Hit and Miss

By: Rachel Sircy

Well, it is the Lenten season – a time for all Christians to reflect on our own frailty and to understand how much we need the Lord. My church doesn’t follow the liturgical calendar, but I’m starting to reflect on my own frailties this season. Especially because since my last post about sticking to a strict diet and loving plain, toasted walnuts – blah, blah, blah – I’ve fallen off the wagon. It all started with an innocent trip to Aldi. I was picking up some food to take to a party when a box of dark chocolate sea salt caramels caught my eye. I thought that I would just take them to the party – but I didn’t. Once I brought them home, they never made it back out of my front door. And it only got worse from there. I’ve had more bacon, sausage, cheese, chocolate, and cake in the past couple of weeks than I have in the past couple of months. It just proved a point that my pastor often makes – if you preach about something, you should prepare for a test on it the next day. Well, I failed my test, of course. But the wonderful thing is that if at first you don’t succeed, there will always be another test.

Gluten free muffin_Every Woman Blog

This is a picture of a cinnamon streusel muffin. My mother-in-law made it, and it’s gluten free. AND it’s delicious. I know that she meant well when she dropped these off yesterday, but it’s calling to me. The voice of a cinnamon streusel muffin sounds a lot like those friends you have in college that come to you right before a huge test and ask, Do you have to study? Well, ok then…we’ll think of you while we’re out having fun…

I mean, which would you rather have for breakfast – a delicious, cake-like muffin, or this:

Kate_Every Woman Blog

If you said you’d rather have the kale and flax seed, you’re lying. Come on, you know you’re lying. But I didn’t totally fail the test this time. I compromised and had a bit of both.

Breakfast_Every Woman Blog

I think that means that I got a straight C on this test. I’m okay with that for right now. When I first started to go gluten free, I had a whole lot of stops and starts. Once, shortly after I was diagnosed as a celiac, I broke down and ate almost an entire package of Chips Ahoy cookies. The next day the pain in my stomach was so bad that I could barely move off of the couch. It was a lesson learned. I didn’t ever do that again. And so, even though my breakfast wasn’t the healthiest in the world, it was sort of healthy. And that’s a start toward something better.

A NOTE ABOUT GLUTEN FREE STUFF:

Occasionally on here I rant about how the food industry is riding out the wave of enthusiasm over the gluten free diet fad. I don’t mean to try to tell anyone how they should eat or how they should live, it’s just that I think that there is a lot of information out there that is really misleading about this diet. And, as a celiac, I firmly believe that anyone who thinks they may have a gluten allergy/intolerance or celiac disease should seek a medical professional’s opinion. Well, I’m getting preachy again. I don’t mean to, I just hate to see people being purposefully mislead about their health. If you don’t have your health, not much else matters. Your health is important to me, so I’m going to share something that has recently come to my attention.

A few weeks ago, I purchased a container of disinfectant wipes that are supposed to be 99% natural (or something like that). I prefer to use natural cleaners around my house and often times I make my own cleaning solutions. I’ll have to write a post about that sometime. Making your own solutions, though, can be time consuming and a bit of a pain, so I wanted something that would help me when I just needed to do a quick cleanup. About a week after I got the wipes home, I noticed this on the back of the container:

gluten free wipes-Every Woman Blog

That’s right. Apparently, my disinfectant wipes are gluten free. Do you know what this means? It means that this company is shameless. I guess because most people don’t know much about gluten, manufacturers of all kinds of products are using the gluten free label to sell their stuff. Now, I don’t mind buying a cleaner that happens to not have gluten in it, but I would never purchase a cleaner because it didn’t have gluten in it. The thing is, gluten only affects you if you eat it. No one, not even celiacs, need gluten free cleaners, shampoos or soaps. I mean, if you really think that your disinfectant wipes or your shampoo looks tasty then you have a problem, but that problem isn’t your gluten intolerance. According to Mayo Clinic’s website (the Mayo Clinic is where I get a lot of my information, I trust them as a reliable source), true celiacs only need to make sure that their toothpastes, mouthwashes and lip balms, etc. are gluten free. The reason for that is pretty obvious. You’re probably going to ingest some of your toothpaste and mouthwash and lip balm even though you don’t mean to. According to Dr. Picco of the Mayo Clinic, if you develop a skin rash from touching a product that contains gluten or wheat, you should see your doctor. It could be a wheat allergy (which is not the same as celiac disease) causing an allergic reaction. Also, there is a skin condition that sometimes accompanies celiac disease called dermatitis herpetiformis, but this is not caused by skin contact with gluten, it is only caused by eating something contaminated with gluten.

Well, that was a long rant. I hope it was helpful!!

Maybe Not Home for the Holidays?

By: Stacy Thompson

Even though stores have been displaying Christmas and other holiday wares for several weeks now, generally the spirit doesn’t move me until after Thanksgiving. The weekend after Turkey Day, I put up my outdoor tree (as is the custom in Cayce – if you haven’t Christmasdriven the Avenues, Moss Creek or other neighborhoods in the 29033 zip code, I highly recommend it), start nailing down my gift lists (thank you Amazon Prime) and begin the internal debate of whether to put up my indoor tree. This debate is waged because, as a single person with no kids, I am the only one who has to drag out the boxes from the attic, assemble the pre-lit tree, hang about 10,000+ ornaments and then find room for the knick-knacks that I’ve accumulated through the years. Then, sometime after the big day, I alone get to wrap up said knick-knacks, de-ornament and disassemble the tree and then drag everything back into the attic. So the internal debate is waged between the nostalgic side of me that loves to stare at a decorated Christmas tree glowing in the night and the more practical side of me that wonders whether, truly, my dog give a hoot about a lit tree.  The jury is still out…

The holidays are an amazing time to travel, particularly when your team is playing in a bowl game (fingers crossed!) – but even if you’re not into chomping hot dogs in a football stadium this holiday season, here are a few of my favorite holiday locales…

  1. Vail, Colorado – You can’t beat a white Christmas, lights and snow everywhere – you haven’t lived until you’ve seen a fully dressed-out Santa flying down a mogul field.
  2. Nuremberg, Germany – The Christkindlesmarkt is amazing – Lebkuchen (gingerbread), nuremberger sausages, Glühwein…not to mention the ornaments and keepsakes for sale amongst hundreds of local vendors.
  3. New York City, NY – Likely freezing cold, but always festive. Don’t miss seeing the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall, ice-skating at Rockefeller Center under the tree, walking through Central Park or simply perusing the window displays on 5th Avenue.
  4. Roatán Island, Honduras or the Abaco Islands, Bahamas – If cold weather isn’t your thing, consider heading south. You really can’t go wrong with any of the islands or coastal resorts of Mexico, but Roatán and Abaco have amazing snorkeling and beautiful beaches. You can still have a “White Christmas” just on the sand instead of the snow!
  5. At home, with family and friends…for obvious reasons

Happy Holidays, everyone!

Back to School

By: Lara Clark

I spent a lot of time this summer at my desk, at work, in front of a computer. Our summer trip was in early June and my feet will not hit the sand any time soon. I enjoyed ALL of your trapper keepervacation pictures streaming through my Facebook feed, really I did. But I had to find my joy in other things as we ease back in to the school year.

I have found a few things that are putting pep in my step and maybe they will yours too.

1. The show Unreal. I may be late to this party, but there is a chance if your television watching time falls after the kids go down and before your eyelids go down then you may be late to this party too. UnReal is a fictional show about the making of a reality show. It feels like a behind the scenes look at the making of The Bachelor. And since I believe reality is stranger than fiction, I gotta think this show might be giving us an inside look into what makes those hot tub, smoochie girls cry buckets of tears when they do not get a rose. There is one season of this on Hulu and the second season is currently on Lifetime. If you have a Roku there is a free Lifetime app so you can catch up on any episodes you miss or fall asleep during.

2. Okay, so this one might be a stretch. These are things that are making my back to school days a bit brighter. This one is a little more literal. Last summer we renovated our kitchen and chose a porcelain white sink. Now, like everything white in my life, it does not have the same sparkle and shine it once had. A wise friend suggested I buy some Soft Scrub….in all my maidless days I have never used this thing called Soft Scrub. Well, let me know tell you- our sink is as white as the teeth of the model in a whitening strip commercial. I would say pearly white. Though this may not be a photograph of my feet propped up and a glass of wine on a porch overlooking the ocean, I might still put it on Instagram. #nofilter #lilywhite #cleansinkhappyheart

3. Saving money is not the easiest thing for me to do. Mostly because it seems like you have to have extra money to save and I am not in the business of extra money but a few months ago I signed up for Digit. Basically, you give Digit your banking information. (It is legit I did my research.) They study your account and develop an algorithm (don’t ask me?) and determine how much of your money they can shift into a savings account without you even really noticing. Sometimes it is 54 cents and sometimes it is 38 dollars all the while you don’t really miss it and the best part is when you want to withdraw your money for a little vacation you text them withdraw and ta-da it is in your account. My plan is to keep using Digit so I can afford more vacations next year and spend more time posting pics than drooling over yours.

So that’s it for me, looks like most of my back-to-school favorites are just my favorites, because let’s be honest, back-to-school hasn’t looked the same since there was a new outfit, a shiny Trapper Keeper and someone else paid the bills!

Check out Our Every Woman Blog Contest Entries

Every Woman Blog contest

We are so excited about the Every Woman Blogger contest submissions we have received so far that we wanted to share them with our readers! Check out the great entries we have received so far and let us know who would you like to see featured as a permanent blogger.

And if you’d like to enter the contest to become a featured Every Woman blogger, don’t wait! The contest ends Thursday, June 30th. To enter the contest, upload a video or post a short written statement to our Facebook Wall about why you would be a great blogger to represent and inspire women in the Midlands.

Kimberly Smith: Hello! I’m so excited that you have opened up this opportunity again. As an Irmo native, LMC patient (2 babies), wife, mom, community advocate and business owner- I have the pleasure of meeting so many wonderful people and hearing some amazing stories. I absolutely love to write (and speak actually). I began writing inspirational poetry at a very young age and have continued to write to encourage those of whom I have an influence. I would love to serve as an Every Woman Blogger because that is exactly who I am! I am your everyday woman who works hard, deals with life’s disappointment, loves family and happens to be pretty good at sharing captivating stories.

Jondalynn Holmes Johnson: I would love being able to share what is on my heart as it relates to “Every woman” from various walks of life. I have recently started my own blog page because writing enables me to express not only words but healing words for what all we experience and encounter. I have been a healthcare employee for nearly twelve years, seeing and being a part of helping patients, families, visitors, and even fellow healthcare employees bring hope and inspiration in challenging times. It would be an honor to be a “Every Woman blogger” using writing to bring and promote another form of healing for the women of the Midlands.

Tiffany Willis: What an exciting opportunity to share thoughts, opinions, and ideas with women from our community! I live in Gaston and am a wife and busy working mother of two boys, a senior and a kindergartener. I meet so many people throughout my day from all walks of life. As a healthcare provider, I have heard so many touching stories, and have so many wonderful ideas on how to advocate for not just my patients and their families, but our community as well. I would love the chance to be an “Everyday Woman Blogger” because that’s just what I am and it’s an experience that I would love to share with others!

Azure Crum Stilwell: Being an “Every Woman Blogger” would be an awesome opportunity for me. I just started my own blog (http://peckedbychickens.com) because let’s face it being a bipolar, overweight, pre-diabetic mom of two boys (ages 9 and 18) is both hilarious and tough so I needed a creative outlet. I am a bit sarcastic with a whole lot of funny mixed in. I come from a long line of wonderful women who have experienced just about everything you can think of from complete happiness to unthinkable sadness and yet we all get up every day and keep swimming. Sometimes we just float but at least we try. My personal experiences and those of the women in my life have helped me to already feel like an “Every Woman Blogger” so I know whoever you do choose is going to be great. Best of luck to all who are brave enough to share a piece of their story.

Jordan Tate: Hi! I’m Jordan Tate, wife to a Lexington Medical ICU nurse, adoptive mama, and infant loss survivor x2. My husband and I lost our first two children to a rare genetic disorder in back to back, full term pregnancies. Each of our girls lived for a few minutes outside the womb before passing away. We wrote about the whole experience on our blog while walking through it all, and four months after we lost our second baby, we brought home our adopted son in a whirlwind domestic adoption. I am dedicated to writing in a voice that is genuine and transparent, especially through the harder moments in life. We like to keep it real. I especially love to reach out to mothers who have experienced infant loss and second degree infertility, as well as families who are walking through the rollercoaster of adoption! You can check out some of our story here: http://tatesatsea.blogspot.com/p/us.html

Felicia Snider: I’d like to be an “Every Woman” blogger for Lexington Medical Center because I’d like to encourage other women as we deal with various aspects of life including: tragedy and triumph, living and loving. As we journey through life, I want women to know that there’s nothing a little laughter, prayer, charm and a tube of lipstick can’t fix. Oh yeah, throw in a cute pair of shoes for good measure! There’s nothing like being a woman! “Living, Shopping and Twisting My Hair” feliciaspeakes.blogspot.com
Antoinette Cain: What an awesome opportunity! I would be honored to be selected to join your team of bloggers. Your mission goes hand in hand with the premise of my blog trulycharmedlife.com. My blog is a platform for women to share their stories, trials and triumphs, so that others are encouraged to claim their charmed lives! Awesome things happen when we come together, heal together, and work toward making our dreams into reality.

angsfamilysandwich: Hello there! I am new to the Columbia area and saw your blog contest advertised in the Irmo News. I am single mother who has been caring for three kids and two parents for years. I am the face of the sandwich generation! This post is about an experience I had with my mother while she was in a nursing home. Please let me know if I need to do anything else to enter the contest. Thanks, Angie Sloan.

Tamara L. Dreher: What can I say? I’m a young, single mother of one, who believes in achieving goals and living life to the fullest! My journey of life in almost 28 years has not been the easiest, raising a son and obtaining two degrees, but still there is no defeat in sight. One of my biggest goals is to become a prominent blogger who gives advice ranging from the beginning of parenthood to the escape of parenthood; most call this traveling 😉. I love to travel the states, serve my community, stay in-the-know about health and wellness, encourage philanthropy, and inspire every being in my path. After all, what is life without the ability to help or inspire others?

As a resident of Lexington, SC who has lived on every side of town in the Midlands, I think it’s safe to say I know my community well. I love exploring what my home has to offer, as well as spreading the word to those who consider my findings interesting or helpful. I am that person who loves to engage in the mind, heal the body, and touch the soul. Even if my thoughts do not initially spark the interest of others, there is always flexibility and optimism!

I can honestly say I have the “gift of gab”, but I’ve learned to transfer that gift from mouth to hand. Expressing my thoughts in a manner that allows others to experience and learn more would be the opportunity of a lifetime for any woman entering this contest. Although my submission is terse, just know my heart and mind have far more to offer. I appreciate the opportunity to participate in this contest, and may the best bloggers win!

Ashley Whisonant: The beauty of the Every Woman Blog is the diversity of women featured. I would love the opportunity to share my point of view and experiences with the Midlands Community. As a University of South Carolina Graduate, former Alpha Chi Omega sorority member, mother to two rambunctious toddlers, and working mom, I have experiences many can relate to. I am lucky enough to have a SAH hubby who supports my full-time work career in the business world. I am obsessed with Disney travel and saving money while doing it! I am a social butterfly that loves to share my money saving travel tips with ANYONE who will listen! I am currently navigating the world of second boy potty training-not for the faint of heart! I would be over the moon if chosen as one of the newest bloggers!

Jeanne Reynolds: As the French say, I’m a woman “of a certain age.” Here’s why I’d like to be an Every Woman Blogger:

I’ve never been so insulted in my life. And friends, get ready, because it’s going to happen to you, too, sooner or later. It was the day I got that special envelope in the mail. The one with an invitation to join … AARP!

What?! I’m not old. I’m not even middle-aged. Hmm, pause on that. Anyone who’s at least 50 — and apparently AARP knows who you are, because that’s when this shows up — is, at best, halfway through life. The middle. Maybe that’s why my middle seems to be expanding.

And that’s not the only life stage-related change I’m looking at. With retirement now peering over the horizon, I’m starting to wonder about things like:
• Who will I be when I’m not a working gal?
• How will I keep the friends I made at work?
• Where do I want to use my experience and talents outside a cubicle?
• What are family members going to expect from me now that I’ll have all this “free time”?
• Will my outside and my inside ever be the same age? (I hope not.)

Maybe you have some of these same questions if you’re changing jobs, leaving the work world to care for family, changing relationships or becoming an empty-nester. Because they all boil down to one essential question: Who am I now?

Let’s find out together.

Stacy Thompson: To blog–1. a regularly updated website or web page, typically one run by an individual or small group, that is written in an informal or conversational style.

Stay with me folks, I realize I started with a definition piece copied from a Wikipedia search on blogs, but I assure you, you like it or not, the rest is from my own hand and somewhat bizarre perceptions and ideas…

I have heard of and subscribed to blogs on various topics written by an eclectic and varied group of people–blogs on running, hiking, politics, health and literature–you name it, and I’ve been bewitched by the blog. But to write my own? Haven’t given it much thought until just now…

I am mostly informal by nature and love a good conversation, no matter the topic–so to have a forum to share my experiences, anecdotes and highly entertaining tales would be a ton of fun…really what is the point of doing anything in life if it isn’t fun, anecdotal and/or to gain experience? I am a long-time resident of Lexington County (grew up in the shadows of Lexington County Hospital, as it will forever be known to those of us who remember the location of not only the ‘old Lowe’s’ on Highway 1, but also the ‘old, old Lowe’s just down the street–and who among us does not miss the Cromer’s monkeys at Dutch Square Mall???) but have explored all seven continents. I am a lawyer working in her own firm but consider myself beyond fortunate to represent those unable to work due to their health; I am a huge fan of all sports but can appreciate the theater and arts (although I may refer to Intermission as ‘Halftime’ and bemoan the concession stand offerings–what? No corn dogs and ginormous soda that takes two hands and a spotter to lift??). I love to cook, but begrudgingly admit that casseroles and tailgate food comprise my meal plan. I occasionally run, but, unless being chased, can only call my pace Tortosian (not a word, but describes my turtle-like attempts). I am immensely proud of my mother and father but cannot deny the fact that my iPhone photo album contains many more pics of my dog at a ratio of about 12 to 1 (although he is pretty freakin’ cute!). I adore the written word and read voraciously, but will not hesitate to watch The Terminator, Roadhouse or The Princess Bride on cable, no matter at what point I channel-surf upon them and despite the fact I own them both on DVD (and Blu-Ray).

If chosen to participate in the Every Woman blog, I promise to deliver just that–random musings, memories and tales from an Every Woman–my travels and escapes from reality; the doldrums of daily life–stories of woman against machine (wait until you hear about my plethora of uses for duct tape), stories of woman against the system (stranded in Monaco and Moscow, each for entirely different reasons), woman against nature (i.e. times you wished that Bear Grylls dude would just permanently affix himself to your leg), woman against parent (my mom gets us involved in a lot of weird stuff–skydiving, bungee jumping and mostly anything involving the signing of a waiver) and, last of all, woman against self (may get somewhat deep, do you have a psychiatrist on staff?? Just asking…)

I’ll write to entertain myself and my close family and friends who will be compelled to follow the blog or risk bodily harm (just kidding, no bodily harm, but extreme stink-eyes and a refusal to make my beyond de-lish oatmeal raisin cookies for the next gathering) and to hopefully entertain others, or at least provide them with a guide of what NOT to do–or how to extract oneself from a potentially embarrassing situation if they do what they shouldn’t, or how to best talk themselves out of said embarrassing situation like a pro.

Thanks for sticking with me and reading this rather long missive — I wish the very best to all who apply! (But my competitive nature precludes me from wishing you luck, I’m sure you’ll understand!).

Sincerely,
Stacy

Teri Keener Mewhorter: I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up! I’ve been a mother to 4, so I am an expert in pyschology, first aid, limo service, and logistics. As empty nesters, my husband and I have decided at 3 p.m. we wanted dinner in Charlotte, so it’s in the car we go! In my earlier years you couldn’t get me on the 2nd step of a ladder; at 50 I lost my fear filter and started ziplining and crossing the singing bridge at Grandfather’s Mountain (in 42mph winds with wind chill of 5 degrees). I am adoptive “mom” to an arctic wolf at a NC zoo & rescue center, novice photographer and create original recipes that people not only request a second time, but they don’t require a trip to ER. Each day brings a new adventure, want to come along?

Are You A Champion for Someone?

By: Shannon Boatwright

I was just talking the other day with my precious, fellow fine arts friend and orchestra teacher, Mrs. Amy Reynolds, and we were saying how, as teachers, we literally perform every day, over and over for each class. We chatted about how we’ve heard other teachers state, “I’m not here to entertain these kids!” Well, yes you are! As teachers, our purpose is to grab their attention, engage them, intrigue them and be there for them. You cannot do that successfully without entertaining them on some level. We are indeed actors and actresses. We pretend, and we put on our happy faces when we’re utterly exhausted and overwhelmed. We go to great lengths to gain the students’ attention. And if we’re really good, we ACT like we’re happy to see them, whether we really are or not! We ACT like we haven’t said the same thing 20 times already in one day. We ACT like we aren’t completely overworked and sleep deprived.  I could go on and on, but the point is, if we’re doing our job right, heck yea, we perform!

We are great actors in this thing called life, yet we have this incredible gift, this fabulous power to make a difference in someone’s life. We have the privilege of being a champion. It’s not another thing to add to our to-do list, it’s an honor. Not many professions get to say that they get the opportunity to be a champion for so many kids on a daily basis. There have been school years in which I see and teach 180 students in one day. That’s a lot of lives in which to make a positive difference!

I am ever thankful for being presented with this video of the amazing Mrs. Pierson. When I had to watch and reflect on this video for a recent graduate class I had to take, I specifically told my learning group that I could feel it…this special video was going to prompt a blog entry for sure. 🙂 Such inspiring, awesome stuff!

I really needed to see this video the week I was introduced to it. Recently, I have been struggling with some bullying issues in some of my classes and I have zero tolerance for that kind of behavior – so much so, that it hurts my heart and I get really angry. I absolutely cannot stand to see these kids get hurt. But it happens every day in this lovely, adolescent, middle school world I’m submerged in. Needless to say, my eyes were opened yesterday when I witnessed a unique situation in one of my classes, in which bullying-type of behavior took place. My attention went towards something different than to the typical bully that makes the cruel comment. Instead, I noticed the reactions of others in my class. All the attention is usually on the bully and the victim, but in this case I noticed a group of girls – good girls, that I adore – snicker and laugh. Though they didn’t say anything out loud that could be heard, they reacted in a very ugly way – a way in which the victim noticed. I could see the pain in the victim’s eyes and the disappointment washed over me something fierce. Something very important hit me in that moment and I knew that I needed to speak with these kids and open their eyes to a different viewpoint of “bullying.” These kids hear so much about the subject, yet it seems the focus is always on the bully and the victim.

Last night, I saw this lovely quote posted on Instagram by a close friend, that says, “How you make others feel says a lot about you.” I immediately thought, that’s it! That’s what these kids have got to realize. So at the start of every single one of my classes one day last week, I had this beautiful quote displayed on my smartboard and I had a very quick little talk with them all. I didn’t point any fingers or reveal which class I saw this specific ugly thing take place, but I hope and pray I opened their eyes to thinking about bullying from a different perspective. I made a point of telling them that how they react is always seen by someone and if you’re showing any ugliness on the outside, a cruel, negative reaction of any sort, it will be noticed. And that reaction says a whole lot about you. The end point is to make others feel good about themselves and be aware, because how you act can be a direct reflection of who you are. We must recognize that we need to be an example for these kids and recognize that every kid needs a champion!

Mrs. Rita Pierson addresses this point of being a champion for someone in such a beautiful way. We all need a champion and we can all be a champion for someone else. You don’t have to be a teacher to be a champion to someone. It takes the simplest act to make such a significant difference. It’s a beautiful thing indeed. I’m very thankful to have seen this special video and felt its positive impact. Though I was very saddened to hear that this great lady passed away a few years ago, I know that her spirit, strength and ability to shed light and sunshine on others will continue on for years and years to come, thanks to this TEDTalk and the peoples’ lives that she touched.

So think about it….are you a champion for someone in your life?

For the List Enthusiasts: Bullet Journaling

By: Leah Prescott

Ever since I was a little girl, I have loved using lists. It’s not because I am an organized person….quite the opposite. In fact, I tend to get overwhelmed and forget things which lead to me wasting time. Lists have always been a tool for me to gain control of tasks, even if I don’t always complete them.

journal

Late last summer, I starting seeing a lot of cyber talk about bullet journaling. If you like lists, you will absolutely LOVE this planning method. Called “an analog system for a digital age,” bullet journaling is a system of organizing lists so that nothing falls through the cracks. are different variations of the method; it’s flexible, forgiving, and customizable. I immediately knew it sounded like the perfect method for me. I love the feel of a pen and paper, but I struggle to consistently use rigid calendar systems. I always fail at digital calendars of all kinds. The best part is, all you really need is a pen and a notebook.

bullet journaling

Since I have started bullet journaling in August, I have done much better at staying on top of my to-do lists. I always know where to find important information and I find my planning time to be so much more effective than it ever was before. The best part is that I finally have a spot for all the random ideas and questions that pop into my head throughout the day and I can actually retrieve that information at any given time. Talk about a game changer! For example, if I am suddenly struck with the perfect gift idea for my brother for Christmas, I will add it to the Christmas 2016 page. If I want to remind myself to look up a homeschool deadline, I will add it to my homeschool planning page. If I make a new recipe that’s a hit with the family, I will add it to the Meal Rotation page. I finally feel like my obsessive list-making is working for me!

bullet journaling

If you are interested in Bullet Journaling, you can read all about it here: http://bulletjournal.com/get-started/.

Happy listing!

My Breast Friend

By: Katie Austin

There are moments in life that define you. They make you stop dead in your tracks. They make you reevaluate who you are and where you are going. Sometimes you can see it coming and other times it’s like you were hit over the head, knocking you to your knees.

That moment for me was when I was diagnosed with breast cancer in March 2010.

What I remember most are the incremental moments along my cancer journey.

The day I was told I had the “C” word.

The first weekend after being diagnosed before starting my rounds with the doctors, I felt like I was cramming for a test. I wanted to be prepared for anything and everything they were going to tell me.

The day I had my port placed in case my veins didn’t cooperate. It ended up being one of the best decisions I made, as chemo sent my veins packing. They are just now coming back to life.

The first day of my chemotherapy treatments. I remember sitting in the waiting room. It felt like forever before I was called back. My stomach was in knots. I tried to joke with family to keep my sanity through it all. Then I looked across the room and saw other patients sitting there waiting for their turn. It was quiet in the waiting room, but as we looked at each other and smiled we were giving each other support as we entered into the unknown.

It was during my treatments that I met my breast friend. No, I spelled it correctly. That is what she and I began calling ourselves. We were on a similar treatment plan with her being a treatment ahead of me.

Breast Friends – Katie and Brandy

Breast Friends – Katie and Brandy

We were sitting next to each other, hooked up to the machines that were providing us our medicine. Ellen Degeneres was on TV and it was at the start of the show where music plays while Ellen dances in the audience. Little did we know at the time that we were dancing in our chairs to the music. We looked at each other and laughed. It was in that moment that I knew we would become fast friends.

It was such a relief to me to have someone there that could relate to what I was going through. She was ahead of me, so I would ask her questions to see how she was feeling and what did or did not help her. My favorite thing that we would do is race to the bathroom 🙂  I know – probably not the best place to do that, but we did and we would laugh. As soon as I saw her motioning to get up out of her chair, it was on! It was like we were the only two there and we found ways to laugh through the process. We were there for several hours, so we made the best of it.

Recently, Brandy’s cancer has come back. I am crying even as I write this as I miss my breast friend and wish that I could be there to comfort her as she goes through another battle. I know that she is strong and WILL beat her cancer!  She is the reason why I am writing this blog post; I want to dedicate it to her and others that are fighting cancer. I ask those reading this to post positive comments and to pray for them! Prayer is so powerful and I know that together we can give those fighting cancer the strength to keep moving forward!

For those battling cancer, don’t give up!  Keep fighting and know that you become a survivor the first day you start fighting back! Keep moving forward even if the steps you are taking are small. I will continue to pray for you and hope one day that we will find a cure to send cancer packing.

Brandy, I love you, my breast friend, and will continue to pray for you!  You are an amazing wife, mother, daughter and friend to so many. I hope to see you soon and know that we are here for you!