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MOXIEmaker Monday: Mirette Bahgat


You've been complaining of living in a pit, 
Yet never tried to climb out of it.

You're sick and tired of potentials unfulfilled,
And a heart burdened by doubts and guilt.

So why, why don't you try to step out,
and cry out loud to call back your dreams,
and the passions that once filled your young heart.

Why don't you fight back the sweeping stream,
and take the unbeaten path towards a fresh start.

Just take heart, throw your darts, and believe,
that all realities were once upon a time a dream.

Meet poet, refugee advocate, and Humphrey Fellow Mirette Bahgat.

MOXIEmoment. “I’ve been always writing,” said Mirette, “but I stopped for 7-8 years because I couldn’t get in touch with my creative side.” Then in 2015, she turned to her creative outlet to reconnect with herself and her creative side and decided to take a year off. “It was what I was dreaming to do my whole life. I got in touch with my creative side-I published a couple of short stories, won a literary award, finished a novella, published an ebook on Amazon, traveled, started meditating, and became mindful.”

Mirette’s role model. Her grandmother. She was the first woman in Egypt who studied environmental science. “I remember her always being very present. She had lots of energy and was an influential and strong woman. She symbolizes strong women to me.” Her grandmother showed her that being a strong woman didn’t mean you were independent and tough all the time-it also means you have grace in your weakness.

Her challenge into an opportunity. One of her biggest was when she graduated from college and worked in a bank because “everybody was doing it and telling me to do it.”  It was her worst time ever: “I did not belong.” It felt like a prison and she hated it. However, everyone around was saying, “This is real life. Quit dreaming. Accept it.” Not Mirette-she didn’t accept it. She switched careers and received scholarships for graduate school and is now studying for a year in Minneapolis.  

Mirette’s favorite author. Toni Morrison. “She’s very powerful.” Mirette is rereading Beloved and it reminds her of what black girls go through. Toni’s description of the pain is so poetic, she feels like she’s reading poetry.

And the future? Mirette wants to collect ideas for her first novel. “It’s scary to write a novel, but I have to do it. It’s inside of me. It’s time for me to see myself as a writer.”

Her advice to the reader? “Go for your dreams even they scare or too unrealistic. Respect them. This is the only thing allow you to be who you are.”

Want to know more about MOXIEmirette?  This is the link to her ebook https://www.amazon.com/Coffin-Roses-Mirette-Bahgat-ebook/dp/B017M7S24Y and this is one of the flash fiction that was published a year ago https://afreada.com/2016/03/18/a-house-in-the-sky-by-mirette-bahgat/  which was awarded the Madalyn Lamont literary award from the American University in Cairo. 

And, Mirette will be one of the panelists at the International Day of the Girl conference on October 9th. http://www.puttingwomeninpower.com/idg2016/ Come by and ask her a question.

Mirette is definitely one to be heard and seen! MOXIEit Mirette!  















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MOXIEMAKER #3 : Grandma Bernie

Happy MOXIEmaker Monday!

This week is brought to you by my Grandma Bernie who as my mom said, “was her own woman.” Maybe that’s where I get it from?

She exuded MOXIE. In a time when girls married right out of high school, she earned her teaching certificate and taught at a country school. When widowed at 49, she ran the family farm-getting up at 5am to run the irrigation pipes by herself. And later, she battled cancer and congestive heart failure with grace and dignity.

.Her trademark: Grandma’s finger. When she was right (which was almost always), she’d raise her pointer finger, pause for effect, and say what she had to say. At the annual 4th of July family picnic, she was also known for her lasagna, red Jello fruit-cocktail salad, and caramel bars.

Favorite Grandma Bernie saying: “It’s never a good time to die. Somebody is always busy.” Funny, smart, clever, and frank. Pure MOXIE!

Her favorite prayer: “God, I need you. Carry me when I’m weak. Hold me when I’m tired. Love me when I cannot care anymore. And when I huddle, lonely and afraid, cover me with your strong protective hand. Guard my sleep. And wake me in the morning, rested and strong, and ready to try again.”

She protects me; I call them Grandma Bernie moments. Whether I’m traveling on a crazy Panamanian road or making a big decision, she intervenes and saves me.

Her impact: in the ER when she was dying, she said to me, “Kristi, you’re smart…You’re living your life.” I was in Tokyo and living a good life-but not a great life. Grandma Bernie inspired me to quit a job that did not bring out my possible, travel the world for four years out of a backpack, and start my social business. She is my CEO-from Heaven.

Thanks GB for teaching me to be my “own woman.”



moxiemaker#2: Amanda Erickson

It’s MOXIEmaker Monday!

Meet Amanda. I’ve known her since she was a junior in high school; she is now a sophomore in college and just launched her first movie Bits and Pieces: a documentation of the creative process between eight strangers.  https://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=youtu.be&v=3HS4B_47Z9k Amanda said, “I used my creative abilities to shine light on those who don’t get noticed/recognized, especially in art.”  For the film, she captured how artists experience art and why it’s important. It’s first showing had over 55 attendees this summer. Check it out and stay tuned as she will find out in December if it was accepted for Sundance!

Her impact (so far).  Her movie has helped break down barriers between art mediums. “When you combine from different backgrounds, something beautiful can happen.” It taught her to work on a long project with somebody else, try something new, and see what I can do with it. “We’ve been told it’s a good reminder you have a lot of power in what you’re creating, who you share it with, and who you make it with.”

Amanda’s motto: “I tell myself, ‘It’s ok to be a little messy because I’ve never been an organized person and always felt I had to be. I’m never going to have it all together. Embrace it in my art and my life.’” This motto reminds Amanda to own herself and her ideas and gives her self-assurance and self-acceptance.  

Her favorite Ted talk:  Brene Brown second one, “Listening to shame.” To her, it’s about accepting shame as something different than guilt. “It’s about separating myself from mistakes I made.” http://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_listening_to_shame  

Amanda’s fave movie. Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom because it’s focused on the visual v. plot “…which I think is very beautiful.” It taught her that “adolescence isn’t necessarily naiveté. You can do anything no matter how old you are.”

Her fave book. All I Did was Listen by Rachel Awes. It’s a visual book about all the things a therapist learned. You have to take the other things people say and learn from it.  What she’s reading right now? NOT. But her favorite blog is Everyday Feminism because it’s funny and relatable. Serious and light. She likes the balance.

MOXIEmoment. Recently saying good bye to her childhood home. “It sounds small but it’s a coming of age thing for me. Adulthood is among me; I have to pay rent and water.”

What’s one thing you love about yourself? “Self-love. I leaned it this summer and am practicing it.”

And the future? Amanda is starting an art magazine that will allow her and her partner to shine light on more artists, supplement her career, and start an art community center. Her advice to the reader? #1 Never let being afraid of messing up stop you from doing something  you love. #2 Support others, especially women. #3 Sometimes the push is support.

Push away Amanda! We are supporting you! And MOXIEon!

 To contact Amanda about her film or other MOXIE-related topics: artcommunityfilm@gmail.com

Meet Amanda at IDG2016. It’s her third year of designing the logo. http://www.puttingwomeninpower.com/idg2016/



MOXIEmaker #1: My niece Jill.

So what does MOXIE mean? I get that question all the time (from those with enough MOXIE to ask that is). According to Webster, it is “energy, pep, courage, determination.” It also means guts, pluck, initiative, bold, sass, and spunk.

What is a MOXIEmaker? It’s a word I made up to mean somebody who has the guts and determination to inspire others to take initiative, be bold, and show their inner sass.

Each week, I will honor a MOXIEmaker in my neighborhood. Which after traveling 60 countries and all 7 continents over the past 20+ years means the world. So, pack your bag and come away with me. Meet MOXIEmakers around the world who have the guts to make good happen and hopefully will inspire you to MOXIEon too!


First up, my niece Jill. She started school as a 7th grader last week and said her MOXIEmoment was when she introduced herself to the new girl Kara. She said she didn’t want her to feel alone anymore; she wanted her to feel “comfortable.” Jill said that since she was being nice, she inspired other girls to be nice to Kara too. “When one person is nice, you might make the whole world nice to you.”

Jill’s motto is: “Whatever you do, whether you’re good or bad, give it a try.” She said that she was reminded of this at Special Olympics softball. At the first practice, she couldn’t catch the ball and was smashed in the face. The next week, she showed up ready and was “a little bit” better.

Her challenge into an opportunity: “I’ve done that lots of times,” she said. Her example was when she shared a secret with somebody, and that girl told everybody else. She said she learned that “it doesn’t matter what anybody else thinks” because she wanted to show them who she really is! Now that’s MOXIE!

Her favorite quote is: “The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself.” FDR because “there are a lot of things to fear and fear can make you scared when it’s really not scary.”

Jill’s favorite book is: the Nancy Drew series because “Nancy never gives up!” Right now, she is reading about Madame Curie and Rosa Parks.

Who does Jill look up to? Her teachers because “I know their gift of knowledge is great.” She also looks up to people who are nice to her and Lucille Ball because “even though people were mean to her, she was still a great sensation.”

And the future? Jill wants to be a nurse or doctor, so she can help people and make them feel more comfortable.

Her advice to the reader? Have perseverance.

Spoken like a true MOXIEmaker! Love you Jill forever and always!




Photo: Sunday Night Football.

While watching teamUSA win Monday night in the World Cup, I was distracted by the patch on their arms Live Your Goals.  It is a campaign to encourage girls and women to play, participate, and stay in the game. Timely, as my boyfriend is encouraging me to play on his Sunday night team.

It has NEVER been a goal of mine to play football (soccer), but it is a goal to play an international team sport, add more fitness in my life, spend more time with my boyfriend, and use my strength competition for fun. Win-win-win-win.

For #ToDoTuesday, I challenge YOU to #LiveYourGoals. Right now! Identify a goal (old or new/fancy or plain/big or small), make a decision ToDo it, and take a first step to LIVE it  in the next 24 hours. I’ll continue to watch teamUSA, so I can understand offsides more before I play. And (of course) I will need to find PINK knee socks before I take the field.

I’d LOVE to hear how you will #LiveYourGoal. Post your goal, action, and result for a chance to win a pair of matching PINK knee socks.

And if you are craving community and purpose around your #LiveYourGoal, MOXIEclub launches LIVE at the end of the month and VIRTUAL in July. It’s a FUN and PURPOSEFUL summer club with GUTS!

Lastly, if you need a blast of PASSION, listen to me live on WJOL with the Flash Girls, Sunday the 14th at 8am to hear how to ignite and leverage your PASSION into POWER.

Until next time, MOXIEon! Kristi Hemmer

Founder/MOXIEmaker at AWE (Academy for Women’s Empowerment)