#Inspire

I have always been a fence straddler when it comes to making decisions – should I or shouldn’t I?  Make a move/don’t make a move?  Blaming it on being born under the astrological sign of Libra is really just an excuse; although being flaky about making decisions is a trait of people born under this sign.  The sign with the scales – you know, it’s all about balance…

I make some decisions quite easily!  Yet other decisions, not so easily, and I realized my indecisiveness is steeped in fear.  Fear is a psychological response to something or someone you believe is going to harm you.  Keeping this definition in mind, I realized that the situations where I had to make a decision, but had difficulty, were situations that triggered fear.  The triggers were related to memories of similar instances that were tough times or that brought on anxiety.  Let me give you an example.

Say you had some really difficult financial issues in the past, but you came out of it.  Now it’s time to buy a house, but the thought of making a decision to actually sign on that 30-year mortgage dotted line dredged up about as much fear as seeing Michael Myers from the Halloween movie walking toward you.  It’s not the actual act of signing on the dotted line that makes you fearful because you know your current financial situation gives you the green light.  What triggers the fear is what happened in the past – the horrid remembrance of dodging and being harassed by bill collectors and seeing PAST DUE angrily stamped in red on those bill envelopes when you opened your mailbox.  Making a big financial decision like buying a house triggers the anxiety of the time when you couldn’t make ends meet, and you’re afraid if you sign on that line, it’ll happen all over again.

But – what if it doesn’t happen again?  What if that part of your life is gone forever, and now it’s time to live your best financial life!  Now it’s time to buy and move into your dream home, but you choose not to allow yourself the experience because you’re scared of what happened before.  Your dream home becomes a dream deferred – and for no concrete reason.  Most things we worry about or are fearful of, never happen!

The next time fear inhibits you from making a decision and you know in your heart of hearts that it’s TIME  for whatever it is – think about why you’re afraid.  Is there a valid reason to shy away?  If not, dear friend, it’s time to listen to your intuition and conquer that fear.  It’s time to look Michael Myers in the eye and let him know you’re not afraid!  Don’t let fear stop you from living the life you should be living.  And if nothing else convinces you – remember – it is already divinely ordained that we live a life of prosperity and not harm.

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Atlanta and Tampa CLS Societies were on the move during the week of July 8!

On Thursday, July 9, members of the CLS Wine Club got together at the Total Wine & More location in Brookhaven, Georgia.  They attended the Vive-la-france Wine Class, where they explored the greatest wine making regions in France – from the marvelous range of often-overlooked wines of the Loire Valley to the elegant chardonnays and pinot noirs of Burgundy. The ladies enjoyed various French wines as well as learned how to master wine aisles of fine wine shops and any restaurant wine lists with ease.  Cheers!

On Saturday, July 11, CLS members volunteered at  A.G. Rhodes Health & Rehab which provides expert and compassionate rehabilitation therapy and residential care to seniors. Volunteers provide activities for A.G. Rhodes residents including Bingo games, arts & crafts, holiday projects, games, parties & socials, and group visitations.

Also, on Saturday, members of CLS’s Tampa Society volunteered at East Hillsborough Habitat ReStore, which is a home improvement store that offers new and gently used appliances, furniture, building materials and more at a fraction of the retail cost. Each Habitat ReStore is locally owned and operated, and proceeds help build Habitat for Humanity homes.  Volunteers assist by processing donations, preparing items for sale, pricing donations, loading/unloading donation trucks, cleaning & organizing, beautifying sales floor and more!

Finally, to wrap up the weekend, CLS members spent Sunday afternoon cheering for our hometown WNBA professional women’s basketball team, The Atlanta Dream!  Since CLS is all about empowering women entrepreneurs, we set aside the day to pay homage to the Atlanta Dream ownership group, comprised of owners Mary Brock and Kelly Loeffler, the only all-female ownership group in Atlanta professional sports!  In addition, the festivities of the afternoon was a fundraising benefit for one of our wonderful nonprofit partners, Friends of Disabled Adults & Children (FODAC)!  FODAC’s mission is to provide durable medical equipment (DME) such as wheelchairs and hospital beds at little or no cost to individuals with disabilities and their families.

 

 

 

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If you hang out with chickens, you’re going to cluck and if you hang out with eagles, you’re going to fly.” – Dr. Steve Maraboli
My dear Uncle Joe (R.I.P.) always told me to choose my circle wisely – to surround myself with people who will help elevate me and vice versa.  At a young age, I thought it was impolite to pick and choose whom I associated with based on this idea.  As I grow older, live and learn more, I have a greater understanding of what he meant.
Don’t get me wrong, some people don’t mind being a chicken; except if you’re a Springer Mountain Farm’s chicken, I guess –  but even that only places you in the position of being on someone’s dinner plate.  But eagles, yes….they soar around in the sky looking down on everyone; they are the highest flying birds in the sky and they have the keenest sense of sight.  Chickens stay grounded, never really going anywhere, scratching the ground, leading average lives.
Your vibe attracts your tribe.  Have you ever heard that saying?  I believe it – but I also believe your tribe attracts your vibe.  Place yourself in a position to associate with those who uplift you; those you can learn from.  Be around people who help you bring out the best parts of yourself; who help you in your evolution; who inspire you to use your gifts and talents.  Most of all, associate with people who inspire you to “level up” – who motivate you to actually make those changes you keep saying you’re going to make.  Those who make you face and overcome your fears? Never let them go.
As you change and evolve, your tribe will too!  You will find as you grow to love and care for yourself more, so will those around you.  I am a firm believer that God sends the people you need in your life at the right time.  Accept and embrace the lessons you learn from your interactions with people – good and bad.  When it’s time for them to leave your life, let them go.  On your commuter train through life, some have their tickets punched to ride all the way; others are on for just a short ride.
As youngsters, we received “seeds” from our village to plant. Only after what we’ve planted has flourished will we receive the harvest the seed was supposed to provide.  With age and maturity comes knowledge and realization. Thanks for the seed, Uncle Joe – it took me a while – but I get it.
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As a premier national women’s community service organization, Classy Living Society’s No. 1 mission and goal is to be present in the community, while partnering with amazing nonprofit organizations and people to make a difference.  CLS was #OntheMove in a number of places this weekend!  Saturday’s activities included:

 

  • Adopt-a-Road Cleanup: As part of DeKalb County’s beautification initiative, Adopt-A-Road allows individuals and groups to adopt a road and help their local community environment by collecting litter and beautifying streets in their neighborhood. This countywide program allows the “You’re the Solution to Litter Pollution” motto to spark awareness among citizens of all ages.   CLS members arrived early to our adopted road to remove trash and litter.  We are proud of our adopted road, and our part in maintaining cleanliness and beauty in DeKalb County, Georgia!  Information about their beautification program can be found at https://www.dekalbcountyga.gov/beautification/adopt-road-0
  • The Enchanted Closet:  CLS members were on hand to assist The Enchanted Closet in their 2019 Prom Dress Giveaway.  The mission of The Enchanted Closet is to physically, mentally, and emotionally outfit metropolitan Atlanta high school girls from low-income families through programs that prepare them for social and professional milestones.  Girls attending 79 schools in metro Atlanta Counties were registered for the 17th Annual Prom Dress Giveaway.  It was a joy to work with this worthwhile organization in getting girls ready for one of the most exciting days of their lives.  Find out more information about The Enchanted Closet at http://enchantedcloset.org/
  • Friends of Disabled Adults and Children (FODAC): The FODAC Community Thrift Store offers a large variety of clothing, furniture, household goods, jewelry, books and music – and so much more! All proceeds from the thrift store support FODAC’s mission of supplying medical equipment to those with disabilities at little or no cost to the recipients or their families.  CLS volunteers assisted in sorting donated clothing and various items to be placed on the floor for sale to the thrift store patrons.  We were happy to be able to work together with FODAC to make each day a little easier, and a little more affordable, for people in need.  FODAC’s website can be accessed at https://www.fodac.org/
  • Dine and Discuss: Getting together and socializing with like-minded women is probably near the top of the list of great things for women to do.  CLS strives to promote sisterhood bonding and friendship among its members, and Dine and Discuss outings are one of the best ways to encourage this premise.  A few members got together at Grand Lux Cafe, a restaurant housed in one of Atlanta’s most upscale locations, Phipps Plaza.  Good food, good conversation and sisterhood bonding = a great night!

On Sunday, a group of CLS volunteers arose super early(!) to assist Publix with their annual Marathon, Half Marathon & 5K race sponsored by the Atlanta Track Club.  Read about that exciting volunteer activity in a separate post on this week’s #CLSontheMove Blog!

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Hello March! Classy Living Society is joining women around the world in celebrating this month as Women’s History Month 2019 and March 8 as International Women’s Day.  We will honor amazing women who tirelessly contribute and empower by sharing uplifting stories about women and girls who are making an impact in their communities.  All month long, CLS members will share daily posts on social media, providing photos and stories about women they know, admire and support and who are dedicated to helping others reach their full potential.

We are an organization that endeavors to inspire women to be the best that they can be, to themselves, to their communities and to the world.  Join us as we celebrate amazing women and girls this month!

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Born out of her passion to give back to the community and her fondness for socks, Sock Out Poverty is the brainchild of Phyllis Burton’s talented daughter, Princess Jackson. Princess gives the most needed, yet overlooked, item to the less fortunate, and that’s a new pair of socks.  Read all about Sock Out Poverty on the Chronicles Too! Link below:

Phyllis Burton

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Last weekend, I watched an episode of the Netflix foodie series Chef’s Table about a female African American chef who co-owns a restaurant in Historic Downtown Savannah, Georgia called The Grey.  If you haven’t watched Chef’s Table, I recommend it; each episode highlights the personal story of some of the most renowned chefs of current times.

Chef Mashama Bailey was born in the Bronx, New York (homegirl!) and spent her younger years in Savannah.  Her family moved back to New York and after a stint in the social work arena, Mashama decided to do a culinary apprenticeship in France.  I don’t want to tell you the whole story if you’re going to watch (I hate spoilers!), so I’ll just end by saying Mashama became a chef, and eventually returned to Savannah.  She and her partner opened The Grey, which is housed in a Jim Crow-era Greyhound Bus Terminal that was restored to its original luster (www.thegreyrestaurant.com).  The foods on the menu are largely fancy Southern, but are also inspired by Mashama’s culinary tutelage and inspirations from the South, across the waters and New York and ancestral African touches.  You might say that she married the cuisines and cultures of all of the places she has been and placed them on the menu.  The thing I liked best about her story was that Mashama was happy to be back home.

My father was born and raised in Crewe, Virgina, a small town about 50 miles from Richmond.  The last time I was there, they still only had one traffic light.  My father was a country boy and although he moved to New York City in the 1940’s after he got out of the Army, he was still a country boy at heart.  He sopped the last bits of food and gravy from his plate with the last piece of roll or biscuit.  He poured his coffee from the cup into the saucer so it would cool off enough to drink.  Dessert for him and my grandfather when we went to Crewe to visit was a piece of chicken and a piece of cake (the salt and the sweet).  All of my grandfather’s vegetables came from the garden in the backyard.  Despite how much I claim New York as home, New York Red has Southern blood running through her veins.

During the Great Migration of the early to mid 1900’s, African American people relocated from the South to northern industrial areas such as New York, Philadelphia, Chicago and Detroit for jobs and better opportunities.  They arrived in the North ingrained with the same strength and survival skills of their ancestors who were brought over to America as slaves.  Imagine how tough our slave ancestors had to be to forge for themselves and adapt to a strange new land where they were indentured against their will and didn’t speak the language.  They concocted meals for themselves from the food scraps they were given and many of those dishes became what is known today as Southern cuisine or soul food.

After the Great Migration ended around 1970, Black people began to trickle back down to the South for some of the same reasons they left for the North – opportunity and better living.  The population in Atlanta has grown so rapidly over the last 30 years that people who live in Atlanta tell others who live elsewhere that it’s okay for them to visit, but they’re not allowed to stay – we are full! Ha!

But when I think about it, when people from the Northern cities move to the South, they’re not moving somewhere new.  The South is in our blood.  As African American people, we can rightfully claim with pride that our roots originated in Africa.  While this may be true, we cannot deny the blood, sweat and tears of our slave ancestors that worked its way into Southern soil.  We can’t deny what our forefathers unknowingly did to survive; which, in essence, became tradition for us here in America.  Think of how colorful we all are as a result of the marriage of traditions and cultures and flavors they left behind.  So, like Chef Mashama Bailey, some of us have come back home.  Like Mashama Bailey’s food, it’s a marriage between the South and the North.  North is the place we went for a while, but now we are back.  The generations before us are speaking to us and telling us that we can come home now.

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The trouble is, you think you have time.” – Jack Kornfield

In many of my posts, I will talk about my mother.  Mommy passed away at 90 years of age in April 2017.  In the days following her death, I spoke with numerous relatives and friends who told me great stories about my mother, and to be honest, I came to know her a little better because of it.
As the years progressed from my childhood into my young adulthood, my mother shared stories about herself, some humorous, some shocking – but listening to the stories made me realize that my mother was human.  She had fears, she had flaws, she had victories, she had strengths.  Many of us grow up viewing our parents as superhuman and immortal (or at least that’s how I viewed my parents), and I think that notion is part of the explanation why it was so devastating to me when they each passed away.
I listened to an Oprah Masterclass podcast (if you haven’t listened to any of these, you really must!) – wherein she spoke with singer/actress Vanessa Williams.  Vanessa said she’s always been open and candid with her children about her past and told the type of stories about herself most people don’t tell their children.  Her philosophy is by sharing  her experiences and what she learned from them, her children will also learn from them and/or make better informed decisions.  She is also convinced that being candid with her children helped them to better understand her.
I wonder why many parents are not honest and open with their children in this way.  Will keeping it real tarnish the parent persona?  If a parent shares that they’ve smoked marijuana in the past, will it somehow prompt their children to do so as well?  Will ‘fessing up about their past damage their children?  Or is it because they believe it’s not their business to know?
Many of the things I learned about my mother after she passed away weren’t new, and some of them were told from the perspective of the storyteller.  But it made me realize that I hadn’t asked certain questions to learn more about my mother while she was alive – things that could’ve possibly given me more insight into what made her tick.  I discovered I knew a lot, but also knew so little…and regret now that I had taken advantage of the time I thought I had.
Weeks later in a totally separate Masterclass podcast – singer Stevie Nicks mentions a similar experience – after her mother passed away, she realized there were so many things she’d never discussed with her.  Why?  Because, she too,  thought she had time.
Talk to your parents.  Think about it; aren’t there things you are curious about that you’ve never asked?  Family history isn’t reserved solely to finding out who Grandma and Grandpa was, or digging back into the family tree and learning that your great-great-great grand was a slave or grew up in Ireland or was the king or queen of some distant land.  While these facts are important, it’s also important to know the “stories” behind who they are/were; these stories are genuine threads to the intricacy of your life and who you are.
Talk to your children.  Tell your story, or at least the many parts you feel comfortable telling.  But I dare say, the true lesson lies in the parts that you feel uncomfortable about telling; those are the stories they really need to hear.  Tell your story.  Because you really don’t have time
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This week, we celebrated the arrival of the New Year and nothing else conjures up tradition like holidays.  For example, there’s an old Southern tradition that collard greens and black-eyed peas should be eaten on the first day of the year to guarantee luck and prosperity for the coming year.  The greens symbolize dollar bills and the peas represent coins; plus, add a little cornbread and there’s your gold!  For those of you who eat greens and peas each year on New Year’s Day (and for those of you who don’t) have you ever actually noticed whether eating these foods have had an impact on your financial status?
Now, by no means am I saying that you shouldn’t believe in the luck that greens and peas can bring you.  But I urge you to take a moment to get a good look at old traditions and rituals we partake in, yet don’t know where they came from or when and why they began  – we just do them because “it’s always been done this way.”  But… do they generate results?
The story goes a little something like this:  a mother was teaching her teen daughter to prepare a holiday dinner – a true rite of passage passed down from mother to daughter.  As Mom is getting the ham ready for the pan, she carefully cuts off both ends of the ham with a big knife – about 3 inches is whacked off each end.  “This is what you have to do before you cook the ham,” says Mom.  With a quizzical look, the daughter asked, “Why? You’re wasting part of the ham!”  The mother says, “I don’t know, that’s what my mother did. It’s always been done this way!”  Frustrated now, the daughter replied, “But Mom, there’s got to be a better explanation for it than that.  Does it cook better? Ughhh, I don’t understand!”
Sensing this wouldn’t be the end of her daughter’s questions about the lopped off ham, Mom called her mother.  “Mother, why did you cut both ends off the ham before cooking it?”  Her mother replied, “Because that’s the way your Grandma did it.  It’s always been done this way!”
Now, Mom was just as perplexed as her young daughter, so she decided to call her grandmother.  “Grandma, Mother said she cut off both ends of the ham before cooking it because that’s what you did.  Why did you do it? Did it make it taste better?  So it wouldn’t dry out? Why?”
Grandma replied, “No. The only pan I owned was too small for the ham, so that was the only way I could get it to fit.”
This brings me to the subject of resolutions.  I think it’s a good practice to have a few resolutions each New Year; there’s never anything wrong with a list of goals to set us out on the right foot for the year.  In years past, I’ve made long lists of resolutions, only to reach the end of each of those years without accomplishing one of them.  For a time, I decided not to make any because not achieving success was so heartbreaking and I’d get so down on myself.  This year, I’m examining things a little differently – the reason I wasn’t successful 75% of the time with resolutions was I was trying to accomplish things the way OTHER people thought I should do it.  No matter whether it was right for me or not!
In honoring ourselves, it is imperative, that WE figure out the “right way” to care for ourselves to achieve success.  I’m not saying we shouldn’t look for help from the experts, but most of us have gone at some of the same things over and over – so we definitely know what doesn’t work, right?
Truth be told, the turn of the New Year holiday cannot magically transport us into brand new beings.  WE have to be active participants in our own transition.  Maybe we should start a savings account instead of relying on eating greens and peas.  Maybe we should try a new way to conquer the challenge of those same old resolutions we keep making every year.  Maybe we should ask questions instead of doing things the same way all the time because someone told us it would be best.  If we are not successful in what we are doing, it is true insanity to keep trying to go at it the same way and expect different results.
There’s a whole world of methods out there to accomplish what you’re trying to do.  Stop cutting off the ends of the ham because someone told you to do it, and figure out a new way – the perfect way for you – to get results.
I wish us success!  Happy New Year!  Now pass the collard greens!
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Yvette Greene stole my eyeglasses when I was in the fourth grade (her name has been changed to protect the not-so-innocent).

I’ve been wearing glasses since I was nine years old.  The teacher told my mother I was squinting to see the blackboard, so my mother took me to the eye doctor on Fordham Road in the Bronx to get them checked out.  Sure enough, I was extremely nearsighted in my left eye and a bit nearsighted in my right.  I was given the privilege to choose the frames I wanted for my glasses – and I chose a pair of light blue cat-eyeglasses; I guess we’d call them retro today – pointed at the top edges with silvery accents right at the tips.  They gave me an eyeglass case, and my mother printed my name and address on the inside flap with a black magic marker.  I was told I didn’t have to wear them all the time if I didn’t want to – but that I should definitely wear them to see the blackboard in class so as not to strain my eyes.

I was soooo proud the next day when I got to class and showed my eyeglass case to Yvette, who sat next to me in Mrs. Gold’s class.  I popped open the little snap on the front of the case, and with so much flourish it would make Vanna White jealous, I displayed my sparkling brand new glasses inside.  I placed them on the bridge of my nose, and was so excited because I could see the blackboard (and everything else) with such clarity!  I looked around the room to see who was looking at me, because I just knew I was looking good!

The details of the how it happened and the what the heck happened is fuzzy — somehow I arrived home a few days later without my glasses, the case, the glasses, everything – gone.  I would imagine I was nervous about telling my mother they were gone (“I lost my glasses…”), and I can also imagine she wasn’t happy about it, and I was in deep, deep trouble…

But this I do recall: the following day when I arrived at school and walked into my classroom…there was Yvette sitting at our desk with my eyeglasses on her face.  I was astounded and bewildered – as I gazed at “Yvette’s glasses” and noted they were just like mine – light blue cat-eyeglasses with silver accents at the tips.  Yvette sat there, wearing my glasses and looking around the room to see who was looking at her (even though I’m sure she couldn’t see worth a darn), just like I did when I first showed them off.  “How do you like my new glasses?,” she asked me.  What did I do?  Well, I was a lover, not a fighter, so I said nothing, until I arrived home after school when I told my mother that Yvette had accidentally “borrowed” my glasses.

The next day, my mother went up to the school to report this egregious act of thievery and Yvette was taken to the principal’s office where she was interrogated as she sat in a chair with her hands tied behind her back and water dripping on her forehead until she confessed (not really, but it sounds good and dramatic, doesn’t it?).  In the end, my eyeglasses were returned and all was right in my nine-year-old world.

The years have passed and I’ve had Lasix surgery – so no more glasses and I have no idea where Yvette is these days.  In looking back at this life event, two things come to mind.  First, I suppose my gloating and shoving my eyeglasses under Yvette’s nose probably egged her on to “borrow” my glasses.  I guess I should be flattered that she was so impressed by them that she had to try them for herself.  After all, as they say, imitation is the highest form of flattery!  But, I also know that even though she probably thought she looked really cute to everyone in the outside world, actually, she really couldn’t see or focus on a thing while wearing them!  They weren’t made for her, they were made for me.

Sometimes you may envy someone else for something they can do, or something they own – so much so that you may decide to “borrow” it.  But guess what?  Just like Yvette, you’ll find your “focus” is way off and not right at all.  You know why? It’s because whatever you’ve decided to try on for size wasn’t made for you, it was made for them.  It may look shiny and perfect when they show it to you, or tell you about it, but it looks that way because it’s only for them.  Besides, you have no idea what that person had to endure to get where they got.  I wore glasses because I couldn’t see clearly past a hand in front of my face.  And even if I did look really cute wearing my glasses, Yvette was a “far sight” more privileged because she could see clearly without assistance – I think…

Oscar Wilde said, “Be yourself, everyone else is already taken.”  I have learned that when you take the time to explore what’s for you, you’ll feel so much more comfortable in your own skin, doing your own thing.  And it can never really be taken from you.  What’s for you is for you; and if it’s worth having, it won’t come easy.  What you envy has not come easy to the object of your admiration either – you may see that girl on the street who looks just fabulous wearing her glasses, but also remember she probably can’t see who’s waving at her from across the street without them.

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Welcome to the NEW Classy Chronicles!

Formerly, the Classy Chronicles was the official online digital magazine of Classy Living Society. The newly revamped Classy Chronicles is now a platform housed on the Classy Living Society website! Through easy-to-navigate dropdown menus, the Classy Chronicles provides an outlet to many subjects of interest at the click of a mouse – articles and features that highlight people who are doing amazing things in the community, health and wellness, work-life balance, beauty and fashion and more!

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