Back to top

'Dear Overachiever' Blog

FYF 004: Stephanie Juneau

Stephanie is a scientist / astrophysicist / researcher / artist / painter / rockclimber.

She's lived in QC, Canada / BC, Canada / Scotland, UK / Arizona, USA / France.




Before the podcast...

Describe “the hardest year”?
Second year undergrad: I became overwhelmed with my parents’ divorce and living abroad a full summer.

What was the dumbest thing you ever did (or almost did) to fit in?
Pretend to like what my girlfriends liked instead of acknowledging my own taste.

What do you wish we would have asked you?
What would your younger self find the most surprising about your current life?

What’s a “fuck yeah! I did it!” moment?
Canada’s Women in Science and Engineering program (I was told it would guarantee my future).


Break the rules!


On the podcast...

  • Challenges of integrating your scientific self and your artistic self
  • The discernment and fine difference between autism and giftedness
  • How to behave in social situations when you feel so odd and/or different


Dr. Stéphanie Juneau was born and raised in Québec, Canada. Driven by her insatiable curiosity for her surroundings, she became interested in both visual arts and science as tools to illustrate, explore, and understand the world. She now lives in Paris, France, where she works as an Astrophysicist.

Her research focuses on the study of galaxies, their history, and the giant black holes that live at their centers. To unveil mysteries about galaxies and black holes, Dr. Juneau employs telescopes around the world as well as space missions like the Hubble telescope and others.

Off paper, she's passionate about visual arts and dreams to connect this with her science.
Website  Follow Stephanie

Nominate a Reinvented Woman!

Ahaha, look what I found! An old creativity scar.

I was gabbin' with my roomie whom I've known since high school. And somehow, this after-school advanced English class that we both took came up. And I vaguely remembered this short story that I wrote, which was such a hit amongst my peers. They laughed, they asked for a copy, even my English teacher, who never gave a grade above 80%, liked it. Me, a science geek, writing a piece of literary work that was not only well received, but actually beloved.

I couldn't remember what it was about though. But my roomie did! She remembered floss and she remembered details that I had completely and utterly forgotten... Why do we remember certain things, but not others...

High School Graduation © Ellany Lea 1998

School Kills Creativity

So I dug up my old external hard drive and actually found the short story I wrote. Ahahaha, it made me laugh. I wrote this 18 years ago, 18 FREAKIN' YEARS AGO... before school killed my creativity... before society made me conform to the ideal of "married in my 20s with 2.5 kids, a white fenced house, 2 car garage and 1.5 pets" (none of which I have nor want right now), before my culture made me believe that being different was the same as being inadequate.

Today, one of my besties, my roomie and I are doing The Artist's Way together, a 12-week program to rekindle our creativity. A big part of this creativity journey is to write 3 pages every morning for 12 weeks. We are at week 3. We are holding each other accountable.

But it makes me sad that such a program is even needed, to undo the damage that school, society and culture has done on all of us. I don't blame any of them. It just makes me kinda sad. Sigh.

Watch the TED Talk on Why Schools Kill Creativity.

Sweet Memory Lane

Clients and I often go very, very, VERY deep into their psyche to figure out what's blocking them, why they're resisting what they're resisting, and/or why they fear success.

Without having to go so deep, one of the simplest and sweetest exercises I've had them do is to dig up something that they've written 10 or more years ago. Read it, re-read it, and most importantly share it with friends. It'll boost your positivity quotient, make you face any lingering perceived inadequacies, and walk you on a sweet path of memory line so that you rekindle your own creative self-worth.

Ella's First Short Story

Look what I found! My first short (very short) story. Ahaha.

There’s nothing worst in the world for a six-year-old child than to receive a toothbrush as a treat on Halloween.  That’s what most people think.  But just let me tell you that nothing could have been worst than being the six-year-old child who had to give out those toothbrushes.  Yup, that was me, Samuel, the kid who wore a white lab coat and had a 4 foot tall toothbrush as a costume.

I guess I slowly came to the conclusion that being different was being special, because 20 years later, on Halloween, I still give out toothbrushes to children.  But now, I actually take pride in doing so.  If I don’t, who will teach the next generation the importance of dental hygiene?  Do they want to end up chasing their grandson who ran away with their dentures? I think not.

When some teenage trick-or-treaters threw eggs at my window and rolls of toilet paper on my front lawn, I sort of got the message.  They were all “sick and tired of my toothbrushes” or so they wrote in a badly spelled death threat.  So I finally opted for, well … dental floss.  They weren’t the cheap ones, might I add.

It reminded me of the good old days, you know, those days that were the worst days of your life.  You know that commercial that says, “Not everyone has time to brush, so chew chew Trident gum”?  Well, I use the next best thing: dental floss.  Throughout high school, my classmates, the ones who managed to notice my existence, just called me Floss, because I would floss after every meal.  Instead of gum, I would floss.  Instead of breath freshener, I would floss.  Instead of mouth spray, I would floss. Did anyone notice a pattern developing?

So I dedicated my life to preaching dental care to the world.  People ignoring me just strengthened my conviction to make the inside of the mouth a better place.  My teachers at Med school who at first admired my enthusiasm soon just took my behaviour for insanity.  But when has the desire for sane gums become a crime?  That’s what I kept asking the police officer who arrested me.  I was just flossing for goodness’ sake … ok, so they were someone else’s teeth, but a little dental floss can only do good.

My quest often landed me in interesting and new places, but mostly behind bars or in courts.  But the judge, my patient, was always fairly reasonable and dismissed most of my harassment/stalking charges.  I made a pretty good living, and the money people gave me to stay away from them helped a lot in paying the bills.

But I have had enough.  If no one is willing to listen, then I shall take this to the top of the tallest building in the city.  Hoping to revolutionise dental care, I jump in the name of teeeeee… (splat).

When I came to, before I even opened my eyes, I heard the rhythmic beeping of hospital monitors.  I saw a shadow mumble something about jumping off a balcony.  The respirator saved my life.  I had found my life’s mission: to become an electrical engineer, to save more lives by way of hospital monitors.

LOL! A little morbid? Perhaps. I was 16, give the kid a break.

FYF 003: Karen Olson

Karen Olson is a Leadership Coach / Retreat Leader / Art-o-mancy Trainer / Energetic Literacy Advocate / Writer.

She’s lived in Australia / Austria / Minnesota, USA / California, USA / Arizona,USA /  Colorado, USA / Maine, USA.




Before the podcast...

Tell us about a moment when the Universe called and you answered?
"The elements had to get really loud to get your attention," said the Universe. I finally answered the call.

What makes you “seriously” different?
I grew up in a conservative suburb. Now I'm on a mission to bring "energetic literacy" to the world.

What is your longest standing regret?
Not making the most of some pretty big opportunities because of fear: magazine, book deal...

What’s a “fuck yeah! I did it!” moment?
I once went on a caving expedition in Mexico with the US Deep Caving Team (on a 3rd date) and became an official mapmaker.


The elements have had
to get really loud to get my attention.


On the podcast...

  • The power of discernment between staying safe and staying small
  • The insights gained from doing nothing
  • Permaculture and energetic literacy as a way of life


Karen Olson is a coach, retreat leader, consultant, speaker, and writer. She mentors brilliant, creative women who want to overcome overwhelm, connect to their powerful presence and resilience, and become confident, vibrant leaders over the long haul. As an Art-o-mancy guide, she helps people explore their lives and work through works of art at major museums.

The former editor of Utne Reader, and current editor of Public Art Review, Karen's articles about personal growth, health, home, art, spirituality, and environment have appeared in numerous magazines and in Standford University's most popular course: Designing Your Life.

Off paper, she's a recovering perfectionist who's turning her yard into an urban farm.
Website   Facebook

Nominate a Reinvented Woman!

FYF 002: Brianna Strumm

Brianna is a Social Worker / Researcher / Educator / Writer / Heart Coach / Dee-jay / Dancer / Spirited World Wanderer / Yogi / Feminist.

She's lived in ON, AB, Canada / USA / India / England / South Africa / Jamaica




Before the podcast...

Describe “the hardest year”?
2012: My whole world crashed and burned. I had to start over completely with a new vision.

What was the dumbest thing you ever did (or almost did) to fit in?
Stay in a relationship too long just because it made me look 'together'.

What is your longest standing regret?
Being ashamed of my 'unwed' status for too long. Resenting my 30s before I even got there.

What’s a “fuck yeah! I did it!” moment?
Putting my heart back together again! All on my ownsome!


I think it took
some maturity and wisdom to realize there's only so much one person can do. And that's ok.


One the podcast...

  • How to know when something is right or wrong for us
  • How to rebuild our lives after everything we envisioned and created crumbles to the ground
  • What is Heart Rehab and why loving ourselfs is so important


Brianna Strumm is a social worker living in beautiful Ottawa. I’m also a heart coach, writer, instructor, researcher, yogi, dee-jay and spirited world wanderer. I’m unwed and in my mid-30s. This was not the life I imagined but is the life I am embracing. And discovering. And fighting. And loving. It’s complicated.

Off paper, she's a...die hard Bachelor fan. Yep, it's true.

Website  Instagram

Nominate a Reinvented Woman!

FYF 001: Carly Butler Verheyen

Carly is a Writer / Photographer / Banker / Traveller / Snail Mail Enthusiast / Curator for Handwritten / Old Soul.

She's lived in Canada, the UK, and South Korea.



Before the podcast...

Tell us about a moment when the Universe called and you answered?
I was recreating a photo of my grandparents in front of the RMS Queen Mary & something came alive in me.

Describe “the hardest year”?
Re-entry after my Quest which felt like my version of returning from a hero's journey.

What is your longest standing regret?
Not speaking my truth sooner for the fear of being disliked.

What’s a “fuck yeah! I did it!” moment?
Maintained composure on national television (BBC Breakfast). I thought I was going to puke or forget my name or something.


When I recreated that photo, something came alive inside me...
and I knew, in that moment that I'd be going to England.


On the podcast...

  • The exact moment she realized she was about to change the course of her life
  • Her Superpower
  • Why connecting with each other is one of the most powerful things we can do


Carly Butler is a writer, photographer and snail mail enthusiast who lives in British Columbia, Canada. After discovering 110 love letters that her grandmother wrote to her grandfather after a chance meeting during World War II, she flew to London to retrace her grandmother's steps.

What began as a personal journey has turned into a blog, forthcoming book, and calling: she has been invited to speak about the legacy of letters with university students, historical organizations, genealogy groups and art galleries. Carly’s talks highlight her experience preserving and connecting to her family story, how the legacy of her Grandmother’s love letters changed her own, and how creativity can be used as a vehicle to connect to the past, present and future.

Off paper, she's a connection queen with an old soul who loves to interpretative dance around her living room. She is Charm, Eccentric, BOLD, Easygoing, & playful.
Website   Facebook  Instagram   Twitter

Nominate a Reinvented Woman!

You want freedom? You'll have to practice Rising Strong!

As Spring blossoms, more and more women are reaching out to me, vulnerably sharing how it’s only April and they’re already burnt out. They’ve fallen waaay behind their goals. They’re already busier than their busiest time last year.

Why does this happen? Who do intelligent, curious, powerful women entrepreneurs end up burnt out, behind and busy before all the flowers have sprung and the leaves have leafed?

Buy experiences, not things. Rising Strong 2015 © Ellany Lea

1. You are only free if you are no longer directly involve

You will only be truly free, if you’ve got an asset/product (digital or physical) that generates income without your direct involvement. The product of choice for women overachievers is an e-course, because it has global reach and impact. So create one, I suggest. But they don’t…

Why? Because it’d hurt too much if the e-course doesn’t sell. Because they haven’t developed Rising Strong strategies to face the (potential, but unlikely) fall, knowing for certain that they’d rise again. They’ve already convinced themselves that they’ll fall and it’ll hurt waaay too much, so they 1) never create their e-course or 2) sabotage themselves and their e-course the whole way through. There you have it: no emotional freedom, no financial freedom.


2. You are only free if others are working for you

You will only be truly free, if others are doing work for you and supporting you. The second most recurring struggle my clients come to me with is the inability to hire a virtual assistant. They’ve been lone wolves their whole lives and just don’t know how to ask for or receive help. They have the money, but convince themselves that it’s a terrible way to invest that money.

Why? Because they know that if they hire a VA, they’ll have all this free time… that people will want to hog or steal… and it’ll be too painful to say no and set titanium boundaries. The looming (potential, but unlikely) dread that they’ll lose people, opportunities or things if they set boundaries amplifies as time passes. In the end, they’re overwhelmed, drained, and resenting their business.


3. You are only free if you stop perfecting

You will only be truly free, if you stop perfecting. I know so many 6-figure women (clients, friends, colleagues) who are in a state of “failure to launch” because they’re perfecting their e-course or their VIP program. They could have made $7,000 per program with a good enough program, but they are losing tens of thousands of dollars perfecting the perfect $10,000 program.

Why? Because ten out of ten times, they’re over-functioning to compensate for their inner feeling of inadequacy. It’s like women came with a code pre-programmed inside our DNA that constantly shouts at us how inadequate we are, how “not enough” we are. Had they developed Rising Strong shame resiliency, they’d see that even if no one buys their $7,000 program (potential, but unlikely), they are secure in the knowing that they, as a person, is enough.


4. You are only free if you remember who you are

You will only be truly free, if you remember who you are. I know many women whose clients are corporations because they’ve convinced themselves that it’s the only way to make the big bucks, that selling to individuals won’t get them to riches. (So not true.) What ends up happening is they are burnt out by the work they don’t love, dragged down by the people they don’t enjoy working with, and hating the bureaucracy and environment that they’ve put themselves in. They need to course correct, they know this, but they don’t.

Why? Because they didn’t forge their identity at the very beginning. They forgot what they stood for, they forgot what matters most to them, they went so far with the flow that they’re drowning in someone else’s flow. Rising Strong is all about remembering who you are, in the chaos of entrepreneurship, relationships, finance, health, travel, friendships, and life.


If I only knew 20 years ago...

These are all reasons and lessons I wish I knew ten, nay twenty years ago!! Actually, make that 30 years ago. How differently I would have been and done things, had I known these truths. How differently would you have been? How differently would you have done things?

I still can’t believe that Brené Brown has trained only 1,200 of us in her Daring Way and Rising Strong programs. Obviously, there are other coaches, psychologist and counsellors on the planet capable of similar work, But if you do the math, each trained Daring Way/Rising Strong facilitator is responsible for ushering 6.16 million people through the process of daring greatly and rising strong. Yeeps.

A lot of programs teach you how to succeed. Very rare are programs that teach you how to succeed AND fail AND get back up again. Keep this in mind!

Behind the scenes of Rising Strong Training with Brené Brown

1. You remembered very little when you're star struck

When I came back from my Daring Way and Rising Strong training in Texas with Brené Brown, all my colleagues (coaches, psychologists, entrepreneurs, counsellors, etc.) and close friends wanted the download. They were all excited to learn what I had learned. They were so disappointed when I had little to share… because I remembered very little.

All I remembered was that Brené is killer smart and hilarious. She even looked straight at me (twice!!). And I got a whiff of her as she walked passed me on my way to the bathroom… I almost fainted.



Buy experiences, not things. Texas 2015 © Ellany Lea

2. Being a stalker is exhausting

From the day I stumbled upon her TED talk back in 2012, I've watched every video she's appeared in, read every word in every single book she's written, enrolled in every training program she's offered and followed her like a stalker. You can ask my roommate Kate, I barely slept a wink the night before our Daring Way/Rising Strong training, wondering if she was in the same hotel, if she was on a floor above me or below me, or good heavens if she was on the same floor!!!

3. No photos, please

I think that's precisely why Brené insisted on no photos with her. There was a collective "aww" of disappointment in the room when she said no to all photos. We all wanted a photo with her, our rock star, our teacher, our mother hen. But she went on to explain that focus is finite. If you're gonna focus on something, focus on the work, on the people, not on her, not on the fame, not on the selfies with. Focus on the work. Focus on the authenticity. Focus on the courage. Case in point, I was so star struck that I barely retained anything she said that first day.


4. What creates so many raging fans?

Since I was 5, I was given quarters for every A in my report card. As I grew older, I was given more money and more praise for more achievements. When I moved to Rwanda to launch my humanitarian aid career, my dad pointed out how much the guys at Yahoo were making. When I moved to NYC to launch my UN career, my dad pointed out how much the guys at Microsoft were making. When I moved to Hong Kong to launch my boutique coaching practice, my dad pointed out how much the guys at Google were making.

In short, no matter how much I accomplished or how intelligent, kind, sweet and funny I became, it was never good enough. *I* was never good enough. And many terrible, terrible things followed as a consequence. Then Brené came along and named the "You are not enough". It's called shame. Finally, it had a name! Naming it was 76% of the battle won. She publically named something that we've all known and that we are all still living.

That's what creates raging fans.

5. A girl with a blog

As we reached the Q&A portion of our training, all of us of course wanted to know more about Brené's journey and how she arrived at the impact and reach that she has. She told us about how a woman was at one of her lectures and invited her to speak at TEDx. She was told by a hip young TEDx organizing committee to talk about whatever she wanted, so she dared to "go there" with a talk on shame and vulnerability.

We were all on the edge of our seats listening to her story of how she called her sisters to help her break in to the TEDx office to steal and/or destroy the original recording of her TEDx talk. That's something we affectionately call "a vulnerability hangover," a sensation you get the morning after you've done something extraordinarily brave and you start to overthink it and give yourself a migraine.

And she looked over at a good friend of hers who used to wait tables with her and is now one of her senior faculty members and asked, "Was I happier then, or now?" And she admitted that she missed the days when she was just a girl with a blog.

6. There are only 1,200 of us on the entire planet

At our training, Brené told us that we'd be the very last cohort to be trained by her. Woah! It was news to us all and an immense, immense privilege! That's it, there's only 1,200 of us trained in her Daring Way and Rising Strong programs. That's 0.000016% of the population, who are certified to use her research methods to usher another human being through practicing vulnerability, busting through shame, and developing authentic courage. What a privilege and what a responsibility.

Colonia, Uruguay

You know you've got an old soul when you feel at home in quaint little colonial towns, when quiet silence gives you energy, when the lack of tourists (or people for that matter) gives you utter bliss, and when you get a café all to yourself :P #inguldent #quietrev

Buenos Aires and Iguazu Falls, Argentina

They say that the best plans are the ones you didn't plan. I didn't plan on going to South America on my Exquisite Freedom tour... but I ended up there... and it was FABULOUS! European cafés and charm, with youthful vibrancy and colors, mixed with trendy art and fashion