Why I Started Uncovered Artistry

The Uncovered Artistry Project www.uncoveredartistry.com

Two years ago (has it been that long!?), I wrote a piece explaining part of my motivation for starting the Uncovered Artistry Project. The reasoning still rings true today. And there are so many words I would add (stay tuned!)! Take a moment to read the below and get a stronger understanding of why my sister and I are doing what we’re doing with our organization. And please, let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Why I Started Uncovered Artistry 

Originally published on May 10, 2012

The Uncovered Artistry Project

Several weeks ago, I saw Gloria Steinem speak. “It took 100 years for women to achieve legal equality in America,” she said, “And it will take 100 more for us to achieve social equality.” At first her statement was nothing less than despairing. I want to be a successful businesswoman, and to hear that I still face obstacles in my success is not easy to accept. But she is right. Women are not treated equally, and the worst thing we can do is say that women’s fight for liberation and equality is no longer necessary. Women my age often chose to ignore this fight. They prefer to assume that the women’s movement is a movement of their mothers from years passed. They like to think that feminism is for radicals. They like to pretend that they don’t see the signs of women’s inequality.

I started The Uncovered Artistry Project because I believe that domestic and sexual abuse has no place in our society. Abuse does not have to exist. It is a societal disease that can be cured with education, awareness, understanding, and a constantly renewing perception of humankind.

Until there is no more rape or domestic violence or other abuse against anyone (women, men, and children alike), our world is not equal. Abuse against women is enough for me to stand proudly for today’s women’s movement. My contribution to The Uncovered Artistry Project is my contribution to the struggle for equality for everyone. What is your contribution?

The Uncovered Artistry Project www.uncoveredartistry.com The Uncovered Artistry Project www.uncoveredartistry.com

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The Renaissance Women: Project Sisterhood

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“Never underestimate the power of a small group of committed people to change the world. In fact, it is the only thing that ever has.” 

-Margaret Mead

There are some courageous women in this world who decide that they have the power to make and inspire positive change. There are women who look at the world and see opportunity. Who dismiss doubt. Who realize that doing good is their duty, their responsibility, and the inevitable choice. Who build communities, become role models, and dare to stare down the world that often tells them they can’t. Because they can. Because they are the Renaissance Women.

At the Uncovered Artistry Project (the non-profit I founded four years ago with my sister), we believe in inspiring positivity. We support survivors of domestic and sexual abuse, but we also support the strength and courage that is within in every single woman. And that means sharing inspirational stories of amazing women who are doing remarkable things. So today, I’d like to start the first in a series of interviews with inspiring ladies.

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The first Renaissance Woman is a colleague of mine, TaJané Perry, founder of  Project Sisterhood. The organization strives to, “to see young girls conquer their environments and the obstacles that they present, seeing them walk with dignity, poise and confidence, being validated through themselves and God.” The organization provides mentorship, guidance, and inspiration for young women. In Taj’s own words, “I started Project Sisterhood, Inc. because I want to bridge the gap between the young girls that want better and the women that have found it.” A beautiful, ambitious mission to be sure.

Basically, the non-profit is totally right up my alley! Inspiring young women to do amazing things? Yes, please! Read on for my interview with Taj and get ready to be inspired.

1. You started Project Sisterhood while an undergrad at Georgetown. What inspired you to start the organization?

So, I guess that I can start this question by telling you about where I grew up. I’m from Las Vegas – not the glitzy, glamorous Las Vegas. I’m from the Las Vegas that no one sees when they look at the map and no one considers when they’re shaping policy that affects us. The educational system was subpar and morality [was] low. I saw a lot of young women that I went to school with end up involved in prostitution, exotic dancing and other not so legal trades. I remember thinking, ‘what happened?’. We grew up in the same place and were exposed to mainly the same opportunities and resources. At what point did our paths diverge so much as to lead me to Georgetown and them to the trades that we all swore we’d never take up? I found that for the most part, we didn’t have that many positive influences. There weren’t many women that had made it through the seductive clutter of Sin City and come back to tell their story, to tell us how. As a result, many of my peers succumbed to what our society said that they should be. I was lucky in that I was involved in several youth programs that were run by amazing women. And that’s where I saw an opportunity. I started Project Sisterhood, Inc. because I want to bridge the gap between the young girls that want better and the women that have found it. If we take the time to mentor and offer guidance to these young girls, we can inspire them to want more for their lives, to strive for more. And I think that starts with us. We have a responsibility to the future generation to pass down all of the knowledge that we’ve acquired on our respective journeys in hopes that their hardships would be lessened and their successes magnified.

2. If you had to describe yourself in one word, what would it be?

Hmmm… if I had to describe myself in one word, I guess that I would say that I’m dynamic. There are so many different pieces of me and I’m really good at compartmentalizing and dealing with one piece at a time. Because of that, I can switch very easily from one mode to another and my mind is always going 1,000 miles a minute. Sometimes, I can be all over the place. 🙂

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3. You work full time in the fashion industry while running Project Sisterhood. What are some of your strategies for staying balanced?

One of my main strategies is simply time management. I have to set time aside that is specifically for Project Sisterhood. Otherwise, I can get lost in my current position and allow it to consume me. Since I want to maintain both (and well, at that), I have to decide how to divide my time in a way that allows me to be productive in both areas. When work is going slowly, I’ll check my PS email or take care of some of that business and vice versa. It’s definitely a balancing act but definitely feasible.

4. How would describe your style? Yep, I mean fashion style!

It honestly depends on the day! I am such a mood dresser. There are days when I’m feeling spunky and I’ll pin up my hair and wear something with embellishments and there are other days (most days) when I just want a good pair of denim, a cute top and my favorite boots. I guess I keep it pretty casual.

5. Explain a bit more about the three pillars (dignity, poise, and confidence) and how you developed these three in particular.

It’s funny because the three pillars of the organization actually came as a result of a casual conversation with a friend. I was rattling off everything that I wanted PS to be and the effect that I wanted it to have on our ‘little sisters’. Those were three words that stood out in our conversation. I want every young girl to walk with Dignity, knowing who she is and what she wants out of life. I want her to carry herself with Poise, commanding respect when she walks into a room. And finally, I want her to walk with Confidence – that’s being who you are and doing so unapologetically!

6. How has Project Sisterhood evolved from its beginnings and where do you envision it going in the future?

Like any other organization, we have evolved so much from our inception. In the beginning, I wanted PS to be a solid group/community of girls that we could mentor and develop a relationship with. Eventually, though, we started to get more involved with local organizations and became more of a travelling workshop group. And I LOVED it! Reach became more important to us as an organization. It was no longer about affecting a few girls in a powerful way, it was about reaching a broader audience and still having that powerful effect. One way that we sought to do this was through our Online Magazine at ProjectSisterhood.Org. This is our medium to reach a many young girls as possible outside of our physical limitations. We still seek to partner with local organizations by visiting and conducting workshops but the monthly magazine is our main form of outreach.

In the future, I want us to be able to link girls that subscribe to our site with mentors based on some measure of compatibility. We’d also love to offer a PS Curriculum (possibly a week long program) to churches and other community organizations with similar missions. That way, though we may not be able to facilitate, the messages are still being distributed and impact made. So many goals!

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7. What advice would you give to aspiring women who want to start their own organization for change?

Do it. Stop doubting that you are worthy of such a mission and stop wondering whether or not you have what it takes to execute it effectively. If you have a passion for something, if you wake up and can think of one thing in the world that you want to change – DO IT. Start from the very beginning. Know what social impact you want to have and understand what it takes in order to get there. Take your time and allow the organization to develop as it surely will. Don’t be afraid to go after it, don’t fret when it doesn’t look exactly like you envisioned and don’t stop until you’ve made a difference.

8. How can people outside the organization get involved with Project Sisterhood?

Project Sisterhood is always looking for people to write for our monthly magazine! If you aren’t a writer and you find yourself more in need of a community impact, take PS to your local groups! We are in a phase of expansion and would love to have PS reach as many young girls as possible.

One more thing: social activism is not an option, it is a responsibility. I feel as though we live in a generation that has become indifferent to action. We are affected and offended by injustices but lack the diligence and, dare I say, attention span to react in an effective way. If something upsets you, angers you to the point of intense frustration, seek to change it! For me, that’s society’s impact on young girls and the lack of available and active mentors for them. PS is my way of attacking that issue and while it is certainly not all that it can be, it is my start, it’s my action. What’s yours?

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Be sure to check out Project Sisterhood here.

Be inspired.

Sarah

p.s. I loved Taj’s advice so much that I made an inspirational image out of it. Pin and Facebook to your content, friends! And be sure to take her words to heart.

"Stop doubting that you are worthy of such a mission." Visit miaprimcasa.com to learn about the amazing of Project Sisterhood

Best Advice I Can Think of for New Triathletes

So you want to race triahtlon? Best adivce for new triathletes on miaprimcasa.com

Triathlon Postcards

About a month ago, I competed in my first triathlon. Generally, I’m pretty relentless when it comes to researching something I’m about to seriously commit time and energy (and sweat and tears) to. When I trained for my first marathon, I read books, talked to experienced athletes, made friends with my local running shop, and otherwise drowned myself in any and all marathon knowledge. My foray into triathlon was different in only one respect: I researched even harder.

My mom is a pretty amazing athlete herself. She competed in her first half marathon this summer (having had very little prior running experience besides her training and coming away injury free- something I can’t boast at 23). Now, she says (and I plan on holding her to it!) she’s up for racing in the Finger Lakes Triathlon with me next year. So this list is for you, Mom! And anyone else who’s bold enough to tri.

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First things first:

Triathlons aren’t as intense as they seem. Not that you have to tell your friends and admirers that. I don’t mean to say that the race won’t push you to your limits (and beyond, if you let it), but that the triathlon community is actually very encouraging and supportive. There is nothing more relieving than sharing your pre-race jitters with a fellow athlete. And most are willing to relate. I got quick bike maintenance advice from a veteran Ironman and embarrassing wet suit tips (yep, I was the girl who tried putting her wet suit on inside out) from a group of young women triathletes. Nobody is there to judge you, and if you make it to the start line, you can be sure that you’ve garnered a whole hell of a lot of respect from everyone of those wet suit-glad athletes around you.

Great Reads:

From inspirational to super practical, these books were some of my best reads to jump start my training.

Triathlon 101

Triathlon 101 by John Mora

This is a great read for beginners as it breaks down just about everything you would need to know to race your first tri. It also has fairly detailed training plans for the most common tri distances, which is why I picked up the book in the first place.

Every Woman's Guide to Cycling

Every Woman’s Guide to Cycling by Selene Yeager

I recommend this book to my girl friends who are considering buying their first bike but don’t know where to begin. The author provides a great quiz and lots of details to guide you on the big purchase. She also gives lots of useful information on cycling in general (particularly with women in mind). I enjoyed reading a women’s-specifc book because, as a petite women, I felt like there might be some logistical things (like finding the right sized bike) that a more general cycling book wouldn’t provide.

Born to Run

Born to Run by Christopher McDougall

An inspirational true story of a long-hidden tribe of ultra runners and the crazy American ultra champions who decided to race them. I’ve heard this book (rightfully) called the runner’s bible. It’s informational, inspirational, motivational, and reminds runners that as focused as our sport is on the individual, we are all part of amazing community.

Eat&Run by Scott Jurek

Eat & Run by Scott Jurek

Another inspirational non-fiction read about ultra marathon champion Scott Jurek and his experience with running…and you guessed it, eating. Jurek is a vegan athlete whose dedication to personal as well as physical and athletic health is inspiring. So inspiring that I immediately went on a six mile run after finishing the book.

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Swim Drills:

The most difficult leg of the race for me (mentally, anyway), was and still is the swim. Unlike running and cycling, swimming requires you to focus relentlessly on technique and efficiency. Not that technique doesn’t matter for the other disciplines, but you can’t just expect to put hours and hours in the pool and see speed and endurance results. Swimming takes careful focus on techniques, a large part of which is breathing. I recommend taking lessons if you aren’t a strong swimmer or joining  a local swim club. Even having an experienced swimmer friend analyze your stroke is worth it!

Breath easy swimming tips and drills 

Swim drills for triathletes

Open Water Swim Wet Suits Triathlon

Open Water Swimming & Wet Suits:

It’s a good idea to practice at least one open water swim before race day. During the course of my research, I read horror stories about the massive difference between pool and open water swimming. It freaked me out considerably, since swimming in a pool was hard enough for me. I managed to squeeze in one open water swim with my wet suit in before the race and one thing I noticed: yes, open water is different, but you can do it because let’s be real, swimming in swimming. You might battle more waves, more people, and no guiding lap line in the water, but take heart that if you stick to your swim training you’re probably going to be just fine. If you can’t manage a practice swim during your training, I suggest trying to get a quick dip in the day before your race at the starting point. It’s a massive relief on the nerves to test out the waters!

And what about wet suits? My best tip: use one if you can! Wet suits provide more buoyancy in the water, which helps in swimming (obviously). It was also a relief to me to know that if I panicked in the water (which I did by the way), I could simply turn over on my back and float. I chose a sleeveless suit for my first race because I was using a rental and wanted the security of knowing I’d have free range of movement in my arms.

Choosing a triathlon wet suit

Online wet suit rentals

Buy and rent new and used wet suits from Xterra

Bike Maintenance:

For my first race, besides drowning in the swim leg, my second worst nightmare was getting  a flat tire. My local bike shop offered a class on changing a flat, during which I could change the tire on my own bike. It was the best research I could do, but I also reviewed some great informative videos to keep myself up to speed.

How to fix a flat tire

How to inflate a bike tire with CO2

Ok, now some straight up inspiration:

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Seriously, you can do it.

Related posts:

First Triathlon Highlights

My First Marathon Highlights

Running Hard, Getting Healthy, & Going (Almost) Vegan

4 Unique & Easy Ways to Style a Classic Oxford Shirt

I ran across this post by Refinery 29 and loved the concept of unique outfits based on one classic shirt. However, I didn’t feel like going out and spending money on these looks, as great as they were. Instead, I decided to create four unique looks based on a classic white Oxford shirt…using only items from my closet. All outfits are appropriate for my work place (which is admittedly very casual). It’s a fresh way to approach my closet without spending more money. I can’t wait to try them out!