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Grand Champion Funkster?

Yes, that could be me! 🙂

By some random chance, Jonathan Senior, of Funky Thinkers, found me through LinkedIn. This connection has since led to some seriously funky fun! A few years ago, I taught a crash course on writing that was facilitated by Jonathan, and over the past several months, I’ve been competing on his interactive conversation show online called FunkQuest. I’m loving this!

Well, after 25 Funksters and 42 episodes, little old me has made it to the grand final round. The prize is the title, but how cool to add “Grand Champion Funkster” to a resume? I mean, really?!

The only way I can do it, however, is if enough people vote for moi, so you can help (yes, this is a shameless ask). Simply email “VOTING” to Leana@FunkyThinkers.com You will NOT get signed up for emails or put on any lists. It’s a one-time, super generous thing, and I’d love you for it.

You can watch the final competition by clicking this pic:

THANK YOU, FELLOW FUNKSTERS! And if you’d like to be on the show yourself, just send me a message, and I’ll hook you up.

Stay tuned for updates!

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Grandma Joy – The Girlfriend Takeaway

“I feel sorry for all these poor ladies who don’t have a great grandson like I’ve got.”

Great grandson, indeed, and the first and only man to ever be on Girlfriend, We Need To Talk! Why did I break with the show’s tradition? Because this story belongs to two people, not just one, and thanks to them both, we’re able to virtually tag along.

In the middle part of the last decade, Brad was chatting with her grandmother, Joy, when he discovered that she’d never seen a mountain. He decided to fix that and maybe even help her climb one, so at 85-years-young, Joy’s adventure of visiting every national park began.

“I decided, I’ll do it. I don’t mind trying something once. You never know. If you don’t ever try, you have regrets the next day you didn’t do it.”

There are 62 national parks altogether, and Joy and Brad only have two locations left now to visit: Sequoia and Alaska. Alaska has 8 parks of its own, so they’ll be spending a lot of time up there, which is planned for this coming summer. But as much as this trip has shortened their bucket lists, it has also provided a space to address fractured families and the beauty that comes with reconnecting. Joy and Brad lost a decade of life that they didn’t get to share together, but they’re making up for it now on the road.

“I really recommend [this] for anybody who’s trying to reconcile with somebody that they care about and love. I think when you’re in a vehicle, and there’s nowhere to go, you have that time. A lot of conversations that are much needed will inevitably emerge from the silence, and I think that, good or bad, tough or easy, those are conversations that need to happen, and […] it’s all for the best in the end,” Brad stated.

All of their trips were by vehicle until they had no choice but to fly. And, you guessed it. Joy had never flown before, either.

“It’s a long way down. I kept my fingers crossed. I don’t know if it helped or not, but I did.”

Joy is turning 90 this month, but she shows no sign of slowing down. In fact, this trip has made her look visibly younger. You just have to follow their Instagram posts to see the evidence, but Brad’s watched it firsthand.

“Her coordination and balance have improved and her mobility has improved, but I see it in her eyes, as well. There’s just no getting around the healing power of Mother Nature.”

They both admit to feeling a bit emotional as their 4 years on the road draw to a close, and I think I can speak for many of their followers when I say that we’re feeling it too. Thankfully, there are plans for a book on the horizon, and I can’t wait to get a copy.

This is definitely a story of connection. It’s about the love of family, the absurdity of ageism, and the strength of the human spirit, and I feel personally blessed to have spent just a few minutes talking with Joy and Brad. I can now close my eyes at night and hear not only nature and the crackling of a wood fire but also a conversation that spans generations and reminds us all of what’s truly important in our lives.

I think Brad said it best:

“No matter how ordinary we see ourselves, we all have the ability to have an extraordinary impact on other people.”

And my biggest takeaway from Joy?

“People keep telling elderly people, You’re old. You can’t do that. That’s the worst thing they can do.”

Grandma Joy’s full interview can be heard but clicking HERE.

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A Podcast Change of Direction

Wow. My podcast is a year old! Hard to believe.

Yes, Girlfriend, We Need To Talk! is moving into its second season, and I couldn’t be more thrilled. Interviewing 52 outstanding women from around the globe has brought me inspiration, connection, and some pretty amazing new friendships. #blessedgirl

As some of you know, I started the show a year ago, because I missed having deep, get-to-the-heart-of-it conversations with girlfriends. We’re lucky in this lifetime if we can develop even a couple of relationships that deliver in this way. With one bestie lost to breast cancer, and the other living miles away, I decided to be proactive in connecting with inspiring women who had something say.

I loved every one of these interviews, but some highlights of the last year included Dr. Betty Edwards, author of Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, leadership expert Sally Helgesen, style influencer Debra Rapoport, and most recently, Joy Ryan and her grandson, Brad, of Grandma Joy’s Road Trip. And suffice it to say, that after each conversation, I’m inspired to try something new.

The show’s new season will see a couple of changes, including a new spiffy intro and delivery every other Monday (versus weekly), with my blog post, The Girlfriend Takeaway, coming out on alternate weeks. In this way I can focus on some exciting new projects and continue to bring amazing women into your headphones that will hopefully make a difference in how you see the world and conduct your life.

And I’m THRILLED to announce that my first interview of my second season is with the incomparable KAT EDMONSON! I had the absolute pleasure of sitting down with her recently at The Kessler in Dallas, TX, and I can’t wait for you to hear what she had to say about our inner most wishes and dreams. Her episode will air on Monday, March 9th.

Thank you SO MUCH to those who have followed the podcast for the last year and continue to show their support. My hope is that you gain great insights into your own potential through these interviews and that you consider yourself outstanding just the way you are.

Women rock, girlfriends, and we become unstoppable when we share our stories and build each other up. Never, ever stop believing.

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Tanya Wills – The Girlfriend Takeaway

“It’s not just a hobby; it’s not just something to dabble in or keep me busy. It’s who I am.”

Tanya Wills had a life before music. It just wasn’t the one she was meant to live. She’s now walking on her most genuine path with a grateful heart.

Performing and singing started at an early age, but Tanya never considered herself a singer. As a result, she didn’t become one. Instead, he married, worked as a police officer for 20 years, and raised two children. Her husband had trouble understanding her artistic passions, but she couldn’t shut them off.

“I got depressed. I lost myself, and it became a real struggle.”

Eventually, her childhood love of music became an incessant nagging, and she had to find a way to bring it back into her life.

“There’s no denying it. You can try, but be prepared to be miserable.”

She forced herself out there, starting with swing music and eventually forming the Tanya Willis Quartet with Bill Bridges, Jordan Klapman, and Ron Johnston.

Her advice if you’re experiencing incessant creative nagging?

“Those things are your passion. They’re just who you are. You have to find a way to do that.”

Take into account that Tanya started this rewarding journey in her forties, so it’s more than doable, regardless of age.

“It’s never too late to start new stuff. Ex-cop, single mother for a while with two kids, moving into starting a new business […], deciding to shift into being a jazz singer and creating a CD before she’s almost 50. It’s never too late. It’s a number. Do what you’re excited about. […] And be authentic, that’s the thing. Be true to yourself. That has carried me through some bumpy patches.”

Ah, yes. There is my biggest takeaway, and one that consistently shows up in my interviews with women. Authenticity! When we stop being what the world wants us to be, we shine, shine, shine!

“I think until you take your last breath, it’s a journey of discovery. Hopefully it’s exciting along the way.”

Amen, girlfriend!

You can hear Tanya’s inspiring interview by clicking HERE. It is also available on iHeart Radio, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts. And check her out on YouTube!

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LeNora Faye – The Girlfriend Takeaway

“When are you having kids?”

It’s a question almost every young woman hears, especially if they’ve recently married. Many, however, avoid giving an answer. Why? Because a barrage of further questioning is sure to follow.

Enter LeNora Faye. She (along with myself, incidentally) has chosen not to have kids, and she’s here to tell you that if you feel the same way, you’re not alone and you’re not crazy.

“For me, I just never felt that motherhood looked appealing to me.”

LeNora is the woman behind The Bitchy Bookkeeper, a childfree lifestyle blog that addresses this very issue. She’s also one of three women who started the web series Childfree Girls. Contributing from her home in Calgary, she cohosts with Kristen Tsetsi in Connecticut and Isabel Firecracker in Columbia. Don’t you just love technology?

Canada, of course, is a more liberal-minded country, and pro-choice offers more options, but rarely is there conversation around the decision to not ever get pregnant in the first place.

“We’ve got birth control so that we can decide when we want to have kids, but nobody talks about deciding to not have kids.”

She (and again, myself) wants to make it clear that those who choose not to have children don’t judge those who do. And it certainly doesn’t mean that we dislike children. Hardly. It’s simply a matter of choosing one’s own path, and for some of us, kids aren’t on it. It doesn’t mean we’re selfish, because a non-existent entity can’t be denied. And it doesn’t mean we’ll regret it someday. I, for one, can speak to that. LeNora just wants to raise awareness for those who may be secretly dreading backlash for their decision. Or those who wonder if there’s something wrong with them for not wanting what everyone else wants.

“People may feel like they don’t want to have children, but the awareness of a choice is not always there. Not with my experience.”

LeNora was not aware of a childfree community and remained focused on her ambitions and goals for years. It wasn’t until 2018 that she became overwhelmed with the desire to talk about her choice. Well aware that it’s nobody’s business whether she had kids or not, she just felt it wrong to stay silent. She started acknowledging her own feelings about it and began reaching out to other people.

“I’m all about creating positivity and making the life that you choose the best it can be. I just want to talk and have these conversations about this particular topic, because I love talking about it, and it just brings positive awareness. You can go through life, whatever stage you’re at, and make the most of it.”

Agreed!

I loved my conversation with LeNora and could have continued it for hours. And even if you don’t understand our choice, or don’t agree with what she has to say, you may get some insight into that one friend who just doesn’t want to be a mom. We’re not all cut out for the role, you know. Not anymore than some guys aren’t meant to be dads. Guess what. That’s perfectly okay.

If you want to hear LeNora’s insightful and passionate interview, click HERE. And if you want more info on the topic of childfree living, check out what this outstanding woman is up to below.

Thank you, LeNora! I wish I’d had your blog and web series when I was in my twenties. Truly.

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