52 Real Women Archives

Time-Honored Sisterhood – Catherine Stier

Time-Honored Sisterhood Years ago, my British-born grandmother told me a true tale of romance and adventure set in WWII England. Grandma’s story went like this: Despite the terror of nightly bombing raids and fears of invasion, romance still blossomed in war torn England.  Some young British women and the allied American soldiers stationed in Europe…

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Time-Honored Sisterhood

Years ago, my British-born grandmother told me a true tale of romance and adventure set in WWII England.

Grandma’s story went like this: Despite the terror of nightly bombing raids and fears of invasion, romance still blossomed in war torn England.  Some young British women and the allied American soldiers stationed in Europe met – and fell in love.  Love often led to marriage.  At wartime weddings, soldier grooms typically donned their uniforms while brides might wear a borrowed dress or a gown stitched from parachute silk.

At war’s end, great ships transported thousands of European war brides of American servicemen – and the babies born to these couples – to awaiting husbands in the U.S.  Although not a war bride herself, my grandmother undoubtedly felt a kinship with these women who gathered their courage and a few possessions, said tearful goodbyes, and sailed for a new life in the U.S., just as she had.

Years later, I began researching this historical event, known as the 1946 “Bride and Baby Voyages,” for a children’s book. I also spoke with war brides from Europe and Australia.

How touching to learn that today, more than 60 years since those voyages, some of these war brides still get together.  Now in their 80s and 90s, they meet to chat and reminisce. They laugh, too, recalling the challenges of adjusting to American culture.  One national organization, the WWII War Brides Association, holds annual reunions with last year’s event in New Orleans.

These women gained much from their time-honored sisterhood.  Gathering with other women to share advice, experiences and laughter can be heartening – in any era. True, we ourselves might not set sail from our homeland, as the courageous war brides did. Yet when we connect with women who face similar challenges, we tap into a source of wisdom and support that can sustain us on our own amazing journeys and adventures.

Catherine Stier is an award-winning author of several children’s books. Her recent WWII historical fiction picture book, Welcome to America, Champ! was named a 2014 Best Book of the Year for Children by the Bank Street College of Education. Born in Michigan, Stier now lives in San Antonio, Texas.  She supports the vision of A Beautiful Me® of promoting a positive self-image for all girls.

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That Number!? – Jenna Wiley

That number!? For the past 5 years, I have weighed around 150 pounds.  I have fought with this number, cried about this number, lied about this number, hid my eyes from this number, Googled this number, avoided this number, and envied other, smaller numbers. I like my body, but I hate that number. When I…

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That number!?

For the past 5 years, I have weighed around 150 pounds.  I have fought with this number, cried about this number, lied about this number, hid my eyes from this number, Googled this number, avoided this number, and envied other, smaller numbers. I like my body, but I hate that number.

When I see 150 on the scale, any positive thought is destroyed.  I have heard doctors, trainers and family tell me that weight is just a number and “muscle weighs more than fat.”  I agree with them on most days. But not the days I see 150.

For some reason, the number 125 has always stuck in my head as the weight I should be.  I know if I lost 25 pounds I would look skeletal, but that number has been the ideal.  From adolescence to my adult life, I have been in a battle against my body weight.

I am tired of anxiety before the doctor’s office wondering what the number is going to say.  I am done writing the wrong weight on forms because the real number is too shameful. Goodness, I have even lied about my weight on Treadmill machines at the gym; as if a machine would judge me!

Letting go won’t be an easy feat.  I want to focus on things in the world that have eternal value, but I know I am here and God loves me even when I focus more on my legs rubbing together than how to further advance His kingdom. What have I missed while I was trying to lose 10 pounds? I know God is ready to show me.

The number on my scale makes up two strong, muscly legs that squat 185 pounds. It consists of two arms that do real pushups, two hands that create, two feet that dance, one heart that loves recklessly and hundreds of other functions that can only be described as miracles.

We are more than a number; if yours is above mine, below mine or right around mine, know that you are beautiful. Focus on what our amazing bodies are able to do: every single pound of them.

Jenna Wiley is a Spanish teacher, Jesus follower, and coffee lover living in Grand Rapids, MI. She worked with “A Beautiful Me®” internationally as the program was introduced to young Guatemalan girls. She would love to connect with anyone interested in hearing more about her journey to love herself in a culture that tries to make it impossible. Contact her at: jennawiley@yahoo.com

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Book of Wisdom – Terri Closs

Book of Wisdom Have you ever come across an expression that made you stop in your tracks, ponder it for a moment, and then say to yourself “How true!”?  I love reading those expressions; they’re little bits of wisdom expressed so precisely that they give you insight into your own beliefs or teach you a…

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Book of Wisdom

Have you ever come across an expression that made you stop in your tracks, ponder it for a moment, and then say to yourself “How true!”?  I love reading those expressions; they’re little bits of wisdom expressed so precisely that they give you insight into your own beliefs or teach you a different perspective on an issue.

I’ve been collecting expressions since I was a teenager.  A number of years ago I began compiling them into one of those blank-pages books you can buy yourself at the bookstore.  I call it my “book of wisdom.”  Within its pages are pearls of knowledge that help me through situations that would otherwise drive me batty.

• When I talk too much or feel the need to gossip I think . . .       “I have often regretted my speech, never my silence.” –Publius
• When I find a situation too hard . . . “Being defeated is often a temporary condition.  Giving up is what makes it permanent.”  -Marlene vosSavant
• When I feel misunderstood . . . “Never explain – your friends do not need it and your enemies won’t believe you anyway.”  -Elbert Hubbard
• When I screw up . . . “A mistake is simply another way of doing things.”  -Katherine Graham
• And for my egotistical moments . . . “Always remember you’re unique, just like everyone else.  –Unknown

As I look through my pages, I find just the right bit of wisdom to suit the situation at hand.  I’ve enjoyed the discovery of each and every one of my entries.  I’ve also enjoyed going back and rereading these gems of knowledge suited just for me.  When I’m gone, my family will have this little book of hand-written sayings (and some poems) and once read, will get an idea of who I was and what I stood for.  I encourage each of you to find and embrace those things that bring you joy.  Remember… “Live your life as an exclamation, not an explanation.”   –Unknown.

Guest Blogger Terri Closs has recently reinvented herself by becoming a Professional Organizer and starting her own business As You Wish Organizing, LLC.  – a company dedicated to helping Seniors and Boomers live the life they choose.  She has been a proud supporter of A Beautiful Me® since its inception.  

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In Less Than 2 Minutes – Sarah Zimmer

In Less Than 2 Minutes! My mom and I started a “Gratitude Journal” on a daily basis and the idea is that we email each other three things that we are thankful for that day.  So I email her three things I am grateful for and she replies with her three things.  They aren’t always…

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In Less Than 2 Minutes!

My mom and I started a “Gratitude Journal” on a daily basis and the idea is that we email each other three things that we are thankful for that day.  So I email her three things I am grateful for and she replies with her three things.  They aren’t always deep, meaningful and moving things, they can be simple things that made your day.  For example, today I was thankful for Starbucks coffee, the beautiful weather and my family.  We try to pick positive things that get us through the day.  Some days, it is very hard to think of things and on those days I look around; what do I have that others don’t, those are the things we really need to be thankful for.  I am learning to count my blessings on a daily basis, and to be thankful and happy with what I have.

Before we started this, I used to complain all the time, about the smallest, silliest things. It was common for my mom and I to complain on the phone for hours and we got sick of it.  So during our weekly yoga class, our instructor mentioned this idea and we wanted to give it a try.  Now, a few months later, my mom and I have found that when we are thankful, it changes our outlook on life, even if it is in the smallest way.  We have so much and don’t appreciate what we have, we just focus on what we want.  By appreciating what you do have, you will notice a positive change in how you feel.

Now it is your turn, you can start a Gratitude Journal yourself.  Maybe write your three things in a notebook before you go to bed, or think of your three things while getting ready in the morning.  I am very forgetful, so I included my mom, that way when one of us forgets, the other usually remembers.  Try not to repeat things because then it won’t have the full effect.  If you are struggling with it, email me and we can do one together!

Sarah Zimmer believes in “A Beautiful Me®” and works to give every baby a healthy start as the Community Director at the March of Dimes, Port Huron, Michigan. Her email is szimmer@marchofdimes.com if you have any questions or want to start a Gratitude Journal with her.

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Controlling Peace? – Jennifer Raybaud

Controlling Peace? I ADORE words!  I devour good conversation like others would a moist, delicious piece of chocolate cake.  So when I put the title of this piece together I felt discomfort when I placed those two words side by side.  Why?  Because one word has connotations of manipulation while the other evokes Zen-like feelings,…

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Controlling Peace?

I ADORE words!  I devour good conversation like others would a moist, delicious piece of chocolate cake.  So when I put the title of this piece together I felt discomfort when I placed those two words side by side.  Why?  Because one word has connotations of manipulation while the other evokes Zen-like feelings, but a few years back I had to make the above happen, so I thought I would share how “controlling peace” can add to yours!

I found myself for the first time, suffering from depression.  Now I grew up with parents who believed we could do anything we set our minds to.  So depression after having been blessed with so much positivity all my life was a new “beast” entirely.

At my lowest point, I remember saying “What can you control to get out of this?”  Because as sad as I was; there were still options.  So I began with controlling what I put in my mouth because all those carbs and sugar were doing NOTHING to help me climb out of this.  Then I thought if I could muster up the energy to go outside and take a walk that would bring me endorphins that would be the perfect foe to some of the chemicals the depression was bringing me.  I stopped listening to the news and many more things that in the end…brought me out of my depression.  I felt like there was nothing available to me but victimhood when that couldn’t have been further from the truth.  So I ask you to ask yourself the same question I did when you’re overwhelmed: “What can you control to get out of this?”  It’s amazing how much you can come up with.  Lean to control what you can control and leave the rest in peace so you can find yours!  Controlling peace . . . ahhh, yes!

Jennifer Raybaud is a truly blessed woman who loves her family, her friends and her position as “Co-Conspirator” with her very best friend where their unique workshops are designed to uplift, inspire and motivate! Their regular antics can be found at www.loseyourexcusenow.com or www.facebook.com/loseyourexcusenow!  Jennifer applauds everything “A Beautiful Me®” strives to accomplish as she believes that each of us has a birthright to feel valued and appreciated for our individual qualities.

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