Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Breast Cancer Awareness Month 2013


The Big Girl Chronicles:  Breast Cancer Awareness Month 2013

Nestled in the corner seat of a cozy dining room, I listened intently as a breast cancer survivor in her sixties recants her battle with the breast cancer from almost 20 years ago.  She described the doctor finding benign tumors of various sizes that had gone undetected along with a growth measuring just under a centimeter that had to be removed.  I get a glimpse of the pain and anxiety she had to endure during the weeks of recovery from her facial expressions as she describes the treatments and follow-up visits.   “I always knew that something was wrong.  I’d had problems with my breasts for years,” she shares.  “So, getting checked was a must.” Fortunately, her early detection caught the cancerous growth before it could spread and she’s not had another bought with the disease.  Her testimony speaks volumes as to why women simply must make self-checks and annual mammograms a priority. 

“I’ve never had problems with my breast,” you say.  Don’t take that for granted.  Early detection is the single most important factor to surviving the disease.  In this case, early detection was detrimental to maintaining health with the least complications.  “I have no family history,” you say.  Although family history of breast cancer increases your risk, not having a family history doesn’t exclude you as a possible candidate for breast cancer.  Listen to the testimonials those who’ve faced the disease have to share and heed their advice. 

If you’ve been fortunate enough not to have had a breast cancer scare then take this month to not only continue in preventive measures such as self checks and routine mammograms, but focus on being a supporter of breast cancer research and other breast cancer survivors.  Below are a few resources for more information:

The Susan G. Komen Foundation
Komen.org

American Cancer Society
Cancer.org

National Breast Cancer Foundation
Nationalbreastcancer.org

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

Make time to get checked.  If you know someone who hasn’t been checked, suggest that they accompany you.  Don’t take your body for granted.  Invest in your health.


   

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Parenting and Public Schools Performance Improvement Plan


The Big Girl Chronicles:  Parenting and Public Schools Performance Improvement Plan (pt 4)

You’ve gotten your child acclimated to a new school district and secured a place in the school’s parent organization.  With a plan for academic success as to how you and your school can work together to provide the best educational opportunities available, you would think that things would go smoothly.  But… and there’s always that word tagging along no matter what you do… now comes another task.  As the academic year progresses, extracurricular activities become another role that you and your child must manage together. 

The role of extracurricular activities in your child’s academic career should not be underestimated.   As a whole, academics and extracurricular activities go hand in hand in shaping your child’s views about life, how to manage difficult situations, teamwork and healthy competition.  Also, your child will reflect upon the experiences (s)he has had throughout his or her education when making decisions in adulthood.  There’s no problem as long as your child makes the team.  But, what happens when (s)he doesn’t?  And as a parent, how do you help to make sure that your child’s desire to do more and participate in school clubs and organizations continues to build character and shape ideal citizens rather than destroy self esteem?    

If your child’s school district is willing to do all that is reasonably possible to assist in meeting the potential of each child, they will likely have pieced together some alternatives that can expand the range of programs, clubs, organizations, competitive sports and other extracurricular activities available for students to participate.  I’ve noticed that some schools have “A” and “B” teams for sports so that more children get the opportunity to play.  If that’s something that your child’s school hasn’t done consider suggesting it as an option.  The “A” and “B” concept can also be expanded to include cheerleading, dance and others. 

Should your school district not offer  an option similar to the “A” and “B” concept, there are some community organizations and churches sponsor youth sports organizations where your child is guaranteed to play for a small fee.  These organizations also do a range of competitive sports in addition to cheerleading, dance and other activities comparable to those in schools.  If there is no resource like this available in your area you can get with other parents who have children that didn’t make the cut and contact www.upward.org to get information about how to organize one in your area. 

Because recruitment and tryouts typically happen around the same time each year, why not get with other parents with children who hope to compete and organize an informal “summer camp” with someone who can help them practice and learn the basics?  The added confidence and experience could be just the edge needed to produce a better outcome for the next time. 

Consider alternatives like Boy/Girl Scouts to satisfy your child’s need to be included in activities outside of school.  It’s considerably less expensive than Youth Sports Organizations that are managed by community organizations and churches.  And when lead properly they provide valuable character and skill-building opportunities that will help shape ideal citizens. 

Honestly, there is only so much that school can do.  As much as your child’s school would like to take every child under their wing, when it comes to extracurricular activities and competitive sports the school wants to be represented well by the best there is.  Unfortunately, that might leave your child a spectator rather than a participant.  However, like most parents you’re likely not willing to accept that.  I’ve spoken with parents who have expressed disappointment at how schools manage recruitment and tryouts of extracurricular activities to the point that the parent withdraws their participation from all school organizations.  Although I empathize with their frustration, I also realize that trying to effect change from the outside looking in is limiting.  If there is more that can be done to encourage schools to be more inclusive of those students who continuously get sidelined, you’re going to have to opt for fight rather than flight.

    

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Parenting and Public Schools Performance Improvement Plan


The Big Girl Chronicles:  Parenting and Public Schools Performance Improvement Plan (pt 3)


Among the most effective of ways to enhance your child’s academic experience is in joining your child’s school PTO.  Trying to find an active part can seem a little intimidating at first, but after joining you can review the projects and discuss with the members where you think your help would be most effective. If your child’s school PTO is wanting to beef up their projects, some activities that could be helpful include the following:

1)    During Nutrition Week when children learn about healthy living and eating habits, suggest that the school nutritionist consider allowing a day or week where the kids can plan the school menu.  This is a great way for kids to integrate what they’ve learned into everyday life.

2)    As a fundraiser for things like school beautification and other interests not entirely funded by the education budget, suggest that parents and kids lend their talents to donate and host a sale or auction.  Whether it’s a coupon for a free or discounted activity such as hairstyling or even babysitting, every little bit can be helpful.  You can make a “family night” of it by providing brown bag goodies and inviting families out for inexpensive games and activities.

3)    If your school is stumped as to how they can improve participation and increase funds, it could be a good idea to connect with a PTO that has a solid membership and history of successful fundraising and project completion for suggestions.  It might even be helpful to shadow their meetings and activities for a short time to bring fresh ideas to your school district.  

4)    Take advantage of all that social media has to offer and establish a twitter, facebook or other page to stay connected and network with not only your school district participants but others as well.  That’s the easiest way to stay with trends and share ideas. 

5)    Don’t shy from programs that offer educational incentives like BoxTops for Education and others.  The rewards that they provide simply for being more conscious of what products you purchase can only add to resources your child’s school PTO can use to make improvements. You could find that most of your members use these brands already. 

Participating in your child’s education is among the most memorable of experiences you will have.  Keeping things fun and minimizing stress makes it less of a chore and more like something to look forward to.  Although the suggestions above aren’t original, they could be tweaked or newly integrated into your child’s current school district to regain interest and improve membership in school parent organizations.  Keep it fun.  But most of all, keep the focus on creating an environment for your child that is conducive to learning and building character.  

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Parenting and Public Schools Performance Improvement Plan


The Big Girl Chronicles:  Parenting and Public Schools Performance Improvement Plan (pt 2)

Ok. So, you did it.  You managed to relocate your family to a new city.  Now comes the next of many firsts in a new area that can be equally as much a headache as it is one of the many rewards of parenting.  The next feat to which I’m referring is getting your child off successfully for the first day of school and acclimated to a new school district.  Relocating to a different area you quickly learn that things happen differently, good or bad.  But don’t get discouraged!  Depending upon where you relocated from, your experiences could prove useful to get you on the road to becoming an active participant in your new community.  This is also an opportunity to network and build relationships that could prove valuable as you settle into your new environment.  Some suggestions that can be made include the following:


Back 2 School Night

After completing the registration process, I monitored the news, school marquees and local media eagerly anticipating the announcement of some sort of back-to-school event.  There was none.  So, my children and I arrived the first day of school totally clueless about what to expect.  I stopped one of the school staff and inquired about what we should do.  Her first comment was, “Oh, you’re new,” before she tried to give instructions about where we should go.  That’s when I realized that new families must not relocate to this area often.  Then I immediately reflected upon how smoothly things went on the first day of school at the departed school district.  Something as simple as a Back 2 School Night is an opportunity that isn’t costly and has many advantages for both newcomers and existing parents and students.  Here’s why.

1)     I moved with 3 children to navigate through this new school district.  Two of them were at one school while the other had to attend a different school.  The first immediate benefit of a Back 2 School Night held for a couple hours on a day prior to the first day of school is that parents – especially those with more than one child in the school system – would have the opportunity to tour the new school and become familiar with where their child(ren) will be.  This would be tremendously helpful to ease anxiety for the new students who could already have some nervousness about attending a new school.  In my case, I had to trust that my oldest daughter who isn’t that far in age from my youngest and attends the same school could find her way so that I could hold my youngest child’s hand and help her find her teacher and classroom. 

2)    The Back 2 School Night would ease parent anxiety, especially working parents who’ll have more confidence dropping their child(ren) off on that first day without having to take time off (if you’re a working parent) during the first morning of classes to do this.

3)    Back 2 School Night is an excellent opportunity to get those school supplies delivered as well as those annoying first of the school year forms signed that usually come home during the first week or so.  You can pick up your schedule(s), student handbook(s), course syllabus and other important info then and take the opportunity to review these things with your child prior to their first day.

4)    While children can take this opportunity to meet new faces and possibly reconnect with old classmates, parents can begin to familiarize themselves with the teachers and staff. 

5)    This is the best opportunity to get first dibs on new parents as PTO and other school support program participants.  Parents that are eager to have their child(ren) make a good first impression are more likely to volunteer their time and talent for fundraisers and school functions.

Anything that can be done to minimize anxiety and make getting off to school is definitely worth the effort.  And there is no better way to welcome newcomers into your school district than to have an organized plan for the first day of school.  If this is something that isn’t done at your child’s school, perhaps giving Back 2 School Night a try could yield some positive results that will make it a staple in the annual reconvening of your child’s school district.     

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Parenting and Public Schools Performance Improvement Plan


The Big Girl Chronicles:  Parenting and Public Schools Performance Improvement Plan

Your child’s formative years have two components that are crucial to the person (s)he will become, what kind of citizen (s)he will be and the kind of life (s)he will create.  Those two components are education and home life.  A productive relationship between the two increases likelihood for success and further increases the child’s potential to learn.  Many times public schools get a poor score as we learn of outdated or inadequate text, ineffective classroom instruction, understaffing, unbalanced teacher-student ratio, lack of parental involvement/support and other hindrances. If you are a parent facing a school system that is struggling to meet the needs of your child, there are some things you can do to help.

Getting involved in your child’s education begins in the home.  Simple things like asking about the curriculum for the day and following up on homework assignments communicates to your child that you are paying attention and are interested in his or her education.  Seeking opportunities in the home to reinforce the curriculum also helps your child make the connection between what (s)he learned in the classroom and how it can be applied in the real world. The shared interests could also encourage your child to pay more attention in school anticipating the time the two of you will spend in the home discussing and reviewing the material.  Take things a step further and plan educational excursions on those long Saturdays or weekends to emphasize the lesson for the week.  Consider a trip to the library and review magazines and other reading material that compliment what’s been taught.  Do a web search to find out how the topic can be applied in other parts of the world.  Small details like these could also help you uncover your child’s interests and begin focus on narrowing down a chosen career.

Parental involvement doesn’t stop there. You also have a responsibility to represent your child in the school system.  If you haven’t been taking advantage of things like parent-teacher conferences and the PTA/PTO, those are two ideal places to start.  A school without a PTA/PTO could benefit from you and other concerned parents taking time to organize one.  And although requiring dues is ideal to assist with projects that could help with improvements, keep in mind that many students of some poorly performing public schools have single parents who are either unemployed or underemployed and cannot tack on additional expenses.  Your focus is on recruiting parents to open lines of communication between you and the school system, and becoming actively involved in improving education. Take time to jot down ideas of how you think the school could make improvements.  If your school has ranked low among the state, suggest things like shadowing what would be considered an ideal school to model after.  Or forming a student government organization even in elementary schools to help those students learn that they are the key components to their school’s success. Ask the teacher to share weekly/monthly lesson plans and curriculum to make certain you have time to prepare your plan for reinforcing material at home.  Invite speakers to come and discuss the importance of education.  Introduce new ideas such as interactive education or a merit system.  For instance, when children are learning about nutrition and health, allow them to help plan healthy cafeteria lunches for a week or month or predetermined amount of time that reflect what they’ve learned and put knowledge into action.  Don’t forget to send notes alerting other parents so they can plan to follow through in the home.  Each effort that is made to support parental involvement and children’s accomplishments should reflect in the child’s desire to learn, thus motivating them to do better on standardized tests and essentially bringing the school system’s status up to par as a whole.   

Once you have become oriented to how the school system works, you can take your efforts to help make improvements further.  Advocate for updates needed to enhance children’s learning by attending open school board meetings and making helpful suggestions, researching educational grants online that pertain to what you hope to achieve in your child’s school and collaborating with other supportive organizations to discuss fundraising and development.  Things that could make a difference include projects other schools have gained national attention initiating, such as peer mentoring, switching from textbooks to eReaders and introducing creative modes of teaching in addition to standard classroom instruction.  Expand support to include social and community organizations that include community service and improvement efforts as part of their agenda.  Ask for assistance in tutoring and mentoring children that have parents who aren’t available to contribute to their child’s learning and education. 

Assisting with your child’s education is just one of the many duties of full-time parenting.  The efforts you make are not in vain.  What you contribute will make a lasting impression on your child and follow him or her into adulthood.  For more ideas on how you can become more actively involved, visit parents4publicschools.org .  To get current information about the education system visit ed.gov.   



  







Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Big Girl's War On Obesity


The Big Girl Chronicles:  The Big Girl’s War On Obesity

The Big Girl was among the millions who included weight loss on the list of New Year Resolutions.  My vision was to become a new and improved, leaner version of myself, and I was a blazing inferno at the onset of the year, having dropped just over 10 lbs at my leanest.  At my mid-year goal check, I find that I now hold a place among the millions who have also fizzled out and reestablished a relationship with my former fat body and the extra pound she made friends with while I was away.  Oh, well.  I’ve pushed that cute little outfit I rewarded myself with to the back of the closet.  Not wanting my failure to be considered a total loss, I’ve decided to describe it instead as a pause – which is really the best way to explain it as weight is an ongoing struggle for anyone who aspires to manage it responsibly.  And in pausing, I have to retrace the series of events that led my plump behind in this circle.  This is what I’ve discovered about myself and my perceptions. 

Reality.  Check.

Once I made up my mind that I wanted to shed some weight, I began exercising and researching meal plans that I could tolerate to meet my goals.  Knowing that weighing myself would cause disappointment, I relied more on how my clothing fit than to be bothered with actual pounds as read by a scale.  As I noticed more room I became so excited thinking I’d at least dropped one pant or dress size with all the leeway I seemed to have in my current size.  Imagine how shocked I was to discover that I hadn’t lost quite enough to drop a size at all!  I was thinking that this couldn’t possibly be accurate.  So I had to take another look at my clothes and what I learned blew my mind.  I’d been buying elastic waist pants, skirts and clothing that didn’t give an actual number as a size.  “So what?” you’re probably thinking.  It turns out that I was actually delusional about what my exact size really is!  What I’d been doing  - for exactly how long I’m not sure – is stuffing myself into “a size.”  As I slimmed down, I imagine  I finally actually fit correctly into “a size” I refused to accept was actually too small to start with.  I’m laughing hilariously at myself while I’m typing this, but I’m also so much more empathetic of others who struggle with weight.  This has been quite an eye-opening experience.

I’ve been taking myself for granted.

There was a time when I had uber high adrenaline and could eat all those unhealthy and calorie packed goodies like pizza and cheeseburgers (my temptation – don’t forget the fries), not to mention all those super calorie-rich desserts, without much consideration for weight gain and health concerns.  That was before children and real life.  Now I have to constantly wrestle with those temptations.  Yet, this was one area where I was taking for granted that I’d continue my routines at the level of intensity and dedication I had when the pounds were dropping.  I would cheat on my meal plans more often than I care to think about because I had lost “x” amount of pounds and was going to hit the gym each day.  Now in hindsight I realize that had I have been more disciplined and stuck with my meal plan honestly, eating properly would be more of a habit now.   Had I have planned (there’s that word again) for those times I’d be unable to get to the gym as faithfully because of other responsibilities,  perhaps there would be a lot less gain also.  I’d decided it wasn’t necessary to become a calorie-counting obsessed maniac to lose weight and enjoyed a “eat at your own risk” ethic in dieting to my detriment. 

In January I posted The Big Girl’s Guide to Fitness Motivation and mentioned a strategy for adhering to an exercise regimen and healthy diet. One of the things that keeps The Big Girl from growing into what I consider an ideal woman is that I don’t discipline myself to do the things I know are necessary to maintain the level of responsibility that accompanies womanhood.  With regard to my trek to lose weight, I’m once again at a standstill with 20/20 hindsight.  It’s one thing to recycle information of which we’re all aware.  It’s a completely different thing to actually put that information into use and do so consistently and successfully.  

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Big Girl's Guide to Accountability


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

If you’ve ever spoken with someone about a relationship gone wrong, chances are you’ve been lulled or courted rather than given the truth about the situation.  I came into an awareness of this after having listened to myself try to explain away a failed relationship once.  My entire conversation was about how I’d been the most reasonable person and there was absolutely no way that any of what went wrong could’ve possibly been my fault.  The more I thought about what I’d done, the more I began to listen to others talk about failed relationships in their lives.  Whether that relationship was with an employer, business associate, friend or relative, it seems my goal in explaining why the relationship ended is more to get the listeners’ favor rather than give an actual account of events.  That could seem ideal, but I’ve found it to be something impossible to grow from.  The more I learn about my tendency to avoid accountability, the more challenged I am to overcome it.  This is how I got started.

Listen to yourself.

The first thing I had to do was check my language.  Anytime I discussed a failed relationship, I usually would explain all the things that I did that could be considered “right.”  I also noticed that when sharing about the other’s role in the relationship, I tended to only mention things the other did that could be considered “wrong.”  It works like a charm each and every time.  The listener becomes empathetic and convinced that the other involved is completely at fault.  My halo and angelic glow verify that the other person or entity involved is nothing but a predatory mess that happened to my innocent, na├»ve self. 

Take ownership of your flaws.

The truth is that living under the illusion of perfection is easier to do than having to actually acknowledge character flaws and correct them.   Learning self-discipline and accountability is hard work.  Staring at the truth reflecting back at you in the mirror is difficult.  However, the benefit of growing through this personal challenge and building character is priceless.  My blog post from August 2012, “The Big Girl’s Guide to Falling in Love…With YOU!” summarized a bit of the personal struggle I’ve had with self-acceptance.  It could be that I lacked accountability because I’ve not ever dealt with myself realistically.  To cope with my imperfections I went to the opposite extreme and denied any imperfections at all rather than acknowledge them and challenge them head-on.    Taking ownership of my faults and imperfections led to a clearer perception of the situation, and actually gave more confidence in myself.  Once I was able to say, “This is the kind of person I am and this is where I fell short in the relationship,” I could more accurately pinpoint how both myself and the other party involved could’ve handled things better. 

Grow.

Confronting yourself realistically is the most difficult part of the process.  Once I did so things got tremendously easier.   Doing a self-assessment helped redirect my focus.  It was no longer important who was at fault or whether or not I’d “won” someone else’s sympathy or favor.    The facts of the situation are what they are.  And it was incredibly liberating to not have to rehearse my version of the story so that I’m not the one who appears to be the cause of the relationship’s demise. 

Accepting accountability isn’t something I notice very much of in today’s world.  I can’t begin to imagine why it seems society at large has instead mastered avoidance and denial rather than practicing accountability for their actions.  I laugh as I think about that because if there is any remote chance of some kind of positive reinforcement we are quick to speak up and say, “Yes, I did this.”  However, if negative connotations are involved with our actions we’re somehow not to blame by any means.   I’m not sure where this trend began in society, but I’d bet that most of the social ills that plague society now can be traced back to some person or group or entity not accepting responsibility for their actions or role in creating the problem.    And as long as it continues to work, we’ll continue to practice avoidance and denial rather than accountability.  

Friday, July 12, 2013

The Big Girl's Guide to Flirting


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

Being a fairly recent divorcee has for quite some time left me in somewhat of a guarded zone.  I’m still trying to recoup from having spent over a decade of my life with someone to being (for the most part) alone.  It wasn’t until shopping in the mall recently that I realized the time for mourning my loss has come to an end.  I saw the most gorgeous guy that I’d laid eyes on (who wasn’t a celebrity) and didn’t realize I was staring until my children told me.  He was with someone.  Were they “together” together?  Were they just siblings or friends?  That’s when I realized how far removed from the dating game and flirting I’d become.  Perhaps you’re something like me, not necessarily having gone through divorce but have found yourself a little rusty in meeting and mingling with the opposite sex.  I’ve thought up a strategy so that I don’t embarrass myself, but tactfully communicate that I’m single and approachable.  Let me share some points with you.

If he’s with someone…

This guy was too gorgeous to just let the opportunity pass.  And I’m not vain, but the girl he was with--- let’s just say he could’ve been with me.  Now, having learned that you never know who you’re going to need or who knows who, I didn’t want to offend the young lady he was with.  So instead of approaching the gentleman, I got the young lady’s attention and gave her a nice warm smile.  I asked her, “Are the two of you together?” I know that seems really strange.  She kind of looked at me like I was trying to flirt with her, but that’s ok.  She smiled shyly and let out a slow “yes.”  I looked at him and replied, “Then you’re a very lucky girl.  He’s gorgeous.”  He was totally taken.  He smiled and lit up the room.  Both of them thanked me (he more than once) and I walked away.  That was my first official “flirt” since the new millennium (literally), and if I had to score myself I’d give myself a “C” because I didn’t want to appear to flirt with her, but I still felt as though it went well.  He got my compliment and she didn’t appear offended.  Should there be a next time, I’ve decided that it was good to approach the female.  Make her feel comfortable so she doesn’t want to cause a scene if she happens to be that type of girl.  Then indirectly compliment her man. 

… Or if he appears to be alone…

So to test my approach again, I saw another gentleman that was quite handsome as well.  He was seated alone.  There was a purse in the seat next to him.  As I slid past him in the narrow rows of those movie theater seats, I asked if he were with someone, pointing out the purse in the seat next to his.  He was like, “oh, yeah” like I wanted to be seated there, which wouldn’t have been such a bad idea.  I again offered the same line:  “She’s a lucky girl.”  This guy’s smile was so incredible.  I swear I’d almost always flirt if I could get a handsome man to smile like that.  Anyway, after  I took my seat I took notice of a woman returning to join him.  Again, I’m not vain.  I promise you.  But this was clearly one of those women who’s been too busy to pay herself the attention she should.  She had on a wedding set.  Probably like I was, has a couple of kids and just trying to steal away some time to spend with the hubby.  Oblivious to someone eyeing her man while she’s away. It’s kind of weird since I’m on the flip side that I would think this way.  But he was quite a handsome gentleman.  He got up and left the theater during the previews, and I was ever so tempted to go out and try to follow through just to see how far it could’ve gone.  Only I don’t really want to add homewrecker to my repertoire, so I didn’t.  But back to the flirting, the smiles that I got from these guys let me know that I’m kind of on the right track.  Either the women these guys were with don’t make them feel special enough, or don’t realize what they have.  So ladies, if you’re reading this, DO tell your man how attractive he is.  I don’t care what else is going on, if you’re still with him you need to give him the attention that I would be more than happy to shower upon him.  This is what I think works best if you plan on being a flirt.

Be subtle.

One thing you want to consider when flirting is the kind of man you want to attract.  If you employ cheap, tactless methods such as baring cleavage or “accidentally on purpose” physical contact and get a positive response, don’t then turn and complain or become insanely jealous when another person  does the  same and successfully garners his or her attention should the two of you become a couple.  Not only are you cluing him or her in to who you are and what you’re capable of, but you’re also getting a glimpse of what behavior can be expected.

Know when to walk away.

If your attempt at flirting is failing miserably, know when it’s time to walk away.  Unless you are a glutton for rejection, you’ll want to pick up on a definite “no” early to minimize embarrassment.  If there is that remote possibility that (s)he was just feeling too awkward to reciprocate your efforts, take a chance that (s)he will pick up where the two of you left off after (s)he reaches a level of comfort that will allow him or her to do so.  

Don’t take it personal.

Should your prodding for a possible connection not produce positive results, don’t get offended.  Remember that you initiated the act.  And in a world where you can never be sure what might happen, you don’t want to make a negative impression that could come back to bite you in the butt should the two of you happen to become coworkers or whatever situation life might find you in together.  Keep it pleasant and amicable.

If you’re a little rusty in the area of flirting, getting noticed can be quite challenging.  But don’t lose heart!  After all, you never know when a flirtatious wink or smile could prove rewarding.  And if you get rejected, learn from the experience and make improvements.  Good luck!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

The Big Girl Chronicles TURNS ONE!!!


The Big Girl Chronicles BIRTHDAY!!! 

While our country is pausing to commemorate its independence, The Big Girl is also celebrating one year in the Blogosphere!  I would like to take this opportunity to extend a Thank You to all who have taken a moment to entertain posts from my blog.  Emotional Maturity… Self-Love and Acceptance… Healthy Perspectives… Relationships… Flirting… FUN… These are a few of the things I’ve explored and included on my blog week after week.  To commemorate this milestone, I’ve decided to take a moment to reflect upon my blog activity.

The Big Girl’s Year In Review

My very first post “Overcoming Divorce” was in many ways a beginning from an ending, if that makes any sense at all.  Having found myself facing a divorce, I realized just how unprepared for life on my own I was.  I’d not matured very much.  Nor had I planned.  What I had managed to do was meander from one role to another and from one state of dependence to another, getting by.  

Additionally, I’ve learned a tremendous amount about the accompanying change in lifestyle.  Living at this level of poverty has been a “wowing” experience. Resources that make managing limited income month to month a little easier have been described in what I refer to as the LISP (Low Income/Single Parent) Report.   Being made aware of how decisions made in government directly affect these resources makes it more important than ever to pay attention to politics and the news.  In between reports about the job market and economy there were other stories shared that were so compelling I had to include my 2 cents, and did so in You Said A Mouthful…

Among the most valuable of realizations I’ve had is that I am a resource within myself.  To minimize dependence, you have to “get your hustle on.”  Those talents that you possess can be used to help tie ends together when income is uncertain. Embellishments not only provided a snapshot of beautiful things I wish I could afford to purchase and trendy little inexpensive “happys”, but also hobbies and interests that haven’t been fully explored.  “Creative Income” can make a world of difference.  Although I haven’t sold handmade jewelry recently, that’s definitely a skill worth keeping.

Taking time to reconnect with old associates and/or establishing a new network of friends isn't always easy.  After having been uprooted from a life I expected to have settled in, there have also been changes in who I’m friends with.  The task can be made easier with activities like the Booklovers.Club (and I have such a renewed appreciation for my public library!)or a dinner club.  Whatever activity that is both inexpensive and socially rewarding is definitely a “do.”  

Other pages I’ve added like Spotlight help celebrate the accomplishments of others.  It’s so important to not be so self-absorbed in unpleasant circumstances that I can’t be happy for anyone else.  Snippets and Poetree are fun ways to play around with my creativity. 

Ultimately, I’m nowhere near where I thought I’d be from this blog’s point of origin to this present time.  Not physically.  But I can’t truthfully deny that there has been tremendous personal growth.  What the future holds is yet to be told.  But unlike before when I was waiting on my future to happen to me, this time I expect to happen to it.  Hope you’ll be following!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Big Girl's Take On Respect


We all love to sing the words to that song as sang by the timeless music icon and legend known as Aretha Franklin, “R-E-S-P-E-C-T…”  That song has been a personal anthem for women who have declared that they will be everything that you need, but you have to honor your responsibilities in the terms of your relationship, whatever those might be.  And while everyone likes to sing that song, before you go demanding respect you should stop and discern if those words are actually applicable to you.  While I have always favored salvaging those relationships that can be mended and leaving the garbage behind, sometimes mistakes we make in who we’ve associated with only have a place in the past.  But they like to follow us. 

Ideally, we all are deserving of respect for some particular reason or another.  If you’re a spouse, a parent or whatever role you’ve filled and have stayed true in honoring your role you should be regarded with respect.  Yet, there are some who have grandiose, narcissistic delusions about who they are.  Speaking from my personal experience, I have encountered throughout the course of my life many people who want “respect” just because of who they think they are.  One person in particular would always seem to imply whenever in my presence that she wants some respect.  Yet, the only thing she seemed to do was behave in a way that seems common among people who lack respect for others.  She went so far as to comment, “Let me show you who I am.”  How could she expect to ever receive more respect than she was willing to give?

It took a minute before I was mature enough to step back and take a look at the situation objectively.  What I realized has become an eye-opening revelation.  At first I couldn’t understand why she was implying that I don’t respect her.  I spoke to her in the same respectful manner that had garnered my mother many compliments on my manners.  I was polite.  So what the crap was that woman talking about?  Then I realized that her definition of “respect” is skewed.  She wasn’t implying that she wants “respect.”  What she wanted was submission and control.

If you have questions about whether or not you are or have been in a similar predicament, there are a few things you can do to help decide if your situation can be helped.



Trust your judgment.

Most times you probably have had an unsettling “feeling” about someone, but no real reason why.  Learn to trust yourself.  From the start there was an uneasiness I had about this person.  As mentioned earlier, she made the statement, “I’ll show you who I am.”  After having taken time to reflect on her actions, one day it was as if the skies opened up and I was able to discern just who that is.  I remember thinking to myself, “I knew I was right about you.”   

Talk with someone about it.

The one thing that helped me realize exactly who I was dealing with was a conversation with someone who could provide an objective opinion of the situation.  That person simply pointed out the age difference between the two of us and asked why someone her age is so focused on dominating someone so much younger than her.  That was incredibly helpful.  Find someone whose judgment you trust and confide in him or her.  That person could offer a perspective you haven’t considered to empower you to make the changes needed.

Realize it isn’t really you.

The worst thing you can do interacting with a person like this is to take things personally.  Realize that the behavior isn’t really about you at all.  You just happen to be the person that the other believes to be an easy target.  People with control issues and difficulties respecting boundaries often have a need to feel needed.  Some could also have a history of relationship issues and experiences that were personally traumatic and have never been resolved.  Rather than getting counseling, there is a tendency to feel as though they are “owed” something, and it somehow becomes your responsibility to fulfill the void.

Separate.

Distancing yourself from this situation won’t be easy because the other person won’t want to let go.  Who else would be the object of that attention?  However, if at all possible begin to remove yourself from the situation.  How?  Start by minimizing conversations to what’s absolutely necessary.  Take each opportunity you can to establish healthy boundaries.   If you are privy to a little creativity you can convince him or her that it’s actually in his or her best interest if the two of you associate less.  That way you can lessen your struggle and speed up the process simultaneously.

Words that are synonymous with respect include reverence, admiration, value and esteem.  Nothing of these words implies subservience.  Neither is respect something that can be demanded.  If you’ve been convinced that the only way to satisfy someone’s need to feel respected is to take a backseat in your own life, take a second look.  If the two of you can reach an understanding, then good.  Otherwise, R-E-S-P-E-C-T yourself and move on to healthier relationships.  

Friday, June 21, 2013

4th of July the LISP (Low Income/Single Parent) Way


The Big Girl Chronicles:  A Fourth of July Holiday the LISP (Low Income/Single Parent) Way

As I was tossing around ideas to commemorate the 4th of July with my children this year, I was again left slightly downhearted that my ambitions far exceed my budget.  Commemorating this holiday the “Big Girl” way, I would want to visit Mt. Rushmore or take the kids to visit one of the first towns.  However being grounded by lack of funds, I began to prepare the same old same as we usually do during holidays.  While making plans to entertain, I had to stop and ask myself if I want to do just another holiday of eating all the traditional foods or revisit the reason why we set aside the date to celebrate.  Sure they understand that we celebrate our emancipation. But what more can we learn about this occasion?  The next best thing to venturing to these historical landmark destinations (and the most budget-friendly option of course) is to bring history to our home.  These are some of the ideas I came up with to include more of the history behind the holiday – the Low Income/Single Parent (LISP) Way.

Keep it educational.

One fun way to make certain that your child continues learning while celebrating is to visit your local public library ahead of time and check out some books about Independence Day.  Depending upon age range, decide if you will do a short storytime on the actual holiday or prepare some discussion for that day.  

Put it on the menu.

Another way to incorporate more of the original holiday in your celebrating is to include some dishes that could have been popular around that time in your menu.  Cuisine believed to have been popular then include more seafood rather than our traditional red meat feasts.  This would be a great way to shake up the family bar-b-que!

Challenge the “fun.”

My children like most kids are little social, hyper-energetic super-excited beings that love to be surrounded by their peers.  A quick fix would be to rent a movie.  And although that’s included in our festivities, I thought it would be more interesting to challenge their creativity and have them all organize a reenactment relevant to the holiday. Flip on the video camera and you have not only preserved another irreplaceable family moment but have something to add to family reunion entertainment that gives you bragging rights.

For more information about fun facts and activities to help add something extra to your traditional festivities, you can visit the following websites:

Family Education
http://fun.familyeducation.com/fourth-of-july/holidays/32874.html

Education.com
http://www.education.com/activity/fourth-of-july/

Make this 4th of July celebration your most memorable yet by adding more cultural significance to your traditional BBQ and fireworks! These suggestions will continue the learning throughout the summer months without challenging your budget. Have Fun!
 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Big Girl's Guide to Effective Communication


The Big Girl Chronicles:  The Big Girl’s Guide to Effective Communication

I once witnessed two people at odds with each other having a disagreement.  I’m not sure what prompted their verbal altercation, but it was apparent from their dialogue that they were merely talking at each other out of frustration and anger rather than actually communicating.  One person was complaining that the other is never there.  The other person interjected (while the other was talking) that no one wants to listen to that whining.  What ended up happening is that both walked away from the situation probably more frustrated with each other than before they began with more angry words and hurt feelings and nothing resolved.

The lack of communication witnessed between those two could be common in many areas of our world.  There are likely many stories that can be shared about friendships that have been dissolved, marriages that have ended, family feuds that have lingered, and even business deals gone wrong because of miscommunication.  In my efforts to graduate towards a more mature woman, I’ve decided to polish up my communication skills.  These are some of the things I noticed with the couple arguing that I want to better in myself.

Listen

The first thing I noticed with the couple arguing is that neither one of them was listening to what the other was trying to say.  They seemed to be doing what I call defensive listening.  That’s when you only listen with the intent of preparing a rebuttal.  Being attentive to what another is trying to tell you sometimes means putting aside your feelings to get the message.  Information that could help create a better understanding of each other is lost because you’re only listening to discredit anything that you don’t agree with.  Ultimately, your conversation only becomes a tug of war about who’s right and who’s wrong.  To avoid this, accept what the person you are trying to achieve an understanding with is telling you.  If (s)he is saying that you aren’t doing something correctly and that’s causing a strain in your relationship, whatever that relationship could be, accept that.  Listen to the criticism.  It might not sound constructive, but make it constructive.  This is a very grown-up thing to do because it requires you to manage your emotions, feelings and reactions.  Eliminate the temptation to engage in a tug of war with words and just…listen.

Reflect

After you’ve given the other person a chance to be heard (uninterrupted), restate what was spoken to make certain the two of you are on the same page.  In the argument that I overheard one person charged the other with never having “been there” and spending too much time preoccupied with other people and tasks.  That person who was marked as absent yelled back that (s)he wasn’t going to listen to all that negativity and ignored what was being said.  This way nothing gets solved and they’ll likely end up having the exact same argument at another time.  What went unheard is that there are feelings of abandonment and lack of support.  Whether those feelings are justified or not, those feelings should still be addressed in order to move forward.  When it’s your turn to express how you feel, you can then offer your views.   Sifting through what’s been said allows the two of you to separate what’s important from issues that were tacked on as the result of a larger problem. 

 Solve

Once the two of you have had the opportunity to voice your feelings begin to negotiate a compromise.  Hopefully after you’ve both had a chance to be heard there should be a better understanding of exactly what the problem is.   You might want to begin by asking what would make things better.  Then the two of you can arrive at a workable solution on a trial basis to be sure that you really want what you’re asking.  In the instance of the argument mentioned above, it could be necessary to rearrange and reevaluate priorities to set aside more time and attention.  It could also be helpful to be more understanding of the other person’s responsibilities and demands placed upon their time.  Effective communication between the two could foster a degree of empathy that was being concealed or withheld before because of hurt feelings.  Now that those feelings have been heard, a healthier and more productive relationship can begin.

I remember arguments I’ve had where I just wanted to lash out and hurl accusations because I felt hurt.  My goal was to inflict the same degree of emotional pain or more on the person I felt had caused the hurt.  Though that’s a very normal reaction I guess, it’s also a very juvenile one and now has no place in my growth towards becoming a mature woman.   In some cases, my inability to communicate effectively could have justified the treatment I felt I was undeserving of.  As I move forward to form other relationships, I remove the baggage that ineffective communication can create by practicing the skills mentioned above. 





Friday, June 7, 2013

Baby Mama Drama VS Co-Parenting Etiquette


The Big Girl Chronicles:  Baby Mama Drama vs Co-Parenting Etiquette

I was fortunate enough to host a parenting support group as part of my job duties during employment.  ALL of the parents that attended were single parent households headed by women.  As I listened to the parents discuss issues that they felt contributed to the reason their family has found itself stressed, the number one reason after blaming themselves was blaming the absent father.  The tales of how these women had felt abandoned by their children’s fathers left a feeling of bitterness lingering that actually added to the cohesiveness of the group.   It didn't take much longer before I realized that part of the problem – a considerable part – is that the teens are caught in the middle of the parents “war.” The custodial parent is “warring” with the absent parent, demanding more time, attention – and most of all MONEY- from the parent who feels that his responsibilities as a parent ended with the relationship with the mother.  Those whose “baby daddys” did make an effort to spend time with their children were held in the same regard as those who remained absent altogether because of their limited ability to provide financial support.  As the women shared the conversations and heated exchange of accusations, the children often are witness to the cruelty and subconsciously absorb the negativity and bitterness making the possibility of establishing a healthy parent-child relationship that much more challenging.

Now, I don’t claim to be any type of parenting expert or anything.  As a matter of fact, I could honestly identify with many of the feelings the parents shared about the difficulties of single parenting and (especially) the disappointment of an absent father who seems to have abandoned his responsibilities to his child(ren).  However, what I've realized is that someone has to at least pretend to be the adult in the process and set aside disagreements to make certain that priorities are being met with the child(ren).  The parents were behaving in a way that is classic of the description “baby mama.”  “Baby Mamas” are known for bringing the drama.  That drama is only adding to the problem.  The goal became to interject some “co-parenting etiquette” and introduce a different way of viewing their relationship with their absent fathers that could create more positive energy for the child(ren). Some of the things we discussed in that parenting support group are outlined below.

Team Kid(s)!!!

If you've ever had a child participate in a sporting event or some extracurricular activity – or even  witnessed parents who aren't “together” supporting their kids at some special event- you know the entire time the two parents spend there is all about the child(ren).  The two parents could be seated near each other or as far away as possible, but for that time the two are focused on the child(ren).  All their energy is poured into that moment, not each other.  If those two parents can apply that focus used supporting their child(ren) during that event to their relationship with each other   - a “team child” approach - they should begin to establish a healthy co-parenting relationship and create dynamics between the two of them that is more productive and conducive to nurturing the child(ren).  Rather than reacting to the other parent out of frustrations and anger, think of the child.  With the focus on the children, it’s no longer a thought or feeling of “I have to deal with this trifling (beep)” or “here comes that (beep) talking all that noise.”   Parenting instead becomes a team effort with each of you showing up to cheer on your kid(s), putting you that much closer to raising a productive member of society that is well equipped to handle the basics of life.  Regardless of the heartache or disappointment you have because of how your relationship as a couple ended,  you don’t want to sabotage your child(ren) by creating a home environment so dysfunctional that you place your child(ren) at a disadvantage and hinder his or her ability to form and be a part of healthy, intelligent relationships. 


The Parents/The Mirror

No parent wants to be made to feel as though (s)he isn’t an acceptable role model for his or her child(ren).  Yet, it seems that some parents underestimate the influence that (s)he has on his or her child(ren).    Whether we realize it or not, we are always modeling behavior that our child(ren) watch, learn and even pattern his or herself after.  Mom and dad, your communication skills, conflict resolution skills and every other aspect of your personality is under scrutiny.  You are a point of reference for your child(ren).  Therefore, you owe it to your child(ren) to be at your best 24/7.  Think of it as if you and your child’s other parent are standing side by side in a mirror.  The two of you didn't work together as a couple.  If you look at your reflection in the mirror together, you’ll likely recall all the hurt, frustration and disappointment that the two of you have come to mean to each other.  What you are overlooking as you study your reflection together in the mirror is that the two of you are what make your child(ren).  You don’t want your child to be symbolic of your failed relationship.  You instead, as any good parent would, want the best of both of you to be reflected in your child.  Thus, it’s up to you if you want your child(ren) to mimic the neck-rolling, finger-snapping attitude for which many baby mamas are well-known or model a style of communication that can be applied in difficult situations and is more socially acceptable. 

Monkey or Human?

As children we played outdoor games like tag and dodge ball.  We also played a game called “monkey in the middle.”  I know it's silly, but it seems like the games we played as children have become games we play with each other while raising our children.  When our relationship with the other parent has ended, we dodge responsibility for our children like playing dodge ball.  We treat the other parent as if (s)he is some lunatic that we should avoid or hassle every opportunity we get, making them an “IT” like in the game of tag – something to avoid.  But what’s most disheartening is how we use the child(ren).  We place the child(ren) in the middle of our mess.  And through the eyes of the child, (s)he is torn between the two parents that (s)he loves.   Your child should never feel that (s)he has to choose between you and his/her other parent.  Avoid this by refraining from speaking negatively about the other parent in the presence of the child(ren).  Withholding phone calls, time and other manipulative tactics that we employ when “warring” with the other parent don’t really punish the other parent as much as it does your child(ren).  Refer back to the “team kid(s)” approach and learn to manage your emotions and actions in a way that doesn't end up creating negative energy that is passed on the child(ren). 

Know your limitations

Although it would be ideal to think that two adults can work together to raise a child, the reality is that many times the parents are the product of broken homes themselves – ill-equipped to do or become more than the example that their parents set for them.  Take a moment to do a self-evaluation.  Reflect upon how your parents raised you.  Recall how you felt trying to manage your feelings for both your parents when they were at odds with each other.   If you find yourself behaving in the exact same way and you know how hurtful it was for you growing up, then you can identify with the impact your inability to co-parent is having on your child.  To protect your child from the pain that experience caused you, realize your limitations and begin to make adjustments for the better.  You can talk with a family therapist or other professional who can help you through your parenting issues.  But in the meantime, if you and the other parent aren't at an amicable level with each other, consider having a mediator that is neutral to communicate on your behalf.  That way you avoid confusion and conflict with the other parent and the child isn't the one to suffer.  The mediator can help establish a visitation schedule, parenting plan and keep each other abreast of important dates and activities.  This removes the strain communicating with each other on your own might impose.  Realizing your limitations and keeping them from effecting your child(ren) is the first of many steps you can take towards creating a healthier co-parenting relationship.

Below is a compare/contrast of some of the most well-known “baby mama drama” issues along with suggestions for a more mature approach that makes the child the focus rather than each other.

“Baby Mama Drama” Approach
Co-Parenting Method
*The other parent hasn’t paid child support in 3 months.  The child’s birthday party is Saturday and the other parent isn’t invited.




















*The other parent was disrespectful during our conversation.  (S)he won’t be allowed to talk with my child.










*The other parent has had or is expecting a child with someone else.   You begin to talk with your child(ren) about the other parent not being as supportive or inclusive of him or her because the other parent has started another family with someone else. 
*Talk with the other parent about why there has been no financial support in 3 months.  Whether this has been something that has happened often or if this is a first, invite the other parent to the birthday party.  Follow up with an attorney or other professional to resolve financial support.  The reason for this is because there is so much more to parenting and raising children than money.  The other parent isn’t “paying” for access to his or her child.  On the other hand, if the other parent has become unemployed or other circumstance that has hindered full payment of child support, there is still something that can be done to offer some support for the child.  Whether it’s a $5 pizza or some small amount towards expenses, not having the child support payment in full doesn’t exempt one from offering any financial support whatsoever. 

*There’s no need to speak disrespectfully to the other parent in return.  End the call.  Phone a friend or relative to establish a schedule for communication with the child(ren) and make certain the child is available during that time to talk with the other parent.  Follow up with a mediator or attorney if communication between the two of you has reached a level of harassment that poses an unnecessary strain on you. 

*Explain to your child(ren) that there will be an addition to his or her family, preferably together with the parent present.  Take the exact same approach you would if the two of you were having the child together.  Don’t rob your child(ren) of the excitement they should feel learning that (s)he will have another sibling because of the bitterness you might have toward each other.  Remember, it’s “team kid(s).” 


There is no other job as important as that of a parent.  I don’t knock any effort that a single parent makes to raise his or her child(ren).  Yet it also holds true that we sometimes unwittingly behave in ways that we don’t realize have a direct impact on the kind of person our child(ren) will grow to become.  By learning to shift the focus to what’s most important – the well-being of the child(ren)- parents can raise a child together equipped to manage broken relationships in his or her adult life rather than a replica of parents’ emotional immaturity.  Invest in the kind of person your child(ren) will become.  Begin today putting aside the drama in favor of parenting that is conducive to forming and sustaining healthy relationships for your child’s future.  Team Kid(s)!!!   

For more information about co-parenting, you can visit:

Tips for Divorced Parents

Co-Parenting

Co-Parenting Skills Self-Assessment


*The opinions and content of this post are those of The Big Girl Chronicles.  The links and resources shared in this blog post should in no way be held responsible for the content therein.

Friday, May 31, 2013

LGBT Pride Month


The Big Girl Chronicles:  LGBT Pride Month

November 2012 I had the privilege to attend a conference focusing on services and support of the LGBTQI2-S community.  The information and personal stories shared by the participants were inspirational and enlightening.  Inspirational in that many of the personal stories shared about the stigma and shame associated with LGBTQI2-S can be likened to so many life experiences and struggles among others who have sought acceptance and equality in society.  Enlightening because I was confronted with my own ignorance.  Yet, there are some unique struggles that are specific to LGBTQI2-S persons.  The month of June has been set aside as the month to create an awareness of the LGBTQI2-S community so as to increase knowledge and understanding of those that share our world.  I’m not speaking for the LGBTQI2-S community, but the following are some thoughts I felt would be useful.

Parent response

The decision a son or daughter makes to expose themselves and engage in gender expression has undoubtedly been a difficult one.  It was likely not one that you would’ve hoped for.  Not many parents would want their son or daughter to further complicate their lives by exposing themselves.  How you respond can make the process easier or potentially destroy any future relationship between the two of you.  For the sake of your son or daughter, set aside your feelings for a time when you can manage your emotions without making the process more difficult and remain in the moment.  If the two of you can engage in healthy dialogue that will foster understanding and communicate feelings constructively, then do that.   But if your form of expression tends to be explosive and possibly hurtful, agree to discuss it further at a time you’re in a rational enough emotional mindset to listen effectively.  You could want to explain that this is equally as difficult for you and make a plan to gradually be introduced into your son or daughter’s inner circle.  Make time to learn about the differences in terms, what’s considered offensive, acceptable and other discussion that will help you become familiar with the LGBTQI2-S community.  If you aren’t already familiar with your son or daughter’s partner, talk with him or her about what would be most helpful in making him or her comfortable and make plans to invite him or her over to make acquaintance.  Please understand that your wishes are irrelevant.  This is a choice your son or daughter has made.  And although your son or daughter more than likely wants you to remain a part of his or her life, emphasizing your disapproval will get you shut out from a very important part of who he or she is. 

Peer response

As I listened to a man share his story about other’s response to his sexual orientation, something he said resounded throughout the room.  He explained, “I don’t want every man I see.”  His statement spoke to the homophobic tendencies of some upon being told that his or her peer is LGBTQI2-S.  There is an unspoken sort of belief that the person is “contagious” or some kind of uncontrollable, sexually morbid maniac, when in fact just as any heterosexual male or female is attracted to a certain kind of person the same is true for one whose sexual orientation is LGBTQI2-S.  The best response could be for you to continue to be yourself and make time to learn about the facts versus succumbing to myths and responding in a way that would cause you to embarrass yourself.  To put a comical spin on it, a comedian is quoted as saying, “If you can’t find a man, you don’t suddenly become more attractive because I’m gay.”  Yet the reality of peer to peer homophobia has frightening ranges.  The risk some take to expose themselves can span with consequences from social exclusion to more severe actions involving hate crimes and violence.  Instead of reacting out of ignorance, try exercising tolerance and focus on something much more worthy of your attention.

Church response

Equally as heart-wrenching were the stories the panelist shared of their experiences among the religious community.  Speakers described the massive responses of hatred that were primarily received from congregations, pastors, Sunday School teachers and others who sat alongside them Sunday upon Sunday sharing lessons of love, forgiveness and the compassion of Christ.  Suddenly, the spoken truth about  sexual orientation nullified all those graces and earned that person a permanent spot on the list of those crowned only with eternal damnation.  Then the question becomes “what can the church to do support the individual without condoning the act?”  First and foremost, you can continue to include and welcome a fellow believer, extending to him or her all those things that your faith professes he or she is a partaker of because of his or her belief and love for the Lord.  An “us against them” approach only widens the divide, creating tension that is both unnecessary and counterproductive.  Learn to manage your emotions while remaining true to what you say you’re about.

For more information about the LGBTQI2-S community, you can visit:

Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation
www.glaad.org

Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Centers
www.lgbtcenters.org


Do Something Organization for Teens and Social Cause
www.dosomething.org  




Friday, May 24, 2013

The Big Girl's Guide to Summer Fun On A Budget

The Big Girl Chronicles:  The Big Girl’s Guide to Family Fun On A Budget
It’s summertime!  If your little ones are anything like mine, they’re excited about trading in their structured classroom schedules for less restrictive summer hours.  And if you’re a single parent as I am, trying to keep summer fun can be a challenge.  The following are some budget-friendly suggestions that should keep your little ones having something to look forward to without having you to dig too deep in your pocketbook.
Check your local listings.
If you peruse the internet, websites like your local convention and visitor’s bureau usually list summer activities that are family-oriented and free.  You can also check the community events sections of your local newspaper where you can find things of interest that are both free and fun. 
Don’t forget about us!
Places that we tend to overlook often have special events to gain community awareness and enrollment.  These are places like your local library or museum.  Your local museum will likely host a fundraising drive that may include a free tour and activities for the kids.  And the public library occasionally hosts book signings or book readings with authors for people of all ages.  Some even have summer programs and activities that are usually offered free and are appropriate for the entire family.
Must love dogs.
If you’re a family of pet lovers but can’t afford to care for one in your home, why not contact your local animal shelter or humane society about volunteering?!  You can spend some time just playing with the animals or assist in bathing and care if allowed.    
Destination BBQ!

Pack up the grill and venture to your local public lake/ beach or park for a family bar-b-que!  Instant fun!  Don’t forget the frisbee! 

Keep learning throughout the summer.

Education doesn’t have to take a back seat to summer.  You can keep it fun and never stop learning.  If there are some interests that you or your children have, consider exploring those interests further by contacting a local office and inquiring of a mock internship for a day.  Or spend time volunteering doing those things that you wouldn’t get a chance to do during the school year.  And it’s always a good idea to try your hand at making a little extra cash with a lemonade stand, bake sale or other project. 

Uh Oh! Rainy Days!

Has the weather caused a downpour on your plans?  Those old tried and true indoor activities will save the day.  Whether it be preparing baked goodies as a family or a favorite board game, the weather doesn’t have to put a pause in the fun.  Why not, instead of watching a movie, create your own skit and record it to add to your family reunion entertainment!  Or create a cookbook of your favorite family recipes to give as gifts!  There are no limits!

With a little ingenuity you can keep your family having fun throughout the summer without having to shell out cash.  Keep if fun.  Keep it safe.  And have the best summer-on-a-budget imaginable!