Category: Uncategorized (page 3 of 22)

Mrs. Claus – The Girlfriend Takeaway

“I’m the first lady of the North Pole.”

Yes, she most certainly is, which is why I fought tooth and nail to get an exclusive interview. No easy feat this time of year, believe you me. So, if anyone deserves a pampering pedicure after yesterday, it’s her!

Let me start by saying that I’m kind of ashamed of myself. I went into this interview in hopes of uncovering dirt. I wanted the down low on the big show (and the big guy in particular). You see, like most grown-ups, I’ve been disappointed by role models at enough turns to induce vertigo, so surely there had to be secrets.

Instead, what I got was a version of a Hallmark script that makes the recently released Mr. Rogers movie look like a horror flick. Mrs. C’s account of life at the pole came with so much sugar, I thought I’d lapse into a diabetic coma, but something else happened instead.

I heard about how the couple met, how consistently kind Santa is at home, and her advice on making relationships work. And, although initially turned off by her love of the traditional role she holds in their marriage, I was impressed at just how much she genuinely loves what she does. So, who am I to judge?

“I am where I’m supposed to be in my life. Helping others spread the joy of Christmas.”

What struck me most about this behind the scenes celeb was her advice for young girls (and old).

“You need to be yourself. Don’t try to be anyone else. Love yourself. You are unique. Don’t grow up too fast. Enjoy the innocence of your childhood. You are smart, you are kind, you are beautiful, and you are enough.”

Amen, Sista Christmas!

In the end, the cynic in me took a backseat, and I found myself the willing recipient of all that this girlfriend lives to dole out – a massive dose of Christmas spirit.

Mrs. C. admits to having a strong circle of girlfriends (something I advise for all), and I admit to wanting to be part of it. If this power couple passes through Dallas on the way to their upcoming Cayman Island vacay, I may have to coax them into sharing a cup of “magical hot cocoa.”

Thanks for the interview, girlfriend, and enjoy your much deserved downtime!

You can listen to Mrs. Claus’s interview HERE, but it’s also available on iHeart Radio, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, or wherever your favorite podcasts play.

Mrs. Claus was played by the very talented comedienne, Shonda O’Neal.

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Christmas Past

In peaceful reminiscence
I sat alone today,
With Christmas tree my vision
And gifts upon display

Yet in the seats surrounding
Old souls did take their place,
Strongly felt in spirit
But absent voice or face

My mother gently kissed me
And took her favorite chair,
Aunts all came together
Each one a hug to share

Uncles soon did follow
Some boisterous, others shy,
And cousins, just a couple
Each one too young to die

Then each of my grandparents
Their presence regal, strong,
And at their heels our precious pets
Right back where they belong

And who all were and still remain
Brought thoughts to me so clear,
How in this blessed season
Each one again appears

Not just within our memories
Not just through stories told,
But through our kindness, through our hearts
And deep within our souls

~ Leana Delle
Sunday, December 22, 2019
2019 Sunday Poetry Challenge – Number fifty of fifty-two
Photo Credit: Leana Delle

Janice Bristow – The Girlfriend Takeaway

“I just think that if everybody could give what they can when they can, the world would be a better place.”

I couldn’t agree more, but Janice Bristow takes her giving to a whole new level. She works at it, but she assures me it doesn’t take a lot of her time.

What’s her secret? Couponing! Her family always couponed, so she was no stranger to the process, but when she started to find deals on items that she’d never use, she had a brainwave.

Why not get the products, which she often can for free (yes, free), and give them to people who need them? Now she and her sister, Sheila, make this a regular practice. It’s not just a Christmas thing, either. They do it all year round.

The most they’ve saved on items to donate? Get this. For their church’s Thanksgiving food drive, the girls got all of what you see in this pic for $64.00, which retail would have cost close to $730.00! Always on the lookout for a deal, they acquired this haul over time to deliver for the holiday.

Recipients vary from their church to their local food bank, women’s shelter, youth shelter, and even the Humane Society. Janice also works in long-term care, so she’ll sometimes share items with the residents there, as well. And most recently, in their hometown of Collingwood, Ontario, Canada, an “Out of the Cold” program started, offering 12 beds to homeless individuals on cold winter nights. Food is mostly being donated from local restaurants and grocery stores, but Janice and Sheila are contributing with personal items like deodorant, toothpaste/toothbrushes, etc.

“It’s about knowing your prices, and it’s about knowing the rules of couponing and stores.”

As for those stores, she assures me they aren’t losing out.

“They’re not going bankrupt because of me.”

Oh sure, there are other folks out there working the couponing gig to save on items they don’t need, but they’re doing it to sell them and make a profit. Not Janice and Sheila.

“There are people out there who don’t have shampoo to wash their hair. Or if they buy the shampoo, maybe they can’t buy milk. That’s kind of where I’m coming from. If I can give them the shampoo, it gives them maybe $10.00 extra dollars to spend on food.”

Janice is also generous with her knowledge. She’s taught classes on couponing (including how to not spend a lot of time on this), and she’s available to answer questions through her Facebook page that’s dedicated to the practice. It’s all about paying it forward.

“Maybe you only have $10.00 that you can give, but that’s $10.00 from me this week and $10.00 from you next week, and it all adds up. There are people way less fortunate than I am, and if you can help somebody up a little bit, it might just make the difference in their week, their year, whatever.”

To further quote this amazing woman, “A little kindness goes a long way.”

It most certainly does.

You can listen to Janice’s interview HERE or on iHeart Radio, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify or where your favorite podcasts live.

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I Love Savings

Where Our Hearts Belong

If something were to come my way
I’d never seen before,
With face and eyes and nose – or none
Two legs, or three or four

I wouldn’t try and shy away
From all that’s not like me,
Instead, I’d hold a hand outstretched
Despite no guarantee

I’d speak in gentle, soothing tones
To help put fear to rest,
And smile wide with lips and eyes
In hopes I’d pass the test

From outer space or heaven’s gate
Or just a foreign land,
I’d err to favor kindness
The type that’s offered friends

And if I someday find myself
On space ship, wing, or plane,
I pray to come across a being
Who’d treat me just the same

It matters not at all, you see
Which side you’re standing on,
For when we’re sharing common soil
It’s where our hearts belong

~ Leana Delle
Sunday, December 15, 2019
2019 Sunday Poetry Challenge – Number forty-nine of fifty-two
Photo Credit: Gilbert Beltran

Kris Hallenga – The Girlfriend Takeaway

Kris Hallenga can sum up what has become her life’s mission in a few short sentences:

“I had never been told to check my boobs or anything about the disease when I was in school, and what if I had? Would it have made any difference, and would I have been checking myself and picked up on the symptoms sooner? I like to think so, and that it would have made a massive difference in my prognosis. Maybe I wouldn’t still have cancer now.”

This phenomenal young woman was diagnosed with stage lV breast cancer at the age of 23. Stage lV meaning that her cancer had spread beyond just breast tissue. She also had it in her spine.

“Because I didn’t know anything about the disease, and I didn’t know anyone who had it, I didn’t have any reference to something that I thought other people got, not me.”

Hmm. The dreaded Not me! statement. How many of us have said or thought that? Well, Kris is here to change that dialogue, especially for younger women.

Within just a month of her diagnosis, which is amazing in itself, she established Coppafeel, an organization focused on the education and empowerment of young women. No one was teaching young people about breast cancer, self-examining, or what to look for.

“I wasn’t sure what it would end up being, but after some research and a couple of festivals in the summer where we’d just talk to young people in a field about their breasts, we thought it’s probably best that we were a charity. More than anything, to be able to raise money to keep doing what we’re doing and have some credibility.”

Kris was given 2.5 years to live at the time of her diagnosis, but now, almost eleven years later, Coppafeel is raising approximately $2,000,000.00/year. Those funds go toward education programs in schools and workplaces, and providing reminders such as regular text messages to get checking and shower stickers listing the signs and symptoms of breast cancer. And their face-to-face delivery is done by a cadre of ambassadors called Boobettes, all of whom have had cancer under the age of 35 and can tell their own anecdotal stories. They also attend festivals (festifeels) every summer in a big boob van. Yes, you read that correctly – a boob van. Love it!

One of the many things that impresses me about this organization and Kris’s work is the fact that they have also fought hard to get cancer education included in school curriculum. After years of campaigning and fighting to meet the right people, that is now happening.

“It makes so much sense for young people to learn those life lessons at an age when that kind of stuff can stick – before we learn a lot of fear associated with cancer. And knowing that they [students] have been given a much better chance of survival is what it’s all about. It’s about the fact that it is now curable and not something that has be with you for life. But the thing is, you have to catch it early, and you have the power to make sure that happens.”

To date, Kris’s own cancer journey, like those of so many others, has been challenging at best. Since initially having spread to her spine, it has since made its way to her hips, pelvis, liver, and most recently, her brain. Last year alone, she had 54 tumors successfully treated with very targeted radiotherapy. Regardless, she remains optimistic and positive even though her disease remains incurable.

“I just wish I knew of other people like me, and if I’d known when I was first diagnosed that people lived this long with this disease, I think it would have given me so much hope. I guess that’s one of the reasons that I continue to share my story and try and educate people as much as possible. Knowing that someone is out there still very much alive 11 years later, I think is very good to hear when you’re feeling so, so hopeless.”

Her own previous reference to the disease was in film and movies, none of which spoke to her own experience following diagnosis.

“It’s usually someone dies or they get the all clear. What about the people in the middle, or people who aren’t being told that they are going to survive but aren’t dying yet, either? Where do we fit in? So I’m out there trying to educate people about me and the fact that it’s possible to live with this disease in a relatively normal way.”

And thank God she is! When my best friend was diagnosed with stage lV breast cancer years ago, she was given 6 months to live and lived almost four years, and believe me, those first 6 months for her were hell. When she made it past that projected expiration date, she had a new lease on life, so let’s all, like Kris, celebrate possibility and taking one day at a time.

Kris’s work with Coppafeel is literally saving lives. Let’s honor her by copping our own feel today, kicking this disease to the curb.

Check those boobs, ladies!

You can hear Kris’s extremely important interview HERE, or by tuning into iHeart Radio, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, or wherever your favorite podcasts are playing.

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The Sun Columnist Article

Potential

Far from edges of the woods
O’er the crest of hills,
Beyond a river’s flowing blood
And heaven’s window sill

Deep within our beating hearts
Laced throughout our lungs,
Printed on our finger pads
And written on our tongues

The same that’s found in man and beast
The same in tree and flower,
In oceans wet and deserts dry
We share a reverent power

For universe expansive, vast
Its energy within,
Running current, vibrant threads
Through all that makes us kin

To lose one’s sight of all that is
Will dampen at its core,
Potential peace, potential joy
Potential evermore

~ Leana Delle
Sunday, December 8, 2019
2019 Sunday Poetry Challenge – Number forty-eight of fifty-two
Photo Credit: Logan Lambert

Sonia Couto – The Girlfriend Takeaway

“I always think of myself as part of a team. We’re all here to achieve the same goal, and if we all achieve success, we’re all going to be successful.”

It’s quotes like this that make Sonia Couto an award-winning leader. As Director of Konverge Digital Solutions and Founder of MenuSano, she’s gleaned a long list of awards, including CEO of 2019 from the International Association of Top Professionals (IAOTP). During my interview with her this week on my podcast, Girlfriend, We Need To Talk!, it became obvious that they were all well earned.

“I try to lead by example. If I ask for something, I’ll also do it, just so that I’m leading, but I’m also showing that I can do the work.”

And her work is meaningful. Menusano launched in 2010, providing labelling software for users to calculate nutritional value in recipes and adjust ingredients to meet nutritional demands. And its development stemmed from the personal needs of both her team and herself.

Sonia is a breast cancer survivor, and her treatment journey unfolded while developing the software. Once in remission, she needed to be careful about what she put in her body. Now she’s able to keep track of that, and her clients are able to provide the info. For example, restaurants can provide calorie information on their menus and create labels on take-out, and users can create their own food analysis, which then allows them to replace ingredients in the software to bring down calorie count. It’s available on the cloud, so anyone can subscribe and use as needed. Brilliant!

I love that this idea came from a genuine need, and I love even more that she survived breast cancer, something she lists as her greatest personal achievement.

“This is such a big thing in my life, and it’s such a huge accomplishment to be able to survive it.”

Beyond the business and beyond the awards, Sonia also found a new approach to life and leadership as a result of her diagnosis.

“I learned how to trust people, I learned how to trust my team, I learned how to delegate. I used to be the type of person who thought that if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself. But getting sick and having to step back a little bit, and having to take time off for treatment and surgeries, I really had to delegate and trust that while I was away the work was going to get done. And my team just stepped up. They didn’t ask any questions, they just started doing the work, so I realized that I don’t have to do everything myself.”

Not afraid to admit to being “a bit of a control freak at times,” this was a valuable lesson, indeed. And a great way to practice self-care.

At one point in my nursing career, I worked in oncology and saw, firsthand, how cancer can change a person’s life. I have also seen, on numerous occasions, how people’s priorities can shift. And so they should, quite obviously, but how rewarding to create a product that can help others fight the good fight with a solid nutritional arsenal.

“Nutrition and food can be medicine. It’s something I live in my personal life.”

And we should all be grateful that she does, setting an example for others. The trick for the rest of us is learning how to appropriately fuel our bodies before we’re faced with this type of challenge instead of after.

Sonia and I agree on the importance of nutrition, and we agree on something else:

“The thing is catching it early. When your body tells you, and you go and you get it checked out, you have a chance to fight it and live a good quality of life afterward.”

Cheers to that. Congrats Sonia!!

You can listen to Sonia’s interview –> HERE <-- and it’s also available on iHeart Radio, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, and Spotify.

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Recent Award for Menusano

December

In it blows, December’s wind
Leaving in its wake,
A blanket thick with virgin snow
Where angels kids will make

With magic clasping mittened hands
All snowmen breathe in life,
And lights come out and lights go up
To decorate the night

Trees appear in windowed homes
Tradition hung to branch,
As years gone by bring smiles, tears
And thoughts of past romance

I dream it still, as though a child
In fields of sparkling white,
That winter’s joy and beauty
Will bring hearts and souls delight

For in that field I also see
A chance to forge a path,
That leads to my December years
With peace and love intact

~ Leana Delle
Sunday, December 1, 2019
2019 Sunday Poetry Challenge – Number forty-seven of fifty-two
Photo Credit: Leana Delle

Jeanette Bessinger – The Girlfriend Takeaway

Jeannette Bessinger is here to save our butts over the holidays. Well, to save them from getting any bigger, that is, but she’s also an all year round health and consciousness coach who knows a thing or two about balancing women’s fitness, food, and mood. I’m all for that. And she applies her know-how to the awesome lifestyle transformation program that she founded and designed called MeBoot.

This outstanding woman was my guest on Monday’s podcast, and I liked her immediately. She delivered great energy, a great story, and even greater advice.

Jeannette had been working on a previous gig that had been successful but eventually left her feeling burned out. As a result, she took some time off, slowly pulling back from work pressures and the demands of social media. This led to a full-on break, involving a long road trip with her husband and beloved pets. It’s while on the road that “a shift happened,” which, after she returned, continued. She got a rare, if not singular, opportunity to spend several weeks alone with family taken care of elsewhere, and soon after, she and her husband downsized from a four-story house to a home with just four rooms.

What did she have to show for all of these radical changes? Epiphanies, that’s what, and we’re all better off for her having had them.

“It’s almost like all the pieces of my career, all the different things that I had done and people that I’d worked with, all of them kind of rose up in the air and rearranged themselves, and when they settled again, I had a completely different picture of what makes a vibrant, healthy lifestyle for women today.”

The result was the birth of MeBoot, her interconnected program that’s making a world of difference to her subscribers. She attributes this brainchild to her sequence of events, but she admits that the act of clearing out, both her space and her mind, led to one of the five essential pillars that make up her trainings.

“Before you can even begin to make changes in what you eat and your daily rhythms, you have to make space for something new to come in. It’s like a spiritual law of physics.”

But how does all of this relate to healthy eating?

“Changes occur in our forties and over on the plate but off the plate, as well. All of the other parts of ourselves and our lives are intermingled deeply, profoundly, with the way that we eat.”

Jeannette reminded me that 95% of weight loss attempts are failures, and there are fundamental flaws in the ways we operate. It’s all about that interconnected approach.

And the holidays? A time when people, including myself, traditionally gain poundage?

She talked about decision fatigue or our willpower batteries getting low.

“I think we’re on decision burn out all the time, and in the holidays it gets cranked up. If we have to make a decision every single time we’re faced with a holiday treat challenge, we’re literally going to wear out that battery by nine o’clock in the morning.”

And we all know that that lasts over a long period of days, not just Christmas morning.

My biggest takeaway from Jeannette was that we need to set behaviors and decisions in advance so that we’re prepared. An example of a decision could be, I’ll have one drink or one dessert, or I’m going to have one dessert in the next four days. But the trick is to make it non-negotiable. And the best part is this:

“Every single time you stick to it, you strengthen that track in your brain of being in a certain kind of mastery around your choices.”

In other words, craft your formula, and if stick to it, you’ll strengthen your choice muscle and reach mastery. BAM!

And one of the best pieces of advice that applies not just to the holidays but to literally everything in life: “Stay present.”

I couldn’t agree more, and although we’ve now made it through Thanksgiving, her advice will get us through Christmas, as well. Only Santa really needs those cookies.

Check out Jeannette’s interview –> HERE <--.

You can also listen on iHeart Radio, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, or wherever your favorite podcasts are heard.

Thanks, Jeannette!

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Thanks Giving

A day draws near for gratitude
One for giving thanks,
Though prep and planning in advance
Can fill a soul with angst

With travel near and travel far
As families reunite,
The bustle of the season
Can frustrate or delight

But in the midst of mayhem
A moment does await,
A pause, a rest, so fleeting
To blink may change its fate

When all have finally gathered
And worries fall away,
As voices mix with laughter
And stop only to pray

This is when it matters
This is when our hearts,
Should fill to overflowing
Before another parts

For those that are and those that were
And moments that we’ve shared,
Are truly all that matters
Truly something rare

~ Leana Delle
Sunday, November 24, 2019
2019 Sunday Poetry Challenge – Number forty-six of fifty-two
Photo Credit: Debby Hudson

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