The Holiday Season (And The Gifts We Should Be Giving This Year)

It’s the holiday season, the holiday season. 

We all know how the rest of the song goes; Santa Claus, Christmas snow, and merry bells. Though those things are a’plenty for most of us, the holiday season can sadly bring about grief, loneliness, and depression for many.  We use this time of year to extend our gratitude, and share time and gifts with loved ones. As Black Friday and bargains can easily distract us from the important things, I wanted to take this time to talk to you about the gifts we should be making sure not to forget. 

 

The Gift of Time

This one may seem pretty cliche, yet so easily forgotten.  In a world that is over consumed with staying ahead, and staying in the race, we can so often forget that the greatest gift is that of our time.  Set aside everything else going on if you are able, and extend your time to your loved ones.

 

The Gift of Conversation

Don’t you get all the warm and fuzzies after a night out, catching up with friends or family?  A couple of hours pass, and you realize you haven’t even picked up your cell phone *gasp.* So, remember this year when you’re all sitting around the dinner table, playing board games, or just catching up…leave the cell put away as much as you can.   Of course, we all want to snap those photos, and share our bliss with the world…but maybe we just share it a little more with those around us this year. 

 

The Gift of Invitation

The holidays yield way to feelings of loneliness, anxiety, and depression for many of those around us, often times without us even realizing. This holiday season, make sure your loved ones know they are welcome and loved by inviting them to events, gatherings, and church services.  In the hustle and bustle we are so busy getting ourselves from place to place that we might forget to include others. Even if someone seems to always say no, keep asking, sometimes people feeling unwanted just need constant reassurance and even a little pushiness. 

 

The Gift of Acknowledgment

This one might be the toughest of all.  For those who have lost loved ones, are battling illness, or suffering from depression, feeling like you are a burden can be a thief of joy.  It is our job as  friends, family, or even colleagues to acknowledge those things, and let these people know that we love them through it all.  Often times we try to hide or mask those things, because it’s uncomfortable, but these people really need reassurance. Open up, and encourage them to tell joyous stories of lost loved ones, let them know they are included in your prayers, make sure they know that you see them, and that they should in no way feel guilty for the way they feel. 

Maybe these are all things we all already know, but, I felt called to spread this reminder.  The greatest gifts we can give require no money, or fancy bows, merely a little deeper reach into our hearts.  

Much love, and happy Holly-Days…see what I did there? 😉

#SheWhoDaresProject – Allyssa Floyd aka Chef and the Blogger

“Step into the unknown! Sometimes, your world of possibility is just one more step!”  shares Allyssa Floyd, who followed her own advice and took that extra step as she began cooking her way through Deep Run Roots  a cookbook of over 200 recipes by Chef Vivian Howard. 

To her 1600 Instagram followers, Allyssa is better known as “Chef and the Blogger,” a play on Howard’s renowned restaurant, Chef and The Farmer. IMG_0692  Prior to her adventures with Deep Run Roots, Floyd didn’t necessarily consider herself an avid cook, but she couldn’t let go of the spark she felt upon the discovery of  these recipes.    

“It is true that I’ve always enjoyed cooking to an extent, though I would never have called myself an avid home cook until now. I have many cookbooks and dive into them from time to time. The idea of cooking an entire cookbook has been on my radar since the “Julie and Julia” craze. However, I’ve never been inspired enough by one to devote so much of my life to it. That changed when I came across Deep Run Roots from Vivian Howard. I fell in love with it as soon as I began flipping through the pages. The recipes were different, but somehow familiar too and the storytelling throughout the pages was enthralling.”

Though the recipes are a change of pace, that familiarity she speaks of derives from Sunday suppers with her family, lead by Marie, better known to all of her loved ones as Nan, and someone Allyssa counts as one of her biggest inspirations.

IMG_2490  “She’s my biggest fan in every endeavor. She’s not an adventurous eater by any means but she has tried everything I’ve made out of this cookbook and brags on it to anyone she can.”

And those “bragging rights” are something Floyd has leaned on during some of the roughest times of her life, times that she says the cookbook has acted as comfort. 

 

“On an even more personal level, it’s helped me through a struggle with infertility. Early this summer, my husband and I were told that it just wasn’t going to happen after trying for 7 years. I was devastated and down in the dumps. This project helped me to focus on something else and brought me the joy that I needed so badly at the time.IMG_2489 We actually found out that we were expecting about a month after I started the project. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a successful pregnancy. The day I found out that I had miscarried, I made my 100th recipe.  It may seem crazy to hear that that’s what I did, but it’s the only thing that I could control in that moment. Cooking is helping me through the grieving process. I’m so grateful for that.”

When asked who she looks to for inspiration, Allyssa could think of several ladies in her life.

“My Mom for all the obvious reasons. She let me chase dreams even when she knew they weren’t the right ones. When I realized that and came back home, she was there for that too!”  

Jenee Fleenor—At 16 years old, I became a fan of this girl. She was playing in the band for an artist I saw often. I was so excited to see a girl up there. I’ve watched her break barrier after barrier for females over the past 17 years.  Even more impressive, she hasn’t changed a bit. Her humbleness and kindness are something that you just don’t find in very many people these days! She’s proof that hard work pays off and that all dreams are attainable if you want them bad enough.” 

And of course, the chef herself, Vivian Howard.  

“She’s just great. I’ve always been inspired by her drive to revitalize her community by using local farmers for all of her food supply at her restaurants, as well as tell their stories on her show. The way she took something that she loved and used it as a stepping stone to make a difference in the lives of those around her is admirable. I hope that one day I’ll be able to do the same for my community.’

Floyd never imagined that the chef would follow  her blog, let alone be one of her biggest fans and supporters, lending tips, and special notes when she has the opportunity.  IMG_2487When I started my instablog for this project, I never dreamed she would follow along. Now, she  not only does, but also comments with words of encouragement, and tips for improving some of the things I’ve had a hard time with. In my most recent trip to NC last month, she invited me to join her for lunch, and visit about the project.’ 

This journey has allowed Allyssa to live out some of her favorite words from icon, Dolly Parton, “Find out who you are, and do it on purpose.”   Through this process Floyd has truly discovered some new things about herself, and found the courage to embrace them.  

“I’ve never been a person with high self-esteem or confidence. I’ve always made excuses for why I couldn’t do something or do it well enough. This project has really helped me come out of that mentality. There is no room for “I can’t do that” when you have 200 recipes to get through. You just buck up and do it!”

What might we expect to see next from Chef and the Blogger? 

“Well, I have a little over 100 more recipes to finish Deep Run Roots, so those will take priority. I’m really excited about working my way through them. I’d really love to do that! After I finish it, I plan to travel back to ENC and celebrate with a dinner at Chef and the Farmer. I’ve heard that Vivian is working on her next book, so, my mind is already whirling at the possibility of doing it too.   Beyond that, who knows…we’ll see where the heart leads.”

You can follow along with Allyssa Floyd throughout her cooking journey by jumping over to her Instagram page @chefandtheblogger.  

Follow Chef Vivian Howard @chefandthef, where you will currently find her conversation with Allyssa featured as part of her “Dear Vivian” stories.  Part two of the interview will be featured in the section next Thursday, November 22.

Allyssa’s interview with the PBS A Chef’s Life Team.

Keep cooking, sister, I’m rooting for you…and ready for more taste testing! 😉

#SheWhoDaresProject – Mary Beth Babcock

“HI! My name is Mary Beth Babcock and I LOVE RETAIL!”  gushed the Buck Atom’s Queen as we began our conversation.   And though many of us may recognize Babcock as the lady who brought the 21 foot Space Cowboy to town, there is so much more to her story.IMG_2339

Prior to her newest venture, Mary Beth was the owner of Dwelling Spaces, a downtown Tulsa boutique and gift shop;It was an awesome period of my life. It was time for a change and one morning in 2018 I asked myself…”What do you want to do?” I said…I want to do retail…but something small. 30 minutes later the 1950’s PEMCO gas station presented itself on Facebook. I KNEW that was what I was supposed to do next. I had been paying attention…at that time…I knew the Mother Road Market was coming. We signed a lease the next day! I have loved Route 66 since 2006 and have been planting the seeds over the year to prepare myself for this next chapter.”

And thus began the birth of Buck Atom’s Cosmic Curios on 66.  With this unique gift shop, Babcock found a way to mesh her love for Muffler Men, retail and Route 66 in a way that also supports and brings tourism to her community. IMG_2344I enjoy collaborating and brainstorming with artists. Watching documentaries, going to live concerts, supporting Tulsa film, music, arts and culture!”   Buck Atom’s has yielded opportunity  to do many of those things on more than just a personal scale.  The shop has brought travelers and tourists from around the world, and seen its fair share of visitors from the music and film industry, including, Jack White and the Raconteurs, Nina Dobrev and Hanson.  

 

Babcock also continues to focus on partnerships around the community for local growth and support, There are so many things that I love to support and be a cheerleader for. Projects that I’m focused on are continuing to build the Buck Atom’s brand, partnering with theIMG_2341 Outsiders House Museum and Woody Guthrie Center on some limited edition products, building the Neon sign for Buck’s and growing Buck Atom’s family.”

 

Mary Beth has had her fair share of cheerleaders along the way, and credits them for continual support on her journey.  There are many influential women in my life. I have always looked up to women who empower each other and encourage each other. One of those women is Deana McCloud from the Woody Guthrie Center. Another woman I have looked up to and respected is Ida Red owner Angelene Ripley Wright. I have always looked up to Kathy Taylor and Karen Keith. They have always supported and encouraged me.”

She leans on some favorite words as foundation as she continues to work through future goals, “SUCCESS COMES TO THOSE WHO HUSTLE WISELY.”   

Babcock encourages fellow entrepreneurs to do the same, and adds,

“BELIEVE in yourself. BE PASSIONATE about what you do. Get a journal and write everything down that you dream of doing. Talk things through with someone you look up to. Don’t doubt yourself.” 

Don’t miss your opportunity to see Babcock alongside Ben Folds and Taylor Hanson on November 10th as she partners with Magic City Books for a discussion of Folds new book, “A Dream About Lightning Bugs.”   Tickets must be purchased in advance here: Ben Folds Book Bash.bookbash

Keep up with Mary Beth and Buck:  Mary Beth Instagram  BuckAtomson66 Instagram

Donate to Buck Atom Space Cowboy Route 66 Sign 

Buy a Brick to Support Buck Atom Space Cowboy Route 66 Sign

Keep hustlin’, Mary Beth, I’m rooting for you!

#SheWhoDaresProject – Jessica Kleinschmidt

“I filled in for my little brothers baseball team when they were desperate for a right fielder.  I threw the ball during warm-ups and a monster was born.”

Since that “monster moment,” Jessica Kleinschmidt has been involved in sports.  

Kleinschmidt’s name might sound familiar to you if you are a follower of Major League Baseball, as she has worked for “pretty much every baseball site you can imagine,” and currently holds a Digital Correspondent gig with NBC Sports.   “Obviously being a woman playing baseball and back in the early 2000’s, there wasn’t much future for me. So I decided to make a career out of writing/talking about it. I quit my very cozy government job to pursue this, and it was the dumbest, best decision of my life.”

Jessica notes that being a female working in the male dominated sports media world is not an easy task.  JKMLB1When asked what advice she has for young ladies aspiring to get in the field, she jokes, “don’t do it!” She too was given this advice, and gives that same direction to yield a reaction and see if a person is serious about it.  “It’s a tough industry and I was told not to do it. It’s not for everyone, and that’s OK. You have to try that much harder. When I make a mistake, I’m a joke and women shouldn’t work in the industry, when a male counterpart does it, he made a simple mistake.  This has happened to me since little league.”  

Thankfully, despite the harshness that can come with the territory, Kleinschmidt has a great group of ladies keeping her on task.   Melanie Newman is the reason I kept going. I wanted to quit the industry and I remember calling her one day saying ‘I’m done, I can’t do this anymore.’  She said to keep fighting. Just a few hours later, I got a call from MLB’s Cut4 and they offered me a job. She doesn’t know how much that meant to me.” 

Corresponding through social media outlets also gives way to a meanness of it’s own…couch critics and cruel comments. Julie DiCaro reminded me to just be myself and that getting upset over the awful and harassing messages online is OK.JKMLB2 I can message her anytime about anything and she’s willing to listen–her ‘More Than Mean’ video changed my life.”

Jessica turns to a favorite quote as a reminder, “an arrow can only be shot by pulling it backward.  So when life is dragging you back with difficulties, it means that it’s going to launch you into something great.  So just focus and keep aiming.”  

“I’m constantly being pushed back, both in industry and in life.  Every time I’m about to give up, I’m blessed with a new opportunity.  My dad passed away when I was 19, and one of the main things we shared was our love for baseball, so I’m lucky to know that I can keep his memory alive by doing it every day.  The rewarding feeling I get when I hear someone got a job because I inspired them to keep going, (sports media-related or not) that’s worth it.”  

Follow along with Jessica Kleinschmidt and her work on Twitter – @KleinschmidtJD.  

Keep representing, sister, I’m rooting for you!

#SheWhoDaresProject – Rebekah Phillips

“I think when you find your true passion, it’s something that comes very naturally to you…”

And though Rebekah Phillips has found joy and inspiration in many forms, including songwriting and fine art, it is within writing and illustrating children’s stories that she has found that true, passionate niche.  “It  just seemed like the perfect blend of both–as a picture book text can be very lyrical.” 

Phillips strives to use this platform to teach the importance of feelings, emotions, and embracing uniqueness to even the youngest reader.  She explains that “picture books provide a gentle and entertaining way to tackle difficult subjects and feelings.”   With that concept in mind came the development of Rebekah’s newest series, Farlee and Friends.  In the series, readers will meet “A group of very unlikely characters who all have very preconceived notions about one another.  Farlee-GrandCheeseThe characters end up forming an incredible bond–realizing their differences are their strengths.”  The series consists of five books, all of which focus on the Farlee and Friends Friendship Pledge:

 

  1. Friends love at all times. 

  2. Friends help each other be the best that they can be.

  3. Friends have the courage to stand up for what’s right. 

  4. Friends accept you for you. 

  5. Friends have fun!

Farlee-Friendship-Bundle-web“My thought was that if children were able to make this promise to one another, it would not only help strengthen their existing friendships but also encourage them to reach out to those who may not have a friend.” 

Rebekah understands the importance of inspiration and influence, and credits inspirational speakers Cindy Trimm and Terri Savelle for adding encouragement and drive as she has traveled  through this journey.  “I love to listen to spiritual podcasts while I paint, and they have both helped me in terms of confidence and my personal walk with God.  I used to be very insecure and negative, and I can credit these two incredible women for helping to shift my perspective.”   She also acknowledges her husband, Kurt for nudging her in the process, “He has such an incredible business sense which I’ve been able to glean from in so many ways.  He’s helped me to transform my thinking, and we’re a great balance for one another.”  

Phillips uses insight from Cindy Trimm as her personal mantra, “Where your focus goes, your energy flows.”  She furthers that idea in her piece of advice for us:

 “Focus on what you love and what inspires you personally; don’t just be driven by what you feel is popular.  Also, always be willing to keep learning, accept constructive criticism, and most importantly, don’t give up!” 

If you would like to meet Rebekah in person, you can find her at the Tampa Junior League Holiday Gift Market as a vendor from November 7th-10th, or early next year at the Connecticut Kids Fair.

Keep up with Rebekah, and Farlee and Friends through various media outlets.

Rebekah Phillips Website

Farlee And Friends Website     F&F Facebook   F&F Instagram

 

Phillips also works as a freelance illustrator, and recently paired with blues musician Marc Broussard on his children’s book, I Love You For You.  You may visit Marc’s website to grab yourself a copy, a portion of those proceeds go to Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital in Baton Rouge.iloveyou

Keep on inspiring, Rebekah, I’m cheering for you…and can’t wait to teach the Friendship promise to my class!

#SheWhoDaresProject : Amy Hume

Though  Environmental Manager and part time Science Professor by day, Amy Hume still felt like she needed to do more to spread the word about being kind and doing our part to help the environment.  Hume wants everyone to realize that we, even as individual contributors can make an impact on the health of our environment. This idea of educating others inspired Wispy Wilds, a unique store supplying  handmade, up- cycled jewelry and art.amywispywilds

“Wispy Wilds started following a creative burst of upcycling following my wedding this past May. We had used pallets of wood to make the centerpiece bases for our tables. I started throwing paint on them and selling them.wispywilds1 Over the summer, I also started taking my own jewelry pieces apart to create fresh new looks for a little spending cash. Then others began to give me their pre-loved items to work with as well. It just grew from there! While I enjoy the process of designing, it has been tremendously therapeutic to get lost in the quiet of creative space.”

Amy stresses that the environmental advantages of up-cycling is far greater than we may realize. “Aside from minimizing the volume of discarded materials and waste being sent to landfills each year, it also reduces the need for production using new or raw materials. That means a reduction in air pollution, water pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, and often a conservation of global resources.”wispywilds

Hume credits much of her passion towards the environment to another motivational scientist, Jane Goodall. “She is likely one of the most compassionate and passionate scientists and humans I’ve ever met! My life changed when I met her at a speaking engagement in NE in 2010. I decided after that brief moment that still lives on so vividly in my mind, that I needed to do my part to spread hope, to educate, and to always accept challenges bravely.”

 

amymomThe inspiration of Goodall, and the compassion of  her mother, ultimately led Amy on this journey of educating and inspiring others. “My Mom has a tender and generous heart!  She has taught me that love heals and perseverance always pays off!”   

 

Amy encourages us all to embrace our individual and unique qualities when pursuing our dreams. “Our differences and specific talents balance this wild world. Thank goodness for all of us!”   She also suggests that in the pursuit, we read The Four Agreements, and reminds us that there is no such thing as failure, only moments of wonderful success, and opportunities for growth! 

To keep up with upcoming events from Wispy Wilds, purchase jewelry and art, or to donate your pre-loved jewelry, please follow the links below.

Wispy Wilds Website     Facebook       Instagram

Keep on living and loving, Amy, I’m rooting for you!

 

 

#SheWhoDaresProject: Jamie Burke

I’ve noticed that I tend to be inspired by women who are courageous, outspoken, underdogs/resilient types…women who stay true to themselves and recreate their own branding.

And branding herself as a “Jane of all Trades” is certainly something that Jamie Burke has done for herself.  When I met Burke more than ten years ago, she was a young, baby- faced songwriter in Nashville, TN.   Since those days, she has not only continued her singer/songwriter career, but also added author, model, and fashion designer to her array of work.

As a young girl, the decision to focus future goals and dreams on the entertainment business was easy for Jamie.  “I was born in Austin but I’ve always said I ‘grew up’ outside of Denver. My dad is a radio legend and we moved there where he took over KYGO. I knew I loved music and wanted to be a singer, but getting to grow up backstage and really seeing hands on what the music business is like, that bug I had just grew. I essentially spent the majority of middle and high school just writing songs and sketching/writing things like gowns, screenplays and portraits etc. It was always pen to paper, but once I graduated high school I decided to move to Nashville to pursue songwriting and attend school for music business.”

Burke looked to the likes of Loretta Lynn, Miranda Lambert, Shania Twain, and Reba McIntire for inspiration as she took her journey towards the stage. jamie1 “I attended a concert where Reba had a costume change during a very quick lighting trick and I remember saying ‘I’M GOING TO DO THIS’.”

However, it’s not only those well known women who instilled confidence and hard work in Jamie. “I also have a woman I call my “Aunt Kelly”, Kelly Moreland, who is just the most incredibly selfless woman who believes in me so much. She is full of humor, graciousness, incredibly talented and brilliant, intuitive,  and the most genuine human I’ve ever met-who somehow inspired me to be better, yet kept me grounded and made me think on a broad scale about life, love, music, feminism/independence, inner strength and so so so much.”

It was in that discovery of inner-strength that Burke found the final nudge of confidence to leave Nashville and start a new chapter in New York City.  “I had been in Nashville for ten years, and I just felt like I hadn’t grown. I was bored and felt complacent. I wanted to grow as an artist as well as a human and woman. I finally decided to move to New York and it has been hands down the best decision I’ve made for my life. For the first time in a long time, I feel like myself as well as a constant sense of relief, gratitude and inspiration.”

Though her plate is full, Jamie tries to take a little time out of each day to do a little work on each project, noting that one jamie2huge adjustment has been learning the importance of sifting through project offerings, allowing herself to focus on those that rank of highest importance to her future goals.

Speaking of those future endeavors, what should we look for next from Jamie Burke?

“I’ll be releasing two albums, one a strictly country album which has unreleased stuff, as well as popular singles.  I’m also putting out an album which admittedly is far more of a pop rock feel, with a strong focus on love songs. I have quite the muse to say the least.  Right now we are going over song selection and narrowing things down. I’m also planning on releasing my third book in the near future.  From there I’d like to go on tour, so we are in pre-talks for that.”
I know we are all wondering, what’s the secret to keeping it all together while doing so much?  She keeps it simple…
“Don’t compromise who you are or what you believe in. Believe in yourself, your talent and your purpose.”
I’m cheering for you, sister!  Keep on dreaming!
To keep up with the latest news, release dates, and inspiration, be sure to follow Jamie on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.