Josh Dallas NAHS charity fundraiser

Hello Ugly Ducklings. 

Today’s post is dedicated to our great friends, partners, and favorite people from the Charming Angels community and the fans and admirers of actor Josh Dallas from the tv show Once Upon a Time.

Last year we united forces for our first charity competition, where we had the support of these wonderful people. With their help, we raised $600 for Mental Fitness Inc!

Now, we want to help them spread the word on their new campaign in favor of Josh Dallas’ high school’s theater department.

They’ll do a series of raffles starting on June 9th and you only need to donate a small amount of money to participate and get a chance to win one of these!!!

Josh Dallas Charity Drive

Item from Lot 1 – Novel signed by Josh

Josh Dallas Charity Drive

Item from Lot 2. Complete Season 1 DVD signed twice by Josh

Make sure you read all the instructions over at their website: Josh Dallas NAHS Theater Dept. Charity Drive.

If you can’t donate money, then there’s something that’s free and super easy to do: tell others about this, so more people can help and support this great cause.

Stay awesome Ugly Ducklings. And thank you!

Swan Out,
- Marie

30 days of hope project

JUNE is HERE! That means that #30DaysOfHope begins now!

Ugly Ducklings, we know that through this community we have helped, support and encourage lots of people, and both our lives as well as theirs have been touched by the positivity and the advice that we post here.

Two of our dear friends from when we got this movement going, Zachery, and Amy  -who are part of the Once Upon a Fan website- came to us to get this thing going. What better way to bring each other up than with #30DaysOfHope? 

So come! Don’t miss this for the world! Remember to follow us on Twitter, @UDucklingsInc, as well as @TheZachVan, and @Amylia403

30 Days of Hope

Women who inspire Ugly Ducklings Inc and beyond

The founders of Ugly Ducklings Inc couldn’t let this opportunity pass. That is why they also wanted to share women that have inspired, are inspiring and will inspire this movement and our lives.

Banner, inspiring women for Ugly Ducklings Inc

We recently celebrated our first anniversary as Ugly Ducklings Inc. I think Erin and I had never thought that our community would be made of more than a thousand members, but most importantly, a community full of respect, kindness, positivity, and care for one another. Many of you might know how this whole movement started, but just in case you don’t, the main person who inspired what Ugly Ducklings Inc is today is Jennifer Morrison. So many days later I want to thank her once again, and let her know that every day that goes by more and more people are finding out how they can turn into beautiful swans, and that we will be here to help them out.RobynUDI

Robyn Hussa Farrell is the Founder and CEO of Mental Fitness, Inc., the non-profit we support here at Ugly Ducklings Inc.  Marie and I have been in touch with her for over a year now, and she is a constant inspiration to us.  Robyn works incredibly hard to ensure that children grow up with a healthy mental fitness; something that is very important and inspiring work.  We are so happy and proud to be a part of such an amazing organization that really is changing the lives of children in America.  

Malala Yousafzai“Death didn’t want to kill me”. Those are the words Malala Yousafzai told Diane Sawyer in a recent interview. This Pakistani girl is not even 20 years old yet, but she has the strength, the determination, the talents, and the influence to empower the people to do better things of any world leader today. She inspires me greatly because her life is a miracle, and she is helping both children in Pakistan to get educaction, and adults to change their mindset, and understand that girls can achieve the goals they’ve set for themselves in life.

If there is anything we know as Ugly Ducklings, it is that the human experience can be enduring terrible or catastrophic circumstances.  One thing that inspires us every day is reading the stories of the women (or men) who have had these crazy things happen but have made the choice to continue standing or to use those circumstances for good.  When one shares their story, they inspire others to do the same.  That brings light to the darkness.

So, one of the reasons we are here and we, as ugly ducklings, are working hard on is trying to help out all those victims of bullying we see both in real life and online. We have mentioned it many times, but remember that our Facebook, our Twitter forum and our website are places where you can come and talk about your experience, and get support from friends that will help you out in any way they can. 2

And how about sending a shout out to our incredible assistants? These girls also inspire us, because their support and the time they put into this cause makes us really happy. Mariah is our Resource Assistant and she helped us put together the Resource page, for all those who might need assistance. Maaike is our Research assistant and she has collaborated with our blog. Read her latest contribution here! And Camilla is our wonderful Social Media assistant and Ducklinspiration hunter. All those inspiring quotes you see everyday are found by this amazing lady.

ALL OF YOU inspire us EVERY DAY!  Every time we hear a story, see a photo, or simply see who you are, we are inspired.  You inspire us to keep going when we feel like we are out of energy.  You encourage us to continue to build this community.  

I have to say that actors inspire me greatly, because they are doing things that I want to accomplish one day. One of them is Nicole Kidman. She has said in some interviews that she felt like an outcast in school, and that’s why she decided to act. She is also a spokesperson for the United Nations. Other inspiring women for me are girls and women who fight and stand up for themselves every day.

There are so many women in my life who are inspiring.  I feel so blessed to be in touch with women who have a genuine love for life and people and a genuine compassion for others.  My sister is probably my greatest inspiration: she devotes her life to helping others and has impacted every facet of my life.  But really, I look for inspiration everywhere.  And I usually find it.  So if you need to be inspired, make sure you’re constantly seeking it!

Thank you to all the women in our lives who inspire us to be better, to be creative, to take risks and to change our lives.  Love to all of you!

- Swan Out.


Nicole Markardt – “The Tao of Freedom”


“Pretend to be the person you want to be until you finally become her.”

When I read this amazing blog by Nicole Markardt, I immediately thought of Ugly Ducklings and everything we try to promote and embrace in life. I just had to share it with you!

“We kick and scream, hold our breath. We resist. We hold onto our shadows.”

We’re all becoming the person we want to be. But how often do we resist that? How often do we hide away our stories, our journeys, and continue on as if they won’t shape who we are or who we’ll become?

“Be a mess. Screw it up.”

As Ugly Ducklings, we all know that life happens. When life happens, we need to remember we are all on our journey to becoming beautiful swans. The journeys can be so painful, and we can really mess it up sometimes. We can make bad choices. But Nicole has some good advice about that:

“Be where you are and know that you will be somewhere else shortly.”

This is great advice. This is the attitude that runs through the veins of Ugly Ducklings Inc. You’re on a journey. I’m on a journey. We’re becoming. We’re not going to remain where we are forever. Everyday is a new day and we can try again tomorrow.

I love this idea. The idea of second chances. Of each day being a new day. I’ve utilized many second chances in my life; and I try to go to sleep each day with the notion in my mind that when I wake up, it is a new day and I can try again at anything I’ve failed at the day before.

When I was a nanny, I used this tool a lot too. I’m pretty hardcore when it comes to unacceptable behaviour; but I never diminish the idea of a second chance. When one of my charges was acting up, there’s an immediate second chance to behave (I use “when/then”: “When you throw your toys, then I take them away. Do you want to continue throwing your toys?”). Sometimes, the stubborn toddler chooses not to take this second chance (don’t we all do this sometimes?). Then there’s usually a consequence: I once had to walk with a hysterical two-year-old, begging for a third or fourth or fifth chance, through a community centre when the consequence for his disobedience was leaving the play area.

I calmly knelt down to his level, wiped away his tears and explained to him that his behaviour wasn’t acceptable, that he’d had a few chances to correct it, and that we would try again tomorrow.

There’s always tomorrow. We’re always moving. We’re always becoming. Be free to do these things. Be free to become you.

Check out Nicole’s full blog here: It is really incredible!

swan out

Support Mosaics, an independent short film

A little inspiration banner

Hi Ducklings!

Have you ever heard of the word animal-human hybrids?

Actually, I hadn’t heard of it until quite recently, when a team of two rockstars introduced me to it. I’m talking about Florian and Joshua, and to be more precise they are a film director and a producer, contributing with their ideas and creations to gender equality and acceptance.

They embarked upon an amazing project last year, and the best part? they used the innovative crowdfunding strategy to get the resources to make the short film Whispers of Life a reality. They got funds from celebrities, fans, crew members, and friends after they released the synopsis of their movie:

Whispers of life movie posterWhispers of Life is a short film about the interdependence of imagination and survival and their life-changing connection in Tom’s story. Tom, a fifteen-year old gay teenager, meets Charles, a man in his sixties, after having been bullied by classmates on a park bench. Charles, having witnessed the bullying, approaches Tom afterward and initiates a conversation. When Tom frankly asks Charles if he has ever thought about suicide, Charles takes Tom on a fantastical journey into Tom’s imagination that will forever change the course of Tom’s future and ability to appreciate his life.

2013 became like a magical ship to this film, because every month blew winds to it and sent it to festivals around the world: it was selected to make part of Film Festivals in Italy, Switzerland, Poland, Canada, the United States, and Australia.

But that’s not all! The film got praises, great reviews and awards!


Now, they have decided to push themselves harder and take their next big idea to the screen. And here’s where the animal-human hybrids come in.

Florian and Joshua have launched a new funding campaign for an enticing sci-fi short film set in the near future and featuring interactions between human and animal-human hybrids that make their way in this world amidst constant oppression, and marginalization.

Sounds fascinating, and us, ugly ducklings want to make part of the campaign by

  • Spreading the word
  • Donating

Their story of success is truly inspiring, and they are living proof that when you have a great idea that you want to show the world, and you set your mind to it, you can make it something worthwhile and valuable.

SO!! for those of you who want to send a donation to Mosaics, don’t hesitate for one second. Click here to go straight to the Indiegogo campaign.

And you can hear more about it:

Donate here!.

You can do ANYTHING!


The Olympics is always an inspiring time of year.  It reminds everyone what hard-work and dedication can get you – those athletes do not have an easy life. I know we don’t all dream of being world-class athletes (or maybe YOU do).  But we all dream of being something or doing something.

There’s an amazing song by Hedley called “ANYTHING”.  Check out the video here:

In case the video didn’t work, here are the lyrics:

Everybody said, you better stay in school,
Get a real job, boy, don’t be a fool,
Burn that guitar, you can never be a star,
I can, I can, I can, soA thousand disbelievers couldn’t keep me on the ground,
I’ve invented a momentum that’ll never slow me down,
I believe it ’cause I feel it, and I shout it out loud,
I can, I can, I can, soEverybody said, boy, don’t go any higher,
Uh uh, forget that, I can do anything,
Never push the limit, and don’t play with fire,
Uh uh, forget that, I can do anything,
Wear my heart on my fist take
You by surprise fighter,
Uh uh, forget that, I can do anythingBe a movie star or rock a main stage,
An Xbox tester, or an astronaut in space,
If they tell you that you can’t,
You can shove it in their face,
I can, I can, I can, soA hundred thousand disbelievers couldn’t keep me on the ground,
I’ve invented a momentum that’ll never slow me down,
I believe it ’cause I feel it, and I shout it out loud,
I can, I can, I can, soEverybody said, boy, don’t go any higher,
Uh uh, forget that, I can do anything,
Never push the limit, and don’t play with fire,
Uh uh, forget that, I can do anything,
Wear my heart on my fist take
You by surprise fighter,
Uh uh, forget that, I can do anything

I can do anything,
Never try, never win, never get a break,
You miss a hundred percent of the shots
You never take,

Everybody said boy, don’t go any higher,
Uh uh, forget that, I can do anything,
Never push the limit, and don’t play with fire,
Uh uh, forget that, I can do anything,

Everybody said, boy, don’t go any higher,
Uh uh, forget that, I can do anything,
Never push the limit, and don’t play with fire,
Uh uh, forget that, I can do anything,
Wear my heart on my fist take
You by surprise fighter,
Uh uh, forget that, I can do anything

Everybody said, boy, don’t go any higher,
Uh uh, forget that, I can do anything

Isn’t that great?  I find it really inspiring and I hope it inspires you too!
So tell me, Ugly Duckling… what are YOU going to do?  What’s a dream you have or had that everyone told you you couldn’t do?  What are you pursuing that seems impossible?  We’d really like to hear from you if there’s something you want to share!  Tweet us, facebook us or email us :)  Remember, dream until your dreams come true.  YOU can do ANYTHING!
swan out

Jennifer Pastiloff – “Starving to Loving”


When we decided we were going to be blogging a special series in honour of Eating Disorder Awareness Week, I knew that we would have to include something from Jennifer Pastiloff.

I started following Jen on social media about a year and a half ago. I don’t even remember how I connected with her (I’m one of those people who actually follows the people recommended by others in #FollowFridays, so it was likely that). But I am very glad I did because she is really a daily inspiration in the lives of so many people, she gives people a voice on her website and she has significantly impacted my life (which is a blog for another day).

Jen pastiloff simple reminders

This blog, “From Starving Myself to Loving Myself” was originally published on Positively Positive in December 2012. I remember reading it then and it was so nice to read it again this week. Jennifer shares an enlightening poem she wrote when she was suffering from severe anorexia and explains what was going on at that time in her life:

“I couldn’t be with people. Someone would be talking to me, and all I would hear was: What did I eat today? Why did I eat that? Why am I so fat? Maybe if I exercise for four hours, I will be ok. I am a monster. I will not eat at all the rest of the week to make up for what I ate today.”

Jen continues her blog talking about the healing impact that Yoga had on her life and on her eating disorder.

“All of a sudden, I felt accountable. I realized I was talking about acceptance and love, and, if I had any integrity, I would have to literally become acceptance and love. So, I did. I became acceptance. And love.”

Check out the full blog here! I am so happy to know someone who can share so authentically in a way that both helps and challenges people in whatever circumstances they’re in. Whether you’ve ever suffered from an eating disorder or not, check out Jennifer’s website. She has something for everyone, all the time!

“I was letting go of who I thought I was in order to become who I am today. And I get better every day.”

Jennifer Pastiloff is a writer and retreat leader based in Los Angeles. She travels around the world leading her signature Manifestation Yoga® workshops and retreats (a combination of yoga and writing.) She is also the creator of Karaoke Yoga. She is currently working on her first book: a memoir. Jen encourages people to live their best lives by being authentic and honest, and most of all, by having a sense of humor. You can join her tribe:
The Manifest-Station
She also has a great vlog series on Youtube (I highly recommend watching all the previous ones at some point too!)
*Thank you, Simple Reminders for the photo.

We loved getting all your feedback on twitter from yesterday’s blog about the NEDA Quiz! There are still a few more days left for you to send your messages to us to include in a special something to Mental Fitness Inc! Until tomorrow…

swan out

Caroline Rothstein – “I am not fat”


“This is a poem about how I am not fat.”

Today, in honour of Eating Disorder Awareness Week, we wanted to share some powerful spoken word with you. Caroline Rothstein posted this video called “Fat”. This is a beautifully spoken and truly powerful piece that discusses the raw emotion and of someone in the intense throes of an eating disorder.

“I used to daydream about eating dinner without wanting to kill myself.”

Eating disorders aren’t pretty.

“I used to daydream about freedom.”

Eating disorders aren’t pretty.

Check out the full video:

Caroline is nine years recovered from a decade long eating disorder. She is a New York City-based writer, performer, and advocate. She tours her spoken word poetry nationally and has a “Body Empowerment” youtube series.  Check out her website and find her on social media today!  FacebookTwitterYoutube & Instagram!

Thanks for reading and checking out Caroline’s video, Ugly Ducklings! Remember to send us your messages for Mental Fitness Inc this week (you can email them to us:!

swan out

Erin – The Beaky One

Sophie’s Ugly Duckling Story

from a small town but with big dreams banner

Sophie shared this very positive story last year. Perhaps she never felt as an Ugly Duckling in the most traditional of ways, but still, she felt she wass slowly turning into a swan, and we could all learn a couple of lessons from this tale.

Hello! My name’s Sophie. I guess I should start by saying that I’m from a small-ish town in Australia where opportunities for the more ‘creative’ careers are seldom to none. I’ve spent my whole life wanting to be either an Actor or a Writer. Unfortunately, even at the best of times, both are extremely difficult professions to break into, and, given my geographical disadvantage, I spent most of my years resolved to the fact that I would probably be neither.

Nonetheless, I continued to actively participate in my Drama and English classes, as well as my school’s musical productions.

Sophie as Dorothy - Wizard of OzIn 2011 (when I was in Year 11), I was privileged to play Dorothy in the school’s production of ‘The Wizard of Oz’. Throughout the entire rehearsal period, I kept thinking to myself: ‘This is what I want to be doing!’ Then the performances started…

Show after show, I was having the time of my life. Finally, I began to believe that maybe I could make an actual career out of performing.

At the same time, I was really getting involved with the writing side of things as well! By 2011, I’d had three of my short stories published in children’s literary books sold nation-wide. I was really beginning to feel hopeful!

childrens book written by Sophie Volker At the end of my final year of High School in 2012, I graduated top of the year for Drama, English, and English Extension. All my hard work had finally paid off! But there’s a huuuuge difference between being successful in High School and being successful in the big, real, scary world.

I guess you could say that my final test came on the 16th of March 2013. The day that would decide if my personal willpower and determination could overcome the obstacles, fear, snide remarks, and blatant nastiness that the real world has to offer.

It was the day I shaved all my hair off to raise money for cancer research in Australia. It had been something I’d wanted to do for years, but never had the guts to actually do. And when I finally did commit to it, I faced a lot of people saying it was a bad idea.

“You’ll look like a boy…You’ll back out before it happens… You don’t have the guts… blah blah blah…”

Let me just say that I am SO glad I ignored those people! The day my hair came off, I had never felt so proud. I felt like I was part of something big, and to be able to share that day with all my family and friends was absolutely incredible.

World's greatest shave 2013. AustraliaThey were all so proud, and I’m still so grateful to every single person who supported me through it. I know this seems a bit off-topic, but what I’m trying to say here is that I passed that test. I did something that I wanted to do, regardless of what the ‘haters’ said. I did something that made me truly smile, in spite of what others said I wouldn’t have the guts to do. I did it.

And now, thanks to the support of all my fellow Ugly Ducklings (especially Erin and Marie, who made this whole phenomenon happen), I know that I can be whatever I want to be.

Next year I’m moving to the bigger city of Brisbane, where I’ve been accepted into a Bachelor of Creative Arts Majoring in Writing. While I’m living there, I’m also going to sign up with an acting agency to pursue the art of performing that I love so much.

Both of these plans make me so happy and I’m so excited to jump into the next chapter of my life. I’ll spread my wings and become the swan I’ve been dreaming of for all these years!

And who knows –maybe with a whole lot of ducky-ducky-luck and hard work, I could be blessed to act alongside the beautiful Jennifer Morrison, or perhaps Jennifer Lawrence!

Thanks so much for reading my story. Hope you enjoyed!

Sanah Jivani’s Natural Day

Team Natural, Sanah Jivani-banner

What if a doctor told you that you will lose all your hair in a matter of weeks?

What if you’re only 3 years old and your parents and you get this kind of news?

For some of us, it might have felt like the world would fall on you completely. And at first, that’s what it felt like for Sanah Jivani. But after some struggles, and thanks to her immense bravery, and the support she got from her loved ones, she got to discover who she really was and BE her true self (wig free, I might add).

And now, Sanah wants to challenge us, ugly ducklings, to do the same! Here’s a very special message for all of you!

It’s very easy. Just leave your make up in the bag, and comb your hair just a bit, and celebrate the uniqueness of who you really are. Here’s how #NaturalDay works, in the words of Sanah herself:

Send us your photo, together with the hashtags #NaturalDay, and #TeamNatural and we’ll share them with the rest of the community.

Remember: this February 13th! 

And if you want to follow Sanah on Twitter, click here.