RuPaul, Cher, and You: The Badass Gospel of Drag

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I spent a lot of time watching music channels as a kid and weirdly, VH1 was probably my favorite. Weirdly because VH1 was always sort of MTV’s uncool dad, or at best, slightly out of touch uncle. I liked VH1 because they played videos from Lilith Fair, Sarah McLachlan songs always made it onto their top twenty, and mostly because they played reruns of both the Sonny and Cher (good) and Cher (perfection) shows, and also hosted The RuPaul Show. These were weird things for a kid to like, but they made sense to me in a way a lot of things didn’t.

Both Cher and RuPaul were unspeakably glamorous, dripping rhinestones and sequins, donning long, spidery, fake lashes, tottering around on heels at what seemed impossible heights (I was shocked to find out Cher was only around 5’6″; I had always assumed she must be nearly six feet tall). They were also, though, in on the joke. “Isn’t all this ridiculous?” they seemed to say, at times literally flipping their shiny hair and flicking their thin wrists. “Isn’t this just the silliest thing you’ve ever seen?”

The “this” and the “thing” seemed to be the very thing that gave them their glamor: a supersaturated, hyper-real version of femininity. Femininity to the tenth power. Femininity plus. They were both funny and sarcastic and whip-smart, and you could easily imagine both Ru and Cher finishing filming, slathering themselves in cold cream, stripping off wigs, cursing at the little cuts and indentations from their skin tight, razor-sharp rhinestone dresses, and sitting down on their cream colored couch in some sort of whisper-soft, shapeless caftan to read The New York Times.

They were women who recognized the power of glitter and beauty and illusion, but never lost sight of the fact that it was just that: illusion. They were bigger, badder, sparklier versions of themselves when they needed to be, but they kept an essential slice of themselves secret and safe. They were wry friends and though I was on a first name basis with them, I didn’t know anything about them at all.

I’ve been working as a grown up toward turning my art into a tiny baby biz. It’s a very uncomfortable feeling, like running as fast as you can while cupping a tiny egg in your hands: you trip, it’s ruined, you stop, the momentum of putting on the brakes causes the thing to go flying away from your grasp.

There’s so much talk in this space, this entrepreneurial space, this entrepreneurial woman space, about being authentic. It’s hard to imagine anyone commenting on Steve Jobs’ “authentic” presence, or how “genuine” Elon Musk is. We assume that men who are doing things their own way will do whatever they need to in order to succeed and that they will do it on their own terms. Women, on the other hand, are expected to be themselves, but only in a way that’s marketable. They must be “authentic” while choosing the right shirt and being photographed in the right, airy, light-filled space.

Even at the most humble level, the advice for women is not just to create something, but to BE something. It’s not enough for the audience to like what you make or do, they have to like YOU. You have to be approachable and funny and glamorous and different – you have to give everything.

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And that’s part of why Cher and Ru have always stuck with me: if you’ve gotta give them something, give them you on steroids. Give them you plus 35 pounds of Swarovski crystals and inch-long falsies. They want a piece of you? Fine, give them a wall, a whole ten foot tall wall one-hundred miles wide and built from nothing but acrylic nails and shoulder pads.

For a woman to present herself with bombast feels less like a performance and more an act of overt rebellion. So much of our lives, even our attempts to have public lives, are centered on maintaining a sort of subtle decorum. Subtlety is equated with refinement, dignity, and class. “Summer’s subtle sheers” murmurs the ad for blouses, “Natural is in” confirms the makeup tutorial. Artifice is accepted, as long as it’s artifice constructed so painstakingly it can pass, believably, for reality.

“Oh this, it’s nothing” we, we women, feel we have to say in the face of any and every compliment. When it’s not nothing. It’s something – something hard that we worked for and sweat over and lost sleep in the pursuit of. To allow ourselves the freedom of being loud, garish even, is an act of bravery. It is also a suit of armor: you’re not being the you they want you to pretend to be, you’re being the you you want to pretend to be. You’re inviting the twin from your mirror to take the reins for a while. You’re also allowing her to field a few of the blows.

“As you can see, I did receive my Academy booklet on how to dress like a serious actress.”

One of my favorite anecdotes about Cher was her story behind her (in)famous 1986 Bob Mackie Oscars dress. You know, the one with the insane feather headdress that seemed to hover two feet above her head like some fabulous combination of mohawk and goth tiara. The one with the midriff. The one with the beads. She said she’d been denied voting rights and membership in the Academy and had been sent many less-than-subtle hints from the powers that be that she needed to tone down her look or else she could never pass muster as a “serious actress.”

Her response: that dress. A dress so big it made the person inside it physically larger. A dress that broke one of the unspoken, cardinal rules of women’s fashion: clothing must nip, it must tuck, it must take away from, make smaller, minimize, it must not get in the way, it should never inconvenience (at least, not those outside the outfit, this doesn’t take into account all the painful contraptions required to do all that nipping and tucking). Can you imagine the people in the row behind Cher? They wouldn’t have been able to see a damn thing! This was reprehensible: a woman who disrupted just by her presence, a woman who dared to be larger than herself. Two years later, Cher won her Oscar.

It’s striking that one of the things you’ll hear over and over, said by friends of both Cher and Ru, is how quiet they are, even shy. These days, Ru only appears in drag when he’s being paid, a lesson a lot of us could stand to learn from: sure, I’d love to share myself with you! How much are you paying?

And still, RuPaul’s private life is notoriously just that: private. When the filming is done, the dresses come off, the wigs get put away, and Ru goes home, to be the Ru that only the people he wants to share him with get to know. The same is true of Cher: it’s shocking so see her, on the rare, brief occasions she allows such intimacy, sans wig. It feels vaguely perverse, or even voyeuristic: that’s not Cher, that’s just a pretty lady who likes turquoise jewelry and scented candles. That lady is none of my business.

And yet, both of these she-roes have made themselves into the heart of their business, first-names only. Or anyway, the bronzed, shimmering versions of themselves that they’ve so carefully built and projected. But there’s never a lie in this. They wink and nod (Ru swaps genders) and twinkle from a stage, personalities so big and broad it’s obvious they are, to some extent, characters. But you also get the sense that these are beloved characters, the women they wished they were: braver, funnier, more beautiful, more fully sequined.

That there’s such a distinct line between their public personas and their private ones is a deeply brave and rebellious act. In a world where women are expected to make themselves available to all, to nurture relationships (even business relationships) at the cost of their own wishes and even health, they’ve made the courageous decision to draw a line in the sand: this part is for you, but this part is for me.

“You can call me he. You can call me she. You can call me Regis and Kathie Lee; I don’t care! Just as long as you call me.”

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I don’t mind sharing bits of myself in the pursuit of building an audience, but I like the practice of separating my business self from my personal self. My business self is funny and brave and not afraid to take credit for her accomplishments, she wears bright lipstick and dresses and has good posture. My personal self is shy and quiet, she needs an inhaler and never wears makeup, she likes boxer shorts and old t-shirts and would rather read than go out.

They’re not two different people exactly, but one of them is stronger and more courageous. One of them is more capable of going out on a limb and of repelling criticism like so many little beads of water. It’s the difference between the home me and the me of the outside world: one of them has cured longer, one of them is a little harder. I like the practice of getting dressed to go somewhere. I like the process of giving control to a version of myself that’s big and bold and supersaturated and full of color and not afraid to show it.

What I think the essential component is though, the component that both Cher and RuPaul demonstrated, is honesty. It’s fine to have an aspect of performance in your persona, what becomes oppressive is the insistence on promoting that carefully curated self as being also your most authentic and vulnerable self.

There’s a certain deviousness to the market for “natural” and “authentic” women. So much of the emphasis seems to be less on sharing who you are and more on proving who you’re not: you’re not sloppy, or loud, or scared, you’re not overly concerned with what others think of you, you don’t require too much maintenance, you’re not desperate. The effect is that women see these images and think, “What’s wrong with me?” They think, “I don’t look that good when I wake up” or “It takes me two hours to get ready!” or “My house is a total mess, how is their space so perfect?” or “I’m exhausted from working on this thing, how can they put something so gorgeous into the world without any stress?”

I, on the other hand, am firmly a disciple of the church of Cher and Ru: be flamboyant, be loud, be over-the-top, whatever that may mean to you, whether it’s hair extensions and platforms or combat boots and a buzz cut. Show up and show them that you work hard, not just on your appearance, but on what you do and make and love. Don’t perpetuate the myth of “effortlessness.”

Nothing worth doing is without effort, and no beautifully lit photo of an airy white room happens without a whole lot of planning and plotting and sweat. You are worth this. You deserve to be seen, and you also deserve the space to retreat. You are going into battle and you damn well better believe you’ll need the armor.

After all: “We’re born naked, and the rest is drag.”

Images from: Mathu Anderson, Chad Michaels as CherPreston Burford Photography

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Thank you so much for your contribution to Hiya Tootsie!, Sabrina!



Badass Broads You Should Know: Shante’ Morgan Anderson

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Name: Shante’ Morgan Anderson

Age: 28

Location: Idaho Falls, ID

Career: Transformation Coach & Business Mentor/Yoga Teacher/Writer

Website: theConfashional.com & WanderlustWife.com

Favorite quote or lyric: Lyric: “There is beauty in the breakdown”

Quote: “Things we lose have a way of coming back to us in the end, if not always in the way we expect.” -Luna Lovegood

HYT: Make us fangirl. Who are you, what are you about, and what dream(s) are you chasing down?

SHANTE’: Oh hey… I’m Shante’. Married to my twin flame, Nic. Mama to 9 year old pitbull, Thena, and our first human, a baby boy nicknamed TinyDino due 9/10/16. We recently moved back to our hometown in Southeast Idaho after living out of suitcases full-time for the last year and a half.

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The thing I am most adamantly about is unrelenting self love – this journey of deciding who you want to be and compassionately pulling yourself through the process. First and foremost, I’m a wife. I’m hyper independent and am very good at both being by myself and living life on my own terms.

My relationship with my husband forces the most personal growth and it’s where I feel the most myself. While I’m sure my opinion on that is about to change with impending motherhood, it’s still the relationship I am committed to holding as the highest priority because it’s through that space my son is going to learn what love, healthy relationships, and worthiness look like.

As for what dream I’m chasing down, I’ve honestly cried about answering these questions more than a few times. I’m currently 37 weeks pregnant so hormones are highly to blame, but I have no idea what my life is going to look or feel like in a month – just that it will change entirely. This is such an intense transitional space, it’s hard to feel solid in anything.

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When I started this journey I never expected to be at what I considered the “ultimate goal” so quickly. Part of me is just marinating in this space of contentment before life is tossed into a blender with a new baby, and it’s overwhelming to reflect because I feel like there can’t possibly be more than this. #crazypregnantlady

Big picture – we want a Netflix series directed by Jenji Kohan telling our clusterf*ck love story; it’s the kind of narrative that changes lives. I wrote a book last year about my own journey to self love, but have yet to do any editing to make it into something sellable and tangible. One day it will be a New York Times Best Seller.

I’ve been a Wellness Coach for nearly three years, pursuing it full-time for over two, and currently, making significant changes there is my main focus. I’m working to integrate my work as a Yoga Teacher more fully into my services and feel called to share it in a really profound way. Each day I wake up excited to share my story and show people what’s possible when they choose to live courageously. I offer a road map of support and accountability for others on the journey of self love through online challenges I host and one-on-one Coaching.

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The thing that keeps me awake at night is getting to mentor others is discovering what they’re passionate about and cultivating that into a sustainable career so they can share it with the world. I’m here to help other people share their own stories and flood the world with more vulnerability. I believe if we can all just feel worthy and like we matter, real compassion is possible and then we’ll find some peace on the planet. Once the baby gets here I am committing the first year of his life to completing the Course In Miracles and beginning the journey to expanding myself to a teacher in the Course.

I also have two blogs, neither of which have been getting the attention they deserve, always being pushed aside for something more “important” or for immediate income-creating actions. This “assignment” was actually a turning point for that since my goal as a Coach was always to reach a point where blogging/writing was my full-time career. I’m giving myself permission to place energy in that direction, so look out for some new stuff!

The Confashional is a fashion blog where I share my more intense memoir and personal mental health related journey. WanderLustWife is the highlight reel where I’m making my dreams of becoming one of those hated Pinterest moms come true. It’s all about design, creative projects, food, yogic hippie living, health/fitness, and travel. I’m going to grow these two into a virtual empire.

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HYT: Give us some background. How’d you get started on your dream chasing journey and where are you in the chase present day?

SHANTE’: This question is largely the reason I’ve cried so many times when trying to write this piece. One of the first things I do each day is look at TimeHop to see how far I’ve come and this weekend three years ago was my rock bottom. I was at a music festival with my boyfriend, he’d asked me to have a baby and offered up some very convincing arguments on it being a great idea. We were deeply in love, planned on getting married, and had talked long-term since basically the day we met.

I had a graduated with my Bachelor’s in Communication/Film Studies a few month prior and landed a corporate marketing job with a great starting salary, benefits, the whole package. On paper I had every reason to say yes, but just couldn’t. I looked around and realized this life I was living wasn’t anything I had really wanted. More importantly, that I had no idea what I wanted. I hated my job and felt like my soul was being suffocated.

I woke up hungover at least three days a week and our relationship was a rollercoaster exactly like the alcoholic household I’d grown up in. I’d been a signed model/actress for years – that motivated diet pill abuse and dangerous crash dieting. I’d quit both habits, but my wrecked metabolism had me weighing over 210lbs. We were living paycheck to paycheck in a little apartment with holes in the carpet and black mold in the shower, stressed about filling both my gas tank and fridge each week. I was angry, anxious, and apathetic. I hated who I saw in the mirror and was terrified about the idea of being someone’s mother.

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I’d been presented with this opportunity to become a Coach affiliated with TeamBeachbody several times and pushed it off as a gross pyramid scheme that wasn’t a “real job” and I’d worked too hard on my career to sell shakes on the internet. No thanks. In June, I’d done a free clean-eating group on Facebook with a friend from high school to try to figure out how in the hell to eat like a healthy person, and despite “support groups full of inspirational women” being as far from my kinda thing as you could get, I loved it.

Getting back home after that weekend and realizing how much I wanted to say yes to a baby opened me up to new perspective on options out there. As many negative beliefs as I had about what being a Coach meant, my friend from high school was living the kind of life I wanted… building a killer career, working at home with her 6 month old baby, making herself healthy, happy, and getting to help people.

I felt so hopeless and meaningless because I wasn’t doing anything that mattered; scheduling soap shipments at work, watching reality tv or getting drunk at night, rinse, repeat. I said to hell with it and decided to jump in because what I was doing obviously wasn’t working and this seemed like the furthest thing from my normal. More than anything, by putting myself out there as someone for people to follow, I’d be held accountable to fixing my own shit and I had to make a change. When I say I’m going to do something, failure is not an option.

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My goal when I started was just to be happy at a very baseline level – have a stable home life not repeating the high-functioning alcoholic cycle I grew up in, like myself, be excited to go to work everyday, and put my bills on auto pay. I had no idea where to start, so I just decided to focus on the weight and unhealthy lifestyle and then go from there.

On September 28th, 2013, I committed to one year of doing this crazy thing, no excuses, and if it didn’t “work” then I could quit. In that year, my BF and I got engaged, moved into a new 3 bedroom house, I quit my corporate job, and made up my full-time salary within six months of starting my business.

I lost 70lbs, quit drinking, and rid my life of toxic friends. I helped someone lose 120lbs and play soccer with their kids for the first time ever. I started traveling solo and gained confidence in my vulnerability in a way I didn’t know was possible.

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In the process, my relationship was also imploding and I woke up to realize that at some point it’d spiraled into a narcissist/empath abusive relationship dynamic. The most difficult and proudest moment of my life is the day I called off my wedding. I shared a video on YouTube sharing that I’d ended it, holding myself accountable to the decision because I knew otherwise I’d go back.

Within only a few days, I received messages from 7 different women who called their own weddings off because I’d shared my story and shown that it was okay to walk away when you knew it wasn’t right. The day after my “wedding that wasn’t,” was my one year anniversary of starting my journey. Poetic right?

I relate deeply to Heather’s own story here because as a coping mechanism to my pain, I poured everything I had into helping people and working. Only now, the people I was attracting were deeply broken, depressed, and in the same dark circumstances I was. I could elaborate here but the ultimate result was burnout and compassion fatigue beyond belief.

In the following year, I reconnected with an ex from high school, we eloped less than 6 months after I ended the other engagement, and I moved my life into a set of suitcases to travel with him full-time. I took a break from working and only maintained my business a few hours a week. I wrote nonstop while adventuring uninhibited and spent a month living in a beach house retreat to become a yoga teacher.

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Looking back at it now, it was everything I needed; it’s just that the journey is nothing like I wanted it to be. At the time, it all just hurt and was hard. I never used my marriage or magical circumstances as an excuse not to cope, but instead as motivation to work through my mess – still to get to that place where I was always working toward, and being someone I could be proud of as a mom.

This September will be my three year anniversary of starting my business and self discovery journey. I have wanted to quit so many times but the reality is that I don’t have any other option but to do this. I would be miserable anywhere else. I don’t know how to have a boss anymore and nothing will ever fulfill me the way being a part in someone taking accountability and control of their own happiness does.

As for where I’m at now on my dream chasing journey, in a lot of ways, I’m back where I started. I have the big dream which is the magical marriage, baby on the way, and living in a our dream house, but there is still so much left undone.

In March, I burned my business to the ground in order to start entirely over from the bottom up. We quit my husband’s job to move home so that I had the stability I needed in order to really focus on my career and goals for this to become our full-time gig. It was a huge lifestyle change and came with major financial setbacks but we are making it work while this dream is growing.

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I do all this so that one day sooner than later, I’ll crawl out of bed on a Wednesday morning after sleeping in to find my husband on the couch in his underwear eating cereal and singing disney songs with our kids. We’ll own the dream house we live in instead of renting and be back to traveling freely. We’ll have a nanny to handle our dishes and laundry so all our time is spent doing things we love like writing together and teaching our little ones to believe in magic.

This last month, I’ve been working hard on a new challenge to offer a way for people to get involved with the yoga lifestyle free from intimidation and overwhelm. It’s all hosted virtually, with 30 minutes of yoga practice each day at home, and throughout the month I’ll be sharing basics on mediation, mindfulness, and general happy hippie living with tools like cards, crystals, and consciousness. It’s an entirely new Coaching experience for me and feels more authentic than anything I’ve done before. I’m building my blogs to go along with it and am writing content like crazy.

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HYT: Let us peek behind the curtain. What does a typical day look like for you?

SHANTE’: I am loving getting to answer this now and take a snapshot of such a fleeting moment with becoming a new mother. Right now, much of my life revolves around peeing 743 times a day. What time I get up depends on how well I slept and sleeping in is something I am savoring shamelessly. I lay in bed for at least an hour playing with my belly because, well… I can. He’s going to be a separate human soon and I’ll miss feeling like I swallowed an angry seal.

I make my superfood java chip Shakeology for breakfast, sit outside to brain dump, and blog post write. Then I break for some chores around the house while listening to personal development before sitting down to my desk and doing a couple hours of Coaching work. I answer messages and check into my groups. Around about 1 most days, I take a nap because growing a people is exhausting.

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In the afternoon is mentorship calls and running shopping to prepare for baby or head to the pool for a workout. I take space throughout it all to play with my dog, nest like a neurotic little bird on creative projects, and am constantly distracted by my kicking bump. I do Facebook live video everyday and am also trying to stay committed to self-shooting my fashion stuff each day. Some days I’m also camped out watching Netflix, calling friends all day, or reading nonstop. Being pretty chill with my solitude, this time is so limited!

The evening is all about family time. I’m currently on a mad meal prep to fill my freezer with 2 months worth of food. We watch a lot of movies/tv doing uninterrupted while we still can. Nic goes to bed around 10, but I stay up late since it’s when I’m the most creative. This is when I’m working on my blog sites, creating content, or building trainings. I have a 2am cut off to be in bed and then read until I fall asleep. Sometimes I shower, though admittedly, usually I don’t.

I rarely put on pants and the majority of my social interaction occurs through a screen. My husband says I’m a highly introverted socialite. Now ask me this question in a month when my life is wrecked…

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HYT: Real talk. What are you most afraid of as you work toward your dreams and what do you do to combat those fears?

SHANTE’: Having PTSD, this is the hardest for me to answer because phsyiologically, my body reactively is viserally afraid of some basic life stuff. My last panic attack was after a training call with one of my mentors where she talked about vision; it triggered connection to my abusive relationship and how the stronger-in-myself I’d become, the more my ex had oppressed me. The literal creation of my vision resulted in being punished for my growth. I realized I was survival-mode-level afraid of wanting anything bigger because of it.

It’s interesting because my own journey of discovery and creation is my job and I refuse to live scared. When I’m afraid of something, that’s exactly the direction I go. To conquer the feeling is a lot of yoga breath work and getting present. I take my shoes off, get my feet on the ground, write, do something active, and anything I can to laugh. I process with Nic and usually share about the struggle immediately to shine light on the experience.

From a business stand point, I’m afraid I won’t have the tools or insight to help the people who seek me out. Sometimes, I don’t. I’ve had to learn that it’s not my job to fix anyone and ultimately, that responsibility is on them. I can only do the best I can with what I have and trust the right people end up in the right place.

Recently I had someone really close to me suggest I change the way I share my life on social media because “people were laughing at me and everyone thought I was just a big joke.” Until that moment, being unliked or judged was a big fear, but having it thrown in my face in such a hurtful and aggressive way was proof that judgement is only a projection of someone else’s own insecurities. I reached out to others whom I trusted to be honest and asked for their opinion only to receive support. It didn’t make it hurt any less, but I was able to view the attack through an objective and compassionate perspective.

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HYT: Go ahead and name drop. Who are your biggest inspirations and why?

SHANTE’: #1 is my dad. He’s an entrepenuer and I’ve had the privilege of watching him build something immense out of absolutely nothing. Like most of my generation, I was told “you can be anything if you work hard enough,” but I was lucky enough for someone to actually live it. I remember sitting in our single wide trailer and him telling me how one day he was going to build a hotel. At the time, he worked as a Fireman full-time while putting decks on houses in his off hours.

Last week was the groundbreaking for his new development that includes three hotels. The day previous was a luncheon for Building Hope Today, a nonprofit my parents founded to help those affected by childhood sexual abuse through policy change and awareness. The hotel is pretty damn cool, but it’s watching him stand up to tell his own story of overcoming abuse and impossible odds that makes me proud of my inherited warrior spirit.

My mom, who’s stood up as the backbone of our family through more than anyone should be asked to take on, and done so with grace, humility, and impressive patience. Because of her I know, without a doubt, I too will be an amazing mother.

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My husband, Nic. When he came back into my life 10 years after we originally dated, it was only 3 months after I’d called off my wedding and I was a total train wreck. When I told him I couldn’t have anything to do with him because I needed to handle myself and not be distracted, he responded by saying, “I am not going to fix you. I am not going to even help you fix you. But I will hold your hand and I will get you water when you get thirsty.”

He has held me crying over my ex-fiance, given me space to be alone for literally weeks at a time, and carried me when my auto immune disease had me so I couldn’t walk. I am blown away by him on a daily basis. He has taught me a level of self love and awareness I didn’t know was achievable. I can’t even say he’s overcome things in his life as much as he’s accepted and integrated them into who he decided to be and everything he is. I’m inspired by his commitment to growth and comfortability with total unknown. He’s vulnerable and honest and deeply compassionate. He’s the calm center to my constantly swirling storm.

Also, Oprah, Gabrielle Bernstein, Brené Brown, Shanti Zimmerman, Heather (yeah you, girl), Amy Silverman, and Shaun T.

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HYT: Let’s talk goals. Where do you aim to be 5 years down the line?

SHANTE’: In production for our Netflix series, whether at the beginning stages or seasons in, time will tell. We’re a full-time family and Nic gets to work alongside me everyday building our creative endeavor empire. Since we’re manifesting our perfect world here, four kids total. First boy, a girl, then twins to save time and get it done.

Both our memoirs are in the process of publishing and our traveling nanny makes it simple for our children to travel with us. DreamCatcher Dynasty, my team, is a 15 star Diamond, a leadership rank based on my sponsoring Coaches success in helping others, and each year I host them on a service/yoga retreat to visit the Homes of Hope orphanage in India. I’m publicly speaking, a teacher in the Course of Miracles, and have earned my first million dollars.

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HYT: Give it to us straight. What’s your best piece of advice to other women that you’ve personally followed on your own dream chasing journey?

SHANTE’: Don’t be afraid to be considered a bitch. So often I work with women who are afraid to put their own needs first because they feel selfish; our society teaches us that being opinionated, strong willed, and ambitious as a female means you’re difficult, while men are rewarded for the same.

Speak your mind. Stand up for yourself. Stand up for those who can’t speak up for themselves. Be loud. State what you want and go for it shamelessly.

People will be uncomfortable and you will inevitably receive backlash; to me those are signs we’re doing something right and creating the kind of change needed so our daughters can grow up in a world where they are actually equal to their brothers.

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HYT: Shante’, you badass mother !?$%er, I ADORE you. Thank you for sharing so openly, vulnerably, and bravely. Your life, story, life’s work, and relationship with yourself and with Nic inspire me to no end. Thank you for who you are, who you are becoming, and how deeply you intend to help others. You are truly a rare diamond in the rough and I am HONORED to call you my friend. I love you, woman. 

Tootsie crew, go follow this woman. She is one of my VERY favorite people I’ve connected with online and she constantly has remarkable things to teach and share. You will fall in love with her even more than you already have through this interview and I promise you, she will enhance your life in ways you never knew you needed!

Images from: Amy Martin Photography (maternity shoot), True Atelier Photography (yoga shoot), Nic Anderson Photography & Shante’ Morgan Anderson



Evolving My Money Mindset On The Dream Chasing Journey

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I had an incredibly radical mindset shift at the end of June.

After years of nursing a poverty/scarcity/lack mindset, something in me woke up, sat up, stood up, and quietly but emphatically said, “I’m done.”

I’d been very lightly dipping my toes into the streams of developing an abundance mindset for a few months, but still just wasn’t all in. As it turns out, even a light brush with the waters of change was enough to entice me to jump in for a skinny dip when my subconscious was finally ready.

I don’t really know how to explain it other than that I simply wasn’t ready to let go of whatever traumatic victim-status trophy I held around money for a l-o-n-g time until one day it just clicked. Almost nonchalantly, I’d decided to up my “floor” of what I need to come in every month from $1265 (my absolute barebones insanity budget since I live in freaking Orange County, California) to $1500/mo.

The $235 increase felt like a lot because I often struggled to see even the $1265 come in each month, but I reasoned that I really wanted to begin tithing and also wanted to begin saving. I could give away $150 (10%), save the remaining $85, and still live off the $1265. I reasoned that giving and saving in and of themselves would facilitate the nursing of an abundance mindset, and you know, actually trusting the Lord to be as ridiculously good as I believe he is.

So I made up my mind. Starting in July, my new floor would be $1500/mo. From there, I wanted to challenge myself to increase my floor by $100 every month until I finally hit a flat $2000/mo as my new floor to work to maintain by the end of 2016.

I still don’t know what to make of what happened next.

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The end of June came and I was only $61.12 short of having a total income of $1500. I hadn’t even tried to make it passed my standard bare bones $1265/mo and yet there I was, nearly at the $1500 I’d simply made up my MIND to hit for July.

What?

So I tithed and saved off of the $1438.88 that came in for June. Surely, I was off to a good start and could set my sights for real on my new $1500/mo floor for July.

July came and a little more than half-way through the month, I realized I’d already reached beyond my $1500 goal.

WHAT?

So I got internally feisty and decided to raise my floor to $2000 for July just to see if I could do it.

On a late night car ride on our year anniversary, I said to Keil that I was excited to see what would happen with this new making-up-my-mind, praying, and trusting God to meet me in the effort thing and that it was finally dawning on me that I don’t live the rest of my life from a bare bones level of lack. So why should I live my financial life that way? It’s not who I am. He agreed and told me to go for it.

The very end of July arrived and I was just over $100 away from hitting the $2k mark. I went public with the news of the game I was playing with myself and how excited I was to see what in the hot hell was even going ON, and a woman with a freelance writing gig approached me and said, “Let’s get you that last $100 to reach 2k.”

By the end of July, I’d earned $2017.98. I’d only intended to earn $1500.

WHAT?

So August rolled around a week and a half ago and I thought, “What the hell? I’m just gonna raise my floor to $2k now instead of waiting until the end of the year and practice working toward and maintaining $2k.” I saw that it was possible, so why not?

It is August 9th as I write this, and I’ve seen $2258.86 come in for the month so far.

WHAT????

I don’t understand what’s happening. All I know is that I made up my mind to knock off the poverty/scarcity/lack bullshit, prayed and told the Lord that I’m in with tithing, and asked him to help me earn whatever is possible so I can still live off my bare bones $1265/mo, tithe whatever 10% ends up being each month, and save the rest to put toward the future of my to-be fam with Keil and Sai.

(Right now the thing I have the most excitement around saving toward – other than the responsibility of an emergency fund and a stable monthly income – is killer furniture and home decor to make a house a beautiful home for us and an awesome work environment for me! Z Gallerie makes me drool.)

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One of the tools that has helped me immensely on this journey I’ve been on for the last month and a half is a journal I picked up on a whim from Marshall’s for 5 bucks. It’s black with gold script that says, “It’s A Good Day To Have A Good Day.”

I decided at the beginning of July that I wanted an abundance and gratitude journal and that I would write down every single day how much money came in that day just so I could see it in black and white (actually, electric purple, hot pink, and neon blue). On days when there are goose eggs, I’d take care to record the things that happened that day that I was extremely thankful for.

I’ve been doing this daily since July 5th and it has been INCREDIBLE. It’s reminded me to pray, work hard, stay accountable, and be bold to ask for work.

Right now, my income comes through Patreon, Candy Ass sales, and both ongoing and one-time freelance editing, writing, social media, and research gigs. My Patreon team is beautiful and slowly growing, Candy Ass is my baby and continues to wake further to my dreams for it every single day, and both my ongoing and one-time freelance gigs the Lord’s been placing in my path are with incredibly cool women doing jobs that allow me to bless the hell out of them while they bless the hell out of me so I can save up for my future with my family.

Frankly, I’m stunned.

And the reason I’m sharing so opening – including numbers – is because if I can inspire just one other woman with my story that I was in no way able to manufacture and she realizes that she can do the exact same thing, I’m in.

I lived below the poverty line my entire adult life up until right now because I was a missionary for 9 years and was a hell of a lot more concerned about my various ministry gigs and the people I was coming along side than making money. After that season ended, I was left with a by product of a poverty mindset because it’s simply what I’d become accustomed to. The positive piece of my background is that I learned to adapt and get by on very little.

I also learned how indescribably important it is to build, nourish, and beautify relationships.

Every single piece of what I do now as an entrepreneur is based on relationship. Patreon is all relationship. Candy Ass sales are solely through sharing my life and work on Facebook at this point. Freelance gigs are with women I’ve known in online communities for months. It’s all relationship. It’s all personal.

And I !?$&ing love it.

My heart of hearts will always be for people above anything else. My writing on Hiya Tootsie! that my Patreon team backs is to inspire as many women far and wide as humanly possible. Candy Ass is to offer a physical reminder to literally roll on our skin that we have exactly what it takes to chase down our dreams in all our ass kicking glory. My freelance gigs, I’ve prayed over and over that the Lord would only allow the jobs to come that would bless both me and the women I’m working for, and to let all stressful jobs fall.

And the whole reason I’m so stoked to finally be making a little money? So I can give it away and save it for my family.

People. Love. That’s the motivating factor.

Know that wherever you are on your money mindset journey, especially if you’re also working to slay in the dream chasing arena, you’re where you need to be. What I’m observing in real time in my life right now is nothing I was able to force or manipulate. But I was ready, had taken baby steps, and am now on a brand new, wide-eyed journey.

Anything is possible for she who believes.

Remember that. Your mind is powerful. The intentions of your heart are also powerful and are honored when they line up with the heart of the divine.

Here’s to the wide-eyed journey, love, people, knowing in our bones that money does not define us, that it’s more than ok to talk openly about, and that it’s also perfectly fine to want and to want to do good with it.

Here’s to kicking ass, trying, and trusting, kittens.

Images from: Sequoia Emmanuelle, Ransom Rockwood via Cuded, iStock via Lady Clever



An Open Letter to Young Girls (Especially The One In My Life) On Pursuing Your Dreams

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Hey little mama. You’re laying right next to me in your da-da’s bed right now snuggled up in an M&M blanket, your mom’s shirt, eating vanilla yogurt, and watching your mermaid show while I’m writing late and he’s playing his heart out at softball tonight.

You’re such a social girl and just didn’t want to hang in your room alone, so you asked me if you could come hang out with me if you’re quiet. You even just said to me 10 minutes into our laying together, “Just letting you know… can you hear anything?” I told you no and that you’re totally fine and you glanced my direction and said “Ok, good.”

You are an incredibly thoughtful girl. You love people and are super empathetic. Even though my earbuds totally don’t fit in your little 8 year old ears, you’re making it work because of your desire to be connected and that’s awesome. You’re awesome. Totally and completely. And I have some important things I want you to know about the importance of being exactly who you are and chasing down your dreams.

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First of all, the things that make you who you are as a little girl are the things that will carry you when you’re a woman. You will absolutely change as you grow up, we all do, but your core will be the same. You’ll always be that people loving, connection-driven, daring, adventurous, independent person. And I’ve got to tell you, the majority of what it takes to chase down your dreams is already written into your bones.

So much of dream chasing is wrapped up in having the guts to try and letting people help you along the way. If you’re willing to risk trying (risking failure and risking success often produce the exact same kind of scary feelings!) and willing to ask for help and keep relationships with other people a priority in your life, you will go further than you ever thought possible.

Believe in yourself. Believe that you can see your biggest dreams come to pass the same way you believe you can scale a rock wall all the way to the top to ring the bell. I wasn’t there for that one, but I saw the picture (and the prize you got for doing it), and that was nuts. You wouldn’t have done it if you didn’t believe you could, and you DID. Courage and the willingness to try because you believe in yourself is the kind of moxie it takes to chase your dreams. Believe you can do it and go for it.

You’ll have moments where you won’t do as well as you wanted to. That’s ok. You’re allowed to be human and you’re allowed to not be perfect. In fact, I want you to completely reject the entire idea of perfection. It’s not real. You’re not a machine, you’re a human being and what makes you so unique and fabulous is just how perfectly imperfect you are. Keep that up. The point in not doing as well as you wanted is that it will teach you to try something new next time that will help you get better and better and closer and closer to your goal.

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Remember that you can go for anything – even things that seem like a crazy long shot. You know my perfume that you’re always asking to help me with? I want to get the perfume I made (and the ones your dad and I made together) into a huge makeup store that has locations all over the world one day. Crazy, right? But I’m going for it. Every little step I take gets me closer and closer to that goal. Little steps are a huge piece of the puzzle. Remember this as you’re going for your “anything.” Small steps add up and will help you get to big dreams, I promise you that.

Know that it’s always ok to ask questions. Google will be your best friend and you’ll figure out plenty on your own, but other people will be your biggest allies and cheerleaders. Asking only makes you smarter and faster. It also makes you brave. So many people are afraid that asking will make them seem silly, but the exact opposite is true. You will learn that most people want to see you succeed and will help you if they can. That’s the beauty of relationships.

You are incredible. You very literally are a dream come true. When you’re chasing down your own dreams, remember that YOU are a living, breathing, walking, talking dream that only existed as a dream to the people in your life who love you so, so much and waited a long time to meet you. You’re made for this stuff baby, because you ARE this stuff. Dreams are written into your DNA. We love you so much and believe in you to the moon and back. And if you ever need us, we’ll be right here ready and waiting to do anything we can to help you soar.

Images from: Anja Verdugo via Summerland, X-Presion via Behance, Joseph Paradiso via Behance



How To Turn Envy Into Motivation

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Jealousy. Envy. Self-doubt. Ugh. I think it’s safe to say that we’ve all felt these things in our lives. And if you haven’t, please go away because you’re a goddess or an alien and this is not for you. Bless.

Envy is often described as the “green-eyed monster” (a quote from Shakespeare’s Othello), and it can definitely feel like a monster is rearing up inside your chest when you experience feelings of envy. The feeling can be crippling and lead to self-doubt. When you see someone who seems to “have it all,” or at least have exactly what you want, it can lead you to freeze up, feel depressed, frustrated, or even feel a lack of control.

The good news is that this monster can be tamed. You can take this monster of envy and jealousy, domesticate it, and make it work for you.

So, are you sick of comparing yourself to others and just want to get things done?

Let’s do this.

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Jealousy should never be your main source of motivation. If you are always looking to others as a measure for your own success, your feelings of self-worth will crumble and you will never feel like you are “enough.” You can’t please everyone and competing with others is the opposite of living your own truth.

Others’ success has nothing to do with your own. You are a fabulous, different person, with a different life, put on this earth for a different reason. Expressing yourself, helping others, and living your truth are stellar, top-notch motivators. You have many other things driving you – your personal determination, the need to help others, and your family and friends’ support, to name a few.

But sometimes you will scroll through your social media feed and get a glimpse of someone else’s success and you just might feel that green-eyed monster of envy sneaking up on you. There’s no use of denying your feelings of jealousy when they come. Recognize them, and try to figure out what lesson those feelings are trying to teach you.

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Jealousy is a motivator because it forces you to realize why you are jealous. When I look at another babe’s Instagram feed and feel the green monster of envy creeping up on me, I don’t let those feelings turn into dislike of others, self-doubt, or greed. Instead, I look inward and ask myself, “What does she have that I want for myself?”

Maybe she published a book, is gaining tons of success, and I realize that I really want to write a book! Maybe I’m jealous because she gets to go to all kinds of amazing places on her book tour and I realize that I really want to travel. Maybe she posts a glamorous selfie each day and is showered with adoring compliments and I realize that I need to put a little bit more TLC into my daily routine to make myself feel awesome. Or maybe I’m jealous of someone else’s recognition and success and I realized that I have some inner work that I need to do to feel self-love and contentment in my own life. Maybe the answer can be to reach out to my family and friends and ask for some extra support.

We don’t have to let jealousy or envy take control. All it takes is a change in thinking and a closer look at our true desires. Now that you’ve got this secret tool in your arsenal, close that gorgeous Instagram feed and get to work!

Images from: Lucie Brémeault, Miles Aldridge via Cuded, Hugo V

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Thank you so much for your contribution to Hiya Tootsie!, Nikki!





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