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Today we’d like to introduce you to Mari Toscas.

Mari, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.

There is a Beyries song, “Pursuit of Happiness,” with the lyrics: “Couldn’t go further / wearing the boots of my father.”

For me, I had built a life trudging along in the metaphorical boots of the patriarchy. In every way I was clumsily going through the motions of a life I believed would make me worthy of the attention of my father, or his father, or society. I was motivated by the urge to please my mother, which was just another way of pleasing men by proxy. What I learned is that I was working toward pleasing everyone but myself. And I knew that being my authentic self was displeasing, so I shut her up. I lived in Chicago, worked a cubicle job, took abuses in various forms in my personal and professional life, some as small as simply saying yes repeatedly to things I hated. I wore Spanx, and tightly-wound scarves, and toe-blistering heels. I was a mother of four and had a corporate career but felt that I wasn’t performing to those standards in either role – and further, I felt penalized from each camp for having one foot in and one foot out. So many roles women take, we are forced to choose sides. In every way, I was physically and spiritually imprisoning myself in a masochistic quest to be acknowledged. I felt choked, misunderstood, ashamed, and trapped in a life that had a lot of movement but no motion.

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