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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

It keeps falling...

If you have not gotten any snow yet, do not fear: its COMING (well, if I could send it your way, I would). We have had snow fall almost constantly for the last week or so, ranging from light snow to winter storm. It is very pretty, but after a while it gets really old. I'm thankful that the roads are fairly clear (that's a plus to living in a city that expects a lot of snow!); however when its cold and wintry out, and you have young children, there are times when some extra indoor ideas come in handy so that you all don't get cabin fever. 

Maybe you are in the same boat as me with a little one who is still too young to do much activity-wise; we end up playing hide and seek around the corners in the house, or making faces in the mirror, or even "lets climb all over mommy" time. But then again, maybe you have kids who are at the "too cool for you" age. Either way, hopefully these simple winter crafts/activities will help you get through the long days stuck in the house.

Growing up, my family and I always made these around the holidays. It became my little sister's specialty; even if no one else wanted to make the snowmen, she would make sure a batch was created. They are fairly simple to make and are fun to create different personalities on the snowmen. They are also fun to eat :) As they are not too sweet, it is very easy to eat about 10....hey they're small! :)

Okay, so your tree is already decorated and you are all ready for Christmas, but maybe you want to add some personal things to the tree to make it more your own. Or maybe your presents are already wrapped but you can't find those gift tags you bought on sale last year. This year I am using salt dough gift tags for my presents. I actually wrapped them all up last night- so excited to see every one's faces when they open their gifts this year! Salt dough is inexpensive and opens the door to let creativity rule! Mine bubbled up funny in the oven when I baked them but it wasn't too bad. I have yet to figure out why that happened as all the tutorials I found showed beautifully flat pieces. One thing I would recommend would be to make sure you work fast as the dough does not like to sit (that might have been my problem). I used holiday cookie cutters and a small round lid to cut my ornaments/gift tags but you can you anything you want. I also used my holiday stamps to make indentations in the dough created some flair. Oh and make sure you remember to use a straw to make the hole for your string or ribbon. Once dried or baked, you can leave them as is or paint them. (Just a note about the linked tutorial- its maybe a little dated looking, but I was very impressed by her ornaments! Much more detailed than mine!)

Homemade Garlands
I know, I know, your tree is all done- why do I keep telling you about decorations? Well, because I love decorations! Plus- even if your tree is done, that doesn't mean that the rest of your house can't use a little festive decorations :) Also, these would be great to make with your kids. Super easy and super fun as you can make them however you want! You could even venture outside to get some pine cones for one of the garlands, turning it into a scavenger hunt as well as a fun craft. Sadly I have run out of time for making any more decorations this year, but I hope to try these out next holiday season. 

If these don't suit your fancy, I hope you find other fun/family friendly activities that can occupy rambunctious little people. Have a wonderful and safe holiday season! We will be traveling a lot over the next week and a half so I probably won't be posting again until the New Year- so on that note- Happy New Year as well!! 
Until next time- 
Ruth B.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Who is Perfect?

I like every other person out there have felt insecure about my figure.  I have always been a very petite person.  Growing up, I was muscular with little to no fat on my body.  When I wasn't running round outside or playing some other active game like king of the mountain I was doing gymnastics, cheerleading, track or some other activity.  I never had to worry about what I ate.  Never had to worry about gaining weight either because I was burning so much off.

Even in college, I never had to worry about calorie intake because as a cheerleader, you ran it off.  We had regular workouts.  We had scheduled weights, running and of course practices.  I always had scheduled workouts for me and never had to really work at keeping a figure.  Not to mention at football and basketball games, you were always moving!  Post college however is a very different sort.

I have been out of college now for almost 5-1/2 years.  To most who know me or see me, they see the same old Catie who never has to worry about what she eats and she is always thin.  Well that is not always what I see.  I know that I have been blessed with a nice figure but that doesn't mean it's not without things I would love to work on.  I would love to have the energy to go to the gym to tone up.

This past year with working full-time and going to school, it was near impossible for me to workout.  I was putting in 16+ hour days and I cannot say my body didn't suffer.  Trying to eat healthy became harder and more of a discipline.  Reaching for a bag of chips was easier than packing an apple.  There are some days now where I get home and the LAST thing I want to do is go to the gym.  My joints hurt, I am tired, my stomach is upset, I have to do laundry and the dishes…..and this is just me!!  My stress level has been so elevated that I just don't want to add on any more….you know there are the usual excuses.

I have come to terms that certain outfits of mine are just not fitting like they used to fit.  I have a little belly on me.  My arms are a little flabbier.  My thighs are still Thunder Thighs.  I still have my curves….yet I feel curvier than I used to be.  That makes me rethink what I wear as I want to be modest.  I find myself reaching for clothing articles that help you suck it in and hold it together verse just look cute and carefree.  Why can't I accept that I am not where I was 10+ years ago and I shouldn't expect my body to be either?  Why is it so hard to want to maintain this youthful built, relatively stress free, and care about getting rid of the jello giggler arms I have?

It just gets frustrating and I need to remind myself no one is perfect.  I need to be realistic with myself.  I also need to be honest.  No body is ever going to be what we desire it to be.  As we get older, aging and gravity take its toll.  We should accept that fact with grace and appreciation…not with bitterness and disgust.  Yes, there are things I can do to prevent this from happening and I am mindful of that too.  If I want to be fit, I need to make the time to workout.  I need to continue to do my calf raises while brushing my teeth.  I need to me mindful of not sitting for too long on the couch and work those muscle.  I need to do that for me and my health.

Although I am discouraged about my figure, I am reminded that no one goes without struggles or frustrations. I found a really wonderful video that I would like to encourage you to watch.  I think it simply demonstrates our natural reactions to a less perfect design.  Keep in mind, we all have expectations to shape and form, but nothing is perfect remember?

Lastly, this blog made me pleasantly smile.  It made me happy to know and see this mother desires her daughter to know what is important in life and that is not about working yourself to death just simply to get the "perfect body".  This is much of what my parents instilled in me and my siblings.  We strived for healthiness not perfection.  The important thing is to live life as it should be lived and that is NOT focused on what we aren't.

So, who is perfect?  Nobody….thank goodness!  :-)


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

What the man selling cotton candy has taught me

I don't remember when the first time it was that I noticed this man, but since then I can tell you I always look for him. He is the man standing at the corner of Western and W. Peterson selling cotton candy. What struck me most and what still strikes me is this man's dedication and perseverance to sell just even one cotton candy. No matter what the weather or how many times he hears no, he keeps going. He makes the same loop with his tall heavy poll of cotton candy and works honestly to make a living.

I don't know much about this many except the fact that he always makes himself look put together. I also know that despite the fact that he has no teeth, he smiles at you with a big smile.  I know that he doesn't speak much English, but he attempts to communicate with you still. And I know that he is dedicated and focused.

Through my brief 1-2 minute observations of this man I have been convicted. This man makes so much less than me, but he does his job with such a perseverance that challenges me. I love my job, but there are days that I lose steam. I am convicted of the fact that this man works hard every day just to bring a small sum of money home.

As the holiday season approaches I wonder how I can help others who aren't as fortunate as me. But I also wonder how I can do this more than just during the holiday season. How do you help others? What is your way of giving to others?

I've also been thinking how can I put forth the type of work ethic that I should be every day? How can I go forward with a positive attitude and gracious spirit? How can I smile?

I know one thing that I can change is this. I can smile more at those around me. I can smile at the man on the street. I can smile at each and every individual I come in contact with and I can encourage. Even when I cannot provide money or material things I know that like this man selling cotton candy I can smile and put forth 100% of an effort at the things I can do for others.

Who can you smile at today?

Saturday, November 30, 2013

In Search of the Little Things

Thankgiving: a time to remember everything that we are thankful for. This holiday comes every year, along with all the great food and fellowship of those we love. As much as I love the idea of Thankgiving, I can't help but think about how we should be thankful all year round. Last year I was given the book "One Thousand Gifts" by Anne Voskamp and while I have not yet finished it, I have already learned a lot about the art of being grateful.

If you haven't read the book, definitely pick up a copy! The main theme of the book is how Anne tries to come up with 1000 things that she is thankful for every day (I think it's every day....I wasn't very clear on that). I have found that, although I have not gotten very far into the book yet, I have already been able to incorporate a lot of her points into my daily life. While at work I find myself counting to try to get me through the day.

  • Running at work to try to keep up with appointments....thankful for a healthy body to keep up with the schedule.
  • Angry donors who blame me for not letting them donate to earn money for their baby's diapers....thankful for a job for both myself and my husband.
  • Coworkers talking about their life struggles; lack of direction, hopelessness...thankful for the hope I have in Jesus Christ.
  • Hunger pains when breaks get missed....thankful for food in the breakroom for when I catch a minute.
  • Cold winter mornings...thankful for a warm coat and gloves.
  • Unhappy about leaving my daughter with someone else on days I work....thankful for a Godly babysitter who cares for my child as if she were her own. 
  • Trying to remember my long "to do" list that is waiting for me when I get home from work...thankful for a place to call home with a loving husband and joyful baby girl.
Focusing on what I am grateful for totally changes my outlook on life. As much as I like to think that I am a positive person, I definitely complain a lot, but I want to change that about myself. I don't want to be known as the grumbler, negative, complaining woman and mother. I want to be know as someone full of life; always searching for some way to uplift another, thanking the Lord for His blessings, finding a way to enjoy life to its fullest. 

God gave us a whole world to be enjoyed, why not enjoy every part of it? From the small blades of grass to the tiniest dew drop in the cool mist of the morning. I challenge you to search for the little things in life to thank God for; lead a life of joy as you thank God for the things around you. Happy Thanksgiving from my family to yours!


Friday, November 29, 2013

With an Attitude of Gratitude

This week as been all about thanksgiving.  We take time out of a busy schedule, slow down only briefly to remember and appreciate the many blessings in our lives.  I have a lot to be thankful for at this point in my life.  Never did I think that I could conquer or tackle so much and still have my wits.  I have been blessed with such an amazing surrounding support group.

Throughout the day to day grind to which I would like to just simply call life, God has placed such a wonderful set of figures in my life to which have been my biggest support.  From a spiritual standpoint, I have all the help from above to go to for any prayers and assistance needed.  From a family standpoint, my family has got my back.  It took me a while to realize that as I think it is so hard seeing those who are right in front of you.  I for so long took them for granted. They had to tolerant and be patient with me as I was learning what it was to be a considerate adult and figuring out how to balance.  My parents and siblings are simply the best.  My grandma, aunts and uncles are so amazing as well.  I know I can go to them for anything and they would do whatever they could to help.

Another component to my support has come from my friends.  My darling and dear friends have been so good to me.  I have been blessed with friends from all over.  My closest friends to which I talk to almost everyday are from the Kingdom of Far Far Away.  You know, Shrek style.  I have a handful of friends I can lean on in my city, but the vast majority is all over.  I love that!  These individuals are the most wonderful people I could ever ask to have my back.  They all are so gifted with wisdom, understanding, empathy, compassion and love for me.  Whether we talk daily or sporadically, it is like picking up just where we had left off.  I feel so incredibly fortunate to be surrounded in love.

Another group I would like to thank…strangely enough…is my ex-boyfriends.  Isn't it ironic, don't you think?  If it wasn't for you, I believe my ambitions would be prematurely stammered.  If it wasn't for the break-ups, I do not believe I would have been able to accomplish and overcome what I have with such might and momentum.  I became more determined.  I became more of a fighter.  I started to learn what I was really made of thanks to you.  I started to understand relationships and what was deemed good and bad relationships.  It was through healing where clarity was found, followed the lit path through the gun smoke and my dreams became reality.  Your break-ups became my motivation in embracing being a single young professional woman and succeeding with flying colors.

In this journey called life, there is so much blessings and goodness woven day in and day out.  Some are easier to spot than others.  Sometimes we just need a chance to slow down and open our eyes to the wonderful world we find ourselves in today and just simply say thank you.

With an attitude of gratitude,
Catie Manning

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Why I'm thankful to be the nurse of cancer patients

Last night I had a dream. In the dream all the sudden a pediatric psych unit appeared at my current job and they took me from being a chemo nurse to being a pediatric psych nurse. All I kept saying was "but I'm a chemo nurse!"

I love my job. Even on the toughest days I can't imagine doing anything else at this point in my career.

Just a few weeks ago in the span of 48 hours in my work e-mail we had 6 obituaries of patients. Since then there have been a few more to follow. Many of these were moms with young children. My heart broke for these families, especially as the holidays approach they will face a new emptiness.  That isn't easy.

But despite what many may think, my job is not always sad news. Recently I have also had the privilege to dance and give big hugs to many patients as their news has been "the scan shows no evidence of residual disease". I think at times I may be almost as nervous as the patients and their families as we await the results of the scans.

Both sides  of my job I will remember for years to come. These patients touch my life in more ways than they could ever know.

I'm thankful to be gifted with the opportunity to work with such an incredible population of people.

Here is a list of what they teach me everyday:

1. They teach me what it looks like to be brave. Whether this is in plowing forward even when there seems to be no hope or breaking down in tears and letting the fact that they are having a bad day shine through.

2.  They teach me what it is like to balance getting weekly chemo, working part time, and being the primary caregiver for their kids.

3. Their family members teach me what it truly looks like to serve one another.

4. I get to see some of the strongest marriages that exist. It is incredible what a powerful team can fight together.

5. They teach me how to be real. How to talk about insecurities and be ok with them.

6. They teach me how to be honest.

7. They teach me what it means to live each day to its fullest.

8. They teach me what it means to fight with all the strength one has,

9. They teach me grace in letting go.

10. They teach me what really matters in the day to day life.

11. They remind me that the only moment we have is right now.

12. They teach me what grace in suffering looks like.

13. They teach me that scars are beautiful

14. They teach me that life is a gift.

15. They teach me how to laugh and smile amidst the trial.

I could go on and on. But I won't. At the end of the day the air I breathe seems a bit sweeter. The health of my family and friends seems a much bigger blessing. I hang on a bit longer to that hug of a loved one. I forgive quicker. I embrace the struggles in life as learning points. I worry less about the small things. I am more careful about how I spend my time. I love more deeply.

To each of the cancer patients and their families out there, know that I feel incredibly blessed to walk through this tough journey with you.

This Thanksgiving, let's all take a little more time to focus on the things that do matter and focus less on the things that don't matter. Let us each reach out to those people who are struggling through the Holidays and help them to feel loved if even only for a moment. Let us forgive our families and hug them tighter. Let us take more pictures and laugh harder.  And let us all continue to walk through this journey called life one more brave step at a time.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Adoption Is Growing Me

Don't ask me when I first became interested in adoption. I couldn't tell you. Somewhere between high school or college is my best guess. It really doesn't matter though. What matters is that this desire has continued to grow and take root.
Me (Emily) & my better half, Nick
I met and married a rather special someone who is also passionate about adoption. It was something we first connected over in our dating days, something we talked about as we made our budget during engagement, and something we've saved for since day one of our marriage.

Two and a half years ago we both would have told you we would get married, live life just the two of us for two to three years, then have a couple biological children, wait till they were 10-12 and then adopt. All while saving for this long-term goal of adoption.

Yet God has a way of changing our plans, or at least showing us that our plans are not always His. We hadn't even been married a year when my heart began breaking more than I thought possible over the fact that are millions of orphans around the world. One of my friends has termed this 'orphan pain' and it is an incredibly accurate description. There were days I just wanted to do nothing but scheme and plan how we could help and days my heart was just broken beyond belief at the thought that the word orphan even exists because it represents a very real crisis and very real hurting boys and girls who need care, love, and a family. 

I began to pray. Some days I pleaded for this burden because the timing was all wrong. Other days I begged Him to let us do this NOW! Most of the time though I read and researched and felt compelled to do something all while knowing that wouldn't happen.There was no way my husband would be on board this early...

Imagine my surprise when he came home one night a month or so later and mentioned that the Lord had been working on him! I hadn't said a word to him! This whole time I had been in silent turmoil feeling like we would never agree on this. I was wrong.

Courtesy of Kristi Witek. Taken during her trip to Columbia.
We began researching options and trying to think through what we were being called to do. We hit some BIG roadblocks. I remember being very real with the Lord and questioning why He had given us this burning desire only to bring us to an impossible place. We got no real answers. Rather, we continued to talk about it, pray about it, and plan for it.

This fall we were able to attend the Together For Adoption Conference and were challenged by some amazing speakers. We spoke with some true servants in ministry, and walked away knowing NOW was our moment. We were just three days away from our second anniversary. Not exactly what we had planned, but we knew this was where we needed to head. We didn't even think twice about our old plan of having biological children first and then adopting. This was what we were being called to do. We are so excited (and admittedly a bit intimidated)!

Why adopt? I wish I could sit down with you over a cup of hot tea or coffee and look you in the eyes and tell you about the 5 million orphans in Ethiopia, the waiting sibling group in foster care in your 'backyard', the mom who decided not to abort her baby but who isn't going to mother the wee one either. I wish I could somehow encourage you to educate yourself and be broken to the point of action. I wish I could tell you that there is nothing good in me. This desire comes from the Lord and He is the one who will see us through. God cares for the orphans. I think one of the ways you can see the heart of God most clearly, is through orphans, those who cannot help themselves, those who are alone, loveless, and abandoned. God's heart is there.  

Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress... James 1:27a 

Let us not lose heart in doing good... So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to ALL people... Galatians 6:9-10 (emphasis mine)

Photo courtesy of Kristi Witek

Orphans are part of that all. Children who just want a home, a warm meal, a mom and a dad or maybe a sibling or two are part of that all. Adoption is a true picture of the Gospel. Our prayer is that just as He has provided for us, cared for us, loved us with an everlasting love, and sought us out, that we would be able to do the same as much as humanly possibly for a sibling group in Latin America.

Did you know sibling groups are considered 'special needs' because most people aren't open to adopting more than one. They aren't the youngest children available for adoption so they face more risk of never being adopted.

Adoption is not without its costs. Both financial and physical/emotional. The average international adoption will cost between $35,000- $45,000. We don't have that money. No matter how much we save or sacrifice we just don't. I could (and often do) get overwhelmed and tell God there is no way this will happen, that just CAN'T. But then that still small voice reminds me I have been called to this. I may not understand the hows, whens, who, why, or be able to control any of it, but it isn't about me. It's about the orphan. The children who are waiting to come home, who are waiting on us to come and get them.

We're not sure how we are going to do this financially. We want to do it debt-free. We're saving, trusting the Lord, and inviting others to partner with us. I'm selling Jamberry through online orders, Facebook & in-home parties. It's providing some extra income to bring home children I can't get here fast enough. We've started a Just Love Coffee storefront where the certified fair trade & organic coffee friends and family buy helps give us funds and a Pure Charity account where others can donate money they earn from online shopping. We've put off vacations, home decor or house projects, we live a simple life without smart phones or cable/Netflix or newer cars. I honestly don't feel like any of that is missing (most days), but I do find myself missing the children that are waiting on us. I find myself wishing I could do more to save more to send more money to places right here and around the world that provide care for the orphans.

Not everyone is called to adopt. Yet, I do believe we all have a role in orphan care. Have you considered doing a clothing drive? Sending money to an orphanage overseas? Sponsoring a child through Compassion International? Being a Safe Family?- (You have to check them out!) Being a mentor? Giving to those who are called/equipped to provide a home for orphans? Going on a missions trip to love on and care for orphans even for a few days?

You can keep up with us  and our adoption journey at our blog Sunbeams & Raindrops

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A Heart for Romania: the forgotten children

I recently shared my story on how I came to be a nurse and in that post I mentioned a documentary on Romania that I had watched in highschool. The particular documentary focused on how many Romanian orphans have developmental difficulties because they were neglected in orphanages. This problem is largely due to the fact that there are too many orphans and not enough workers to care for these children. 

A little history about this problem (from what I remember from the documentary) starts with a communist dictator who governed Romania for more than 25 years. This dictator forced families to have a lot of children but when the economy fell, many children were left to fend for themselves. Orphanages were overrun and there were not enough workers to care for all of the children. Diapers were changed once a day and bottles were propped as there were just not enough hands to hold each child as they ate. As these children grew, they developed many neurological problems largely due to the fact that they were not touched enough; there are many studies that research how important human touch is to brain development (but that story is for another day). Most children did not know how to do simple age-appropriate activities that we would take for granted in a growing child. There were older children still in diapers as they had never been potty trained as toddlers. Many kids had deformities as their bodies had not developed properly; heads were larger, contractures in arms and legs. Overall, it was a very sad story that unfolded as I watched. After seeing that tv show, I knew that I had to do something about it someday. I figured I would become a nurse to breach borders and that would also help me to care for the children who were in such need of medical care. 

Forgotten children are not only found in Romania; they are scattered all throughout our world. However it saddens me to think that there are places where there are not support systems to care for these children at even the base levels. Here in America we at least have foster care or other government programs to watch over the orphans. Sometimes I think about how much change is needed within our foster care system and then I remember the Romanian children. 

All I want is for those children to know that someone cares for them. 

All I want is for those children to know that there is hope for them.

All I want is for those children to know that their current situation is not their fault.

Desperation is a sad thing to watch, however neglect is sometimes even harder to witness. Having become a mother myself, I know think about what it would be like for my own child to be left alone. I can't not even begin to imagine that scenario and yet there are so many children who find themselves in that situation daily! Recently one of my good friends told me about some children right here in America who were sorely neglected by their mother who walked a sorry path in life. An eleven year old boy had practically raised his three younger sisters who were three and two (twins) years old. The young girls had been left to fend for themselves with an unopened pringle can while the mother (who was high on drugs at the time) went out on another drug run. The story wrenched at my heart; especially since that sort of thing is hidden so well in America (and by "hidden" I mean that it is not widely talked about). 

Like I said earlier, orphans are everywhere. Some countries have more than others due to disease and violence, but these children are everywhere. They are the forgotten ones of our world. No matter what continent they live on, these children need the love and attention of other human beings. Be a force for change and raise awareness for the orphaned child. Whether you support organizations financially or volunteer or begin your journey as a foster or adoptive parent, there are so many ways that you can become a force for change in the lives of these little children. Adoption may be a long journey but it is well worth the ride. Definitely feel free to leave a comment if you are going through an adoption and need any sort of help and we would be happy to try to connect you with groups we know who actively support adoptive families. 

For more information about Romanian orphans, check out this video; I don't think that it is the same one that I saw nearly seven years ago but it might be.  

Monday, November 18, 2013

No matter what age

I have been trying to write this blog post for a few weeks now. This week we as a blog team are focusing on adoption and homeless teens, so what does a nurse grieving have to do with that? And here is what I began to think...

When my grandma passed away a year and a half ago my mom looked at me with tears in her eyes and said "it is true no matter how old you are when you lose your last parent, you still feel like an orphan".

In nursing school they don't prepare you for everything. They especially don't prepare you for the body bags and the grieving. As an oncology nurse I watch as children old and young alike become orphaned. I watch them lose their parents.

Whether you are 60 years old or 6 months old, no one is prepared to be on their own. We are hoping this week to raise awareness to help those that do feel alone in this world. Whether through the grieving of a lost one by physical death or family never being there, let's work together to help everyone, especially children and teens feel loved.

Friday, November 15, 2013

No Shave November: What's the Purpose? (a female's perspective)

This week, I have devoted to 'Movember' or as some might refer to it as 'No Shave November'.  Some individuals do it for the sport of growing a beard where as others may do it for awareness.  Either way, beards grow in numbers during the month of November!

I questioned the purpose of this endeavor….

Was it because men wanted to compete and take pride in their growing accomplishment?  'MY beard is fuller than your beard!'

Was it because they wanted to feel cool and fit in? 'Well everyone else is growing one…I guess that is the IN thing to do…'

Was it just to get back at girlfriends and wives that just don't have enough hours in the day to shave their legs? '….Now you know how I feel hunny…it's gross isn't it!'

Next, what the heck are the rules of No Shave November besides the obvious?  Aren't men at least given a chance to trim or groom at all?  The answer is "negative ghost rider" (Top Gun reference)  No trimming.  No shaving.  No touching the beard until December 1 hits!  30 days of growing, itching, and showing off that manly facial hair…supposedly...

So what does any good researcher do?  They Google the request of course.  Google gave me a lot of information to sift through.  It was pretty comical and informative actually.  This whole No Shave November thing is actually taken pretty seriously!  Here I just thought it was the man's excuse to annoy their significant others and obnoxiously show off…here is what I found!

This website is all inclusive with video, diagrams, and reasons to participate.  It definitely has some compelling arguments as such to join the bandwagon.  They are promoting the growth a burley beard.  Are these men trying to look like Lumberjacks?  Not bad for the first round Google but, I think you can do better. .

Ahh….here.  Now we are talking!  An actual Facebook Page…

I mean, even the Huff Post Style Dept is writing about it!  This article had "best of" photos from Instagram.  SO….#NSN has to be legit right?

On a less shallow note, the American Cancer Society also is mentioning this November phenomena. Their approach is very different than the other thoughts or information I found online.  Their purpose is to raise money.  That is pretty cool.  You can get T-shirts for your donations, create No Shave Teams and really give it a new purpose.  It didn't appear to promote awareness toward any one specific cancer as noted on their website just to raise awareness of cancer as a whole.!apparel-and-donations/cee5
The concept is a solid one.  "The goal of No-Shave November is to grow awareness by embracing our hair, which many cancer patients lose, and letting it grow wild and free.  Donate the money you usually spend on shaving and grooming for a month to educate about cancer prevention, save lives, and aid those fighting the battle." (!what/cjg9)

One other site that I came a crossed in my search is Adhere Creative's fundraising site for "Fighting Prostate Cancer" through No Shave November.  They are a Creative Marketing Agency out of Texas.  I really don't know anything about them aside from finding their fundraising page.  If you are interested in checking their cause out though, please feel free to do so!  They have a fun and interesting way of presenting this fundraiser:

All in all, it seems as though males across the board have different reasons to participate in No Shave November.  Some for personal reasons, others for raising awareness, and many I am sure just simply to grow a solid beard.  Whatever the reasoning may be, November seems to grow in attention and beards seem to almost plague the universe for the month.  That is a simple fact.  I don't see this changing anytime soon either.

So from a female's perspective, if you can't beat them--join them?

Totally just kidding…good luck for the remainder of No Shave November!

Catie Manning

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Thou Shalt Not Shave

Well, it's November, and once again I have to learn to live with the changing facial hair of my husband. I have to admit that I do like some facial hair on him; not that I wouldn't love him otherwise, but he just looks better with a clean cut beard/chin strap. However this month, he participates in the famous "No Shave November" and starts the month off clean shaven and ends it with a mountain man look. 

While it's not my "cup of tea", I have learned that there are some things not worth fussing over. Sure, would I prefer it if he kept the look from our engagement pictures or wedding day? Yes. But hair grows/can be shaved. And so, I let him have his fun :) To all those participating in No Shave November- may the best beard win! Here is a before picture of my handsome hubby that was taken on November 1st at work. I will be sure to post a picture when the month up so you can see the change.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Stubborn Men

While many of our posts focus more so on women topics, this week we are talking about men. It is November. For many men this is the month they look forward to... no shave November. For many women, it is the month they dread, the month their husbands, fiances, partners, boyfriends, brothers, sons, etc. all have an excuse, and a valid excuse, not to shave.  Though I personally am not the biggest fan of facial hair, I am a fan of promoting cancer awareness. So alas, I will forfeit my battle against hairy faces for this one month to hopefully help men realize how being stubborn is being stupid when it comes to healthcare concerns and cancer prevention.

This past summer I was talking with a guy friend of mine and it is no secret in our circle of friends that he has had a health concern. Being the nurse who has a medical brain on even when I don't mean to, I started asking questions. This friend of mine had had this problem for 3 years and had yet to see a physician for it. At that moment I could very well have scared him (as a cancer nurse my thought immediately goes to yikes! that is what one of my patients first symptoms were!), but instead I gently (ok maybe more like sternly) encouraged him to go to a primary care provider to start. I then sent him the contact information of a good physician. Thankfully, he got an appointment shortly after that.

I would like to say I haven't seen this happen within the hospital, but I have. Unfortunately, a lot of times those cases were much, much worse than my friends.  They ranged from kidney failure, to metastatic cancer everywhere being found in the late stages, to a massive heart attack where I was his nurse as he took his final breath. I don't write these to scare you, but to show you that being manly isn't about refusing to get seen by a medical professional, but being manly is take charge of your own health and making the changes you need to make.

Driving through Michigan I always see this billboard...

The statistics are out. According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality:
  • Men are 24 percent less likely than women to have visited a doctor within the past year and are 22 percent more likely to have neglected their cholesterol tests.
  • Men are 28 percent more likely than women to be hospitalized for congestive heart failure.
  • Men are 32 percent more likely than women to be hospitalized for long-term complications of diabetes and are more than twice as likely than women to have a leg or foot amputated due to complications related to diabetes.
  • Men are 24 percent more likely than women to be hospitalized for pneumonia that could have been prevented by getting an immunization

According to Mayo, the 3 leading health threats for men are heart disease, cancer, and unintentional injury.  Mayo makes a good point, for the most part these can be preventable in many aspects.  And with proper screening, prostate cancer can be found early on.

Men, hear me on this. You are not weak for seeking treatment. You are not weak for having depression. You are not weak for needing help with alcoholism. You are not weak for needing help to quit smoking. You are not weak for needing doctor because things just aren't right. You are not weak for needing extra testosterone. You are not weak for going to the doctor. You are not weak for needing a personal trainer. You are not weak for needing a nutritionist. In fact it is the exact opposite, you are strong for taking these steps to a healthier you so that you can be there for your loved ones. Some cancers can be preventable. Let's take those steps together.

I challenge you to make this sign the truth...

Men, raise awareness 1 hairy face at a time. Women, let's let them have their beards for this one month to hopefully raise awareness and save some lives!

With that being said, we want to see you best no shave November pictures you've got, so send them our way!


Friday, November 1, 2013


Hi, my name is Catie Manning. I feel like I should have a name tag. Take a seat. 

No, I am not an alcoholic nor a person who is entering into therapy. I am what you call a dreamer. A doer. I am a fighter. A motivator. I am no nonsense. I am a person to which sees the sky as the limits as far as passions in life go. I see myself as constantly evolving. I am frequently morphing into a better version of myself. Like the layers of an onion, as a layer sheds a new fresh one appears. Each layer a little more refined than the last one.  I see myself as becoming.

Becoming implies a sense of future. It equally implies an undertone of "I'm not there yet" with a small flair. The word becoming encompasses a sense of classy feminine qualities and a sense of hope! It never ceases to amaze me what I am becoming. Still the same ole Catie, but with upgrades and additions. Maybe some wisdom and humility?

When I was younger, I wanted to become anything and everything under the sun. Growing up, I was raised Catholic with a very loving, tight knit, and supportive family. I was always involved with physical activities and sports. It began with gymnastics which transformed into a cheerleading affair. I ran track and played softball. I was and still am a competitive person within reason. In high school, I was a three sport varsity athlete and played softball for recreation over the summer time until I graduated.
One of our many Championship Trophies

I was accepted to Indiana University-Bloomington Indiana for fall enrollment in 2004. I made their co-ed cheer squad which taught be a lot. You see, my cheer coach was very nurturing and had high expectations for her squads. After that first year, I was moved to the all-girl squad for the remainder of my three years at IU which was more competitive and really felt that where I needed to be.

Academically, I began on the path for a business degree. Found out quickly that was not my cup of tea. Catie Manning, a NUMBER CRUNCHER? No. I knew innately I was a people person. I was destined to work with people. This is where I found telecommunications. I enjoyed the creative and versatility of this degree. It was broad spectrum. It had options! From the business side, legislative end, TV, advertising, public relations...endless possibilities! I found it hard to narrow that one down. It took one commercial to spark another direction...what about sports media? It marries your passion of sports with another passion of media. Seemed like an amazing fit. So I put my explorer boots on and off I went!

As a junior in college, I acquired two very instrumental mentors and they helped network with the great ESPN. I sent a resume out and applied for their internship. I received the internship, but was unable to accept due to an injured wrist; however a second opportunity of epic proportion presented itself. I worked the next 6 years with both Winter and Summer X-Games. Yes, I loved that opportunity and found out that I didn't want to work sports media for the rest of my days.

Upon graduating IU in May of 2008, I took a brief month off. I then began working at the company Accu-Label, Inc. as Sales Support and Marketing. I spent the first couple of months really analyzing and getting my bearings. I literally applied my degree right out of the gate. I began trying to figure out the best market mix for our line of work. It also allowed me to be creative within limits. It gave me flexibility. Then my role started to shift and more was added to my plate. I began to manage a sector of business which is both cutting edge and that is where I had to learn to balance. I was becoming more able and efficient. It was effortful and yet, I thirsted for more hands on creativity.

Upon more discernment, I decided I wanted to go back to school for Cosmetology. I enrolled in Ravenscroft Beauty College in fall of 2012 and completed the program while working full-time. I went to work in the morning followed by school in the evening. I completed a program that on average should have taken me 15 months to finish in 13 months. I enjoyed it greatly. I will take my boards on November 9th, 2013 for the state of Indiana and proceed onward and upward! I couldn't be more excited!
The Crew :-)

I am still becoming. I am in awe with the path that I have been given. I give credit to God for that one. I think each of us have our own path that is revealed to us in due time and it can be hard.  The unknown factors make it hard.  It was through much discovering the strengths and gifts He gave me as well as an appreciation for the journey called life.  I couldn't be more appreciative or blessed!

-Catie Manning


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