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The Day We Found Out K Was Truly, Deeply Sick

There is a moment of gripping terror in your heart when you realize your child isn’t just sick, but that she is sick.

For weeks, Kerrigan had sworn up and down that something was wrong. “My stomach hurts,” she’d say. Or, “I just don’t feel good,” she’d say. And I, her mother, who is supposed to know everything, didn’t know anything. I couldn’t could give definition to such obscure complaints.

“Well, what did you eat?” I’d answer, struggling to help put structure to something that seemed more and more to be a vague ailment with no real cause.

“I don’t know,” said the teenager, a typical answer when you’re 14 and you don’t know to tell your mother the symptoms that matter like, “I’m thirsty all the time, Mom,” or “I’m peeing in the middle of the night, Mom,” or “I know I’m losing weight, Mom, but I’m eating ALL THE TIME because I’m starving.”

The last of which I had noticed, but attributed it to an eating disorder.

“You know what bulimia is?”

“I’m not bulimic, Mom,” she’d say, exasperated, knowing better than I, her own body and that she was, in fact, sick, but without the ability to express why she knew, or how.

“I’ll call the doctor,” I said, and I did.

“She hasn’t gotten better since the flu,” I told the doctor. “Something’s wrong.”

“We don’t need to see her,” they said after I communicated to them the symptoms I was told, plus the ones I had noticed on my own…she was thinner, paler, surer that something was wrong. “Maybe it’s a food allergy. Start looking at that.”

And so we did. We isolated certain food groups, looking for allergies. Still she peed more and more and in the middle of the night without me noticing; me, who can sleep through anything, never heard her get up in the middle of the night, and she, not realizing it was a symptom, had no reason to tell me otherwise.

Not totally convinced it was a food allergy, her father and I started looking for signs of anorexia nervosa or bulimia, convinced the 35 pounds she had lost in just two months was her own doing.

“It’s not!” she swore up and down, tears in her eyes, “I don’t have an eating disorder!”

I stopped asking for her symptoms, mostly because I already knew what she was telling me, but partly because I didn’t know the right questions to ask. Very few illnesses run in our family and I was blind to the fact that autoimmune diseases ran in my ex-husband’s family, and so I was, too, as a parent, exasperated.

I called her father again. On a Friday. She was going to his house for the weekend.

“Please watch her this weekend, look for anything unusual,” I told him, almost frantically. “I’m taking her to the doctor on Tuesday, because something is wrong.”

She clearly wasn’t getting better. And mother and daughter were both at wit’s end with whatever was causing this vague array of symptoms. What was this thing that was responsible for her now-bony existence every time I hugged her?

She went to her father’s. It was Memorial Day weekend. And that Sunday, she decided to stay at my mother’s house before I picked her up the next day. Memorial Day. I won’t ever forget the frantic phone call from my mother that holiday morning.

“She only weighs 116 pounds,” said my mother, of my 14-year-old daughter, who stood 5’8” and now looked gaunt and sickly pale and had a sore throat. “Something is definitely wrong.”

I got in my car immediately, called her friends to, once again, check my theory of an eating disorder. They swore up and down they had never seen any such behavior. I told my daughter, in the car, on the way to Nationwide Children’s Hospital, “This is your chance. Tell me now if this is in any way self-inflicted.”

“I swear to you, Mom,” she said again, this time calm and reassured, because she was finally going to the hospital to get a diagnosis, “It’s not an eating disorder.”

And I believed her this time, because she is my child, and because I knew that she knew, if she was lying, the doctor would be able to tell. And also because, this time, there was a look of relief on her face. She knew something was wrong with her. Had known for a long time, but the mind of a 14-year-old doesn’t know medical terminology or symptoms or any of the ways to express illness except to say, “I know something is wrong.” And then it was up to me, as her parent, to believe her.

And so we pulled into the emergency room at Children’s where the initial physician, a resident, thought the same thing I had. Sized up her scrawny, bony figure and assumed incorrectly, as I had, too, it was the thing of teenage girls desperate to be thin or strep.

“I’ll do a culture,” he shrugged, convinced, as I had been, she was secretly throwing up behind my back.

But I had seen her face. Trusted her words. Knew my daughter. This child, who rarely complained of sickness, swore up and down she was, in fact, sick, of something with no name but which had eaten away 35 pounds in two months, and 10 percent of her body weight in less than two weeks.

“Test her for strep,” I said, before adding confidently and with the clear precision only a mother can provoke in the face of uncertainty. “But I am not leaving this emergency room until you run a full panel on her. Blood, urine, all of it.”

“OK,” he nodded, convinced, as I had been, that she would be released with a strong antibiotic and a few pamphlets on eating disorders within a few hours. He left and a well-meaning nurse standing by saw my seriousness and said to Kerrigan, “Here, go pee in this cup.”

The nurse looked at me and smiled, “Just in case he needs it.”

And in a few hours, my daughter’s cries for help over the last few months were answered with the sudden appearance of IV’s being inserted into her body.

“Just in case,” they said, but I knew it meant something much deeper was going on than strep, which was negative. It meant her body needed fluids, and, at some point, would perhaps need intravenous medications. But what medications? What was happening?

“The doctor will be in to talk to you,” they said.

Kerrigan and I looked at each other.

“It’ll be OK,” I said, as I looked at a mixture of panic and relief in my daughter’s face. She would be helped, she knew, but it would be at the expense of learning what was actually wrong. She stayed strong, asking questions about medical procedures as the nurses who came in and out worked on her IVs and drew blood. Lots and lots of blood. K told them she wanted to be a vet, maybe a doctor, and so hospitals and needles didn’t scare her, like they did me. I had to turn every time they inserted a new line; she watched and laughed at me.

And then, not one, but two doctors, women, came in. I could tell by the look on their faces what was about to happen. There was a strange mix of “good news/bad news” in their eyes that I already knew was, “Well, we’ve got the answer to the cause of your daughter’s seemingly endless discomfort, Ms. Greegor, but unfortunately it’s…”

“Type 1 Diabetes.”

My head, almost involuntarily, shook with surprise. Wait, what?

“She had ketones in her urine,” they said to my blank face.

What the hell is a ketone?

“She was in diabetic ketoacidosis when she arrived,” they said. It was a life threatening condition if not treated quickly, they said. Lucky you brought her in, they said.

Pin pricks
The sticks they use in the E.R. are larger to get more blood from the finger tip. So K had bruised fingertips with large holes for a few weeks after the visit.
All I could think was, “Kerrigan knew all along.”

I sat stunned.

Diabetes? All I knew of diabetes was that sometimes people lost their toes or feet to it; sometimes their lives if it was uncontrolled. But it didn’t run in my family.

And they used the word “disease.”

“It’s a disease,” they said. Like, a real one.

“The pancreas,” they said, “stops making insulin. Period. Your daughter will have to inject insulin into her body for the rest of her life.”

They explained some more but my mind was tuning them out with the shocking revelation. And soon, the doctors left, and I started to call in the support team…my mother, K’s father, Kerrigan’s aunts and uncles, especially her friends, who she would need now, more than ever, the same ones who swore it wasn’t an eating disorder, and they were right. And so was Kerrigan.

At the hospital
Kerrigan learning how to inject herself.
We would stay for three days in the hospital, they had explained, and we would learn everything and anything about diabetes. We would all learn how to measure carbohydrates and measure insulin and give shots and test her blood. But for now, we were stuck in the E.R. until they could somewhat stabilize her condition. They had to eradicate these ketone things, which meant flushing her system with LOTS of fluids through one IV, and then stabilize her blood sugar, which was over 600 when she was admitted, (the normal should be 70-120), through another.

“We’re surprised she’s even conscious,” they said. “That she’s not vomiting,” they said.

And when they said it, I knew how serious it truly was and how lucky, indeed, that we had gotten her to the hospital before we someday found her unconscious, without reason. And then I looked back at all the symptoms and wondered why I hadn’t put the puzzle pieces together. Was there something I missed? Did I not see something I should have? Which question could I have asked that would have changed it? What part of my own understanding and assumptions could I have changed to make it better?

And then, for the first time, I saw Kerrigan cry. Not a light sob, but a full-throat cry that caused her eyes to swell and turn puffy, that made my heart ache as though it was breaking right along with hers. Perhaps from relief to know that she wasn’t crazy, that she had been right all along but without the vocabulary or knowledge to say why. Perhaps from such a life-changing diagnosis that is, initially, disruptive and life-threatening, but, over time, becomes manageable, when cared for properly.

“It’ll be OK,” I said as the tears soaked her hospital gown and my shirt. “I promise.”

And she believed me and she returned back to her normal self in time for the Calvary to arrive and love her, which she desperately needed. Which I desperately needed, too.

K and Memaw
K with my Mom, who stayed in the hospital with us.
K and her friends
K’s friends rushed to her side the night she was admitted.
 

Soon enough, we were moved to the floor, and endured three days of intense education and training; Kerrigan learned how to give herself shots brilliantly—I was, as she said, “in need of a little work,” before my shots were any good. I had to apologize frequently for making her bleed or, worse, bruising her like a peach. Her Dad’s efforts were better and she laughed every time she pointed it out.

The doctors and nurses were brilliant and understanding and comforting, and I felt relief and a deep gratefulness that Nationwide Children’s Hospital was located here and I had access to it. I could never, ever, say enough good things about them or the care we received, both in the E.R., and on the floor. And then, when it came time for me to go back to my job at the Ronald McDonald House, I felt another wave of gratefulness that the House was there, in Columbus. For Dee Anders, the executive director, and for my boss, Ryan Wilkins.

Headed home
K was much happier when she left than when she got there!
I couldn’t leave Kerrigan alone for the first week or two, for fear of lows that would leave her unconscious, as she adjusted to her new insulin regiment of at least four doses a day. And I was new at my job, with no paid leave, and so, they allowed her to come to work with me that first week, to stay in the House during the day, so that I could work and take care of her.

I had volunteered for the House for six years and now I was an employee, but I didn’t fully realize the impact of the House on families until I was the family that needed it. That needed the hospital. And so I went to my knees in prayer and gratefulness that both had been there when my child was sick and needed someone to help her, to ease her illness, to bring her back to life.

And now, because of the care she received at Children’s and because of the love and support she and I both received at the House, she is healthy again. At a normal weight, living a normal life. Her disease, now joined by a companion—Celiac’s disease—is always at the forefront, making an appearance as you’d expect, but the disruptive sickness that she lived at its hands for months has dissipated. She’s preparing for Homecoming and hoping for a cure that, we believe, someday will come.

As a mother, I find new strength in telling her story in the hopes another parent will know the right questions to ask. Will help their child find the right answers, so they can be diagnosed more quickly and won’t have to suffer in silence, unnecessarily.

And this fall, Kerrigan and I, along with her father and family and friends, will walk for the first time in the JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) annual walk to raise money for research to find a cure. A cure we believe can, and will, come in her lifetime.

Will you be part of helping Kerrigan and I find a cure? Donate to our walk to end type 1 diabetes today.  Click HERE. And if you’re so inclined, walk with us. We’re: The “K” team. A nod to “The A Team” and my daughter’s endless supply of courage and strength in the face of unbelievable obstacles she’s already faced in her young life.

K
Now healthy again, K is able to return to a normal life.
Thank you for any and all support for our walk, but most of all, thank you for any and all support of the House and the hospital. Without these two organizations, families truly wouldn’t be able to watch their children get healthy. They are miracle organizations. And I hope you continue to support both.

Women Supporting Women: Julie Hinebaugh Gribben

Julie HER
Julie Hinebaugh Gribben

When I started writing about #WomenSupportingWomen, my friend, Jennifer, from high school (John Glenn High School in New Concord, Ohio) reached out and said she knew the perfect gal to be featured.

“Julie Hinebaugh Gribben,” she said. “She has empowered so many women…I can’t think of anyone more deserving than her to be highlighted in such a way.”

Julie, a Realtor in Pickerington, wasn’t in my high school class so I didn’t know her personally, but I always remembered her as being friendly with a pretty smile. But Jennifer said it went much deeper than that.

“She is a true angel,” said Jenn. “And I would not have made it in this life without her.”

Julie, the married mother of two (Joshua, 11, and Jocelyn, 8), has consistently, for at least the last decade, reached out to women in need, particularly single mothers, and helped them in any way she could to get back on their feet. Jennifer said Julie has done nearly all her work anonymously, and without the need for recognition. In fact, her nomination for this blog post came as a complete surprise.

“I’m beyond humbled,” said Julie. “The way I like to help is one-on-one with an individual or completely anonymously.  This is WAY out of my comfort zone!”

What isn’t out of this secret angel’s comfort zone is her love and care for helping women in need. A strong, faith-based woman, she believes God helps direct where her help should go and what it should be.

“There have been car loans, rent payments, Christmas gifts or money for gifts, utility bills, cleaning homes, clothing and other personal items,” said Julie, a graduate of the Realtor Institute and a Realtor for 11 years. You can find her at e-Merge Real estate at this website.

Julie also volunteers on several different platforms from various church teams, the Children’s Hunger Alliance, Columbus Realtor Foundation Committee, and others.

“My heart is for women who need help being the sole supporter for their children or helping the children of sole supporters,” said the woman inspired by her own mother and grandmothers. “I thank the Lord for any way He can help me help others. It’s not me; it truly is His Blessings being directed to others.”

Supporting other women is easy for Julie, especially those with children.

“I am a woman so I understand women’s needs,” said Julie. “I also feel as if helping children does help a mother, because it takes a village! When women get a ‘break’, or are rejuvenated on any level… spiritual, mental, physical, emotional or financial, they have more power and energy to take care of themselves and others.”

Julie believes that being a successful business woman allows her to touch more lives through being active in her community, where she gets first-hand knowledge of what the needs truly are.

“And because of my job, the benefit is being able to financially bless others,” she said. Plus, as a side note, “being successful at business shows little girls and women alike they have the ability to follow their dreams/passions and can become successful as well.”

So why should women continue to support women?

“Because we know each other like no other. We understand good days/ bad days, sleepless nights, bills that need paid and tears that need wiped, heartbreak and all the wonderful little things that melt our hearts,” she said. “We know that, a lot of the time, we have to have on our social smile, while we are crying or extremely frightened inside.”

And Julie doesn’t just talk the talk, she walks the walk by financially backing women and children through some of her favorite organizations: Kiva, Compassion, and Doctors Without Borders.

“I LOVE to loan money to women across the world as they are starting their own business…their stories are amazing,” she said. “Mutual respect for women to women goes beyond race, age, and social status.”

A true woman supporting other women. Thank you, Julie.

 

My next step: The Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio

RMHCThe very first day I stepped into the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio, I knew immediately I wanted to be part of the organization. There was no guesswork, or wondering, or hem-hawing ~ I saw what the volunteers and the staff were doing with their lives, the way they were helping children and families in need, and I just knew I had to join in.

Five years later, I’m so humbled and honored and proud to say that I get to join this life-changing organization as its new Communications Manager, reporting to the guy you all probably know and love, Ryan Wilkins, the Director of Communications and Facilities.

I also have an amazing opportunity to work with, and learn from, the amazing Dee Anders, CEO and Executive Director. Plus, some of the best people I know work there, too; from the heartwarming Jamie Foltz, to the most loving family activities manager, Abigail Brumme, and my new teammate and office mate at “The Beach,” Lynne Holmes.

It is a dream come true.

RMHC PSA
Evelyn sleeping with her Mama as we filmed the PSA for RMHC.

I started with RMHC as an active member of the Red Shoe Society; a professionals network dedicated to serving the House. I would make breakfasts for the House families, donate time and money, and serve on committees. Eventually, when I started my own production company, Eleven One Productions, I chose the RMHC as a recipient of my company’s donated PSA’s ~ I give away three every year to nonprofits. It’s featured on the RMHC home page; you can watch it here.

I worked closely with Ryan, Abigail, and Jamie, as well as other volunteers, over the years and always hoped that, someday, the RMHC would be my home away from home. The most perfect job I could ever have ~ because it wouldn’t feel like a job. It would feel like fulfilling a piece of my life’s mission. Yes, I loved to write when I was a journalist ~ and I still write. Yes, I love to make films ~ and I still make films. But most of all, in my life, I love being a mother.

I remember the day I had to rush my child to the Nationwide Children’s Hospital emergency room after she tripped on a flipped-up rug and tore her forehead open above her eye on the corner of a table. Suddenly, I was that parent, sitting in the emergency room, alone, waiting to see if my kid would be OK. I felt the helplessness of not knowing, of waiting, of wondering, of worrying; but I was lucky. I lived in Columbus, Ohio, where I was privileged to have access to the best healthcare my child could ever receive at Nationwide Children’s. Where I could easily make arrangements for work, for groceries, for assistance, for anything I needed.

Some families are not so lucky.

Families from every state in the union and across the world have traveled to Columbus, Ohio, to give their child the same care I received at Nationwide Children’s ~ the best care. And when they find out it will take weeks, or months, or years, to help their child, where do they go? Where does someone from California stay when they’re thousands of miles from their home? How do they eat or get transportation? How do they do laundry? How do they find a sense of normalcy in a situation that is no longer normal?

I’ll tell you how.

They come to the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio. They come to a place where they can live life, uninterrupted, during the greatest interruption they will ever face ~ a sick child.

And how could I not be humbled and grateful and excited to help Ryan and the RMHC team tell that story? To me, it is the greatest story I will ever write. It speaks to a calling in my life, a purpose, a mission, an opportunity to do more than a job. It is an opportunity to help change lives. To make them better. For parents just like me. For kids just like my daughter.

Yes, I will still be writing and making movies and raising my not-so-tiny tot, but I am so honored to say that, beginning tomorrow, I also get to be part of an amazing team at RMHC. The best team. My new team and home.

Thank you, Ryan, and RMHC, for making me part of the family. I am truly blessed to join your organization.

Come say “Hi!” the next time you visit or feel free to make a donation to an organization that truly helps families in need. (And get used to seeing more about the RMCH on my Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn pages!)

Let’s talk soon about how we can all help the RMHC help families!

Women Supporting Women ~ Dr. Lisa Hinkelman of ROX

LisaHinkelman002
Dr. Lisa Hinkelman is changing the world for women one young girl at a time, through her female empowerment nonprofit organization ROX (Ruling Our Experiences). Photo courtesy ROX.

The first thing you need to know about Dr. Lisa Hinkelman is that she’s got an incredible laugh. It’s this big, vivacious, life-affirming laugh that comes straight from her toes, into the air, and moves you to laugh right along with her.

Lisa, often cloaked in black and pink, is not afraid to say what she thinks, laugh at herself, or to make you a part of the joke ~ this gal won’t leave your high-five hanging and, if she does, she’ll apologize with a big, hearty laugh.

“We are stronger, healthier, better adjusted, and more successful when we support one another,” Lisa said.

I was, of course, immediately drawn to her energy the first time I met her and wanted to learn more about how her nonprofit (501c3) organization, ROX (Ruling Our Experiences), came to be.

And that’s the second thing you need to know about this amazing woman: ROX came to be out of a gamble Lisa took. A risk. A desire to change the world, one girl at a time, and in doing so, become a powerhouse of Women Supporting Women.

“I think we do a great job talking about the importance of women supporting women, but we often struggle to actually implement the strategies that we verbalize,” Lisa said. “I don’t think anyone sets out to intentionally screw over other women, but the reality is that many of us can think of one or two experiences in our professional lives when another women was the one judging us, competing with us, undermining us or in some way negatively impacting our productivity, reputation, or happiness.”

And it’s not just grown women. According to Lisa, female competition over support starts much sooner than adulthood.

“In our research at ROX, we have found that more than 80 percent of fifth grade girls report that girls are in competition with one another ~ these are 10-year-old girls!” she said. “This disturbing trend unfortunately continues as girls grow up so that it’s no wonder by the time women are in the workforce, the competition, both personal and professional, is palatable.”

Because of that, ROX goes one step further and tries to tackle the problem at its roots. Lisa and her team of trained facilitators empower the next generation of females through school and community-based programming by teaching them how to handle behaviors such as girl bullying, low self-esteem, unhealthy dating relationships, and sexual violence.

“I believe that we have both the ability and the responsibility to change the conversation and the trajectory for girls,” Lisa said.

And she took her responsibility seriously as a researcher and faculty member in Counselor Education at The Ohio State University in 2006, where she had been running a program that helped girls navigate the challenges of, well, “being a girl.” She, along with her research team, gathered statistics for five years through this program. Lisa then used those facts and figures to develop an evidence-based curriculum for girls in elementary, middle, and high school, that supported them in developing skills to meet the above-mentioned challenges.

ROX uses licensed facilitators to teach the curriculum in schools throughout Central Ohio, and the country, at a cost of approximately $75 per girl ~ which your donations help support. ROX also provides professional development for educators and counselors, as well as parent workshops. Read more about the story behind ROX here.

“When girls have the opportunity to learn from strong and caring female role models who are true champions for one another, their sense of themselves and their options changes,” Lisa said.

My own daughter, Kerrigan, benefited from ROX training. She was one of nearly 1,700 school-age girls in communities across the country last year that were were empowered by Lisa and her team. Kerrigan’s favorite part of the programming was learning how to properly kick and punch an assailant. She left the training feeling truly equipped to deal with the world; and the relationships she built with the girls in attendance proved to be effective when she later encountered issues in school.

In fact, my daughter’s favorite tank top is one she got from ROX, which reads something close to, “Be the doctor they told you to marry.” And she plans on it ~ a veterinarian, to be exact.

This year ROX will be offered for the first time in New Mexico, Guam, Florida, and Hawaii. See where a ROX program is near you, here.

Lisa continues to move forward in her work having just completed The Girls’ Index study. The comprehensive survey of more than 10,000 girls focuses on the perceptions of girls in grades 5-12 on many major social, personal, and academic issues, such as: friendships and relationships, social media, body image pressure, self-esteem and confidence, leadership, and career aspirations. Initial findings tell a “compelling story of the challenges facing girls today.”

Interested in participating in ROX over the spring and summer? You’ve got a few options:

  • A ROX Parent Symposium on April 22, sponsored by the Columbus School for Girls. Learn more here.
  • A summer camp as a part of the Wellington School Summer Camp will be held June 26-30 for girls in grades six through eight. Learn more here.
  • A six-week ROX mini-camp for middle school girls will be held at ROX in Columbus every Wednesday beginning on June 28 and ending on August 1. Learn more here.
  • You can also contact Nancy Willis for other fun events and opportunities to support or learn more about ROX here: nancywillis@rulingourexperiences.com
  • Stay aware of events local by following ROX on Facebook and on Twitter. Sign up for the newsletter here.
  • If you’re looking to do a little more with this organization, ROX is currently hiring a Development/Fundraising Manager who will lead the development work of the organization. Learn more here.

Lisa didn’t have to go out and change the world the way she has for women and their daughters. She could have stayed on at OSU and continued a different research project ~ but helping women and young women become better, become stronger, is an ideal she is absolutely devoted to. And that’s the thing I love most about her ~ she does what she knows to be right for women, using evidence-based research, and empowering women and young girls to go live life without fear that they are “just a girl.”

No, you be the girl you’ve always wanted to be. And if you don’t know how, Lisa will certainly be able to help.

“We can be the women who create the authentic and genuine shift that will allow girls to see the strength and beauty in female relationships,” said Lisa. “And then they can come to invest in and value these relationships for themselves.”

Cheers.

Women Supporting Women: Elizabeth Blount McCormick

“I have been given an opportunity,” said Elizabeth Blount McCormick. “And it is my duty to reach back and give another woman an opportunity as well. “

ElizabethMcCormick
Elizabeth Blount McCormick, owner of UNIGLOBE Travel Designers, believes women must pull each other up to continue seeing females in higher ranking positions. (Photo courtesy UNIGLOBE Travel Designers)

It’s a mantra that Elizabeth, owner of UNIGLOBE Travel Designers, located in German Village, lives every single day of her life. She is a rare breed of woman who not only talks the talk, but walks the walk.

Sure, Elizabeth was awarded the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) Columbus Chapter’s 2016 NAWBO Columbus Visionary Award last year, as well as named a 2016 Forty Under 40 Honoree by Columbus Business First, but it’s more personal with this warm-hearted business and community leader. She wins awards because she makes a tangible, personal difference.

How do I know? I was one such woman who benefited from Elizabeth’s belief that women supporting women is the single greatest thing females can do to help us all reach higher, dream bigger, and lead better.

I met Elizabeth when I called to interview her for an article in Columbus CEO about women CEO’s and the challenges they face. Immediately, I was greeted with a warm voice and passionate advocate for helping women become more than even they imagined for themselves.

“Let’s have lunch!” she said at the end of the call.

“Of course!” I said, already excited to make a new friend, who, not only inspired me, but was simply fun to be around.

After a few months, we finally connected and when I told her about starting my company, Eleven One Productions, she immediately said, “How can I help? What can I do?”

She was interested in being helpful, being a mentor, being a supportive business owner, and being a confidant. We’ve since met over several afternoon breaks at Pistacio Vera and I count her as a friend. She is, without a doubt, a woman who will stand by another woman’s side, and help her walk through the trial by fire that is the modern day working woman/business owner/CEO/Manager/Director/Executive. If you’d like to learn her personal thoughts, check out her blog post on supporting business women owners here.

I count both myself, and the city of Columbus, better for her presence within the community.

And true to form, Elizabeth’s company, which helps manage travel plans for businesses large and small, has started a new program called Vitamin D to give back to the community. This month they’ve partnered with the United Way of Central Ohio’s Women’s Leadership Council’s E3 Initiative.

The E3 initiative was created to help low-to moderate-income working women in central Ohio become “educated, empowered and elevated” to a new level of financial stability for themselves and their families. Every vacation booked in March will have a $25 donation go to this initiative.

Though where the Vitamin D donation goes is, ultimately, up to the company who gets its travel services from UNIGLOBE, a woman-owned minority business founded in 1981 by Elizabeth’s mother, Elsie Blount. Read more about how the Vitamin D program works here.

Elizabeth’s dedication to both her personal relationships and her professional community have earned her business from The Ohio State University Athletics Department, Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Columbus City Schools, State of Ohio’s Department of Administrative Services, and Vizient’s Supplier Diversity Program.

Under Elizabeth’s leadership, UNIGLOBE Travel Designers, which is part of UNIGLOBE Travel International, the world’s largest single brand retail travel franchise company with more than 750 locations in more than 60 countries, is expanding its local offices beyond Ohio to Michigan, California, Texas, and wherever the road may lead to next.

No matter where Elizabeth goes or how she expands her full-service travel company, she will always lead with a selfless heart that’s focused on bringing other women up.

“I think it is vital for people to come from a selfless position,” said Elizabeth. “Don’t approach your relationships looking for business, but, rather, looking at how you can help another business grow. When we empower each other, our community flourishes.”

Spoken like a true woman who leads by supporting other women.

 

~ Cheers.

 

 

The beauty of Emerson, Thoreau, and Critical Theorists

I have always been in love with Ralph Waldo Emerson. Since the first time my 19-year-old eyes absorbed the inky words of “Self-Reliance,” one of his most popular essays, I was transfixed on his thoughts of transcendentalism and the belief in the essential good of man and nature.

“My life is not an apology, but a life. It is for itself and not for a spectacle,” wrote Emerson in Self Reliance. “I much prefer that it should be of a lower strain, so it be genuine and equal, than that it should be glittering and unsteady.”

Throughout college, I read with voracious lust the thoughts of men and women who dared to rise above the fold and observe life from a new angle. Henry David Thoreau being another favorite, with his quote, “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”

To live deliberately, to not apologize for who I was ~ these were the battles I fought every day of my life, but were now placed before me in eloquent text. The prose was life-changing for its ability to simply and succinctly describe what was common to every man, but could not be translated into the written, nor spoken, word by him.

Once I graduated, it was rare I had time for such thought-provoking text that allowed me to observe the world from an angle that rose above the clutter of everyday life. Until recently when I enrolled in Ashland University to pursue a master’s degree. An MFA in Creative Writing, to be exact. On my journey to receive my degree, I ended up taking a master’s level course in critical theory.

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I had never been exposed to critical theory or its complicated text before. Initially, I was excited and intimidated by the fact I had to read the textbook alongside my Webster-Merriam dictionary just to understand it. But the deeper I got, the more I became absorbed in the complicated ideas of theorists and philosophers such as Karl Marx, Max Horkheimer, and Herbert Marcuse. The purpose of the class was not to master the notion of critical theory and its philosophers, but to simply be exposed to who they were and what they brought to society.

The class, for me, was eye-opening. The notion of the individual as an entity battling external forces in order to maintain his or her freedom, and how that individual responds, is a battle we all experience on some level. I, like most, had been part of that struggle in many facets of my life, from social constructs to political and socioeconomic hierarchies. I could relate to much of what was said and wanted to explore the text more.

We all jokingly talk about fighting “the man,” but this class puts that notion into perspective and helps broadly define what it actually means and how philosophers and theorists view it from its many different angles.

I now have a reading list I’ll be working on over the next few months if you’d like to join along. Some will be revisiting old loves, while some will be first reads of texts I find fascinating.

  • Thoreau, On Walden Pond
  • Emerson, Self-Reliance, Nature, and The American Scholar
  • Marx, Communist Manifesto
  • Horkheimer (with Theodor Adorno), Dialectic of Enlightenment
  • Marcuse, One Dimensional Man
  • György Lukács, History & Class Consciousness

Do you have a book in the same vein I should check out? Or perhaps a counter-argument to these theorists and philosophers?

I’d love to hear your suggested titles!

Cheers.

Women Supporting Women: Missy Carvour Gleason

“Strong women lift each other up.”

It’s one of the first lines on Missy Carvour Gleason’s accountability group website, where she’s part of the Beachbody family of coaches.

“I feel strongly about supporting other women because I believe we have been taught to be critical of ourselves and each other – sometimes to the point that we don’t believe we’re capable of the change and future we’d like to build,” said Gleason, known to many as MissyFit, her alter ego focused on helping women find their own personal “fit.” “I once thought I was just destined to feel stressed, run down and not good enough. But that all changed when I found my fitness and then my faith.”

Missy, like many women, found herself facing weight gain after several traumatic life events. She was uncomfortable with her weight, but not sure which step to take next. Through dieting and exercise, and the Beachbody family, she reached her goals in excess of her wildest imagination, being able to now, as she says, “pay the monthly mortgage,” with her earnings from being a Beachbody Coach.

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Missy Carvour Gleason is proud of her before and after, and wants to support other women in their journey, too, far beyond just fitness and exercise. (Photo courtesy Missy Gleason)

But Missy, a wife and mother, is so much more than just her fitness.

This kind soul, whom I came to know through the media world when I was a reporter and she was a spokesperson for OhioHealth, has said prayers with me and for me in my darkest hours; and in my brightest, she was always interested in hearing who I was, inside and out. Anytime I need support, have a question, or just want to bounce an idea, Missy, who still works for OhioHealth as the editor of its wellness blog, is one of the first women who will take the call. She is, for all intents and purposes, a “girl’s girl,” the one who will sit at happy hour and have a drink, or she’ll sit with you on your couch, while your nose runs and your eyes swell, with Kleenex and cookies.

She is the epitome of women supporting women.

And women need that kind of bonding more so than men. In fact, according to a blog post on Mind, Body, Green, not only do female relationships help us ladies live longer, but a UCLA study said that women, and women alone, have a unique “tend and befriend” response to stress. In fact, when women are stressed, the study said, they don’t have a typical fight or flight response, instead they release the hormone oxytocin, which triggers them to soothe their stress by finding and bonding with someone ~ typically another woman. This is why girlfriends are so important.

It’s also why having ladies like Missy out there, willing to be that girlfriend, is so very encouraging, especially when you’re faced with change, like losing weight and starting a whole new lifestyle. If you know Missy, I hope you’ll take a moment to remind her just how great an example she sets for us ladies when it comes to supporting other women. If you don’t know Missy, get to know her on her MissyFit Facebook page, where she posts inspirational tidbits daily.

If you need a boost, Missy’s your girl. I promise you that.

“I know there are women like the old me out there,” said Missy. “I want to help them see the beauty and strength that’s already inside of them.”

Spoken like a true woman supporting other women.

Cheers!