Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year 2013!

The Big Girl Chronicles:  Happy New Year 2013!
HAPPY NEW YEAR2013!!!  I don’t know what 2012 was for you.  If it was a trying year, then farewell.  Let’s make a fresh start.  If it was among the best, then let’s keep the momentum flowing into year 2013.  Either way, the New Year brings with it a new beginning and time for us to pause amidst our celebrating and do some personal reflection.  What did you learn about yourself in 2012?  What do you plan to do with that information in 2013?  I’ve learned that I’m still just a big girl.  I haven’t graduated to womanhood just yet, but I’m 365 days (and steps) closer to my vision of the woman I intend to become.  I’ve also learned more about what I want to do and what I’m willing to withstand to do that.   

With a New Year comes the tradition of making New Year’s resolutions.  It doesn’t matter if you’ve done so in the past only to abandon your resolutions within the first couple of months, this time could be different.  After you’ve done your personal reflection, think of what goals you’ve yet to accomplish and what changes if any are needed to put you closer to achieving them.  Resolve to begin this New Year with a healthier attitude and envision your transformation.  This is your year.  This year will be what you make of it.  Auld Lang Syne! 

2012 in review:

Whatever embarrassment, laugh at yourself.
Whatever sin, forgive yourself.
Whatever imperfection, love yourself.
Whatever situation, be yourself.
Whatever discovery, appreciate yourself.
Whatever disappointment, encourage yourself.
Whatever challenge, push yourself.
Whatever dream, dare yourself.
And in all things, respect yourself.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Response to Recent Gun Violence

The Big Girl Chronicles:  Response to Recent Acts of Gun Violence

I’m sitting and staring at the cursor blinking on the screen, trying to gather thoughts to share and extend my support for the victims of the recent incidents of violence.  What is there to say?  How do you respond to victims that are trying to cope with senseless violence?  Images of children excited about the Christmas Holiday and the gifts neatly wrapped awaiting them under the Christmas tree flash through my mind.  Families that had hoped and prayed for the birth of the child lost are mourning during this season that was carefully thought out for their little one.  What can you say to that?  Empathizing with the families causes us to want to assign blame.  Blame the schools.  They were unprepared.  Blame the parents.  They didn’t do enough to protect us from their child.  Blame the gun makers or owners or sellers.  Why do we need guns?

The truth is violence is a part of our world every single day.  Whether it’s the video games, what we watch on television or a hobby, we are exposed to violence daily.  It seems a good idea to restrict access to guns, but that isn’t the focus.  If the perpetrators of these crimes didn’t have access to guns, the plans that were made to do this would’ve involved some other deadly weapon.  The focus is on the logic that led to these crimes.  Many people take part in these activities that don’t go out and become violent with real people.  What is it that pushes some toward rationalizing violence as a solution?  Some would say it was bullying, which is an assault that can be both physical and psychological.  The mental abuse that happens when a person is bullied can have tremendous consequences on the victim, abuser and unfortunately others who could have had nothing to do with the abuse.  Others have cited mental illness.  Yet the facts are that there are millions who suffer mental illness that also never become violent.

While we are picking apart the tragedy and trying to arrive at some sort of solution to make us feel safe or hope that we can prevent such tragedy from recurring, let’s not forget that the perpetrators are also victims of their own actions.  It’s important not to demonize the perpetrators or take this opportunity to dump all the labels and ills that we can.  Once we stop seeing human beings, we become ineffective at teaching how important it is to preserve the sanctity of human life.  As parents, talk with your children about violence.  Make certain that they understand the difference between what is considered entertainment and reality.  Also teach and model appropriate behavior when faced with issues of anger management.  It could be that some commit such senseless acts due to a lack of knowledge about appropriate forms of expression, feeling that their “power” was taken away or that they were being ignored.  Whatever the reason, healthy communication is the path to understanding and guidance.  

This holiday season, take a moment to say a prayer for the families of the victims of these crimes.  Realize that the time we have to share with family is precious and should never be taken for granted.  Include in your New Year resolutions a goal to make more time doing constructive things with your child if you’re a parent, and remain mindful of how your child is spending his or her time.  Enjoy your holiday season among family in a warm and nurturing environment.  Season’s greetings. 

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Big Girl's Guide to Hosting the Perfect Budget-Friendly Party

The Big Girl Chronicles:  The Big Girl’s Guide to Hosting the Perfect Budget-Friendly Party

Did someone say “party?”  Let the fun begin!  Envisioning what you want your party to be and bringing that vision into fruition can put a fizzle on your fun.  To avoid the pre-party pooper, plan plan and plan again as much in advance as you can to make the process smooth.  You could possibly have just as much fun planning as you anticipate your event will be on that big day! 


Before you decide to make a guest list, it could be helpful to decide what kind of party you want to have.  For example, some of your guests could be hesitant to do an outdoor pool party and would feel more comfortable attending something more elegant and reserved.  Also, deciding upon a theme early will make the selection of invitations, decorations and location easier.

Guest list

With your theme in mind, begin making a list of those most likely to attend that will add to the milieu you hope to create.  Try to avoid personalities that you know will clash unless you have specific plans to mediate between the two.  If there’s a best friend that you know won’t mesh well with what you’re planning, it’s ok to invite him or her to help with some other tasks so as not to have him or her feel as though (s)he is being left out.  It could be a good idea also to take into consideration who of your guests smokes and who doesn’t.


Now that you have a general idea what kind of party you hope to have and about how many people you hope to entertain,  begin budgeting for expenses like invitations, food, decorations, rental fees, music, giveaways or favors, etc.  If you plan far enough ahead, you can minimize these expenses drastically.  There are a variety of software packages available on most computers that have fonts and art appropriate for creating your own personalized invitations.  For those who are gifted in crafts, there are limitless creative possibilities. Research ideas online.  Creative use of simple things like construction paper, string or yarn, newspaper and spray paint can make it appear as though you spent a ton for pennies on the dollar. 

The ambience you create will definitely define the mood of your extravaganza.  Deciding upon a location is essential to creating the right vibe to carry your party from start to finish.  Try to avoid places where there will be constant distractions or bothersome interruptions.  You also want to make sure that your location isn’t too difficult to find if you are expecting guests that aren’t familiar with the area and offers a "Plan B" area in cases of unexpected (and uninvited) weather .  Spaces that offer an open plan could prove easier to work with than having to dash in and out of different rooms.  Be certain to check what is included in your rental fee for the space.  Will you be responsible for chairs and tables?  Or are a certain number of these available to you?  Can you rent additional tables and chairs for a fee with the lease?  Whatever you decide, make certain your space is functional and easy to transform into the vision you hope to create.  In many instances, if you have the space, you can host a fabulous event in your own back yard for an economical alternative to rental spaces.    

If you decide against a live band you can still have live entertainment by having your guests sing for their supper with karaoke instead, which would also add a bit of fun to your festivities, is appropriate for most occasions and rather inexpensive.  Another alternative is to load your mp3 device with music appropriate for your guests and occasion.  Rent a couple of speakers for outdoor occasions or employ your surround sound and you’ve set your event to music.

It’s pretty safe to say that food is the most expensive consideration when hosting a party.  Caterers are pricey, and doing it on your own is both expensive and time consuming.  All the costs you can trim from the other categories can help make this a success.  After all, it will be one of the major points of reflection on your event.  If you have friends and family who are willing to help, take advantage of their kindness.  Buy items in bulk from places like Sam’s Club where you can get large quantities slightly cheaper than grocery store prices.  Consider doing hors d’oeuvres and one featured entrée to cleverly minimize costs.  For that finishing touch, simple desserts like cakes and pies adorned with fresh flowers make a wonderful presentation for little to no added cost. 


When scheduling a date for your party, unless it is in observance of a specific holiday, avoid dates that could conflict with holiday travel and family time.  Being conscious of holidays also lessens the likelihood that whatever space you decide to use won’t be booked for celebrations or family reunions.  Once you have a date in mind, send out an RSVP with a “save-the-date” to get a general idea of how many of your guests will be available.  Include on your RSVP any food allergies your guests might have, whether or not (s)he will bring a guest and a deadline to respond.  If you can afford to do so, include postage to make certain your RSVPs are received in a timely matter.  Or opt to have your guests respond via email.  If you don’t expect the RSVP to be a keepsake, online invitations are a fabulous alternative at no cost to you!

Ready? Set. Party!

Once you’ve confirmed a headcount, you’re ready to put all your hard work into action.  Take time to tally up what you can expect to have to spend per guest for things like favors, food and other costs. It could even be helpful to create a spreadsheet. You’ll want to constantly keep track of spending and minimize overage.  Solicit help from volunteers to get deposits and reservations made.  Decide upon flatware and tableware that add to your chosen theme.  Depending upon how you decorate your tables, you could get away with simple paper plates at your local dollar store or general store.  Other places to find bargains are at stores like Hudson’s, TJMaxx and Marshall’s that offer huge discounts on discontinued items.  If you plan to make your own decorations, how about hosting a mini get together with some volunteers to get them done! 

The day before your event, you’ll want to call and confirm everything.   Accomplish as much decorating as possible.  Check the weather again and have an alternative in mind should there be an unexpected change.  Have someone volunteer to do random video during the event for a nice memento for you and possible gift for your guests.  If you can’t find a volunteer, set up a tripod for your guests to have at it instead.  Get that manicure and pedicure done, along with a hairdo that puts the finishing touches on your look.  Double check your garb. Get a good night’s rest, and wake up refreshed and prepared to tackle those last minute errands like picking up ice and fresh flowers.  If you’ve elected to have a co-host, make certain the two of you are clear on who’s going to be responsible for what, especially clean up.  Accept offers of help after your event to clean up or designate helpers if necessary.  Try to get as much done early in the day as possible so that you have an hour or two to rest up before you expect your guests to begin to arrive.  As soon as the doorbell rings, it’s lights, camera, ACTION!  Your party’s on!  Put your hosting skills into action as only you know how and enjoy the success you’ve made of your event!       

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

World AIDS Day 2012

The Big Girl ChroniclesWorld AIDS Day 2012

“Working Together For An AIDS-Free Generation”

A globally estimated 33.3 million people have been diagnosed with one of the most destructive pandemics in history.  This destructive force to which I’m referring is HIV.  HIV/AIDS has claimed the lives of over 25 million from 1981-2007.  That’s over 25 million families that have stories to share about their loved one’s personal battle with this deadly disease.  December 1st has been designated as a day to increase knowledge of the facts surrounding HIV/AIDS and put that information to use so that not another person has to be added to the millions that have already been affected.  

The truth is that there is no known cure for HIV/AIDs.  However, scientific research has advanced tremendously since this disease was first uncovered.  Take this day to talk with those who are engaged in the battle with HIV/AIDS and learn about what you can do to help.  The following are some online resources to get you started:

You can also take a quiz to test your knowledge at

Know your status.  You can text your zip code to KNOWIT (566948) and find a testing location in your area.  Talk with health professionals and other victims to find out about safer sex practices and what you can do to prevent the spread of this deadly disease.  

Friday, November 16, 2012

Happy Holidays!

The Big Girl Chronicles:  You Said A Mouthful…

Blogging about my life lessons has been tremendously challenging.  It has forced me to take an honest look at myself and how I think.  No matter how I want to blame someone else, the only person staring back at me in the mirror is my own reflection.  I’ve been angry.  I’ve cried.  But when I’m done with my tantrum, I have to grow up.  I’m not too sure that I’ll continue with my blog, but I do hope that what’s been posted thus far has been helpful to you as well.  I’m closing with a renewed sense of self and purpose.   As I take my hiatus for the forthcoming holiday season, I want to encourage you to challenge the negatives that can take the focus off of your goals and potential.  Also take some time to focus on those that are less fortunate and how you can help someone else, but being thankful should by no means include being complacent.  Above all else, love yourself.

Have a wonderful holiday season!

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Big Girl's Guide to Holiday Planning On A Budget

The Big Girl Chronicles:  The Big Girl’s Guide to Holiday Planning On A Budget
The stress of the holiday season is that much more a source of angst for all the single parents that have to make it happen for their children.  Add to that underemployment or unemployment with limited income and the challenge can seem impossible.  Really, that’s not so.  Single parents have developed an expertise at doing more with less.  If you start planning early, you can have an abundant and meaningful holiday season with plenty to spare.

If you’re not in your state’s supplemental nutrition assistance program, you can still have an amazing holiday feast for a fraction of what you would normally pay.  Research your local churches and community service organizations for economically friendly alternatives like the Angel Food Network that usually offers holiday grocery packages specific to the occasion for considerably less than what you would pay at the grocery store.  Local food banks also provide complete holiday meal boxes to feed an average sized family sometimes free of charge or for a small donated canned good.  Another resource is your local public service organizations such as your local fire department or police department that sometimes choose a family to sponsor around the holiday season.

Once you’ve gotten the menu taken care of the next area to tackle is the gift-giving.  The key here is to plan early.  Those black Friday deals are great if you have the cash, but even the cheapest of tech toys and goods can seem out of reach when the money is low.  You can still do fabulous gifts that are economically manageable and more meaningful if you apply a little creativity.  Get out your craft tote and get to work.
*Buy serving utensils that can be found at your local dollar store or general store for as little as a dollar each.  Pick up some industrial strength adhesive, beads and wire and you’ve got all you need to make a beautifully ornate and unique serving set that will be the pride of dinner conversation and should only have cost you less than $2 per utensil to make.

*  For an added touch, or another gift altogether, attach a simple compilation of your family’s favorite recipes fastened together with decorative ribbon and adorned with handmade stencil art. 

*Another goldmine at your local dollar store are hand towels and kitchen towels that can be easily personalized and make great gifts. 

*Still looking for neat gifts for neighbors or children?  Save your wide-mouth jars that once contained peaches or pasta sauce.  Rinse thoroughly and strip of all labels.  Buy simple cocoa, chocolate and marshmallows.  Layer these in the jars, attach a ribbon and add a cute personalized message for a simple thoughtful gift that will help take the chill out of those winter nights.

*Research other crafty ideas online that you would like to receive as a gift.  Make sure that it’s doable on a small budget, get the entire family involved and make gifts that will not likely get tossed in the back of the closet.

*Local community agencies like the Salvation Army also sponsor families by supplying clothing and toys.  Contact your local Goodwill or Salvation Army for details about all the information required and the process to get your family approved.

Finally you know what you’re going to eat and who’s going to get what.  If you have older children, decorations probably aren’t going to be a big deal.  But if you have little ones who are expecting all the magic of the holiday season, creating a holiday milieu might seem another financial burden…NOT.   You can do wonders with construction paper, scissors, tape, glue, glitter, newspaper, spray paint, ribbon and string.         

* Cut newspaper into three by three inch squares enough to line about two feet or more of yarn or string.  Crinkle them up.  Take two feet or more of string or yarn and line through the center of the newspaper squares.  Tie the ends tightly.  Spray paint whatever color of your choice and adorn with ribbon for a festive, one-of-a-kind wreath.  Or leave the ends untied for a garland to line your window or hang from the ceiling.

*Cut shapes appropriate for the occasion using construction paper and decorate with glitter and yarn or string for unique ornaments.

*Use yarn or string to make festive shapes on the wall appropriate for the occasion.  Take scraps from the construction paper cuttings and add them for a great alternative to pricey, traditional décor.

Whatever you do to make your holiday season happen, be sure to keep in mind the less fortunate that would have nothing if not for the generosity and kindness of people like you.  If you can’t afford a monetary contribution, donate your time by volunteering at your local food pantry, church, community kitchen or homeless shelter.  And remember the true value of the holiday season is having those you love close to share it with.   

Friday, November 2, 2012

Response to Hurricane Sandy

The Big Girl Chronicles:  Response to Hurricane Sandy

Few things are more sobering than when a natural disaster strikes and we are left to face the remnants of its devastation.  Things that have taken a lifetime to build and invaluable landmarks are destroyed mercilessly by the force of nature.  Even more priceless are the lives lost.  Tragedy such as this is never easy to recover from.  But those of us that weren’t directly affected by the storm can do some things to reach out to those suffering from the catastrophe of our most recent natural disaster, Hurricane Sandy, and assist in efforts to reestablish those areas that were affected.

Send a care package.

Now more than ever a simple act of kindness, such as sending a care package, can make an immeasurable difference to a family that has endured this crisis.  Things like toiletries, sanitizers and other personal care items can help ease the stress for families having to care for small children.  If you can afford it, include things like seasonal apparel, blankets, pillows and other items you would need if you had suddenly lost everything.  For children, some comforting items such as a stuffed animal or other items like books, activity pads, crayons and toys could prove useful to help occupy their minds and distract them from the anxiety that parents are likely experiencing during this time.  It could also be helpful to include a disposable camera, postage and prepaid cards that could assist in meeting needs of families in addition to traditional items such as water and canned goods that will be shared. 

Make donations and begin charitable giving.

Businesses can ante up and begin to assist the city in rebuilding by donating labor and supplies.  Begin a charitable fund and/or donate a percentage of sales towards the rebuilding efforts.  As much as your budget will stand, make in-kind contributions of supplies and labor that can be instrumental in repairing some of the structural damage.  Volunteer manpower to quicken the progress.  This is a wonderful opportunity for mental health professionals and other crisis intervention specialists to not only go onsite and help families recoup, but also provide valuable experience for interns.

Personalize your support.

To make your support extra special, share your contact information and consider making a video or some kind of memento introducing yourself to your new “adopted” family.  Do something special like plant a seedling or plant to nurse as you follow your family’s progress.  You can post video online and provide a link, send a dvd, create a blog or some other form of communication in honor of your family reestablishing itself. 

In times like these, imagine the difference that you can make by taking the time to reach out to ailing families that are enduring such loss.  No matter the size of your contribution, the effort that you put forth to comfort someone during this crisis speaks volumes.  The feeling that you get knowing you were a help to someone is more than words can express.  Our continued thoughts and prayers go out to the people affected by Hurricane Sandy.

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Big Girl's Guide to Managing and Overcoming Embarrassment

The Big Girl Chronicles:  The Big Girl’s Guide to Managing and Overcoming Embarrassment

I am the queen of embarrassment.  Whereas some people have a few moments they can recall where they were made shame, I seem to have made it a way of life.  "The Big Girl's Most Memorable Embarrassing Moments."  Depending upon what degree of embarrassment you experience, the result can seem impossible to live down.  Add to that a witness or two, and that embarrassing moment could become a staple in time that will never be forgotten.  If you’ve found yourself in an embarrassing situation and can’t seem to get past it, don’t continue to beat yourself up about it.  Try applying some of these thoughts to help you manage your feelings about what’s happened.

Try to think about it logically.

Giving the wrong answer in a crowded room has been something we’ve learned at an early age to fear.  How many of us remember that feeling from our school years?  You thought you knew the answer.  You were sure it was the correct answer.  But once you were told you were wrong you were rewarded with laughs and jeers.  This can be considered one of the earliest lessons on embarrassment that we’ve learned to try to avoid altogether by not answering at all.  But wait.  Isn’t the whole point of going to school to learn what you don’t know?  Few people have figured that out, I guess.  So we’ve carried the need to always be right into adulthood.  If this has happened to you as it has me, let me tell you that it’s ok to give an incorrect answer.  More than likely someone else was thinking something similar to your response as well, or something equally as wrong.  Don’t beat yourself up about it.  It’s all a part of the learning process.

Remove yourself from the situation. 

It seems embarrassment has such a foothold on some that you feel singled out.  No one else has ever given a wrong answer, or fallen or whatever it is that has put you to shame.  And that simply isn’t true.  I know the shame of embarrassment can seemingly place the burden of shame on your shoulders, but shake it off.  Everyone has had to endure an embarrassing situation.  Yours just happened to have been at that precise moment.

Get over yourself. 

Sometimes we can take ourselves so seriously that we seem to think we are exempt from a little playful teasing.  Learning to laugh with others at something you’ve done can be therapeutic and lessen the feigned severity of the situation.  And as cliché as it sounds, one day you really will look back on the experience and laugh.

Do damage control.

Unfortunately, there are some embarrassing situations that won’t easily be overcome.  To help manage those instances, be assured that no matter what happened you weren’t the first and you won’t be the last.  If there’s anything that you can possibly to do rectify yourself and lessen the severity of the situation, do that.  But most of all, learn from it so that it doesn’t happen again.     

Embarrassing situations are inevitable, but aren’t always to be taken lightly.  Some have been embarrassed to the extent that they can’t see ever moving on.  If your embarrassment has been so devastating that you can’t cope, please seek the help of a mental health professional or someone who can help you through the pain.  If you’ve had an embarrassing situation that hasn’t been quite that severe, consider it a minor inconvenience that you can add to the stories you’ll share with your girlfriends and grandchildren.   

Friday, October 19, 2012

Election 2012

The Big Girl Chronicles:  The Big Girl’s Guide to Election 2012

It’s time to make a choice of national leadership.  Both candidates have debated the issues and presented their vision of America for the next 4 years.  Both candidates seem passionate about how they can make a better America with our help.  The plans that each have outlined have some favorable key points…and some not so favorable.   

With regard to President Obama’s plan to have insurers cover contraception without copays via the Affordable Care Act, I don’t understand how Governor Romney could disapprove of something that encourages responsible reproductive health citing it as an imposition that would compromise the values of employers with religious standards.  Surely not every person those employers hire are of the same beliefs.  And a simple solution would be to have each employer opt to participate in the company insurance plan or allow them to seek coverage elsewhere.  

What I have yet to learn from either candidate is discussion that would address over 20 million Americans.  According to the National Institute of Mental Health, an estimated 26.2 MILLION Americans struggle with some form of mental illness.  That’s 26.2 MILLION voters (yes, “crazy” people can still vote) that you didn’t speak to directly that will also decide upon leadership in this upcoming election.  Instead of lumping them all together under discussions of affordable health care, it could’ve been worth it to take notice.  Add to that their families and the millions who work in the health professions to care for these individuals, and those are some impressive numbers.

No matter what choice you make in this election, please take the time to go vote.  See you at the polls!

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Big Girl's Guide to Change

The Big Girl Chronicles:  The Big Girl’s Guide to Change

“Why change?  I like things just the way they are.”  Have you ever found yourself pondering this question? The truth is, change is inevitable and absolutely necessary.   Don’t waste time whining about it and making the process that much more painstakingly unpleasant.  Choose the more mature option.  Embrace it and grow.  Below are a few things that could help. 

The first step to growing into change is always to check your attitude. 

How you feel about the transition is going to set the tone.  If you’re agonizing over what has to change, then you’re not going to gain as much from the experience.  Not only that, but it’s possible that you’ll either find yourself becoming part of a group of complainers who are also mourning the change in status quo or singled out from others who are on board with new plans.  If changes are occurring in your personal life that you’re not happy with such as relocation or a change in lifestyle, try to avoid obsessing over it with unpleasant thoughts.  Quickly assess the positives and capitalize on them.  Acceptance as early as possible makes things much easier.       

Do your research.

Find out as much as you can about the changes taking place.  Keeping yourself well-informed gives you a clear understanding of what you’re dealing with and what needs to happen to make the transition flow smoothly.  Although the changes might have been unexpected and unwanted, learning all you can could help you influence their purpose.  

Take this opportunity to introduce something you would like to implement.

 A healthy attitude and perspective puts you in a better place to make changes that compliment you.  Another reason why instead of whining about it you should be planning to interject some changes of your own.  Explore what possibilities this new circumstance has to offer.  Bounce around some new ideas that could make this a positive transition for you and develop a strategy for putting them in place.   If you do you could find that what began as something unpleasant could actually work in your best interest. 

Life holds many surprises and opportunities for growth.  As you maneuver through the peaks and valleys, take each moment as a challenge to learn and improve.  It’s easy to endure the good times.  But how you handle the not-so-pleasant changes that occasionally occur could help you gain insight into who you are.  Though it could have begun as something unpleasant, any experience that builds character is never in vain. 

Monday, October 8, 2012

The Big Girl's Take On Voter Suppression

Women’s Suffrage.  The Civil Rights’ Movement.  These are but two monumental historical struggles that speak to us from the souls of our past.  They tell of the great efforts that have been put forth and what we have collectively had to endure to gain equality as participating members of society.  Our past has also taught us that as long as we remain nonthreatening to the dominant society, we are ignored and overlooked.  Nonthreatening as in “so what if they have the right to vote.  They’re not actually going to.”  Now there’s been a change in dynamics and those that are desperate to return to “old world politics” have reintroduced those obstacles that have historical roots of bias against a certain group.  I’m not surprised.  Actually, that should be expected, because had we not stepped up to the plate and began to actually count as American citizens there would be no resort to such actions.  My concern?  HOW DARE YOU.  When I think about what I’ve learned about what my ancestors have had to endure to guarantee that future generations are acknowledged as equal  citizens in this country it becomes personal.  So, how dare you not acquire what’s necessary to secure your right to vote!  Not voting is the reason why those obstacles have been reintroduced.  Refusing to vote because of those requirements is the same as rioting only to destroy your own neighborhoods and businesses.  How dare you approach the subject as if you aren’t directly affected by the outcome!  If you don’t take yourselves seriously as citizens with equal rights in building and managing America, how can you expect anyone else to take you seriously?

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 makes it unlawful to require any prerequisites, qualifications, procedures or obstacles that interfere with a person’s right to vote, or deny him or her right to vote based upon ethnicity or race.  However, several states have put in place requirements that voters show identification before casting their ballots.  This requirement is historically directly related to past efforts to thwart “less desirables” from showing up at the polls.  I imagine it’s like dipping your toe in the water to test the temperature.  If you don’t do anything about this, then be sure to expect more practices that will indirectly place structured bias in voters’ paths.  And mind you, this isn’t a “black” issue.  Voter suppression doesn’t target only black voters, but could affect black voters and other minorities the most percentage-wise.

Essentially, what I would like to do is encourage you to meet the challenges that have been placed before you and vote regardless.  Only after that can we then eliminate (again)the structured biases that attempt to keep us suppressed and in a collective state of subservience.  Talk with your local politicians and legislators about what you can do to in the upcoming years to end the need for renewal of the Voting Rights Act, but have it become permanent legislation.  Care about the future of your right to vote and the others that come after you.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

The Big Girl Chronicles:  Breast Cancer Awareness Month
I know that you’ve been paying attention to your health.  I know this.  However, another  October has come upon us and we must remind ourselves to not take our ta-tas for granted.  You’ve been doing your self-checks and going to the doctor to get your annual mammograms.  Take this month to focus on awareness.  If you have a family member who has had a breast cancer scare, you’re aware that family history increases your risk.  Therefore, you must begin preventive measures early.  Encourage those who haven’t yet begun to practice routine checks and mammograms to do so.  Support those who are fighting cancer by participating in activities such as walks and other rallies to raise funds toward finding a cure.  Below are a few of the resources available toward the cause:

The Susan G. Komen Foundation

American Cancer Society

National Breast Cancer Foundation

Pink Ribbon (every order funds mammograms for women in need)

If you are struggling with breast cancer yourself and your fight has been ongoing, make time to prepare a living will or power of attorney over healthcare for those times when the chemotherapy and treatment could compromise your ability to make healthcare decisions.  If you dare, start your own drive to raise funds and awareness to support breast cancer research.  All that you do to help will be appreciated. 

Ladies, don’t take your body for granted.  Love yourself enough to invest in your health.  Celebrate a survivor and be a supporter of breast cancer research. 

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Big Girl's Guide to Relationships

The Big Girl Chronicles:  The Big Girl’s Guide to Relationships
New love is awesome!  The anticipation.  The school girl infatuation.  The little things that make getting to know that special new someone so euphoric.  As time presses on, those cute little things become increasingly annoying.  The infatuation subsides.  Then you find yourself faced with the decision to continue with your relationship, or bail for the next chapter in the adventures of fantasy island.  If you choose to continue investing in that partner, fighting for your relationship’s survival in today’s world means meandering through mountains of relationship advice to find what works best in your relationship.  And developing into an ideal partner is no easy task.  If you’re anything like me, you’ve failed miserably at relationships.  Trading in that school girl infatuation for mature, meaningful adult companionship can be difficult if you don’t take some time to personally reflect upon some key points. 
·         Be honest with yourself (and your partner) about who you are.
Honesty is the backbone of all relationships.  It is the foundation upon which the relationship is built.  If the foundation isn’t solid, it’s just a matter of time before the whole thing collapses.  With that in mind, you have to be honest with yourself first.  That includes being honest about who you are.  In real life.  Not that person you like to pretend to be with others.  The real you.  As your relationship progresses, this is the person that will surface.  Once you’re honest about who you are, then you can honestly choose the best partner for you.  After all, you’re going to want that person to stick around with that ugly person inside that you try to hide.  You know the one!  That dragonlady that roars and breathes fire in early mornings. Or that canine queen that surfaces if she’s procrastinated trying to meet a deadline.  Let’s just say that if the surprise in store isn’t a good one, be honest upfront about those things that might scare your partner away. 
·         Just because your partner doesn’t ask doesn’t mean don’t do.
Mutual consideration is the point I’m trying to convey here.  No one wants to always be the one to initiate fun things to do.  Or always be the one to cook dinner.  Or pay on dates.  If you’ve chosen a passive partner who may be too shy to ask you to step up to the plate, cut that person a little slack every now and then and be the person to make plans.  Or treat.  Whatever you think would work for you, apply that to how you cater to your partner.  Guard against monotony with a backrub or massage.  Keep your partner appreciative of your spontaneity for those times when you goof.
·         Nobody wants a nag. 
Nagging is so yesterday.  (The same as that expressionJ)That technique is thankfully outdated.  And if you’ve not stepped up your level of communication, it isn’t too late to make that change.  Intelligent and open lines of communication will get you farther than “barking” at your partner.  Give that person credit for being human.  Then try to understand why (s)he is avoiding doing something that you’ve asked.  It could be that not doing is the easiest way (s)he can think of to tell you that (s)he isn’t interested in doing whatever it is.  Take the hint and begin a dialogue towards reaching some mutual understanding rather than nagging his or her ear off and increasing the divide between the two of you.   
·         Fight fair.
No matter how great the two of you gel together, there will be arguments and disagreements.  Know this.  Prepare for this.  And fight fair.  I’m sure it’s easier said than done, but don’t say things that you won’t want to repeat once the argument is over.  Those earsplitting insults or hurtful comments could cause irreparable damage and emotional scars that will be difficult to rebound from.  If you’re too angry to have a heated disagreement, put it on pause and wait until the both of you are in a rational enough state to have what could be a healthy squabble.  I know you’ve heard how fun it can be making up!
·         Realize that you are an extension of your partner.
There is nothing that immediately comes to mind more disheartening than to hear a partner degrade the person with whom (s)he is involved.  I imagine this technique is used to vent and gain sympathy from friends and supporters.  But to talk so much trash about that person only to continue in the relationship speaks volumes about who you are.  You have chosen this person to share your time with.  That person is an extension of a decision you’ve made.  If things are bad, then decide how you will remedy the situation without making yourself look as though you could do no better than all those colorful descriptions you will share with your listeners.  Think of it more as how you would want your partner to share with others about you, and offer him or her that same courtesy.
·         Be realistic. 
Your relationship isn’t scripted.  Please don’t expect to have a soap opera romance and blame your partner for not knowing his or her lines.  Or missing your cues.  You won’t want to spend every waking moment with this person.  If you do, you have some attachment issues that should be addressed.  The both of you need room to breathe and miss each other.  There was a life that both of you had apart from each other that should continue.  What you are is a welcomed addition, rather than a replacement.  Your partner has friends and family that (s)he will continue to want to spend time doing things with and so have you.  Have realistic expectations of each other and each other’s time.
·         Appreciate.
A little appreciation every now and then can speak volumes.  Take time to communicate with your partner how much you enjoy him or her and appreciate the contribution (s)he has made to your life.  And you don’t have to wait until (s)he has done something to say so.  No one wants to feel as if they’re taken for granted.  Couple your expression of appreciation with some spontaneous romantic gestures, and you have given your partner attention (s)he can reflect on during those rough times when “appreciating” each other may be a bit more difficult.
·         Once you invite friends and family into your relationship, they may not want to leave.
Always consider that there is more than just you involved.  If you are at a point where communication with your partner has been difficult and kept the two of you at odds, be cautious about inviting in friends and family to mediate.  I’m not saying that it’s wrong to consult someone for advice.  But what I do want to point out is that once you open that door to let your family and friends weigh in on your relationship, you could have a hard time turning them around when their welcome is over.  Equally as important is what information you share with friends and family, or how.  You are painting the picture for them.  And if they aren’t mutual friends of both you and your partner, you could’ve unfairly cast your partner in a bad light that will be difficult to shy from when the two of you have begun to work things out.
The thrill of a new relationship doesn’t have to dwindle with time if you take a mature approach.  If we learn from past failures we can draw upon those experiences to better ourselves and in turn build stronger, better and healthier relationships. 

Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Big Girl's Guide to Identifying Toxic Relationships

The Big Girl Chronicles:  The Big Girl’s Guide to Identifying Toxic Relationships

When we think of love, we imagine an exchange of warmth and kindness, intimacy, playful affection and mutual care one for the other.  We think of sharing and building a life together.  Yet, there are times when what we want isn’t our reality.  Instead of the desirable qualities mentioned above, we’re caught up in some sort of morbid coexistence with pleasurable moments few and far between.  Why is it that we continue to engage in unhealthy relationships?  And how can we begin to break this cycle?

Start with you.

There is little that can be done to mend any situation until you’ve taken an honest look at yourself.  Personal self-reflection allows you to examine your own thoughts and patterns of behavior so that you can identify what it is you continue to do that keeps you hostage.  Is it fear that keeps you clinging in an unhealthy relationship?   Fear of being alone?  Is it a skewed idea of what a healthy relationship is?  Did you learn that your unhealthy relationship is the “norm” or what you deserve?  Poor self-esteem or self-image?  Ask yourself some hard questions and do a little soul searching. 

Weigh the pros and cons.

Sorting through the good and bad of an unhealthy relationship requires us to set aside our feelings.  Chances are that you’ve remained in the relationship because you love your mate.  And as cliché as it sounds, love really can be blind – sometimes to your detriment.  Sit down and actually make a list.  Itemize each and every quality it is that you enjoy and would like to experience more of with your mate.  Then, list every undesirable quality.  Be thorough.  Include each and every annoyance.  But here’s the hard part – now list all those things that you say you do that make your mate upset.  That’s right.  Take a look at those things that you accept the blame for.  Write them on your list.  Done?  Now read all that you’ve written.  Does the good outweigh the bad?  How many of the things of which you accept the blame actually your fault?  What you’ve included on your list could surprise you.  Now ask yourself if what you and your partner share is generally pleasant, or if those less desirable moments are of such magnitude that the good times are overshadowed.  The answer to these questions is the starting point for your decision whether or not to continue in the relationship or abandon it.

Identify the toxins.

Now that you have some idea of the dynamics of your relationship and your relationship cycle, begin to pinpoint those behaviors that are ruining it.  Include your self assessment first because you are the starting point for the changes you hope to make.  Are you enabling?  Too passive?  Are there barriers to communication?  Selfishness?  Manipulation?  Emotional sabotage?  Any forms of abuse?  Identify those flaws that you feel weigh on the relationship with your partner.  It could be helpful to have him or her make a “pros and cons” list also.    

Make the choice.

Choosing to continue in an unhealthy relationship is an option.  Should you choose to stay, seek the help of a professional like a relationship expert, life coach, social worker or other behavioral health specialist, either with your partner or alone.  Decide what goals the two of you together have towards bettering your relationship.  If both of you are willing to put forth the effort, rank your goals in order of importance and begin to tackle those toxins that are holding you back.  With a positive outlook and creativity, this experience could draw the two of you closer.
 However, if the two of you are past the point of no return or are too “set in your ways” to accept the challenges, resolve as amicably as possible to part company.  Keep in mind all the things that you’ve learned from this relationship so that you don’t find yourself in a repetitious cycle of forming and nursing unhealthy relationships.   

*Blogger’s note:  Abuse of any kind is unacceptable.  The seriousness of physical abuse is not to be taken lightly.  If there is physical violence in your relationship, consider your safety first.  However, if you choose to continue in a physically abusive relationship, seek the help of a professional either alone or with your partner.  Consider removing yourself from that environment until the two of you have met with a professional and are working towards ending the violence.  To get assistance, go online to or call 800.799.SAFE. 

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Big Girl's Guide to Becoming the YOU You've Always Wanted to Be

The Big Girl Chronicles:  The Big Girl’s Guide to Becoming the YOU You’ve Always Wanted to Be

If you’ve lived a little, you already know this.  But just in case you’re a newbie, let me be the first to tell you the road of life isn’t always smooth and straight.  It can include quite a few exasperating peaks and valleys.  Sometimes it seems you can’t get to the good stuff because you’re lost in a labyrinth of road blocks, detours and dead ends that can distract you from your defined purpose.  If this seems all too familiar, don’t continue to spin your wheels in the mud.  Let’s stop and take a look at what can be done to put you back on the road to becoming the person you’ve always wanted to be.
Nothing can be more frustrating or disheartening than to consistently fall short of your ambitions.  And if you keep coming up with less, perhaps that’s your cue that it’s time to sit down, reassess and prioritize.  Clearly define what it is you hope to achieve.  Or if necessary, redefine.  Keep those things that are directly related to your desired outcome.  Eliminate everything else that could only be serving as a distraction and cluttering your list.    
Get a map
With your aspirations clearly defined you’re at a starting point.  Now find out exactly what you have to do to make it happen.  If it’s a career, find out exactly what the requirements are.  What are the classes that you have to take?  Where can you go that would put you in the best possible position to achieve your desired outcome?  If your target is weight loss, find the best plan for you to help you manage your eating habits effectively.  No matter what it is you desire, begin working towards bringing that concept into fruition with a clear understanding of what it takes to get there from where you are.
Once you’re sure about what you want to accomplish and what it takes to get there, you’ll more than likely encounter an obstacle or two called temptation.  How many times have you decided you want to lose ten pounds and then get that invitation to some fabulous event where you’ll be surrounded by all your favorite things to eat?  What about deciding to save for a vacation at coincidentally the same time that pair of shoes you’ve been eyeballing finally goes on sale?  I know how difficult it can be to stay focused.  Just remember that each step you take towards something extraneous puts you that much farther away.  The flip side of that is that each step you make in the right direction puts you that much closer.  Those steps can add up!  Choose wisely! 

Check your attitude

Don’t become your own road block.  Whether you realize it or not, your efforts reflect your attitude.  You can limit your potential if your attitude about what you hope to accomplish is less than positive.  Do whatever is reasonably necessary to give yourself the mental boost that will enable you to begin each day with a healthy outlook. 

Try something different

Take a look at what you’ve been doing thus far to achieve your goals.  What’s been effective?  What hasn’t?  What needs to change?  It could be that a more creative approach would help in getting you there if what you’ve always done hasn’t been working for you.  Maximize all your potential.  Take all those fabulous qualities you’ve grown to love about yourself and apply them to becoming the “you” you’re working towards becoming.  Maximize all the possibilities.  Whatever it is that is directly related to your aspirations, take advantage of that.  The internet is a power source of information that could propel you closer to that desired outcome.  Research all avenues to keep you informed of opportunities that enhance your plans. 

Putting in the work necessary to becoming the “you” that you’ve always wanted to be can be the journey of a lifetime.  Each challenge and obstacle you face builds resiliency and helps you gain experience to overcome the next. And there’s no amount of compromise worth settling for less than what you’re capable of achieving. Manage those times you get discouraged by keeping focused on your desired outcome and the satisfaction that will come from knowing that you gave it your all and your all paid off.  After all, you’re worth the effort!    

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Big Girl's Take On Politics

The Big Girl Chronicles:  The Big Girl’s Take On Politics
Don’t get me wrong.  I’m no passionate political fanatic.  Yet, it boggles my mind each and every time I watch most candidates (not all) upon the arrival of campaign season give such harsh critiques of their opponent’s administration that it can seem more like a mudslinging contest than an actual petition for office.  I understand that it’s the nature of politics.  You have to have the debate.  You have to make an assessment of what’s been accomplished and where there were failures.  But sometimes it can seem unfair, especially when you have a leader who has made an effort to make significant changes but those proposed changes were thwarted by the congressional body.  Not only that, but my very limited view of politics and how government operates moves me to view the issues that are handed down from administration to administration as problems that have been ongoing for decades or more.  Each president takes his turn trying to rearrange or minimize those issues.  To achieve any amount of success, each president has to have cooperation from the congressional body.  The congressional body is brilliantly constructed in a way that all political parties are participants.  There is no complete autonomy.  Therefore, if there is any degree of failure, that failure was a collective effort.  So, preaching to me about why this leader failed when you used your office to guarantee his failure doesn’t make you a more suitable candidate.  I trusted you to operate in the best interest of all American citizens and not set yourself up at another’s expense. 

So I’ve learned to pay attention to what kind of leader I can expect a candidate to become by the campaign strategy.  If a candidate is more about pointing out what someone else didn’t do rather than what experience and plans for change can be expected from his or her bid for office, then you are trying to get me to vote against someone rather than convincing me why you would be the best person for the job. If this kind of candidate takes office, then you have someone there that you have no knowledge of – no qualifications, no record of accomplishments or successes, no proven leadership skills – preparing to lead the country.  But all you know is that the person you voted against tried to provide a reasonable solution to healthcare, or for that matter actually at least attempted to respond to citizens’ concerns about their taxes and what kind of future can be expected upon retirement.

Perhaps I have the wrong idea about how government is really supposed to work.  Instead of actually believing that I’m supposed to elect seasoned, mature leadership to represent me in office, maybe I’m only participating in some adolescent minded person fulfilling his or her childhood response to the teacher’s question of who he or she wants to be when they grown up.   

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Big Girl's Guide to Survival In A Racist Community

The “Big Girl’s” Guide to Survival in a Racist Community                       

It’s difficult to imagine that in the 21st century, with the appointment of Barack Hussein Obama as our 44th national president, there remains profound racism among us.  But why not?   Were we so caught up in this tremendously historic landmark that we mistook it for a dissipation of hatred?  The truth of the matter is that with this progression towards leveling the playing field for all human beings, there remained a quiet undertow of resentment, hatred and fear among those who wish to not only preserve the racial divide, but widen it.  The inauguration of a president of African descent posed a threat that came with a backlash of both overt and covert racism in those communities, leaving those targeted to deal with the consequences.
If you have found yourself in a community that harbors racist methods, practices and ideologies, the following are a few suggestions to help you remain undaunted in the face of opposition.
·         Don’t take ownership of other people’s problems. 

Racism is clearly a social cancer that impedes progress.  Racist attitudes and behavior are most often cultivated and bred from generation to generation.  It can be easy to meet the racist on his or her terms and attempt to return hatred for hatred.  Avoid this.  The racist often feeds off of your defensiveness.  Don’t engage.  Instead, simply acknowledge the attitude of the racist and his or her right to feel that way, and move on without giving more attention.  You have nothing to prove.

·         Don’t be intimidated by ill behavior.
Attempts to intimidate you can result in you withdrawing from your responsibilities as a productive member of society.  Don’t allow yourself to become socially withdrawn.  Continue to participate in social activities and events that interest you.   Maintain who you are.  Vote. 

·         Know your rights.

Keep abreast of local laws and your rights as a citizen.  If you feel your rights have been compromised or violated, be sure to keep documentation of everything and navigate the channels of government appropriately if the need arises. 

·         Be true to yourself.

Many times in difficult situations we find it easier to accept the ideals of the dominant society.  Guard against this.  Not every act is one of racism.  Not every person in the community is racist. 
Continue to present yourself in a manner that is easily approachable without compromising who you are as an individual. 
The challenge to make America its best is ongoing.  Some can seem more a snag in the very fabric that represents our great country rather than a thread holding its place alongside others to allow the beauty of it to show forth. Don’t allow your rights as a citizen to become overshadowed because of a minority of those who seek to preserve oppression and hatred.  Uphold America to its creed and responsibility to you handed down from your forefathers and accessible from sea to shining sea.