Stepmom

Stepmom

Day 153 of the Pink Collar Savvy & Chic on Purpose Project and the evening was spent celebrating my youngest stepson’s twentieth birthday. I spent the first part of the day resting up for the party after feeling under the weather the last few days. I knew I needed to conserve my energy for when all of the boys, including a few of their friends, came home from golfing ready to watch Sunday night football, eat enough for an army and trash the house like rockstars! We’ve functioned as a blended family for the last decade ever since their dad and I first met, and seven years ago I officially became their stepmom.

Being a big fat blended family has had its share of ups and downs. At the beginning, there was a lot of conflict when I redecorated the house, except for their rooms and the man cave, in an attempt to make it feel like ours vs. the one they’d lived in with their parents. Toward the middle, the almost thirteen year age difference between my oldest stepson and my biological son and how the older boys interacted with the younger one caused some challenges. More recently, I’ve had my feelings hurt when the boys inadvertently did or said something that reminds me that they love me in their way but absolutely adore their mother.

Then there’s the fact that my oldest stepson became a dad when my son was eight. Since I was still trying to get him out of bedwetting, I was nowhere near ready to become a grandma! I felt like I’d only been pregnant a short time ago myself. My compromise was becoming Mimi, a play on Tammi that feels endearing without going full-on grandmother mode. I love being Mimi and have a sweet relationship with Izzy where she comes to me first whenever we’re gathered because she knows I’ll not only meet her physical need for food, drinks, toiling help, etc., but I’ll dance, play on the floor and sing with her too. Even so, there are times when even she will behave in a way that reminds me I’m the stepmom to her dad.

Sometimes my husband’s actions or words communicate the fact that I’m not their mother just as loudly. I believe this is a challenge for many stepparents and find for us, it’s best if I step back and let the biological mom and dad handle most situations. Of course each family must figure out what works best for them…

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Middle, Surrogate, Youngest (Birthday Boy), and Oldest Stepsons. Me, Stepmom/Mimi and Izzy.

Thankfully, I’ve experienced as many or more ups over the years as a stepmom than I have downs. My stepsons nicknamed me LT (Little Tammi) after Ladanian Tomlinson, an NFL football player, and apparently, it’s a compliment. They have had my back, championed, defended, and gone to bat for me. And they tease me mercilessly, which my husband says is a true sign of affection. Recently, when I announced I was having a yard sale, John, the birthday boy asked, “Can we put you in it?” I heard the smile in his question and responded, “I don’t think there’s a high demand for stepmoms.” His immediate response: “Oh, well, I guess we’ll have to keep you then.” Made. My. Day.

As a Pink Collar Savvy & Chic on Purpose Chick who’s been around since John was eight, James was eleven, and Jordan was fourteen, I’m thankful for the opportunity to be a stepmom. It has challenged, grown and stretched me in ways I wouldn’t have believed possible. I’m so proud of the dad Jordan has become, the man after God’s own heart that James is, and the confident, mature young man John is becoming. His father shared with me today that John has decided he wants to have his own athletic wear line. That was no surprise to me as I’ve always been aware of his artistry, attention to detail, good taste, eye for fashion, and entrepreneurial spirit. I’ve encouraged these in him because we have them in common. Or maybe, just maybe, he got them from his stepmom…

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John’s 20th Birthday Party. Stepmom and Dad were the photographers. 

I’d love to hear from any other stepmoms – your sorrows and successes.

Be savvy & chic,

~Pink Collar Coach

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Make New Friends But Don’t Lose The Old

Make New Friends But Don’t Lose The Old

Yesterday, Day 151 of the Pink Collar Savvy & Chic on Purpose Project started off rough. I had plans for the weekend to dance with my Zumba tribe Friday night and to do lunch with a dear friend from my teaching days today. Thursday night, however, I developed a sore throat. When I woke up yesterday morning after a fitful night’s sleep with what felt like the beginning of a cold, my first thought was, No, tonight’s Zumba for the Cure! My second was, And I’m supposed to have lunch with Terri tomorrow! Considering the week I’ve had dealing with my Ds, I desperately needed the time with my new Zumba friends and my old friend of nearly twenty years.

Desperate may sound like an exaggeration, but I knew I was in a desperate time when I turned to DayQuil as first resort! Next, I decided to give the networking meeting I’d planned to attend a miss. I’d been looking forward to it, and brunch with a member afterward, but felt lousy enough that I knew I needed to rest if I had any hope of being up for two hours of dancing. I spent the day doing nothing more taxing than responding to emails and by 6PM felt as if I could at least get to the Zumbathon, even if I didn’t last the duration.

It shouldn’t have come as a surprise that as soon as I arrived, the palpable positive energy of all in attendance rejuvenated me. Back in 2014, following an emergency hysterectomy and a second surgery a few months prior, I experienced a breast cancer scare of my own, one where the doctors thought I was at stage four right up until the biopsy results. The benign tumor was large enough that it had to be removed anyway. It was a nightmare, but nothing compared to what the brave women fighting cancer actually live through. Dancing with the new friends I’ve made since I started doing Zumba to regain my health after my female diagnoses was and is such good medicine for me! I truly feel better when I’m dancing, especially when it’s For The Cure.

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Pink Collar Coach and new friends from Lakota YMCA Zumba.                                                           Even my athletic wear is Calvin Klein. LOL! Shoes are New Balance. 

Thankfully, this morning, Day 152 of the Project, there was no trace of a sore throat. I got an uninterrupted night’s sleep and woke up ready to dance again and to do my lunch date. Terri and I go back twenty years. Although we rarely see one another because of, well, life, whenever we do, it’s like we just pushed pause on our last conversation. At one point, when I was a Leadership Coach at 4C for Children, I told her about a vacancy and she came to work in the same department as my dear friend, Kibby. The three of us had a ball at Cracker Barrel just bonding over our personal and professional lives. Good food; good friends! As much was we all talked, Terri and Kibby made sure I got to talk about my troubles. Being able to openly share what I’ve been going through lifted the weight a bit, and it was so obvious that they were willing to help me bear it (Galatians 6:2). In addition, Terri had some personal (and hilarious) insight into the situation because she was around when I was married to my wasband! Laughter is also good medicine!

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Terri & me. Old Friends. Love this woman! My dear new friend of five years, Kibby, took the pic. Love her too. Calvin Klein cold shoulder w/ grommets and tie sleeves, maxi skirt, perforated bag. 

As a Pink Collar Savvy & Chic on Purpose Chick who understands that some of life’s greatest lessons are those we learn as children, though I wasn’t a Girl Scout, I’ll use their admonition: Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver, the other is gold. The Bible tells us that someone who has one true friend is rich. I have many. Some silver. Some gold. All invaluable. All treasured.

How about you? When was the last time you connected with that old friend – not just on Facebook but in real time?

Be savvy & chic,

~Pink Collar Coach

Relational vs. Transactional Networking

Relational vs. Transactional Networking

Day 149 of the Pink Collar Savvy & Chic on Purpose Project is one I’d been anticipating ever since Angel Hicks, the founder of H7, a business that focuses on relational vs. transactional networking, invited me to check out some of their events. For the past two weeks, I’ve gone to the H7 Connect meeting that’s held in my community, and while I’ve enjoyed this coed group and see the value of networking with everyone, the Evolve event, which is all women, is the one I wanted to experience. Today, it didn’t disappoint. Rather, it delivered in spades by providing opportunities to build relationships first. Those relationships may eventually lead to business transactions, but it was refreshing not to have it the other way around. Now that I’ve experienced it, since it aligns with who I am anyway, relational vs. transactional  will be my preferred networking style.

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Angel Hicks, founder of H7 and me, Pink Collar Coach. I layered a sleeveless shell with a little gold embellishment (better than a necklace for me- my hair doesn’t get tangled in it) and flyaway cardigan to be prepared for the rain, the cold, and eventually the unseasonably warm temps. My peep toes got another wear before being packed away for winter, and my pink bag – my fave!       All Calvin Klein. 

In coaching, I often tell those I train that building rapport and establishing the relationship with coaching clients has to happen before diving into the coaching agenda. Why first? Because people don’t care what you know until they know that you care. H7 is doing a great job at promoting a tweaked version of this: People don’t want to buy from you until they get to know you. And it’s working. H7 is growing and expanding its reach. Based on my experience today, I can understand why. I sat at a table with two other women who, at face value, were very different from me. Come to find out, we all have biracial children and we’re all in blended families. Seriously! You can’t plan that stuff. But God can. Talk about clicking. We clicked big time and scheduled time to see how we can support one another.

My faith is not something I hide, however, I don’t often go this deep with it on the blog. But this whole relational vs. transactional thing got me thinking about our relationship with God. Many view it as transactional as in, His son, Jesus, paid the biggest price ever when He died on the cross, so now we owe Him BIG TIME. And we do. Our devotion, gratitude and love.  Because He’s relational. He doesn’t want something from us as much as He wants to know us deeply. Whatever your beliefs, I hope that knowledge opens your mind and heart to the fact that all He really desires is to be in a relationship with you. Pretty cool, huh?

As a Pink Collar Savvy & Chic on Purpose Chick, I’m learning and growing every day and love sharing with you. It was so rewarding when Angel mentioned my blog in the meeting and complimented it. Of course I hope that you readers are enjoying my posts and that you’ll buy and read my book when it’s released. But more than that I love having the relationships. I’ve reconnected with women who I’d lost touch with through blogging and have gained new connections that inspire me to pour my heart out and write so that you’ll not only be engaged but encouraged. Angel’s business confirmed that I’m going about this the right way: relational vs. transactional. I may not be making money on the blog, but I sure get some amazing pay out!

If you’d like to learn more about H7 Evolve, please visit http://www.h7evolve.com. Thank you!

Be savvy & chic,

~Pink Collar Coach

 

 

May I Mention My Mentors?

May I Mention My Mentors?

I’m not going to lie. Day 148 of the Pink Collar Savvy & Chic on Purpose Project was one of the hardest I’ve had in a long time. The Ds that I was dealing with yesterday sent me plummeting emotionally today and at one point, I was close to despair, feeling as if the change of hearts I am waiting on will never come.  But often times, it’s in the our darkest hours that God’s love for us shines through and illuminates just what we need. The Daily Dose from The Smile Jar reminded me that a new day brings new strength. Then, the verse in my daily devotional was “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.” (Isaiah 40:31). I needed the reminder. And may I mention my Zumba mentors?

Usually, I only see two of the instructors who have been instrumental in me becoming one myself on Wednesday nights. This week, however, because our local Zumba for the Cure is this Friday night, our Monday night instructor danced with us so we can represent well when we party in pink to fight breast cancer. The energy this trio puts out is amazing and dancing with them lifted my burden to the degree that the smile on my face was probably the first heartfelt one all day. Each of them is Pink Collar Savvy & Chic in her own unique way, so when they began mentoring me almost two years ago, I dubbed them all with names that depict how I see them.

Beauty and Brains – Jodi 

This playful, sassy wife and mamma of two has a serious side. She’s a rocket scientist.

Beauty and 3x a Lady – Kara

Not only does this multitasking mom of triplets teach Zumba, she teaches school all day.

Beauty and Strength – Angelique

Graceful as a ballerina & fierce on the dance floor, she lifts weights & wins competitions.

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Beauty and Brains, Pink Collar Coach, Beauty & 3x a Lady, Beauty and Strength.

As a Pink Collar Savvy & Chic on Purpose Chick who knows that women taking the time to invest in one another makes a world of difference, not only in us making our dreams come true, but in dealing with our Ds, I want to express my heartfelt thanks to my mentors. If you’ve had days where coming to teach wasn’t as appealing as it sometimes is, please know, if I was there, you made a difference. Just by coming to dance with us. I’m not the only one who feels this way. In fact, one of our newer regulars and I had a conversation tonight after class extolling al the positive benefits of dancing. Burning the calories, getting the heart rate up, dancing our stress and sadness away. Finding community, friends and our tribe. Not to mention, mentors…

Oh, and if you’ve never given Zumba a try, October is breast cancer awareness month. Zumbathons for The Cure are being held in various locations…You may just find your fit!

Be savvy & chic,

~Pink Collar Coach

A Day of Dealing with The Ds (Discrimination, depression, etc., etc.)

A Day of Dealing with The Ds (Discrimination, depression, etc., etc.)

Day 147 of the Pink Collar Savvy & Chic on Purpose Project was one where my Ds showed up in droves. For those new to my blog or who haven’t read about them yet, I’ve categorized many of the challenges women deal with as Ds: debt, dependency, depression, diagnoses, disabilities, discrimination, divorce, domestic relations court issues, dysfunctional relationships, etc., etc., etc. You get the drift….And even though I’m defining my unique business niche – coaching professional women facing personal barriers to minimize them in order to maximize their beauty and best professional life, today was a day where I needed a bit of coaching myself!

In yesterday’s post I alluded to something I had to face today that caused me to be somewhat fearful. I won’t get into the details, but I’m in a few situations where the truth has become a stranger and the relationships have become toxic. Prior to my divorce from my wasband, D.J. (I always say he’s the worst of my Ds), this wouldn’t have presented a dilemma for me because I would have done whatever was necessary, including negating who I am, to reconcile the relationships. Post divorce? Well, I just refuse to do that anymore.

A few months ago, I read a book by Julie Cantrell, a Christian author, called Into the Free.  The heroine, who was from a background similar to mine, resonated with me. Her grandmother was a Choctaw Indian and explained how a baby is named at birth and that is their given name. As they grow up and their personality develops, they are given a nickname that represents that. But it’s when a person discovers who God created them to be that they have their spirit name. The whole time I was reading, I thought the character, who’d grown up surrounded by lies, was actually Truth. And I wept when that did end up being not only her name but the name I felt the Holy Spirit whisper across my own heart.

That’s my dilemma. I know I’m Truth. Not a perfect woman, wife, mother, employee or person. But as much as it lies within me, I’m a truthful one. So when people want me to own things that aren’t true, everything within me rebels. This doesn’t always set too well with folks! The establishment, employers, even loved ones. So what does one do when the truth has become a stranger and others want you to deny it?

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Pink  Collar Coach – Feeling a little down, but smiling through it. Calvin Klein cold shoulder top, skirt & strappy sandals.

As a Pink Collar Savvy & Chic on Purpose Chick who’s had a full day of dealing with my Ds, I’m feeling a little down. I try to make my posts positive, but I want to avoid the danger of making my life sound idyllic. It’s not. I just have the Lord, loving family and friends. One of them took time out of her work day to pray for me – thank you for that! Besides, if it helps another woman, another swan out there who feels as if she’s alone in dealing with the dirt she’s been dished, then it’s worth it for me to wear my tattered heart on my sleeve. After all, if a problem shared is half solved, perhaps a D divested is half done…I hope so.

How do you handle situations where someone close to you, personally or professionally,  is blatantly untruthful?

Be savvy & chic,

~Pink Collar Coach

Fall Fashion – Bells and Ruffles

Fall Fashion – Bells and Ruffles

It’s Day 146 of the Pink Collar Savvy & Chic on Purpose Project, and it feels like fall, which means it’s time for fall fashion, and this season, it’s in the form of bells and ruffles. But it feels like fall in more ways than one. In light of the tragic events in Nevada, and an email that came home today stating that my children’s school had been put on lockdown due to a nearby Kroger store being robbed, my heart was tempted to fear. Add to that the fact that I have to face something tomorrow that makes me trepidatious and I could easily curl up indoors and cower inside my comfortable world.

Thankfully, as it happens so often, a song on my favorite Christian radio station came on and I sang the chorus at the top of my lungs: “You make me brave! You make me brave! You call me out beyond the shore into the waves!” Bolstered by the fact that we are not called to fear, but to step out into the world with courage, I figure we might as well do it in style, right? Hence this lighthearted post on two of the looks I, as a girly-girl, love this season: bell sleeves and ruffled details. But whether you love very feminine looks or not, these pretty pieces can freshen up your fall look.

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Lightweight gray Calvin Klein bell sleeve sweater (TJ Maxx, $30) is perfect for the transition from early mornings, to warm days, and back to cooler nights. I plan to pair it with gray corduroys  and a gray suede skirt. 
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Lightweight fawn colored Calvin Klein sweater with ruffled detail at the shoulder (TJ Maxx, $30). The color is versatile and can be worn as a neutral. I plan to pair with brown slacks & a fawn suede skirt. 

As a Pink Collar Savvy & Chic on Purpose Chick who is currently working from home as I grown my business, I want to be a good steward of my resources. Besides, there’s no need for me, or you, to necessarily go out and splurge on several new fall pieces. Although we may  love fashion, there’s no need to be a slave to it. It’s more about owning our personal sense of style. That means buying pieces we love and then wearing them whether they are “trending” or from two seasons back. Mixing a few current pieces with oldies but goodies is fun and frugal. And it prevents buyers remorse if you load up on statement pieces that you wouldn’t be caught dead in next year!

So, while we might not want to go for all this season’s bells and whistles, it’s alright to go for a few bells and ruffles!

And I hope you’ll join me in praying for the loved ones of the victims in the latest shooting. God bless you and be safe.

Be savvy & chic,

~Pink Collar Coach

Zumba Instructor Status Success and Instructing Scribes to Set S.M.A.R.T Writing Goals

Zumba Instructor Status Success and Instructing Scribes to Set S.M.A.R.T Writing Goals

Today, Day 145 of the Pink Collar Savvy & Chic on Purpose Project was a day to recuperate from yesterday, Day 144, which was one of the busiest days I’ve had since I’ve gone full-throttle with my business. It started with all-day Zumba certification training where I not only achieved Zumba instructor status success, but met some amazing ladies who share my love of dance and Jesus! It was an amazing experience. After dancing all day, I made a mad rush to get to the Dayton Scribes Mini Writing Conference where I sang and presented on setting S.M.A.R.T. writing goals.

Though I’m asthmatic and used a lot of my breath dancing, I opened my presentation by singing a chorus from one of my all time favorite’s, which is included on the CD I recorded to accompany my debut novel, Seasons of Her Soul. It’s from Nicole Norman’s Legacy.  

I want to leave a legacy,

How will they remember me?

Did I choose to love?

Did I point to you enough? 

To make a mark on things

I want to leave an offering

A child of mercy and grace

Who blessed your name unapologetically

And leave that kind of legacy.

Then I spoke about how we can’t leave a legacy if we don’t use our gifts to bless others. For writers, that means sharing our writing. And whether you’re a writer or not, you probably know that a goal without a plan is just a wish. So, even though you’ve probably heard about S.M.A.R.T. Goals at some point, I hope what I presented will serve as a helpful refresher:

S.M.A.R.T. Goal Setting

Specific: Clearly define your goal in as much detail as possible. Avoid being vague. Think of The 5 Ws – Who, What, Where, When, and Why.

My Example: I (who) will work at my desk (where) and make needed revisions to my manuscript (what) within the week (when) in order to submit to my publisher (what, who) and make my deadline (why).

Measurable: Be able to measure the outcome and how you will track your progress. Use numbers.

My Example: I will follow a revision plan consisting of one revision session per week day for one week until all are complete. 1/5, 2/5, 3/5, 4/5, 5/5 (Could use # of chapters, words, etc.).

Attainable: Make sure your goal is realistic. While it can be good to set stretch goals, it is not good to set yourself up for failure. Set yourself up for success by devising an appropriate writing plan that is reasonable. Also, be sure you have all needed resources.

My Example: I am going to revise half a section in the morning, take a creative health break, then revise the remainder in the afternoon. I’ll need to mark the sections that need revisions beforehand. I’ll also need coffee! ; )

Relevant: Consider whether your goal is worthwhile and enhances your (writing) career. Why are you doing it? Because someone else suggested it or because it’s actually important to you? It should fit into your life and larger (writing) goals.

My Example: I am setting this revisions goal to not only abide by my publisher’s request but to appeal to more readers. I can’t be so married to my writing that it will turn readers away. It will also help me to grow as a writer.

Time-oriented: Your goal should have a specific timeframe, with dates.

My Example: I will have all revisions complete within the week, by Friday, October 6. (Putting a reminder in your phone is helpful).

Writing it down is so critical to success. If you think you don’t need to and aren’t even willing to do the “work” of writing it down, it’s highly improbable that’ll you’ll do the real work to reach your goal…

There were many gifted writers and presenters there, so I was humbled and honored that the information was well received. And the song was a blessing.

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My editor, book coach, and award-winning novelist, Linore Rose Burked.  Kim Villalva, consecutive writing contest winner since 2000 and Dayton Scribes leader.                                    Regency romance author, Kristen Malone. And then there’s me, Pink Collar Coach in                   Calvin Klein pink blazer (my signature of course), cream blouse, black skirt, hose, and booties. 

As a Pink Collar Savvy & Chic on Purpose Coach who also received a warm welcome from my social media sisterhood regarding becoming an instructor, including the request for a special class, I pray I’m leaving my legacy…And I’m going to practice what I preach and devise S.M.A.R.T. goals around a Pink Collar Zumba Holler party where we can dance the Ds (you know depression, divorce, dysfunctional relationships, diagnosis, etc.) away!

Thank you for celebrating my successes with me! I suspect we’ll have some of yours to celebrate at our party once you set and succeed with your own S.M.A.R.T. goals.

Be savvy & chic,

~Pink Collar Coach