My Why

I created ‘Ginny Dandy’:

– to create a community for mothers who want to make a difference

– to share the constant ‘process improvement’ that results when trying to be your best self

– because ‘I feel’ I have a calling to write, and to share all the ‘Aha!’ moments that come out of my three passions: motherhood, leadership and books

I will say, it is not easy to have a career, run a household, assist your children through virtual school and have enough energy to build your dream. But what I realized this week most of all, is that this is a journey, “a marathon, not a sprint” and the most important key to realizing your dream is to never give up. It just takes consistency, a little bit each day, putting one foot in front of the other.

I do not know where this journey will take me, but I do know that by never taking the first step, there would always be a ‘what if’ whisper in my mind.

Book Review: A ‘Biased’ Experience

Everybody creates a picture of their world through the paint and brushes that exist in their toolbox also known as their experiences.  Some are dealt a great hand in life, others, not so much but for the most part everyone tries their best.  Or do they? 

The world has been completely flipped upside down in 2020.  First, we had COVID and then the horrific killings of members of our black community.  I am a firm believer that everyone has a purpose in life – we are all here for a reason and our goal is to find our purpose and use our gifts to make the world a better place.  

When the killings happened of George Flloyd, I went to my bookshelf and searched for a book I knew I had from ‘The Next Big Idea’ Book Club.  That book was ‘Biased’ by Jennifer Eberhardt.  I received it last year but placed it on the shelf, knowing that there would be a time and a place when I could reference the book.  A time when it would mean something to me.  That time was in June.  

I navigated to my Facebook page and posted to ask if any of my friends would be interested in a book club discussion.  An avid reader, I have never participated in a book club but knew that this was an area that warranted deep, good conversation in a trusting environment.  Twelve ladies – professional, accomplished, focused, impactful ladies shared the interest and we committed to read the book and engage in a discussion.  

The book was an eye opener with several items coming to light: how we stereotype automatically, how stereotypes exist for a reason but that they are in fact incomplete, how the system is designed to prey on the disadvantaged.  The statistics were shocking.  But the most important takeaway for me was the story, the recognition of Jennifer Eberhardt’s son at the end of the book.  She shares that as he was riding his bike on a sidewalk, a jogger purposely navigated onto the road to avoid her son and he realized that he caused the jogger to be afraid. That HE was a “scary” person because of his skin color alone.  How horrible to go through life with that perspective.  How horrible would it be if people were afraid of me?  

Now let me tell you a story about a different perspective.  We live in a gated community.  We know the cars, we know the people, we recognize when strangers are around.  A colleague of mine purchased a house in our neighborhood and due to COVID and the fact that we can essentially work anywhere these days, he has delayed his move in day to be with his family in the North.  He asked me to watch over the house and keep an eye out for anything odd.  

This evening was no different.  We finished work and asked the kids if they would like to go on a bike ride.  We circled up the loop, and I noticed a car parked in their driveway.  The car was nice, a black, 4-door Infinity sedan.  Check. It belongs.  The woman gave a friendly smile.  Check. She belongs.  The man looked odd: straight brimmed hat worn backwards, white tanktop, baggy shorts.  Red flag – he doesn’t belong.  I called up to my husband and said ‘hey, something’s not right – we need to check this out.’  

My husband has a very pleasant demeanor and has that amazing ability to get along with anybody and everybody he meets.  He cirlced his bike and casually said “Hey there, what are you guys up to? Do you know the owners of the house?”  We were presented with an immediate confrontation: “Don’t answer him. We don’t owe you an explanation.”  RED FLAG!

I looked at my husband, told him to stay there and get a copy of their license plate and I was going to head back to the house to get my phone to call the neighbor. I quickly logged on to my computer, notified my colleague that something odd was going on at his house, asked him to call and then proceeded to notify the police.  Because, IF they were supposed to be there, that could have been handleed differently, right? “Oh we know the owners, just checking on the house, thanks so much!”  

When I returned, my husband informs me that the woman pulled out her phone and started to record my husband and son.  She accused him (us) of racial profiling and said (and I quote) “And he even has his son here too.”  

To give a little insight, our boys are Cub Scouts.  They are taught, and we enforce, to always ‘Do What’s Right’.  If you see something, you say something.  We ALSO started teaching them about racism, what it means, and how you should always treat people with respect and dignity.  

The entire events of tonight left me completely disheartened.  Dr. Eberhardt is so right – sterotypes are there for a reason, but they are incomplete.  This woman had an opportunity to fight the stereotype.  She had an opportunity to take her professional training, and look at the scenario and interpret it: nice family, on a bikeride, in a gated community, asking what a stranger is doing there…must be a safe neighborhood.  Glad I found my clients the right house.  

Instead, her experiences, her paintbrushes and techniques have left her so completely jaded, that without interpreting the situation as it was, she immediately jumped to racial profiling.  And the thing is…I never once judged her. But I DID judge her husband…a WHITE MAN…who I evaluated and thought ‘he doesn’t live here.’ 

So for every story that we are telling about how black people are treated differently, we need to also be telling the stories of how seemingly simple incidents escalate, how they can be handled differently and how as a society, we can and must do better. 

You know how the situation should have ended? “Oh Hi, I’m the Realtor.  I’m just checking on the house – thanks so much for your concern.” That RED FLAG from earlier would become a check and we could have enjoyed the remainder of our bikeride.  Instead, they eventually got in their car and followed us around the neighborhood so we couldn’t go home. Do I want them to know where I live? No. I told my kiddos to ride on the sidewalk, for fear they would do something crazy becuase the exchange we had proved that was in the realm of possibility.  I also paused to put a note on our community Facebook page just to alert that something odd was going on in the neighborhood.  

As parents, our goal is to use every moment as a teaching moment and this moment was SO HARD.  It was SO HARD because what we were being accused of was the farthest thing from the truth.  As a woman in a man’s world, I’m out there fighting for equal rights, fighting to be seen as an individual, hosting book clubs on racial bias – I’m trying to FIGHT what exists, trying to make the world a better place.  I SUPPORT HER.  I’m trying to make a difference and create those instances of bright color on a dark canvas and instead, she automatically assumed I was against her.  I am sorry that life has left you so scarred, I’m sorry that the picture painted by your experiences leave you unable to see the forest through the trees and that the automatic default is to  look for an opportunity to post a viral video about how you were being harrassed. Tonight was an opportunity to erase some of those marks, and create a new colorful mark on her canvas but she defaulted to her bias. Bias goes both ways. 

My frustration pales in comparison to the frustrations she has experienced in her life, but it still exists. Despite it, I will still be here, learning how to recognize and adjust my bias.  Knowing the lesson that I could have shared with my kids tonight about looking the other way, I will CONTINUE to teach them to always ‘Do What’s Right’ and to get involved.  That if they see something, they are obligated to say something and to be the voice of what is right and just instead of taking the easy way out.  

Update: Additional books worth reading on this topic include Uncensored by Zachary Wood and How To Be An Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi

Collaboration: A Call to Action to End The Literacy Crisis

We’ve all heard the sayings, “There’s no I in TEAM” and “It takes a village to raise a family.” Both are true and both are necessary in solving America’s literacy crisis and just perhaps, our cultural crisis as well. Specifically, as shared in Jim Trelease’s Read-Aloud Handbook (8th Edition), “Two-thirds of students across the country scored below the ‘proficient’ level on reading tests administered in 2017” and that “reading scores have been stagnant for the past two decades.” We are clearly doing something wrong…but what?

I follow Christy Wright on Instagram (and am excited to navigate her Business Boutique book) and today, she shared a post that hit home. The post was about LIFE balance and how being 100% present wherever you are should be the goal. The many hats we wear in a day can be exhausting and now that many of us are living and working from home, everything is integrated and those important “brain breaks” or the time in between switching from one hat to another, are now gone.

In my last blog post, I shared the spark that emanated from seemingly independent events: my life-long passion of literacy/books and my son’s struggle with virtual school and our observation of his struggles. Had we not been fully present in our focused virtual school time from 7-8 am, 12-1 pm and 5-6 pm for the past 3 weeks, we would have likely missed out on the struggles he was experiencing. We likely would have rested on our ‘conditioning’ of him receiving As and Bs at school and wouldn’t have noticed the subtle signs that said ‘I’m struggling.’

Here’s the best part about the problem, about the struggle…we now get to find the solution. In the past few days, I devoured The Read Aloud Family which talked about the importance of reading aloud, something that has been engrained in our family since the birth of our two kiddos, but one that was flexible if we had to miss. Now, no longer. The impacts of reading aloud far exceed anything that would have replaced it previously. In reading “The Source: A Curriculum Guide for Reading Mentors” from FL DOE, they share that:

  1. Reading books out loud helps to gain understanding of more formal sentence structure
  2. Reading aloud and talking about what they have heard will help them to decode when they read individually.

I’m building my knowledge base utilizing the key experts in the field, incorporating my problem solving expertise, and collaborating with the little man who generated the spark, to figure out the source of his struggles. I’m observing our lessons, writing down ‘AHA! Moments’ and things to research and sharing those insights with him. I want him to be a part of the solution – you can’t change something if you don’t understand the stakeholders perspective, and he is THE key stakeholder.

My first call to action to you: find some time to read to your children as it is clearly one of THE BEST things we, as parents, can do for them to set them up for success. And two: share the struggles, share what works, what doesn’t and what you are struggling with. If we keep it in, we can’t find the source. Together, WE can make a difference!

Career Nomad: Confusion to Clarity

“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” This beautiful quote is from one of the most loved and well known American authors, Mark Twain.

Some people in life have a distinct plan for what they want to be; their future is clear, and they take appropriate steps from a very young age to achieve the goals they have in mind. Unlike those people, I never had a specific plan for my life. I’ve been somewhat of a ‘career nomad’, wondering throughout different opportunities on my journey and building my toolbox for what may come later on realizing that each endeavor is there to teach me something specific. To illustrate this perfectly: I started playing piano from a very early age. I enjoyed it, and was really good at it so I figured I would be a music teacher. The only problem: I can’t sing. Sure, I can karaoke with the best of them (and may be known to have won a competition or two), but that’s a major career de-railer if you can’t execute on half of the job requirements. I entered college with this plan, only really, my goal was to be a college majorette. I tried out, made the squad however that opportunity didn’t end up being what I had hoped. Many of the girls had values that were different from mine, so I learned a lesson very early on about staying true to my values. I left the squad. Still as a music major, I took Calculus for Math/Physics majors on a dare, even though my math requirement was Math 101 (adding and subtracting) and ended up falling in love with math. I forged my way through my math degree, was the first to establish a math internship program for my department and ended up working for a company that presented so many different opportunities. Many, many, many years later, I find myself in a Program Management role, utilizing my strategic training and leadership skills to drive my team. Very different from the view of where I started my journey.

2020 has been an interesting year to say the least – I see so many posts on the internet about how folks can’t wait for 2020 to be over and start fresh. I have a slightly different mindset. While this year has been frustrating, to say the least, I see so many benefits:

  • Personal benefits: I started working out regularly, at home. I get 7+ hours of sleep, my reading is off the charts. I don’t feel the struggle between home and work because I can integrate the two.
  • Family benefits: We aren’t in as much of a rush as in past years. We eat lunch and dinner together every day. We go for bike rides in the evening, and started golfing together as a family to pass the time. We established family game night, regular read-aloud bedtime routines. We feel closer and more connected as a family, developing a bond that will stay with the kiddos for (hopefully) the rest of their lives.
  • Life Purpose: This is the BIG ONE. This is where the ‘spark’ comes in…keep on reading

My oldest has struggled with reading and comprehension from the start of learning to read. We found the issue in third grade, and thought we had cleared the hurdle with the grades he was bringing home in fourth grade – all As and Bs. No sign that he was struggling. Sure, he’s a slow reader, and often has to pause for understanding but there was nothing alerting us that there was a continued issue.

That is, until we started virtual school a few short weeks ago. Virtual school requires a ‘Learning Coach’ to provide instruction through the learning modules online. (And yes, this is terribly challenging to be a learning coach and full time Program Manager and do both well.) We discovered that he still was struggling with reading and comprehension as we were executing the tasks in the lessons. He struggled with finding the theme of the story, of coming up with a topic sentence, finding details in the text to support the topic sentence, trying to make sense of the paragraph that he struggled to write over a span of two hours. He struggled with summarizing what he just read. These challenges resulted in many hours of frustration and tears but through the frustration and tears, a spark generated. I realized a ‘perfect storm’ for integrating my passions for reading, leadership and motherhood with the skills that I acquired on my career journey. My ‘purpose’, the day I found out why I was born, what I was intended to do with my life, emerged. I am determined to use those skills to help my oldest master reading and comprehension and through it, share those lessons with others to help them along the way.

I do not know where we are going to end on this journey, but I do know that we are not the only ones struggling with literacy. I encourage you, if your child struggles, or if you know of someone who is experiencing a similar journey – please share this with them and invite them to come along for the ride!

Back to “School”

In my mind, School has always been defined as a physical place where learning happens. Even when I was in Grad School, I tried the ‘online’ Master’s Program, but quickly transferred to a traditional brick & mortar program. My mind has been trained to correlate learning to a physical place. And it’s no surprise, that my associations and correlations are being tested once again, forced to make new connections and patterns in this COVID ‘New Now’ environment. This year, at least for the first half, “School” will take place in our home. Cue the ANXIETY!

Our original vacation plans this year were disrupted by the unknown but necessary surgery and COVID…well, more surgery than COVID. So, after many months of recovery and adjustment, we decided to take a ‘staycation’ this past week. As is often the case, life had other plans and an unforeseen circumstance at work forced me to relieve some of my planned 9 day break to a mere 26 hours.

In explaining my frustrations to the Hubby, he brilliantly stated that this was not a ‘vacation’ in the traditional sense, but just an opportunity to take a break. A break that we all needed. Deep breath, sigh of relief. Phew. He was right. We made the best of our week together spending time outdoors on the golf course, at the beach, and on the ocean but in the back of my mind was this looming anxiety of an unknown adventure that we were all about to embark on.

With my new school year planner arriving on Saturday, I was in full planning mode, trying to make order out of this chaos that COVID delivered. I brought the family to the table to watch the orientation videos for our new virtual school we were hit with the expectations of the ‘Learning Coach’ (i.e. Parent): 4 hours for 2nd grade, 3 hours for 5th. O. M. G.

HOW are we going to make this happen? With both of us having demanding full time jobs, how can we be successful at our careers AND ensure our children’s success as well?

We were both frustrated, seeing this story unfold in our heads with so much to do, so many requirements, but not a clear vision of what our days would look like. I’m a visual person. I need to be able to ‘see’ what my day will look like so this morning, I decided to break our ‘tea time’ rule of no scheduling / planning discussions and actually transferred the ‘anxiety’ in our heads on paper, working hand in hand with the hubby through job requirements, how we would incorporate all of our demands with work, school, household chores, work outs and of course, the most important of the day, our ‘tea time’. What resulted was our notional schedule below, and a lot less anxiety of what our ‘New Now’ will look like come August 17th.

The New Now: An Integrated Schedule

The New Normal

The last day of what I would characterize as ‘normalcy’ to me was Thursday, March 12th. That was the last day I went about my normal routine: wake up, yoga/stretching, morning tea time with the hubby, breakfast, running around the house to get me ready, the kiddos ready, lunches packed, book bags packed, work bag packed and ready to begin another crazy day in our life. Little did I know how much the world would change in just a few short months.

Fast forward to Wednesday, July 1st where I would take a break from ‘the new normal’. The morning started in a similar fashion to the old: wake up, yoga/stretching, morning tea time with the hubby…but it was less stressful. The drumbeat of the ticking time clock was gone. I didn’t have to be anywhere at any specific time – yes, I had to get ready for work and actually physically go in to the office for a few hours, but the micro minute, under the gun schedule was removed.

I was asked to head into work to greet customers and escort them to our lab. I was nervous at first: what if I’m exposed! (The horror!) But then I quickly realized that my trip there was likely safer than our weekly trips to the grocery store and golf course due to the weekly cleanings and reduced interactions with employees. The entire workforce had been directed to work from home as of the end of March, with the exception of a small group of employees that were required to be on site.

As I was getting ready, I was reminded of my first days returning to work from maternity leave. After months of yoga pants and messy buns, the refreshing morning ritual of shower, hair/make-up and getting dressed into non-yoga clothes was refreshing. And I giggled to myself as I was putting make up on, transported back to that first day back to work from maternity leave, where I distinctly remember humming “I feel pretty, oh so pretty” from West Side Story. Curious if my work clothes still fit and if I faced the amusing ‘Covid-19’ weight gain, I cautiously stepped into my work pants and slowly zipped/buttoned. With a wince on my face, I breathed a sigh of relief – it fits! That same cautiously optimistic demeanor continued as I put in my earrings – phew, they didn’t close!

I kissed the family, and headed out the door and enjoyed the next 10 minutes of complete silence. It was completely glorious and somewhat meditative, reminding me of how important those ‘brain breaks’ are during the day. Prior to March 12th, I took for granted the commute to and from work, which I realize now is so critically important, allowing you to regroup and mentally prepare for whatever phase you are transitioning to: Mama to Leader or vice versa.

The biggest takeaway I had of the day had to do with the interactions with my team at work, those few members who were required to be onsite, and with the customer. I definitely noticed a shift in the communication: more focused, intent listening, intent eye contact driving connection. Since our mouths are covered, we seem to be using our eyes as the connection point to demonstrate we are committed to the conversation, which is exactly how it should be, but we were so preoccupied in the past.

I remember having a conversation with the hubby at the start of the year talking about how busy were were, how over scheduled our lives seemed to be and that now, is gone. My ‘attitude of gratitude’ has grown exponentially over the past three months and I feel more alive and awake than ever before. Recreating the simple task I executed every day prior to March 12th brought a realization of how much I was operating on autopilot before, and how much more in-tune I seem to be in this new normal. 2020 has brought in a new decade, and a new normal, one that we could not have expected. Every day appears to have a new challenge to deal with and while many days are scary, and we do not know what the future holds, there is hope in recognizing and embracing this new normal.

Book Review: Golf’s Sacred Journey

One of my absolute favorite activities is randomly sending books to my friends. Sometimes, it’s a ‘just because’ moment and at other times, what I’ve read makes me think of them. I know they are going through a hard time, or faced with a challenging situation and I have a feeling the selected book can help. It’s my signature mark. Rarely am I on the receiving end.

On Friday night, the boys alerted me to a package on the front porch. They know the drill in this COVID environment: no one touches anything until Mama has a chance to sanitize the package. I opened the door and looked down at the yellow padded envelope. A huge grin formed spanning ear to ear as I glanced at who sent the package. I instantly knew that whatever was in the package, was going to be great. Pam only sends the best over. Just as the book says, “Every so often in life, an extraordinary relationship unfolds in the most unexpected place.”

What was in the package? Golf’s Sacred Journey: Seven Days At The Links of Utopia and TIME magazine with selected articles on Success. This woman knows me. We met a few years ago when I moved to Virginia and instantly formed a tight connection. She is a fierce, passionate lady who loves life. She speaks her mind, and is the type of friend that tells you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear. If I had to sum her up on one word, it would be genuine (and firecracker).

I opened the book, read the first chapter to the kiddos for their bedtime story. My first thought: ‘This is good!’ The book is so wonderfully written with such descriptive detail that the movie unfolds in your mind. The book chronicles the journey of a superficial golfer who is on the brink of making it on the PGA tour but disaster strikes on his tournament. Not wanting to face his fans, or the press, he quickly scurries out of town and is faced with a crossroads. One way is a sign to ‘Utopia’, and the other…another Texas town. He chooses ‘Utopia’ and steps in to his destiny.

While in Utopia, he meets the wise sage, Johnny who offers him to spend a week in Utopia with him and guarantees at the end of the week his life would be changed. While the lessons were formed around golf, they had a deeper meaning. He learns how to trust himself, leveraging the confidence that is within and forcing himself to think deeply about why he behaves the way he does building up a solid foundation.

Johnny educates him on the importance of reflection…how appropriate is that in life, especially now, and highlights that contemplation is crucial in the change process. I don’t know about you, but in the pre-COVID environment I was in a ‘go-go-go’ state of mind, and now, COVID has forced the family (and me) to slow down. What do I want in life? What do I want to be? What kind of legacy do I want to leave?

Johnny shares a three word mantra that forms the base of the golfer’s transformation – see, feel, trust. And that mantra is applicable not only to golf, but whatever situation/goal you are faced with in life. In order to achieve it, you have to see it. Your training has set you up and taught you the next steps, intuitively, of what’s required and finally, it’s time to execute and trust yourself.

The daily teachings and transformation that the golfer went through was so exciting to watch. BUT. Nothing prepared me for Chapter 9 – tears flowed the entire time. It was at this point, the golfer realized that his life has a deeper meaning, and that meaning is driven by God. Once again, the wise sage delivers: “It is our job to seek God and listen to His calling for our lives, I believe that He sent me to you at this time in your life.” It is at this point, the golfer realizes that he has a purpose – he doesn’t know what it is going to be used for yet, but he soon finds out. He accepts God, and decides to carry on a life steeped in fulfilling his God given potential.

This book is a fantastic, feel good, highly applicable read. Filled with motivational nuggets throughout the book, sports psychologist David Cook delivers on an outstanding, motivational and highly applicable resource for all golfers, leaders and purpose seekers alike. This book has found its home on my shelf filled with the few books that meet this outstanding quality: The Book of Joy, A New Earth, The Alchemist, Big Magic and The Labyrinth Influence. I hope you enjoy!

Seek to Understand In Challenging Times

My “intentional” effort to remove Facebook on my phone has ceased with the Coronavirus epidemic. A full recognition that FB acts as a source of news, ideas on how to keep your kiddos busy admist the ‘homeschooling’ journey we all are on and a source of inspiration for random acts of kindness, I granted myself relief from the restriction I placed earlier in the year.

I noticed, however, that FB is still full of the political attacks from one person to another. I posted the video of Dr. Fauci struggling to hold it together while Trump announced the “…Deep State Department”, and immediately, was overrun by political comments. The readers assumed ill-will in my post; I thought it was simply funny and imagined how I would have kept myself together, knowing that once I get giddy, there’s no turning back.

That exchange reminded me of a post I had written for one of my prior blogs, which is extremely relevant given today’s environment. I’ve included it here today for your reading pleasure, and a challenge to “seek to understand, then to be understood.”

Diversity, Acceptance and Dialogue

On most weekdays, I call my Dad after I drop the kiddos off at day-care/school while I’m driving to work.  I’ve been doing this pretty much every day since I started my professional career. He’s a great sounding board for when I’m problem solving life.  Sometimes it’s brief and we only talk for a few minutes; others, like today, we talk the entire time until he hears my footsteps in the stairwell signaling that it’s time to go.

This morning’s topic: the debate.  If you saw my Facebook post, you could probably sense my frustration.  In the words of Pope Francis, what the world needs now is Peace.  Peace is obtained through DIALOGUE – a persistent, patient, strong, intelligent dialogue. The debate was far from that – accusations, he said/she said, his insult, her insult and no dialogue.  None. The moderators asked one question, and the candidates chose to answer their own question – not relating to the original question that was asked.  No dialogue.  No debate.  Just insults.  

For the record, I’m not a fan of either candidate and in turning in my Florida voter registration today, I almost selected the ‘Independent’ box.  

My Dad, who I think is a Trump supporter was arguing the perks to having him take the Presidency – as an example, Trump used the Government loopholes to his benefit and having him in office would fix those loopholes preventing others, like him, from taking advantage.  My challenge: if he found those loopholes, why would he try to prevent anyone from doing the same? I argued the good and the bad about Clinton.  Dad listened.  

And you know what I loved? The conversation was full of excitement – it was heated, when one made a point, the other was waiting to insert their view of the world.  And after every point made by either me or my Dad, the comment was “I see your point.” Not I agree, or I disagree or you’re wrong but I see your point.  I shared my perspectives from being a woman and growing up in my generation and my Dad shared his perspectives from growing up in his generation.  I left that conversation fully fulfilled, energized and ready to tackle work (and somewhat sad that the debate that just started had to end…but Thanksgiving is only a few weeks away.)

Then I started thinking and watching.  Facebook is littered with pro-Trump and pro-Hillary posts and some of my friends started debating – but it wasn’t the ‘I see your point’ that I enjoyed earlier with my Dad, it was ‘you’re wrong’ for having your viewpoint.  

And then I did some more thinking.  We have a two-party system in this country, where we take ‘like-minded’ folks and try to implement policies that benefit that party.  How, on earth, does that make any sense? Over the past 15+ years, the workplace has been focused on advancing diversity and inclusion and study after study has shown how bringing together people with DIFFERENT backgrounds, DIFFERENT views provides a better result, bigger bottom-line growth for the company.  It seems like we’re doing this everywhere but our government.  Over the past few years, we’ve seen how the party system failed, congress couldn’t reach an agreement and as a result everyone suffered.  Some individuals are so wrapped up in their ‘belonging’ to a group as a Republican or Democrat, that it’s blinding them from seeing the potential solution. And as a result, our nation suffers but more importantly, our children’s future suffers.  Instead of talking about the problem, and getting viewpoints on possible solutions, our congressional leaders look through the lens of their belonging and fail to resolve the problems.  Can you IMAGINE what the workplace would be like if every employee declared their party affiliation prior to a meeting? Every company would go bankrupt.     

What I would like to see in the next debate is Hillary and Trump discussing their views and policies and having a dialogue, challenging them to be better, challenging them to ‘think outside the box’ and work together to solve the problems that we are facing as a nation.  That is idealistic, I know.  

So I challenge you – the next time you happen to engage in a debate or discussion, share your views but consider the perspective of the other person.  Engage and welcome the dialogue.  

Family Vacation? Just kidding…

“People make plans, and God laughs.”  

That’s how the old saying goes, or at least that’s how I remember hearing that quote.  I don’t think God was laughing at me this week, rather I suspect He was holding me up and looking out for me, but the unfolding of this week was a great reminder of how volatile life can be.  It was a slap-in-the-face wake up call reminding me that I have a dream, and I better start making plans and taking actions to make that dream a reality.  

About eight months ago, we decided to take a family vacation to Hawaii over spring break.  It started with a week in Maui, and then we decided to tack on a cruise with Norwegian Cruise Lines of the Hawaiian Islands.  Fifteen years ago, we went on a similar journey, only that journey included our marraige, a wedding on the beautiful white sand beach of Makena Cove, or ‘The Secret Cove’ beach on Maui.  After we realized we recreated our wedding trip, we thought it would be fun to renew our vows, since it was our fifteen year anniversary and what a better way to celebrate than with our beautiful boys.  

After we decided on the plan, I visited our local bookstore and picked up a beautiful Dot Grid Planning Notebook to capture all of the plans – the logistics, itinerary, adventures, etc.  We started a family countdown and everyone was eager to embark on the family journey across the US to the beautiful islands of Hawaii.  

Only…I had a ominous feeling that it wasn’t going to come through to fruition and in fact, at work last week, I sent my husband a text and said “I have an ominous feeling we’re not going to Hawaii.”  

Two weeks ago  I noticed that I wasn’t feeling quite right.  I drink a ton of water during the day, and often frequent the restroom between meetings, doing my business and not thinking anything of it only I realized that I really had to focus to empty my bladder.  And what felt like a full bladder, ended up with only a few trickles.  “Hmmm…something’s going on.”  I assumed I was getting a UTI so I made a mental note to keep an eye on it went about my day.  It got worse over the weekend so on Sunday morning, 12 days before our trip, I decided to head to the Urgent Care.  Better get this taken care of before the cruise.  I went in to urgent care and ‘led the witness’.  “I think I have a UTI” and I reviewed my symptoms – loss of appetite, frequent urination, pressure in my lower abdomen, dull ache on my lower right back.  They did a urine culture which came back negative but she sent it out for a culture as when caught early, it sometimes doesn’t show up; she prescribed me with an antibiotic and I was convinced I would be healed.  

Only, that night, something just didn’t sit well with me.  I looked up the symptoms of appendicitis…oh my goodness, I have all of the symptoms.  (Sigh). I waited until Wednesday, still not having relief and while at work, asked a co-worker if she wanted to take a walk for coffee – something I used to enjoy but lately, has not been pleasant.  I was telling her of the symptoms, and said “we’re going on a trip, I don’t have time for this, I’m sure it’ll get better.”  She shared some experiences that she had and said “You need to go back to your desk and schedule a follow-up with the doctor.  This is serious, whatever it is. You need peace of mind.”  So I did just that.  

The doctor said that the symptoms didn’t necessarily sound like appendicitis but rather an ovarian cyst and she put in an order to have an ultrasound done – Monday – 4 days before we were to depart.  

Monday morning rolled around and I was energetically ready to start the week – a lot to be done, but our vacation was finally only a few days away.  A new Club Pilates facility opened near by and Monday was their first day of classes.  I was scheduled for the 6 am class.  My alarm was set, clothes all laid out only through Sunday night, I kept having an odd feeling that I shouldn’t go.  Something’s not right. The alarm rang to get me up in time, and I shut it off.  Hubby thought I slept in, but I intentionally decided not to go.  I shrugged it off as “whoops – guess I was more tired than I thought.”  I started the day and felt great.  Whatever I had must be on the mend…there’s no need for me to go to the Ultrasound.  I had a few meetings in the morning so I sent my hubby a text and said “You know what, I feel fine. I’m sure I’m on the mend. Can you call the Imaging Center and cancel my appointment.”  I got a text back “Done.”  

And then, out of the blue, my high school friend Kristin and her cousin Sarah popped into my head.  Now as a side bar, I’ve been trying to be more diligent about where I spend my time, and made a deliberate effort to remove Facebook off of my phone and limit the time I was spending on the app.  Kristin and I keep in touch through Facebook and since my deliberate avoidance of Facebook, there had been no reason for them to come into my mind – I didn’t see a post, had no idea what she was up to.  The odd thing, is that her cousin passed away several years ago to Ovarian Cancer. “You owe it to yourself to get this checked out” passed through my mind.  

I sent Hubby a text again “Can you call them back?”  I went to the appointment, fully knowing that the technicians aren’t allowed to say anything about what they are seeing.  I am a by the book rule follower but decided to try “I don’t suppose you can tell me if you see anything.” And her response “Let’s say I see what’s causing your problem.”  I looked up at the white sandy palm tree filled beach that was on the ceiling, meant to calm patients and thought ‘that’s as close to a Hawaii beach as I’m going to see.”  

The doctors called that night, and it turns out I have a large mass on my ovary – 9.5 x 8 x 6 cm.  The size of a large coffee mug.  Now. I’m not a very large person, 5′, 105 pounds – when they told me the size, I made a model out of post it notes on my desk and realized this mass was about a quarter of the size of my torso.  Fast forward to the end of the week – our vacation has been cancelled, I’ve been tested for Ovarian Cancer and am awaiting the results, and have a follow up with a Gynecological Oncologist to have the ovary removed in 2-4 weeks.  

As I’m sitting here writing this, Hawaii seems like a distant dream but it’s been a refreshing reminder of how precious and volatile life truly is.  I do have dreams, to become an author, and this week made me realize that I need to turn my dreams into plans and start making focused efforts to get there.  

You may wonder how I’m holding up, and I will tell you surprisingly well. This week was horrible as we had no plans – were we going on vacation or not? is there something going on or not? do I have cancer or not? But after the official diagnosis, and the path forward set by my doctor, I’m doing ok. We have a plan and there are things that are just simply out of my control. I spent some time today just relaxing, visiting a local bookstore and starting to stock up on my book pile while I’m down and out recovering from surgery and bought myself a beautiful bouquet of flowers.

And as the painting on the wall reminds me “Be Strong and of Good Courage. Do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you where you go.” Joshua 1:9.

“Intentional” About 2020

Happy New Year! Can you believe it is 2020? I certainly cannot. I distinctly remember the chaos of the “2000” new year just like it was yesterday. In the days leading up to the celebratory day, I took some time to think about the past year, and about how I wanted 2020 to look and all the things I wanted to accomplish. One of my favorite sayings is “People make plans, and God laughs,” so I’m fully aware that my plans may not come to fruition, but I wanted to do a better job, be more focused and deliberate in the coming days.

My first step was to decide on a key word for 2020: one word that could ground me and serve as the centering point if I venture off course. I chose the word ‘INTENTIONAL’. I want all of my actions to be intentional, to help drive me and my family towards our goals. In my 2019 inventory, I realized the crazy amount of time wasted on social media accounts so along with setting the word, I deliberately removed the social media apps from my phone. I can still access them when I’m at my computer, but gone are the days of wasting time while sitting on the couch when I could be engaging with my family, waiting for a doctors appointment, or the many other times we pick up the phone and disconnect from reality to engage in the virtual world. I want to be resourceful and intentional with the most precious element we’re give in life.

When I shared my word with the family, they all wanted a word (and boy can I tell you this was THE BEST decision for my little dude…his word is PATIENCE, and all I have to do when he’s lacking some is to ask what is word is and it simply clicks! GENIUS MOM moment, if I do say so myself!)

I displayed our words on our ‘Command Central’ located on the side of the refrigerator and every week, plan to update with a quote – something for us to talk about at dinner. The quote for this first week:

“Whether you think you CAN or you CAN’T, you are right!”

In terms of my work life, I decided to adopt the focus word and created a ‘word of the week’ to help me at work. I chose ‘calm‘ for this, my first week back from the two week holiday break and I am amazed by how visually seeing that word daily, helped me to focus, to not get spun up over nonsense and to remain, well…calm! I plan to share my ‘Focus Word of the Week’ on my Ginny Dandy Instagram page, so be sure to follow!

Lastly, I’ve decided to take the following intentional acts:

  • I’m starting each day with devotions – reading ‘The Daily Bible | 365 Daily Readings’ as well as ‘The Intellectual Devotional’. I’ve always wanted to read the Bible, and this version helps to reinforce what you are reading with explanations and clarifications. Because you read 2-3 pages a day, it helps with the retention. And can I say ‘BOY – were things messed up in Genesis!’
  • After my readings, I wake the hubby and we start our morning each day with our T-Time (morning ‘tea’ time, that is…or in my case, cappuccino). This week was a bit rocky getting back into the swing of things BUT, we started this tradition back in October and it has been wonderful for our relationship. Two rules: no planning, no cell phones, just talking.
  • Targeting a 2-3 day/week workout and I discovered the ‘Ruth Bader Ginsburg‘ workout (or RBG for short). It’s a 25 min workout, which is totally doable for the busy working mama, and is a mix between cardio, weight lifting, stretching and ending with cardio. I am really enjoying it.
  • Getting serious about my writing – blogging but most importantly, focusing on writing my children’s book. Everyone who knows me, knows that I’ve always wanted to write a book. I have SO MANY ideas in my head, but in the past, that’s where they stayed. In the sprit of being INTENTIONAL, I am DETERMINED to become a PUBLISHED AUTHOR in 2020.

My focus: being INTENTIONAL, focusing on my health, and writing. Everything else that happens in 2020 is just icing on the cake!