This time of the year most of us get asked the same question pretty frequently…what do you want for Christmas? In the past, I have been able to think of a few things I would really like to have-an outfit, a pair of shoes, something for our house, etc. We can always think of something we would like to have that we may not would buy for ourselves right? After thinking about it a lot this year, the one thing I want more than anything and the one thing I do not want to live without is, the health of my loved ones.
In order to truly understand this Christmas wish, it’s important to have some background information. This year on Thanksgiving Day, I visited 3 different hospitals in 3 different counties. Yes, you read that right…3 people very near and dear to me spent their Thanksgiving in a hospital rather than at home with us, their family. I am happy and thankful to report everyone is doing ok, and seems to be recovering well, but that does not dilute the reality that being in good health is usually underrated and often taken for granted.
As someone who has always loved the magic, sparkle and special feeling that typically surrounds us during the holidays, this request certainly isn’t something you can unwrap on Christmas morning, but I believe with my whole heart that it is the best gift to give and to get. We owe it to ourselves and to everyone that loves us to do whatever we can proactively do to be as healthy as we possibly can be.
So if you really want to give your loved ones a gift they cannot buy for themselves, a gift that will keep on giving and a gift of the utmost importance, give the gift of taking care of yourself so that you can continue to be in their lives and can enjoy making great memories together in the future.
Just over a year ago I began a brand new adventure when I wrote and published the very first post on Get Flossy! I had no idea where the journey would take me, but I was up for the challenge and excited about the possibilities. Throughout the past year I have shared my thoughts and fears, explored questions and definitely followed my curiosity. Along the way, I have learned so much about people, life and myself.
Thank you to everyone that has read a post, commented, reached out to me personally to share how a post has impacted your life or offered suggestions on what you would like to read about on the blog. There are a million things that fight for your attention each day, so I appreciate you taking a few minutes each week to spend time with me as we Get Flossy! My original goal was to empower, enrich and encourage others…I never would have guessed and could never have expected that you would indeed give all of that back to me.
Who knows what the next year will hold? I certainly do not, but I do know for sure that I will continue to be honest with you and will strive to share things that are interesting, thought provoking or just fun. Cheers to another year together…today and always, Get Flossy!
We all have scars. Some are literal, physical scars and some are not visible, but are still very real. During breast cancer awareness month, I have seen pictures of women with huge scars across their chest from radical mastectomies without reconstruction. They are proud to show their scars because they know the scar isn’t a sign weakness, intimidation or defeat-they are proof of life.
I have roughly a 6-inch scar down my back from a spinal fusion in 2008. Honestly, I’m glad it’s on my back so unless I intentionally look at it, it’s not something I have to see every day. I can’t imagine having a constant reminder of a time that was difficult and painful physically, emotionally and mentally. However, I know for sure that scar allows me to walk and live without tremendous pain and dramatically improves my quality of life on a daily basis.
This made me think, most of us tend to hide our scars. We don’t dare share our perceived weaknesses-instead we hide them, brush them under a rug never to be discussed or seen again. I personally think this is because scars, battle wounds, any evidence that we aren’t invincible is a reminder that at some point we were vulnerable. Vulnerable to a disease, to an accident or in the case of invisible scars we were perhaps even vulnerable to a person that hurt us. The fact is, wonderful things can happen once you allow yourself to be vulnerable and you can’t truly appreciate all someone has to offer your life until you open up enough for them to know and love you.
Today I will choose to be thankful for my scar and all it represents. I will also be thankful for the scars that aren’t visible-they teach me who I can and can’t trust, who loves me unconditionally and allow me to be a stronger person.
Will you choose to hide your scars or show them and be thankful for them? In the end, aren’t they all really proof of life?
In the course of one day, we make hundreds of choices-some little, some seemingly inconsequential, some routine, some major. Have you ever stopped to take the time to think about those choices and if they are leading you to the life you want? If not, maybe it’s time to rethink some of those choices.
It’s no secret that I have been known to be a little resistant to change in the past and I’m certainly not in the minority. Often people resist change so much that they refuse to make choices that will create any change or rock their boat. However, by not changing, you are indeed making a choice. Inaction is just as much a choice as taking action, it just typically leads to no change. That’s why it’s important to utilize all 3 C’s of life: choice, chance, change.
In some cases people are hesitant to change because they feel powerless in situations. The reality is, taking action and making choices is the most powerful thing you can do to lead you towards the life you want. If you think about it, the power to make a choice is pretty amazing. You choose to get out of bed or not, you choose to stop at an intersection, you choose to go to work, be responsible-whatever it may be, you are actually making a choice.
When is the last time you made a choice that prompted a chance to make a change in your life?
I understand that taking a chance can be scary, uncomfortable and it’s easy to fear the unknown, but how can we grow if we aren’t taking chances? How will we ever know what we are capable of and realize our full potential if we aren’t pushing outside our comfort zone? The answer is, we will never know and somewhere in our core, we will always wonder what could have been. There is no shame in failing as long as that failure is a result of taking a chance on a dream and we learn from the experience. But if you never take a chance the answer will always be no. It’s almost like quitting before you even started and I believe quitting isn’t an option.
If you think about it, usually the magnitude of the payoff is directly correlated to the scale of the choice, chance and change it has the ability to create in your life. Rarely (think lottery ticket) can a small choice or risk produce a large reward. Leaving a job where you aren’t happy or fulfilled to start your own company-giant choice, incredible chance, big change. Getting married-life altering choice, lots of chance, huge change. Having a child-you make a choice, take a chance and your life is forever changed.
Every choice you make today will not have the power to alter the trajectory of your life, but there are some that will have that power. What choice will you make? Are you willing to take a chance? Will you embrace change? Remember, you have the power to create the life YOU want!
Most of us do not have birthdays, weddings, or major celebrations every day, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t something to celebrate every day. Are you breathing, healthy, happy, have a stable home, loving family, amazing friends? If you answered yes to any of these, you have something to celebrate!
This past week has been such a wonderful week of celebrations! The festivities kicked off Thursday at the Celebrating Hope Luncheon hosted by Women of Hope (a not for profit organization that supports women with cancer and their families). I was thrilled and honored to be the keynote speaker for this very special event! I wanted to share a few of the points from the lunch with you too, so here are three of my favorites:
1. Be a beacon for others-Someone or something that inspires or illuminate
2. HOPE-Have Optimist & Positive Expectations
3. Be optimistic and positive.
***Feel free to comment or message me if you would like more information on my speech.
At the conclusion of the lunch, I packed my car and headed to Raleigh to begin birthday celebrations for two people I cannot imagine my life without-my mother and one of my best friends, Benjamin. We began by having a small dinner at an eclectic restaurant in downtown Raleigh. The food was good, but the company was even better. You know, the kind of dinner where time flies by so fast you aren’t sure how you have been talking for hours without scratching the surface of all you want to talk about!
Next we moved on to a first for me-the Raleigh Trolley Pub. It is a moving bicycle of sorts that holds up to 14 people. We chose the 2 hour Glenwood South/Warehouse District tour. Seth, our tour guide was awesome and hilarious, which definitely added a great vibe to the evening. I honestly haven’t laughed that much in months! Did I mention it rained most of the evening and I was having such a great time, I didn’t even really mind? That is huge for me!
By Friday late afternoon-rain boots, waterproof jackets and hats ready to go-it was finally time to head to the Luke Bryan, Kick the Dust Up Tour (more like kick the mud up). I’ve heard he is great in concert, but he was even better than I imagined. Much like the Billy Currington/Tim McGraw concert that I wrote about a few months ago, Luke Bryan, Dustin Lynch and Randy Houser made the audience feel like they were giving us all they had. You would never know they do this night after night, show after show. (check out this short clip-LB clip).It did not feel routine at all. It actually felt authentic, like it was the only show on the tour and they wanted to get the most out of the experience. They were all together amazing!
Saturday I headed back to Wilmington to attend a dear friend’s wedding. There is nothing quite like watching two people commit to each other for the rest of their lives to touch your heart and remind you of what is really important in life. It was a beautiful ceremony, fun reception all surrounded by family and friends.
In just a few days I had the opportunity to celebrate hope, life and marriage. My hope for you is that you look to find the daily celebrations in your life.
I remember like it was yesterday; it was a Saturday night in late June when I watched Kelly Dawn Fletcher be crowned Miss North Carolina 1989 and my life was forever changed. It was in that very moment I realized my dream was to become Miss North Carolina. Throughout the next few years I watched every June as one young woman was given the unique and wonderful opportunity to travel the state of NC making appearances, compete at Miss America and to leave a lasting impact that would resonate for years to come.
The first Miss North Carolina I had the chance to meet in person, was Jennifer Vaden Smith, Miss NC 1991. To say I was smitten, star struck and speechless is an understatement! Not only was she incredibly beautiful, approachable and all around amazing, she was petite like me and she instantly stole my heart. If there was any question in my mind about my future goals, they were all answered the moment I met Jennifer.
My journey was unique and not easy by any means. The first year I competed I walked away with a Preliminary Talent Award and as a member of the prestigious “Top Ten” Finalists. I was thrilled! The next couple years I competed, I slowly moved up the line with a 4th Runner Up and 2nd Runner Up placement respectively. After being 2nd Runner Up, I honestly considered not competing again. Knowing I only had one more year left of eligibility, the little girl dream that began in 1989 could not let that happen. I proceeded to do everything in my power to make sure there was no stone left unturned, no question that wasn’t answered and there was no way I was walking away with regrets. I decided to put myself on the line, give it my all and if they didn’t like short, dark headed tap dancers, I just wasn’t going to win. The years of hard work, the persistence and the dedication to a dream paid off…at the end of the night on June 21, 2003 my name was called-Dana Lynnette Reason, Miss North Carolina 2003! It was so surreal, spectacular and special I can’t even accurately describe the feeling.
My year of service was amazing and valuable in many ways! I said it then and still maintain that NC will give you back tenfold what you give to it as a titleholder. One of the ways my life has been directly impacted by the Miss America Organization (MAO) was by creating a connection with a member of the United States House of Representatives during our meeting in DC prior to the Miss America competition in Atlantic City. The introduction was exactly what I needed to go back to that Member of Congress and apply for a job in his upcoming campaign for the United States Senate. The skills, connections and tenacity that I learned during my years competing and as Miss NC prepared me to diligently work on that successful campaign.
Today, I am an entrepreneur, a business owner, a fitness instructor and a volunteer. I have no doubt that without my participation in the Miss America Organization, my life would be very different. First of all, I was able to graduate from East Carolina University debt-free. Being a part of an organization that empowers women, provides scholarships and promotes exceptional performance has been an integral part of my life and has definitely altered the trajectory of my life in an extremely positive way. I will forever be grateful to all of the volunteers that make it all possible, to the ladies I competed with each year, for the Miss North Carolina Sisterhood and to everyone who helps those dreams come true for one lucky young lady every single year.
It is often said that it is more likely that your son will play in the NFL than your daughter will compete at Miss America, which I think speaks highly to the caliber of the competitors. As the leading scholarship organization for young women, MAO changes the financial landscape for thousands of contestants each year across the country, as every local titleholder receives scholarships to further her education. The areas of competition encourage personal development in talent, promoting a platform of volunteer work that is close to your heart, supports healthy physical fitness, and requires excellent interview skills that are necessary for long term success in life. It truly fosters an environment of exceptional personal accomplishment and in a time where it can be difficult to find a good and positive role model for our youth, Miss America stands out in an extraordinary way. I encourage you to find a local Miss America preliminary in your area and consider supporting it by way of a sponsorship, a scholarship donation or even as a contestant. Regardless of how you choose to participate-when we all give, we all win!
This is by far the most difficult post I have ever written, as it is the most personal of all of them combined. It’s not about me, but about my Grandmother-Granny Reason. On August 26th Granny said she said she wanted to “go home” from the rehab facility where she was recovering from a recent fall. Granny was all packed up and ready to go, but told my aunt she needed to lay down and rest for a minute because she was so tired. The truth is, she was tired…very tired. Throughout her 80 years, she was a woman of tremendous faith, a devoted wife for more than 50 years and a dedicated mother to 6 children.
As she laid down that day to rest she did go home, but not to her brick home, Granny left us to go to her Heavenly home. Although there is no doubt in my mind that she is now a Guardian Angel to all of us here, I know she is also enjoying being reunited with her parents, her husband, siblings, her son and grandson. Years of hard work and no rest wore her body down and I’m so happy to know she isn’t in pain. I know it’s selfish that I want her with our family, so until we meet her again, we will all miss her daily.
My Granny would always say, “that’s a blessing”. Well, she was right. She was always a blessing to us and that hasn’t stopped. Just like she has done for decades, Granny is still taking care of us. Our family has had 3 cancer free diagnoses since Wednesday. I don’t know about you, but I think that is amazing and truly speaks to the power of prayer, faith and the blessings Granny always taught us to believe in and appreciate.
It is just crazy to me to think that there are only a few things written when we move on-our name, our birthdate, a “dash” and the date of our final breath. How can anyone be represented by just those few numbers and letters? The truth is, we can’t. But we can strive every day to make sure everything that is represented by the dash accurately reflects who we are, what we believe in and how we made a difference by being on this earth.
To Granny-thank you for teaching us to love one another, to be kind, to have faith in blessings and for showing us what a truly amazing woman looks like and how she lives her life. You are a role model to more than you could ever know. We will always love you, miss you and respect you. Tell Granny Hopkins and Peanut I said hello and I love them too!
Your health, your family, friends, career, access to education, the ability to drive a car, hot water, electricity…from the most important and irreplaceable, to things we use every day without a second thought, most of us take a lot for granted as we move about our daily lives. What would you do without any one of those? How would your life change?
It’s easy to neglect to appreciate having the ability get out of bed every morning if you have never had the experience of that not being an option. In January 2002 I had what would be the beginning of a 6 year (in reality it is lifelong) journey to a spinal fusion. I was in my early twenties and all of a sudden I couldn’t get out of bed, walk or barely breathe without experiencing significant pain in my lower back. Back pain is one of the leading causes for missing work and doctors visits in the US, but I knew quickly this wasn’t just “back pain”, this was very different. It wasn’t until that time that I realized how much I took for granted when it came to my health. It wasn’t until then that I realized my body could absolute stop me from doing what I wanted to do, from my daily activities, from most anything.
My path wasn’t exactly a straight line, but I am forever grateful for that surgery and for the months of physical therapy that drastically improved my quality of life. Although I have a constant reminder of my surgery by the 5 inch long scar on my back, eventually you forget the pain and move on with life. It’s so easy to get back into our routine and go about life with the same casualness that lured us into a false sense of security. In some ways forgetting the pain is a good thing, but it’s also important to remember to be appreciative and protective over the things we would not want to live without.
I think the best way to ensure we do not take anything for granted is to imagine what our lives would be like without-a loved one, a safe home, an education a breath. So say thank you, say I love you and enjoy all the tiny little things that make your life better, more enjoyable and fuller each day.
As you move about your week, be grateful and Get Flossy!
As a Pirate (Alumni of East Carolina University) and a huge football fan, I was interested to watch as Earnest Byner spoke to the 2015-2016 ECU football team last week during the first day of practice. He comes to the meeting with incredible credentials; 14 year career in the NFL-playing for the Baltimore Ravens, Cleveland Browns, Washington Redskins and a member of the ECU Hall of Fame.
He referenced some great life lessons in the speech-being clear on your intentions, having discipline, personal development and the benefits of teamwork. In my opinion, the most profound part of his speech was when he talked about the cycle and requirement to learn, grow and teach. It certainly applies to all of the people in that room, but I think it goes much further than that…I think it applies to all of us every day (you can watch the entire speech here).
It is almost the rhythm of life…we begin learning the day we are born (hopefully we continue to learn every day throughout our life) and once we learn, we grow. As individuals, as a society, as family members, friends, and employers/employees…we grow. Unfortunately sometimes that growth comes at a price or as a sacrifice. The price could be a failed marriage, a layoff from a job or from some unforeseen heartache, but ultimately we grow. ***When we do not grow from these experiences, we have genuinely missed an opportunity and often we have done so at a high price. Once we grow, it is up to all of us to pay it forward and teach others.
Honestly, I can see how all of these things are happening simultaneously in my life all the time. I certainly continue to learn and grow each day, which I think is really exciting! Through my experiences in life I have learned a ton about skincare & cosmetics and being a business owner/entrepreneur, about politics and campaigning, about event planning, and how to be competitive in multiple arenas. In each of these experiences I have grown tremendously and I am forever grateful. Now, as a life coach, I teach others how to bring out their true and authentic self-as the owner of dana L Skincare & Cosmetics, I teach makeup application techniques and how to care for your skin-as a Pure Barre instructor, I teach the method of Life, Tone & Burn. Every day my goal is to share what I have learned in an effort to help someone else grow. I also hope that they will, in turn, teach someone else.
I believe this how we create a movement, it is how we create change and it is how we improve…as individuals and as a society. As I move through my daily activities this week, I will be extra diligent to make sure I learn, grow and teach each and every day. My hope is that occurs for you as well!
Learn, Grow, Teach…in the process, Get Flossy!
A few days ago I saw Today show’s Hoda Kotb’s quote of the day. It said-Relax, not every page has to be a masterpiece. I think this quote really speaks to the stress and pressure we (at least me) put ourselves under every day. Sometimes it can be so intense and such a powerful force that it almost handicaps our ability to be all that we are meant to be. Wouldn’t it be nice to let that go of that stress and enjoy more of our life?
We are all juggling so many things…family, jobs, life, etc.. The desire to give all we can often puts us under so much pressure that we act in ways and live our lives in ways that almost make us different people. We have this insatiable need to please and need to make others happy. We are almost socially forced to believe we have to make everyone else happy before we make ourselves happy. But wait, isn’t that backwards? Regardless of how much we love someone, how in the world can we make someone else happy if we aren’t happy? Most of the time we can’t, so let’s stop setting ourselves up to be unsuccessful and prepare ourselves for triumph by releasing the stress and pressure!
I know we are all under stress. Some days, and at some times that stress can be tremendous. So how do we release it? Great question! These are a few things I think can help:
- Exercise-one of the only things that will really help me get out of my own head and focus on something else is to get in my 55 minutes of Lift, Tone, Burn at Pure Barre. When instructors, say-get the most out of your 55 minutes, it’s your hour- it’s so true and I love it! Some days I walk in and I feel like I’m carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders and for an hour, I can almost always let it go. Not only do I get in a great workout for my physical health, I also get a great release and clarity for my mental health.
- Talk to a friend-there is nothing quite like a conversation, a visit or a hug from a dear friend to help pick you up the from stress, anger or pressure that you’re feeling. I’m so very thankful for my dear, dear friends…you know who you are!
- Read a book-like the benefits of exercise, reading a book and getting lost in the pages of someone else’s story can also help you temporarily escape from your current trials, tribulations and daily stress. Not to mention you can also learn something in the process!
- Pray-there is nothing like it! Please know, I’m not saying the only time you should pray is when you are stressed, but knowing that ultimately there is a much higher power is very calming and reassuring…in every situation, every moment, and every day.
- Breathe-as simple as it sounds, it works. When times are really tough for me or anyone in my life, I try to remember to just breathe. Good vibes in, bad energy out. Try it, it works!
- Check out and focus on YOU-put the phone, computer, social media, text, email and calls away and do something YOU enjoy! If you want to walk on the beach-do it, if you want to take a nap-do it, if you will feel better by spending an hour doing your favorite hobby-do it! Be selfish, be protective of your time, your soul and your feelings.