Blonde Ambition

Blonde Ambition

Get to know some of South Florida’s most extraordinary, ultra feminine and successful girl bosses

By Francesca Cruz

Photos by Lauren Alexis Rodriguez

AMANDA HARRIS, Senior Director of PR and Marketing at the Diplomat Beach Resort Curio Collection by Hilton.

 

 

 

 

 

 

She’s tall, blonde, blue-eyed, and yes, she’s gorgeous. This gal is a go-getter, a life enthusiast and she also happens to be one incredibly kind soul. It’s my pleasure to introduce you to Amanda…

 

What are your three top passions in this life?

Traveling, nature, and mindfulness practices. I’m really into things like yoga, TED Talks, group meditation events, mindful mentors, and women empowerment causes. Self-development is a constant journey and an integral part of my personal evolution.

What propels you out of bed in the morning and motivates you to keep going?

I like to use something called “The Five Minute Journal” to help me set daily, weekly, and monthly goals that are often outside of my “comfort zone,” both personally and professionally. Although at times these goals are uncomfortable, and challenging, it drives me to push my boundaries, face my fears and feel a sense of accomplishment. Every single time I push myself out of my comfort zone, I walk away with a new lesson learned and it’s the lessons learned along the way that keep me awake, motivated, and curious for life.

Name a female figure in history you have an affinity with? [Someone you admire, perhaps a favorite quote…] 

As a Gemini woman, I am going to have to share two. Both equal affinities for my twins within. LOL 😉 … Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, “Fight for the things you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.” And Maya Angelou, “My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What about your character do you feel has assisted you in becoming successful?

I love big ideas, creativity and I am always pushing the envelope. I believe in being different and am very lucky to have worked for some incredible corporations throughout my career that appreciate my outside of the box thinking. I focus on the opportunities I have to make a lasting impact on the people I touch daily versus trying to “change the world.” Whether it’s for myself, my internal team, or the agencies I manage, I treat everyone with respect and kindness, while also setting realistic hard goals and expectations for winning results.

This is the Gift Guide Issue—what would you say is an object you’ve been gifted that is a priceless possession for you and why? [Cost doesn’t come into play—it can be $3 to $30k—meaning: of value to you] 
For Christmas last year, my dad gave me a “weekend staycation” to a local Miami Beach hotel and spa. I thought the gift was incredibly thoughtful and I absolutely loved it, as I am a big believer in “buying experiences, not things.” Also, what better gift can you give someone than the gift of making memories?! (PS- Thanks again Dad!) I also recently bought myself “The Five Minute Journal” (mentioned briefly above). Definitely a gift I recommend for anyone looking for an easy introduction to a daily self-journaling practice. I swear by it!

What’s a smell you associate to happiness?
Homemade blueberry muffins… They make me think of happy memories from my childhood. My mamma had a ritual of baking them for my brothers and [me] every Saturday morning when I was growing up.

The one piece of advice you wish you had learned sooner?
Difficult people and challenging situations are a part of life. Wherever you go, whatever you do, whatever company you work for, [whoever] you date, no matter how old you are, your race, cultural background, or gender… there will always be a new “life lesson” wait-ing just around the corner to teach you something new. Once you realize that with each challenging situation comes an opportunity for self-improvement and growth, you start taking account-ability for changing the way you look at things, stop putting unrealistic expectations onto others, and empowering your own happiness. You cannot control what happens to you, but you can control your attitude and how you deal with it. This one simple piece of advice literally changed my life.

Jessi Morris, Dietitian & Heartrepreneur

Jessi a registered Dietitian with a Masters in Dietetics, is the founder of Project Groove, a mobile hip-hop dance company for kids, the co-founder of Funk&Flow, and a self-described Heartrepreneur. She also happens to have some ridiculously rad dance moves, and an exuberant smile that lights up the darkest hour.

How do you define success? And what about your character do you feel has assisted you in becoming successful?

I think success is multidimensional. Success is when purpose is in motion, when hard work reflects itself, and when body and mind are in healthy alignment. Personally, I am blind to any alternative to passion and purpose. I stay open to possibilities, I follow-up, I show up, and I strive to give others my all. I bring as much of “me” as I can to all situations, and I think that’s received well and allows people to feel they can be themselves too. I am solution-oriented, and believe that when there is a will, there is a way.

This is the Gift Guide Issue, what would you say is an object you’ve been gifted that is a priceless possession for you and why?
I have a piece of canvas art that a college friend made and gifted me for my 21st birthday. She made a free-dancing figurine woven from string and painted the quote “dance in the direction of your dreams.” It has always hung in my bedroom; now, it hangs at Funk&Flow.

Things can’t always be the color of roses. When you find yourself feeling blue, how do you hack your brain out of the funk?
I’ll speak out that I am worthy, I am enough, my voice deserves to be heard, and my actions deserve to be felt. Also, I move my body! It’s the most powerful tool to release stuck energy and de-clutter the mind. It inspires space for new energy flow and thought patterns that are healthy and productive.

What’s a favorite word?

Fortitude. I’d be nowhere fun without it.

What’s the one thing you are most in-secure about and how have you turned that around in your life?
I struggled with weight and body acceptance, I was fat-phobic, would yo-yo diet and exercise mostly for weight-related reasons. Now, I move my body both to explore my physical capabilities and to feel good—during, and after—and share this with the community. I made nutrition my career, and help people lead lives full of healthy nourishment, moving away from calorie count-ing and into feeling good.

The one piece of advice you wish you had learned sooner?
Do not be afraid of failure—there is really no such thing. Stay open to learn-ing, adapt, and keep going. “You can recognize very often that out of these projects that may not have succeeded themselves that other successes are built.” – Ariana Huffington

What’s a smell you associate with happiness?
I love the smell of BBQ in the air, reminds me of family gatherings in the summertime. Food, sunshine, paper plates and laughter.

Maria Mercé Martin, Founder and CEO, Optime Consulting

When the word “technology” comes up in conversation, visions of an exquisite (with emphasis on exquisite) Hispanic blonde woman may not be the first to come to mind, hence our excitement over Maria taking part in this interview… A computer science engineer who runs a multinational marketing company, she’s got that whole “right brain/left brain balanced engagement” down to a science (pun intended)

 

What’s the very first thing you do in the morning and the very last thing you do at night?
Send a “Good Morning” & “Good Night” to Andrea & Michelle my 25 and 18-year-old daughters. My pride and happiness!

Name a female figure in history you have an affinity with? [Someone you admire]

I admire so many women in history, but I would like to focus on Carolina Herrera, a Venezuelan woman who found that her purpose in life was to express herself through fashion, and depict women in a way that represents who they are. I respect her resilience and success in becoming a global ambassador for both women and Venezuelan professionals.

What’s the one thing you are most insecure about and how have you turned that around in your life?
[Example, Jackie O. never liked her large hands, so she wore gloves all the time to disguise them, unbeknownst to her she started a trend in the late 50s and early 60s of wearing short white gloves] I was 27 years old when I had my first baby girl, and with that joy came one of the most challenging situations at that moment in my life. I suffered from Bell’s palsy, which left my face with 50 percent mobility. I couldn’t close my right eye, move my mouth or even smile.  I did over 25 sessions of therapy and 100 sessions of acupuncture to finally recover only 25 percent of my mobility in one year. Through the years, my mobility has been better but it always shows side effects from this condition. Did it change my life? Yes, of course, at the beginning it was extremely hard. However, as time went on and I spent my time loving my family and kids and focusing on my dreams, instead of my face, I came to understand that you can use the unpredictable moments in your life for good. Nothing is for granted, and being healthy, loved and happy is the best you can have in life!

Following up on that, things can’t always be the color of roses, when you find yourself feeling blue, how do you hack your brain out of the funk?
I always say that “No hay mal que por bien no venga.” It means that things hap-pen for a reason. So, I try to find the positive side of any negative situation and learn from it. When I feel blue, I practice self-care. I dress myself with white and pastel colors, blow-dry my hair and spend time on my make-up. This routine energizes me so that I can move on from a situation and focus on what’s next. It is always important to discover new challenges and feel that even though not everything is the color of roses, if you spend time to make others and yourself feel valuable and loved, you can surpass any negative situation and move on from it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s a favorite word?

HAPPINESS!

Michelle Marie Diaz, Fitness and Wellness Entrepreneur

This hometown girl, a Weston resident for over 20 years, has built her mini online fitness empire (MichelleMarieFit.com) while raising two children. With a passion for helping others, particularly women, get physically, spiritually and emotional balanced; it’s our honor to introduce you to Michelle…

What are your three top passions in this life? What propels you out of bed in the morning and motivates you to keep going?
My family: my biggest motivator, I want to be able to give them everything I had, didn’t have and more. I also want to be a good example to my kids of hard work, passion, dedication and perseverance. My Tribe: the thousands of ladies I serve on a daily basis. Knowing that even though it’s virtual, I can still impact their lives. I owe it to HIM: I feel so blessed that I feel a huge responsibility to God everyday to be my best, to be the light in someone’s… anyone’s life… to use the gifts, talents and blessings he’s given me to make a difference.

How do you define success? And what about your character do you feel has assisted you in becoming successful?

I define success as finding and living my purpose and destiny in a way that serves the people (family, friends and customers) around me, making a positive impact in their lives but in such a way that allows for my freedom both in time and finances. Having balance in all areas of my life and living in contentment. I have always been very intentional with everything in my life. From the people that surround me, what and who I learn from, and how I spend my time. Being intentional with my time has allowed me to never procrastinate and always use my time wisely. This is what has allowed me to build and grow a business during the hardest years of my life, while having and raising my kids. I basically built my business during nap time and in the early hours of the morning before “life happens.” And PERSEVERANCE, while the challenges of growing a family and a business at the same time were many, they just made me want to figure it out and accomplish it even more.

What’s the one thing you are most insecure about and how have you turned that around in your life?
My hips, I call them elephant ears. I’m Hispanic so hips are part my DNA. But I’ve learned to embrace them and even love them. So now I teach my tribe that it’s easy to be skinny, eat salads and do a lot of cardio. But it is HARD to have some curves and carry them well. I’m all about balance so I’m OK with sacrificing some leanness in order to have fun and enjoy life even if that means more curves! Women like to strive for perfection and it’s unrealistic so I love to teach women to embrace every single part of them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The one piece of advice you wish you had learned sooner?
Boldly be YOU and be polarizing. Don’t be a lukewarm type of person… it’s better to be HOT or COLD. It’s easy to fall into going along with the rest of society and to not take a stand for what you believe and how you feel for fear of offending someone or not fitting in or being judged. But once you take a firm stance and you are boldly YOU, God and the universe open up with opportunities to serve and make an impact, and the right friends and people will be attracted to you.

Name a female figure in history you have an affinity with? [Someone you admire]
My mother, Nerina Valladares, she was 19 when she had me, having to give up finishing school, being a teenager, and her freedom. It still amazes me how she began “real life” at such a young age and with little experience and preparation yet taught me so much. I attribute my work ethic, my determination, my perseverance, my drive, my confidence and my family values to her as she showed all those things to me through her own life.

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