It's International Women's Day (aka the best day of the year) and we're getting inspired by amazing women around us. We asked seven women, who are building lives and careers that are 100% authentic to them, about the best advice they've ever received (ever!) and how they think about their bodies and their health. Ready to soak it all in with us?
Lorena, Owner, Home Sweet Flowers
Lorena Cortez is the founder and one-woman-show behind Home Sweet Flowers. She is also a teacher, hosting everything from floral design technique to terreium classes.
The best advice I ever received was from a psychic who told me simply, “get up, get dressed, and get out into the world”. Ever since I was a little girl I've had anxiety episodes that also included depression. Many mornings in my adult life, I would wake up crying and would not want to leave my bed. She was the first one to tell me that nothing was wrong with me and that I was in control of my mind and thoughts. Sometimes the simplest words and actions can be the greatest solutions.
By knowing about my body and my health, I am able to give her the TLC she deserves. Our bodies are such gifts! We hear it often, you only get one life, one human form and it's true! I try every day to listen to my body and practice lots of self love!
In my opinion, fertility information empowers women to be actively in control of their future. I, personally, would like to have children in a few years, yet I am one of those folks who tend to just sit back and wonder and worry rather then take action."
One of my best friends told me once “worrying is meditating on bulls***” I think knowing about your fertility is a way to be proactive. It is SO refreshing to have access right at your fingertips!
Julie Barwick is a composer and pianist. Drawing inspiration from her classical and jazz background, she writes for traditional chamber music ensembles as well as non-traditional ensembles and experimental jazz groups.
My favorite two pieces of advice are; "Don’t be fearful of rejection and learn to tame excessive doubts and self-criticisms." A great way to do this is by imagining your response if those same criticisms were directed at your closest friend. You wouldn't stand for it!
Having a better understanding of my own health is absolutely essential for me to be able to focus on creating my art. For me, this means freedom from distractions of uncertainty and worry.
Because timing is so essential to our success—whether it be in our career, personal areas, or even music — fertility information can allow us to make the right decisions at the right time.
Karen, Pilates Instructor and Wellness Coach
Karen Knowlton is a Pilates Instructor at Blue Sparrow Pilates where she specializes in one-on-one training and Teacher Training. She is also a Wellness Coach, working with clients to help them uncover and release self-limiting beliefs, in order to claim big lives for themselves. You can find her writing on Medium, The Inertia, and The Canadian Women’s Foundation.
I don’t know if it was advice, per se, but I love the saying “If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.” We’re such competitive creatures that it's easy to feel intimidated or insecure when we encounter really successful or interesting people. But we should be surrounding ourselves with people we can look up to. This is how we grow. You don’t always have to be the most impressive person at the party, and if you are, you’re probably at the wrong party. I love this idea.
The older I get, the more I realize that my health is the most important asset I have. I’ve had some health challenges recently, and it’s really hit home for me that if your body is not happy, it’s almost impossible to enjoy or give proper attention to anything else in your life. We need to take care of ourselves first, especially as women, but so often our bodies and our self-care are the first things to go when we’re stressed or busy.
Being able to plan and control when we become mothers is an absolutely essential part of creating equality for women in this world. I am so grateful to have been born into a time and a place where this is possible for me. It is such a gift. Reaching my full potential as a human being and becoming a mother do not have to be mutually exclusive. This hasn’t always been true for us.
Zhen, Product Designer
Zhen Zeng is a staff product designer at Uber who has lead product design at Google, Square, Airbnb. She's also the artist behind Drawings of Two Things and the creator of the beloved, color monster.
A great piece of advice I try to remember is, "You're the only one who can truly take care of yourself." Sometimes I put the needs of my employer before mine, which has lead to things that have changed the course of my life (not always for the better). Only after receiving similar advice from several mentors did I start to prioritize my own needs.
It's important to know about my body because being healthy enables me to do the things I want, eat the things I like, and go to places that I want to see. I prefer to be overly cautious than to be aware of a serious problem too late. The last thing I want is to lose control over what's going on with my body and become frequent visitor to the hospital.
I think fertility transparency will help women make more informed decisions and be able to plan their life with more intention.
Jess, Chef and Food Educator
Jessica Lioon of Garlic Press Jess is a food educator, chef, and entrepreneur who teaches practical, craveable home cooking through in-person classes and online content.
My favorite professor told me that if you really want a job, SHOW them that you can do the work. When I realized I wanted to work in food, I discovered a company called Revolution Foods and became determined to work there. I applied this advice and sent multiple packets of work based on questions from the interviews. I did get the job and spent three amazing years working there, which set the foundation for my career in food and everything I’m doing now (and also brought me to the Bay Area). The woman who hired me later said that although she thought I might be a little crazy, it would have been crazy NOT to hire me. It just so happens that she is now my mentor and close friend. Following that advice pivoted me to where I am in my life today!
I believe that my body and my health set the foundation for anything I want to do or be; self-awareness and knowledge are crucial to this! I’m really lucky that my parents instilled in me the importance of exercise and eating well. Ultimately, I’m passionate about food because eating well is absolutely crucial to good health. Because we’ve become so distanced from where our food comes from and how it affects us, I think a lot of people live their lives not realizing how much better they could feel in their bodies if they were eating better. I want to show people that eating well through cooking can actually be a joyful part of life that also sets the foundation for good health and feeling amazing in your body.
I think my peers and I like to plan out our lives and we tend to think we can do that when it comes to creating a family, but really it’s a very unpredictable part of life. So, the more we can learn about our fertility, the better. And sooner is definitely better than later so we have more time to try to plan and prepare, as we like to do! Personally, I’ve been excited about having kids for as long as I can remember, so I’ve always wondered about my fertility. If I found out I couldn’t have kids, I would be grateful for more time to figure out my backup plan of adoption. I’m so glad that Modern Fertility exists to give us modern women more knowledge (and more time to plan and prepare)!
Meredith & Katherine, Co-founders, Ride Along
Meredith and Katherine are the co-founders of Ride Along, a civic tech startup which gives first responders the information to safely interact with people with mental illnesses, and divert them away from jails and ERs. By focusing on a small group of frequently-seen people, we can save cities $10MM+ per year.
Meredith: The advice that’s resonated with me most as a startup co-founder is, “People overestimate what they can do in a year, and underestimate what they can do in ten.” I’m someone who wants everything done now, and who’s hard on herself for missing any milestones. That wisdom reminds me that difficult work takes time, a single failure doesn’t mean total failure.
When it comes to my body (if I’m allowed to explain with the sole thing I remember from Latin class:) “Mens sana in corpore sano”: A healthy mind in a healthy body. Starting a company is stressful. I travel multiple times a month for work, which wears me down. My body tells me when I’m doing wrong by it, and I’ve had to learn to listen. I’m my best self and my best as a co-founder when I’m rested, regularly exercise, and eat well. Paying attention to my body and my health allows me to manage physically and mentally taxing work.
There’s a lot of things for modern women to keep straight! The punch list is so long. Get a job you want to go to every day, find a partner who enjoys The Great British Baking Show as much as you do, figure out what contouring is, etc.
My 20s have been a scramble to work my way down that punch list, and I know that’s true for a lot of other women as well. I’m 29 now, and this is the first year I’ve started having conversations with friends that include phrases like, “Well, since I’m planning to have my first child at 8am on May 22, 2024, I need to do XYZ now.” I’m obviously joking a bit here, but I’m serious when I say that their ability to make these plans and is essential. For all the women I know who have precise plans, there’s an equally large number whose plan to date is “worry in a couple years.”
Knowing more about personal fertility helps both of these groups. Fertility information empowers women to figure out how and when having children fits with all the other amazing things they want to do.
Katherine: It is not advice, but I try to live my life with the following quote in mind: “Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves…Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now." - Rainer Maria Rilke. It reminds me to be present, even in unknowing chaos that is both my life and running a startup. It allows me to calm down if something is out of my hands, and encourages me to investigate the questions in a grounded, way.
My body is my vessel through which I experience everything, literally. It is how I taste, see, hear, and touch the world. Keeping my body healthy is the best way to ensure that I can take care of that vessel. Additionally, sleeping well and eating well for me makes a huge difference in my mood, ability to be present, and feeling fully me. Understanding my health generally allows me to plan better for the present and future.
I am personally someone who would like to have a family one day - including biological kids. Right now, at 30, I'm single and running a startup. Understanding my personal fertility information allows me to plan for my future in an intentional way – even though I am not yet with my life partner. Fertility information is one more tool that empowers me to reach one of my lifelong goals as I look ahead.
**Soak in more wisdom from these seven women all week long on the @ModernFertility
Photos by Laila Bahman