Finding Your People

(in)courage Community Groups

You are not alone in your season of life. Sometimes it may feel as if you are because it seems no one understands you, your situation, your feelings. Maybe you’ve searched for someone. I know, because I’ve been there.

I have been part of the (in)courager Community Groups since they began almost 2 years ago, but even 2 years ago there wasn’t yet a group to fit the season of life that I am experiencing. I’ve written about it before, and I’m upfront about the fact that my husband and I have chosen not to have children. I knew others were out there like me. Maybe they chose not to have children or maybe it’s circumstantial. Either way, I knew someone out there understood. Someone “got me.” It seemed especially hard to find in the Christian community.

So last fall, I volunteered to co-lead a group for Wives Without Children. I found my tribe. I had no idea what I was doing at first, but there’s really nothing to it. Women gather together in a Facebook group to discuss feelings that they might not feel comfortable sharing with others in their lives. We celebrate life’s joys with each other, too. There is encouragement abound, as women share their stories, and we find common ground.

And you know what? There are many groups out there for all seasons of life, not just for wives without children – over 70 groups total this session. Each session lasts about 6 weeks, but most groups carry over from session to session. If you, too, are looking for your people (and you are a woman – sorry, no men!), then head over to (in)courage and learn about the (in)courage Community Groups.

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Influenster J’Adore VoxBox

 

Influenster JAdoreVoxBox

Last year, I heard about an online review community to provide feedback and opinions for various products and experiences. Since I already do this through other areas of social media, I thought this would be a great place for me to share my thoughts on products that I love and some of those that I don’t love so much.

This community is called Influenster.

Influenster sent me a box full of goodies in February and asked me to give them a try and let them know what I thought about the products.

Trying out all of the products was pretty fun, and most were products that I hadn’t heard of or tried in the past. I wrote a review for each of the products that I tried.

The only one in the box that I never had the guts to try out was the Kiss Looks So Natural Lashes. I have sensitive, watery eyes, that are sometimes irritated even by eye makeup, so I knew trying to add lashes probably wouldn’t go so well. The rest of the box was full of win!

Hershey Kisses Milk Chocolate

Red Rose Simply Indulgent Teas

Boots Botanics Shine Away Ionic Clay Mask

John Frieda Frizz Ease 3-Day Straight Flat Iron Spray

Let me know if you’re interested in sharing your opinions on products through social media, and I can tell you how to sign up with Influenster. Keep in mind that there is never any guarantee what products they might send you to test or if they will send you products at all. Regardless, it’s definitely a great site to read reviews of products before making purchases, which is how I got started with the site.

 

I received these products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes.

Under arms should not smell like food

Thank you for not smelling like fruit or vegetables. Under arms should not smell like food. #raiseyourarms

Thank you for not smelling like fruit or vegetables. Under arms should not smell like food. #raiseyourarms

Let’s talk about under arms, or arm pits if you would rather call them that. Yeah, it’s a weird opening, but we all have them, right? Girls take care of them differently than guys, so we’re concerned about different things. For me, I don’t like them to smell like fruit or vegetables.

Seriously.

I actually prefer my under arms not to have any scent at all, whether it be good or bad (especially bad). I don’t mind the Fresh scents that many deodorants and anti-perspirants offer, as long as the scent isn’t too strong. I’m kinda sensitive to smells when it’s something that I smell all day, so I don’t wear perfume for that reason. I don’t want my under arms smelling like anything, especially fruits or vegetables.

I was asked to give Dove Advanced Care Deodorant with Nutrium Moisture a try. I’m a long time fan of Dove, as much as anyone can be a fan of deodorant, and have used Dove deodorant for years. They offer the very mild Fresh scent that isn’t too strong, but it also keeps me from smelling like B.O., too. Right?

So I was excited to give their newer product a try! The most advertised feature was moisturizing under the arms, which I admit is not really something I have been concerned with in the past but wondered if maybe I should be more concerned. The Dove Advanced Care Deodorant with Nutrium Moisture went on smooth and kept my under arms soft all day. It lived up to the expectations that I had in that regard.

As far as keeping away all of the wetness, the results were about the same as compared to my regular Dove Invisible Solid, which means that some fabric types in the clothing I was wearing, I would still experience a little bit of unwanted moisture. Hey, I guess nothing is perfect – or maybe it’s just in my genes.

The one area that I felt the new product failed was in how long it lasted. I went through the regular sized Dove Advanced Care Deodorant with Nutrium Moisture in about a month’s time, where the Invisible Solids usually last about 1.5 to 2 times that long. Maybe it’s all that moisture that makes it glide on a little thicker than the regular? I’m not sure. I just know that the end of the stick was much closer than what I am used to experiencing.

All in all, it was a great experience! I am glad that I had a chance to try something new, especially a different variation of a much-loved staple in my fight against odor. If priced right, I might just try it again, but I always know that I have my faithful and reliable solid, as well.

 

 

I received these products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes.

2013 Year In Review

I have filled out this same Year In Review on New Years Eve every year since 2008. I’m not even sure where I found the original, but I’m sure it was on LiveJournal since that’s where I’ve posted it from 2008-2011. Last year was the first year posting it here, and I did some major editing of the format, but overall I’ve answered the same questions for reflection and for memory. Every year seems to get harder to remember everything from the past year. Thankfully I record a lot of events in my Google calendar.

You can read the past Year In Reviews:

2012
2011
2010
2009
2008

 

Life Events

Where do you live now?
Nashville, TN – in our home for 3 years this month.

Where did you begin 2013?
David and I spent our New Year’s Day in our home. I honestly can’t remember if David stayed up or I even stayed up, though I’m sure I did since I have most every year unless I’ve had to work early the next day. I can say for sure that we went to Red Robin for dinner New Years Eve.

What was your status by Valentine’s Day?
Married to David, together for 4 years at that time and married ALMOST a year.

What trips did you take this year?
Glamping at Dale Hollow with the Little Black Dress Club in January
Center Hill with some of the Introverts for crafting weekend in March
Las Vegas for MMS & The Extraterrestrial Highway in April
Memphis with Mom, Judy, Liz and Erica in May
Chicago with the LBDC in June
Holiday World with David, Lily, Jason and Cassidy in July
Louisville with Gisel in August
Pigeon Forge with Liberty and Rachel in September
Glamping at Center Hill with the LBDC in October
Disney World with the Overstreets in November
– That’s somewhere every month, except February and December. I guess I can’t say that I haven’t gone anywhere this year!

Did you know anybody who got married?
I know of a few people who got married this year, but we didn’t attend any weddingsor I can’t remember now!

Did you know anybody who passed away?
Shelton passed away on June 4th. He was 13.
My Aunt Dorothy Laster, who was my dad’s brother’s wife, on September 26th. She was 86.
I heard that Vernon’s Aunt Martha died on July 19th. She was 73.

Any new additions to your family?
Yes! Maggie was born April 25th and came to live with us on July 29th.

Have any life changing events in 2013?
Shelton passing away was a very life changing moment for me. He was more than just a dog, for sure.
Then, of course, Maggie joining the family has truly been life changing, as well.
I got a <3 tattoo in April.

How old did each member in your family turn this year?
Tonya – 36
David – 43
Copper – 11
Penny – 6
Maggie – Born
Dad – 66
Mom – 59
Matthew – 29

Memorable Moments

January – First Glamping Trip
February – Birthday festivities
March – Crafty weekend, Tattoo
April – Las Vegas spa day, looking for aliens, inRL
May – several sets of house guests, Memphis
June – Shelton’s death, Chicago
July – Holiday World & Maggie joining the family
August – Wilson County Fair, Louisville
September – Pigeon Forge
October – David’s Birthday at The Melting Pot, Glamping Part Deux
November – Disney
December – Moving to a new office at work, Miss Mary Bobo’s

What was your best month?
November

What has been your favorite moment(s)?
8 days at Disney with the Overstreets
All sorts of LBDC events
Coming home to sweet fur babies
Reconnecting with Liberty after 18 years

Describe your birthday.
We celebrated my 36th Birthday at the McDonald’s where I had my 6th Birthday party 30 years ago.

2013 Events

What’s the one thing you thought you would never do but did in 2013?
Get a tattoo

Made new friends?
Several new Introvert friends
Lots of LBDC ladies in Nashville, Chicago and Columbus

Were you in school (anytime this year)?
No

Did you have to go to the hospital?
Just an upper GI in July. Nothing serious.

Did you have any encounters with the police?
No

What sporting events did you attend?
Uhmnone! We didn’t even make it to a Rollergirls bout this year.

Did you make any major purchases?
David bought my first Mac in May.
David has helped me ALMOST get out of debtjust a few more months away :)
I got a new mattress!

Change your style?
After the weight loss surgery in 2012, my hair started thinning out a bit (which is typical). About halfway through 2013, it was pretty much back again. I cut it off in September (or was it August?), and I keep it short and curly now.

Start a new hobby?
Nothing new this year. I did a little sewing, lots more reading and watched tons of series on my iPad through Netflix and Amazon. Watching iPad and reading before bed is my new favorite relaxation at night.

What was your single biggest time waster in your life this past year?
Facebookagain.

What was the best way you used your time this past year?
Probably my writing again, though I slacked off more this year than last.

How many books did you read this year?
My goal was 50, and I made it to 47. I’d say that’s pretty good.

How many steps did you log this year?
Just over 1.5 million steps, which averages to 4200 steps a day. It was a lazy year with my walking. 1.8 million in 2011 was my highest recorded year in Fitbit, and to date I have walked 4,778,175 steps since I first got a Fitbit in December 2010. I have been known to go days or even a month without wearing it, so I know I’ve walked more, but not like significantly more.

Growth

What was an unexpected joy this past year?
Reconnecting with Liberty. It has been awesome to have her in my life again after so many years apart. We picked up like time had never turned.
British costume drama series – seriously! It makes me feel old to enjoy these so much, because when I was a kid Masterpiece Theatre was SO BORING!

What was an unexpected obstacle?
Losing Shelton. I still miss that little fella every day. I always knew it would be hard when the time came for him to go, and I was right. It was a really difficult decision to make to put him down, but it was without a doubt the right thing to do.

In what way(s) did you grow emotionally?
This was not a good year for me emotionally. My weight loss has been stalled since early in the year, and I am dealing with a lot of emotional issues in my head. In May I made a change to my antidepressants, and I am still working on finding what works best for me. I haven’t yet found the answer to this emotional slump, but I am hopeful for 2014.

In what way(s) did you grow spiritually?
Honestly, I think I grew backwards spiritually this year. There’s a lot lacking in that area in my life right now, too.

In what way(s) did you grow physically?
I’m working on finding out how to change that. See my emotional (lack of) growth above.

In what way(s) did you grow in your relationships with others?
I am easily scarred by the negative words of people, even months later. It hurts, and I have a difficult time moving on from them. They scenes play over and over in my head frequently.

What was biggest thing you learned this past year?
To choose my words wisely and sometimes keeping my words to myself is best. If I can be so easily damaged from other people’s words, then they can be, too.

Any regrets?
I say it every year: I try not to live with too many regrets. Just learn from them and move on.

Are you happy to see 2013 go?
I always look forward to the future and a new year.

Overall, how would you rate this year?
A couple of months ago, I realized that I have not felt well all year. I have taken steps to try to change that, but I don’t feel like I have gotten far. I feel my health declining when it should be getting better, including my mental health. There were very few terrible things that happened this year, and many great things that happened, but I just don’t feel well. Is it age? Is it my health? I really don’t know yet.

Create a phrase or statement that describes 2013 for you.
Sticks and stones do break bones, and words can still hurt, too.

2014 and Beyond

Do you have any New Year’s resolutions?
To Lose 30 pounds – There, I set a number this year!
To read 50 books.
To walk 2 million steps, which averages out to be almost 5500 steps a day.

To Love more
To Accept more
To Be more patient

What do you want to change in 2014?
Lose weight, save moneybut what’s new with that?

What are you wishing for in 2014?
Health, love and happiness

What are you looking forward to in 2014?
My first nephew!
Trip to Venice, Italy for Julie and Diana’s wedding.

Notable Books Read in 2013

  • Wild by Cheryl Strayed
  • Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh
  • The Dangerous Animals Club by Stephen Tobolowsky
  • Nickel Plated by Aric Davis
  • The Bridges of Madison County by Robert James Waller
  • Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
  • The Middlesteins by Jami Attenberg
  • Stardust by Neil Gaiman

Protected: Halloween Costume 2013

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31 Days of Nashville – Monell’s

Photo Credit: Michael Kappel

Photo Credit: Michael Kappel

Monell’s offers a unique dining experience, called Family Style Dining. The name says it all, really. It’s almost like a buffet, but the buffet comes to your table instead of you going to the buffet. The concept is that they fill the tables, no matter how many people are in your party. If there are 5 people in your party but the table holds 10 people, then most likely they’re going to seat another party of 4 or 5 at your table for you to share the meal. The kitchen prepares several main dishes, sides and desserts every day and brings it straight to your table to share. Every day they serve homemade biscuits and fried chicken. The other dishes rotate, depending on what day of the week it is. There’s no ordering involved at Monell’s, other than deciding what you want to drink.

Monell’s has been around since 1880 and now has 4 locations in the Nashville area. The Germantown location was the only location open for a long time. Over the years, they have branched out to Gallatin and to the Manor in the Donelson/airport area, as well as adding Cafe Monell’s in Berry Hill.

It truly is a unique southern, home cooking experience that the locals love for themselves and sharing with out of town guests. It’s a great way to dine with people you probably wouldn’t normally connect with when dining in a regular establishment.

Monell's

This post is part of a series I am writing, 31 Days of Nashville, where I am introducing several awesome places that make Nashville a great place to live and visit. Each day of the week has a different theme, and I am trying to focus on those hidden gems that aren’t as well known but just as worthy. 

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31 Days of Nashville – Big Brothers Big Sisters

19 - Big Brothers Big Sisters

At one point or another, I’m sure you’ve heard of Big Brothers Big Sisters in some form or fashion. If not, let me introduce it to you and share my story. Big Brothers Big Sisters is a nonprofit organization in numerous areas throughout the US. The program is mentor-based where an adult can mentor a child who might need a positive influence in his or her life. Before I was involved with the program, I always had the idea that it was for kids who might not have one or both parents alive or in their lives, but that’s not always the case. Children are usually identified through teachers and educators in the child’s school as someone who could benefit with some one-on-one time with an influential adult.

I became part of Big Brothers Big Sisters almost 5 years ago. I was recently divorced at the time and had heard about a few experiences that my work supervisor had with her Little Sister. I’ve always been a fan of volunteer work, and I was looking for something to do with my time other than working and dating.

The interview process has multiple levels so that you are more likely matched with a child who can get the most out of an adult with common interests. They carefully match kids with adults and never press it on too fast just because they have unmatched kids and unmatched adults. I applied in October of 2008 but wasn’t matched until April of 2009.

There are more women volunteers and more male kids needing to match, so it’s not always a Big Sister with a Little Sister or a Big Brother with a Little Brother. Some women prefer having a Little Brother for various reasons, usually because they grew up in a house with more boys, so it doesn’t have to always fit into some standard scenario. In the class that I took to learn about being a mentor, we learned it’s more about how you bond with people. I knew early on that I wanted a Little Sister.

Another misconception is that you are only matched with kids missing a parent of the same gender as the mentor. In my case, I was matched with a Little Sister whose mother was (and still is) a great mother to her two kids. I was not taking the place of an absent mother. I admit that it was a little odd at first, given the misconception that I had, but it was soon apparent that my Little Sister might not need another female role model in her life, but having any role model was a positive experience.

My Little Sister was introduced to the Big Brothers Big Sisters program because her older brother was in the program, and she felt like she was missing out on something awesome if her brother was getting to go out and do things with his Big Brother. I soon learned that my time with my Little Sister gave her some one-on-one time with an adult, where our time was about doing something she enjoyed. It also allowed her mom to have some one-on-one time with my Little Sister’s brother while I was out with my Little Sister. It ended up being beneficial to everyone.

Through the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, we attended many events sponsored by, through or because of the program. We attended picnics, skating parties, craft parties, hockey games and nature outings all because of our connection with the program. Not everything you do with your Little Sister or Little Brother is free, but they generally try to help you find low cost outings. It doesn’t have to be expensive, so don’t let that deter you from looking into mentoring a kid. It really is all about spending some quality time with a kid. Many matches enjoy sports, reading or other adventures together. My Little Sister and I have done lots and lots of crafts together.

My Little Sister and I are still together, almost 5 years later. We’re no longer matched through the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization, because she moved to another county, but we still do things together at least once a month. One thing I have learned through this entire experience is that it is not only about what my Little Sister gets out of my mentoring her, but it is also about what I get out of being her mentor and learning from her, as well. The experience has been tremendously great for me, just as much as it has been for her. I am truly blessed because she and her family are in my life.

I encourage you to think about what you might be able to offer in mentoring a kid. The Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Middle Tennessee information is below, but there is most likely a program in your area through another Big Brothers Big Sisters group or other similar mentor programs.

Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Middle Tennessee
1704 Charlotte Avenue, Suite 130
Nashville, Tennessee 37203
(615) 329-9191

This post is part of a series I am writing, 31 Days of Nashville, where I am introducing several awesome places that make Nashville a great place to live and visit. Each day of the week has a different theme, and I am trying to focus on those hidden gems that aren’t as well known but just as worthy. 

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