Category Archives: Inspiring Women


inspiring women, part 12

Hi queens! I’m super excited to share with you another interview in my Inspiring Women series. Today, I’m sharing Katie Den Ouden’s story with you. I discovered Katie’s magic originally on Twitter and I’m constantly inspired by her positive spirit and encouragement she spreads online {and no doubt in person!}. She is a Denver-based Soul & Life coach, blogger and spirit who has made it her mission to help women live their best life ever – all with a focus on joy {my favorite!}. Plus, that flower crown photo! The cutest. You can follow her blog, Twitter and Facebook for more too! I’m thankful she took the time to answer a few questions for me that hopefully inspire and encourage you today. xo!

Read more stories from inspiring women on Polish My Crown here.

What story is your life telling right now, today?

My current story of adventure: the essence of stepping into and owning my full and true womanhood. While I’m nearing the end of my 20s and a decade of so much growth, insight, and becoming…it wasn’t until very recently that the true essence of womanhood started speaking to me. Calling me. Welcoming me. (And no, I’m not pregnant nor do I have kids:)).

Since a young age I’ve experienced life events before many of my peers – parental divorce, caring for a mother with multiple sclerosis, the prospect of death several times, self-sufficiency by the age of 8 and more. Many of these may be “adult-like” in nature…but, today, right now, I am truly learning they are not real womanhood for me.

Womanhood, for me, is the path of owning my genius, gifts, strength, wisdom, wild and untamed-ness, desires, full story, contagious joy, vulnerabilities, playfulness, intuition, and power at a level that I’ve never experienced before. It is profound, scary, and exhilarating all at the same time. And, it’s through this that I am holding the space more tenderly, fiercely, and lovingly for other women to do the same. It’s an honor that I never knew I could experience.

It’s hard to describe in words…can I just let you hang out in my heart for a bit and feel it? :)

What woman inspires you and why?

Right now I’ve been mega inspired by (and girl-crushing on) Amal Alamuddin. Yes, I know that feels a little cliché to me as well since she’s engaged to Mr. George Clooney… but man, this woman is single-handedly impacting the world through her brilliance, defense of important social justice issues, and her killer beauty, poise, and style. While I’ve simply managed to conjure up an idea of who Amal is (basically what I desire at my core and impose it on her J), the inspiration to “have it all” and“change the world” calls to me. I do not desire to “have it all” based on what magazines or society tells me, but the “all” that my souls longs for…to live with purpose, presence, joy, freedom, empowerment for others and a good dose of style and true beauty.

What are three things you’re thankful for?

1) The women in my life. I am surrounded by some of the smartest, most awakened, most alive and vibrant woman who not only support me but stretch me into the highest and truest version of myself…allowing me to give my gifts and genius to the world and literally create the ripple effect of change >>> joy, freedom and truly LIVING. They know my weaknesses, secrets, AND genius and they champion me on like no other.

2) Uncovering, pursuing and living a “career” that fills my soul on a daily basis… I call it my purpose (at least for this point in my life).

3) My family. They keep me laughing, loving, and grounded.

What’s one lesson you’ve learned that you can share with Polish My Crown readers?

We MUST embrace ownership of our lives, fully. Meaning that the entire way we feel and experience our lives is our responsibility – no one else. I call this radical responsibility and the day we acknowledge this and take action…guidance, freedom, joy, abundance and more will flow like no other. We have the power to shape our experience of life – don’t give someone else that power.

Women who allow themselves to have a direct experience with their life, who allow themselves to fully experience their feelings, sensations, moments, intuition, and desires – meaning what they desire, why they desire it, and making sure it is in alignment with their actions and values – are freaking world changers – in the best way possible. We have the opportunity to create ripple effects every day of contagious joy…it’s your choice. It’s your responsibility.

Design your life. Do not default into someone else’s desires. The world needs the true and full you. I need YOU.

Oh, and choose joy, daily. xo :)


inspiring women, part 11

Hi friends! Happy Monday! If anyone finds the cure to why weekends fly back and weekdays seem to drag on, please let me know. Anyway, I am so excited to continue my Inspiring Women series today and feature my lovely friend Stephanie! Stephanie is a Twitter-friend-turned-real-life-friend who is full of curiosity and optimism. I remember talking to her on the phone over two years ago on a Saturday afternoon and she was talking about how she wanted to find a new job and more importantly, move to New York City. Fast forward to now and she’s been living in NYC for two years, has a new job that she loves {at my same company!} and is completely in love with her new life. She’s a real life example of how important it is to step out into the unknown and try new things. I’m super thankful for her and hope you are inspired by her words today. Follow her adventures on Twitter @stephanieflo. xo!

What story is your life telling right now, today?

My current life story has been very family focused around weddings. I say that because my brother and sister were recently each married six weeks apart! Plane rides home to Chicago, events, dresses and even playing videographer for one has consumed my life. I am so excited for the new adventure each of my siblings has begun because I know they have both chosen the perfect partner in crime. Throughout the planning process and during the events, many people asked when I’d be taking that walk down the aisle (just another six weeks, right?). Rather than panic at my single status, what I’ve learned is that it’s okay to be on a different life path. And that path has brought me to New York City where I feel constantly challenged and more alive than I ever thought possible.

What woman inspires you and why?

My mom inspires me. She has been teaching kindergarten for more than 30 years (at the grammar school she attended!). She’s gone on to teach the children of former students and everyone (even, grown men) call her “Mrs. Kathy.” She’s a fixture in the community and I admire her patience and dedication to impacting so many lives with the gift of education.

What are three things you’re thankful for?

Every night I take a quick look outside my window at the Woolworth Building (one of the oldest in the U.S.) and think how thankful I am that I get to wake up, again, in New York City.

I’m thankful to be a 20-something contributor to the 40:20 Vision. This is a blog where I read new perspectives daily. In this community 40-somethings share their advice and what they wish they’d known with still learning 20-somethings. From professional aspirations to relationship woes and everything in between the 40:20 Vision is relatable and motivating for readers of any age.

More than anything I’m thankful for the support of my family and friends – the ones nearby and the ones states away. When I said I wanted to move to New York City people didn’t believe me – after all, I was homesick while living two hours away during college. Those closest to me soon realized I meant business and offered their complete support. Their phone calls, letters, emails and visits keep me totally connected.

What’s one lesson you’ve learned that you can share with Polish My Crown readers?

Face your fears head on. For 25 years I had never lived outside the state of Illinois. I had big dreams, but was so afraid of them that I was practically decorating the walls of my comfort zone – because I thought that’s all I would ever know. After moving to New York City I am a more determined person who knows fears do not define you.


inspiring women, part 10

can i just say AGAIN how awesome it is to be surrounded by {whether in real life or in the blogging world} by inspiring, loving women living their lives in the best way they can? sometimes i look around at my friends or read a beautiful piece online and just think – wow. it’s like a double bonus when i read someone’s words online and then get to experience it all in action in person. savannah is one of those friends who lets me do just that. she’s full of energy and joy and always on the lookout for inspiration, which is something i really admire in people. she also recently launched her insanely cool blog grace-made so definitely check it out! one of my favorite posts she shared was about how she was marking 2014 with courageousness and bravery. i’m thrilled to share a few words from her today on my blog for my inspiring women series.

thanks sav! xo

what story is your life telling right now, today?
Change is becoming a constant theme. I think I’m just more receptive to it, lately. Things seem to be evolving rapidly, I’m more willing than ever to step away from my comfort zone, and I’m chasing my passions with an energy that I’ve never experienced before. On the cusp of 24 years, I’m finally realizing what’s most important. I think the key to this story is a renewed hunger for growth. I’m now looking for ways to improve even the small things in each day. My most recent little improvement — cycling to work. I never want to ride MUNI again!

what woman inspires you and why?
Right now, I’m extremely inspired by Brené Brown. I think I’m a little late for the boat on this one, but I just watched her TED Talk, “The power of vulnerability,” last week. The 20-minute clip is easily one of the most inspiring and empowering talks I’ve ever heard. Her ideas on courage, vulnerability, and authenticity absolutely blow my mind. During my reflections before the new year, I became obsessed with thoughts of courage and bravery. This TED Talk was exactly what I needed to hear! During her talk, Brené discusses the root of courage. Basically, the original definition of courage is to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart. She found that the people who are living their lives wholeheartedly (+ to the fullest) are the ones with the courage to be imperfect – the ones who embrace vulnerability. If you haven’t listened yet – do it now!

what are three things you’re thankful for?
my family & friends – it doesn’t matter what life throws at me, they’re always there and they always love me.
podcasts – unlimited inspiring listening during my day!
my brand new bicycle – my legs are alive!

what’s one lesson you’ve learned that you can share with polish my crown readers?
I just finished reading an incredible book called Creative Confidence! It’s one of the best “design books” I’ve ever read. I collected so many valuable little bits of knowledge and lessons on cultivating creativity. Basically, the Kelley brothers (founders of IDEO) argue that everyone is innately creative. It’s a choice – and we’re all born with the ability! I’m an artistic person, but everyone can benefit from this book. It’s given me a renewed perspective on design and I now recommend it to people all of the time!


inspiring women, part 9

Happy Wednesday! I’m excited to continue my Inspiring Women series and feature the amazing Rayne. Rayne is a blogger that I met through the 8 Women Dream network when I guest posted on the site back in 2011. When I first was offered a job in SF, I emailed the 8WD group asking for their advice and Rayne graciously offered to let me stay in her home north of San Francisco. She picked up clueless, Midwest-born me from the airport and I lived with her and her husband for a month, THEN she helped me find my first apartment. She truly taught me the California ropes and helped me learn everything from where to go in San Francisco to the best wineries to visit {hint: there are in Sonoma, NOT Napa!} I am so thankful for her generosity, her encouragement and for the way she took me under her wing when I first moved. We still are very good friends. She recently released her first book Toxic Mom Toolkit, where she shares her memoir and practical advice on how to deal with toxic parenting. She’s fostered an online community and conversation on Facebook as well. While I wouldn’t describe my own mom as toxic at all, I find a lot of inspiration and advice from her community – highly recommend you check it out. I hope you’re as inspired by her words today as I am. xo

PS – funny story about Rayne. While we were driving back from my birthday weekend, we stopped in Petaluma to grab a coffee. Rayne was sitting there in the cafe at the same time we walked in. Love when that happens!

1. What story is your life telling right now, today?

With the publication of my first book, Toxic Mom Toolkit, my life is all about pursuing your dreams and helping others. My book includes my memoir and the voices of other women who, like me, managed to grow up sane and happy despite having super toxic mothers. My life proves that owning what you know, getting over your fears and helping others creates an invinsible platform for growth.

2. What woman inspires you and why?

Every woman who posts on Toxic Mom Toolkit on Facebook inspires me. It is in telling our most personal stories about the struggle to create a happy life, that we truly help others.

3. What are three things you’re thankful for?

I am grateful each day for the opportunity to do good, to be kind to others and myself. And bacon.

4. What’s one lesson you’ve learned that you can share with Polish My Crown readers?

I was that kid who didn’t excel at anything. I was cross-eyed and clumsy. As an adult, I had little jobs in odd places until I began writing. The best way to describe how writing changed my life is to say that I always felt like a nice little duck living in the Sahara desert. Yes, camels and snakes are nice, but we didn’t have a lot in common. I was often tired and confused by my life. But then I signed up for a writing class and suddenlyit was as if I fell from the sky into Lake Tahoe and I knew how to SWIM! There were other, friendly, hilarious, encouraging ducks and we flocked together and built our literary nests and I knew I was where I belonged – writing. When I became a newspaper reporter, every day was an adventure, even if I was only covering a grocery store opening. I always thought I’d like to write a book, but I promised myself I would only do so when I identified a topic I knew more about than just about anyone else and it had to be something I was super passionate about. The funny part was, my topic – surviving toxic parenting – was something I hid for most of my life. It was only in gaining perspective through being a reporter and volunteering as a law enforcement chaplain that I finally realized by speaking my truth on my topic I could help others. The lesson of my life is to stand back and open your eyes. What do you know better than most people? THAT’s your strong suit, your wheel house, your area of expertise. Owning that realization is the beginning of turning any shame inducing negative into a glorious positive.


inspiring women, part 8

I’m excited to continue my Inspiring Women series and feature the lovely Clare from Fitting It All In today. I discovered her blog through the wonderful interwebs and Twitter and was thrilled to add her to my must-read blog list! I love what her About page says: “I love sharing my experiences and things I learn, but am by no means an expert on anything. I’m figuring it all out as I go.” Follow her adventures on Twitter at @fittingitallin.
Read more posts from my Inspiring Women series here!
1. What story is your life telling you today?
My story is one of new beginnings. In the past year I’ve made huge changes in many areas of my life. I quit my previous job in marketing and am back in school to become a doctor. I finally made the decision to put my health first and let go of lingering anorexia issues. I moved cities, started a new relationship, and have an entirely new, exciting life in front of me. I am in no way where I thought I’d be at 26, but I am happier than ever and exciting about the future.

2. What woman inspires you and why?
My mother. She is my absolute hero. My mom is an incredibly passionate pediatrician, yet somehow found the time to volunteer, take care of the house, raise three kids, and make dinners every night. I admire how much she enjoys her job as an adolescent medicine specialist, and her love for her career is part of what inspired me to make a career change toward medicine as well. I hope to be half the loving, fun, smart woman that my mother is.

3. What are three things you’re thankful for.
My health.  I am so grateful to have made great strides in  recovery and not have any lasting effects of my previous anorexia. My health has given me my vibrancy and energy back, and I do not take it for granted.
Wonderful friends that help me be a stronger, better, more loving person every day.

4. What is one lesson you’ve learned that you can share with Polish My Crown readers?
Opening up about things that I struggle with and making myself vulnerable has been one of the most beneficial, scary things I’ve ever done. I believe that hiding our issues only makes them appear shameful and embarrassing, and sharing your story can help others relate and find encouragement. I have made so many friends, met so many incredibly people, and been given many opportunities because of honesty about my struggle with eating and mental health.


Inspiring Women, Part 6

I discovered Natalie‘s insanely awesome blog a few months ago and it’s quickly turned into one of my favorites to read daily. Her site, Thoughts by Natalie, is a go-to source for inspiration, whether related to style, travel, body image and self love and just about everything else. Her #choosebeauty link-up is so encouraging, as Natalie brings together passionate women each week to share their stories about self-esteem, body image and beauty that flows from the inside out. I couldn’t be happier to feature her as a part of my Inspiring Women series and think you’ll love what she has to say. Thanks, Natalie! xo

Follow her adventures on Instagram and Twitter too!

1. What story is your life telling you today?
That the important things need to take priority over the urgent things. I wrote about this recently, and it is certainly the theme of my life lately—I left a pretty cool job for the sake of investing more in my marriage, my community, my writing and creative work in general. I’m so quick to focus on urgent tasks, because I love to check things off my list. But when life is all about to-do lists and minor accomplishments, I miss out on the things that really matter—quality time with my husband and dear friends, quiet time to read and fill my soul with inspiration, a trip to the park with my sweet and scruffy dog Maggie, a trail run that fills my day with energy, or an hour of focused writing at my favorite coffee shop. Yes, urgent things still need to get done. But I should make important things my focus and my top priority, or I fear I’ll have a lot of regrets by the end of this life!

2. What woman inspires you and why?
I’m inspired by so many women in my life, but I suppose at the moment I’m feeling inspired by Brené Brown. I’ve been reading her newest book, Daring Greatly, and have probably highlighted every other sentence. She is brilliant, funny, honest, and of course, vulnerable. She is teaching me so much about what it looks like to live an authentic, wholehearted, fulfilled life.

3. What are three things you’re thankful for?
My family, friends who are like family, and the season of fall :)

4. What’s one lesson you’ve learned that you can share with Polish My Crown readers?
Beauty is more than what we look like. I feel like it’s my mission in life to unpack lies we’ve been told about beauty and how that relates to our identity and worth. I personally yearn for beauty in my life, but I often see that play out through self-criticism, feelings of not being good enough or comparison. That being said, more and more I see that my yearning for beauty is God-given, and that I simply have the definition of beauty mixed up in my head. Beauty is about who we are and how we interact with the world around us. It has to do with character qualities, not external appearances. Each year I learn more and more about true and lasting beauty, but for now I know one thing to be true: we need to change the conversation our culture is having about beauty and start living lives that are truly, authentically beautiful ourselves.


Inspiring Women, Part 5

I’m excited to continue the Inspiring Women series today by featuring the amazing Julie Barrio Santiago! Julie is a health and happiness coach that I connected with through Claudine. I’m inspired by and thankful for her optimistic attitude and approach to life and I hope you enjoy her wise words. Check out her website here. xo

what story is your life telling right now, today?
It’s all about happiness…are you willing to DARE to be outrageously happy? Life is much easier than we think it is and I’m finally realizing that life is truly about allowing in the goodness. Most women were raised to believe that things need to be hard (work hard, play hard, push through, go, do, then go do some more). We also picked up on a lot of “shoulds” and “ought tos”. Many powerful, awesome women wake up and realize that they are living someone else’s version of their life. I, too, used to be one of those women. My new story stands for possibility. Endless, unlimited possibilities of truth, connection, community and outrageous happiness.

Are you willing to let go of control just a little bit to allow the magic in? The truth is that we write our own stories but we must let go of the reigns in order to pick up the pen and start writing.

what woman inspires you and why?
Oh there is such a long list. Currently, I am most inspired by Anne Frank. She’s a woman with unbelievable courage, vision and unwavering positivity in the face of unimaginable sadness. She continues to remind me of the power of the thoughts we choose to think. “Despite everything, I believe that people are really good at heart.” -Anne Frank

what are three things you’re thankful for?
1) I’m thankful I had the opportunity to live and work with children in a poor neighborhood in South America. Seeing the sheer joy of children in the face of dire poverty is something I always carry with me. The memory constantly reminds me of how simple life can be and how blessed we are for the simpliest things like toothbrushes, a warm meal and 4 walls for shelter.
2) I’m thankful for music with awesome drum beats that makes me want to dance like a crazy person.
3) I’m thankful for apples…I don’t know why but I could eat them all the time.

whats one lesson you’ve learned that you can share w readers?
“A lot of disappointed people have been left standing on the street corner waiting for the bus marked “Perfection.” –Donald Kennedy

As a recovering perfectionist, I understand what it feels like to desire everything to be JUST right and totally awesome before we move forward. So we wait and we wait and we wait…and it means we just keep waiting! There is no “just” right or perfect. You’ll always be able to find something you can pick apart, something you don’t like. The challenge is…can you be okay with things as is? Can you move forward anyways? Can you stop waiting for the bus marked “Perfection” and get on the bus marked “Your Future”? The ride might be bumpy, but it will be REAL and completely awesome.