Monthly Archives: May 2016

meet carrie: supporting sick kids in chicago through art

Carrie Spitler, Snow City Arts, People with Panache

Carrie with movie posters made for some of the kids’ films. In addition to executive director of Snow City Arts, Carrie is a community gardener, a beekeeper and a baker!

“Doctors find the illness, we find the artist.”

I’ve watched enough medical shows to feel those pangs in my heart, imagining just how strenuous and sad it must be to have a child—or be a child—experiencing an illness, especially a serious one. Snow City Arts takes an approach that I wouldn’t have expected to help sick kids stay on track with school while getting better: This nonprofit deploys a team of artists at hospitals in Chicago to work with kids on artistic, educational projects while they stay for extended treatment.

I first heard about this beautiful endeavor because of my boyfriend, Jim. Bringing his passion for music to a whole new dimension, he has served on the auxiliary board of Snow City Arts for about a year now. In support, we attended their annual Gallery Night last fall. Originally I partially agreed so I had an excuse to wear a fabulous dress, but once we got there, I was awestruck. Gallery Night showcased all of the artwork that the kids in the hospitals produce, from visual art including painting to 3D art to creative writing, video and music. All by artists under 18 years of age, the work was not only professional, it was impressive and smart, beautiful and funny and creative. I was completely blown away by the level of talent these kids have. We both were. These weren’t just kid “art projects.” Continue reading

meet carolyn: trailblazer in chicago’s financial industry

“Some of the guys thought that because I’m blonde, I was dumb. So they would talk about their trading strategy in front of me. And I would just listen and absorb everything they were saying.”

Carolyn Leonard, DyMynd, People with Panache

Carolyn’s philosophy on investing: “Diversity does go to the bottom line: all diversity – racial, gender, sexuality. If you’re looking to invest in companies that will outperform their peers, look for diversity and depth of experience in the C-suite and the board of directors.”

Way to turn lemons into lemonade and jerks into teachers, Carolyn!

In some ways, Carolyn Leonard’s story isn’t uncommon. She entered a “man’s world” and was treated brazenly unequally—but that’s where any notion of Carolyn being average ends.

Carolyn, 73-year-old entrepreneur and founder of DyMynd, says in America there are 9.2 million women-led companies with an economic impact of $3 trillion. While discrimination like she experienced keeps lingering longer than seems acceptable or necessary, we women can change it—together. And we are.

As one of the oldest entrepreneurs in the country, Carolyn is a real-life testament to facing your fears, taking risks on yourself, and never giving up. From being one of the first women to trade on the Chicago Board of Options Exchange to starting her own business four years ago at age 69, Carolyn’s story tells itself. Continue reading

alysse’s trip to africa

When I think of the best trips of my life, moments from each come to my mind in specific snapshots. I do this on purpose; in special moments, I’ll do a little sensory check-in, feeling what my feet are touching, how my skin feels, what I taste, little details of what I see, what sounds are passing by my ears. That’s how I can still vividly recall lazily floating in the ocean, the warm sea holding me as I tasted the last drops of fresh coconut water on my yoga retreat in Costa Rica. I can smell the pine needles under our tent in central Wisconsin on my first camping trip with my boyfriend. I can still see a hummingbird breathing at the speed of a fast-beating heart in its cocoon-like nest in the Amazon.

Especially since it was just two weeks ago, I can also still hear the trumpet of a teenage male elephant as he ran toward my family in a “mock charge.” My parents and I were on a safari—definitely among the very coolest weeks-and-a-half of my life—and “mock peed our pants.”

Check out a few of my favorite snapshots from my family’s trip to southern Zimbabwe and northern Botswana. Which are your favorites? Please share in the comments—I might even enter some of these into a photo contest to win my way back to Botswana! (I thought that trip would be once-in-a-lifetime, but I really, really hope I’m wrong.)

PS: If you’d like any of my photos for your own use—hello desktop backgrounds—please ask first. Include your email, and I’ll do my best to send photos promptly.

Alysse in Africa 01[ellie on the move] Continue reading

money smart week 2016 and chicago’s first feminist film festival recaps

One of my favorite things to talk about is also one of life’s most taboo topics:

Money.

Sometimes, I just want to straight-up ask people: “Hey, how much money do you make, and how did you get to that point? Is it a competitive salary in your field?” or “How do you invest your money?” or “Is 1% too high of a fee to pay for a mutual fund? How do you know that your financial advisor is legit?” I don’t want to do this because I’m nosy—it’s because, currently, everything I know about money is based solely on my own LIMITED experience.

It's the Money, Honey! panel: Terry, Kristen, Joanne and Ginny

It’s the Money, Honey! panel: Terry, Kristen, Joanne and Ginny

Although society dictates that it’s not polite to ask people such questions, money is one of life’s necessary evils. And I feel like I can never learn enough about how to earn it, grow it, save it, invest it, give it or spend it. Someday I hope to buy a condo or go to grad school or save for a future child’s college fund or help my parents in their retirement—but I can’t do any of those things if I don’t HAVE money first. That is why I was so pumped that last week was Money Smart Week 2016 in Chicago—a whole week of events put on by our good friends at the YWCA Chicago and DyMynd for the sole purpose of talking about earning, investing, spending and giving money! Continue reading