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We wanted to share our thoughts with the world based on our brilliance and expertise we gained through world-class experiences and smartification. We hope you laugh, cry, feel anger, empathy, disagreement, sprinkled with disappointment from time-to-time or all at once. Basically we want you to experience our ups and downs; our humanity.

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We talk about everything from our favorite beauty tips (ha!), things we like (and don’t like), family and friends (framily), and anything else we feel like we need to tweak your melon with.

And Please talk back to us!! Share, share, share!! You got a favorite quote? A story idea or story you’ve written? Share it with us so we can share it with everyone else!

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Be nice to yourself? Now that’s a thought.

Be Gentle With YourselfToday was a busy day at my house. And as I write that sentence, I realize I’m about to judge myself. I’m a single woman with no children, so can I really claim I’ve had a busy morning considering I don’t have kids (or a husband for that matter) to take care of in the morning.

And that gets to the heart of the matter with an issue that I’ve been dealing with for the last year and a half. Self-compassion.

Earlier this week I downloaded the Daily Burn app on my phone. You’ve probably seen the commercials. It’s an app/website that houses a huge library of exercise programs – and even live workout sessions – that range from easy yoga and pilates to hardcore burn-your-buns off workouts. I haven’t had a regular cardio workout program in a very long time. I practice yoga, as I’m quite flexible. However, I lack stamina, and I feel pretty weak when it comes to cardio. So the Basic Beginner program on Daily Burn has been pretty good for me so far.

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Don’t let fear be the driver of your creativity

Fear and anxiety keep us from being our best self and denies us our freedom to be creative. And our creativity is a window into our vulnerability. Man, that’s a scary concept. 

That’s what Elizabeth Gilbert has to say in her book “Big Magic.” It’s not that fear is always a bad thing, sometimes it can actually keep us from danger or making very bad decisions. (Been there, done that.) But most of the time we give into our fear and allow it to be in the driver’s seat.

 “Basically, your fear is like a mall cop who thinks he’s a Navy SEAL: He hasn’t slept in days, he’s all hopped up on Red Bull and he’s liable to shoot at his own shadow in an absurd effort to keep everyone ‘safe.'”
Have you ever tried to be creative? Whether it’s cooking a meal, sewing something, painting, music, writing, planting a garden….the list goes on. I’ve tried many things to find a creative outlet. Music is always my go to. Whether it’s listening to music or trying to create it, it’s something that I’m drawn to since I was a child. But it frustrates the hell out of me many times because that little fear demon pops up and tells me I’m not good enough and I just need to give up. But who am I trying to impress? I do music for ME. I play with a music group because I like the camaraderie and the creativity that we share. But I’m not trying to be the next musical sensation. I’m not a 20-year-old with Nashville stars in her eyes as I once was.
I’ve tried other creative outlets as well, and I’ve had lots of failure projects. I’ve spent a fortune on “supplies” to feed my creativity, only to recycle, reuse or trash those supplies. It’s frustrating and sometimes expensive.
But maybe it’s not the final outcome of a creative project that’s important, perhaps it’s the act of or the process of just trying. Many times it’s our fear that keep us from even trying something in the first place.
Letting yourself create something is a huge thing. Maybe you’ll want to show that “thing” you’ve created to other people, but maybe not. Maybe you’ll just keep it to yourself. Never-the-less it’s a vulnerable moment to step into your creativity, and man it feels good when you do it.
I love this letter that Elizabeth Gilbert writes to her fear:
“Dearest Fear: Creativity and I are about to go on a road trip. I understand you’ll be joining us, because you always do. I acknowledge that you believe you have an important job to do. But I will also be doing my job, which is to work hard and stay focused. And Creativity will be doing its job, which is to remain stimulating and inspiring. There’s plenty of room in this vehicle for all of us, but understand this: Creativity and I are the only ones who will be making any decisions along the way. You’re not allowed to suggest detours. You’re not allowed to fiddle with the temperature. Dude, you’re not even allowed to touch the radio. But above all else, you are absolutely forbidden to drive.”
So what do you say? Wanna give creativity a try? Just do it! It can certainly be a form of therapy.

Chain Reactions: A Valentine’s Day Truth

I received my Valentine today and it was better than anything I could have imagined.

Feeling a bit spent before noon even arrived, I left my office for a moment just to get out and take a quick drive. I wanted to have a moment in my busy day for myself and get a quick errand done instead doing it later and dealing with evening traffic.

Before I go any further, I want the point of this post to be very evident. This isn’t about what I did, but what I learned. So, if you choose to continue reading, keep in mind that this little story is about all of us, not just me.

I stopped at the store near my office and ran in to pick up some pet food. I quickly made my way to the open check-out where a nice, young girl was standing ready for the next customer; her attention focused elsewhere. As I was running my credit card I heard her say, “I wish I could help that man”. I followed her gaze over to a man standing by a rail. He was blind and seemed to be struggling with stepping away from the safety of the seating area. “He looks like he needs something, but I can’t leave my area. Will you go over there and see if he needs help, please?” she said with a half smile and half frown. I was impressed with her willingness to assign me to the service of this man without hesitation; expecting me to do  the right thing. So, I accepted and approached the man and asked “Sir, do you need some help?” I was surprised by his quick response, “Yes. Thank you. I need to get some Valentine’s Day cookies”.

Let’s pause here and circle back. I was shocked that he so effortlessly accepted help being offered to him. That isn’t a skill I have mastered. Also, I was relieved that he seemed comfortable accepting help from ME.

He wrapped his arm around mine and we walked over to the baked goods. I described which kind of cookies were available and he chose, of course, the shortbread hearts with frosting. We made small talk as we headed to check out. He told me his two brothers were coming to visit him for Valentine’s Day weekend. While approaching the counter, everyone seemed to slow their pace and, to my surprise, practice active patience as he and I went through the line, made the purchase, slowly counted singles, and stuffed the cookies into his backpack. The man at the counter even said, “It’s okay. Take your time” and smiled.

Wow. This sort of collective waltz of kindness was taking place and it started to overwhelm me. I felt like I could just burst into tears just by looking at the faces turned soft and kind eyes all around me. Look at everyone being so NICE to each other.

I asked that man if he needed anything else and he told me he would wait for his group and  then asked if I could escort him back to the bench area. I obliged and made sure he was seated and wished him a Happy Valentine’s Day. Before I left I asked the girl, who started this chain reaction of kindness, what her name was. Linda. Sweet Linda who saw someone in need and made sure he got help.

“Linda. Thank you for asking me to help YOU by helping someone else. Have a beautiful day.” And I made my way to my car.

Driving back to the office was a bit of a challenge because I couldn’t stop the tears from pooling in my eyes. What a beautiful moment to my day. I learned so much in that 10 minutes with these strangers. I witnessed that sometimes help takes more than one person and sometimes you have to ask for other to help with your words, with your eyes, and with your patience. I also witnessed the beauty of freely accepting help from someone when it is offered. Without fear, without suspicion, with out hesitation, he took my arm and blessed me by accepting help. And I wanted to thank him, but didn’t want to seem weird. But I wanted to say, “Thank you for showing me this. Thank you for giving me your trust. Thank you”.

God. You are real. You are beautiful. And you showed me your love once again. Thank you for the Valentine. I promise I will send it out to someone else.

c940t8Blessed Be and Happy Valentine’s Day

Carrie

“I Have a Reason to Scream”

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This morning a story was told to me that rattled my spirit.  It had a certain power I felt in my bones and gave me the confirmation I was seeking.  I’m going to share it – and take some artistic liberties in naming the “character” as I was never given his name.  For the sake of this story, we will call him Charles.

Charles was attending a revival in Dallas at a small church on the south side of town.  The services were emotionally moving and the congregation was steeped in the the message.  At one point the pastor became overwhelmed with joy and the music swelled and the people lifted their hands in praise.  Charles, seated with his family, rose to his feet and began to let out a loud, booming scream.  Although it was a bit shocking, the pastor and people continued to worship.  Finally, pastor approached the screaming man and said, “I don’t want to get in your business, but I know something big has happened and I want to know your story.”  Charles obliged and told him, “I have a reason to scream”.

In 2005 Charles and his family made their way to Dallas from New Orleans after a narrow escape from Hurricane Katrina.  For reasons not stated, he and his family stayed in the city despite the warnings and mandatory evacuations.  On the day the storm hit, the waters and winds roared through the Big Easy, ripping homes apart and forcing people outside.  Charles took his wife, mother, and two young children to the second level of their home thinking this would be safer.  It was then that they heard the levees break and water came rushing into the house.  Rushing so fast that the first floor quickly filled and crawled upstairs.  Charles moved his family to the attic, but only for a brief moment as the water caught up to them.  They climbed through a window and made it on top of the roof.  Charles looked out to his beautiful city and which now looked like the ocean; the water continued to rise.  The family made their way to a tree and climbed as high as a possibly could.  His mother was struggling to hang on and in one blink of an eye her hand let go of Charles’ and she was floating away.  “Mamma!” he screamed.  His wife, panicked and desperately trying to hold her children tight, was suddenly swept away into the carnage of this newly formed sea which once was a city.  One by one, Charles’ family was take from the tree and floated away from him.  Finally, he found himself floating in the water away from everyone, every thing.  The waves crashed against the city and screams could be heard nearby.  He couldn’t tell if they were from his family or other residents who found themselves in the same predicament.  Eventually the storm calmed and it became quite again.

Charles managed to find a piece of driftwood.  He held on tightly and listened for any sign from his mother, wife, and two children.  As he was perched on his makeshift float, a branch fell from a nearby tree and struck his head, leaving a permanent scar.  At this very moment Charles woke up.  He realized he was, indeed still alive and he needed to find his family.  He swam over to a pile of wood and picked up anything he could find to make noise.  He began to bang things together and to scream at the top of his lungs.  He screamed for his family.  He screamed for other people.  He screamed for help.  He screamed for anything.

“I still had my eyes, my hands, my legs, my voice.  And somewhere I knew I still had my family.  I have a reason to scream”.

Hours passed as he continued to yell and make noise; hoping someone would hear him.  Finally, a Coast Guard boat passed by and heard his call.  The crew of the boat quickly helped Charles on board where he found his whole family in tact, uninjured, and all together.  Charles began to scream in joy.  ” I have a reason to scream”.

The pastor was moved as he listened to the story and began to understand what Charles meant. “When I think of that day and how scared I was and then when I decided to fight for my life and for the lives of my family, I still have a reason to scream.  Because I live, have a reason to scream”.

This morning this story was told to me in 4th person.  And I retell it in 5th person.  But I feel like it is a story worth sharing because it resonated in me.  Because we all have a storm to deal with in our lives. Because the levees will break.  We will have to fight for our lives.  We will have to rely on our spirit and determination. And we will have a reason to scream.  And then, when we’re on the other side of the storm, our reason to scream will move from fear to joy. Because that is how we make it.  That is how we live.

I have a reason to scream.

Blessed Be,

Carrie

Self-proclaimed female entitlement erodes our successes

To all the professional women out there….

We’re on the brink of a dynamic paradigm shift. More women are in leadership, executive and political roles than ever before. We continue to make significant strides in the boardrooms, our classrooms and government institutions. Women are in the majority of receiving higher degrees of education, and we’re gaining momentum in the earning power in the U.S., though we still have a gender gap in wages to overcome.

So now, more then ever, we have an opportunity to make great change in the way business is conducted and the way we communicate with one another. That’s why it both saddens and angers me when I see women in leadership positions try to “mean girl” their way to the top by stepping on everyone along the way, particularly other women.

Let us not undo the blood, sweat and tears our foremothers (and those today) have shed fighting for equal rights. Do not become the very thing we’ve fought against. And for the love of Susan B. Anthony, do not stomp around in your power suit and high heels and act like an entitled female. That’s exactly what they want us to do, so they can justify calling us bitches.

We need to take a long, hard look at how we conduct ourselves and treat others. Let me be clear…..do not let yourself be bullied. Stand up and protect yourself. But don’t BE the bully either.

The world is watching us. Younger generations of girls are watching us. What example will we set for them?

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Let’s change the way we talk about cancer

Cancer survivorI want to start a revolution in the way we talk about cancer. Doctors, patients, loved ones/caretakers…we need to stop using words like “terminal” and “cure.”

“Terminal” sets us up for heartache and fearing every tiny little thing that happens. It starts a clock running in our head and the only thing we hear is that damn ticking clock. And then we just live in compete fear. The truth is medicine is 90 percent educated guess. Every body is different, and every body responds to treatments differently. Doctors won’t tell you this, but they are spit-balling when they throw out timelines. And they need to quit it. It only adds another level of fear and worry, and that stress is not in any way going to aid you in your treatment and healing.

The word “cure” is an unreasonable expectation. Because once you’ve had cancer, it’s never “cured.” They may “take it away” through surgeries and chemo/radiation, and you may be in remission, but as a cancer patient you’ll always have to be monitored. You’re always going to feel like you’re trying to outrun the monster.

If you’re in the middle of treatment right now, I’m not trying to be discouraging. Fight your battle!!! Because once you’ve received a cancer diagnosis, you’re now a part of a bigger war. And trust me….YOU ARE A WARRIOR. And you always will be. Some of the toughest people I know (with the best sense of humor) are cancer patients! Just visit any cancer ward and talk with cancer patients. They know…they git it.

Yes, cancer is scary. Any health crisis is indeed a scary thing. And cancer treatments alone can wreck your body. But as cancer patients we have the power to change the conversation. We need to stop treating cancer like a dirty word we whisper because we’re afraid to say it, as if it’s something we’re ashamed of. We don’t need to walk on eggshells.

This is all on my mind right now because yet again….I’m there…. I’m waiting to do more biopsies because on a CT scan my doctor can’t tell if it’s my autoimmune illness active again or if the cancer is back. And I’m putting it out there because, why the hell not?! Talk about it. It is what it is. And I need positive energy and prayers.

I am a warrior, and I will fight each and every battle, cancer or otherwise. But I cannot and will not give into fear. And I don’t want my loved ones and friends to worry….because every day is a gift. So why waste it fearing an outcome that may or may not happen!? This is just another speed bump slowing me down for a moment.

And we ALL have battles to fight, because we’re human – beautifully flawed, gorgeously imperfect. We just need to learn to own it. It’s okay to be not okay sometimes.

 

Hair today, gone tomorrow

No hair, no makeup. Whatevs.

Yep, I’m pretty much bald. I started losing my hair and eventually had to shave off what was left back in December because it looked silly having lost 70 to 80 percent of my hair.

Though it’s difficult for my doctors to determine the exact cause for hair lose, the conclusion is my immune system is jacked up. I’ve struggled with an autoimmune illness for years, and 2014 was a banner year for me. And let’s face it, the psychological stress alone dealing with all I’ve been through would cause anyone’s hair to fall out.

I’ve been dealing with my autoimmune illness since I was 24, and at 34 I was diagnosed with kidney cancer. I was blessed to not have to go through chemo or radiation. My left kidney was removed, and I’ve been cancer free since 2008. And now that I’m 41, I thought I could deal with pretty much any health crisis, but losing my hair has really thrown this tough cookie for a loop.

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It’s That Time Again

England-London-Palace-of-Westminster-Clock-Tower-housing-Big-Ben-on-dark-rainy-winter-evening-mono-1-DHDThis year is almost over and it has been a big, big year for so many reasons.  Personally, nationally, and globally things have been all over the emotional map and I sit here thinking “We made it”.

I feel like each time a year ends and another begins people start to take stock of everything from health to dreams and goals, putting a perimeter or time on the things we want to accomplish in the coming year. We give ourselves a week, month, or the next 365 days to turn things around and make promises like a politician to the reflection in the mirror.  And, at the end of it all, we time it.

“You have a year. Don’t screw up”.

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