Hannah approaches every subject with curiosity and compassion, aiming to share complex, highly researched information in an accessible way. She writes blogs, website copy, meditations, scripts, standardized tests, and cross-channel social media. Most of her work focuses on mental health, post-traumatic growth, and social justice.

Hannah also writes fiction, narrative essays, and poetry. An essay of hers will appear in A World of Demons: The Villains of Doctor Who, an anthology published by Fayetteville Mafia Press, in November 2022.


In her work with Hone, Hannah writes educational articles about the experience of going to rehab. This content offers readers an unbiased view of what to expect during the process of recovery, with valuable information about traditional and holistic therapeutic modalities.

+ - Hone Writing Sample 1: Trauma-Informed Care

Trauma-Informed Care: How Rehab Can Support Post-Traumatic Growth 

Edited by Kayla Gill

Trauma can be an isolating experience. When you go through something so painful that it changes you, it’s natural to feel like no one else can understand your new reality. You may have trouble connecting with the people around you, or no longer enjoy activities you once found meaningful. No matter how hard it is at first, remember: this is not the end of your story. You can always create a new beginning.

By going to rehab, you can get help from experts in trauma, PTSD, and CPTSD. The simple fact that these experts exist is proof that trauma is extremely common. You may feel isolated, but you’re certainly not alone. Depending on your program, you can also spend time in rehab building community with people who have life experiences like your own.

Diagnosis After Trauma: PTSD and CPTSD

This process can teach you a great deal about your own perspective. There are countless kinds of trauma, and everyone’s response to it is unique. For the most part, however, people whose mental health has been severely impacted by trauma are diagnosed with PTSD and/or CPTSD.


Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) normally develops in response to trauma that occurred in a discrete, specific amount of time. It’s often diagnosed in veterans and survivors of sexual assault. This condition is characterized by many symptoms, including but not limited to the following:

  • recurring, involuntary, and intrusive memories of the traumatic event
  • flashbacks and/or dissociation
  • avoidance of reminders of the traumatic event
  • dissociative amnesia
  • persistent negative beliefs and/or self-blame
  • feelings of alienation

PTSD can be overwhelming. You may have the sense that one moment, or one brief period of time, permanently changed your emotional capacity. And that might even be true. But it doesn’t mean you’ll always be in pain.


Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (Complex PTSD or CPTSD) is similar but not identical to PTSD. This describes people who have experienced prolonged trauma, such as long-term domestic abuse or long-term childhood trauma. While many veterans who served only one tour have PTSD, those who spent years in active service, and especially those who were detained in Prisoner of War camps, may in fact have CPTSD. The term may also apply to people who grew up in violent neighborhoods or spent time in prison.

CPTSD is not yet officially classified as a diagnosis by the DSM-V (the American Psychiatric Association’s manual for assessing and diagnosing mental health conditions). However, many clinicians use it as a framework for discussing their clients’ experience. The term has been in use since at least 1988, when Dr. Judith Hartman of Harvard University suggested that the symptoms of long-term trauma may require a different kind of treatment than those of PTSD. She referred to a number of specific symptoms:

  • self-destructive behavior, such as impulsivity and substance misuse
  • emotional difficulties, including rage, depression, and panic
  • chaotic personal relationships
  • dissociation and personality changes

Although CPTSD is not yet classified as a medical diagnosis, a growing number of healthcare providers use the concept as a therapeutic tool. It may very well be included in a future version of the DSM. Even now, many people in recovery identify with the term. Like any diagnosis, this is not only meant as a way of explaining ineffective or damaging behavior. Instead, it can help you define your experience in order to chart a path away from destructive patterns.

What is Trauma-Informed Care?

“Trauma-informed care” refers to a variety of healthcare practices that take into account the unique experiences of people with a history of trauma. Providers may be experts in treating PTSD and CPTSD, and they may offer special accommodations for certain clients. For example, when a survivor of assault sees a massage therapist who offers trauma-informed care, the therapist might make it a point to ask for verbal consent before touching any new area of their body. The provider’s goal is to treat the client with respect, making sure they feel as safe as possible throughout the healing process.

Trauma-informed care takes the client’s past, present, and future into account. It’s not productive or even possible to ignore the original traumatic event while trying to move forward. Jan Garber, the CEO of Paracelsus Recovery, explains, “When we’re looking at trauma, we often look at family of origin to understand how people were shaped and how that then informs how they react in life and how they relate to others. If someone’s coming to us, most of the time they’ve identified a set of symptoms that’s saying, ‘Hey, stuff in life isn’t well, or it’s not working the way it could.’ So that’s the smoke, and where there’s smoke, there’s fire. So we want to really look at where that fire is and how the fire started.”

Looking at the root cause of trauma is not about assigning blame. It’s unlikely that you caused your own trauma, and it’s certainly not true that you’re responsible for other people’s behavior. You did not make this mess; or at least, you didn’t make it alone. Whatever or whomever the source of your pain may be, though, healing is your responsibility. That can feel very daunting, especially for people who experienced childhood trauma. Remember that you are not the first person to feel this way. There is a great deal of research that can guide you through PTSD and CPTSD, and your healthcare providers are there to help you navigate it.

Learning From Triggers

Trauma-informed care is sensitive to triggers. This word has been co opted and even denigrated in recent years, so it’s important to define it in this context.

A trigger is an inciting event that elicits a strong emotional reaction which may be disproportionate to the present moment, but is a reasonable response to the past trauma you’ve experienced.

It is not true that being triggered means you are weak, or fragile, or maladjusted. On the contrary, triggers exist for good reason. The extreme emotional reactions they cause used to serve you well. With time, effort, and therapy, many people can overcome these disproportionate reactions.

Triggers are unique to everyone. Some are very common; for example, many survivors of physical violence have trouble looking at gorey images. However, they can also be hard to predict. A bouncy pop song might be triggering if it was playing when you got in a terrible car accident. If you struggle with your family of origin, you may be triggered by a funny sitcom about a happy family.

Simply avoiding triggers is both impractical and ineffective. Even if you never play the radio in your home, that same bouncy pop song might come on the speakers while you’re at a grocery store. Isolating yourself from situations in which you might be triggered can prevent you from living the life you want. The long-term goal of trauma-informed care is not to protect you from triggers—although that may be a useful short-term strategy. You will instead learn how to regulate your emotions and tolerate difficult situations.

The first step toward building habits is to acknowledge your current patterns. From there, you can decide which of them are still helpful. The skills that got you to this point served an important purpose, but they may not be the skills you need to build a better life.

Trauma, Addiction, and Mental Health

When you experience trauma, it’s natural to develop coping mechanisms that are appropriate to use in emergencies. These strategies are very important; they are designed to help you survive and ultimately escape. But life isn’t always an emergency. Some of these habits can become harmful if you keep using them after the danger has passed. For example, a person who grew up in a violent home might have learned to mistrust their family members. That skill was probably a very important defense mechanism during their childhood. In adulthood, however, that same skill has the potential to damage a romantic partnership.

If you’re living in an unsafe situation, it’s normal to want to escape. If physical escape is not an option, you may turn to other means of escape, such as substance use. Researchers have found “that there is high comorbidity between PTSD with substance abuse disorders and other mental disorders.” Because of this well-understood connection, many rehab centers are well-equipped to offer trauma-informed care.

“Even if the person doesn’t define for themselves that they have trauma history, we assume that they do,” says Dr. Monika Kolodziej, Program Director of McLean Fernside. “What that means is being very respectful of space. It means being a clear communicator. It means not overstepping boundaries. And it means introducing the possibility that treatment for trauma might be an important part of their recovery. So in addition to being sensitive and interacting with the person in a way that’s respectful, that doesn’t overstep boundaries or is not aggressive or confrontational, it also means providing treatment and skills.”

PTSD and CPTSD can also co-exist with or even cause other diagnoses, such as anxiety and depression. Scholars have also suggested a link between CPTSD and Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD); some even suggest that we stop differentiating between these two conditions. If you’re living through ongoing trauma, and develop an additional mental health issue as a result, it can be even harder to get out of danger. And once you do arrive at a safer place, these conditions can complicate the healing process.

Trauma-informed care takes these many complexities into account. Rehab is a place to not only move past substance use, but also learn to cope with the underlying cause that led you to use substances in the first place.

Trauma-Informed Behavioral Health Services

Rehab is designed to be a safe, protected environment in which you can begin healing from trauma. You’ll have access to experts who can help you process your past experiences and learn new skills to use in the future. Without the added responsibilities of work, school, or caring for your family, you’re free to focus on yourself. This dynamic is especially important for people with a history of domestic violence, and anyone whose trauma has caused them to struggle with interpersonal dynamics.

PTSD and CPTSD can be extremely isolating, both during and after the original trauma. That isolation can even be a key indicator of whether or not you’ll develop one of these conditions in the first place. For instance, if a person gets in a car accident and then has to wait for hours before an ambulance arrives, that waiting period might be just as emotionally damaging as the accident itself. After that traumatic event, it could also be hard for them to explain why they’re triggered by sitting quietly at the side of a road.

Rehab offers clients the opportunity to inhabit a safe and protected environment, without isolating them from care. By connecting with your cohort and your team of providers, you can learn how it feels to simultaneously exist in a private space and benefit from community support.

Various rehab facilities offer different types of therapy for people with a history of trauma. Behavioral therapy is a particularly effective treatment. This approach provides clients with very specific tactics for navigating difficult situations, coping with triggers and urges, and living in accordance with their personal values. Some common styles of therapy for healing from trauma include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), exposure therapy, and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR).

Each of these kinds of therapy looks at trauma from a slightly different vantage point, and it’s important to choose the one that’s right for you. EMDR, for example, aims to restructure the way memories are stored in the brain. As Meena Lavender, Family Therapist and EMDR Practitioner at Camino Recovery, describes it,

“…if you had a filing system in your brain, it would house traumas in different sections of your brain. What EMDR does is access it one by one and processes that to eliminate the emotional charge it has.” 

EMDR is just one example of trauma-informed care that simultaneously treats the mind and the body. This holistic approach can be helpful for clients who experience physical symptoms as a result of their emotional experience. In some cases, these symptoms can be extreme: panic attacks can be mistaken for heart attacks, and dissociative episodes can put a person at risk of physical harm. As Ryan Soave, Director of Program Development at All Points North Lodge explains,

“We hold trauma in our body, and stress is really the symptom of trauma. we can start working some of that stress out of the body, utilizing things like yoga, breath work, meditation, massage, the sensory deprivation tank, exercise and other types of functional movement, then when that stress is released from the body, it makes it easier to deal with the stressors that are going to come on a daily basis.”

The Ball, the Box, and the Button: a Metaphor for Healing

Imagine that, at the moment you originally experienced trauma, someone handed you a box. Inside it, you find a bouncy ball and a big red button, which is mounted on one of the sides. Whenever the ball hits the button, you’re reminded of your painful experience. That may mean you get triggered, feel anxious, and/or have the urge to engage in destructive behavior.

At first, the ball and the box are almost the same size. The ball is constantly pressing down on the button, and you spend most of your time feeling the effects of what you’ve been through. This acute phase of healing from trauma can be very overwhelming. Without effective tools to regulate your emotions, it’s unfortunately easy to fall back on unhealthy coping mechanisms.

Over time, though, you learn. You grow. The box gets bigger, and the ball has room to bounce around. It spends less and less time pressing on the button. Your feelings may still be intense every time the button gets pushed, but you’ll have some space to breathe in between those moments. You’ll develop skills to manage your own reactions, and be better prepared for the next time the ball hits.

This metaphor was originally developed to describe grief. And the process of healing from trauma is not unlike the process of grieving. Often, though, what you’re grieving is a version of yourself. As painful as that is, there is a well-charted path forward.

Trauma-informed care offers people the space they need to get to know themselves again. This is your opportunity to redefine yourself, your life, and your values. Healing is a-linear, and there will always be good days and bad days. This process is intended to help you navigate them both.

To learn more about your options for care, see our collection of residential rehabs offering trauma treatment here.


Biskin, R. S., & Paris, J. (2012). Diagnosing borderline personality disorder. CMAJ : Canadian Medical Association Journal, 184(16), 1789–1794.

Complex ptsd – ptsd: National center for ptsd. (n.d.). [General Information]. Retrieved July 8, 2021, from

Friedman, M. (n.d.). Trauma and stress-related disorders in dsm-5. Retrieved June 25, 2021, from

Khoury, L., Tang, Y. L., Bradley, B., Cubells, J. F., & Ressler, K. J. (2010). Substance use, childhood traumatic experience, and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in an urban civilian population. Depression and Anxiety, 27(12), 1077–1086.

Kulkarni, J. (2017). Complex PTSD – a better description for borderline personality disorder? Australasian Psychiatry, 25(4), 333–335.

MPH, M. T., MD. (2018, October 16). Trauma-informed care: What it is, and why it’s important. Harvard Health.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2014). Trauma-Informed Care in Behavioral Health Services.  Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series, 57((SMA) 13-4801.).

This analogy perfectly explains why you can’t just ‘get over’ grief. (n.d.). The Mighty. Retrieved July 8, 2021, from

+ - Hone Writing Sample 2: Florida Rehab has Something for Everyone

Florida Rehab has Something for Everyone

Edited by Kayla Gill

There is no one right way to heal. When you choose a rehab center, you’re not just choosing a place: you’re also choosing your treatment environment, who you’ll be around, and which therapeutic modalities you’ll have access to. This can be an empowering decision that sets you up for success as you move forward in your recovery journey.

If you’re interested in recreation therapy—such as psychodrama, arts and crafts, or horseback riding—a facility in Florida might be the right fit for you. Several Florida rehab centers also specialize in treating the underlying circumstances that contribute to addiction. For example, some of these programs cater to high-powered professionals, older adults, people with co-occuring mental health diagnoses, or those with chronic physical pain. Some programs also offer gender-specific treatment, with different groups for men and women. And clients of many demographics are offered specialized care designed to help with their specific concerns.

Recovery by the Sea

Florida’s beautiful climate can have a powerful impact on your health. Visitors can relax on the state’s world-famous beaches, or engage in more active pursuits like scuba diving, paddle boarding, or wave running. Local culture places a great focus on physical health and enjoyment of the outdoors—but this isn’t just for athletes. The state’s temperate weather is also a big draw for families and older adults seeking a gentler experience.

Many of Florida’s rehab centers offer direct access to the coast. Some of them are located close to the water, and others invite residents to go on beach excursions. While these spaces are protected from the hustle and bustle of major cities, they’re not necessarily completely isolated in remote locations. Guests at treatment centers in this area have the time to enjoy nature and adjust to a new pace of life while engaging in the physical activities that suit them best.

In this diverse area, there’s a great emphasis on respecting each client’s unique needs. If you choose to attend a luxury rehab here, there’s a good chance you’ll work closely with your clinical team to design a personalized treatment plan.

Treatment Tailored to Each Client’s Background

Florida has long been a destination for people from all walks of life, from college students to retirees. And like the state itself, the rehab facilities in Florida offer specific opportunities to several different populations. This is an excellent place to connect with other people in recovery who can easily relate to your own life experience.


Cardea was a startup in the health and wellness space. Before pivoting to a new product in summer 2020, the company offered a social networking app to gym owners and clients.

+ - Cardea Writing Sample 1: Keep Calm and Work Out

Keep Calm and Work Out: How Gyms can Support Members in Troubled Times

COVID-19 is changing the landscape of business around the globe. With bans on gatherings over a certain size, quarantines, and concerns over community spread, more and more people are working from home. Many people with lung disease and compromised immune systems entirely stopped going outside. At first glance, it may look like international health scares undermine the fitness industry. However, with the right tools in hand, crises like the coronavirus represent a valuable opportunity to connect with clients.

In Sickness and In Health

People choose to self-quarantine for a variety of reasons. Some of them are immunosuppressed; others are caretakers for young or elderly family members. Some have colds they don’t want to spread, and some are simply afraid of getting sick. Whatever their reasons, they have one thing in common: they all care about health. That makes them good candidates for maintaining remote relationships with gyms.

With the right technology, your trainers can connect clients at any distance. Invest in an app with a chat function to help you in times of crisis and times of celebration alike. The COVID-19 pandemic prevents many people from visiting a gym; ironically, those who are the most isolated are also the most focused on their health. This is exactly the demographic that your gym should be connecting with. Text communication will let you check in with them regularly, and live video sessions are even more desirable. Sharing video allows trainers to schedule remote one-on-one sessions, or even group classes. Even during a quarantine, video sessions let you and your trainers keep working while clients continue working toward their goals.

After the health crisis has passed, the chat function will continue to be useful. Your clients may come to rely on it during times of illness, snowdays, or while they’re traveling. This will be especially useful in the coming months, as we can expect many spring trips to be rescheduled for later in the year.

Be Social While Distancing

In quarantine, most Americans turn to social media for their daily dose of human interaction. This is a great time for gym owners to focus on marketing, especially if you’re also working from home. By posting daily messages about how to maintain physical health, you can offer clients a way to both distract themselves and stave off illness. For example, biology professor David Nieman has found that just 30-60 minutes of daily exercise can boost the immune system. Data from his research tells us that “this amount of exercise decreases sick days up to 50 percent.” Sharing statistics like this one will both inspire and reassure your clientele.

Any national emergency is a time of great uncertainty. Establish yourself as a leader by giving your clients something to rely on. Use your expertise to share relevant information without

+ - Cardea Writing Sample 2: All Aboard: Why Onboarding Gym Members is so Important

All Aboard: Why Onboarding Gym Members is so Important

The moment a new person joins your gym, you gain two opportunities. First, you stand to build a long-term relationship with a loyal customer. Second, you get the chance to turn them into a brand ambassador who will grow your community and increase overall sales. The best way to take advantage of these opportunities is through your onboarding process. Here’s why that process can turn a brand new client into a loyal fan.

Goal for the Gold

In her article Goal Setting is the Key to Success, Marilyn Price-Mitchell writes, “goal-setting helps motivate athletes, entrepreneurs, and individuals to achieve at higher levels of difficulty…Setting goals is linked with self-confidence, motivation, and autonomy.” It follows that all your clients, athletes and otherwise, can benefit from setting clear intentions. Ask them to write down their specific goals during the onboarding process, and you’ll establish a road map toward their success. These goals do not necessarily need to be based on metrics. For example, one client might want to lose 5 pounds, and another might want to play tag with their kids without getting winded. By striving toward specific milestones, your clients make an emotional commitment to your gym and to themselves.

Communication = Motivation

The importance of personal relationships with clients cannot be overstated. Nearly 90% of club members value communication with gym staff. You’ll see the best results if this communication starts the moment they join your gym. When they establish a close connection with each member, your staff are positioned to increase customer retention. If a client starts to lose interest in their fitness routine, trainers can reach out and help them find solutions. This strategy is much more effective coming from someone they know and like, instead of via automated text. Connect with them immediately, so you’re set up to have these conversations no matter when they come up.

Save the Data

It’s no secret that knowledge is power. By collecting information about each guest, you’re better able to serve them and market to their demographic. Sign them up for any apps or tech tools your trainers use on their very first day. This will give you a clearer picture of their progress, help you design future promotions, and set your trainers up for success. For example, you might give them a free spin class to celebrate their first anniversary at your club. This is only possible with robust data.

First impressions are permanent. When a client hits a snag in their fitness journey – whether it’s an injury, a busier schedule, or just lack of motivation – they’ll look back on why they joined your gym in the first place. Make that a good memory, they’ll be much more likely to stay.

Test Prep

Hannah has worked with numerous clients, including MoMetrix and PocketPrep, to develop study guides and practice tests to prepare students for the Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx)  and the National Physical Therapist Exams (NPTE-PT and NPTE-PTA).


Hannah founded CopyCat Creative Content in 2016. As the CEO and Senior Copywriter, she wrote and edited content for clients of every size, from large corporations to individual health and wellness professionals. This work included blog posts, website copy, white papers, and social media management. In this role, Hannah was solely responsible for managing CopyCat’s team of writers.

+ - The Tipping Point: Pros and Cons of Restaurant Tipping

Minimum wage practices are changing fast. On the policy side, restaurant employee overtime rules are in the spotlight, and lawmakers are reconsidering tip-pooling. Some restaurateurs — like the famous Danny Meyer — have responded by eliminating tipping entirely.

It’s one thing for the CEO of the Union Square Hospitality Group to take a calculated risk, and quite another for an independent restaurant to completely change their business model. This week, we’ll take a look at the pros and cons of the tipping model. What works best for you? These tips (pun intended) make it easy to choose the system that will keep your customers satisfied, your employees happy, and your business in the black.

Tip-Top Tips

Tipping is not a universal practice. Americans tip more, and more often, than guests in most other countries. In her Forbes column, Micheline Maynard writes “Americans, especially, prize the right to determine how much they pay for something, especially service. And while tip jars abound at no-frills restaurants, like coffee bars and bakeries, it’s ultimately their choice whether to slip in a dollar or skip a tip.”

Pros of a No-Tip Policy

  • No-tip policies represent a growing trend. Restaurants across the country are experimenting with this model, and seeing various levels of success. Guests may be excited to try a brand-new way of dining.
  • Raising ticket prices allows restaurant operators to raise wages for all employees, including servers, barbacks, and kitchen staff. Higher wages increase employee loyalty and morale.
  • Stable wages decrease staff turnover. This model isn’t for everyone (at least not yet), so you may lose some servers during the transition — but the ones who stay will stay for a long time.

 Cons of a No-Tip Policy

  • American servers and guests are new to this model; you may need to include notes on the website, menu, and even the check explaining how tips work in your restaurant.
  • Some critics are concerned that without tips, staff will be less motivated to provide great service.
  • Many servers work in the restaurant industry because of its flexible hours. Work the dinner rushes on Friday and Saturday, and you just might be able to take the rest of the week off. Without tips, some of that freedom disappears as well. Every shift is equally profitable, so more servers may have to work 40-hour weeks.

Finding the right tipping model means taking a good look at your restaurant and staff. Choose the solution that works best for your team, without straining employee income or your guests’ budgets.

Tipping policies vary from state to state. In California, tip-sharing arrangements that equally distribute tips to all servers are permissible — as long as supervisors don’t share in the booty.

“Tipping is said to have originated in 18th-century English pubs where customers would attach coins to notes to the waiter “To Insure Promptness” (T.I.P.).” from The Psychology of Restaurant Tipping, by Michael Lynn of Cornell University and Bibb Latané of Ohio State University.

People tend to tip more on credit cards (so you should get a fancy pos like cake!) personalization helps — tell them your name to increase tips

The SF Bay Area has some of the lowest tipping rates of the country — with Sunnyvale, CA, at the very bottom of the list.

Well, according to the 2016 American Express Restaurant Trade Survey, one of the biggest technology trends predicted by restaurant operators for the restaurant industry in the next 12 months is mobile payments. Mobile payments are taking off and could be complicating tipping.

About 18 percent of surveyed restaurant professionals said they’ve already adopted a no-tip model, according to an American Express Restaurant Trade Survey that was released in mid-May.The survey was conducted among a random sample of 503 U.S. restaurateurs, excluding Connolly.Some 29 percent said they plan to adopt a no-tip policy, according to the survey.Additionally, 27 percent said they would not jump on the no-tip trend, 17 percent said they may do so if other competitors follow suit and 10 percent said they were undecided. Beyond tipping changes, the survey also noted diners’ changing diets and the growth of a cashless restaurant experience.

+ - A Woman’s Place: The Growing Success of Women in Restaurants

Women-owned restaurants are on the rise. Dawn Sweeney, President and CEO of the National Restaurant Association, is just one example of how successful women can become in this industry. And according to Sweeney, no other American industry is as diverse as the restaurant business. With 33% of restaurants in the capable hands of female leadership, it’s time to acknowledge and celebrate the progress of women in foodservice.

Power in Numbers

According to the National Association of Women Business Owners, women-owned businesses match sector growth in three industries: transportation, construction, and food services. As of October 2015, 49.9% of students enrolled at the Culinary Institute of America were women. More and more women are seeking high-level positions in every field, and the restaurant industry is reaping the benefits of that trend.

According to the NRA, the number of women-owned restaurants grew by 40% from 2007-2012 — well above the 12% increase in all restaurant businesses. Female chefs and entrepreneurs are finding more and more ways to break through what one journalist calls “the lass ceiling”, winning awards and opening acclaimed new projects across the country.

Mind the Gap

Despite record growth, women-owned restaurants still have a lot of catching up to do. In just 2015, research showed that these businesses with female leadership made about 25 cents for every dollar earned by their male counterparts. And this gap isn’t unique to the American restaurant industry. One article reports that only 18.5% of professional chefs in the UK last year were female. That’s just 46,000 women.

We can account for this gap in a few ways. Anne Tobias, head chef at Rochelle Canteen, says public perception plays a role: “Occasionally [guests] will thank my sous chef as they just assume he’s the head chef. It’s disappointing,”

Others, like Nancy Longo, chef and owner of Pierpoint Restaurant, say it can be tough to maintain a work-life balance in a professional kitchen. As she told the Baltimore Sun, “It’s like going through a war. If you go in your tank and you’re going through all these things and losing your weekends, losing your friends, losing your stuff, and that tank didn’t hit any landmines and it comes through on the other end, then you were victorious in your little war, you went on. And if all those things didn’t deter you from working in this business, then you’re intended to be here.”

Although male chefs see the same challenges, there is far less social pressure for them to spend every evening at home with family. Chef Cindy Wolf, of the Foreman Wolf Restaurant Group, says she’s lost nearly all of her female pastry chefs when they decided to start families.

Community Building

It’s an exciting time to be in the restaurant industry. Whether you’re investing in new technology, dreaming up a new menu, or hiring new people, there’s always room to grow. One way we can all grow together is by supporting the women who choose this incredibly difficult and rewarding career path. Luckily, there are countless ways you can do just that, and boost your bottom line in the process.

Hire enough servers so the moms on your team can take days off when their kids get sick, and those very moms will become your most loyal employees, saving you countless training costs in the future. Implement a mentorship program for girls at a local school, and you’ll foster a dedicated group of servers and chefs who already understand the inner workings of your restaurant. Partner with women vendors and woman-owned restaurants, and you’ll build a strong community where guests feel at home, no matter who’s running the kitchen.

Looking Forward

Diversity is on the rise in the restaurant industry, and women are forging ahead as the number of women-owned businesses this sector continues to grow. While there is still a disparity between the respect and revenue these restaurants command — compared to restaurants led by men — the upward trend of women owners and operators is an important development in our field.

In America, no other industry is as diverse as the restaurant business, our President and CEO, Dawn Sweeney, says.

Sweeney, the National Restaurant Association’s leader since 2007, adds that female leadership within the industry continues to grow. That’s big news, especially as we celebrate Women’s History Month.

  • 33 percent of restaurant businesses are majority-owned by women.
  • Another 15 percent are equally-owned by women and men.
  • Women represent 56 percent of first-line supervisors, food-prep managers and service workers.

However, this just isn’t the case. According to the NRA (National Restaurant Association), over 60% of American women have worked in the restaurant industry at some point in their life. That’s huge.

As of October 2015, women comprised 49.9% of the students enrolled at the Culinary Institute of America. The sheer number of women preparing to take on positions in the culinary world could be just the boon the industry needs, particularly with concerns over filling all the necessary positions in the years to come.

The average earnings for women-owned businesses rose a whopping 54 percent between 2012 and 2013,

Hattie Burr served as editor of The Woman Suffrage Cookbook (1886), which was initially created as a fundraising mechanism for Massachusetts suffragists and became a powerful tool for giving women a voice during a time of transition. The book used the common language of cooking to communicate with women from all classes about not only food and domesticity, but also the women’s right to vote.

  • More than 9.4 million firms are owned by women, employing nearly 7.9 million people, and generating $1.5 trillion in sales as of 2015.
  • Women-owned firms (51% or more) account for 31% of all privately held firms and contribute 14% of employment and 12% of revenues.
  • Over the past seven years, the overall increase of 8.3 million (net) new jobs is comprised of a 9.2 million increase in employment in large, publicly traded corporations, combined with a 893,000 decline in employment among smaller, privately held companies.

Women-owned firms match overall sector growth (or lack thereof) in three industries: transportation and warehousing, accommodation and food services, and construction (which has seen a small decline in the number of firms since 2002).

There are 9,878,397 women-owned businesses1 in the United States. That’s an increase of 2,086,282 businesses, or 26.8%, from 2007. Of nonfarm and privately-held businesses, 36.3% are women-owned, in 2007, 28.8% were women-owned. Women-owned businesses generated $1.4 trillion in receipts. In 2012, of these firms, 89.5% have no employees other than the owner. These firms have receipts of $229.2 billion. In 2007, 88.3 of women-owned firms were sole proprietorships with receipts of $182.2 billion. The remaining 10.5% of firms employ 8,431,614 people in addition to the owner. In 2007, they employed 7,520,121 people in addition to the owner. In 2012, women-owned employer firms paid their employees $263.7 billion, a $47.0 billion or 25.8% increase since 2007. Women-owned firms with employees generated $1.2 trillion in receipts.

  • Women’s participation in the U.S. labor force has climbed since WWII: from 32.7 percent in 1948 to 56.8 percent in 2016.
  • The proportion of women with college degrees in the labor force has almost quadrupled since 1970. More than 40 percent of women in the labor force had college degrees in 2016, compared with 11 percent in 1970.
  • The range of occupations women workers hold has also expanded, with women making notable gains in professional and managerial occupations. In 2016, more than one in three lawyers was a woman compared to fewer than 1 in 10 in 1974.
  • Despite these gains, women are still underrepresented in STEM occupations, with women’s share of computer workers actually declining since 1990.
  • The unemployment rate for women is currently 4.8 percent, down from a peak of 9.0 percent in November 2010. (Source)

“The lass ceiling”

Research shows that 4.7% of chefs and head cooks in the US are female, while in the UK women make up just under 20% of chefs. The statistic is thought to be even lower when it comes to fine dining restaurants.

As Burr concludes: “Female chefs have a different touch and we need to see more of them.”

For one, women-owned businesses make only about 25 cents for every dollar their male counterparts earn. That’s a much larger gap than the one that exists in the overall labor market, where the median earnings of women were about 83 percent of men’s, according to data from the Economic Policy Institute.

“More women at this point work in environments that they are not the only women,” said Women Chefs and Restaurateurs President Ruth Gresser, “whereas that wasn’t the case when I came into the industry in the late ’70s, early ’80s.”

“It’s like going through a war,” Longo said. “If you go in your tank and you’re going through all these things and losing your weekends, losing your friends, losing your stuff, and that tank didn’t hit any land mines and it comes through on the other end, then you were victorious in your little war, you went on. And if all those things didn’t deter you from working in this business, then you’re intended to be here.”

For many women who enter the culinary industry with that goal in mind, the question of advancement often comes down to a choice between prioritizing their personal or professional life.

In fine dining restaurants, 81% of management is white, often male. Generally, across front-of-the-house jobs, white male workers are paid more on average than other workers. In California, they make $15.06 per hour on average, compared to $12.85 for non-white males, $11.56 for white women and $10.21 for non-white women.

White male food industry workers are often channeled toward the highest-pay bartender and server jobs in fine-dining establishments — positions that can pay as much as $150,000 a year in San Francisco or Oakland, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Women are pushed toward lower-paying jobs at more casual restaurants, and people of color are channeled toward even lower-paying jobs such as bussing and kitchen positions. — NRA disputed this, so we can’t really quote it. 🙁

it’s no shock that according to the Office of National Statistics, there are 21,000 more professional chefs in the UK this year than last, a total of 250,000. But what is unexpected, and unwelcome, is that only 18.5% of them — some 46,000 — are women, a decrease on the previous year’s percentage of 20.5%. Yep, an actual decline.

And it needs to involve more than just the profession, it seems, as sexism can come courtesy of customers. “Occasionally they will thank my sous chef as they just assume he’s the head chef. It’s disappointing,” says Tobias. Further proof is provided by Gidda. “When we opened Bernardi’s, we must have had 10 or 12 tables over the course of the opening weeks that said: ‘We really love the food, can we meet the chef as we want to tell him how good it was?’ When I walk up the stairs, they’re like: ‘OK, that’s not what we were expecting’ and ‘Are you actually the chef?’ So, it’s not necessarily the industry and the environment, it’s the guests’ perspectives too.”


Working closely with a sound designer and editorial team, Hannah developed 5-15 minute guided meditations for the Mindbreaks app.

+ - Medition Sample

Notice your breath. Take one big, slow, deep breath in. Feel the air like a wave in your body, cresting at the peak of your inhale. Sigh it out, with sound, and feel your chest vibrate. Empty your lungs as far as they will go, and release completely.

On your next cycle of breath, bring your awareness to your body. As you relax into the natural rhythm of your breath, relax your body: your neck, your shoulders, your back. Let your hands rest gently in your lap. If you haven’t already, allow your eyes to flutter closed.

Each inhale is a gift that you receive. Each exhale is your gift to the world.

This is your time to center yourself in yourself [within your body]. This moment, right now,  is all that matters. You are everything you need. Bring your awareness to the center of your body, just below your ribcage. Notice any tension you are holding onto here. On your next exhale, breathe it out. Relax your muscles, and you can relax your mind.

Each inhale is a gift that you receive. Each exhale is your gift to the world.

Your relaxation is, itself, a gift. By centering yourself, you return to your best intentions, your best version of you. Starting here, you can do better, be better, seek out the life you want [ALT: seek out the best version of yourself]. What would it feel like to be grateful to yourself? Try it. Address yourself by name, and whisper: Thank you. Thank you for this time. Thank you for this energy. Thank you for being you.

Imagine a ball of warm, bright light in the center of your body. As you inhale, it grows, and shines out through your limbs, warming your arms, your hands, your legs, your feet, your neck, your face. Exhale, and smile. The light contracts, still shining bright, bringing your energy back into your center, keeping you warm.

Each inhale is a gift that you receive. Each exhale is your gift to the world.

This light is beautiful, it is strong, and it is yours. Here, in your center, it holds the best parts of you. The things you love, the things you’re good at, the things that make you you. Only you can do the things you do. Only you can shine this light. You are needed; you matter; you make a difference. What would it feel like to be proud of your own light? Give it a try. Address yourself by name, and say: I am proud of you. I see you, and I see your efforts, and your strength. I see you doing what you can; what only you can do. You are important. Whisper to yourself: I am important.

Inhale, and feel the light expand, spreading through your body, growing as you grow. Exhale, and feel it come back to your center, holding only you, and smile. This is where it all begins. You are where it all begins.

Medium Blog

Hannah’s blog comments on the intersection between social justice, mental health, and the process of healing from individual and collective trauma. Her work has been featured in several Medium publications, including An Injustice! and The Startup. Her most popular article currently has 1.5k views.

+ - Self-Love in a Time of Skin Hunger

The world is in quarantine. In living memory, we haven’t experienced this particular kind of isolation. It’s one thing to take an online quiz that confirms you’re an introvert; it’s quite another to have the CDC actively discourage you from hugging your friends. Many of us have the luxury of being quarantined with loved ones, but many of us are living alone. Even if you do share physical space with someone, there are so many ways to be isolated right now. I think of assault survivors who are scared or triggered by any kind of touch. I think of people living with roommates, with nothing more in common than dishes in the sink. I think of people in violent relationships, trapped with their abusers and cut off from support. Physical proximity does not equal intimacy. If only it did.

I’m no stranger to skin hunger. Most of us aren’t. The need to be touched is a deep, essential part of who we are as a species. If we can’t fulfill that need, we long for it. When you don’t get enough physical contact, it can trigger depression, raise stress levels, and can even affect your immune system.

Whatever you’ve been through, you probably understand that this is different. Not necessarily better or worse than your past experience; just different. For once, we’re all in this together. Every person on the planet has a common enemy in COVID-19. How strange and beautiful, how haunting it is, that in this time of unprecedented solidarity we are more physically isolated from each other than we have ever been before.

Many studies have found that physical touch — especially skin-to-skin contact — has a chemical effect on the human brain. It decreases cortisol (the stress hormone) and increases dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin. The latter three neurotransmitters are part of what allow us to experience good feelings like happiness, comfort, and safety. So how can we trigger the production of these chemicals in the absence of human contact?

What follows is a practical guide to living with and managing skin hunger during quarantine. The internet is teeming with articles that made perfect sense two weeks ago, encouraging skin hungry readers to cuddle a friend or shake hands with a colleague. These solutions are no longer available to us. Nevertheless, however ironically, we still have each other. And we still have ourselves. If you can, use this time to deepen your relationship with your own body and mind. Here are some ways to soothe your skin hunger, even in isolation.

Life Finds a Way

When you’re far from people, you can still connect with living things. If you have a pet, spend extra time cuddling them. If you don’t, you probably won’t be able to change that until after this pandemic. Fortunately, interacting with plants can also lower your cortisol levels and improve your mood. You can water them, play music for them, and even gently pet their leaves. If you have house plants, name them and talk to them. If you don’t, spend as much time outside as you safely can. In the U.S., even shelter-at-home protocols allow healthy people to take solitary walks and sit in the backyard.

Caring for living things will also help you structure your day. Experts say that creating a routine can give you a sense of purpose and combat loneliness. Feed a pet or simply care for a plant on a schedule to get started. Alternatively, set a time every day to go outside. In inclement weather, you can just stand in your doorway and breath in fresh, cold air. If you’re unable to do that, sit by a window. Just looking outside can relieve stress.

Simple Pleasures

Focusing on the five senses can be a safe way to experience your own body. In a moment of relative calm, write down a list of sensory experiences you find comforting. Some examples might be: a lavender-scented candle, the sound of rain, or photos of kittens.

When you’re facing skin hunger, it’s especially helpful to focus on the sense of touch. Try taking a hot shower, holding a cup of tea, or petting a soft blanket. Fill your mind with this experience. The more present you are in the moment, the more effective this exercise will be.

When making your list, choose experiences that are meaningful to you, not just those you’ve been told “should” be calming. Keep your written list on hand. In times of anxiety, refer back to it and choose an item you can easily accomplish in the moment. Focus on your senses, and remind yourself that no matter what, you still have your own body. This is true even when you’re afraid, and even when you’re ill. As long as you are alive, you will always have a body.

A Sense of Self

Proprioception, sometimes called the sixth sense, is the awareness of one’s own body in space. As you go about your day, you know where your limbs are in relation to each other. You lift a spoon to your mouth, and you don’t have to think about aiming it. You put one foot in front of the other when you walk, without concentrating on how to rotate your hips. This sense of self is so innate, and so essential, that most of us take it for granted.

In times of trauma, however, many people dissociate. Some experts say this is related to the “fight, flight, freeze, or fawn” response. When we dissociate, we pull back from our own body awareness to protect our minds from emotional pain. While this is a normal response to external threats, it can become a new form of trauma, as it prevents us from being in control of our own bodies.

Whether or not you struggle with dissociation, you may have limited body awareness due to chronic pain. The human mind can get used to almost anything. When you feel pain or tightness for long enough, eventually your brain just files it away and ignores it. This helps us get through each day, but it bars us from long-term healing.

The two most accessible ways to improve body awareness are meditation and movement. Daily meditation boosts serotonin. Whether you use an app or guide yourself through this practice, begin each session by checking in with your body. Starting with your head, scan slowly down to your feet. Bring your awareness to your muscles. Notice any tightness, pain, relaxation, or other feelings. Notice the way the ground beneath you supports your whole body. As you do this, be careful not to judge any sensations. Even pain is not good or bad; it’s just information. Acknowledge how you feel, and gently move on.

Movement can improve both your body awareness and your mood. Even if you’re not able to exercise, you can always move your body. Do yoga or gentle stretches. Dance in your kitchen. Give yourself a hug. If you’re stuck in bed, make silly faces that stretch out your eyebrows and jaw muscles. Learn to pat your head and rub your belly at the same time. If you can make yourself laugh with a simple gesture, so much the better.

Tools of the Trade

We’re all under a great mental and emotional strain right now. As a result, even those of us who are healthy may be experiencing physical pain. Perhaps your shoulders are tight from spending too much time on the computer, or your stomach aches every time you read the news. Your legs might be sore because you’re used to spending more time on your feet. Lack of physical activity can be just as damaging as overuse. Although most massage practices are closed for the duration of the quarantine, self-massage is the next best thing.

It can be difficult to massage yourself for all the same reasons it’s difficult to tickle yourself. You can “trick” your brain by using simple tools instead. Try rolling a tennis ball around under the sole of your foot, or working out stubborn knots in your neck with the butt of a toothbrush. If you have one, you can even use a (recently sterilized!) vibrator to reach your lower back muscles.

In her poem, “How to Really Love a Child,” SARK writes, “if they’re crabby, put them in water.” This advice works for adults too. Hot water alleviates depression and regulates sleep patterns. A hot bath or shower can trigger the release of oxytocin, producing similar effects as human touch.

In moments of acute stress, turn to cold water. Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (or DBT) teaches that holding an ice cube in your hand can distract you from self-destructive tendencies. This simple act causes temporary pain without doing any harm. When you fall into an emotional spiral this is a healthy, if extreme, way to ground yourself.

When living in isolation, skin hunger can be overwhelming. Try to be gentle with yourself. Desire is not a flaw. All of us — we fragile, yearning humans — share this need to some degree. That’s especially true right now. Call it compassion, call it empathy, or call it the collective unconscious; we’re all in this together. Take heart. Hope is a discipline, and this is a chance to practice it.