The Best Men Can Be

I got a call today from a female colleague asking me if I had seen this new Gillette commercial and then explaining how wonderful it is and the impact it would have. She has been extremely supportive of me in all that I have been through with a past relationship so, of course, she thought I would be beyond excited about this message. I immediately googled the commercial and eagerly watched it. You see last year I had to escalate a situation I ran into during one of the national calls I held as the Women’s Leadership & Inclusion National Franchise Lead at work to our Global HR department. Women and men colleagues were concerned for obvious reasons – both sides of the issue and the company had to figure out the best way to address the situation. Of course, the company had to proceed with caution.

As a strong supporter of women and especially inspiring young women, my passion, I have struggled with the direction this movement has taken, in all honesty. Believe me, I respect anyone standing up for something they feel passionate about so I found it hard to criticize the women who were a part of the women’s march; however, I could hardly look at those pink hats that represented female genitalia without cringing, and I had friends wear them. I thought to myself, “you know this is great, empowering women, but how has it gotten to this?” Why not crowns?

What does it mean to be called a lady?

You can use lady when you are referring to a woman, especially when you are showing politeness or respect… if you say that a woman is a lady, you mean that she behaves in a polite, dignified, and graceful way.
(Thank you, Dr. Google!)

I know I wouldn’t want to watch a bunch of men marching in the streets with male genitalia on their heads. #mentoo No thank you! The unwelcomed pic I received from the oh so kind man who fixed my car was bad enough.

In all fairness, if we are telling men how they need to be acting then shouldn’t we do the same with women? This whole movement started with great intentions and by no means do I think a man has a right to disrespect, demean, verbally or physically abuse a woman. However, I feel bad for the true gentlemen. Men that show up at the office every day and feel as if they can’t even tell a friend that she looks nice, or give a friendly hug. We hug at our company – I LOVE my company. It is truly a beautiful place to work. We also talk about our faith and we respect each others’ differences.

Men and women are biologically different. Our brains are programmed differently. “Boys will be boys”… well, yes they will. I mean come on ladies. I know I want a man to act like a man. I am by no means supporting President Trump for his comments, ok. Yes, I voted for him and support him in all his twitter madness, but we all make mistakes and say things we’d like to take back. Nobody is perfect. We really need a happy middle ground with so many issues right now in this country – the divide is real and greatly affecting so many.

My Father, my rock, a true gentleman, has made plenty of comments. Heck, so have I. Who am I? I am a mom, a sister, a daughter, an educator and a leader. I feel that leaders need to continue speaking up and help unify a lot right now, quite frankly. We need to set the example for the younger generation – absolutely, just like the commercial says. Only, it goes both ways. I do believe P&G had good intentions. I honestly don’t think big companies know what to do – they just want to do good, just like the women who march for women’s rights and support this movement wholeheartedly.

Let’s ask ourselves what we want the future to look like? Women supporting women? Men treating women with respect and dignity? Kids saying please and thank you? I am throwing this out there, but take a look at some of the pictures being posted on social media. I feel bad that our young girls think that they have to portray themselves a certain way to get attention – or so they think they do. Ask your teenagers about the apps you don’t know about – the ones where they send private pictures to one another. Sexy? What is sexy? Who is to blame? Porn needs to be better regulated. I don’t have all the answers and I think we could point fingers all day long.

“Intelligence is sexy” – Anonymous

I was chatting with a friend the other night. She owned and ran a Charm school and taught etiquette classes. I asked her to bring them back, begged her to actually. Manners, values, God driven morals.

Also, to throw this out there for anyone struggling with the same issue: I was re-examining goals for the year with my financial adviser and realized that I am not 100% sure that I want to climb the corporate ladder anymore. I have been faced with some professional decisions lately and everyone knows that I don’t turn much down because – I can do it all. You mean you can’t? The pressure is real! Women are achieving everything men are, and rightfully so. Women are powerful, strong, beautiful, sexy and that’s something they should be proud of.

Men are facing their own challenges these days. What defines masculinity? I like it when a man opens a door for me. Do you know men have told me that they get criticized for holding the doors for women these days because women can do it on their own? Of course, we can. Isn’t it nice to have some things done for you? I mean my TV is leaning up against the wall right now because I need a man’s strength to get it done. Not to mention, I have asked my Dad twice to help me remove the chair I no longer want from my living room. I don’t have the strength of a man no matter how many pilates reformer classes I take. Those push-ups (eye roll). No offense to my instructors.

As a mother of a teenager, I want her to feel empowered to do and be whatever she sets her mind and heart to. I also want her to be respectful, use manners, pray to God daily and act like a lady. What a beautiful little lady she is. #proudmom #metoo

Strength-Courage-Truth

“Own your life, write your own story and live your own legacy.” – Maria Shriver

Live your legacy. To me that means owning your story – your truth. This takes courage and requires one to be vulnerable. Vulnerability is something that I thought I understood and something I thought I lived. For me vulnerability takes practice. I do believe when we get really good at being vulnerable we become whole because it is then that we accept our truth, which can be the hardest thing to do!

Blogging has allowed me to work through this process. Ambitious – yes, driven – hell yes, exhausted from trying to please everyone – you have no idea! There is one very important life lesson I have learned through my divorce and that is I matter most.

  • To me
  • To my significant other (when there is one)
  • To my family
  • To my daughter
  • To my colleagues
  • To my friends

God comes first, of course, but unless you put yourself first – truly embrace putting your emotional, physical and mental health first – you are no good to anyone. I lost that in my marriage. What I went through was unacceptable – yes. However, to allow others to treat me so poorly, I lost myself first.

Divorce was an ugly word to me. It is a word that I never wanted to say, was embarrassed to say. Why? Call me old fashioned, but I believe in staying together forever, like my grandparents. Were they truly happy? Rumor has it that my grandfather skipped town because of a fling with a woman in the church. My grandmother – what a gracious woman. I know I have to let go of this idea of perfection. Perfect doesn’t exist and that’s ok. “Your flaws are perfect for the person meant to love you” – Anonymous

As far as my grandparents’ rumor – will we ever know? Does it matter? #scandalous #rumorsharm It doesn’t change my love for them or the love they showered me with.

There sure is a lot of pressure to be perfect and I truly believe many young folks struggle with this today. The greatest gift we can give the younger generation is allowing them to embrace their mess. To accept imperfection. I had so many kids come into my classroom with anxiety. You see my classroom was a safe place. I’d let them go into my greenhouse and sit in the sunshine and just breathe. Why? Because I faced anxiety. I faced it from trying to be perfect and from staying in an unhealthy marriage.

Look at what we are faced with today. Go on social media and look at the perfect pictures, the perfect families. Look at the perfect bodies. Society is trying to do a better job with this… plus size models – beautiful. This is just my opinion, but we need to set the precedence with young people these days to “Embrace your mess, LOVE your mess!”

Live, love and be flawed. That is truth and truth is beautiful.

“Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they are never weakness.” – Brene Brown

Good Old Days

Growing up I spent most of my summers in Roanoke, VA with my grandparents. Papa was a Southern Baptist Minister and Granny, well, she taught high school cosmetology. I like to claim my independence from her. She was an independent woman before her time. She also owned her own beauty salon so she was a business owner. My sister and I did much of our traveling with her. She loved exploring new places with us. We would also travel to Florida to visit my Aunt Estelle. Talk about a sassy lady… she had my Uncle Keith driver her everywhere because she didn’t want to learn how to drive. I laugh about it now. He was a WWII Purple Heart Recipient. He was paralyzed on the beaches of Normandy. Yes, he still drove her around – everywhere. He did it happily. What a gentleman!

My Grandfather ended up buying a local service station and worked so hard. Some of my best memories are of my sister and I playing school for hours. Granny would take us to Kroger to pick out movies and grab out mint chocolate cake. Then we’d relax and watch movies for hours while getting a little chocolate high. Another favorite memory was helping my Papa with his woodwork. He’d build things out of wood for hours and I’d paint them. He’d also enter his work in the Roanoke Art Show. My sister and I love going to the art show.

My Mama, sister and I all met in Roanoke this past summer for a funeral. We walked the market, ate great food and laughed so hard together. Boy do we all miss Granny and Papa.

Their love story still brings tears to my eyes. I’d laugh so hard listening to my grandmother tell the story. My grandfather chased her around the skating rink for hours. He was determined to make her like him. You see she had a boyfriend. Papa called him long arms. I swear to the day we lost him, he would still get a little jealous of that boyfriend. It was the most adorable story and you could feel the love when they told it. Finally, Papa won her over and they were married for fifty years. She never had to go to the hospital aside from giving birth until she got sick after Papa passed. Within three years we lost her too. Their story really belongs in a book.

“The greatest act of rebellion today is chivalry and being a gentleman.” – Anonymous

Love Wins

Family Divided, much like the Government right now. When I describe Thanksgiving in my family home to people I tell them that they should be a fly on the wall. It can be quite entertaining, as I am sure it can be in many homes. With such a division taking over the country right now, I can’t help but chuckle. I texted my sister-in-law the other day because we are also politically divided – haha. She and I actually agree on an outcome. I am friends with folks on both sides and you know sometimes we just have to give a little. A little love and compassion goes far when dealing with others. Of course, we are going to have bad days and act out of character at times. I can’t keep the news on the TV anymore.

I went to my yoga class this morning and then met a college friend at noon Mass. What a great start to the week! It is sad, though, that my priest had to ask for money for the security guard (police officer) he has hired for services. There is simply too much violence in the world. As I type this I pray for peace and love and the day we no longer need to worry about hiring an officer to watch over the church during Mass.

“Peace begins with a smile.” – Mother Teresa

Community United

https://tinyurl.com/pungo-blueribbons

I can’t imagine losing a child. My heart and prayers go out to a local Pungo family who lost their four-year-old this past week. For anyone wanting to help out I have attached a link to the news article and a link to the church that is accepting donations: https://tinyurl.com/y8kb7883

It took a few days before I could write about this tragedy. The news has been full of division these days with the government shutdown and the focus on two very divisive parties. Back to unity… as I drove to my daughter’s horse show yesterday in Pungo, or God’s country, I passed hundreds of blue ribbons. They were displayed on mailboxes, front doors and tied to light poles. There were blue balloons where ribbons were absent. As much as it tugs at my heart to scroll my facebook news feed, it is comforting to know how much the family appreciates the support.

Over the past few years, there have been quite a few families in our community that has lost children. I admire the strength I have witnessed of them, the courage to pull together and the faith they display.


“You never know how strong you are, until being strong is your only choice.” – Bob Marley

I have found music to be healing so I am including a couple videos below.

Wheatgrass

Let’s talk wheatgrass! I included a link above to the article written about a project that another environmental teacher and myself organized at the high school I taught at. It highlights our high school students growing food to feed visitors from all of over the world. One of the items grown was wheatgrass. I chose to grow wheatgrass with my students because it is something I was growing regularly for a while. I am getting ready to start back up. I do believe in the health benefits it supplies (Disclosure: I am not a registered medical professional or nutritionist). In the meantime I have been buying the grass at the local grocery store, or buying shots at health food locations.

I have had a lot of people ask me how to grow and juice it, so I thought I could include the steps/tips in my blog so there is easy access to them. There is a wealth of information on the internet, but I will outline what works best and easiest for me.

  1. I bought seeds from the following company: http://toddsseeds.com/
  2. I followed the steps in the video below. This is the actual video I used to get started… germinating seeds to growing.
  3. If you don’t have a juicer then you can cut the grass and blend it in a blender. I use about 2-3 inches of filtered water. Once you blend the grass until it’s lost most of its color then drain the juice with a hand held metal strainer.
  4. It’s that easy!
  5. I take my shot on an empty stomach first thing in the morning. You may feel a little nauseous until your body gets used to the potency of it.
  6. Ta-da!! Happy juicing!
I used this video and bought the exact same container off of Amazon in order to grow my wheatgrass soil free. I do not spray for mold because I haven’t had any issues.

Friendship

“Because of you, I laugh a little harder, cry a little less, and smile a lot more.” – Anonymous

Feeling blessed! 2019 is off to a great start and I don’t know what I’d do without such strong friendships. It was my first holiday season alone. My daughter and I enjoyed holiday festivities together, surrounded by family and great friends. There was a lot of toasting to new beginnings, and a ton of laughter.

I realized today that I get at least one phone call or text a day from a good friend checking in on me. Now that’s God’s love! The Christmas decorations are finally put away – although, I just realized the mistletoe is still out (not sure why it was out) and needs to be put up – and my new couch was delivered this week. I finally feel like a big kid. By the way, my first official furniture purchase is a beautiful blush pink couch. My Dad laughed at me and told me I will never find anyone new with that thing. I LOVE it because it represents me and my choice – mine only.

My mom raised me and my sister to always be supportive and complimentary of other women. We both have taught high school and know the drama that comes along with ‘girl cliques’. Not to mention, I have a fourteen year old daughter. Middle School is not for the weak! The absolute best thing a woman can do for another woman is have her back. There’s just something very special about women supporting women.

With that being said, I’d like to highlight my dear friend in the picture above, Sheree, and leave a link to her website. She is a personal stylist for J. Hilburn: https://jhilburn.com/aboutme/15360

You’ll not only get the best service, but also the laugh of your life. She’s a lot of fun! #girlfriendsrule

lifeissosweet.com

HaPpY New Year! What a fun evening bringing in the new year with great friends. I feel truly blessed and am looking forward to the many blessings in store for 2019. I believe life returns the energy you put out there, and I chose love and positivity. I am not sure if I explained how I came up with the website link that I did, lifeissosweet.com. My Dad fell ill with non-hodgkins lymphoma twice, five years apart. He ended up receiving a stem cell transplant from Duke Medical Center. By the way, I am a huge Coach K fan and love his book, ‘Leading With the Heart’.

While he was going through chemo treatments he would go to his place and at that point we (caretakers) all knew to let him be… be at peace with God. He wouldn’t talk about his place until years later. It was there that he shared his intimate moments with God. My Dad’s quote that I cherish is when he said, with tears in his eyes, after going to his place, “Life is so sweet”! I volunteered for an organization called Roc Solid https://rocsolidfoundation.org/ once and helped build a tree house for a child with cancer. In that tree house volunteers were to sign their names, and I placed my Father’s quote. It means a lot to me. Life really is sweet.

My 2019 will be full of purpose. My daughter and I were walking through the a local state park this afternoon enjoying the warmer weather when she informed me that there was another shooting in a neighborhood that feeds into her high school. Many of her friends live in there. I am not sure what is going on, but I do know that it saddens my heart. I now you’ve heard the saying before, ‘hurt people, hurt people’. I believe this to be true and I pray for the hearts of those that feel such a void that they want to hurt others. Life is so sweet and so short.

Spread peace in 2019. #peace

Cheers to 2019!

Cheers to 2019! As I look back and reflect on the past year, I express gratitude… gratitude for my family, friends and my own courage and strength. I thought I was strong, but little did I know how strong I could be. Life has a funny way of preparing you for the future. I believe things happen for a reason and that God has a funny way of showing you who is in charge. God is so good!

Over the last few days I have been blessed to enjoy warmer weather, sunshine, time with family and friends and a little yoga inspiration. I set goals for 2019 and plan to offer myself grace. Being too hard on ourselves evokes anxiety and I have never felt so much anxiety as I did when I taught an AP class on the high school level. The students were crying and flipping out over college applications and their test scores. YES, grades and education are extremely important. Our health and well being are as well.

There is also lot of anxiety among our youth to be perfect. It’s important for them to know that adults struggle with it too. Social media is flooded with perfect lives- mine was too for a long time. There’s a lot of pressure to be the perfect wife, the perfect mom, perfect daughter, student- the list goes on. I am going to focus on being ‘real’ in 2019. I thought I couldn’t be more authentic, but then I realized that I was far from it.

I am also going to strive to be more like my daughter. I am grateful for the lessons she has taught me in life. She is such a strong young woman. When I see the struggles she faces, I realize how much more forgiving I need to be with myself. I plan to be more me in 2019 and stay true to myself… advice I often share with others. It’s time to live my own advice. Bring it on 2019!