Women, Women Worth Knowing

Women Worth Knowing: Meet Suzanne

Suzanne is one of the first GAWBs I met–and well met, too, as she’s a co-founder–and everything about her makes me happy.  She is a sheer delight.  She was one of the Beta readers for TIARA TROUBLE, and I certainly appreciated her help.  When you finish reading this little introduction to her, please pop over to THOUGHTS IN PROGRESS for a review, and to Storm Goddess Book Reviews for a review and an excerpt.  But first!  Meet Suzanne.

She's just so cute!!
She’s just so cute!!

Name: Suzanne D’Aunoy Meehle

Age: 46

Job Title: Attorney (The Meehle Law Firm) / Vice President and Evil Genius (Grown Ass Woman Brigade)

Industry: Law / Non-profit

1.  Who are you? I’m a do-gooder.
2.  What do you love most about your life? My marriage. I’ve got an amazing man who supports all my crazy ambition and ridiculous pursuits.
3. What do you love most about your work? I get to help people be their best selves. No, really! My law firm exclusively supports small business. And GAWB supports women.
4.  Describe your family: it’s just me, my husband Tim and our dog Legal. Tim is a web developer. Legal is a lab/beagle mix. I’m also extraordinarily close with my siblings, Beth, Carla and Lester.
5. What does the first hour of your day look like? I go check the calendar and email in bed. Sad but true. Then I get up, lace up and go for a run.
6. The last hour? I finally put my laptop away for the night, do some stretches, go brush my teeth, and go to bed. Sounds pretty pathetic.
7. What makes you feel successful? When it all gets done by the end of the day.

8. What brings you joy? Running. My husband. My dog. GAWB. Not necessarily in that order.
9.  Which women do you most admire? Women who have been successful on their own terms. Arianna Huffington. Hillary Clinton. Condaleeza Rice. Sandra Day O’Connor.
10. What do you like best about your closest friend? Falling asleep and waking up next to him.
11. What do you like best about yourself? I’m strong. And fairly weird.
12. What advice would you give to boys about girls? You don’t need to own her. Just be her friend.
13. What is the best advice anyone has ever given you? “It’s ok if you don’t want to go to grad school. There’s always law school.”
14. How do you overcome adversity? Power through. There’s no other way to get to the other side of it but through it.
15.  How do you want to be remembered? As my own woman.
GAWB, Women Worth Knowing

Women Worth Knowing: Sergeant Sassypants of the Grown Ass Woman Brigade

For those of you who have been playing along since 2007, you’ll remember that the Women Worth Knowing Project started out as Wonder Woman Wednesdays.  I was talking to a friend about a friend, and realized they needed to know each other.  As I started making introductions, I started realizing just how special and wonderful every woman friend I had was.

To make it a little easier on myself, I decided to start introducing them to one another through a Q&A profile sheet with a short bio from me.  Awesome people need to know other awesome people.  Then, I started thinking, “These women are inspiring,” and I decided that the rest of the world should get to know them, too.  So Women Worth Knowing was born and I started posting profiles of any interesting woman I met.

You know why?  Because y’all need to meet each other!  I’ve gotten to watch careers begin and successes unfold when my friends have been introduced.

A few months back, during the WWK lull, one of my neighbors pointed me in the direction of the Grown Ass Woman Brigade.  I laughed when I saw the name, but I got a happy little chill when I read this:

I was having a really terrific conversation with my friend, Suzanne, one day when I had a revelation.  “You know,” I said, “it’s just so nice to be talking to another…grown ass woman.”  Suz immediately understood what I meant.  It’s hard to meet other women who are creative and strong and smart and okay in their own skin.  No crazy drama…no weird insecurity…no inexplicable competitiveness.

I like to call them grown ass women and I am lucky to have met quite a few.  My goal here was to introduce these friends and maybe create a nurturing, supportive network of amazing and fun women.  -Heather, GAWB co-founder

Doesn’t that sound just like the Women Worth Knowing Project?  And since I have been a member of GAWB, I have seen women throwing all their resources together to help boost one another up and over every ledge, ladder, and wall you can imagine.  From health and family, to career and networking, these ladies share their lives with one another to help out as a community.  It’s pretty wonderful.

I was talking with Heather and asked if I could link up WWK with GAWB and start interviewing the membership for the project.  I am still very excited that she said yes.

So, to kick off the re-re-restart of the Women Worth Knowing Project, I’d like to introduce you to Sgt. Sassypants, the mascot of the Grown Ass Woman Brigade.

Sergeant Sassypants, at your service.
Sergeant Sassypants, at your service.

Sgt. Sassypants is capable, compassionate, drama-free, ugly-insecurity free, determined, dedicated, and looks great on a t-shirt.  She’s Rosie the Riveter for the roaring 21st Century.  She will bring home the bacon, fry it up in the pan, and never let you forget she’s equal to any man.

Since GAWB’s inception, co-founders Heather and Suzanne, have worked to build a base of women worthy of the name.  We even have mini-GAWBs, who will grow up to rule the world.  Not only that, but they have branched out into public service.

Sassypants Nightengale.  Going to keep you in top form!
Sassypants Nightengale. Going to keep you in top form!

And they have instituted an annual charity ball–The Red Dress Ball.

Spiceypants.  I'd like her to have a tiara, but that's just me.  You know how I am about tiaras.
Spiceypants. I’d like her to have a tiara, but that’s just me. You know how I am about tiaras.

I haven’t been able to attend a Red Dress Ball, yet.  Why?  What could keep me from dressing up and dancing the night away?  Geography.  Until recently, most of the GAWBs were based in Florida.  But, Heather is moving my way, and our Texas GAWB chapter is starting to hop.  I’m looking forward to boring my husband with details of dress shopping to find that perfect red for the next ball.

In the weeks to come, you’re going to meet some of the GAWBs.  We’re going to start with Patricia, since she’s the one who introduced me to the group, and because you’ll wonder where she’s been all your life once I tell you about her.

Meanwhile, if you are a woman worth knowing, or you know a woman worth knowing, email me.  lane (at) theoutsidelane (dot) com.




Women Worth Knowing

Women Worth Knowing: Meet Danielle Corsetto

I love comic strips. I started reading comic books when I was about eight, spending my first summer away from home at my grandparents’ house. I had Archie comics, and Spider-Man, and Superman. I kept up with the X-Men comics through junior high, and then started reading Elf Quest in high school. No, I never would have told you this back then. But I also wouldn’t have told you about my crush on Mr. Spock.

The funnies in the newspaper were always mine. I would grab the paper and divest it of section C before my parents could, and spend the morning finding out what Opus, Calvin, and Ophelia were doing. In college, I subscribed to the paper solely to get the comics, and when they came out, I would stock up on my favorite artists’ books.

As a grown-up, who gets her news via the internet, I miss dirtying my hands on the funny pages, but I have found a wealth of entertainment in webcomics. I have three favorites, and I admit to feeling a little stressed when I miss an update: Sinfest, Multiplex, and Girls With Slingshots.

Danielle Corsetto is the artist behind Hazel and Jamie, the girls with slingshots, who are my two favorite characters on the web right now. Along with enjoying the art and the wit of Danielle’s comic, I truly appreciate the storytelling and the rounded-outness of the characters. Girls With Slingshots reads more like a sitcom than a comic, and it’s one of the only strips that doesn’t bore me with side-stories about the B and C list cast–I look forward to every character’s appearance.

From Girls with Slingshots

Another thing I enjoy is that while Danielle writes about all sorts of adult issues, she writes about them like we live them. Sexuality is never an anvil. Health is never a city bus. Paying the Bills is never a piano falling out of the sky. Things just are. She writes about life as we know it, and does it with a very real fondness for her characters and her audience. Danielle is that rare kind of wit, who is very, very funny without being mean-spirited. She brings out the best in her characters, even when they are at their worst.

All that led me to believe she would be an awesome Women Worth Knowing. I contacted her a couple of weeks ago, and was very excited when she responded with a yes. Then, I got her Q&A back, and now I want to be her best friend, but I have promised myself that I won’t stalk her. See, her answer to how she wanted to be remembered made me want to cheer. I love her attitude! I have great taste, people. I have excellent taste.

If you aren’t already reading Girls With Slingshots, get cracking. And you can follow Danielle on Twitter (like I do–the one with the great taste.) But before you go catching up on the adventures of Hazel, Jamie, McPedro, and the Ghost Cat of Doom, you should read the Q&A.

Meet Danielle.

Danielle CorsettoName: Danielle Corsetto
Age Range: Turning 30 in two weeks, woo!
Preferred Job Title: Cartoonist
Industry: Lazy-Ass Webcomics

Who are you?
I can’t decide if that’s supposed to be a deep question or not, so I’ll give you the official “I am Danielle Corsetto of Girls With Slingshots” for now.

How much of Danielle ends up in the characters you create?
A LOT! It’s far from being autobiographical, but my personal agendas and musings are shamelessly featured in the strip. Hazel’s basic personality (aside from her occasional dabbling in homophobia) is often similar to mine when I’m sober and alone: grumpy, contrary, and introverted. But when I’m around others (and often when I drink), my inner Jamie pops out: tickled, friendly, flirty, and goofy. Even the other characters sometimes adopt my voice (which makes me a hypocrite, as I often advise young writers not to turn all of their characters into sounding boards for themselves).

You seem to have a real fondness for your GWS characters. If you had to have one for a roommate, which one would it be and why?
Oooh, that’s tough! Like I said, I’m a bit of a bore to be around when I’m alone, and I tend to be very antisocial when I’m at home (especially after talking to fans and fellow creators for several days at conventions), so I’m not much fun as a roommate! That said, I think Jamie would be the most understanding of my drab at-home lifestyle, seeing as she understands Hazel’s so well.

What do you enjoy most about conventions?
Meeting the fans, and hanging out with fellow cartoonists! Oooo, also hotel rooms. I love staying in hotels, particularly alone. I know I’m turning thirty in just a few weeks, but staying in a hotel room alone makes me feel like a grown-up.

Describe your family:
Wonderful. I didn’t get along with my parents when I was younger, and I never thought I’d be the type of person who boasted about their parents, but I am now. And anyone who’s heard me talk about my brother knows that I hit the Sibling Lotto; he’s like my twin, except two years younger and, uh, not identical.
My dad and my brother and I have very a similar sense of humor. I only noticed it recently, but our family dinners are driven by constant joke construction between the three of us. My mom’s funny in a way that the rest of us aren’t, and when she throws in a comment, it often floors us. There’s a lot of laughter in my family.

What does the first hour of your day look like?
My alarm goes off, I hit snooze for about half an hour, and then spend another half-hour in bed with my two cats, Smudge and Ellie, as I look over my e-mails and Twitter feed on my iPhone. Then I move downstairs to the kitchen, start up a pot of tea, and find something to read or write while I bask in the afternoon sunlight (the term “morning” is subjective in this house).

I used to rush my mornings, but I feel that your day is shaped by what happens when you first wake up, so I’ve resolved to spend at least two hours slowly waking up and enjoying myself. I don’t start moving until my tea is finished.

The last hour?
Rushed and crazy! Ha! My daily schedule is sort of flipped from most people’s; I spend my mornings relaxing, and then work until I fall asleep. My last hour (on work days) is spent moving my inked strip from the drawing board to the computer, scanning, coloring in Photoshop, uploading to the website, answering a few last tweets, and falling into bed by 3 am.

There’s really no such thing as a non-work day for me (I generally work every day), but on nights when I don’t have to update, you’ll find me closing all the bars in town with local friends.

What makes you feel successful?
Seeing a lineup at my table when I go to conventions. It’s heartwarming and extremely humbling! Also, I suppose, being able to afford gifts for my family at Christmas. That’s something I was never able to do before.

What brings you joy?
Sunny weather and a pot of tea, and a cat in my lap. I’m pretty easy to please.

What women do you admire?
Hmm… I’m sure I’ll come up with many more after I’ve sent this to you, but I’ve been inspired by Juliette Gordon Low (founder of the Girl Scouts) and Zora Neale Hurston (early African-American author).

What do you like best about your closest friend?
She’s just as gross and bizarre as I am. (I have a tiny collection of very close friends, but this one in particular is like a sister to me.)

What do you like best about yourself?
I’m constantly trying to improve myself.

What advice would you give boys about girls?
If you’re desperate, she’ll smell it on you. Don’t seek to make one woman the sole source of happiness in your life; it’s a very stressful burden to place on her. Find happiness elsewhere, THEN search the singles ads.

How do you overcome adversity?
I could be dead, or I could have been given a shitty childhood. I’m not, and I wasn’t. Anything bad that happens to me could always be worse. I laugh things off, most of the time.

How do you want to be remembered?
As the girl who shared everything about herself. I don’t like taboos and I don’t like secrets, and I especially don’t like pretending that I contribute to social norms. The greatest gift I can give to people, I feel, is the confidence to accept themselves as they are.

Women Worth Knowing

Women Worth Knowing: Meet Kerri

You know that really cute, popular girl, who defies all teenaged logic by being an amazing person? Oh, she’s got some salt in her, but she’s a completely decent human being, who also just happens to be beautiful, and talented, and smart, and funny. You know that girl? That girl grows up to be Kerri.

Shazza, Sherri, Kerri, Kimmie, Lane and Simon Le Fauxn.
As I met so many great women, I met Kerri on the “Big Brown Ugly Ass Couch” forum, at what was formerly John Taylor’s website. It was a couple of years of posting back and forth–and the ladies of the BBUAC posted on that forum like most people IM, so the conversation was flying all the time–before Suzanne threw a party for the Dallas locals. I met Kerri there in person, and she was even better than she was on paper.

Like I said, cute, popular girl, who is a completely decent human being, and a wonderful person. Wherever she is, there is a crowd. And whenever there is a crowd, Kerri is a standout. You can’t help but want to know her. She’s shiny!

Kerri is good to her friends and family. She is generous with her life, if you know what I mean. She opens her home without reservation, and once she’s taken you into her heart, you can guarantee she’ll help if you need it. She inspires loyalty in return. You just want to be around her!

She is quite modest, given the abundance of talent she possesses. She is an artist and musician, she’s a great cook. She is a wife and mother, with four great kids, who are all clearly well-loved. And even with so little time for herself, she still pulls off Stylish and Fierce.

I am very grateful to know this talented, creative, smart, funny, beautiful woman, and get to be among the crowd of fans orbiting her. Hers is one gravitational pull you won’t mind drawing you in.

Meet Kerri.

I don't know why, but this is one of my all-time favorite pictures of Kerri. It's just very "her".
Name: Kerri Bittenbender Bordelon
Age range: 42
Preferred Job Title: College student currently (in addition to a myriad of other possible titles, including mother, nurturer and menial paper pusher. Oh, let’s not forget Goddess ;). )
Industry: previously dentistry; eventually Counseling/Health Advocate

Who are you?
I’m constantly expanding in regards to that question! I’m someone who believes we never stop growing, mentally and emotionally. I’m always seeking ways to learn and be inspired. I’m a mother of 4 children, a wife, a good friend. I’m someone who is constantly questioning and looking for answers, someone who seeks to make this world a better place. I’m someone who wants to travel more, live more, laugh even more than I already do. And I laugh an awful lot. Loudly. I’m a lover of music, art, people. I adore my friends. I love throwing pottery, taking photos, making music.

You’ve gone back to college after a number of years. How is it different from your first campus experience?
Going back to school is something I’ve been striving for at least 20 years. This time I’m really doing it! It’s been a terrific experience; although it was a little daunting at first. I thought I’d be the old lady on the campus, but come to find out that wasn’t quite true. There’s quite a few of us! Texas Woman’s University has been an incredible experience for me.

Everyone there is united in their purpose and the spirit on that campus is almost tangible. It’s exciting and I see light at the end of this tunnel finally. Another part of my finishing this degree that is so important to me is to show my children exactly how a college education can change their lives for the better. I think they see their mom having to study so much and it makes an impression on them..I see them working even harder in their schoolwork, just to keep up with me!

What do you want to be when you grow up?
After I finish this degree, I hope to be in a hospital environment as a counselor/health advocate. I’ve always had an interest in medical studies and at this point in my life, the thought of helping others find the resources necessary for their loved ones is very appealing to me. I’m a helper by nature and this fits me. With our society aging, this type of counseling will be necessary in many areas. That’s if I don’t get the gig as a back-up singer for Duran Duran or something.

What does the first hour of your day look like?
I typically get up at least an hour before everyone else. It gets pretty busy around here once everyone is up and about, so I value a little me time. The first thing I do is get my coffee ready (a necessity!) and the second thing I do is turn on some music (also a necessity!). The television is almost never turned on if I can help it.

The last hour of my day?
The last hour of my day typically looks the same as the first, minus the coffee!

What women do you admire?
I’m fortunate to have some amazing women friends. Women who are out there working hard to achieve their goals, while being amazing mothers, partners, friends. I admire women who overcome whatever obstacle may be in their way. I have three daughters and I want them to recognize that they are strong, brilliant and can do anything their hearts desire. I hope they will see me as someone they admire.

What do you like best about yourself?
Open-minded. Always ready for what’s next. Laughter.

How do you want to be remembered?
Hopefully I’ll be remembered as someone who loved well, accomplished a few things, made someone happy. That works for me.

Women Worth Knowing

Women Worth Knowing: Meet Rebecca

I was headed to bed when I saw Becca’s Q&A come through, and then I couldn’t sleep for stringing superlatives together like popcorn for a Christmas tree. I love Rebecca Ash. Love. She is probably the most genuinely transparent person I have ever met. She is so much too good to be true that you keep waiting for the other shoe to drop–thing is, it never will. She is just that much of a good thing. She also has the best. hair. ever.

Technically, and I mean very technically in an MTV sort of way, I am old enough to be this child’s mother. Tell you what, I would be proud to claim her. Maybe the best way to describe her is in the vernacular of her generation: Rebecca is very chill. Chill as in (from the urban dictionary–wow, I’m old) cool, tight, wicked, sweet, nice, and easy going. It’s impossible not to like her. She’s just a human confection of delight.

She also knows all the best places to hang out, always has something going on, and it is a good thing we didn’t share our twenties, because I think we would have gotten into a lot of trouble together!

What I like best about Rebecca is her generosity of spirit. She is generous with her time, generous with her praise, generous with her person, generous with her social circle, and will always welcome you into her world with open arms. She is fearless when it comes to sharing, which is probably a byproduct of a big family, but I think speaks highly of the love and self-confidence her parents built into her.

Like I said, I love Rebecca, and I think you will too. Meet Rebecca.

Name: Rebecca Ash
Age Range: 26
Preferred Job Title: banker
Industry: banking, hence the title

What do you like best about being from a big family? I am loved by so many people. They ALL have had an impact on shaping my character.

What makes a great night out for Rebecca Ash? friends at a hole in the wall or preferably a patio bar with karaoke or live music

You have the most amazing, positive outlook–how do you keep the good energy flowing? thanks, i am truly blessed and realize that whatever it is i’m going through that i should not complain because there is always somebody who has it a little worse. plus nobody likes a whiner!

Describe your family: large! ha ha they are simply the best though. they are always there to tell me when i’m making a mistake or to encourage me. they love me unconditionally. we are very religious but not in a “holier than thou” way. more in a lead by example way. i am lucky to be related to some very strong people who are truly some of the best people i know. starting with my parents.

What does the first hour of your day look like? i rush around like a maniac! i am always late wherever i go.

The last hour? reading a good book, most the time it’s a sweet, funny and uplifting one.

What makes you feel successful? knowing that what i’ve done for someone has made life either a little easier or a little happier for someone. “one word or a pleasing smile is enough to raise a sad or wounded soul” -Mother Therese

What brings you joy? oh lots of things, family and friends and lots of sunshine! i am a pretty happy girl so most the time it’s the small things. being able to spend time with my nephew is at the top of the list.

What women do you admire? my mother and grandmother. they are the best examples for most women. they work hard and are dedicated to their families and the church. they have taught me to appreciate what is really important in life, to be otherworldly.

What do you like best about your closest friend? Jamie is an independent , confident woman. She doesn’t sweat the small stuff. She is extremely loyal and can make me laugh so hard i cry.

What do you like best about yourself? i try to give most people the benefit of the doubt and i’m never too proud to say i’m sorry.

What advice would you give boys about girls? to know that the nice guy doesn’t always finish last and that it is incredibly attractive to meet a gentleman.

How do you overcome adversity? kill ’em with kindness and if that doesn’t work. smash them like a bug! ha ha some people need to be put in their place.

How do you want to be remembered? this question is morbid! ha ha i hope to be remembered as everyone’s best friend. i hope i can make an impact on the small amount of people i come across and i hope they can laugh at me!