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2020’s Women of the Month

I’ve had the great honor of highlighting several terrific women this year and even though this year has been a roller coaster, several amazing things took place.

Below you will find updates on each our WOTM.

Illy Rodriguez- November WOTM

Unfortunately when I reached out to Illy, she had just suffered the loss of her grandmother so she wasn’t able to give us her update.

That being said, I wanted to share her business page so we can show her some love and support during this difficult time.

A simple follow or comment goes a long way. 



Below is a photo of just one of her many beautiful handmade creations she sells. If you click on the picture it will direct you to her site where you can browse through her other products like cosmetic bags, backpacks, and much more!

Lexi Rotem- October WOTM

2020- We’ll that was a year!  2020 will most certainly be a year to remember. For most, I believe they’ll look back and think Covid, quarantine, missing family, home-school, the list goes on. But I’m going to choose to remember 2020 as a year of family. A year of new beginnings and new opportunities. It was a whirlwind of a year and a serious rollercoaster of emotions. We didn’t always know how to handle all that we were feeling and of course all this was happening while our children were at home with us and they were feeling their own types of feelings. It really was a situation that seemed impossible to navigate through. In our home our year went by like this: I started a new job in January 2020 and a few short months after I was fired due to Covid. The country went into lockdown mode and you could only go out for necessities. The girls and I were home all day every day. My husband was lucky enough to continue working during that first lockdown which most were not. I remember tough conversations I had with my 3-year-old daughter Emma. She couldn’t understand why she can’t go to school. Or why she can’t see her grandparents and cousins who she was used to seeing on a regular basis. How come we can’t go to the park? she would ask. I couldn’t believe how mature her reactions were.

I was forced to explain to my young daughter that a lot of people are getting sick and we’re not sure when this will end but we need to be patient and positive and be thankful that we have each other. She would nod and tell me that it will be ok. That it’s really hard for her because she misses everyone. But she knows that soon it will be over and we’ll be ok. My husband eventually left his job once they wanted him to sign a new contract with a serious reduction to his salary. So now we were all home. It’s not a natural state for couples to be home and in each other’s faces at all times. We struggled at first and even went days where we didn’t talk to each other. Things were tense and it was a real test to our relationship but we worked through it and came out stronger. Fast forward a bunch of months and we’re celebrating major holidays without family members that we’re used to sitting with. Zoom has become a new family member. 2020 has just been a weird year.

Covid-wise things started to calm down and it almost felt like things were ‘back to normal’ except of course they were not. I guess normal is all relative. My girls were back in school and stores were allowed to open, parks and zoos too but we’re all wearing masks on our faces at all times. 

My family experienced a tragic loss due to Covid. 

I lost my grandfather due to Covid.. My mother’s father. As I’m writing this I still can’t believe it’s true. Like with most unfortunate or even scary events people walk around and think “It won’t happen to me”. But no one is invincible. Anything could happen to anyone. We’re all human. My grandfather wasn’t well. He was fighting for a while but he was so strong even till the very end. He beat odds and gave our family strength. 

Shortly after the start of the new school year we went into our second lockdown for three weeks. We chose to spend this lockdown at my in-laws that live close to us since we would be starting the renovation process on our apartment and during that time we had planned to live by my in-laws anyway. 

It’s been 3 months since we moved in here and I can say for certain it has been quite the challenge. 

2020 has been a year of tears, a year of fear, a year of new challenges and new adventures. We all had to come out of our comfort zones and adapt to the unknown. With 2021 right before us I would like to make right here and right now my New Year’s resolution. 

I want to take every day as it comes!

Everything is still uncertain. Things are still changing all the time. But I hope we can all rise above the hard times and focus on the good that can and has come out of this crazy year.

We found our family all over again. We were reintroduced to a husband, a father. We appreciate the time we have together so much more now. We’ve unveiled new talents and captured precious moments. 

To end the new year our family announced that we will be welcoming a new member this summer. 

Maybe 2020 wasn’t so bad after all. 

Happy New Year friends,





Vanessa Lopez Rea- August WOTM

Despite the challenges that many of us faced 2020 was a blessed year for me!

I learned to appreciate the things that matter the most: life, health and my family!

I think many of us did.

My kids, husband, parents, siblings and in laws are healthy and I cannot ask for more.

I am still teaching online, earning an extra income working from home without leaving my 3 babies and I’ve been able to help other teachers start teaching too.

I also decided to start creating personalized items with the help of Gifts by Lizzy Academy!

I hope you also had a valuable year and wish you the best this 2021!

Heather Garcia- July WOTM

2020 has been crazy, to say the least, but for me, 2020 brought me many blessings as well. I am very grateful for 2020 because even though it was tough on everyone it taught us many lessons. If we all got through 2020 we can get through any challenge that comes our way.

This year I have continued to work full-time, thrive in my small business, take care of myself and my family. I am also learning to understand my anxiety disorder by reading new books. Which was a new goal of mine to read more in 2021. I can’t wait for a new year, a fresh start, and new beginnings of something great.

Surabhi Kaushik- June WOTM

“Every moment is a fresh beginning,”– T.S. Eliot.
This quote by one of the greatest authors, has never failed to inspire me. As 2020 wraps up, there are few things that forced themselves through, leaving me with no choice, but to start fresh and accept every day as a new beginning. It has been anything but easy to do that. There is nothing hugely different about each day apart from their names. It is the last week of December, but I know that the battle between us and the pandemic, is far from over.

Early this year, as the pandemic settled in, making itself comfortable across the globe, I fought my emotions, shredded my wish lists, cancelled my travel plans, including flying to my home country, and focused on my household chores, doubled my prayers, listening & singing Indian classical music, meditation, and reading time. I was not entirely happy with the new choices that I made on demand, but my options to do anything else were few and far between.  

Technology is now my new best friend. In April this year, I carved out time to make time for the writing community. In May 2020, I began conducting writing workshops on the virtual platform. I invented new ways of making writing interesting and allowed people to warm up to the idea of meeting, building, and growing as a community, without meeting in person. It was a challenge to write together, without having a fellow writer sit next to me. I missed looking at different pens, admiring the different types of notebooks, laptop covers or listening to the sound of paper ruffling next to me, when I tried to get my thoughts down in a sentence. Since I continue to strictly social distance, I only meet people’s faces, beaming inside the little boxes on my computer screen, I have made new friends and honed my own writing within the confines of this friendly screen.  I have tried innovative ways of making writing fun and easy, as well as a channel to self-discovery, by combining it with movement. I have travelled through the minds of my fellow writers. I have let their words and mine form a long winding trail, leading the way to each new day, that promises to behave better than its predecessors. I have created a space where writers beyond borders meet, write, create, nourish their creativity, and empower each other.

2020 left me wanting many things, but it also taught me that I cannot push away the present. I have to live through it. I cannot tear open the future like a present wrapped in fancy paper. I am happier if I accept my limitations and buckle up for the ride. There are some things that I cannot change, no matter how hard I try. Most importantly though, 2020 taught me to be kind to myself and be nice to parts of me that felt like I was not doing enough.

As I wave goodbye to the unique 2020, my heart is full of appreciation for healthcare workers, teachers, librarians, people working at grocery stores, and in essential services. I mourn the unknown lives lost, of people whom I do not recognize by name or face, but only know through their courage or sacrifices made during this challenging time.

I welcome 2021, with my mask still on. I wish each one of you reading this, a year filled with laughter, good health, success, and peace. 

Shante Solomonson- May WOTM

2020 was a year we will never forget, right? We all experienced highs and lows and new prospectives on life—a lot of uncertainty and fear that’s for sure. But we made it through!

I was fortunate to be able to stay home a little longer with my now 11 month old during his early infant stage. I wasn’t ready for him to start school right away at 8 weeks! Being home with him longer eased the anxiety of the thought of daycare and being apart from him at work so early! My oldest son was home for the remainder of the year with us, too, until the new school year started. Although I was working from home during the spring, it was still fun in the midst of a pandemic to spend a lot of time with the boys—play games, go to the park, bake and take walks. It was a challenge juggling teaching and parenting BUT I figured out ways to balance it all as much as I could.

I have to say during the pandemic I thought my business with Limelife by Alcone would suffer when it actually increased dramatically! My clientele increased and partnerships are growing. It gave me more motivation and confidence to keep pushing forward when I thought no one would try the products. Limelife is an AMAZING brand, and I will continue to share with people! Joining this company was the BEST decision and it changed my life. It restored my love for makeup and skincare as well as helping women. I have my confidence back and drive to want more for my life and family in 2021!

This year find your purpose! I wish you all a prosperous and healthy New Year!

Shanté Solomonson

Candice Webb- April WOTM

What I got from 2020 wasn’t really a lesson, but it actually confirmed what I live by. Thinking positively, and not allowing negative things take the forefront. Yes, we are human so we will all have moments of unhappiness, stress, anger etc., but it is up to the individual chose happiness.

With everything I deal with daily, I don’t EVER have bad days simply because it is a mindset set. At the end of everyday day I can always find something positive that makes that day a “good day” despite what may transpired throughout the day. So with that being said, 2020 was just the same! I didn’t allow the negative things from 2020 take the forefront, we made the best of it! I took care of things that I probably wouldn’t have because I had more time, I was able to further my education, work on future endeavors, and most importantly we were granted plenty of family time and we are still healthy! I was also able to work one on one with my uniquely abled son a lot more, which is priceless to me! Ultimately 2020 was a great year of growth for me, filled with blessings! We are ready for 2021 to bring it on!

Cynthia Prado- March WOTM

2020 has been a difficult year for many. Although many of my family members did get the virus, my sister works in a medical practice, all my family is healthy now. God has been good with me the year, I was able to juggle full time work, being a full time student, and being a full time mom to a toddler. Working from home has been a blessing in disguise I was able to spend time with my baby I otherwise would have not. I finally graduate with my MBA Dec 19. I am very blessed.

Mery Ciok- February WOTM

Este año aprendi que si tienes trabajo comida y tu familia todavia toda en vida eres mas fortunado de lo que piensas… Y que no cosa mas benedecida que ser hijo de Dios… Buscar nuestra casa en el periodo mas feo del mundo porque los dueños nos sacaron de donde viviamos y encontrarla en un par de meses para mi fue una gran benedicion. Y mas tener trabajo con todo lo que pasa es lo maximo. Me siento benedicida

Sandra Menchaca- January WOTM

Here is a recap of my 2020 and what impacted me the most;   

In Memory of Arturo Menchaca, Sr

The death of my beloved uncle taught me the importance of being an influential and a servant leader.   It was obvious he touched many lives by the hundreds that supported and respected him until his death.  His famous words “mi pecho no es bodega” (I am a truth teller) implies the importance of surrounding myself with truth tellers.  We all need truth tellers in our lives; individuals that will teach and tell us what we need to understand even when we do not always want to hear it. In building relationships, make sure you surround yourself with individuals who empower you to contribute to the lives of others while being the best version of who you are.  Diversity of thinking makes for powerful teams. Understand that  legacy is not leaving something “for” people, but leaving something “in” people. The things we do for ourselves are gone when we go, but the things we do for others remain as our legacy.

Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery 

Each day we face streams of information and events to distract us from being our best selves.  I have learned there will always be critics and skeptics who unwillingly try to ridicule and criticize the person who wants to make a difference. Nobody can take the commitment of being a positive difference-maker away from us. As our behavior focuses on solution-based transformation, let’s remember to journey in faith, not fear; ultimatley, we must learn to trust again, believe again, and work together again.


While we cannot control everything that happens to us, we can do something every day to be more prepared, resilient, and empathetic for the unknown. 

Let’s cultivate the courage to be, to do, to think, to live, to learn, to grow, to ask, to love, to risk, to see, and to refuse. Without courage, we will always be drowning in the noise of other people’s opinions of what we should do with our lives. A worried mind racing around looking for a safe retreat will never act with a real sense of urgency.

Virtual teaching

Intellectual humility can help us discover common grounds, build better relationships, and be more effective leaders. The essence of education is not to fill our minds with facts but to help discover our uniqueness. Every day we can approach life and problems with a beginner’s mindset. Past performance is never a guarantee of future success. We should strive to earn everything. Understand that transformation requires time, focus, commitment, and patience.

In summary,

2020 was filled with unique and challenging times that presented opportunities to change our beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors. What I know for sure is that nothing is promised to last forever.  Not life and certainly not materialistic items.  However, what nobody can take away is the commitment of being a positive difference-maker.  Each moment we have the chance to reflect beyond who we think we are and who we believe we can be.  Listen carefully and keep an open mind while being kind. Be sure to plant seeds of grace and goodness throughout this journey we call life.  You never know when you may need to pick those flowers on the way down.  

Be blessed,

Sandra Menchaca

Final Thoughts

Whether our women of the month were here in Texas, or far away in Jerusalem, one common thing that came up as I chatted with all of them was this:

Live and appreciate what you have in front of you TODAY as we don’t know what tomorrow may hold. 

Thank you so much for being part of our 2020. Here’s to an exceptional 2021!



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