• March 2014

Are You a Truly Amazing Woman?

You know these women. The ones who are Truly Amazing.

They work smart and accomplish great things—big and small. They are making strides, changing lives, and are unabashedly proud of their achievements.

No, these aren’t the Superwomen of yesteryear, the ones who were on a mission to master motherhood; and be the ideal wife, daughter, and friend; and have a high-powered career; and look like a supermodel. (Makes you exhausted just thinking about it, right?)

These women are masters of their own destiny. Clear, confident, and comfortable in their own skin, they are role models for all of us (our daughters, especially) about harnessing our personal power.

In fact, you might be one of these Truly Amazing Women. If you are, odds are good that right now you are shaking your head thinking, “No, I’m not amazing, but my dear friend, fill-in-the-blank, is!”

We know this from experience. Since 2008, when we launched the Truly Amazing Women project, we’ve heard that response from nearly every amazing woman we’ve approached. Humility, it seems, is a hallmark of the Truly Amazing. Fortunately, more than 250 women have agreed to be profiled, many on our radio show on the Inkandescent Radio Network, and we thank each and every one of them.

And since March is International Women’s Month, we are taking the opportunity to unveil our newest Inkandescent initiative: The Truly Amazing Women TV Show.

With the help of videographers / photographers Charlie Archambault, John David Coppola, Steve Barrett and video editor Ed Reinsel, we launch the first of our three-part series. Click on the links below to watch our Q&A with each of these stellar women on InkandescentTV.com.

Because this issue is dedicated to all the Truly Amazing Women who have the drive and vision to see what needs to be done to improve the human condition—and then do something about it—we are honored to feature:

  • Darrah Cloud, our March 2014 Entrepreneur of the Month, who is a nationally acclaimed playwright and screenwriter. The winner of numerous awards since graduating from film school, she launched her latest play, “Our Suburb,” at DC’s Theater J in December. What inspired her to write this show, and how did she get award-winning actress Judith Ivey to direct? Scroll down for our Q&A, and click here to listen to our podcast interview.
  • Angela Peabody, a Liberian woman who survived a violent coup d’etat, and founded the Global Woman P.E.A.C.E. Foundation; Angela Maiers, who harnesses her passion for literacy through her Choose2Matter initiative; Sheila Berry who founded Living Vicky to mentor and prepare young women; and Sara Potler LaHayne, founder of Move This World.
  • You’ll also meet fine artist Toby Heller, whose romantic sculptures adorn properties worldwide—including the Grove Isle Hotel & Spa, where we met her in February on a fantastic weekend getaway to Coconut Grove, FL.
  • If fashion is your passion, you’ll want to learn more about fashionista Amy Barickman, whose love for color inspired her to found her own fabric company, Indygo Junction.
  • You’ll be charmed by author Kelly Harman, whose determination to speak her mind inspired her to pen, Did I Say That Out Loud?

Also in this issue, Certified Financial Planner Rita Cheng releases her new eBook this month, Wealth Management Rules: 12 Tips to Help You Harness Your Financial Know-How. Published by another new Inkandescent service, Inkandescent Publishing, this title is the first in the series we’ll be releasing under our imprint, Inkandescent Rulebooks: What You Need to Succeed in Small Business—without going insane. Click here to learn more and order your copy.

  • And Eileen Hull, who has been called the “Queen of Crafts,” is launching her #PaperTrail Teaching Tour—proof that her crown is adorned with grit and gumption. This mom of four and grandmother of three—whose designs have been picked up by some of the country’s largest manufacturers—bought a vintage Scotty Serro trailer, spiffed it up, and will be driving it across America giving craft classes and inspiring others to create. We’ll be following her online, and invite you to do the same! Don’t miss our pre-trek interview.

Get ready to be inspired! To that end, our parting thought this month comes from the inspirational phenom SARK, whose poem “How to Be an Artist,” could also be guidelines for how to be a Truly Amazing Woman.

Sark writes: “Stay loose. Learn to watch snails. Plan impossible gardens. Invite someone dangerous to tea. Make little signs that say Yes! and post them all over your house. Make friends with freedom and uncertainty. Look forward to dreams. Believe in magic. Laugh. A lot.”

You are invited: If you are a Truly Amazing Woman, or know someone who is, please share your story with us.

Here’s to living with heart and imagination, to sticking to your guns and listening to your intuition—and to making every day a truly amazing adventure. — Hope Katz Gibbs, founder, The Inkandescent Group • Illustrations by Michael Gibbs

Darrah Cloud Has the Whole World in Her Hands


By Hope Gibbs, Publisher Be Inkandescent • President InkandescentPR • Founder, The Inkandescent Group LLC

Born in Northern Illinois, screenwriter and playwright Darrah Cloud has a dual Master of Fine Arts degree in English and Theater from the University of Iowa Writer’s Workshop.

We met her in 2013 when she debuted Our Suburb at Theater J in Washington, DC. An homage to Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town,” this world premiere invites audiences to suburban Illinois in 1977, when the neo-Nazis threatened to march on Skokie.

As two families prepare for Christmas and Hanukkah, two teenagers fall into an interfaith romance, and find themselves absorbed in a growing menace that turns to heartbreak, headlines, and then, magically, new hope, in this whimsical, innovative update of an American classic.

This playwright’s work debuted on the American stage in 1982 with the acclaimed “The House Across the Street.” A review in The New York Times said:

“Among the more bizarre news stories to haunt our culture in recent years are those follow-up features that appear after the arrest of a mass murderer. In these stories, reporters ask the neighbors of a Texas sniper or a so-called Son of Sam whether they noticed any odd behavior on the killer’s part during his months of heinous crime. The answer is inevitably no. Right up until the end, it seems, these fellows were shy, well-mannered types who minded their own business and helped little old ladies with their groceries.

“In the very sick, very funny first act of ‘The House Across the Street,’ a new play at the Ensemble Studio Theater, a young writer named Darrah Cloud examines the absurd dimensions of this paradox. ‘House’ is set in a Chicago suburb and is loosely inspired by the John Wayne Gacy case. It tells of a typical all-American family, the Fortunes, who wake up to discover that the nice man across the front lawn has raped and strangled 31 boys and then buried them in every crevice of his home. Although the family’s living-room window looks right into the murderer’s house, no one ever noticed ‘anything out of the ordinary.’ So what if the man poured a new concrete floor in his basement every week? Maybe he was just doing his bit to keep up property values.”

Her second show was The Mud Angel, a play The Times called “knee-deep in symbolism and sexuality, as Darrah Cloud studies the interwoven relationships among a mother, her three children, and a horse named Shadow. In this bizarre middle-American Gothic tale, the horse has all the best lines.”

That led to the next play, her breakout hit, called The Stick Wife, a play concerning the 1963 bombing of a church in Birmingham, Ala., in which four African-American girls were killed. It secured her place among feminist playwrights of note in the United States.

Other hits include “O Pioneers!” which was filmed for “American Playhouse” with Mary McDonnell in the lead role. Another hit, “Hearts Are Wild,” a rock musical with composer George Griggs, opened in Pittsburgh at City Theater in January 2006, and Cloud is also the writer of “Sabina,” a chamber musical about Jung, Freud, and Sabina Spielrein.

Disney was also drawn to Cloud, commissioning her to create a dramatization of their classic Snow White, which played at Disneyland.

“The theme throughout all of my work is the social concerns of women’s lives, says Cloud—which is the reason why she is our Truly Amazing Woman of the month in the March 2014 issue of BeInkandescent magazine.

“My early plays of the 1980s and 1990s depict women’s struggles to gain autonomy within a culture of socially prescribed and oppressive roles, as well as their efforts to find and employ authentic voices to break the silence of sexual repression,” Cloud shares, noting that later works depict strong, intelligent, self-emancipated women who defy traditional stereotypes and succeed on their own merits and efforts.

This decade she’s created even more works of note, including “Our Suburb,” which ended its world premiere in January at the Jewish Community Theater J in Washington, DC.

What inspires her to come up with her ideas?

Click here to listen to our podcast interview with Darrah Cloud on the Inkandescent Radio Network. And click here to read our Q&A.

Playwright Darrah Cloud on the Art of Being a Powerful Woman

Award-winning playwright, screenwriter, and avid horse- woman Darrah Cloud is as down-to-earth as she is talented. After meeting her in 2013 when she debuted her latest play, “Our Suburb,” at Theater J in Washington, DC, we sat down for a Q&A.

Scroll down to read more. Click here to listen to our podcast interview.

Be Inkandescent: Tell us about your current play, “Our Suburb,” an homage to the classic American play, “Our Town,” by Thornton Wilder. What inspired you to write it.

Darrah Cloud: I grew up in Skokie, Illinois, and I got out of there as fast as I could, thinking that it was the most boring place in the universe. When I eventually went back, I began to realize that behind those sensibly boring doors, some incredible conversations were taking place. Most importantly, a 1970s event took place here, when a group of neo-Nazis from the Southside of Chicago tried to march through town. I wanted to pay homage to my neighbors and to the struggles going on behind those doors. I had seen “Our Town” around that time and thought, “Here’s a wacky idea … how about a play called “Our Suburb.” I got thinking, what did a suburb mean 30 years ago—what does it mean now? The idea took off from there.

Be Inkandescent: “Our Suburb” is directed by Judith Ivey, a four-time Tony Award-nominee (most recently in 2013 for “The Heiress)”, and a two-time winner for her performances in “Steaming” and “Hurlyburly.” How did you meet her and decide to collaborate on this show?

Darrah Cloud: Ari Roth, who is the artistic director at Theater J in DC put us together. He thought Judith and I would get along.

The funny part about it is the two of us look somewhat alike. We’re the same height, we have the same haircut, we both have Midwestern accents, and I guess something of the same mannerisms. When we started working on the play, people were constantly mistaking us for each other. It was pretty great; we were able to finish each other’s sentences. It has been a really great collaboration.

Be Inkandescent: Recently you launched a children’s play entitled, “What’s Buggin’ Greg,” about a boy who wakes up on his 13th birthday to discover that he’s been turned into a cockroach. It was the winner of the Macy’s New Play Prize, and was produced by Cincinnati Playhouse in 2012. On tour now is your play, Joan The Girl Of Arc, which is similar to themes in some of your other plays in that it is about a strong woman.

Darrah Cloud: Like “Greg,” which is about your life changing enormously in ways you can’t change back—about becoming an adolescent, and a little bit about disability and accepting who you really are—“Joan” was aimed at teen girls.

Remember, the historic Joan of Arc—who was born to a peasant family in the northeast of France and who said she received visions from God instructing her to support Charles VII and recover France from English domination late in the Hundred Years’ War—was only 14 when she said she started hearing voices, 17 when she went to war, and 19 when she was burned at the stake for heresy. What a fascinating kid! I really wanted to take a look at her as a real teenager who hears voices and then has to follow what she believes.

Be Inkandescent: The intensity of that topic, and all the subject matter you write about, is breathtaking and what sets your work apart. Talk about the play you wrote about Estee Lauder and Mary Kay—two strong women who were entrepreneurs before a lot of women embraced that role.

Darrah Cloud: I became strongly interested in what it took for a woman early on to be an entrepreneur, and began researching Estee Lauder and Mary Kay. I didn’t want to do a bio-pic play, I wanted to really talk about the larger idea of who we are as women, especially when we are in business. I was also intrigued with the topic of how you reinvent yourself.

“Makeover!” is the result. It’s a musical that reflects a changing vision of women in our times. The main character is a mix of these two women—someone transforms herself into a French woman to start a cosmetics company and advertise it to the rest of the world while providing jobs to other women during her journey.

Be Inkandescent: That brings me back to my questions of, “What truly makes someone amazing?” How do you define it? And what drew you to Estee Lauder and Mary Kay?

Darrah Cloud: I think what is interesting about these two women is how faithful they were to their own feelings and beliefs—while at the same time having to create personalities that would get the job done in the real world, that would influence people.

I remember someone in Hollywood once saying to me before I went in to pitch an idea to a producer, “You had better dress really well and look really prosperous” because they wouldn’t want to see “some kid with a ragged hem. They want to see someone who looks successful already.” I remember thinking, “But I’m not successful, I’m here to get a job!” The lesson was, you have to look successful to get successful. That has always stuck in my mind and been a bizarre paradox that I needed to examine. The same was true for Mary Kay and Estee Lauder, who had to change who they were in order to get the trust of people with money who would invest in them and allow them to further their ideas.

Be Inkandescent: Those were all valuable lessons learned for all of us—to stay true to yourself and also to be able to put on the façade to a certain extent.

Darrah Cloud: I agree. When Mary Kay started out, she had children and she didn’t want to be at work when they were home, so a huge part of her company was about locating other women who needed to work and wanted to be home when their kids were. So the business model actually grew out of that idea. That was being true to herself and what she valued in life, which was time with her kids and being a mother, while at the same time, being a sharp businesswomen.

Be Inkandescent: You do the same—balancing your career with motherhood.

Darrah Cloud: I do, sometime it’s imbalanced, but I do (laughs). I have three kids, and all are in college at the same time. I have a junior in college and two freshmen in college.

Be Inkandescent: The balance, always a challenge! Let’s go back to the start of your career. You’ve said in other interviews that you initially thought of being a poet. What made you decide to become a playwright?

Darrah Cloud: I was in the Writer’s Wworkshop at the University of Iowa. I loved writing poetry and had fantastic teachers, and they certainly taught me the value of a single word and how much meaning could turn on one word, also how joyous it was to search for that word. But I couldn’t see myself necessarily doing just that for the rest of my life; it felt isolated to me. I just thought, “I’ll take a playwriting class and see what it’s like.” I realized that the poetry training was excellent for just blowing up a poem and creating a play out of it. Plus, you also got to work with other people (laughs).

Be Inkandescent: How did your career progress?

Darrah Cloud: I wrote “The House Across the Street” when I was in college and that play won the American College Theater Festival Award. We were invited to the Kennedy Center to perform it. From there, I sent the play to New York to ensemble studio theater and they picked up on it, called one day and said they would like to produce the play. So I graduated from Iowa, moved to New York, and that following January my play opened in New York. It was wonderful and a sign of “Yes, you’re doing the right thing.”

Be Inkandescent: What draws you to the topics you choose to write about?

Darrah Cloud: Well certainly anyone that I’ve written about, whether they were made up or not, has been someone with a big struggle. In “O Pioneers!” which Kim Sherman and I wrote together, the main character faces a vast land with nothing in it. Instead of being afraid of it, the character sees a future in it, and a chance to remain free.

That kind of mission can be associated with the two characters in “Our Suburb.” They were Holocaust survivors, and what they understand about freedom is completely different from the family in the play who lives across the street. These are themes that are always there throughout everything—the struggle for freedom.

Be Inkandescent: You have written a lot for television as a screenwriter and for film also, tell us what the difference is for writing something for Broadway as opposed to a movie.

Darrah Cloud: Film and television are actually very different, but playwriting is closer to television because usually you have just a few sets in a TV piece and a lot of dialogue in a TV piece. In film, the language really changes, it’s visual. You have to give up your poetry in words and make it image to image. It’s a huge change. The television work I’ve done has been pretty much just entertainment, a lot of holiday movies and some serious women-in-jeopardy stuff. What I like about the holiday movies is I didn’t have to kill anyone (laughs). Those movies show my feelings of liberation and women’s pride and freedom.

Be Inkandescent: Can you name a few that we have seen?

Darrah Cloud: My favorite is Undercover Christmas, starring Jamie Gertz. It’s about a woman being taken into the FBI’s Witness Protection Program, but the FBI agent wants to go home for Christmas, so she has to go home with him. She’s a stripper and he’s a very straitlaced guy from a nice Connecticut family. It was a lot of fun to write.

Be Inkandescent: You have had such an amazing career, and it’s far from over. What’s on your wish list?

Darrah Cloud: I would love to see my musical on Broadway. I’m doing everything now to try and make that happen.

Be Inkandescent: Given the chance, is there anything that you would do differently?

Darrah Cloud: I think I may be smarter about business. It has been very hard for me in my own mind to be taken seriously. I think I might have been braver. I would ask myself to be braver when seeking new opportunities. There was nothing stopping me, except me.

Be Inkandescent: What is your best advice for those who want to make it big in the theater field?

Darrah Cloud: I would say the theater world is people-oriented and about relationships, and that’s almost a direct quote from Mary Kay. Work is about relationships no matter how technological things advance. You have to be on top of your game with dealing with human beings, and you have to remember that everyone is human and all have their tragedies, flaws, and strengths. It’s really important to keep that in mind and that we are all in this together.

When I meet an aspiring playwright, I suggest that they find a place where they really want to live and become a local playwright. The reason is that I think things are changing in the industry; the economy is dictating that people look to playwrights within their own towns for the acting pool in addition to writing pool if they want to do new plays. I think it will produce great work, and theaters will take a chance on their own people. So playwrights should live in an area they really love, and dedicate themselves to building their work there.

Be Inkandescent: Which cities that are especially open to working with local playwrights?

Darrah Cloud: Well certainly Washington, DC, is opening up to it. Of course Theater J has been doing new plays for a long time, and new plays by women in particular (laughs). There is much more openness, and local playwrights are starting to get a foothold there. Also Boston and Chicago. Chicago has been pretty good to its local playwrights, Seattle is starting to look inward and so is San Francisco. I’m just hoping that continues, it kind of takes the local playwrights to push it. It also takes openness on the part of the regional theater directors, who are starting to realize how much money they can save by using good local talent in their backyard.

Be Inkandescent: We’ll be keeping an eye out for your plays, Darrah. Thank you so much for your time, for you are a tribute to Truly Amazing Women everywhere.

Darrah Cloud: Thank you so much for having me, it was a pleasure!

Be sure to follow Cloud on Twitter and her website, Darrah.Cloud@wix.com.

Click here to listen to our podcast interview on the Inkandescent Radio Network.

And check out our interviews with other Truly Amazing Women at www.TrulyAmazingWomen.com.

If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. 
Now put foundations under them.”

– Henry David Thoreau

Destiny is a name often given in retrospect to choices that had dramatic consequences.”

– J.K. Rowling

It is only when the mind is free from the old that it meets everything anew, and in that there is joy.”

– J. Kristnhamurti, The First and Last Freedom

You only live once. But if you do it right, once is enough.”

– Mae West

The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ripeness is all.”

– William Shakespeare

We are all of us born with a letter inside us, and that only if we are true to ourselves, may we be allowed to read it before we die.”

– Douglas Coupland

Success is about finding a livelihood that brings joy, self-sufficiency, and a sense of contributing.”

– Anita Roddick

It is to no purpose to turn away from the real nature of the affair because the honor of its elements excites repugnance.

– Carl von Clausewitz, On War

Never cut what you can untie.”

– Joseph Joubert

Practice kindness all day to everybody and you will realize you’re already in heaven now.”

– Jack Kerouac

Persist and persevere, and you will find most things that are attainable, possible.”

– Lord Chesterfield

At the center of your being you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want.”

– Lao Tzu

Confidence is the most important thing you can teach someone… if you can teach them confidence, you don’t have to teach them anything else.”

– Vin Diesel

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently.”

– Steve Jobs, Apple, Inc.

Things don’t change. You change your way of looking, that’s all.”

– Carlos Castaneda

Inspiration and genius — one and the same.”

– Victor Hugo

You’ve got to be willing to crash and burn. If you’re afraid of failing, you won’t get very far.”

– Steve Jobs

The less effort, the faster and more powerful you will be.”

– Bruce Lee

Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence.”

– President Calvin Coolidge

Happy are those who dream dreams and are ready to pay the price to make them come true.”

– Leon Joseph Suenens

If you do work that you love, and the work fulfills you, the rest will come.”

– Oprah Winfrey

Who cares if my glass is half empty or half full; I still have something to drink.”

– Optimism rules

The awakening to the mystery of life is a revolutionary event; in it an old world is destroyed so that a new and better one may take its place.”

– J.J. Van Der Leeuw, The Conquest of Illusion

If you think you are too small to make a difference, try going to sleep with a mosquito in your room.”

– A wisdomism

The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.”

– Carl Rogers

That which does not kill us makes us stronger.”

– Friedrich Nietzsche

There’s nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be…”

– John Lennon

Education is an admirable thing to have, but it is well to remember that nothing worth knowing can be taught.”

– Oscar Wilde

There are children playing in the street who could solve some of my top problems in physics, because they have modes of sensory perception that I lost long ago.”

– J. Robert Oppenheimer

No one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of another.”

– Charles Dickens

We need to learn to set our course by the stars, not by the lights of every passing ship.”

– General Omar Bradley

Education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper or your self-confidence.”

– Robert Frost

How do you stay resilient? It’s about momentum. Like riding a bicycle. If you stop you fall over. So I keep pedaling.”

– Diane Lane

The follow-your-gut mentality of the entrepreneur has the potential to take you anywhere you want to go or run you right out of business.”

– Bill Rancic, "The Apprentice"

If you want to be busy, keep trying to be perfect. If you want to be happy, focus on making a difference.”

– Lisa Earle McLeod

Nurture your mind with great thoughts; to believe in the heroic makes heroes.”

– Benjamin Disraeli

You must have chaos within you, to create a dancing star.”

– Frederic Nietzsche

Do one thing every day that scares you.”

– Eleanor Roosevelt

We are perfectionists. We are hungry to work all the time. We are entertained by every aspect of business and we never want to stop working.”

– Suzy Welch

You may ask me for anything you like except time.”

– Napoleon

What is the point of having free will if one cannot occasionally spit in the eye of destiny?”

– Jim Butcher, White Night

That man is richest whose pleasures are the cheapest.”

– Henry David Thoreau

Do you have the desire to create something new; the strength of conviction to believe your creation will be successful, and the reservoir of energy necessary to thrust it into the marketplace?”

– Steven Schussler

Successful people are always looking for opportunities to help others. Unsuccessful people are always asking, ‘What’s in it for me?’”

– Brian Tracy

Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant.”

– Robert Louis Stevenson

I’ve come to confirm that one’s title, even that of president, says little about how well one’s life has been led. No matter how much you’ve done, or how successful you’ve been, there’s always more to do, to learn, and to achieve.”

– Barack Obama

Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”

– T.S. Eliot

A warrior cannot complain or regret anything. His life is an endless challenge, and challenges cannot possibly be good or bad. Challenges are simply challenges.”

– Carlos Castaneda

Whosoever knows how to fight well is not angry. Whosoever knows how to conquer enemies does not fight them.”

– Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

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