It’s All About the View

By: Jeanne Reynolds

In just a few hours, I’m leaving work a little early (Boss, if you’re reading this, I worked through lunch today for this very reason) and heading to our dream someday-to-be-retirement home near Beaufort for the weekend.

I love that house. I love the barely-there moss green walls offset by bright white trim. I love the soaring ceilings with exposed beams. I love the speckly gray granite countertops and the mixed-width natural finish wood floors. I love the tabby fireplace that opens on three sides so we can enjoy a fire inside or out. I love the walls of windows that look out onto the marsh because most of all, I love the view.

cat-i-view

Ah, the view. It’s why we bought that particular lot and why the house is designed the way it is. When anyone who’s never seen it asks about the house, I whip out my phone and start scrolling for a photo that captures its essence … and always end up showing a picture of the view.

We’re about 25 feet from the marsh (elevated, of course — we do have hurricanes with those pesky tidal surges around here). The water and grass change constantly with the tides and seasons, and the sky changes with the time of day, so the view does, too. Many kinds of birds whose names I don’t yet know visit frequently. We’ve seen a family of raccoons and small herds of deer, too, but those are sprinkles on the icing of the cake that is sky, water and grass.

the view_Every Woman Blog

As much as I love how the inside of our home turned out, it’s when I look at the world outside it that I truly appreciate its serenity and beauty.

And suddenly it occurred to me life is like that, too.

When I stop paying so much attention to what’s going on inside of me and raise my gaze to the world around me, that’s when I can see — literally — the bigger picture. Like looking at the stars on a clear night, it makes me feel incredibly small and exponentially expanded at the same time. I’m a part of this. A very small part, but a part. And it’s so beautiful out there.

What a view.

On Being a Caregiver

By: Chaunte McClure

At some point in life I realized that one day I will have to care for my mom, but I honestly never considered the day I’d care for one of her siblings. That’s been my reality for the past 11 months. About a week after I turned 40, my 50-something-year-old aunt suffered a stroke while visiting my sister.

caregiver

I was sitting nervously, waiting to give a presentation in my African American Church class. Then my phone vibrated and I saw my sister’s name displaying. I knew she was aware that I had class, so I thought she must really need me. The conversation went something like this when I stepped out of the classroom to answer:

“We’ve called the paramedics for Aunt Jane,” she said.

Doing my best not to panic, I calmly asked, “What happened?”

After she explained my aunt’s symptoms, I told her to keep me posted and I’d head to the hospital after my presentation. That wasn’t soon enough. It’s not easy to keep track of time during emergency situations, but what seemed like about 20 minutes later, my phone vibrated again. This time I heard a very concerned voice almost begging me to get to the hospital. My aunt had coded.

My classmates were taking too long to present. I finally interrupted and explained that I had a family emergency. My professor excused me and began to pray before I could even exit the classroom.

Thankfully, the hospital was only about two miles from my location. I hurried in to comfort her daughter who rode in the ambulance with her mom, my aunt.

After asking more questions when I arrived, finally, the staff rolled my aunt’s weak body back into the emergency room.

She was admitted into the hospital and stayed there just a few days before going to a rehabilitation services provider for a few weeks. Still needing additional therapy, because she lost mobility on her right side, we found an inpatient rehabilitation facility with 24-hour skilled nursing care. After about three months there, her care became our full responsibility.

While I was trying to be fabulous at 40, I was also 40 and worn out at times. We’ve been a caregiver team, but the responsibility is still challenging. From organizing meds, to coordinating medical appointments, to understanding insurance, to running errands and doing chores – it can all become taxing, especially when we each have our own personal responsibilities.

If you ever become a caregiver, here are few tips to help keep you from getting overwhelmed:

  • Make sure each caregiver is carrying his or her load. That takes the burden off one person. You can’t do it all by yourself.
  • Take time for yourself. While caring for others is important, self-care is equally important.
  • Organize your responsibilities. Choose what tasks or chores will be done on specific days and by whom.
  • Seek outside resources. Consider hiring someone to do what you can’t or ask responsible family members and friends.

To protect her privacy, my aunt is referred to as Jane in this story.

The Fine Line

By: Jeanne Reynolds

Every Woman Blog_The Fine LineIt was just before 10 p.m. on a cold Thursday night when the doorbell rang.

I had already gone upstairs to get ready for bed. My husband was in the living room watching college basketball on T.V. Most of the downstairs lights were on, so it was obvious someone was home and up, but still … 10 p.m.? That’s never a good thing.

“Maybe you shouldn’t open the door,” I called down. Our front door doesn’t have a chain, so it’s kind of all or nothing.

But he did, to see what he later described as a soft-spoken woman in her ’30s or ’40s wearing a white coat.

“I was led to come here,” she told him.

“Are you in trouble?” he asked.

She said no, and when he gently pointed out it was 10 o’clock at night, she replied, “I understand,” and walked away down our front path. We didn’t see where she went, and didn’t notice or hear a car nearby.

The whole thing was a little scary, so we called the sheriff’s department that serves our rural northeast Columbia community. A short while later, an officer arrived to check around our home and the neighborhood. He saw nothing then, and we didn’t hear anything later.

The officer agreed we’d done the right thing. Maybe the woman was only a well-meaning religious evangelist with poor time management, but then again maybe she was mentally unstable or on drugs, or had a weapon in her pocket or an accomplice waiting out of sight. For perhaps the first time, I could understand why people keep a gun in their homes. At the very least, I thought about getting the old aluminum softball bat out of the garage to keep under the bed.

But as we settled somewhat uneasily into bed later that evening, we also felt some doubt. We wondered where the woman might have gone on such a cold night and if she was OK. We hoped the officer found her and was able to help her. We also hoped God would understand if one day we stand before him and he says, “I came to you when it was cold and dark, and you turned me away.”

I’ve had similar thoughts when driving down the road and seeing a motorist in apparent trouble, but haven’t stopped for fear of becoming a victim myself. A woman alone just can’t take that chance, I reasoned. It’s sometimes a struggle finding the line between wanting to do the right thing and wanting to be safe.

Once – just once – I did give a ride to a man I saw walking down a rural road in the rain. He had no umbrella because both hands were in use holding what appeared to be a cake box. Indeed, it turned out to be a birthday cake for an elderly relative. I was on my way to church that night, and maybe that was why I stopped. Or maybe I figured he couldn’t easily attack me with his hands full, and anyone carrying food in the rain couldn’t have much ill intent.

I’m not sure I believe God sends us tests, but I do know life brings events that can test our faith. Yet if I had it do over, I still wouldn’t have invited that woman in. In fact, if my husband wasn’t home, I wouldn’t have answered the door at all.

But I’m also still not sure I’m right.

(INSERT LOUD NOISE HERE) Have Your Resolutions Hit the Wall Yet?

By: Mary Pat Baldauf

Every Woman Blog - stay motivated to accomplish goals

Did you hear that loud thud this morning? I think it was the many resolutions made in the heat of the New Year that finally hit the wall. Surprisingly, 75% of resolutions will be continued through the entire first week of January, but only 46% make it past six months. University of Scranton also stated that 39% of people in their twenties will achieve their resolution each year while only 14% of people over 50 years of age will achieve theirs.

As one in that final 14% group, it shouldn’t surprise me that even though I picked a word and not a resolution, per se, that I’m feeling a little flat and discouraged. I was encouraged, however, to read the following tips to stay on track from LearnVest. In case you need a lift, too, I wanted to share them with you. Whether you’re trying to save money or lose a little weight, they apply to nearly any resolution(s) you might have made:

  1. Start small. You can’t do it all at once. It took you more than a month to acquire said issue, so you won’t solve it in a month, either.
  2. Celebrate every milestone. That one pound may not be the 22 you want to lose, but it’s a lot better than gaining it. And 21 lbs. sounds better than 22, doesn’t it?
  3. Don’t get discouraged. Old habits die hard, but putting this off forever is only going to make it worse. Be nice to yourself. You’ve totally got it.
  4. Stay Motivated. Change ain’t easy, but you can do it.

I recently tagged the following on my vision board, and it’s a good reminder:

Don’t think about what can happen in a month. Don’t think about what can happen in a year. Just focus on the 24 hours in front of you and do what you can to get you closer to where you want to be.

How do you keep yourself motivated?

Unrealistic Expectations?

By: Chaunte McClure 

Sun will come out tomorrow

With conviction, I watched an update to a news story from last fall about a young mother who allegedly put her infant in a dumpster. In between late afternoon breaking news and the evening newscast, I occasionally wondered what would drive someone to make that decision. Shame, rape, manipulation, fear, a breakup, depression, and high expectations were among my speculations. The one that brought conviction to my heart was high expectations. Can fear of disappointing an influential leader force one to make a poor decision or even withhold information?

I’ve had the privilege of mentoring and teaching many young ladies over the years – including family. I always want the best for them in every aspect of their lives, and share with them mistakes I’ve made in hopes that they won’t make the same ones. I am confident that they want to make me, their parents, their teachers, themselves and others proud, but I wonder if we apply too much pressure? Actually, this is personal; I wonder if I apply too much pressure. In my conversations with these young ladies, have I left any room for error? Have I failed to teach God’s grace? Have I put myself on a pedestal and  made them feel like they can’t reach me?

As I grieved for the baby and the young mother in that news story, I wondered whether any of those young ladies believe they have to “hide” because they think they’ll disappoint me or perhaps they think I’ll be judgmental. I can’t deny the disappointment, but I will love the same. I didn’t have a perfect young life. I don’t have a perfect not-so-young life.

I think part of my problem is I want to be everybody’s savior. There have been times when I’ve felt like I’ve failed when a mentee does wrong, but I had to realize that I can’t be with her 24 hours a day and I can’t make anyone do right. On the other hand, I certainly don’t want to lead anyone to do wrong.

Is this just self condemnation or do we set the bar too high?

Be Rebellious!

By: Shannon Boatwright

I am so often inspired by awesome quotes and posts. I recently came across a post on Instagram by #Girlboss…

“In a society that profits from your self-doubt, liking yourself is a rebellious act.”

be rebelliousYes! Bravo! Boom! Man, do I ever like this one. And goodness did I ever need it. Us humans are guilty of continuously thinking about, pointing out, picking out our flaws and all the things we wish we could change about ourselves. It’s way too easy to tear ourselves down, rather than simply focus on all our amazing, beautiful, and unique qualities. I personally am a master at picking out and focusing on my own flaws – or I should say, on what I think my flaws are. And I’m willing to bet most of you are pros at it too.

And let’s face it, society certainly profits off of our self-doubt! I won’t even bother going into the endless things in our everyday worlds that trigger insecurities, fear, self-doubt…you name it, it’s out there at every turn, ready to make a play on all our downfalls. For me, entering my 40s and constantly, consistently feeling overwhelmed, overworked, overstressed, underpaid, under-slept, exhausted, old….ugh…see, there I go, spending way too much time focusing on the negative! Why!?? Because it’s too darn easy!

So, here I go – GirlBoss has inspired me on many occasions and now, I choose to let this latest post of inspiration be my new mantra. Boom! Bam! And Bravo! I choose to LIKE MYSELF.

Goodness knows we could all use more moments of rebellion. I mean that in a good way of course! But come on, how backwards is it that in today’s world we have to label “liking ourselves” as an act of rebellion? UGH!!! ARGHH!!! And, UGHH again!

I accept the rebellious challenge and choose to like myself.

(Try saying that out loud….

Go ahead, say it out loud, I dare you.)

“I LIKE MYSELF!”

I personally choose to do my very best to focus on my pros, rather than my cons; my qualities, rather than what I think are my flaws; my blessings, rather than my hardships. I choose to be rebellious and not conform to society’s nonsense and let it tear me down. I choose to act with a rebel heart, accept myself and celebrate all of my fabulousness!

Will you do it? Can you be rebellious? 🙂

How Do You Stay Inspired?

By: Shannon Boatwright

Stay Inspired

“Stay Inspired

It takes work to stay inspired in life. Negative people, experiences, and circumstances can easily get us off course, disconnected and off center. There is, however, always a path back to the positive, back to being inspired. Always have something to read that inspires you with you at all times, talk to those who love you to get you back on track, and the magical cure is to work hard in your own life and on yourself until you feel better. Negative times in life pass through. They come and they go. If they stay for too long, then there is something missing on your end. Focus forward, focus inward, set new goals, let go of the past and focus on what you can do today to make your life better. There is always something you can do to make your life better. The greatest attribute to apply to your off balance days is patience and faith. It will all pass, and things will be renewed again. Once you can accept where you are and you stop fighting it, the solutions you have been looking for will appear. As long as you are over focused on the negative and only thinking about how bad things are, the more you push your solutions away. Do all you can to stay inspired. Whatever works for you: church, exercise, writing, spending time with others, prayer, movie days, reading. Do it all and your luck will change.”

– Sherrie Campbell, PhD
http://www.sherriecampbellphd.com/

The above was shared by a Facebook friend. It has become my new mantra. I don’t personally know this beautiful lady, Dr. Campbell, but I’d like to. I can, without hesitation, say that I am very thankful to have come across this post. Like every human being, I go through ups and downs. Some days I am strong and full of faith and positivity. And other days, I struggle something fierce to keep my head above the heart-wrenching, suffocating waters of life. This short message from Sherrie truly embodies the ultimate survival guide, as far as I’m concerned. She manages to brilliantly say what I know in my heart, but all too often have a hard time accomplishing. Simply put, staying inspired can keep you on the positive and successful track of life. When I really think about it, I see how I do this already, without really knowing it. I will get overwhelmed with the stresses and negative forces in my life and there will be something that will inspire me, fill me up and help to rebuild my spirit, putting me back in a positive state of being. Whether it’s music, exercise, special moments with my angel babies, quality time with my true love, prayer, praise or affirmation of some sort from my students, co-workers, family, a quote, or lovely share like this one from Dr. Sherrie Campbell, that inspires me and fills my empty, aching spaces, reminding me of all the good there is to live for… whew… where would we be without these fulfilling moments?

Dr. Campbell is so incredibly right! We must stay inspired. Our inner wellbeing relies on it!
I love that she states to “focus forward, focus inward…let go of the past and focus on what you can do today to make your life better.” I read and reread her words above, and I believe it is now part of my anthem for a better life. Patience and faith are key. So as you grasp hold of that faith that you know is within you, as you’re having to reach through pain and/or grief, and you pull patience from your toes that you never knew you were capable of, remember to allow yourself to be inspired. Seek out those things in your life that provide priceless inspiration that begin to fill your heart and soul from the inside out and renew your inner workings that keep you full of the beautiful spirit of life and love. Stay inspired!

How do you keep a positive flow running through your life? What inspires you to open yourself to love, faith and success? Please share. We need all the inspiration we can get! 😉