Kit’s name in the byline; that it was Kit who giving the strong, positive voice to the issues we want to be talking about, as women and as humans. She’s looking at the world though a rose-colored lens, writing topically but never cynically, championing the women leading the way – and offering empathy towards the women who are just trying to figure it all out.
We're a sisterhood. We have to act like

There are so many gems in this WANT Woman spotlight, but two in particular stood out to me: One, the genius negativity-busting tactic she and her husband use to crack a smile (I know I’ll be trying this one at home). Two, her unique take on judgement. I do think it’s in human nature to judge, even just a little, and we can’t ignore that impulse or berate ourselves for thinking we’re horrible people for doing so. But, as Kit so eloquently and succinctly expresses, we can take a solid look at exactly what we are judging in others and why. (there’s also the part about her booty, which is kind of the best side note ever.)

With every woman she writes or writes about, Kit speaks with a voice of aware compassion. She cheering the successes and pointing out role model material; she’s not ignoring the flaws and shortcomings but not tearing them down, either. Kit is telling the stories we want to hear, need to hear, and ultimately, are a little bit of our own, too.


Name: Kit Steinkellner

How you’d know me: Most people on the internet know me from Hello Giggles, where I am a staff writer and weekend editor.

What I love about myself: I try to be the things I most admire in other people: thoughtful, kind, driven, generous, daring, and resilient. I also think I have a pretty decent sense of humor, at least I make myself laugh. Plus, my butt belongs in a music video.

What is your definition of “positivity?” Believing that it’s possible to change your situation and that you are enough of a warrior princess to make it all happen for yourself. Reading inspirational quotes and going “Totally” instead of “Ugh.”
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When did you start to love yourself – did you have a self-love turning point? Oh man, I hate to say “It was a man” because that goes against a lot of what I– whatever, that’s what happened, I met my now-husband and he thought I was so great and I thought he was so smart, and if he was smart and he thought I was great… I just decided to go with the math and start thinking I was great.

How/where negative talk shows up in my life: Basically what’ll happen is I’ll be with someone who’s insecure about their body/career/whatever, and they’ll start giving a voice to those freaked out monsters and rope me in and try to turn it into a self-loathing jamboree, because misery loves company. It’s usually someone looking for validation or a place to vent, which makes sense…but insecurity is so contagious. They really need to invent a flu shot for that.
We're a sisterhood. We have to act like (1)

When I talk negatively about myself it’s usually because… I think that’s what the outside world is thinking about me and I want to say it first so it doesn’t sound like I’m oblivious to my many failings.

It baffles me that women still: Undermine each other and look at one another as competition (if not outright enemies) as opposed to members of the same team. We’re a sisterhood! We have to act like it!

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I wish that more women… judged other women harshly for not being kind and generous instead of what we do judge women for: image stuff, relationship stuff, baby stuff. Can you imagine what it would be like if we put the peer pressure on other women to just be better people? We’d save the human race.

My top female role models: My mom and my sister, always and forever. And all the lady writers I’m obsessed with: Cheryl Strayed, Joan Didion, Anne Lamott, Mary Karr in print, Shonda Rhimes, Jenji Kohan, Lena Dunham, Mindy Kaling making it happen on TV.

Favorite negativity-busting activity: Sleep. No joke, EVERYTHING is better after a good night’s sleep or a nap. Also buying myself presents. Also making someone that loves me (usually my husband) say nice things to me; I’ll give him a number like 3 or 5 and he’ll have to say that many nice things about me (I totally do this for him, too). Not only is it really awesome hearing someone say nice things about you, but the whole idea of forcing someone to give you compliments is so ridiculous you just end up laughing about the whole thing for like an hour and then you’re like “Wait, what was I feeling bad about again? F—, I can’t remember. Oh well, what’s on Netflix?”
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Favorite self-love ritual: Going to a bookstore/the movies/ the theater, and giving myself the gift of great art.

Favorite movies to watch when I feel down: Anything I liked when I was, like, twelve years old: Never Been Kissed, Titanic, Ever After, 13 Going On 30 (that came out a little later, but whatevs)

Favorite empowering books: Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed taught me everything I know. Also The Velveteen Rabbit.

Advice I would give my…
…4 year old self: Someday you will grow up and then you will be able to eat all the cake batter you wish, so be patient, your time will come.
…14 year old self: All your future friends are having a really rough time right now soon, stay strong and wait a decade, your group is waiting for you.
…24 year old self: You don’t need to be a wunderkind. You need to be a good person. Stop stressing about your career and start stressing about being a worthy member of the human race.

5 things on my bucket list:
1.) Have a job where I get to be the boss and I employ all my friends
2.) Have lots of international adventures
3.) Make a big, splashy, worthy contribution to the world of art and storytelling
4.) Be a known art yente who makes lots of awesome creative-world matches (and I would be TOTALLY cool with being responsible for a couple of weddings to boot)
5.) Dye my hair more colors.

Right now I am most excited about: Art and adventures, always art and adventures.

My body is: so awesome, it is keeping me alive right now – thank you!

Three words to describe myself: fragile and unbreakable

Current mantra: “Plan A, Plan B, Plan C, Plan D, Plan E, Plan F, Plan G…”

Find Kit on Twitter at @booksaremybfs

WANT Yourself:
Who are the women, real or fictional, you admire but have only read about?
(or, in the case of characters in TV shows and movies, watched onscreen?)
What about the way they’ve been written, or written about, makes you love them?