Blog Post, Written by Alé

Time to Pass the Mic to the Female Comics: WCW w/ Marcella Arguello

Alé Pictured With Marcella Arguello.  Text "Stop Giving Your Money To Douchebags: Support  Female Comics" Dream Chasers and Change Makers Website on the bottom.

Little known fact about me, I love comedy. Stand-up comedy, comedy podcasts, memoirs written by comedians, drag shows with comedy queens, shows written by and starring comedians, sign me the eff up. In the last few years I have become a huge fan. So I knew, when I visited L.A. I wanted to go to the Hollywood Improv and see a stand-up show hosted by Marcella Arguello, called Women Crush Wednesdays. I was souped to see some hilarious female comics.

Flyer for Women Crush Wednesdays with Marcella Arguello Text: Tonight Tonight Tonight - A stand up comedy show with a fresh line up every week and no male comedians.  Ever.  Never.  Not ever any.  So stop asking.  Every Wednesday 7:45.  The Hollywood Improv Lab.  Always $10/Never a Drink minimum.  There is a photo of Marcella wearing all black.  Her hair is in two braids.  She is holding onto the ends of her braids.  She is wearing a cap that says "Feminist" on the brim.

My cousin Jill lives out in L.A. and told me she was off work Wednesday and would take me wherever I wanted to go. I immediately screen-shotted the WCW flyer on Marcella’s instagram and it was on.

We got there early so I got a drink at the bar. An announcement was made that they were ready to seat the Marcella Arguello show a little early and to line up. The bartender said, take your drink, the entrance is to the back of the bar, right around the corner. They took our phones and locked it in a little phone jail pouch and we were shuffled to our seats in a packed house in a huge room. I didn’t mind relinquishing my phone, because as I have learned listening to hundreds of hours of Nicole Byer’s voice on her podcast, “Why Won’t You Date Me,” comedians work out new material at shows like this so it really sucks when people sneak videos and post it online.

So Here’s What Happened…

Right away, and I said this to Cousin Jill, that the venue was not what I expected. I thought it would be an intimate little room. However, I was happy that it was in a much bigger room and was impressed that so many men came to see feminist comics. We were told we each had to purchase two items, which confused me because the flyer said, “Never a minimum.” But whatever, we needed dinner anyway. The food was okay.

When they introduced the host, and it wasn’t Marcella Arguello, I thought, “Well maybe she closes the show.” The first comic was a female comic who did about five minutes, and was very funny. Then she introduced the next comic, named Anthony, something or other. That might not even be his name, to be honest.

I was pretty sure Marcella had been clear that only female comics perform on WOMAN Crush Wednesdays. The flyer literally says, “No men ever, so stop asking.” I quickly rationalized and said maybe she is doing a favor for a good friend, or maybe he’s gay and she allowed him to perform during pride month. What the fuck do I know?

No Something is Definitely Wrong

First, this comic came on stage and made jokes about audience members appearances, he went on to let us know that he is a very successful up and coming comedian. Sure, cool? Then he made some fat jokes about an actually successful female comic. Now I am annoyed. Not what I signed up for, and was even more annoyed at the audience laughing at these not very clever cheap shots.

The real eye rolls came when he went onto say, “You can’t joke about anything anymore.” OMFG, here we go. Translation, white male comedians can’t get on stage and be misogynistic, racist, transphobic, fatphobic, hacks with successful careers anymore. (Apparently, you totally can, but back to that later.)

Like I said, I consume a lot of comedy content. None of it grabs for low hanging fruit by making jokes at the most vulnerable members of our society. It’s fucking fantastic, I cry laughing, and sometimes, like Hannah Gadsby’s Netflix special, “Nanette,” it is so smart and so real, I cry real meaningful tears.

No Seriously, May I be Excused?

Well, Anthony something or other, continued on with his set. He did a several minutes on the #MeToo movement. First defending Kevin Spacey and saying how he did nothing wrong. Then claiming, that if you are good looking, sexual abuse allegations just don’t have the same career ending effect. Here he cites the demise of Louis C.K. and nothing really happening to James Franco. Every time the crowd cackled my stomach churned a little more. I felt a little stupid that it took me so long to wonder if I was in the right place.

He closed his set with a bit that seemed to last hours about transgender athletes. His “observation” here was that only male athletes transition so they can outcompete women. Multiple times he commented on how the liberals weren’t laughing. Get me the fuck out there.

Sweet Relief- There’s Marcella and Women who Crush!

I finally flagged down a server and asked if this was Marcella’s Women Crush Wednesday. He very kindly and quickly got us the fuck out of there. We were ushered to a much smaller, but equally packed room. We were lucky enough to get two seats at the bar.

There was Marcella Arguello, on stage doing a spot on impersonation of Beyoncé. Man, I was starstruck. Marcella is something special, tall and beautiful, smart and talented. Also, the curator of a show where I felt I was home. [Bonus: I even tried to pay for a club soda and the bartender winked and waved me off and slid it over.] While, we unfortunately missed a big portion of the show we got to see a comic who I believe identifies as nonbinary, an Indian woman, a pregnant lesbian, and Latina comic, who had a much funnier take on #MeToo to turn the tables on men.

The Take-Away

Not one of these comics started any of their sets with, “Oh man, you can’t joke about anything anymore.” They didn’t have to. They relied on their actual creativity and talent and their own experiences navigating this shitty world. The world in which white male comics pack houses, with expensive drink minimums taking cheap shots and talking about things they can’t joke about anymore, (but do anyway?) The world where actually skilled and talented women of all different races, sizes, and life experience actually are doing great work in a smaller room off to the side. If that is not a metaphor on the state of nation, I don’t know what it is. Hard to be a straight, cis, white man these days.

Alé and Marcella Arguello outside the Hollywood Improv, after Women Crush Wednesdays.  Marcella is a tall woman with curly hair.  She is wearing a white cropped t-shirt and jeans.  Alé is wearing a green dress and her hand is on her hip.
Marcella Arguello & Yours Truly

However, infuriating that I had to listen to a man say his Corvette identifies as a Prius so he can race in Prius races, (? – unclear of his message) I did get to meet Marcella after the show, and wow, she is out of this world. She was so friendly and welcoming. If you find yourself in Los Angeles. Check out Women Crush Wednesdays at the Hollywood Improv. Just make sure you’re in the right damn room.

Alé Cardinalle | Joykill Feminist

Blog Post, Written by Alé

My Biological Mother was a Domestic Worker: An Adoption Story

Title appears: My Biological Mother was a Domestic Worker, an Adoption Story.  Under appears the Dream Chasers and Change Makers logo, on the right is a pregnant woman's stomach with her arms embracing it.  Alé tells the story of being her biological mother being a domestic worker to be then be raised by domestic workers.

Friends, this a tough one to write.

Being an overseas adoptee from Brazil is a huge part of my story and my identity, interwoven into the fiber of my being. Whenever I feel like I have my footing and a deep understanding of my adoption story, the universe never fails to provide a new lesson.

A few months ago, I received one of these messages, in the form of an Instagram Post from an educator on race and womanhood, Rachel Cargle. Rachel often challenges her followers to think critically on issues of race and feminism, she insists white women #dothework, and confront hard truths.

A photo of Rachel Cargle and Alé at Rachel's lecture, "Unpacking White Feminism."  On the right it says Allyship = Knowledge + Empathy + Action, a quote by Rachel Cargle.
Meeting Rachel at her “Unpacking White Feminism” Lecture in NYC

One post in particular asked us (white women), to think about the way we have interacted with and perceive domestic workers. I learned from Rachel, that second wave feminism was largely about encouraging women to get out of the house. Feminism was framed as a way for women have careers, and lives of their own. For black and brown women of color in this country, having to work was not some profound new wave concept. It was a means of survival. Droves of white women liberated themselves and began careers outside the home. Meanwhile, women of color were entering the homes of white families to clean and raise children. In turn, losing time to spend with their own children.

The Circumstances of My Adoption

As I read Rachel’s post, over and over, my mind was doing flips. I went twenty-eight years not knowing my birth story. I heard things like, “She (your biological mother) gave you up.” Even more harshly stated, “She didn’t want you.”

In 2016, my biological mother and I connected on Facebook. I heard my story, our story, for the first time. My biological mother took a job as a live-in domestic worker for a much wealthier family. If not for this job she would have no income, no place to live, she had no options. She was 21 at the time. She realized she was pregnant. Her boss said there was no way she could keep her job with a newborn.

My biological mother already had a daughter in the care of the child’s paternal grandmother. She turned to the father of her unborn child. As I understand it, quite literally had a door slammed in her face. She was given two options, live on the streets with her baby, or place the baby for adoption. Clearly, she chose the latter.

After my birth, she fell into a serious depression. She was ridden with guilt and uncertainty about the choice she made. My biological mother lived with that pain for twenty-eight years until that day we connected on Facebook.

Being Raised in Part by Brazilian Domestic Workers

The nuances of this story dig deeper. My adoptive family (I never refer to them that way but for the sake of avoiding confusion in this instance I will), were privileged enough to be able to hire help. I was raised by many strong, inspiring women, including my adoptive mother, grandmother, aunt, and two live-in Brazilian domestic workers. Both of those women had sons back in Brazil. In order for them to provide for their children, their best option was to come to United States and help take care of other people’s homes, and help raise other women’s children.

I am not sure irony is even the right word here, but the irony, of me, an adopted Brazilian child, being raised by Brazilian domestic workers, who are not even able to live in the same country as their children was lost on me. That is, until Rachel’s gut wrenching, thought provoking post. It is an incredibly painful thought to begin to comprehend.

I must admit I am still grappling with my feelings around this. However, I will tell you what I do know. My heart is filled with gratitude for my biological mother’s decision. She allowed herself to feel the trauma of loss for decades to put my needs before her own psychological safety. She is my hero, my angel. Every privilege and opportunity I have been given is all in thanks to her sacrifice.

Action Items

Title: Honoring the Sacrifice of my biological Mother: A critical look at our relationship to domestic workers.  In the background is a woman with a globe on her stomach.  Two hands hold it in place with their fingers in the shape of a heart.  On the bottom of the image is the Dream Chasers and Change Makers logo.

If you have the need and are privileged enough to be able to hire a domestic worker, the point is not to shame you here. I stand with Rachel Cargle in asking you to think critically about your relationship to the women you are bringing into your home. Are you considering they are people with full lives and families who love them? Do you compensate them fairly for the sacrifice they are making to help you clean your house and/or raise your children? Are you being considerate of their time? What do you know about their culture? Is what you expect fair and just? Do you know their long term goals?

I speak in depth about my experience of being an adoptee on Episode 6 of the Dream Chasers and Change Makers podcast.

In writing this vulnerable blog post, I ask you to sit with any feelings it may have stirred inside you. Feel free to scroll to the bottom of the page and share your thoughts in the comments.

Alé Cardinalle|LSW Candidate 2019 NYU

Blog Post, Mental Health, Written by Alé

I Must Confess, My Life is a Mess.

Chronic Disorganization - PTSD isn't always what you think.  A blog post by Dream Chasers and Change Makers.  Image is a messy desk.

In the name of brave and vulnerable truth telling, I have something to confess. My life is quite often a literal mess. While I can run a blog, produce a podcast, be a graduate student, and am a budding social worker, doing an internship providing psychotherapy to college students, my life is far from tidy. I have struggled with chronic disorganization my entire life. The explanation is far more complicated than, “I’m lazy.” Nor am I irresponsible, and my head is not in the clouds (for the most part.)

While I live out my big dreams, chores like picking up my medication, getting mail sent out on time, and putting away my laundry is asking a lot. I’ve had this issue from varying degrees since I was little kid. I talk about it in detail on the podcast during Episode 3. I want to share for the same reason I think storytelling is important. You are not alone, I am not alone, and our stories and our truth connects us. So, here is the dirty truth right here.

Since I was little, adults were pretty sure I had Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). I was carted off to be tested by my elementary school’s child study team, the people in a school who decide if students could benefit from special education services. But no, I was never diagnosed with any learning disability. So it was always curious that my papers were constantly disorganized because I never put my papers in the right folders. Finding my homework was a constant struggle. I remember shame and anxiety rising in my little body when a teacher asked us take out a worksheet from yesterday. My bedroom was a mess and I found it difficult to bathe when I was supposed to.

If I didn’t have ADD What the Heck Was Wrong with me?

I would like to say the answer came easily and I stopped staring out the window and was squeaky clean little girl. Not the case. Up to this writing I still struggle with completing tasks that seem like no brainers for others. My GPA is fantastic, I am growing the DC and CM community. I also have plates next to my bed that need to be thrown away.

In my mid-twenties, I went to see a therapist and explained my chronic disorganization. She had me fill an assessment for, you guessed it, adult ADD. I told her I had taken medication for it in the past, it triggered my anxiety and I just didn’t like it. We talked alternative treatments. She recommended something called neuro-feedback and explained it as going to the gym for your brain. She gave me the number for her guy.

I went, and the first session, the man did something called a brain map. He put all this goopy stuff in my hair and attached some wires to my head. It looked wild, but committed to “fixing” my ADD, I let him goop me up. The map was supposed to show how my brain works and how the treatment could help. Writing this out it sounds like a sci-fi movie, it felt that way too. I came back a second time to have him explain the results. The first thing he said to me was, “Did something happen to you?” I looked at him, confused. “Well, this brain map shows a PTSD brain, not an ADD brain.”

Me and My PTSD Brain

I returned to therapy dejected, and cried to my therapist. I had experienced partner violence in the past. After that incident, I was diagnosed with PTSD. However, I got a lot of help and a lot of therapy after that. It STILL changed the wiring of my brain? That thought pissed me the eff off. To think one person had the power to affect my brain was unacceptable. My therapist said, “But didn’t you have the issues of disorganization way before you were diagnosed?” Yeah, I did. I continued to feel like a failed science experiment that just could not be figured out.

The universe is beautiful and loves me, and did provide a framework in which I could better understand myself. Thank you universe, and thank you social work school. I learned two things that changed my relationship to my chronic disorganization. First, in a class studying children and attachment, I learned that being separated from your biological mother is trauma. It is traumatic even if you were adopted as a newborn baby, like I was. (You can hear all about that in Episode 6 of the podcast.) Odd as it sounds, I felt relief that the adoption was likely the root of my PTSD brain. That scummy ex just triggered it. However, it did not explain my chronic disorganization and struggle to complete menial tasks.

Then I got the second piece of the puzzle. My professor for human behavior is an expert in childhood trauma. She said, “In my opinion, I believe ADD is almost always misdiagnosed PTSD.” My jaw dropped. BINGO! My parents adopted me in the late 80s. The information about the affects of adoption was nothing like it is now. No one would have thought a girl adopted as a newborn would have any trauma. Little Alé, staring out the window while her teacher is talking, or frantically looking for last night’s homework, must have ADD.

The Cure for Chronic Disorganization: Letting Go of Shame

It would be lovely to say I made this self-discovery and my chronic disorganization problems lifted. Not so. With that said, this insight has changed my life. Being “messy” and having a hard time doing the boring stuff, like dishes, has been the source of a lot of shame for me. I was always afraid people would think I was lazy, heck, I even thought I was lazy.

My brain being a “PTSD brain” is no more my fault than my brown hair is my fault. I am not lazy or broken. This is not to say I accept life living in a chaotic mess, but when life does get messy (literally), I can be gentle with myself.

However, I know the areas that are difficult for me and I do my best to make my life a little easier. I know running errands is tough for me, so when I can I get things in bulk so I don’t have to run to the store as often. I get my anti-depressants in a few month supply. Paying bills on time and getting mail out was another point of struggle, so enrolling in auto-pay and emailing have been other beautiful gifts from the universe. Also, I ask for help. Often. When something is hanging over my head and really stealing my peace, I am not afraid to reach out to the people in my life that I know can help me handle it.

Alé Cardinalle | LSW Candidate 2019

Blog Post, Manifest Your Best Life, Written by Alé

Setting Intentions for My 31st Year

Setting intentions for my 31st year.  Alexandra lists 31 goals she has to make this year the best of her life!

Setting intentions has been at the forefront of my mind, thanks to Betty, my podcast co-host/personal law of attraction and manifestation guru! Also, I have learned that setting intentions allows us to know our values and leads to less procrastination and more overall self compassion. Yesterday was my 31st birthday, and I have decided it will be the best year of my life, because like my toddler niece says, “Because I said so.” To celebrate this fresh, clean, shiny new year year of my life- I have written out 31 goals both big and small, I intend to accomplish in my 31st year on this planet.

31 Goals for my 31st Year

  1. Moisturize my face 
  2. Connect more and meet a ton of new people
  3. Grow the Dream Chasers and Change Makers Community- help me with this one and Like Our Facebook Page!
  4. Eat more vegetables
  5. Graduate NYU!
  6. Pass my social exam to get licensed
  7. Laugh a lot
  8. Read books by diverse authors
  9. Write hard personal stories
  10. Move my body in ways I look forward to
  11. Get a clinical social work job with great supervision
  12. Put my clothes away!
  13. Stand more and strengthen my sit muscles
  14. Practice lots of self-compassion and be really good friends with myself
  15. Find a mindfulness/mediation routine that works for me
  16. Invite friends and family to my home often
  17. Travel to at least 3 new places I have never been, domestic or otherwise
  18. Have my picture taken regularly
  19. Talk kindly to my body and my brain
  20. Tell my all my people how much I love them
  21. Stay in better touch with the Brazilian side of family[Listen to Episode 6 of the Podcast to hear more about that!]
  22. Find and engage in public speaking opportunities
  23. Make my bed when I get out of it
  24. Get a lot of plants and take good care of them
  25. Remember to be grateful and write gratitude lists when I forget
  26. Buy tickets and go to a bunch of events
  27. Take my piano skills to the next level
  28. Start using a planner!
  29. Use less single use plastic (keep better track of my reusable water bottles)
  30. Put my shoes away after I take them off
  31. Have a lot of orgasms!

Do you have any tips to help me to stay committed to my intentions? Do you have any birthday traditions that keep you focused on your dreams. Talk to me in the comments!

Alé Cardinalle | LSW Candidate NYU 2019

Blog Post, The People Need to Know!, Written by Alé

Podcast Recommendation? Have Six!

Need a podcast recommendation that will inspire, uplift or make you laugh?
6 Podcast Recommendations: to uplift, inspire, or make you laugh.  Where Should We Begin, Conversations with People who Hate Me, Oprah's Super Soul Sunday, My Favorite Murder, Why Won't you Date me, and Transitional Wisdom

Looking for a podcast recommendation? There are 18 million podcasts currently available to stream! If you are just getting started out listening to podcasts, or are looking for something new to add to your library, read on. Having a three hour daily commute has given me the time to listen to a lot of podcasts. This collection of six podcasts will uplift and inspire you, or just make you laugh out loud. If you are enjoying the Dream Chasers and Change Makers Podcast, you’ll find another show you love here! (If you haven’t heard our show, stop reading and go listen!) Click any of the titles to get a direct link to my podcast recommendations.

1. Where Should We Begin: With Esther Perel

The logo for the podcast recommendation, Where Should we Begin with Esther Perel.  The title is printer over a couple's bed.
A Podcast for when you want a peek into the lives of others.

Esther Perel invites listeners into her office as she provides couples’ therapy to her clients. I love being a fly on the wall in other people’s therapy sessions! The clients reveal the strains in their relationships, ranging from infidelity, to substance use, to abuse. Esther’s skillful and direct approach, and her French accent make the show both educational (for a budding therapist like me) and entertaining.

2. Conversations with People Who Hate Me

The logo for the podcast recommendation, Conversations with People Who Hate Me.  The title in a speech bubble of host, Dylan Marron's head.  He is sitting at a desk in front of a computer holding a red telephone.
A podcast for when you want to hear a civil discussion with people who fundamentally disagree.

Something I am working on is open communication with people who think and believe differently than I do. That is why I love CWPHM. Dylan Marron started this podcast interviewing people who had sent him cruel and hateful messages and comments online. Now he often connects guests who have received online hate to their haters. The conversations are thoughtful and everyone is treated with respect and dignity. The show reminds us that, “There is a human on the other side of the screen.” Dylan’s approach to this topic is refreshing and fills me with hope!

3. Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations

Podcast Recommendation: Oprah's Super Soul Conversations.  Text over a blue and green background.
A podcast for when you want to go deep and feed your soul.

I mean, obviously if it’s Oprah, it’s got to be good. At Dream Chasers and Change Makers, our whole “thing” is deep, brave, vulnerable conversations. Super Soul Conversations is exactly that, with some of the world’s brightest minds and spiritual teachers. This podcast goes deep! Oprah interviews guests about topics like spirituality, the afterlife, the human condition, and life’s hardest lessons.

4. My Favorite Murder

Podcast Recommendation: My Favorite Murder with Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark.  Cut out Magazine Letters over a black background.
A podcast for you’re in the mood for murder with a side of fun!

MFM is a true crime/comedy podcast, hosted by the hilarious and talented Georgia Hardstark and Karen Kilgariff. Their comedic timing, impeccable storytelling skills, and chemistry makes this show a treat. Not only do they recount the stories of infamous murders, the hosts give us a glimpse into their lives, and are candid about their mental health battles. They are very conscious of respecting victims and tear down perpetrators in side-splitting ways. Their fandom is #goals. The My Favorite Murder community is enormous. Join in on the fun by subscribing to the fan cult or one of the hundreds of Facebook groups.

5. Why Won’t You Date Me?

Podcast Recommendation: Why Won't you Date Me?  With Nicole Byer.  A cartoon version of Nicole Byer with her arms stretched out, signaling "Why?"
A podcast for when you can’t figure out why the hell you’re so single, or need a belly laugh!

You know her, you love her, she is Nicole Byer, host of Netflix’s Nailed It! In her NSFW podcast she asks the question, “Why am I so single even though I will [insert wild sexual act here.]” Nicole has guests talk about their dating and sex lives, and has them review her multiple dating profiles. I have to say, almost nothing makes me laugh as hard as this delightful podcast. Not only does she make me pee my pants in laughter, she is all about embracing her body, sexuality, and bold personality. Even the ads are ridiculously funny. 10 out 10 recommend for podcast recommendation!

6. Transitional Wisdom

Podcast Recommendation: Transitional Wisdom.  Black and white sketch of the hosts' faces with the title printed below.
A podcast for when you want to learn what life is like for those in the trans* community!

We love supporting our friends and independently produced podcasts like ours! I proudly make this podcast recommendation. Hosts Nash and C talk all things trans*, including medical transitioning, dating while transgender, allyship, and more. If you are part of the LGBTQ+ community, love someone who is, or want to learn more about the life experiences of those in the trans* community. They also feature captivating interview from high profile people in the trans* community, parents of trans* children, and supporters of the LGBTQ. No matter how you identify, this podcast has something for you.

Hope you podcast recommendation that you love! What would add to our list? Let us know in the comments!

Published by Alé Cardinalle |LMSW Candidate NYU 19’| Podcast Enthusiast

Blog Post, Manifest Your Best Life, Written by Alé

How Self Advocacy Led to Success After Rejection

Here is a photo with a screen shot of a rejection letter.  The title says "What I did after I received this rejection letter."  I promote self advocacy after rejection.

Story time, gather round! I am going to tell you a story about failure and how at first I was a hot effing mess before I was able to manifest success. I landed my dream position after being told no! Through self advocacy, I wound up exactly where I am meant to be. If you have areas of your life that could be improved if only you found the strength to speak up, then you’re going to want to read on.

I am in the last semester in getting my Masters in Social Work. (Woo-Woo–Class of 2019!) As part of our training we are placed in two internships for a year each. In the second year, your fields of interest are considered and there is a bit more say on our part of where we wind up. Social work is a big field, social workers are EVERYWHERE. The type of social work I entered the program wanting to do is psychotherapy, I want to be a therapist.

Envisioning My Path

When I spoke with my advisor, I made it clear that I wanted to be placed somewhere I’d work clinically and directly with clients. She told about an opportunity at a well known university to work in the counseling center. The catch was, unlike most internships for social workers, this one is highly competitive. I could be rejected. PSHHHH! I am a fantastic interviewer, a passionate student, and an asset to any team I work on.

I looked at the counseling center’s website and fell head over heels in love and knew that is exactly where I belong. The school was far from where I lived, but other than that it was exactly where I wanted to be. Their training program is unmatched. I would be co-facilitating groups and doing individual therapy with undergraduates and graduates. Being the manifester that I am, I was there. That position was mine.

I was actually visiting Betty in Miami when I got the call that they liked my resumé and they invited me for an interview. Betty, my lovely personal hype-man, amped me up even more, giving me all her good vibes and energy. A couple days later I flew home, and the next morning I woke up very early and made my way to my interview.

It went awesome! They gave me the position on the spot! Big JK here!

Grappling with Failure

So, that’s not what happened at all. Here is what really happened: I spent the next two weeks checking my email 5 million times a day. I was waiting in agony to hear back. Finally, an email from one of the people I interviewed with popped up on my phone, right as I was about to take a group of eighth grade students into state testing. I didn’t get the position. To prepare for testing, I had to lock my phone away. I was going to have silent and with my thoughts for an indeterminable amount of time. Cool. 😒

rejection letter
Rejection Letter!

I tried so HARD to fight back tears. Especially, because I did not want to distract my students while they were taking their tests and have them wondering what has Ms. Cardinalle crying about in the middle of PARCC testing. (I LOATHE state testing but that’s another story for another time.) It was my responsibility to “circulate” the room while the students tested.

It isn’t easy for me to tell you this– but in the name of being vulnerable and truth telling, I bawled my eyes out while my students sat at their computers taking their tests. Turns out teachers are real people and sometimes when they get bad news circulating the room is just not a viable option. I tried to hide my face the best I could and let the tears pass, and eventually they did, and then they’d come up again.

After testing they asked my why I was crying and I told them. Some of them shared stories about not getting into the high schools where they applied. They offered words of encouragement to me and each other. They were so sweet, I miss them very much.

A screen shot of an email explaining why Alé was rejected from the position she applied for.
Only awesome supervisors take the time to explain why you’re rejected. This made me want to work with them EVEN MORE!

One of my interviewers sent me a kind follow up email. She said I was a “high caliber” candidate, however, she the team felt that my interests weren’t aligned with the agency. No! What they hell did I say to make her believe that?

Later on I spoke with my advisor and told her I would have to interview elsewhere. She said, “This barely ever happens, just a few times in my career.” Awesome.

My advisor sent me other placements and I looked at everything with disappointment. I turned down another position I offered to me. That original internship, that was my internship. Maybe I am stubborn, maybe I can’t deal with being told no, maybe I just know exactly what is right for me, or maybe school is expensive and I want the most bang for my buck. I could not let go of the place that had rejected me.

Advocating for Myself After Rejection

I couldn’t get the words from that second email out of my head. I AM right for this position! It’s aligned with my I called my advisor and said, “Would you please ask them to reconsider?” She told me the spot still was available and she said she would call.

They granted me a second interview. I tried to remember all the questions they had asked the first time and how I answered them. Playing it all over in my head, I tried to prepare. I did not want to have to cope with rejection for the second time.

That second time I interviewed with a different team, and yes, I got it! I have been there six months. It has been one of the greatest learning and growing experiences of my life. This is the work I am meant to be doing.

A screenshot of a letter explaining why I was rejected from after my interview.  It says they believe I'd find success at a better suited agency.  They were wrong!
“I was very taken by your persistence…”

Self Advocacy May Open Doors to Success

Why do have I shared this with you? Great things can happen when you advocate for yourself. Doors open! Can’t promise it will turn out for me in this scenario, it will unlikely happen this way for me again. The point is we will never know unless we take a chance and SPEAK UP!

A few people said to me, “I knew it wasn’t really no.” I also knew it wasn’t really no. Asking for a second chance was really brave. Even if they didn’t give me a second interview, I think it was an important step in learning to empower myself. This time it worked out great.

My call to action for you is to look at your life and see if there are any areas you can be advocating for yourself. Are there areas of your life that are not living up to your vision? If you can speak up on your behalf and campaign for what you know in your heart is right, I highly suggest you do so. Your story may be different from mine. No matter the outcome, I can promise, if you are clear in your intentions, self advocacy will be an empowering experience.

I shared this story with a classmate of mine. He told me he wrote a letter to a college asked them to consider his rejection. They did reconsider and let him in! Persistence can go a long way!

Action Items:

Let us know in the comments areas of your life that could improve, if only you advocated for yourself!

Sometimes we can try self advocacy and still be disappointed. Perhaps, a rejection has led you into a tail spin and you could use some self compassion, click here for 5 Tips to Manifest Self Compassion.

By Alé Cardinalle | LMSW Candidate NYU 2019 |

Blog Post, Change Makers, The People Need to Know!, Written by Alé

12 Black Change Makers You Didn’t Learn about in School

In this post we will give you bios of 11 black change makers you didn’t learn about in school. Learn the rich history from yesterday and today of some of the most influential, pioneering and badass black Americans who influence our history.


1. Alvin Ailey

Heading Says Celebrating Black Change Makers.  On the left the is a photo of Alvin Ailtey, wearing a red leotard, in a dance pose.  There is a bullet list of his accomplishments on this right.  It is says activist, founder of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, recipient of Presidential Medal of Honor, and Choreographer, Below is his name, and the Dream Chasers and Change Makers logo.

Alvin Ailey was a child during racial segregation and lynchings and grew to have the nickname, “Cultural Ambassador to the World,” for having danced and toured all over the world. He had a strong sense of black pride that developed at an early age while attending a southern baptist church and juke joints. He found dance at Lester Horton’s dance school. Ailey went on to popularize modern dance and his show “Revelations,” is the best known modern dance performance in history. He founded the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and later the Alvin Ailey school. Although the dancers were multi-racial, Ailey wanted to ensure black dancers were given opportunities because they were often turned away from other performances. He died in 1989, and after his death Barack Obama awarded him the Presidential Medal of Honor. @alvinailey‘s dances theater continues on today.

Learn More: https://www.biography.com/people/alvin-ailey-9177959

2. Mae Carol Jeminson

Title of the photo says celebrating black change makers.  Below on the left is a photo of Mae Carol Jeminson, smiling in a full space suit, with the helmet open.  To the left are bullet points of her accomplishments.  It says, first black woman in space, engineer, physician, college professor, holds nine honorary PHDs.  On the bottom of the photo is the Dream Chasers and Change Makers Logo

 Dr. Jemison became the first black woman in space in 1992, going into orbit on the Space Shuttle Endeavor. She was selected to join the Astronaut Corps by @nasa while she was serving the @peacecorps in the 80’s. Currently she is the principal of the 100 Year Starship organization. Oh, and she’s been an actress too! She’s been featured on Star Trek: The Next Generation. 🚀 

Learn More: https://www.biography.com/people/mae-c-jemison-9542378

3. Keith Boykin

The heading of the photo says Celebrating Black Change Makers.  On the right is a photo of Keith Boykin wearing a suit.  He is standing in front of a brick wall.  On the right is a bullet list of his accomplishments, including, LGBTQ advocate, award winning author, political analyst and commentator, and Co-Founder of the National Black Justice Coalition.  His name is printed below.  On the bottom of the photo is the dream chasers and change makers logo.

This man’s resumé is more than impressive but here’s a little info: @keithboykin1 was the editor of the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties law review, while attending Harvard Law. He later went on to be the highest ranking openly gay staffer in the Clinton White House, as special assistant to the president and Director of Specialty Media. He published his first book in 1996, “One More River to Cross: Black and Gay in America.” He is often seen as progressive broadcaster and commentator on CNN, and he is the cohost of “My Two Cents,” a talk show on BET.

Learn More: https://www.keithboykin.com/bio

4. Anna J Cooper

Heading says celebrating Black Change Makers.  Below on the left is a black and white head shot of Anna Cooper.  To the write is a list of her accomplishments, including black liberation activist, author, educator, and one of the first black women to earn a phd.  Below is her name.  On the bottom is the Dream Chasers and Change Makers Logo.

If you’re like me, you have never heard of Anna J Cooper despite her impressive contributions to society. Not only was she the first black woman to earn her PhD, she is often referred to as “The Mother of Black Feminism.” Ms. Cooper was born enslaved and at only 9 years old she was able to earn a scholarship and began her teacher training and road to academic excellence.

Learn More: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Anna-Julia-Cooper

5. Angela Rye

The heading of the picture says Celebrating Black Change Makers.  Below on the left is a picture Angela Rye wearing white with her arms crossed.  On the right is a bullet list of her accomplishments including CEO of an advocacy firm, attorney, political analyst and commentator, and podcast host of On One with Angela Rye.  Below is her name and below that is the Dream Chasers and Change Makers Logo.


@angelarye
 is a change maker currently impacting history. She is an attorney and a liberal political commentator on @cnn and a political analyst for @npr. She is involved in several organizations– including the Congressional Black Caucus Institute and the Women in Entertainment Empowerment Network. Angela also co-founded @impactstrategies which encourages young professionals to engage both civically and politically. 

Learn More: https://dodoodad.com/angela-rye-biography

6. Octavia E Butler

The heading of the picture says Celebrating Black Change Makers.  Below on the write is a headshot of Octavia Butler looking at the camera.  She is wearing a blazer with geometric patterns and glasses.  The Background appears to be a berry bush.  To the right is a list of her accomplishments, including award winning sci-fi writer, feminist, first sci-fi author to receive a MacArthur Fellowship.  Below that is her name.  On the bottom of the picture is the dream chasers and change makers logo.

Rejecting the idea to become a secretary, Octavia E. Butler entered a field dominated by white men, and became an award winning science-fiction writer. Ms. Butler spread her success around by teaching several writing workshops as well. Furthermore, Octavia Butler’s stories explore far reaching issues of sex, power, and race. Her writing garnered her a diverse following, and she claimed black readers, sci-do fans, and feminists were her most loyal fans.

Learn More: https://www.biography.com/people/octavia-e-butler-38207

7. Janet Mock

The header of the picture says Celebrating Black Change Makers.  Below is a head shot a curly-haired Janet Mock wearing ornate hoop earrings.  On the right is a list of her accomplishments, including transgender activist, author, tv host, and producer.  Below is her name and below that is the Dream Chasers and Change Makers logo.


@janetmock
 is a transgender activist, a New York Times bestseller, a TV producer & host, an NYU grad (woo woo), and has been a magazine editor. She was assigned male at birth but affirms that she always been female. Her book Redefining is the first book written by a trans person who transitioned in their younger years. She’s also been a guest on Oprah’s (😍) #supersoulsunday. She stands as with other black and trans change makers, like Laverne Cox.

Learn More: https://janetmock.com/bio/

8. Edward Bouchet

Heading of the picture says Celebrating Black Change Makers.  On the right is a sepia tone headshot of Edward Bouchet.  On the right are a list of his accomplishments, including 1st Black Person in to receive a PhD in the US, Physicist, Yale Graduate, and educator.  Below is his name and below that is the Dream Chasers and Change Makers logo.

Despite his brilliant mind and his PhD in physics Edward Bouchet was unable to get a job as a college professor because he was black, even though he was one of the only people in country to have attained that academic achievement. Additionally, he taught at some of the only schools that offered rigorous curriculums of chemistry and physics offered to African Americans for 25 years. It was only after death that his work was given accolades with several awards and honors.

Learn More: https://www.biography.com/people/edward-alexander-bouchet-21317497

9. Rachel Cargle

The header of the photo says celebrating black change makers.  Below to the right is a head shot of Rachel with curly hair with a headband.  She is wearing a black sweater.  On the right is a list of her accomplishments, including activist, creator and lecturer of "unpacking white feminism," writer, and entrepreneur. Below is her name and the Dream Chasers and Change Makers Logo.

 If you haven’t heard of her yet, @rachel.cargle is an educator and academic. She is one of the most influential black change makers of our time. Her work focuses on the intersection of womanhood and race. She has a large Instagram following where she asks her followers to #dothework and unlearn the racism that has been perpetuated throughout white culture. For black history month, Rachel has posted a prompt for people to google and learn about important black history. She also is a speaker and tours the country with her lecture, “Unpacking White Feminism.” Rachel writes for Harper’s Bazar. She is also a student at Columbia University, and an entrepreneur.

Learn More: https://www.rachelcargle.com/

10. Ella Baker

Header on the picture says "Celebrating Black Change Makers."  Below on the left is a black and white photo of Ella Baker wearing sunglasses and speaking into a microphone with her arm outstretched.  On the right is a bulleted list of her accomplishments, including civil rights activist, mentor, leader, and critic of sexism and classism in the united states.  Below is her name and the Dream Chasers and Change Makers Logo

Ella Baker is one of many black change makers who worked largely behind the scenes with famous civil rights leaders, like MLK. She was a mentor to many other activists. One of her mentees was Rosa Parks. Her work involved empowering the oppressed to advocate for their rights. She also called out racism and classism within the civil rights movement. Ms. Baker worked within the NAACP for 15 years. She started as a secretary and worked her way to becoming the highest ranking woman within the organization. However, she challenged hierarchies within organizations all together.

Learn More: https://ellabakercenter.org/about/who-was-ella-baker

11. Killer Mike

The title of the photo says Celebrating Black Change Makers.  Below on the right is Killer Mike, wearing a black t-shirt, he is making a serious face and holding a small kitten.  On the right to his picture is a list of his accomplishments, including, black activist, rapper, actor, and producer of trigger warning.  Below is his name and the Dream Chasers and Change Makers Logo.

Atlanta based rapper, Killer Mike is half of the Grammy award winning rap duo, Run the Jewels.  He is a political activist whose work leads to empower the black community.  In the 2016 election and now, he has been an outspoken supporter of Bernie Sanders. He invests in property and owns a barber shop. Killer Mike aims to show the black community how they can find financial security and success outside of sports and music.  He has recently produced and released a Netflix series, “Trigger Warning: with Killer Mike.”  It is enlightening and HILARIOUS, he is certainly one of the highest ranking entertaining black change makers.

Learn More: https://www.biography.com/people/killer-mike-5102017

11. Angela Davis

The header of the photo says celebrating black change makers.  to the left is a photo of Angela Davis with gray curly hair wearing an #IMWITHKAP football jersey.  To the right is a list of her accomplishment, including LGBTQ advocate, radical black educator, author, and co-founder of Critical Resistance.

Angela Davis is a writer, activist, educator, and revolutionary. Her work is vast and spans decades. She is known for work in prison abolition, she herself was jailed, accused of participating in a prison outbreak but was later cleared. She has written several books, including a title called, “Women, Race, & Class.” Throughout recent history she has spoke out on major events like the Vietnam War, LGBT rights, the war on terror, and was a co-chair for the @womensmarch on Washington in 2017. 

Learn More: https://www.history.com/topics/black-history/angela-davis

Are there more black change makers you are inspired by? Let us know in the comments below.

By Alé Cardinalle | LMSW Candidate NYU 2019

Blog Post, Manifest Your Best Life, Written by Alé

5 Tips to Manifest Self Compassion

Brunette woman with her palm open with the words values, positive self talk, affirmations, touch, and self care printed on her fingers.  The header of the photo has the the title, 5 tips to manifest self compassion.  The bottom of the photo has the Dream Chasers and Change Makers logo.

By, now we’ve all heard the term “self care.” You may have heard it explained with quotes like, “You cannot pour from an empty cup,” or “You must put your oxygen mask first, before you can assist other passengers.” That is all great information, and very true. While self care is specific ways to take care of yourself, from the mundane like making sure your space is tidy, to splurges like a day at the spa, self compassion is more of a way of being.

Self compassion, as I define it, is fine tuning that voice inside your head to speak to yourself as you would a loved one. Extensive research has shown that the power of self compassion reaches farther than having high self esteem and those that are high on the self compassion scale are more productive and tend to procrastinate less. I would say that is a super power for any dream chaser and change maker!

1 Little Exercise Before we Dive In!

Stay with me, because before we get into the 5 ways to cultivate self compassion in your life we are going to do a little exercise. Think of the last time that you did not live up to your own expectations. What did you say to yourself? Really take a second to think of the self talk you used. I’ll be waiting right here.

Okay! Now I want you to think of someone you love very much, maybe your partner, your best friend, or a parent. Would you EVER speak to them the way you spoke to yourself? Probably not. Maybe you said something cruel about your appearance, or marked yourself a failure. These are lies and are not serving you in reaching your highest potential. Negative self talk does not motivate you to persevere, nor does it bring you any closer to joy or fulfillment. While self compassion is a way of being kinder and gentler with yourself, it is no means giving you an “out” to slack and not get things done.

So where do you start? Well, read on and I’ll tell ya.

1. Define your values.

An open journal to placed on the blog page to encourage readers to write out their values and explore their "why."

Now is a great time to dust off that old notebook or journal that’s been laying around your bedroom and write or even draw symbols of what is REALLY important to you. What is the driving force in your life? What are you striving for? Where do your priorities lie right now? If you are a student, why do you show up for class and complete your assignments? If you are a parent, what is the vision you see for your family? Perhaps you are an entrepreneur trying to grow your business. Whatever your circumstances may be, take this time to explore your “why.”

Being well oriented with your values will help guide and anchor you. When life gets complicated and important decisions have to be made, falling back on what is really important to you can be a helpful tool.

2. Nip Negative Self Talk in the Bud

We can say awful things to ourselves and not even think twice about it. I will challenge you here to be more conscious of that– I don’t want you saying mean things about my friend! So, you, my friend, make an effort to notice when you are using unkind words to speak to yourself. We train our brains, and while making a new habits like this we create new pathways in our brain.

When you do catch yourself, take a pause and ask yourself, “Is there another way I can say that?” For example, if you did not land a job you really wanted, or a presentation did not go the way you had hoped, instead of saying, “I am such a failure,” you could say, “I did my best and I have learned from this experience.” You tweak this to your specific circumstances, and make sure the kinder words you chose are also true. You want to believe in those empowering words.

The more you catch yourself and the more you practice speaking kindly to yourself, the more natural it will become. This is scientific fact folks!

3. Keep Calm and Use an Affirmation

An affirmation is simple statement often used to uplift and motivate and can be a really useful tool in cultivating more self compassion. There are tons and tons of affirmations online you can access with a quick google search, for example, “affirmations for a positive body image,” or “affirmations for bringing wealth into my life.” You can also write your own that is custom tailored to you. I think that makes it all the more empowering. You can repeat your affirmation to yourself as often as you like.

Find or write one or a few that speak to you and make them visible. Sticky notes are your friend! Often, I will suggest my clients stick their affirmations on their desks or work spaces, in the mirrors in their bathrooms, on their bedroom wall, or wherever they experience negative self talk the most. For clients who feel a little strange that people may see their affirmation I suggest they keep it handy on their phone and stick a blank sticky just as a private reminder to themselves to use their affirmation.

Sticky Note with an affirmation that says, "I surround myself with positive people who bring out the best in me."

Examples: I am powerful and loved. | I am enough. | My body is a gift that carries me through life. | Everyday I am attracting money into my life.

4. Touch Yourself!

Brunette woman wearing sunglasses and a scarf giving herself of a squeeze in an act of self compassion

I am not being funny here. Touch releases oxytocin, a chemical in our brain connected with love and positive feelings. When you feel like you need a boost you can give yourself a hug. It may sound strange, but again, we can’t argue with science! Stroke your arm, give yourself a little squeeze and release that oxytocin!

5. Yes, and Self Care!

Although self compassion and self care are not interchangeable terms, self care certainly would fall under the umbrella of self compassion. If self compassion means treating yourself as you would a loved one, taking time to meet your needs is essential.

What your self care looks like is up to you, as you are the expert on you! Mine ranges from making sure I am staying connected to friends and family to making sure I pick up my prescriptions are filled and picked up on time. If you want more information on what self care and what it may look like for you, again, google is our trusty friend. Maybe it is yoga and mediation, maybe it’s more sleep and well-rounded eating. Maybe you are a busy parent and it is setting boundaries to make sure you’ve had the time to bathe and sit down for a meal. The point is, ask yourself what you need and prioritize that.

Brunette woman in fancy bathtub practicing self care
Self Care in a Fancy Hotel Tub!

Dr. Kristen Neff (literally) wrote the book on self compassion. For more in depth information and the research behind this stuff head to her website: https://self-compassion.org/.

By Alé Cardinalle | LMSW Candidate NYU 2019

Blog Post, Manifest Your Best Life, Written by Alé

Be Kind to Your Body, The Kids are Watching

by Alé

A brunette woman standing in front of some plants and a brick wall, wearing sunglasses and standing next to sunflowers.

Betty and I have been working hard to create a community surrounding the Dream Chasers and Change Makers podcast.  I have been doing research on how to engage more social media users who would be interested in brave and vulnerable content.  One thing I have learned, from social media guru, Jenna Kutcher, is that users like to know the faces behind the pages they are interacting with.  That translates to: we need to post pictures of ourselves!

In my past taking photos was something I loved to do.  It was my self-care before I even knew that buzzword.  It may sound superficial, but for me it was therapeutic.  When my life felt out of control, and I was anxiety ridden and depressed, when I had the energy, getting glammed and having my photo taken just felt really freaking good.  If I couldn’t get a handle on how I felt, at least I could control how I looked.  Pictures were a way for me to encapsulate this.  Actually, my dear friend, who has since passed away, Kevin, would sometimes say to me, “Do you want me to take your picture?” when I was feeling down.  He knew me so well.

In the past few years, for the most part, this has not been the case.  I tend to shy away from the camera.  My body has grown and aged some.  When my picture is taken I get pangs of fear and think horrible thoughts, that I would never say about anyone else, like, “Oh God, I hope I don’t look disgusting in that picture.” 

It’s funny because, as a clinical social worker (in training!) I tell my clients all the time, to try and speak to themselves the way they would a friend and in this situation I am totally not taking my own advice.  Realizing this, and then learning that a way to start a community online is to show people who you are I decided I was going to have to get my picture taken.

I recently spent a couple days in in New York City.  I brought a couple cute outfits with me and decided I was going to fake it until I make it and pose in cool looking places all over the village.  I was feeling very self conscious and worrying about what passerbys may think, like, “What does this girl think, she’s a model?”  I really wanted these pictures to come out nice, so I threw caution to the wind and posed my little heart out.

A woman posing joyfully looking over her shoulder.
The moment she passed by!

I was doing a pose where I was looking over my shoulder (what a professional, I know) and this tiny little girl, maybe three years old passes by perched on her dad’s shoulders.  She has this fleece hat Velcro-ed around her cherub face and she squeals, “Daddy look!  She is SO pretty!” 

My heart melted into a puddle, obviously.  It reminded me that all the little kids and babies riding on their dads’ shoulders are not born hating their bodies.  WE teach them that.  Every time we say how unhappy with our bodies whether it’s because parts are too big or too small, not firm enough, too wrinkly, we normalize shaming bodies. We are teaching children to look at their little bodies and the bodies of other children and comparing and judging and eventually hating.

These past few months I have been reading and learning about diet culture, and how as kids we were indoctrinated into this belief system about what a body must look like in order to be beautiful and healthy. That’s why I was an eight year old looking at my thighs underneath the bubbles in my bathtub praying to God to make them thinner. I stepped away from learning about these things because it was a lot of information and honestly very overwhelming to take in. One thing that has been good for me is following people on social media that have all different kinds of bodies, and not necessarily body positivity pages exclusively, just all types of people living their lives with purpose in the skin they’re in.

Unlearning what I learned about bodies is a journey, and that little moment on the street was truly a gift from the universe. Joy is beautiful. A free spirit is beautiful. I am so pretty, and in the words of my three year old niece, “Because I said so.”

A brunette woman wearing sunglasses and red lipstick in a black and white striped dress in front of a blue brick wall.

By Alé Cardinalle | LMSW Candidate 2019