A Conversation with Create Write Now’s Mari McCarthy

It was a pleasure to recently have my friend Mari McCarthy as a guest on my show. Mari is one of the most courageous people I know. Listen to our podcast

or read on below!

Debbie DiPietro: Welcome to Courageously Go, where we will venture to places we’ve been afraid to go. Women of the world, we are going to start a movement, a movement towards courage. I am Debbie DiPietro, the creator of my award-winning blog, The Warm Milk Journal, where the mission is this: to live the life of our dreams by day and sleep restfully at night. For so many years I was plagued with anxiety, social anxiety, and insomnia, and I started writing about it. And through my writing and blogging and reaching out to other people, I found healing and a better night’s sleep.
And as an extension of The Warm Milk Journal, I now have this new podcast, Courageously Go. My goal with this show is to facilitate a global conversation about courage. I believe that when we live from our hearts by choosing courage, the life of our dreams and a better world for all are possible. No matter our age or circumstances, we never need to feel stuck or alone.
And so, welcome.
I have a guest that I’m very excited to introduce you to today. Her name is Mari McCarthy. She is the Founder and Chief Inspiration Officer of the Journaling Power Community at, where she provides ideas, inspirations and many therapeutic journaling resources for health conscious people who want to resolve the issues in their tissues. She is the author of the bestselling self-help memoir, Journaling Power: How to Create the Happy, Healthy Life You Want to Live. Mari McCarthy, welcome to Courageously Go.

Mari McCarthy: Thank you, Debbie, finally nice to meet ya.

Debbie DiPietro: I know, and we’ve actually kind of known each other for a number of years really. It’s just the amazing thing about today’s technology and social media. I want to say we first befriended each other way back, ten years ago, or however long it’s been, was it on Twitter perhaps? I think it started off on Twitter, didn’t it?

Mari McCarthy: Yes, I think it was in the very, very early days of Twitter, when we had no idea what Twitter was all about or social media or anything like that. Yeah, so we’re long timers, Debbie.

Debbie DiPietro: We are long timers and cutting edge at that. I mean, I think we found each other, not just through Twitter, Marie, but through the hashtag journaling … you know, journal, because we both have that in common, don’t we? Journal writing and finding healing through writing, which I know that is what you’ve dedicated much of your work to do and I have done for many years on my Warm Milk Journal blog. So, here we are, and I just have so many things to ask you about. I want to start off just wishing you a happy new year. What are you excited about, Mari McCarthy, for 2018, what’s going in your life right now that you’re excited about?

Mari McCarthy: I guess the first thing I’m excited about is that finally at my company Create Write Now we have a real live store, so I’m just really excited that I have an opportunity and a place for people to come and take a look at all the journaling guidebooks, courses that I have put together to help them access their courage as I’ve done for all the years … and it’s almost been 20 years that I’ve been journaling, so I’m excited about that.
I’m also excited about the fact that I’m working on a new album. One of the things that I’ve found through journaling was that I’ve always wanted to learn to sing, so I’ve been taking lessons for many years now and I’ve now combined my two loves of writing and singing and I’ve written my first song. So I’m working on that and that’s currently in production.
Also too, as far as this year, I’m really into sharing journaling with people. As I said in my book Journaling Power, journaling is the best, ultimate, self-therapeutic, self-healing tool. I just want to share it with the world so that everyone can reap the benefits of finding out who really lives in their body and then creating the happy, healthy life that they want to live from the inside out.

Debbie DiPietro: Well, you have many things to be excited about it sounds like, for 2018 and probably for many morenyears to come. It all just sounds great. Why don’t we take a step back and for our listeners out there who many not have heard of you or Create Write Now, and that is, why don’t you explain to us what your business is? Let’s start there.

Mari McCarthy: OK, it is a center, if you will, a community for people to come, to learn about how journaling is a free therapeutic tool that can help you understand who you are, what you’re about, what your passions truly are and help you create the dreams, achieve the goals that you want to achieve. That’s something that’s very new and different, because I think a lot of people think that journaling is about … It is stress relief, it is data dumping, it is all those wonderful things. But it’s truly a tool, a friend, a therapist, to help everyone to achieve and go forth and do what they want to do. So Create Write Now is a community, it’s an opportunity for people to share their resources.
One of the things that’s very popular on Create Write Now is we have blogs of other journalers, and they talk about their experiences with journaling, what they’ve been able to achieve in their life, how it’s helped them with everything from alcoholism to anxiety, depression, all the challenges that we live in life. So that’s my intent in creating Create Write Now was to really have a center, a community, for people to come to learn more and more about how putting pen to page every day, also known as journaling, can really revolutionize their life.

Debbie DiPietro: I think it’s tremendous the work you’re doing, Mari, and the community you’ve been building there for quite some time. As you know, I’m definitely, I’m a believer. I’ve really been a lifelong writer and journal writer like yourself, and we’ll get into your story in a moment. I feel like I definitely have found my voice through journal writing and blogging and, of course, you’re familiar with the Warm Milk Journal, a lot of my blog posts are actually journal writing. I was kind of sharing with the world my journal entries. I found my voice, I found my confidence, I found my direction in life and regained my health all really primarily through journal writing. And so I am one of your biggest fans, as you know, and you will always have my support and I just think it’s tremendously wonderful what you are doing.

Mari McCarthy: Thank you

Debbie DiPietro: You’re welcome. With that being said, I want to hear a little more … I think our listeners … if you wouldn’t mind opening up and sharing with us your story, and you describe it so well in your book. I love your book, Journaling Power. Because you had a very personal health crisis, didn’t you? Maybe you can … I think that would be a very powerful story, if you don’t mind sharing it with us, because that lead to … I’ll just let you explain it. Why don’t you share your story?

Mari McCarthy: OK, that’s great. I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, known as MS, about 27 years ago. And I had, I guess about 20-some years ago, I had an episode where I lost all feeling on the right side of my body. It was really an interesting challenge. Most of my episodes, if you will, with MS, normally were…lasted a couple of weeks, but I just had this feeling that this was going to be a long-term challenge, so I needed a way to teach myself how to write with my left hand.
I was introduced to a book by a lady by the name of Julia Cameron, and in that she has what she calls morning pages, and every day, first thing, you sit down and pen to page you write three stream of consciousness, whatever. It’s a data dump, and I thought “okay, this is a good procedure. At that point I was a business woman, I owned a management consulting firm and I was traveling all the time and doing work with business-to-business and I had to have a procedure and this sounded like a very good procedure to go.
So, I started doing that and then within a very short time I started hearing rhymes and I started writing poetry and I started remembering all kinds of things from my childhood. It was really interesting, I was … I mean, I knew I had a childhood but as far as memories or anything on an emotional level, there was not a whole lot of that to be had. So I was like “Boy, these morning pages.” I really thought “Oh my goodness, all this is coming up by just putting a pen to the page.” So I just kept going, and going, and going.
One of the things that was so fascinating to me was I became left-handed in very short order, because one of the things that came up through my morning pages was that I always was left-handed. But, of course, being a good little Catholic girl, the nuns didn’t want me to be writing with my left hand, since it’s the Devil’s work and all that, the things that the Catholic Church espoused. So that was like “Oh my gosh, this is almost miraculous.” Just by several weeks of putting a pen to the page and coming up with, “Oh my goodness” …
Another thing that came up was my love for singing and I thought “Wow.” Of course I’ve always loved music, I’ve always wanted to perform, I always wanted to sing and then two … probably a couple months later in the local paper there was an advertisement, a story about a local music school that catered to children of all ages, and I signed up and I started taking singing lessons.
I mean, it’s a fascinating thing … Isn’t interesting how I lost, the challenge on the right side of my body, I got into journaling … And again, in very short order I thought “Oh my goodness, I need to share this with the world.” I’m just really excited about it. I think that when people talk about journaling, it’s just like “OK, well, did you journal about it?” That type of thing. I eat, sleep and drink journaling, because I just know that I just feel and can attest to all the results and changes in myself. That’s my story in 25 words or more.

Debbie DiPietro: I just have to say this. I knew that there was something I liked about you. Well I know there are lots of things I like about you, but I’m left-handed as well. So I just thought I’d put that out there that, yay, that you’re left-handed. All right.
You know, you mentioned morning pages, what is that exactly? So, that’s just a part of your routine every morning? What does that mean to you, morning pages?

Mari McCarthy: The first thing … To get the maximum out of them is that, as soon after awakening as you can, it’s best to get to the page. Well I changed that a little bit, I moved that a little further back, after I’ve showered. I do my morning pages before breakfast. But, the importance is to get into a routine and doing it as early in the morning as possible, after you’ve come out of the … Our brain wants to … When the sun comes up our brain wants to turns on. The thing is, that’s why it’s so important to get to the page as soon as possible, and just dump all this out and get back into managing our brain and to say “OK, let’s settle down, let’s get focused, let’s get back to the center,” and it’s really a fantastic centering mechanism.
Rather than, as we’re so prone to do, get away from ourselves first thing in the morning “Oh, we gotta do this” … get into the whole routine of living. The best thing to do is just to … And with time, it’s just a self-discipline thing, Debbie. You just sit down, and it’s like “Oh, I don’t really feel like doing” … you just need to tune into your heart and say “I need to do … this is for me, and this is for self-care”.
The thing is, once you get down there, and you put the pen to page, you just go off and then you’ll come up with ideas or things will come in from left field or memories or whatever, so it’s just something that … there’s no right way or wrong way of doing it. Julia recommends three pages of doing it every day. I’m now at the point, I’ve gone through different phases. For a while there I was doing them one page left-handed, one page right-handed, and that’s how I’ve been able to get the function back on the right side of my body and my hand. In addition to being the psychological and spiritual, it is also definitely the physical therapy aspect.
So morning pages, I guess the bottom line is, it’s just a routine, a self-care routine that you do. Again, to get the maximum benefits out of it, first thing in the morning, as close to waking up time as you can. As I tell all of my clients and people, that there’s only one right way to journal, and it’s your way. One of my clients came back and said “Listen, well, I’m a real slow writer and I write small and what works for me is doing one page”. “Fine” I said, “the key is to do it consistently for yourself every day”.

Debbie DiPietro: All right, well that’s good advice, and it’s easy to get started, it’s not something we have to go out and spend a lot of money on. Most of us have a … Do you recommend actual hand writing, or is it OK to do it digitally or what would you suggest? Paper versus digital?

Mari McCarthy: Pen to page every day. That’s all.

Debbie DiPietro: I want to follow up with you, because I think a lot of people might be interested. That really was a health crisis, having that diagnosis. How is your health, if you don’t mind me asking, presently, and how has your general writing helped you?

Mari McCarthy: I’m very healthy, I sleep well at night, I can drive a car. I still use a walker but I’m working on … I’d say I’m about 75% functional on the right side of my body. I still have a lot of work to do, but I feel physically, I feel that I’ve made huge strides. As you know, I have not taken any prescription drugs for almost 15 years now, and I’ve taken no over-the-counter drugs for almost 10 years now. It’s just, I’ve made major lifestyle changes with my diet and things like that.
I find too, that the journaling, coupled with the changes I’ve made in my life, has made me healthier and happier. I look at the fact that, I mean as far as going to the doctor, the only time I’ve needed to go to the doctor was a year and a half ago when I tripped and I broke a couple of bones in my foot. Other than that, I’ve not spent one dollar on medical or doctors or things like that. So to answer your question, I’m doing great and I think that’s one of the exciting things about journaling is to realize that … I feel like I’m back in my body, we’re so … living out of heads, worry and processing and over-analyzing and all that. Thanks to journaling I’m back in my body.
I realize too that certainly you need medical help for certain situations and drugs and all of that type of thing, but there are so many things that we can do for ourselves, just by taking ownership of our body. I’m on a first name basis with my body. I think, because of the way we were brought up in the historical established medical profession, it was all like “The doctors have all the answers.” We know our bodies best and we need to use the healthcare and medical profession as a partner in helping our … further, our health and well being.

Debbie DiPietro: I think it takes a lot of courage, whenever we have a challenge, whether it’s physical, emotional or mental, and it sounds like some years ago you figured out what works for you and now you’re inspiring others to do the same. Let’s talk a little bit about … Now we know, because of your journal writing, and how did you say, you have a …you’re at home in your body? What about, and this is something that, as you know, I have been challenged with, with anxiety and an overactive mind and the self-critic and just overthinking things and egos. How do we manage those things, that may not be visible, but we’re feeling them and thinking them?

Mari McCarthy: My recommendation is to journal with them. I believe, based on my experience, that having … that compassionately confronting our ego, by compassionately confronting our inner critics, our … whatever, or as I call them, the issues in our tissues, I find that journaling is more than just sitting down and putting the pen to the page. I mean, it is certainly that, but we can really use our journal to have discussions with our inner critic, to have our conversations with our … what I would call our goonies and gremlins, whatever is going on inside. Because all it is, Debbie as you know, is just stuff that we, as children, sucked in all this stuff, and it’s just so … We’ve just really done that to ourselves.
It’s just really a question of evolving, changing our behavior from self-sabotage, which we’re so used to doing, and processing and analyzing and all that type of stuff, to getting back to our true self, our child, our talents, all those types of things. I have found that the journaling has wonderful use. It can be your therapist, you can do the data dumping, but then it helps me and us understand that we’re in charge. It’s not the past, it’s not them out there, it’s like “Wait a minute, we’re in charge.”
I think it gets to the point, with a lot of journaling … like I say, I have almost 20 years of experience with it. When there are things I’m noodling around in my head or I find that something is really bugging me, I sit down and I have a discussion with my inner critic. I really feel like I’m using my inner critic, how he was designed. I’m using … seeing him as a resource. I think it’s just like any type of relationship, a marriage, a friendship, a business relationship or whatever, it involves a lot of work. To me, I think that’s one of the things about journaling, I found that you can go into … you can use journaling for all kinds of things.
Interesting, that’s the subject of my next book is called Heal Yourself: How Journaling Power Gets and Keeps You Healthy, and I’m going to be using a lot of stories of people that have used journaling to help them with their challenge and just use their journal. That’s the key thing. I think that’s what people may not know about, is that you can really use your journal to help you get the behavior change and get you out of your head, living back in your body.

Debbie DiPietro: Exactly, it’s a very powerful thing, putting pen to paper, and exactly what you … I think that too, just getting it out of our heads. Mari, I knew this was going to go by quick. I’ve been told we maybe one minute left, let’s make sure that people know about how … We know that they can visit you on, how can they get a copy of your book Journaling Power?

Mari McCarthy: It is available up on Amazon, and it comes in a paperback as well as a Kindle version. It is a self-help memoir, so it’s not only my story, but it gives people journaling prompts and everything that they need to set up and maintain their own life-changing journaling practice.

Debbie DiPietro: Right, and I’ve had the book for a while now and I highly recommend it. When I post a blog post on I will definitely share a link so they can purchase your book. I’m sorry we’re out of time, it’s been just such a pleasure talking with you and knowing you all of these years and thank you for being a guest on Courageously Go today.

Mari McCarthy: Thank you very much Debbie, and congratulations on Courageously Go, I think it’s awesome. You go girl!

Debbie DiPietro: Oh yes, thank you, I’m so excited. So ladies, until next time, remember this: It’s our time to shine. Let’s make it so, and courageously go.

Here is Mari’s book!


Courage Isn’t Always Easy

Courage isn’t always easy. In fact, much of the time it can be outright tough. You see, courage does not mean we are fearless when in fact we do have fear.

Courage isn’t always popular.

Courage may make us question ourselves and our world…

At the end of the day, however…

If you are listening to your heart-

None of the above will matter.


A Conversation with Kristin Keen: Founder and CEO of Rethreaded

I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to speak with Kristen Keen, Founder and CEO of Rethreaded, a non-profit organization here in Jacksonville, Florida whose mission is this:

Rethreaded renews hope, reignites dreams and releases potential for survivors of human trafficking locally and globally through business.

You can listen to our podcast here or read on!

Debbie DiPietro: Welcome to Courageously Go, where we will venture into places we’ve been afraid to go. Women of the world, we are going to start a movement. A movement towards courage. Hello, everyone. My name is Debbie DiPietro, and I am the creator of my award-winning blog, The Warm Milk Journal, where the mission is to live the life of our dreams by day and sleep restfully at night. For many years, I was challenged with anxiety, social anxiety, and insomnia, and found a supportive community out there and in many ways healed myself. This new show Courageously Go, is in many ways an extension of my work at the Warm Milk Journal. My aim is this, to facilitate a global conversation about courage. I believe that when we live from our hearts by choosing courage, the life of our dreams and a better world for all are possible. No matter our age or circumstances, we need never to feel stuck or alone. So, I wish to inspire, courage, ignite confidence, and live joyfully.
I’m so super excited about today’s guest. Her name is Kristin Keen. She worked for five years in Kolkata, India where she encountered the life stealing effects of the areas sex trade on a daily basis. She helped co-found a business with Sarah Lamb that could offer these women a safe haven. Today, Sari Bari, is a thriving business that employs more than 120 people in Kolkata, who create handmade blankets and other products from traditional fabrics. Upon her return to Jacksonville, Kristin felt called to fight the sex trade on a local level and Rethreaded was born. Beginning by forming relationships with women on the street and making prison visits, she knew the biggest need was for a safe supportive work environment, where these women could earn money while learning a skill and experiencing continued healing through community.
Kristin, I would like to welcome you to Courageously Go. I just … you’re someone I tremendously admire. I have been to your organization. I’ve taken the tour. I really believe in the cause and the good work you’re doing. I even want to, as I become a more successful author and podcaster, I want to help support Rethreaded, and so I definitely … I’m thrilled when you agreed to come on this show with me.

Kristin Keen: I’m super excited

Debbie DiPietro: This is 2018 now, so happy new year. Why don’t we start off with what are you excited about for yourself or for your organization, and life in the 2018? What are you excited about? We’ll start there.

Kristin Keen: Well, probably one of the most exciting things is our new partnership with Southwest Airlines. Last year, they started donating leather to us. They redid all their airline seats and they donated leather to us and we had this huge launch event. So that new partnership with Southwest Airlines is opening up so really really exciting doors for us that, you know, stuff that you dream of so it’s going to be a really exciting year.

Debbie DiPietro: Oh, it sounds like it. So why don’t we, while we have this time with you, tell us what’s going on. First of all, for our listeners who are not here in Jacksonville and may not have heard of Rethreaded, why don’t you tell them about Rethreaded and the work you’re doing. Let’s hear about it.

Kristin Keen: So, our mission at Rethreaded is basically is to change the lives of people through business. And we specifically work with survivors of human trafficking. We give long-term employment at Rethreaded, so we have women stay with us at least two to five years and they’re employed in our company. They work in one of the five areas and while they’re working here, they also have access to a mental health counselor. There’s a weekly mental health class, access to crisis counseling, help in housing, care management. So, it’s like whatever they need to get their life back. And then, we’re in the process of developing the career development program where we’re connecting our women access to education, because our goal really is for women to restore choice. Like, they work at Rethreaded, they are healed, they’re empowered, and then they get the education and the work experience they need to go out and change the world and the cycle of exploitation is done. Like, it’s done in their life, their children’s life, like it’s done.
And we do that like … we have a business. We have a business model and we are a nonprofit, but we’re super unique. Like, we’re 50% funded by sales, 50% funded by donations and on the business side, the sales side, we make product in house out of recycled tee shirts and now recycled Southwest leather. And then we buy products from companies all over the world who are employing women, so we are affecting the lives of over 4,000 women internationally, and we currently employ 12 women.

Debbie DiPietro: You have a very unique operation and as I’ve said, I’ve been there and it’s quite an operation of how you take all these … I guess you have businesses and people donate tee shirt material and you make wonderful products from that. It was a such a neat thing to see. It was so super cool. It really was.

Kristin Keen: It’s cool.

Debbie DiPietro: And the retail … it is. Yes, and then the retail side of it. It’s a beautiful boutique you have there, and I know I bought myself some coffee.

Kristin Keen: Yay.

Debbie DiPietro: And there’s some different unique items.

Kristin Keen: Yeah. People are surprised when they come.

Debbie DiPietro: No, there’s so many things I want to ask you about and it’s just I know we’re going to run out of time fast, so let’s take a step back. If there are women that need your help, how do they find you? I mean, they’re out, you know, they’re in the cycle. They’re in the circumstances that they’re in and how do they find you?

Kristin Keen: Well, some of our … right now, our women 100% come out of severe complex trauma and 100% come out of addiction, so we had started partnering with different rehab facilities around the city. So, that’s one way that women are referred to us. And then the second way is now our women that are here and are out and are clean, and sober, strong, being empowered working here, will now refer their friends to us.

Debbie DiPietro: Okay.

Kristin Keen: So, it’s super amazing that … and we talk about this a lot at Rethreaded, like when you’re working here, you’re really working for the woman behind you. Like, your hard work is going to allow another woman to have a chance at life, so that’s … and that idea is being translated throughout our whole company. So, it’s awesome to see women reaching out to empower women. I mean, it’s beautiful.

Debbie DiPietro: Yes. I have goosebumps just thinking about it and I was so impressed when I was over there, and I learned a little more about what it is you guys do. And if memory serves me correctly because it’s been over a year since I heard the … you don’t just take everyone, right? I mean, you have a certain amount … isn’t there an application process or a certain level of commitment that you expect from your ladies? I’m trying to remember. Maybe you can provide the details in my memory here.

Kristin Keen: You have to be clean, stable, and sober for six months. So, you have to be stable enough to come, you know, can come to work on time, perform. I mean at the beginning, we’re just like, just come to work. Like, just practice getting here and that’s a great starting place. But, it’s six months because any time before that, women are if they’re coming directly out of trauma or directly out of jail, it’s too soon. It’s too soon.

Debbie DiPietro: So, once you have someone there, is it a residential or are they just there as a day job? But, you employ them, right?

Kristin Keen: Yeah, we’re specifically employment. So, that is what our case manager does on staff. If they are having housing issues, tries to help them find housing. A majority of our women come from a transitional housing already, usually from a rehab facility. A lot of our women had been in transitional housing. Some are already on their own, so it just depends on their situation.

Debbie DiPietro: And typically, how long do you have a woman there before she … I guess the goal is to … go ahead.

Kristin Keen: Our goal is two to five years.

Debbie DiPietro: Okay.

Kristin Keen: And that happens sometimes and sometimes a woman will leave before that. Like, this summer we just had two of our ladies leave and leave very successfully and now they work at the Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center in our city and they’re leading the way nationally on the human trafficking movement with a survivor voice. I mean, it’s really amazing to see what those two have done, so that was a huge turning point for Rethreaded when those two ladies …

Debbie DiPietro: Yeah.

Kristin Keen: Yeah, it was amazing.

Debbie DiPietro: Wonderful. Wow. You know when you say two to five years, that’s a tremendous commitment that you and your organization are offering them and what they bring to the table too. That’s just awesome. I mean, in my mind, I’m thinking well, any kind of a program, you know, maybe six months tops. Like a two to five-year commitment, that’s pretty amazing. That in and of itself, I think makes Rethreaded pretty unique, wouldn’t you say?

Kristin Keen: Yeah, we’re going for the permanent life change, so that is why. And we see women come at different stages. Women, the first three months is super critical because that’s like they’re super vulnerable, you know, still living totally in trauma and if they can make it through that, they’ll usually make it the next year. And then women usually hit … they start to stabilize around a year, year and a half they start to stabilize. You know, their life slows down. They get, you know, more and more stable, but as they do that, all the effects of their trauma comes out. So, we see women, again, need like deeper counseling, deeper places of healing, so that is also why we do five years is just because the process to healing is, it just takes a lot of time. That’s why we’re committed to that long.

Debbie DiPietro: All right, well this is as you know, this is a show about courage and this whole, your story, and the women you are helping, and Rethreaded, I think the theme of courage is woven throughout. And let’s start with you. I think our listeners would be interested to learn a little more about you because you’re really a fairly, a very young woman and you started up this nonprofit, which is quite an ambitious endeavor. I wouldn’t know how to start up something like this and how did … what led you to this and how are pulling this off? You’re just doing such great work at really a pretty young age, really. And so, I know our listeners would love to hear a little more about your story and what brought you to this point?

Kristin Keen: Well, the heart of everything is for women to know their worth and value. That’s really what started me on this journey and that was when I was young. When I was like, late-teens, early twenties. And I had some experiences around sex and I was like, I never want another woman to feel this way and it kind of, without knowing it, it kind of became my life mission. So, that’s how I ended up in India when I was 27, 28-years-old. After spending five years in India, I met women here in Jacksonville and like listened to their stories and I was like, this is the same thing that’s happening in India. And women, if you don’t have a job, you cannot start a new life. Like, you can’t. You will always be dependent and that makes you so vulnerable. So, like if you do not have a viable career, the cycle is never broken.
So, I was like, let’s just start a business here. It’s good and I would say that, I mean, it’s like that with everything, isn’t it? Like, when you start something, you don’t really know what you’re getting in to. So, that’s probably …

Debbie DiPietro: And sometimes you just have to leap in.

Kristin Keen: Yeah, I mean and that’s my life is that I just leap in and do it, and let’s get it done and, which is why I usually end up over my head as well. So, I probably just my sheer passion and drivenness is what, you know, helped start it and kick it off. Like, that’s kind of my strength, but then it’s my team that really has carried it forward. Like, I have an amazing staff. They’re so smart, so talented. We have some amazing survivor leaders in place now, I mean, the community has just been more, I mean so generous and so receptive. I mean, it is definitely a we effort to get this off the ground and running.

Debbie DiPietro: And I guess you have people on your team that help you. Just the running of the non-profit, there’s a business side and the marketing side. You’re kind of like the … you overrun … what is your specific role these days in it on the day to day? What is your role?

Kristin Keen: Well, right now, I operate as the CEO and we don’t have a sales team, so right now I’m doing sales.

Debbie DiPietro: Okay.

Kristin Keen: So, we’re in the process of trying to hire a business development person. So, it changes a lot of day to day, like what my role is. Ideally, we’re trying to move me into a place of a true visionary role, where I’m out in the community, I’m speaking, I’m working on the culture of the company, I’m honing in ideas. We just got a building donated right around the corner. We’re in desperate need of space, so a lot of my energy’s going to be going to towards raising some money to build on the land we were donated. I vacillate between the day to day right now and then the big picture.

Debbie DiPietro: Okay. That’s great news about the building and it sounds like you are generating a lot of support locally, here in Jacksonville. What about outside of Jacksonville?

Kristin Keen: We’re working on it. Like, on our web sales this year, we’re 40% in Jacksonville and then 60% outside of Jacksonville, so that’s the first time that we’ve had that switch, so that’s really exciting for us.

Debbie DiPietro: That is.

Kristin Keen: And we’re seeing …

Debbie DiPietro: Go ahead, I’m sorry.

Kristin Keen: Oh, no. Go ahead.

Debbie DiPietro: I think this would be a good point to mention that people can visit you online and actually shop online because not everyone is here locally that can visit your store, so why don’t we just take a moment, Kristin, and share with our listeners your website. So, where can people visit Rethreaded?
Kristin Keen: It’s really easy, it’s

Debbie DiPietro: I like it.

Kristin Keen: And you can follow us on Facebook at Rethreaded. We’re on Instagram as rethreadedinc, so yeah, we are on all the social media outlets.

Debbie DiPietro: Okay.

Kristin Keen: Yeah, the website is beautiful, so please shop on there.

Debbie DiPietro: They can shop, and I imagine and I think I’ve been on your website recently, they can also donate or just find out ways they can get more involved, is that right?

Kristin Keen: Yes. Shop or donate. Yes, and then we have volunteer opportunities, I think once a month on Thursday’s.

Debbie DiPietro: Okay. Now you’re still running those tours every month?

Kristin Keen: Yeah.

Debbie DiPietro: Or every quarter or?

Kristin Keen: Yeah.

Debbie DiPietro: Okay.

Kristin Keen: Third Thursday. Third Thursday we have Rethreaded 101, if anyone’s interested. For an hour you can come in and get a tour. It’s so different, I mean you know, you’ve been here, so it’s so different when you can come and experience it.

Debbie DiPietro: It is. It’s just awesome. It really is. So, currently how many women do you have working at Rethreaded?

Kristin Keen: We have 12 currently and this year, due to probably our space and our sales, we’re probably going to hire between let’s see, probably between three and six. So, just depends on what we’re going … yeah, three and six more this year. This is a big year, so we’re trying to create lots of stability this year and build really good systems. We almost hit a million dollars last year, so.

Debbie DiPietro: Wow.

Kristin Keen: I know. We’re so close to…

Debbie DiPietro: Yay.

Kristin Keen: $38,000 below a million, so this year we’d like to exceed that.

Debbie DiPietro: Well, this is such a great work you’re doing, and it’s more and more and this is probably a good thing. I mean it’s not a good thing that it’s such an issue and there’s so much going on all around the world concerning, you know, slave labor and human trafficking and the sex trade, I mean it’s a very sad, but at the same time, I’m, you know, I still get the newspaper and I’m reading more and more stories that’s coming out in the media and that’s probably a good thing that to increase people’s awareness about this issue.

Kristin Keen: Yeah, it’s pretty amazing.

Debbie DiPietro: Are you finding … what’s that?

Kristin Keen: It’s pretty amazing all the press it’s getting. Like, I remember when I went over to India like human trafficking … we didn’t even use the word human trafficking and that was in 2003. And then by the time I came back in 2008, 2009 to the states and it started to get some traction, and now it’s amazing how, yeah. The awareness of it.

Debbie DiPietro: It’s great. It’s a conversation we need to be having. Are you doing any collaborative efforts with any of these other organizations that are aiming to help with this cause, with this issue?

Kristin Keen: Oh, yeah. It’s all partnership. There’s certain houses here in Jacksonville that are housing survivors of human trafficking. And just the way we sell other people’s products, so that’s why we’re trying to … like, we are signal handedly in some instances like, we’re the biggest purchaser of some of these companies from overseas, so it’s really cool to use our business for good, you know, to help women overseas. That’s one of the win-win’s that we love. Yeah, it’s all about partnership. It doesn’t really work without it. A cool partnership we have right now is with Anita at Amelia Toffee that we have survivor made coffee from Nicaragua. It’s a coffee and she took the coffee and she made us a Rethreaded coffee toffee. So, now you can even like, eat toffee and change lives.
Yeah, we launched with her in August and we were over like 8% of her sales, or something. So, it’s exciting. Lots of good stuff going on.

Debbie DiPietro: And that’s great because, you know, coffee is a staple. That’s something people are going to buy anyway, so why not support Rethreaded or an organization like Rethreaded and enjoy your coffee. And at least when I visited your store, you had your coffee in just a really neat one of your bags that your women make. It’s just a neat, even a neat presentation. I just loved it.

Kristin Keen: Yay.

Debbie DiPietro: So, with a few minutes left here, I know that people can visit For people who might visit Jacksonville or who live here, where are you physically located? Why don’t we give the address, so they know where to and the hours? Why don’t we share that?

Kristin Keen: Yeah. We’re located at 820 Barnett Street, which is off of Beaver Street, near downtown. So, if you’re coming from downtown, we’re before the farmers market. And we’re open, right now we’re open Monday through Friday, 9:00-5:00 and we would love to have you. And follow us on Facebook and for special events that we’re having.

Debbie DiPietro: Okay. All right. And I heard you say you are looking for a business development person? Is that, we put that out there.

Kristin Keen: Yes.

Debbie DiPietro: We can help you, right?

Kristin Keen: That would be amazing.

Debbie DiPietro: All right, can they email or is there a form they can fill out on your website if they’re interested in that opportunity?

Kristin Keen: Yes, just have them email the, that would be great.

Debbie DiPietro: Okay. Okay, all right ladies, so if you’re looking for an opportunity and work with a wonderful lady and organization and do good work, I encourage and invite you to reach out to Kristin at So, we probably have just a minute left. Any final thoughts about Rethreaded or yourself in the new year?

Kristin Keen: I’m ready. Bring it on. I feel like it’s going to be a year of growth and being stretched, and I think we’re ready.

Debbie DiPietro: All right. Well, I’m excited to stay in touch with you and please do the same and let me know how I can support you. Keep up the great work you’re doing. I just think it’s awesome, so hats off to you and thank you.

Kristin Keen: Thank you.

Debbie DiPietro: Thanks for a being a guest here at Courageously Go. I think that what you’re doing and Rethreaded is just that’s it. I mean, this is it. It’s very, I think it takes a lot of guts and courage for you to pull off what you’re doing, so thank you.

Kristin Keen: Thank you.

Debbie DiPietro: All right, well ladies and gentlemen out there who are listening, thank you for tuning in. This is Debbie DiPietro and if you have any comments, feedback for me, or perhaps you’re interested in being a future guest on this show, you can email me I look forward to continuing the conversation about courage.

Until next time, remember this, it’s our time to shine, let’s make it so and courageously go.


On Being a Change Agent and More. A conversation with Elizabeth Paulson

I would like to thank my amazing friend, Elizabeth Paulson, for being a recent guest on our show. You can listen to our show here or read on!

Welcome to Courageously Go where we will venture into places we’ve been afraid to go. Women of the world, we are going to start a movement. A movement toward courage. I am Debbie DiPietro. I am the creator of my award- winning blog The Warm Milk Journal where our mission is to live the life of our dreams by day and sleep restfully at night. For many years I was challenged with anxiety and issues of insomnia. I decided when I turned 50, about a year and a half ago, that enough was enough. It’s time to live more courageously. And, hence, this new podcast, which I am very excited about.
The aim here at Courageously Go is to facilitate a global conversation about courage. I believe when we live from our hearts by choosing courage, the life of our dreams and a better world for all are possible. No matter our age or circumstances, we never need to feel stuck or alone. I am very excited to introduce today’s guest, Elizabeth Paulson. Elizabeth is currently the customer assistance programs manager for JEA. Where she builds partnerships and collaborations with 45-60 non-profit agencies that provide 2.7 million dollars annually and utility bill assistance for low income customers. She possesses 30 plus years of advocating for girls and young women, and has earned a MBA Master’s of Business Administration along with a Bachelor degree in women’s studies and recreation. In December of last year, she was presented a powerful achievement for the creation of an international award winning program, JaGirls that teaches girls about money, careers, and how to start a business. She’s a Jacksonville Journal Business Woman of Influence. Elizabeth, welcome to Courageously Go.

Elizabeth: Thanks, Deb.

Debbie: I’m excited to have you, how are you?

Elizabeth: I’m good and I’m so honored to have been selected as one of your guests.

Debbie: Oh you’re someone, … I’ve known you for quite a while now and as a friend and professionally, you inspire me. I will say that. You do such good work out there, especially for girls and women and you’re just someone who I really admire so thank you for being with us here today.

Elizabeth: Thanks, Deb. You’re one of my heroes. And having me on your show right now and seeing this dream of yours coming true and seeing the next chapter in it all is fascinating to me.

Debbie: It’s exciting, right? Yeah.

Elizabeth: It is. We’re on a ride aren’t we?

Debbie: We are. Life is good. Right, this has definitely been an interesting journey and we’ve known each other honestly, ten plus years now, it’s crazy how fast time goes and we both have known each other during a lot of challenges, a lot of ups and downs in life but, I think that people can relate to and not quite knowing where we are at but I think it’s safe to say we’re both at a really exciting place for 2018. And I can’t wait to see what’s ahead for both of us.

Elizabeth: I agree and don’t you think it had everything to do with where we turn our vision? Because I think that you and I have both had good components in our lives throughout all of it but when we focus on the good, it just seems to replicate.

Debbie: I agree. It’s interesting you brought that up, last week’s guest, we were talking about that very thing, once we get clear on our vision it’s amazing how things get into it, our values, and into alignment and doors open and then wow. So …

Elizabeth: That’s right.

Debbie: So let’s begin with something I know you’re interested in. You lately are calling yourself a change agent and I am so intrigued. Change agent, so what is that all about, Elizabeth?

Elizabeth: I picked that up a long time ago and I think it has everything to do with who I am. And what I’ve walked into as far as employment goes and then it bleeds over into the rest of my life, it’s exactly what you just said, Deb. It’s about getting clear about why we’re here. Most recently I worked for a utility company that has 455,000 electric customers. We also serve water and sewage, sewer. So, the company I work for is very different from having worked in the non-profit world. I’ve been here about, I’m on my fourth year. I love my job. Primarily because of all the opportunities that keep presenting themselves. Recently we participated in Tom Roth’s Strength Finders. Have you heard of that?

Debbie: I have, I did that about ten years ago. Yes.

Elizabeth: Yes, well it confirmed what I’ve always known about myself that my gifts include being a strategist, a futurist, I’m a connector, I have communication skills and I’m an achiever so, change agent. I picked that a long time ago, Deb. I like ’cause it’s so short. In this day and age we don’t have a long at tension span, so to be a change agent, and those two words I want to be catchy. Connects to my being on this earth, being clear about why I’m here, having no fear going forward and saying yes when it matches who I am. I believe in synchronicity. And I believe in the universal call to opportunities that present themselves that sit on my lap. For instance, how did I get into the utility field? I would have never picked working for utility. It is the most rewarding job for me right now. It matches who I am. Change agent is one of the reasons I’m her on this earth. And that’s what that means.

Debbie: Thank you for sharing that, I think the concept of change is highly relevant for a show about courage because I know that just being a human being, change is scary for most of us, isn’t it? We tend to creatures of comfort and we can get kind of stuck in our routines and life will throw us some curve balls. If there’s some things we can count on, it’s certainly death, taxes and change. And so, I really believe Elizabeth the more we can master, at least embrace and have a positive perspective on change, that will help us live a more courageous and heart filled life. That’s what I believe anyway. What do you think?

Elizabeth: I agree. I think it goes back to what you said though in the very beginning of this when you said it’s important for us to get clear. We have to be clear about who we are to be able to first of all, have no fear in moving forward when something new presents itself to us because I would be a lot more afraid and less courageous if what I was doing didn’t match who I was. Let me tell you, I’ve done that, I’ve been there. I remember numerous jobs as I made my way in life that just did not work. I was not able to be who I am.

Debbie: That vision, we need to alignment with our values, and who we are and you found that through the strength finder exercise? Is there anything else, what would you recommend? Maybe … I’m sure there are a lot of people out there that have struggled like you and I have for many years and how do we get that clarity and that vision?

Elizabeth: Don’t you think it’s about just knowing … I think we have to practice everyday something. Some people do yoga, I journal, occasionally, not everyday. I read, I’ve got books, I’ve got the best group of friends who, let me tell you, like you will tell me the truth about what I’m considering. And I seek a lot of counsel. My mom is still with us right now and let me tell you if there’s anybody who will tell you exactly what’s going on it’s someone from your family. And that’s when I’m seeking something. When I’m moving forward. As far as a career goes, I’m the only one in my family that has an MBA and has moved in this direction and I’m the only one that’s left Minnesota. Which, people don’t leave Minnesota, I don’t think they’re ever told that you can, that’s my inside joke about Minnesota. I think every single risk I’ve ever taken has profited me in some way. And moved me forward and each one has been a big risk so I check in with a lot of different people in a lot of different apps or mediums or, I just make sure it matches. More important is you make sure it’s right in your gut. You can usually feel it, especially women.

Debbie: I agree with that on both counts. As you know I have my time in the morning when I write in my journal and my short morning prayers, I’m really enjoying meditation lately but, I think having that time really helps us stay centered and I have found too, Elizabeth, I know that you know this, 11 and a half years ago I did a huge tremendous leap when I left Seattle Washington and came down here to Jacksonville Florida without looking back, I pretty much just got a one way plane ticket and packed up my life of 15 years and came on down to Florida and really didn’t think too much about it. I just went for it and I think I just knew and felt in my gut, in my heart that this was the right for me.

Elizabeth: It was.

Debbie: And I find when we do that, you benefit. And I’ve done this a few times now in my adult years, is when I’ve literally jumped off a cliff almost.

Elizabeth: You do, you do.

Debbie: I land in a better place, right?

Elizabeth: Yes.

Debbie: I always land well and I really believe that that we don’t ever have to feel stuck. This is one of my main things that I really feel so strongly about, and want to get the message out to the world about. Like you say, you probably have people you went to school with up there in Minnesota and they don’t feel like they can leave Minnesota. But, we can, we’re free we can move across the country if we want, we can change careers if we want which, both of us have done, more than once. So I truly agree with you on that.

Elizabeth: There’s a common thread that’s run through all of it. There’s a common thread and it has to do with us and our special … What we bring to that place. Gina Delapa is known as a coach and I met her through Twitter and I’ve met her through some of her work. She wrote an article for Ink Magazine called personal growth doesn’t tickle. And she had a lot of recommendations for women that matched what I know from having been in the field of women’s work for the last 30 years. That is, that we have to trust our inside gut. Women are very sensitive and we are more intuitive than what men are. So a lot of what we hear and what we feel is what we need to follow. We also have a hard time disguising how we feel about things. The other thing she said that matches what you said is sometimes we have to let people go in our lives to be able to take the next step. Which can be very painful but even as I look back on who am I still connected to back in Minneapolis, it’s changed and it’s been hard but it’s good ’cause new people will come into your world once you step into the next lens.

Debbie: That’s true. Being selective about the people in our life and the commitments and activities that we take on as well and that’s been a huge challenge of mine in the last year and a half I think because I had this epiphany, I turned 50 September of 2016 and just had all this creative energy, right? And I’m just so excited and I’m saying yes to so many things and I’m almost, put so much on my plate and also perhaps taking a step back and really being selective and clear about what we spend our valuable time and energy resources on as well. You’re right, it’s hard sometimes, isn’t it, you have to … Life is full of choices and sometimes it’s hard to choose and … But you’re right, I think when we do let something go that is no longer serving us … The universe life opens up either more other people or more important things are going to come into our lives, that’s true.

Elizabeth: Exactly, exactly. I agree.

Debbie: I know you love your job, so presently, Elizabeth what are you currently working to change right now, we know you’re in a good place right now so why don’t you share a little about that.

Elizabeth: Right, well I love that you’ve asked me that. Thank you, Deb, I’m actually right now in the middle … I chose a word of the year, Christine Kane, she used to be a folk artist and now she has something, she created this a while ago, she’s a coach, word of the year. So my word this year is equanimity. I picked that because equanimity means mental calmness, composure. And so the way I’m applying that to my life is I’m working to hold back and wait for a neutral place rather than jumping off the deep end when something difficult approaches me, difficult situations are going to come but I have a choice in how I handle them and it’s taking courage for me to back off right now and wait. I’m looking for what I already know I have, which is an inner groundedness. And I need to listen so it’s basically walking into a room and taking a litmus test.

Debbie: Go ahead I just want to clarify this, so I and our listeners understand. That’s quite a word I just want to clarify, so does it mean being, … Just giving yourself a little time … Is it being less reactive perhaps and giving yourself a little bit of a pause before you react to a situation or something? Just clarify a little bit for us Elizabeth, what you mean by that.

Elizabeth: I’ve done a lot of looking at it because I picked the word on purpose because of what it means and what is next for me, so word of the year means you pick a word that you’re going to use this year to become that word. So, equanimity means composure, mental calm, serenity, tranquility, cool headedness, I work in the business world and I have one foot in another place ’cause I have a life outside of my job. So I want to be all of those things and I want to transform into something more, right?
So, I’m also looking for how I can apply that, my presence of mind, my poise, my assurance, my self confidence, my nerve, it’s equanimity for me is my word of the year and I just am so thankful to Christine Kane she has an entire journal that you can pick up, I don’t have enough attention to go into every single detail but, I’m going to keep grabbing on and seeing what’s next and applying that. And it’s kind of like a little touch point for me. As I go though the day and I walk in to rooms where there is a very deep level of positions in the company that I respect, and who do I want to be when I walk in the room? Well, I want to be my authentic self. But I also want to listen for who’s around me so equanimity is my word this year, I’m so excited about it.

Debbie: I’m excited for you and I can’t wait to hear … That’s really a great word and concept you’re … Focus this year on so I can’t wait to hear how that will work out for you. Because I’m sure that is going to effect in a positive way many different avenues and different areas in your life. I’m excited for you.

Elizabeth: I’m excited yes, excitement is a good … Excitement is one level of it all but being mentally calm … I tend to sparkle up … I love the word effervescent. And that’s a part of who I am, it’s an inner light in me that sometimes goes off like fireworks so contain that childlike enthusiasm and remember the adult is in the room at a regular time … Moments when it’s really important. Because I want to be change here, I want to help in a positive way so I have to bring myself forward.

Debbie: And just for the record between you and me and the world who’s listening, I love that effervescent child like playful quality of yours so don’t completely extinguish her, she’s beautiful and marvelous, I just want you to know that.

Elizabeth: You wanna hear something funny then? I’m going to share something with you. So this is what I tell people now, this is a little sneaky trick. I tell people by the way, I’ve never been married and I love the idea of a love relationship, I haven’t found that one right now so I’m still looking for a soul mate so, here’s my latest thing I tell people and they’re always shocked, I said, “Did you know that I was in a very intimate relationship from December 20th, right before Christmas, through just this last weekend through the beginning of January.” And people look at me and they’re shocked and I said, “I had to break up because we didn’t have the same goals.” And everyone’s like, “I didn’t even know you were in a relationship.” And I said, “It was with bad food.” And then they all crack up because I can apply, I have kind of a creative edge sometimes where it hit me that’s just like a relationship. And being able to continue who I am, I’m super quirky, I’m an artist and I have to be able to wrap all of that around being selfish or being confident and it’s a balance on where does that person get to come out and play within the workplace.

Debbie: Yeah. Well, I love it. I think that’s a good perspective. Well, we have a few minutes left. A goal of mine, Elizabeth here with the show is to have an intergenerational conversation if you will. And for women like us, mature women to play the role or work on the roll of mentoring our younger generation, know that’s something you have done a lot over the years. I remember back when I was a school teacher, teaching fifth grade, and you’d show up at my classroom with these wonderful materials you had from Junior Achievement and helping my students, teaching them about financial responsibility and maybe if you could touch on that, what can we do to mentor our girls and young women. I know that’s been a passion of yours.

Elizabeth: Well I think the first thing we have to remember is we are not a child anymore. There’s something that happens … I was a camp director for a long time and they call it the regressive pull, that when you hang out for a long time with someone younger than you, you can tend to slip back into that. And I love when you called it mature. I always forget that. Oh yes, I am mature now. I’m a mature woman and it’s such a sweet way to say that we’ve gotten a little bit older. So, but inside of me is still a little girl and that person still needs everything that we’re doing.
So I’m not as involved with the direct hands on approach for girls anymore, instead I feel like I can give people advice that work with girls. I never had any desire to have any children but, I feel like all of the world’s children are mine. And if an opportunity presented itself for me to have a mentorship opportunity, I would jump right at it. I think the first person we have to heal is the little girl inside of us as women. And then when we do deal with those that are around us, and there are some that are going to be frustrating, and that are going to be difficult, we have to remember that we are not that child. I think listening, which is probably the one thing that I could work on more than anything else, would be the piece that I’d like to bring to that mentorship opportunity, is just listen. We don’t even have to fix it for them, we can’t. They have to fix it for themselves, sometimes they just need us to show up.

Debbie: Be present. I had a very good conversation on this show recently with my 20 year old daughter Aimee, and she pretty much just echoed what you just said just now. I asked her the same question, “What can we do, Amy to mentor girls your age?” And she pretty much told me, “Mom, just be present with us, be present and listen.” So I think that’s something good to keep in mind.

Elizabeth: And it’s so hard because we want to offer … We’re always jumping way ahead with what we can provide to them, tools, I mean, I am the connector. I want to open a door but have they asked for it, do they even want to go through a door? Are they even interested in what we have to say? You have to earn that right and I think listening gives you … You’re putting money in the bank, and it’s a relationship bank.

Debbie: A relationship bank.

Elizabeth: And if you build it up high enough, I think that you can, you’re making an investment.

Debbie: I think that’s awesome. Yeah, I agree. We have about maybe one minute, Elizabeth. Is there any last thoughts about this coming year for change and courage, that you’d like to share with us while we have just about a minute left.

Elizabeth: I guess the one thing I would like to just reemphasize is that if it feels like it’s meant for us, if it matches who we are, then jump into it. We need to continually build up our inner resources, our inner reservoir, and create a tool kit. Those are the people around us and our practices. Build your inner reservoir and develop a tool kit because then you will know what that voice is telling you and where you’re supposed to go because you will have developed yourself.

Debbie: Love it. I think that’s a great point to end on. Elizabeth, thank you, I’m so glad you’re in my life and I’m so glad you were a guest on Courageously Go today, so thank you, I know you’re a busy lady and thank you for taking time today to be with us.

Elizabeth: Thanks, Deb. Good luck with the program, I can’t wait to see what’s next.