It’s Day 31 (reset) of the Pink Collar Savvy & Chic on Purpose Project, and as we head toward my daughter’s Sweet 16th birthday this weekend, I’m sentimental about a lot of things, including my high school best friend and how wonderful life is while she’s in the world. My freshman year was so hard. I didn’t start at my college prep high school until freshman year while almost everyone else did 7th grade. They’d already formed their cliques and made it painfully clear there was to be no acceptance of a black girl who wasn’t “black enough” to fit in with the them. But I wasn’t white which made admittance to that group a no go as well . Add the fact that my middle school boyfriend dumped me for an upperclassman who went all the way with him right away after I hadn’t in almost three years…I became a social pariah. All of her friends bullied me to the point where there were days when I honestly wanted to die. Then sophomore year, beautiful, popular Josette did more than befriend me. In many ways she saved me. Love and gratitude for our lifelong friendship made us wrap our arms around each other and sing along as we watched Rocketman on the big screen and a young Elton John, masterfully portrayed by Taron Egerton, serenade his best friend Bernie with “How Wonderful Life Is While You’re in the World”.
Life has taken us down different paths and hasn’t always made it easy for us to get together. But when we do, the thirty-four years that have passed since we were sophomores fade away and we’re both Sweet 16 again. Connected at our core. Giggling over guys. Grateful to God for each other. And always singing songs…Part of the reason I wasn’t considered “black enough” is my love of a wide variety of music, including that of Sir Elton John. Josette and I share that and sang throughout. We also shed several tears. You see, my sweet, strong Swan Soul Sister is a recent D –– challenge women face –– survivor. In the form of a breast cancer diagnosis and double mastectomy. With amazing faith, positivity and reconstructive surgery, she’s minimized this barrier and is maximizing beauty and her best life. In doing so, she’s become one of my she-roes. Which makes life even more wonderful while she’s still in the world.
I pray you have a special Swan Sister who’s been in your life as long as Josette’s been in mine. And that even if you aren’t a fan of Elton John and wouldn’t want to see the movie ––- which was weird and wonderful (from my favorite “Benny and the Jets”!) –– with them, you still may want to let them know “How Wonderful Life is While You’re in the World”.
It’s Day 29 (reset) of the Pink Collar Savvy & Chic on Purpose Project, and viewing myself on video was eye opening. As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, some Pink Collar Swans surprised me for my 50th bday by showing up for my Thursday class. Among them, was a Zumba mentor, Marina, who instructs elsewhere. She filmed me teaching Save the Last Dance, which is at the end of my playlist and captured me in all of my sweaty glory! Even so, because we don’t have a mirror at the Y, I feel as though she gave me the gift of being able to really see what my students do when I’m in front of them. Boy is it eye opening! It’s like the first time I heard an audio recording of myself and thought, Do I really sound like that? My voice sounded so high and had a country twang to it…And while I heard the twang loud and clear in my, Boom! Stay here!, it’s also clear to me that the joy I feel while dancing doesn’t show in my face. The smile in my heart is eclipsed by the fight to breathe through my asthma. Not the takeaway I expected from viewing myself on video.
Me, Pink Collar Coach in my Calvin Klein Performance wear and New Balance shoes.
All from TJ Maxx.
Dancing is one of the most effective strategies for me to deal with my Ds –– the barriers and challenges women face. In fact, though I’d been doing it for a few years prior to my hysterectomy, it wasn’t until I returned to Zumba after complications with surgery due to an additional diagnosis that I realized I needed the exercise to not only regain my stamina and loose the weight I put on during nine weeks in bed, its psychological benefits are tremendous. I believe my students would say I smile and bring positive energy to the class before and after, but asthma or no asthma, I should smile some during! By doing so, I’ll be further minimizing my asthma diagnosis barrier and maximizing beauty and my best life. I’ll certainly look better while sweating!
I pray you’ll be Pink Collar Savvy & Chic on Purpose and make the most of opportunities to critique yourself. Be it through watching a video, listening to a recording, or good old-fashioned self-evaluation for a performance appraisal…But here’s the catch: So often we’re only focused on our areas for growth. Instead, let’s focus on our strengths and maximize them. In my case, I’ve got everything going for me as a Zumba instructor because I love to dance and have been blessed with crazy good mentors who’ve helped develop this talent into a strength. Now I just need to amp up the smile factor to take my instruction to the next level. I suppose that’s the true takeaway from viewing myself on video.
The cover a book full of inspirational quotes gathered for those facing a diagnosis –– one of the Ds or barriers women face –– and those who love them. It is meant to strengthen their resolve and comfort their souls.
Whatever D –– diagnosis, a death, debt, depression, divorce, domestic court, domestic violence, discouragement, discrimination, dysfunction, etc. –– you are facing right now, may the words and this simple post do that for you.
Given to me by my Swan Sister, Kibby for my 50th Bday, may it especially encourage you today! And Holly, my Kinder Care Sister, may it do that for you because you’re one of my s-heroes! You both got this because ultimately, God’s got you!!!
It’s Day 6 of being back to blogging and I’m still glowing from time spent with one of my BFFS –– we’re high school sisters by heart. In many ways, Josette saved me in the 10th grade. While in junior high I’d tested into a Walnut Hills, a college prep school , but unlike most who did, I didn’t start as a 7th grader, which meant all of the cliques had already been formed by the time I showed up as a freshman. Thirty-five years later, I can honestly say it was one of the worst periods of my life. I was bullied for being a Peppermint Patty –– black on the outside and white on the inside –– and didn’t fit in with either group of kids. Add to that the fact that my junior high boyfriend AKA best friend dumped me for an upperclassman who rallied her friends to bully me too, and there were days when I felt I’d rather die than go another day. Only my faith, family and friends outside school got me through. Beautiful, funny, sweet Josette befriending me the following year remains one of the things for which I’m forever grateful. God knit us together in so many ways that we truly became high school sisters by heart.
Thirty plus years later, though life has not afforded us very many opportunities to spend time hanging out, every interaction feels as though no time has passed. Our discussions no longer center around cute boys, Prince and challenges with our home lives. Now they’re about dealing with the Ds ( the challenges women face like divorce, diagnosis, etc.) but the level of comfort, ease and depth of connection remain the same. This was the case when I treated her to a 50th birthday dinner a few months ago. And the birthday was the best I’ve ever spent with her because she’s conquered a huge D as a one year survivor of stage 4 breast cancer and a double mastectomy. I have ALWAYS loved Josette. Now I absolutely treasure and look up to her more than ever.
The thought of losing my high school BFF has made me more intentional about not letting as much time pass between spending time with my Swan Soul Sister….Hopefully my sharing will inspire you to be Pink Collar Savvy & Chic and do the same with your old friends. After all, you can always make new friends but you can’t make old ones like high school sisters by heart.
It’s Day 162 of the Pink Collar Savvy & Chic on Purpose Project and I’m adding a diverticulitis diagnosis to my Ds. Some of you regular readers know I haven’t been feeling well for a few weeks. Yesterday and last night were so bad I finally broke down and went to the doctor today. Many of you also know that the Ds refers to the various barriers we Pink Collar women face like diagnosis, depression, dysfunctional relationships, discrimination, divorce, death, etc., etc. So when my doctor examined me and diagnosed me with diverticulitis, or infection in the intestines that can develop as we near our fifties, I laughed to myself and thought, Another D!
As much as I didn’t like this diagnosis, I’m relieved that it’s something that’s easily treated with antibiotics. While I waited on the two she prescribed, I grabbed a green tea chai latte. Apparently, I looked a little green too because the barista handed me my cup with the below message scribbled on it. The soothing tea and the smiley face with no nose made my day…Some of you may be thinking, why is she sharing all of this? TMI! Well, as much as I want to encourage women, I also want to be transparent enough that women who are dealing with diagnosis and other Ds know you are not alone.
As a Pink Collar Savvy & Chic on Purpose Chick who has so many things going on, it’s frustrating to have yet another D cause me to miss things like an important meeting today, Zumba yesterday and today when I’m supposed to be preparing to teach my first full class at the Y this weekend, and working on revisions to meet my debut novel book deadline. Still, I’m thankful that I’ve learned to listen to my body and take a break when I need it, even when it means letting some other things go undone for a while. I’m also thankful for my Pink Collar Savvy & Chic barista who took a moment to wish me well. And I’m especially thankful for my Pink Collar Savvy & Chic doctor who made time in her busy schedule for a sick visit to diagnose me. Even though it added another D to the list!
How about you? Are you dealing with any diagnoses that have you down? Yet another D? If so, listen to your body and practice good self care. I pray you encounter small acts of kindness that heal your body and spirit.