Girls for Progress

How Much Has Changed Since You Were Young?

As a child, we relocated several times before settling down in a small Arizona town.  I’ve spent most of my life in the west coast, did a lot of outdoors activities and traveled once internationally as an infant.  We otherwise traveled only within the United States, camping, site seeing, and just enjoying time together as a family.  I admit I’m only in my mid-thirties so there is plenty of time to seek as much adventure as I can handle.  Either way I have lived well, happy, independent, and enjoyed the many changes along the way.

Remember When Social Media Was Nonexistent?

Girls For Progress

My life in the military community is where I have experienced the most change, and growth.  The most apparent changes however (and I’m certain anyone close to my age or older can agree on), is how much has changed around us!!!  Do you remember when everyone had pagers, or even better when cell phones looked like bricks???…When a navigation system was simply a map stretched open across the dash or the do…doo…dooo…and ringing of dial up Internet connections; and let’s face it, there were days when social media and selfies were nonexistent!!!!!!!

Can We Handle The Unknown?

Change brings about even more significant concerns in the way our society behaves.  From generation to generation, our beliefs, and our openness to how the world is evolving are very different.  We are never without controversial topics, fears, debates, worries, and gaps in understanding any one area or collective occurrence.  It started to make me sad and a bit unsure of what we can expect…will our futures be prosperous, how much more will change, and can we handle the unknown???  Luckily, the changes in technology have also become an exciting way to invest in new ideas, virtually witness the good that still exists in people, and has also helped find a way to still be hopeful that our future and generations that will lead us are very well prepared to handle the task.  My fears have turned into pride, and excitement as I have been blessed to truly witness the greatest glimpse of hope!  Hope from a particular person, an act, and gesture…hope from a generation of amazing YOUNG people that are barely scratching the surface of what’s to come…what we can look forward to for our own children, and the best part is…we no longer have anything to FEAR!!

Now, what am I possibly referring to???  What could I possibly know, or have witnessed that you may have missed???

Lemon “Aid”

“Aid” because she donates a portion of her money to benefit kids with cancer.

There is this amazing young lady, Aleena Valdez, who has created a change in our world that is sure to get us all back on track!  This young lady started changing her community and giving back at the age of 11 years old.  She started a small lemonade stand to raise money to donate to children with cancer!!!  She wanted it to be something bigger than just lemonade and through the request of her parents for a loan, she put a presentation together with costs of supplies, etc. and presented it to her parents to make it all happen.  She then changed the name of her charity to Aleena’s Lemon “Aid” spelled with “Aid” because she donates to the Phoenix Children’s Hospital, where she has been
making a significant difference with her generosity, time, and pure selflessness.

And it gets better…

Fast forward a bit and you’ll discover Girls for Progress, which is an event created by this same brave, intelligent, inspiring, empowering, GIVING, and SELFLESS young lady!!  She started this event after she met her amazing mentor Amy Jo Martin.  Aleena received help with questions about her business, was able to attend Inbound 2015 in Boston, which is a big conference where she would get the chance to hear her mentor speak.  She was interviewed for a part of her mentor’s speech titled “Pretty Damn Rad” and it was about empowering girls to be and see themselves as more than just pretty but pretty damn rad, pretty damn smart.  This event opened Aleena’s eyes to the empowerment she could have on other young girls and she “loved each message and wanted to spread it and thought that girls her age could benefit from something like that.”  With that memorable experience, she created Girls For Progress; in hopes to bring an empowering conference to her hometown of Phoenix, Arizona, and share it with other girl’s ages 11-15 years old.  These young ladies could expect and experience a “variety of different inspiring speakers from across the nation, fun activities, and the ability to make new friends that hopefully want to make an impact on their communities also.”

This Amazing Event Has Three Main Goals:

1).  To help young girls be aware of their social surroundings.

2).  To inspire girls to make a difference.

3).  To build lifelong support for each other along the way.

This conference allows young ladies all over to gain confidence to lead, become entrepreneurs, and learn from amazing speakers who are experts in a variety of fields.  Girls For Progress wants girls to believe how powerful they are and how much of a difference they are capable of making regardless of their ages.

What a gift!!!

It brings tears to my eyes knowing that the future of my daughter is in the hands of some amazing young people!  Aleena Valdez is a force to be reckoned with and I truly encourage us all to take a look into the amazing ways she is changing her community, our children, and our world.  She gives me hope that our future is in the best hands, and the confidence that my daughter will grow up with amazing role models!!!  Young people all over are receiving a true gift from the amazing things Aleena is doing.  They all will learn how to give selflessly of themselves, to be confident in themselves, and have the belief that they have the power to make the same changes and impact that Aleena has made.  This incredible event is inspiration for anyone capable of seeing the value in the lesson she is instilling on so many hearts and minds!  This is an opportunity to learn, grow, and give back!!  We should all take the time to experience the impact this young lady has on our society and share this gift with our own children and communities.

The next Girls For Progress event will be held in Austin, Texas this June and it’s a no brainer that it will be nothing short of AMAZING!!!

For details about the next conference, to donate, or to learn more check out: and


Written by Angela Uebelacker

Use Your Superstitions To Reach Your Greatest Achievements!

Hi.  My name is Angelina, and I’m a superstitious, Irish-Italian American.  My husband tells me that my superstitious habits might be a tiny bit obsessive relative to MOST people (he may be right…but he doesn’t have social media to see me admit it).

Yes You Can

Knock On Wood

I do a lot of knocking on wood (three times, don’t ask me why).  Green on St Patty’s day…of course.  And when my military uniform evolved and no longer had green in the pattern…I may or may not have invested in green underwear so that I was covered if it was on a weekday.  When I played sports growing up, my superstition took on a life of its own.  Every game or meet had a ritual.  Shoes tied and retied.  Same bathroom stall.  Same hat, left in the same place by the bleachers while the race was run.  Lucky numbers.  Lucky sweatshirt.  Lucky socks.  When I played basketball, I became very superstitious about music.  Our team had the same warmup CD for years…to this day, when I hear “The Final Countdown,” I want to rip off my breakaway pants and start running laps around the room.  Almost 20 years later, another “big game” made me realize how important my superstitious quirks were to every great achievement in my life…they were the answer whenever the word “can’t” tried to work its way into my life.

Superstitions Lead to Life’s Greatest Achievements

When I found out I was pregnant with our son, now 8 months old, my superstitious habits kicked into high gear.  We were afraid.  Pregnancy wasn’t easy for us…getting pregnant, staying pregnant…not always as easy as some people make it sound.  I worried a lot.  Whenever I would start to worry, I would put my full library of music on shuffle and divide songs into playlists.  Whenever I heard a song that made me want to jump out of my seat and put the world on my shoulders, it made the elusive Push Playlist.  I was sure that the songs on that list would be the only thing that would motivate me to move that little kicking watermelon where it needed to go at game time.  When the time came, my failure to designate a DJ for the big event meant that we never transitioned to the Push Playlist, resulting in some funny looks from the crowd of medical students who had tickets to the show (I’m pretty sure I heard Shock the Monkey from Peter Gabriel through my own screams…welcome to the world little guy).

I digress, back to the music that SHOULD have been playing.  Michael Jackson, Metallica, Queen, the entire Rocky soundtrack, and obviously…The Final Countdown.  Each song, each beat, is a positive trigger.  Those songs got me through marathons, breakups, basketball tryouts, cruel words, and lost loved ones.  Each positive trigger transformed an experience that could have sent me in a very different direction when something blocked my path.  Those triggers knocked out the dust and provided clarity when the noise of life was too much.  They provided just the right push when the word “can’t” started to creep in.  Can’t is not an option.  Saying can’t is a decision not to try. 

Use Superstitions to Propel Past Challenges

Instead of going around a problem, those superstitious triggers propelled me forward, through the negative barrier, to become stronger out the back end.  Now, every negative experience brings a conditioned response.  My hand impulsively reaches to knock on a wooden door, and deep down, a little voice whispers JUST. KEEP. MOVING.  I hear the first notes of the right song, and a little voice sings it WILL get better…You CAN do it…You WILL prove them wrong!

I know what you’re thinking.  I can’t just throw salt over my shoulder and knock my way to success.  Success is hard work.  Blood, sweat, tears…no pain, no gain…etc, etc, etc.

No kidding.

Hard work is the key to everything.  Physical, mental, and emotional strengths are all forged with hard work.  NOTHING is possible without hard work, but hard work can only get you so far.  On the surface, I relied on luck and superstition to get me through the toughest times in my life.  A song.  A pair of socks.  A wooden door.  What I realized when life REALLY got tough, is that each quirky superstition prepared me for the moments when hard work wasn’t enough.

Triggers For Success

The real key to success is resiliency:  the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.  The ability to push through the times when you’re emotionally beat down…by others or yourself.  To buckle down when obstacles are in your way and the solution requires more than just more hard work.  We are conditioned to react to triggers, positive and negative. Over the years, every superstition I placed in my bag of tricks became a positive trigger to snap my focus back to the task at hand.

Life brings challenges that put you at a crossroad.  Either find a way to quickly wipe the doubt from your mind and get back to the path you are set on, or find yourself settling for a lesser path.  So whether I’m doing the top half of the Thriller dance in the car, or quietly tapping on a doorway, you can bet that whatever is on the other side is worth it.  When someone else’s words plant the idea that you can’t…Three Knocks Say: YES. YOU. CAN.

What gets you putting one foot in front of the other when hard work isn’t enough?

Written by Angelina Stephens

Progress Starts With YOU!


Today is a global day of celebration for the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women!

I think this is a great opportunity to reflect upon some of the brave women who have gone ahead of us. They have paved the way for progress in so many arenas and we owe them a THANK YOU!

In the spirit of the day, I thought it was the perfect time to share some of my favorite stories of bold women.


The Easiest Place To Start Is With You!

1).  Learn from professor Amy Cuddy on how practicing strong body language can actually influence the way you approach the world.

2).  Meet Nancy Frates. This amazing woman started the infamous ALS ice bucket challenge and raised $160 million for continued research.

3).  Reshna Saujani gives one of my favorite TED talks on how we should teach our young girls to value progress and bravery in life over perfection.

4).  Psychologist Carol Dweck encourages us to have a growth mindset in order to truly believe we can improve and helps identify the motivation that leads to success.

5).  Author and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, famous from Lean In, explains why there aren’t enough women in leadership positions in the our country and how we can make small changes to get there!

I encourage you to watch one of these TED talks each day this week (check them out below). Challenge yourself to find 3 takeaways you can implement into your life.

International Women’s Day is a day to celebrate progress for women, and the best way to do your part is to make a commitment to change the things around you…








Suzy Driskill

Brittany Leverett

Stefanie Cooper

Katerine Lindler

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Grow A Business You Love…Discover Your Why

Part II

Discover Your Why

So what’s next?  In Part I, you thought about and reflected upon growing a business you love and what that means to you.  Maybe you even already HAVE a business you love, so what’s the next step?

Discover Your Mission

To me, it’s finding the MISSION in what you love.  The reason WHY is the gateway to digging into that mission.  The mission is the journey, the process, the challenge, and the journey you embark on to get you to that place of true love.

Let me tell you a story of what this mission meant for me.  About 2 years ago I found myself in a tough spot.  I was a new mom who was back at work after a maternity leave that seemed to fly by.  I was teaching, but I was also an entrepreneur.  I was passionate about my business, but I had hit a giant roadblock.  I was exhausted, back in a chaotic class of children I needed to teach while I somehow finding time to pump (yay breastfeeding), plan, go to meetings, cook dinner, take care of my family, and still grow my business.  No big deal, right?

Embrace What Your Heart Is Saying

I fell flat on my face.  You see, beyond just the schedule struggles, I was sad.  I was frustrated I didn’t have more time to grow my business and even more frustrated because I wanted to be with my baby boy more than anything else in the world.  I cried every day dropping him off with his babysitter.  My heart ached to watch him grow and play and never miss a moment.

This is where my mission became fully realized.  I knew I had a chance to use this newfound reason why to really dig deep.  Just like always, it wasn’t going to be easy, but I just knew what I had to do.

A. P. J. Abdul Kalam

It was time to go after my dream.  I was on a mission to grow my business no matter what it took.  I stayed up late, woke up early, and used my headphones to make calls on my commute.  Whatever it took, I did it.  You know what?  That paid off.  I was able to replace my income and leave my job to fulfill my dream of being a stay at home mom!

Accept that Your Mission May Change

What changed?  I had that business before my son was born.  The MISSION changed.  The WHY behind that mission changed.  Once my vision became crystal clear and my purpose fully developed, I was able to fully commit and take action to help me grow.  The love grew deeper, the emotional ties stronger, and the commitment deeper.

Whatever you are doing in life, realizing your true purpose will help you fall even more in love.  I guarantee it!

Finding Your Why

Having trouble pin pointing your why?  I encourage you to examine your heart.  Take a long walk.  Sit with pen and paper.  Ask yourself tough questions.  What do I really want?  Why am I here?  In 50 years, will I be happy with how I’m spending my days?  What do I want my legacy to be?

You may have to ask these questions time and time again, but if you trust your heart, the answers will come and so will the mission!

Written by Susan Brown

Get Over Your Damn Self!

Romi Neustadt

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What TED Has Done For The World?

Who’s TED…?

If you are anywhere on social media, the Internet, or YouTube you’ve probably read about TED, heard about TED, talked about TED and like I (totally embarrassed btw)…wondered WHO IS TED???  Well, I’ll let you in on a big secret…TED is not a person; rather TED is a collection of person’s that have taken over the world (in my opinion) by sharing “Ideas Worth Spreading”.

Ideas Worth Spreading” is TED’s motto…And TED is an amazing nonprofit organization devoted to spreading ideas, in short, powerful talks in 18 minutes or less…SERIOUSLY…a global community where people from all walks of life, careers, and cultures can dig a little deeper and seek a greater understanding of the world.  It is a platform that allows people to discover any new or old idea they could ever possibly want to know, simply to engage conversation and spread the creativity we’ve developed, experienced, or taught through our ideas…AND IT’S FREE!!!!!  TED is an incredible community with the best possible collection of life worthy knowledge that is truly life changing.

Now, you might ask how is TED changing the world…and let me just tell you that we face many issues in the world and TED offers a global ability to feed our desires to better the future by using our creativity and ideas to make changes.  Think about the process, of searching a topic of interest and being able to understand many concepts anywhere you are, and in turn, create CHANGE!!  Change within yourself, change within your community, change within the world!!  TED empowers women, educates our youth for the future, brings communities together, and helps to unite the world in a platform that only motivates us to want more, do more, and be more!

So, what does this mean for you…?

Well, if that isn’t reason enough to discover who TED is for you…I don’t know what is!  The endless opportunities to learn, and grow, and step out of those stuffy comfort zones has reached its peak and it’s well overdue to start seeing what TED can do for your world!!  Too often we excuse ourselves from these opportunities that are shoving themselves into our faces and spaces.  I’m especially guilty of allowing my white noise to cloud my purpose, and it is time to take our ideas that sit at the peak of our finger tips and stop holding ourselves back from exploring this gigantic world of inspiration, growth, and empowerment!!!

Create Your Own Change

WE HAVE TO STOP getting in our own way of discovering our greatest purpose!  We have to stop overwhelming our minds with the white noises in our heads, and discover who we are and how we can spread our ideas too!  It’s time to BEGIN to embrace the power, wisdom, and abilities already in our hearts.

Let’s take advantage of this gift we already possess and engage in this amazing community of information and CREATE CHANGE from our ideas!!!  TED offers “Ideas Worth Spreading”, which begs the question…

What Ideas Are You Spreading???  I don’t know about you…but we’re all waiting to hear them!!!

Discover who TED is for you…and create the change in yourself, in your community, and ultimately, in your world!  Check out more at:

Written by Angela Uebelacker


Abe Lincoln

I’m going to show my age with this next question.  Have you ever lost a picture?

I decided what I wanted to write about today, for Lincoln’s birthday, and I got really excited.  When my sister and I were kids, we took a trip across the country that impacted our world view for the rest of our lives.  My favorite moment from that trip was captured in a photograph.  When I tried to track it down last week, I discovered that the image is nowhere to be found.  It was taken in the age of film, when clouds were something you stared up at from a blanket on the grass.  The thought of losing that picture brought tears to my eyes.  And then I realized that the thing I was emotional about wasn’t the picture.  The tears in my eyes were tied to a memory:  when two little girls realized that their lives weren’t limited by lines on a map or lessons in a book.



Although he won't remember this trip, it's a memory I will cherish forever.

Taking my son to the same steps I visited as a kid was one of the most wonderful moments of my life so far.

With the picture hidden in the dark corner of a storage unit somewhere and the film long gone, all I’m left to share with you is a memory.  When I close my eyes, I can see it clearly: two girls, the smaller one with straight, brown hair, the older one with dark, frizzy curls, both wearing puffy 80’s winter coats, standing together on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.  Before our parents snapped the photo, I remember staring up at the massive structure, overwhelmed by the magnitude of the words etched on its walls.  I didn’t understand what they meant in the grand scheme of our nation’s history, but I felt the power behind the words.  Even with the cold air biting my face, I couldn’t tear my eyes away from those walls.  Out of the corner of my eye, I could see the figure of Lincoln, seated thoughtfully, watching me as I tried to wrap my mind around his words.  That moment sparked something inside of me that still shapes my life today.

“I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true.  I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live up to what light I have.”

― Abraham Lincoln

Standing in the shadows of Lincoln’s watchful eye, a tiny flame came to life in the back of my mind.  From that point forward, the most impactful decisions in my life were extensions of that moment. What started as a spark became a flame that lit the way to each turning point in my life.  To this day, I have trouble explaining why I chose to join the Air Force.  I just know that the thought of serving my country stoked the same flame that was lit 10 years earlier at the Lincoln memorial.  Both my sister and I grew up to blaze our own trails.  My sister is the ultimate expatriate, from the Peace Corps in Kazakhstan, to a nonprofit in Kathmandu, to growing her family in New Zealand, stretching her influence as an entrepreneur and pioneer in global education.

My thoughts still go back to that picture.  I could have read the same words in a book and they would have gone in one ear and out the other.  I would have been intrigued, but not captivated like I was standing in the cold air that day almost 30 years ago.  As I sit typing with my 7-month old son in my arms today, I am in awe of his curiosity.  As he grows older and opportunities for learning go beyond grabbing a spoon, or learning to put one foot in front of the other, I wonder what moments will shape his journey.

Written by Angelina Stephens

Stay tuned for Part 2…with an exciting perspective on how to build character through impactful, engaged learning.  Get a glimpse into an education revolution that is building innovative leaders for the next generation!

Want To Grow A Business You Really Love?

Part I

It’s here!  The season of love, right?  What a fun one!  Valentine’s Day parties, flowers, chocolate, romance, all these quintessential things deemed part of the seasonal experience.  What if there’s a way to bring those things into your business?  It sounds kind of funny, right?  I thought so, too, to be quite honest!

Here, let me explain a bit…

A Business You Love

When reflecting on how I receive and give love, something hit me.   This “love” thing is about people first and foremost, yes, but it can also be extended to various areas of my life.  My business is a vehicle to have the resources I need and want to best love those around me, so why not give it some love, too?

This is a question I’ve asked myself daily for the past few weeks.  What does it take to grow a business I truly love?  Not just one that pays the bills and gets the job done, but one that actually fulfills me and leads me toward my greater goals and purpose.  The first thing I’ll tell you is the answers are not always clear or easy because growing a business isn’t always easy.  I’ve encountered many challenges, including some of the biggest I’ve ever faced in the past month.

So, where does that leave me with the answer to this question?

It Isn’t Always Easy…But It’s Always Worth It!

Here is what I know.  Just like I always tell my team, business is a lot like marriage and exercise:  It isn’t always easy but it’s always worth it.   There will be good times, hard times, sad times, times of momentous growth and times of loss.   It’s in the continuation and drive despite the ups and downs that you can find true purpose.   The hard times are often the ones that grow my love the most because I find out what it’s really all about.  My drive has to go deep, deep down into the depths of who I am and what I want.  By taking the next step, even when I can’t see what’s next or it feels scary, I’ve found all the things I truly love about my business.

The Amazing Gift Of A Business You Love…

It’s in helping those who have the heart to grow their business, it’s in connecting and building relationships with incredible people from all over the country, it’s in helping others realize their greater purpose and what drives them to grow and succeed.   Through the good and bad I cling to what I love, and because of that, I’ve seen tremendous growth in myself and in my business.   I can honestly say I love my business and what I do, and that is an amazing gift.

So, friend, do not be afraid to ask yourself hard questions and find what it takes for you to keep going and Grow A Business You Love!

Written by Susan Brown

Want more practical tips about how to fall in love with your business?

Check back soon for Part II.