52 Real Women Archives

LIghten Your Load – Cathy Ross

When God Says It’s Time To Lighten Your Load I have always been a sentimental pack rat with a memory attached to every thing. When I decided to move after being in my home for 28 years, a wave of panic swept over me. What would I do with all my stuff? Line it up…

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When God Says It’s Time To Lighten Your Load

I have always been a sentimental pack rat with a memory attached to every thing. When I decided to move after being in my home for 28 years, a wave of panic swept over me. What would I do with all my stuff? Line it up on the curb? Call Purple Heart? Sell it? Give it away?

Have you ever felt overwhelmed by having too much stuff around? I know I have. One day as I was reminiscing over a box of love letters from a college flame (I should have married) I thought, why am I holding on to all these things? I can’t take them to heaven and I sure don’t want my children to have the burden of deciding what to do with everything when I’m gone. I called Purple Heart.

Then, I put a ton of things along the curb, and guess what happened? I made some new friends. Jo, a delightful woman, actually knocked at my door to ask if she could have my flower pots. As we started talking, she told me she collects towels and sheets for the humane society, and I gave her bags and bags of towels and blankets for those sweet little kitties and pups waiting to find a new home. And, she took bags of my children’s books to donate to schools where children don’t have books of their own to read. It felt really good to let go.

I moved with about one third of my things. I feel lighter and more vibrant. I feel unburdened and free. I will always think twice before buying new things. Do I really need this? Can I let it go easily? What purpose does this serve in my life?

I saved a few of those old love letters, my children’s best art projects, all my photos, and only my favorite things that I use on a daily basis. At the end of the day, what really matters is relationships. I love my family, my children, my friends, God and myself. Stuff is just stuff. I invite you to lighten your load, and let love in.

Cathy Ross is an artist, Mom, and business owner. Cathy helps business owners and non-profit organizations hire exceptional people. She supports the mission of A Beautiful Me® and is inspired by the positive impact it has on raising self esteem in young women around the world. You can visit Cathy at LinkedIn or visit her blog – Truffles And Tea.

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The Gift – Lisa Caretti

The Gift “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That’s why they call it the present.” That was a favorite quote of mine and yet I spent the Christmas of 2011 frozen in fear, focused on an unknown future. My 11 year old son Joey who had just successfully completed…

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The Gift

“Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That’s why they call it the present.”

That was a favorite quote of mine and yet I spent the Christmas of 2011 frozen in fear, focused on an unknown future. My 11 year old son Joey who had just successfully completed 18 grueling rounds of chemotherapy for a rare brain tumor was now diagnosed with leukemia.

We managed to make it through that challenging year and that next Christmas I decided to make it special. I asked my kids for their lists and received a few good ideas, but Joey replied he did not deserve anything.

“Joey!” I said “You are most deserving! We want to do something to bring you happiness.” I let the subject drop, but later he came up to me crying.

“I am ready now to tell you why I don’t want anything for Christmas.” He said through tears. “Do you remember when we were at the hospital last year and we saw that little boy all burnt up in a wheelchair?” I knew what he was referring to although we had never spoken of it. “I had been in a bad mood, feeling sorry for myself and that boy was so happy and said hi to me even though his face was all melted and he had no hands. I was so ashamed of myself. He will be that way all his life. He will never have hands or be able to run and play. I have only had a few surgeries but one day I will be all done with this but he never will! Everyone sent me cards and gifts but his parents did not look like they even had much. I think about him every single day of my life. Can’t we send him my gifts?”

I felt ashamed too. How many days had I wasted, unable to enjoy the moment and all that it did have to offer?

The true and most important gift is in each day, even if it is sometimes painful and not perfect.

Lisa Caretti is a wife, mother, author and co-founder of the non-profit organization called The Healing Nest which offers free healing services to women with cancer. She supports A Beautiful Me® and applauds their success in helping girls of all ages reach their full potential. You can visit her at www.lisacaretti.com and www.thehealingnest.org.

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Never Too Late – Claire Cook

Never TOO Late As you’re reinventing your life, it’s helpful to have a North Star of sorts, too. When I’m writing a novel, I write two pages (Times New Roman, 12 point, double-spaced, single-sided) a day, seven days a week. Oh, puh-lease, you’re probably thinking. Two paltry pages? You could write twenty pages at a…

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Never TOO Late

As you’re reinventing your life, it’s helpful to have a North Star of sorts, too.

When I’m writing a novel, I write two pages (Times New Roman, 12 point, double-spaced, single-sided) a day, seven days a week. Oh, puh-lease, you’re probably thinking. Two paltry pages? You could write twenty pages at a single sitting with one hand tied behind your back.

No matter what is or isn’t happening in my life, I can write two pages a day. Consistently. Day in and day out. And at the end of five or six months, even factoring in a few inevitable I just can’t do it any more meltdowns, I have the first draft of a book. Rinse. Repeat. And that’s why I’m now the author of eleven books. And counting.

Another advantage to this approach is that I’m essentially living in the book as I write it, thinking about it constantly, jotting things down all day long and when I wake up in the middle of the night.

The next morning, I reread and polish the pages I wrote the day before as a way to find my way into my characters’ heads and voices again.

I commit to two pages a day, seven days a week, and write the page numbers on a paper calendar when I finish writing them.

So figure out your own version of my two pages a day. Perhaps doing two concrete things a day to move you in the right direction makes more sense. Or maybe you decide your first step is to register for an online class to give you some essential skills you need before you go any further.

Open your notebook and write it down. Build in some other measurable strategy for making yourself accountable along the way. Because trust me, some days will be harder than others. Some days you will want to cheat.

Claire Cook wrote her first book in her minivan outside her daughter’s swim practice and is now the bestselling author of a dozen novels. This excerpt is from her recent novel “Never TOO Late, Your Roadmap to Reinvention.” She lives in Scituate, Massachusetts and shares tips about writing and reinvention on her website, ClaireCook.com.

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Catch the Snow – Meg LeDuc

Catch the Snow Today in Manistee, the Tip of the Mitt, a light snow is predicted.  Walking by Lake Michigan, in brisk wind and rain, I realized I needed gloves but soldiered on and enjoyed the walk.  In older homes, people are turning on furnaces. This isn’t fall.  It’s winter.  People react differently: A) With…

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Catch the Snow

Today in Manistee, the Tip of the Mitt, a light snow is predicted.  Walking by Lake Michigan, in brisk wind and rain, I realized I needed gloves but soldiered on and enjoyed the walk.  In older homes, people are turning on furnaces.
This isn’t fall.  It’s winter.  People react differently: A) With horror; B) With glee; C) With plots of escape.  I plan to relocate to Detroit soon to be closer to family.  Right now, moving to a place that doesn’t get over 200 inches of snow in a season seems like a good idea.  I’ll settle for whatever Detroit got last year.  This winter, I plan to avoid getting stuck four times, three times in my own driveway, once alone in the dark far from home.  And I will be grateful.
But sometimes, you must unclench your fist, take what life gives you, be grateful for the tiny beauty of it, the tiny beauty of the snowflake.
Near Christmas last year, in my work as a staff writer for the Manistee News Advocate, I was covering – of course – Santa Claus at the community center in the tiny town of Wellston, in the middle of the Manistee National Forest.  In the dark, in the cold, through overhanging pines decked with white, I drove my dinky Ford Taurus to Wellston.  The turnoff was unlit.  I missed it.  I attempted to turn around on badly plowed side road.
The tires spun.  And spun.  And spun.  I put on my blinkers and looked around.  Two houses, lit.  I pulled a blanket over my camera equipment, then got out to wade toward the first light.
The first house a had truck with a plow and hitch parked beside it.  But on the door read a bright orange sign: “Beware of Dog.”  I back-tracked to the house across the street.
A man wearing camo with a five-o-clock shadow and a cigarette dangling from his mouth opened the door.
“Do you know who owns the truck across the street?” I asked. “I wanted to knock but I was worried about the dog.”
“Oh, that’s my house. I’m just over here at my daughter’s working on the plumbing. Give me a sec.”
He pulled me out.  Pulled me out with a whoosh and wished me “Merry Christmas”.  Pictures of Santa giving gifts to children made the next day’s paper.  Success.
P!nk sings about taking chances, throwing glitter in the air.  You need to unclench your fist to throw glitter in the air.  You need to unclench your fist to catch glitter.  So unclench your fist.  Catch the glitter.  Even if that glitter is snow.
Meg LeDuc earned a B.A. in English from the University of Michigan in 2007. She has worked as freelance writer and journalist, moving to Manistee, Michigan. She currently is relocating to her hometown of Detroit and supports empowering girls through the work of “A Beautiful Me®”.
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Who Do You Surround Yourself With? – Julie Krumholz

Who Do You Surround Yourself With? In 2001, a co­worker and I decided that we should open our own company.  After much debate and discussion, we moved forward with our plan.  It involved many late nights, early mornings and several weekends of non­stop work.  My husband was my biggest supporter. He never once complained about…

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Who Do You Surround Yourself With?

In 2001, a co­worker and I decided that we should open our own company.  After much debate and discussion, we moved forward with our plan.  It involved many late nights, early mornings and several weekends of non­stop work.  My husband was my biggest supporter. He never once complained about playing mom, being dad and still working his 40 plus hours a week.  He would often bring our three daughters to the office for dinner.  Family time was important, so instead of dining at our kitchen table, we ate at a conference table.  We would catch up on each other’s day, do homework and enjoy the down time.  In 2011, my business partner and I decided that the time had come to go our separate ways.  Neither of us wanted to keep the business, so after a successful adventure, we said our good­byes.

In 2012 my husband started running.  He encouraged me to do the same.  I could hardly run one quarter mile without feeling like I was going to pass out.  Again, my number one fan kept encouraging me.  He would give me training schedules; ask me to run with him and give me advice on how to meet my goal time.  After several months, I ran my first 5K.  I kept hearing, “I told you that you could do it.”  Next up was a 10K, and then my husband, oldest daughter and I all ran a half marathon together.  Never in a million years did I think that I could run that far.  What a feeling of accomplishment.

As my 50th birthday approaches, I find myself looking back on my life.  Should I have done things differently?  I think we all say “what if” at some point.  I can honestly say that I am very fortunate and blessed!  I have a loving and supportive husband and three beautiful daughters.  These by far are my biggest accomplishments.  I have so much pride in my family.

Happiness and success don’t always come easy.  If you surround yourself with loving and supportive family and friends; you truly can accomplish many things.

Julie Krumholz currently resides in Bruce Township, Michigan. She loves spending time with her family at their home in Caseville. She supports the work of A Beautiful Me® and continually strives to encourage her daughters to be strong and independent women.

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