Welcoming our new bloggers!

From the Every Woman Blog editorial team

This summer, we launched an exciting contest asking women around the Midlands to send us a message describing why they would make a great addition to our team of bloggers at the Every Woman Blog. We received an overwhelming amount of entries with incredible women reaching out and sharing their voices. Today, we’re pleased to announce we’ve selected eight winners from the talented pool of applicants to join our team!

Lisa Baker, Marianna Boyce, Eliza Boulware, Tina Cameron, June Greenlaw, Kate Morrow, Janet Prince and Rhonda Woods will be featured as bloggers at Every Woman Blog. They join our existing bloggers including Shannon Boatwright, Rachel Sircy, Katie Austin, Jeanne Reynolds and Stacy Thompson.

Lisa

 

Lisa Baker is a surgical technologist who lives in Newberry County. Recently, both of her parents were diagnosed with dementia. Like many women, she is learning how to navigate the world of aging parents and will share her story of caring for them through this journey.

 

 

Marianna

Marianna Boyce knows what it’s like to live with a chronic illness. After many doctor visits and tests, the Lexington woman was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. Writing has helped her cope with the pain of the disease. Now, she wants to share her story in the hopes of helping others.

 

Eliza

 

Eliza Boulware is a mom and grandmother from Ridgeway. As a breast cancer and open heart surgery survivor, she serves as a minister helping others through challenges and inspiring them with the power of faith.

 

 

Tina

 

Tina Cameron is a cancer nurse at Lexington Medical Center who recently went back to school to pursue an advanced degree. She is also a volunteer at the Riverbanks Zoo. Tina is constantly on the go – juggling school and her job all while being a single mother. She works through all of it with a dose of laughter and gratitude.

 

June

June Greenlaw works at the University of South Carolina. A Midlands native, she has six children, four of which have served in the military and two are currently students at USC.

 

 

 

kate

 

Kate Morrow is a wife and mom from Columbia. After struggling with infertility, she and her husband welcomed twins last year – three months premature. They’re a March of Dimes Ambassador family, and Kate looks forward to sharing their story with others.

 

Janet

 

Janet Prince is a West Columbia native who lives there with her husband and two daughters. Janet is a 15-year breast cancer survivor, and now serves as the Chairman of the Ovarian Cancer Coalition of Central South Carolina.

 

 

Rhonda

 

Rhonda Woods is a chef who has competed on The Food Network and teaches culinary classes at Pelion High School. This work allows her to share her passion for cooking with others and she looks forward to sharing some of her favorite recipes.  Rhonda will also share about her experience losing her husband after an 18-month battle with metastic melanoma.

 

 

Each of these women brings something unique to our community, and we can’t wait to see our new contributors begin to share their stories. Finding support and inspiration is a key to women’s health and well-being. Keep an eye out for these new voices on the blog!

Live It

By Katie Austin

I used to read a lot of books growing up.  I could easily get lost in a book for hours and at times, wake up early the next morning to read a few pages further to find out what happened to my favorite character.  Those days seem like a distant memory as I find it harder to block time off to read with my busy schedule.  I have missed reading.  But then I found a new way to read books and do so while I’m driving!!  Well, not literally reading while I drive but having it read out loud over my car speaker system.

Like most of you, I have an Amazon Prime account that I use frequently.  What I found amazon_logo_500500._V323939215_while shopping online one day is there is Amazon Kindle Unlimited (see link below for details).  I have been purchasing books using my Amazon account for my college classes over the years in Kindle (digital) format.  I used this to save money and read them across several devices.  But with Amazon Kindle Unlimited there is a library of over 1 million titles AND some come with and audible version.  What this means is that I can reading the book using my iPad or laptop over the weekend and then pick up where I left off while driving to/from work.  How cool is that!  This  has allowed me to read more.

If you want to learn more about Amazon Kindle Unlimited, you can visit their FAQ page below: https://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html?docId=1002872331#faq

You probably thought my article was stopping there.. Lol. What I really wanted to share with you is not only the wonderful world of digital/audible books but the book I read recently that has changed my life.  I couldn’t wait to tell you about it because I believe it may be a book you need to read too!

BookThe book is called “Live It: Achieve Success By Living With Purpose” by Jairek Robbins.

What first caught my eye was the word “purpose”.   I wrote about living my life with purpose in one of my last articles. However, I have still been trying to define what my purpose is and how I should be living my life.   Let me tell you, after reading this book it became perfectly clear!!   And when you read (or listen to) the book you will find yourself either very happy that your ideal day vision is exactly the way you are living your life today or completely different.   At first, I was upset and disappointed that my ideal day vision was so different.  But then as I read through the remaining chapters, I discovered that I simply needed to take the steps to get myself closer to doing what truly makes me happy.   By living my life with purpose and taking a few risks, I will get closer to the way I want to live my life every day.

I don’t want to give anything away other than you need to read this book and walk through the exercises in each chapter.  You will discover your ideal day vision, focus on the majors without distractions from the minors, how to fall in love with hard work, and realizing you are not guaranteed a tomorrow.   With every page and each chapter read, I felt closer to understanding where I truly wanted to be in every facet of my life.

There are SO many great things about this book!   If you don’t have time to sit down, get the audible version and listen to it as you drive to work or anytime you can find a quiet place to focus.   You won’t be disappointed. 😊

SuccessPurpose

As each of you read this book and/or if you have already read it, feel free to post your comments here.  Ways that this book has helped you and what you have learned most.

Wishing each of you a great day and I look forward to seeing you back on the Every Woman Blog!

 

 

 

 

Thank you…please

By Stacy Thompson

I have too many pet peeves to count – some are fairly typical, such as slow drivers in the left lane, constant interrupters and people who talk during movies.  Others are more particular and slightly more unusual, such as the use of the word “irregardless” (I know it has been deemed a word, but it still bugs me), shows about law firms (glamorizing a fairly unglamorous job while making it seem as if all problems can be solved within an hour) and people who leave those little plastic covers on the backs of watches, electronics or glass (I’m looking at you, Mom & Dad).  But one thing that genuinely makes me happy each and every time is when I receive a “thank you” note in the mail.  Yep, good old fashioned, snail mail does the trick, and as much as I fought the order to write said notes as a child, I have found that sending them brings as much pleasure.

In this graduation season, wedding season and given that birthdays tend to fall in every season, I encourage you to not only consider putting pen to paper, but to make your day better by doing so – it’s easy, it’s fast and it costs next to nothing to accomplish this minor task that will brighten a day beyond measure.  Here are a few pointers to making the most of your notes:thank-you-515514_1920

  • When traveling or around town, look for notecards that mean something to you – whether sketches of your alma mater, watercolors that calm your soul or logos promoting your business, easy access to blank notecards will make the drafting much easier and less of a hassle.
  • Pre-purchase stamps so the actual mailing is even easier – who wants to stand in line at the post office or remember to stop by the kiosk to purchase the stamps??
  • Write a draft—re-read and then write it again – crossing out, liquid paper and a delete key are not an option – make sure you know what you want to say and how you want to say it before you put pen to paper.
  • Open with a salutation that fits your relationship to the thank-you note recipient – is this a friend, family member, future employer?? Cater your opening to reflect how you would greet them in person.
  • Make your message personal – if you’re writing to thank someone for a gift, specifically mention the gift itself and how you plan to use it or why it is important to you; if you’re writing to thank someone for a meeting/interview, make mention of anything you talked about or any specific details that were important to you.
  • Be informal, if appropriate, and add your personality and language to the note – best to write it as if you are thanking the person in person—your note will stand out, be memorable and will put a smile on the recipient’s face much as it will yours.

So take a page from Jimmy Fallon and write a thank you note whenever you receive a gift, a kind action or memorable meeting – you’ll make your momma proud!!

Be a PAL

By Rachel Sircy

With a new school year fast approaching, I thought it would be a great time to address a serious subject that both you and your kids should be up on: Food Allergy Bullying.

Let me begin with a personal story that was really the catalyst for me wanting to get involved in this anti-bullying campaign. Of course, it’s no secret that I have celiac disease, which is not a gluten allergy, but an intolerance of gluten. What this means for me is that, thankfully, gluten doesn’t cause an anaphylactic reaction. I don’t get rashes when I eat gluten and there’s no danger of my throat swelling shut. So, this personal story, which is really two stories, is about someone else that I know. The first story is one I’m going to tell on myself. I have a daughter who is a very, VERY picky eater. For the longest time one of the only foods I could get her to eat was peanut butter sandwiches. One Wednesday night my husband and I were running late to church and our daughter (we refer to her as HRH or “Her Royal Highness”) hadn’t eaten anything for dinner. She was only about 18 months old at the time and so, I felt like I couldn’t make her go for an entire church service without dinner. So, I made a peanut butter sandwich and put it in a plastic sandwich bag in her diaper bag. HRH ended up eating the sandwich in the church nursery right before church started and I thoughtlessly threw away some of the crusts (which had peanut butter smeared on them) in the trash can. A friend of mine from church who has a severe allergy to all nuts ended up having to leave church that night because she started having an allergic reaction to something in church. Now, I didn’t put two and two together at first. In fact, I didn’t even see her family get up and leave in the middle of the service. I never would have had any idea that I was the one who probably caused her reaction if the pastor had not announced that this woman and her family had had to leave due to an allergic reaction. He asked that we all be more mindful of what we ate before we came to church and he mentioned (though he didn’t ask anyone to confess) that part of a peanut butter sandwich had been found in the nursery trash can.

You can imagine how awful I felt in that moment.

Despite having an allergy to all nuts that is so severe that merely being in the presence of nuts or of nut butter could set off an allergic reaction, my friend told me that she has been unable to afford to get an EpiPen for a long time. This may not sound like a real problem in a country where most people can afford their medications and where there almost always seems to be a way to get your hands on what you need. However, there has been an incredible price spike in these life-saving syringes in recent years and even more recently, there has been a shortage of EpiPens, so that even those who can afford them cannot buy as many as they may need (most people carry two EpiPens on them at a time because one dose of epinephrine may not be enough to open a person’s airways during anaphylactic shock). What this means for a serious allergy sufferer is that they must take their allergies more seriously than they ever have before. But, what can an allergy sufferer do when the people around them refuse to take their allergy seriously? The second part of this story is one that this particular friend told me herself about 2 separate encounters that she had while flying out of state.

Her first encounter was on her way out of state. As she was boarding the airplane, she let one of the flight attendants know that she had a severe nut allergy and that simply being in the presence of any kind of nut could set off a reaction. The flight attendant stated that almonds were to be served as the in-flight snack and that there was nothing that they could do to change that. So, my friend loaded up on Benadryl and prayed. Thankfully, nothing happened.

On her flight home, she again informed a flight attendant – this one much more helpful than the first one – that she had a nut allergy. She was told by this particular flight attendant that snacks other than nuts were available and that they would serve those instead of the almonds. Unfortunately, there are no regulations as to the snacks that passengers can bring onto the airplanes for themselves, and so sometime after take off the passenger directly in front of my friend opened a bag of shelled peanuts – peanuts being the most dangerous allergen for this particular person – and started cracking them open. My friend and her sister moved quickly to get a flight attendant to change their seats and again my friend loaded up on Benadryl and her sister wrapped her face in a scarf, to keep her from breathing in any of the dust that might be floating backward to her through the stale cabin air. Seats were changed, prayers were answered and nothing bad happened. But this was a very serious close call.

peanuts-1112_640

Now, you might be saying to yourself (or to me through your computer screen) that none of these incidents was actually an act of bullying. (Well, actually the incident with the first unhelpful flight attendant was really bordering on bullying.) However, these were all stories of simple acts of thoughtlessness that could have ended a person’s life. Consider that for a moment.

And now, consider that approximately 1 in 13 children in America have food allergies and that approximately one-third of those children report having been harassed solely on the basis of their allergy. You can type “food allergy bullying” into Google and read story after story of children with food allergies not only being made fun of, but actually being threatened and sometimes physically attacked with the foods that have the potential to end their lives. One New York Times article cites 6 different incidents of children who have been purposely threatened and attacked with allergens. One of the mothers of the children featured in this article stated that though children may think that they are just playing pranks on people with food allergies, they are actually threatening the allergy sufferers with deadly weapons. In one incident a 14-year-old girl who was hi-fived by a classmate who had smeared pineapple juice on her hand was hospitalized. According to this article in the Washington Post which covered the story, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/education/wp/2018/01/26/3-teens-charged-with-knowingly-exposing-allergic-classmate-to-pineapple-she-was-hospitalized/ the girl’s allergy to pineapple was well-known to her classmates and the hi-five was intended to cause an allergic reaction. The classmate who intentionally caused the reaction has been charged with felony aggravated assault in juvenile court.

Even if the pranks don’t end in hospitalization or a severe reaction, the psychological toll that this kind of bullying has on children can be overwhelming. Another one of the heart-breaking stories from the above-mentioned Times article cites an incident where a child was taunted at lunch by his friends with a peanut butter sandwich. These so-called friends waved the sandwich and said “Let’s see if he dies.” Other children have had peanut butter or dairy products smeared on them. Many children who have food allergies dread school and some of them fake illness to avoid going to school at all. As a parent of a young child, I cried reading some of these stories. I felt immensely grateful that my daughter hasn’t shown any signs of food allergies. It also made me wonder what my family can do right now to make our community – the greater Columbia area – a more compassionate and safer place for those with severe food allergies. I didn’t have to search very long before I found the answer.

First of all, we can become more thoughtful people. Being thoughtful means we need to consider the snacks that we choose to eat and feed our children in public. There are so many alternatives to allergy-trigger foods out there. When I was diagnosed with celiac disease, the Enjoy Life brand of foods became a lifesaver to me – and it might be a lifesaver to someone with a food allergy. Enjoy Life produces cookies, crackers, chocolate bars, snack bars, etc. that are free of the all of the most common food allergies – eggs, dairy, wheat, soy, nuts, etc. Need to know what to bring to your child’s class party? How about some Enjoy Life cookies? They are delicious and safe. I’ve fed them to my picky eater ever since that peanut butter sandwich mistake in the church nursery. She absolutely loves them. I also started giving HRH some Enjoy Life Sunbutter Snack bars. They are perfect for when you’re in a hurry and you want to give your child something at least semi-healthy to eat that is also safe for everyone around her. They taste like peanut butter but are made from sunflower seed butter which is allergy friendly. Actually, I love those snack bars. Once I ate all of my kid’s snack bars and felt terrible about it, so I had to go out and buy more.

And, we can teach our kids to Be a PAL. The Be a PAL campaign (the PAL stands for Protect a Life) is part of a wider anti-bullying campaign. It aims to educate both children and parents about the dangers of food allergies and it encourages children to help protect and stand up for children that they know might be bullied because of their allergies. You can read more about the Be a PAL campaign and also find free printables and other resources here: https://www.foodallergy.org/education-awareness/be-a-pal

While the Be a PAL campaign is targeted at younger children, the No Appetite for Bullying campaign is for children 13 or older, parents and also teachers and administrators. You can learn more about this campaign here: http://www.noappetiteforbullying.com/

No Appetite for Bullying encourages you to download their badge and share it on your social media to show your support for those with food allergies. You can find it on their website or right here:

pal

Columbia, SC is a city known for hospitality, and I think that makes this a great place to champion this cause. So, this school year, let’s educate ourselves, our teachers, school administrators and those in our community about the seriousness of food allergies and let’s work together to make Columbia a safe and friendly place for all people. What do you say?

LIVE Your Life

By Shannon Boatwright

“In all the chaos and hurry, do not forget to notice the beauty and miracle of this world. Slow down. Notice. Observe. Be aware. Allow presence and awe to come back into your life.”

-Brendon Burchard

Listen to the sounds of a creek.
Notice and look at the beauty of the earth, the beauty of trees, plants, flowers, their growth.
Be still and allow yourself to take it all in.
Allow yourself to float. Just relax.
Swing on that swing and recognize the joy in the simplicity of swinging gently through the air.
Dance! Allow music to take you away and generate movement in your body!
Run with a kite!
Play with the children. Make the children smile.
Brighten others days, even with just a simple smile.
Make time for those you love. Hug and love on each other.
Love on and listen to your pets. They love you unconditionally.
Recognize the beauty and joy around you.
Take time to recognize the beauty and joy in the simple things.
Play in the sprinkler!
Take adventures. Make adventures.
Spend quality time with friends and family. Really listen and be present for them, for you.
Smell the flowers. Just stop and notice them, look at their wondrous beauty.
Do things that make YOU happy.
Relax on a hammock.
Enjoy dessert!

Don’t let the chaos and hurry of the world steal your joy.

Live your life.

Really LIVE.

(Video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3aKydKNEmgA)

Letting go

By Jeanne Reynolds

I was in yoga class when it happened.

As I tried to ease into a downward dog (which looks more like a downward log thanks to my lack of flexibility, but that’s another story), the instructor encouraged us to let our necks relax and heads drop comfortably. That meant my eyes were facing directly back at my angled thighs. And that’s when I first saw it.

Loose, crepey skin hanging away from my legs. Like … OMG … old lady skin. Now, I realize I’m part of the Every Woman Blog team to fill a certain demographic, but seriously: When. Did. That. Happen?

And: Now I know why most people wear capri tights for yoga instead of an old pair of bike shorts.

I’ve never been mistaken for a Vogue cover model, but c’mon. These are an athlete’s thighs. Thighs that have run 5 Boston Marathons and regularly lift weights and walk 18 holes of golf once or twice a week. Apparently all that doesn’t overcome the fact that they’re also 61-year-old thighs.

A friend – several years younger, many pounds thinner and a much faster runner than I am – told me she’s noticed the same thing recently. It’s not really wrinkles. As she put it, her skin is letting go of her body.

That doesn’t make it look any better, but the idea of letting go does make me feel a little better. Because being able to let go of some things is one of the best parts of getting older. When I hear people long for their younger days and wish they were 21 again, I recoil in horror. I (vaguely) remember the things I obsessed over at that age that now seem so lacking in perspective. Which of course makes sense, because you can’t yet see the big picture from the bottom of the hill.

I’m realizing there are many things I’ve been glad to let go as I’ve gotten older:

  • Caring what I look like for a quick run to the grocery store.
  • Always having to tell someone when I disagree with them.
  • Feeling like I have to sign up/volunteer/donate every time I’m asked.

Of course, there are many more I’m still working on:

  • Worrying because I can’t ever seem to get everything done.
  • Feeling guilty when I need to say no.
  • Spending more time trying to make things perfect than simply enjoying them.

And there are things I hope I never let go:

  • Challenging myself physically and mentally. I don’t know if or when I’ll run another marathon or go sky-diving again like I did to celebrate my 50th birthday, but I won’t rule it out.
  • Being willing (even enjoying) looking completely silly while doing something fun. Catch me dancing to “Love Shack” and you’ll see what I mean.
  • Believing age is a number, not a definition.

So, fair warning: I’m going to yoga class tomorrow. And if I get the laundry done, I’ll be wearing those same old bike shorts. If it bothers you, I suggest you set up your mat on the other side of the room.

Or just let it go.

letting_go____by_senyan

Product FYI

By Rachel Sircy

Well, this time around, I thought that I would blog about a new product that I’ve recently tried. By “new,” I guess I mean, new to me. I’m not actually sure how long this product has been on the market. The first time I saw and experienced Udi’s Soft White Bread was a couple of weeks ago at a baby shower.

pic 1

Since my husband and I decided to travel to Ohio this weekend, I decided to buy some. Sandwiches are the most car-friendly food that I can think of, but it’s so hard to have a good gluten free sandwich without the aid of a toaster. The idea behind this super soft bread is that you don’t necessarily need to toast it. We purchased a loaf for nearly $8.00 at Whole Foods, which is pretty steep for me. We usually purchase Aldi’s whole grain gluten free loaf for $3.99. So, the question is, is this bread worth the high price point?

The first thing that I think is worth mentioning is the size of the bread, which is much closer to a normal slice of bread. I don’t know if this picture of the bread beside my hand actually gives you an accurate idea of how big it is. For those of us who’ve been used to eating tiny sandwiches with those baby-sized pieces of gluten free bread. With this bread you can place a slice of cheese or deli meat without cutting it down to fit the tiny slices of bread.

pic 2

As far as taste goes, this bread is good. It fits the white bread ideal, which means that it doesn’t have much of a flavor of its own. It doesn’t get in the way of what is in the middle of the sandwich. I tried it with my homemade chicken salad and it tasted like a regular sandwich.

Texture, as with all  is this bread’s downfall, I think. Yes, it’s soft enough to use without toasting it. Anyone who eats gluten free bread for any reason knows that the unbending, crumbly nature of a slice of GF bread makes it inedible unless you toast it. So, the fact that this bread is soft and doesn’t require toasting is an advantage. However, the texture is NOT like regular white bread. Underdone is the word that most accurately describes how each slice of this bread feels, except for the crust, which is hard and dry, even by gluten free standards. To be fair, I really don’t know how you would make a slice of G-Free bread soft enough to eat out of the bag without feeling a bit underdone.

Here you can see where I took a bite of the bread that included the crust. I immediately concluded that the crust is inedible.

pic 3

I tried toasting the bread and it doesn’t make it feel much better. It seems to get the outside a bit crispy, but the middle of the bread is still a bit gooey. The other thing is, despite being soft and pliable, the bread still seems to fall apart somewhat. These lines, which I’m calling stress fractures, appeared in my bread once I cut the inedible crusts off of my chicken salad sandwich.

pic 4

Eating a chicken salad sandwich in the car with this bread was easier than I expected. The bread felt like it might fall apart, but it didn’t. I tore two sides of the crust off with my fingers, but I left the other two sides and ate around them. That seemed to help the structural integrity of the bread.

Overall, I think that this bread definitely has its uses. I’m glad that a company is genuinely trying to make a more palatable bread for people who have to eat gluten free. I don’t want to discourage people from purchasing it because I want to support Udi’s efforts to make a better bread. So, let me say this: If you’re taking a car trip and you want to take a sandwich with you, or if you use them (as they did at the baby shower) to make finger sandwiches for an afternoon tea, then this is the gluten free bread you want to use. To sum up, I think this is a pretty good special occasions GF bread. I think, though, that for everyday use, at least at my house, I’m going to stick with the much cheaper Aldi brand.