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Posts published in November 2018

My Kind of Town (Chicago Is)”… Meet MJ 12 of 52 Phenomenal Women

Meet MJ: (@mjtam)

©Amy Boyle Photography 2018

In her own words…

It was 1999 when I first stumbled writing online. I was in the fashion industry at that time, and I was extensively traveling for work so during my flights and hotel stays, I started documenting my daily experiences on an online journal. I anonymously blogged my life as the new mom-to-be. I instantly connected and found a community of blogging women and next thing I knew; I became a big part of the first collaborative blogging network in the nation. My blogging hobby became a career, and since then I worked hard on keeping progressive and always at the forefront of the new media. Social Media became my business. I hosted branded Social Media campaigns, organized high-profile influencer events, and even created a blogging conference that ran for a few years. But behind all that, I continued to blog and tackled topics that meant to me the most: family and parenting.

Part of writing about parenting, I often look to discover places to go and experience with my kids in Chicago. Bringing them up in a big metropolitan city was vital to me as a parent of color. Chicago provided the many cultures that I wanted to surround my family. Chicago is a city of immigrants, rich in diversity, and a perfect place for me to raise my children. I ran around with them exploring neighborhoods from up North by Rogers Park to get some Indian groceries, Vietnamese food by Edgewater,  Ethiopian food by Uptown, and of course, there’s Greektown, Little Italy, and Chinatown by me. I am passionate about this city and coined myself a Chicagonista.

©Amy Boyle Photography 2018
©Amy Boyle Photography 2018

A Chicagonista is someone who lives, loves and breathes everything Chicago, and with that, in 2008, I launched (link), so I can share the vast richness of culture that this city offers. At I am joined together with talented and dynamic collaborators from diverse Chicago neighborhoods and backgrounds who share their voices en masse to help unearth some city gems that some may have never heard of like the Filipino Kamayan Feast (link) or about the new Taiwan-inspired Bakery (link)  that just opened. also goes beyond Chicago. The site has covered travels from around the U.S. and as far as India (link) , Beijing (link), Malaysia (link), Japan (link), and many more!

©Amy Boyle Photography 2018

In 2010 I also created and built the first Social Talk Show of Chicago called The #ChicagonistaLIVE Show . It was a come to life interactive show via live-streaming that garnered about 18million Twitter impressions during a one-hour show. I am proud to see that so many followed that path and now that everyone has easy access to doing live online shows, and as technology progress, I have to make sure that I keep up and stay ahead. So it’s that time again to respin, reinvent, or maybe morph the show into something different. Let’s just say; I’m not done yet!

Besides blogging, I also actively post and engage on Twitter  and Instagram . There I often use tags #CapturingChicago, #Chicagonista, and #ChicagonistaLife to share a glimpse of my everyday Chicago life.”

Ready for the adventure that is life: Meet Tabitha 11 of 52 Phenomenal Women

“The key to realizing a dream is to focus not on success but on significance — and then even the small steps and little victories along your path will take on greater meaning.”

― Oprah Winfrey

Meet Tabitha:

In her own words

©Amy Boyle Photography 2018
©Amy Boyle Photography 2018

“I’d always dreamed of two kids and that white picket fenced home. Little did I know what life would bring me in just my 35 years on this earth. A new kind of dream, and a little more than just two kids.

familycookiepics_ (57 of 893)
Supplied by Tabitha Blue

“It’ll be an adventure,” I promised. It was a move that transformed the shape of our home, literally.

Just a month after the birth of my fourth, we moved into our downtown loft. It was a space that we’d converted for our studio… a space where we could shoot and film recipes I’d create with the brands I was working with. It was a place to host workshops and events… and now? It was becoming a space my family of SIX would live until we found our home.

In a turn of events the home we put an offer on fell through and we were so grateful we had a place to go.

The small storage room in the back became a shared kid’s room and the loft upstairs held a crib next to our bed for the master bedroom.

Something that year taught me, as we huddled as a big family in our small studio loft, is that home truly is what you make it… and dreams? They take on a completely different significance when you look through that lens.

That year, we grew so much closer as a family. It became the base for a big film and magazine project we did with Folgers and brought us so many new opportunities.

Isn’t it a bit like life as well? We don’t always know the twists and turns that will come our way, but even the small steps and little victories along your path will take on greater meaning.

What began with saying “YES” to the opportunity of downtown living with my family, taught me how to say “YES” to more… like being invited to the White House, cruising with Oprah and creating our own business (with more launching soon, shhh!).

Through it all, we’ve learned that we can live in just about any landscape, and sometimes what may seem the most terrifying can actually deliver some of the most beautiful moments. Those things that may be intimidating can be just the things that catapult us into our dreams… sometimes the ones we didn’t even know we had.”

Check out Tabitha’s blog,  youtube , and instagram.

A Life Filled With Travel : Meet Annita 10 of 52 Phenomenal Women

Meet Annita: in her own words

©Amy Boyle Photography 2018
©Amy Boyle Photography 2018

“Becoming a world traveler wasn’t on my radar as a young girl. I  wanted to be a businesswoman who would take the world by storm or at least my hometown. However, as fate would have it travel entered my life via WWII stories my father shared and I lingered to hear every detail of his travels through North Africa and Europe as a soldier. I imagined walking the same cobbled stone streets, sipping coffee in French Cafes tucked away along narrow streets and late night chats with new friends over Spanish tapas and Sangria. 

Supplied by Annita Thomas

I applied with Pan American World Airways and started my journey to explore cultures, see far away lands and meet new friends around the world.  Exploring cultures became the highlight of my travels.  I was intrigued to see we lived our lives differently around the world.  On my first Pan Am flight to Japan, during a Soba Noodles meal service (Japanese noodles made of buckwheat), I  heard passengers slurping their noodles.  I was shocked because my mother always instructed that I not slurp my noodles, but cut them neatly enough to fit on my fork along with the spaghetti sauce. I later discovered this too was not the way to eat noodles in Italy.  I was amazed to learn that while my mother in South Georgia taught me “do not slurp, but cut,” another mother in Japan was teaching her little girl “slurp to show how delicious the noodles are.”  And, in Italy, little girls were learning to twirl their noodles with a fork & spoon.  My first lesson in cross-cultural communication helped me learn we love the same things around the world, although we express it in different ways.

©Amy Boyle Photography 2018
©Amy Boyle Photography 2018

After traveling to over 100 countries, people often ask where is my favorite destination and that’s not an easy question for me. I am still intrigued by the cultural differences of the people, places, and foods I experience.  I love exploring them all.  Instead of expressing a preference for one destination over another, I want to inspire others to get up from the sofa, put down the city/country brochures and travel the world.  Through my radio show I seek to encourage listeners to have the one-on-one experiences of places right down the street, across town or around the world; explore this beautiful world we call home, and you will find there are more similarities than differences between people around the globe and most differences don’t really make that much difference.  Go explore – the world is waiting!”

©Amy Boyle Photography 2018
©Amy Boyle Photography 2018

Visit my website and social media to explore the world with me: 

Blog and Instagram and Twitter


The girl that lived: Meet Liz – 9 of 52 Phenomenal Women

*** Please follow along on instagram as well and learn more about Liz. This year for my birthday , I am embarking on a weekly photo essay project highlighting 52 Phenomenal Women. This is week 9 of 52. Participants in this project will be supporting the efforts of Dress for Success Worldwide – Central. We are all stronger together and it is my sincere hope that we will be inspired by each other’s stories. Now is the time to celebrate as well as encourage one another. Tell your story!***