Three Women…

…Three Random Questions

Do you have a favorite park or trail that you like to visit to get away from it all, or did you just miss the entire weekend catching up with the gang from Schitt’s Creek on Netflix? And if partying with Mick Jagger is on YOUR bucket list, we have just the friend for you. We’re catching up with a few women, and asked them three random questions…

HSJulie Jackson Chenery / Co-owner of Autobody USA – Type A personality and social butterfly: My passion and purpose is to help others get what they want but don’t waste my time if you aren’t ready to help yourself first. 

Sandy Shaw / Teacher & Musician – 2018 Michigan Orchestra Teacher of the Year

Dawn Worthington / Owner of Worthington Photography & Video – Favorite Quote:  I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. ~ Maya Angelou

WHERE IS YOUR FAVORITE PLACE TO GO FOR WALKING AND REFLECTION?

 Jackson Chenery:  Walking  in nature with my dog is my happy spot, but it has to be warm and comfortable—68 to 82 degrees with a light breeze.

Shaw:  I’ve enjoyed the winter colors at  Chipman Preserve in Comstock. Besides discovering unique barks like the spiked Honey Locust Tree, other displays of multi-colored berries and textured fungi are delightful to spot. Dead logs give way to deep green moss, while some feisty ferns pop out through the snow.  It’s nature at its best. 

Worthington:  The beach is my refuge and ultimate happy place. I love the Florida Golf Coast—St. Pete and Fort Myers Beach. Closer to home, my most creative ideas are developed in the shower.

 WHAT ARE YOU BINGE WATCHING?  

Jackson Chenery:  I love to learn, but hate school. Ted Talks and YouTube videos have replaced television. I have a short attention span, but I am very curious.

Shaw:  This is Us, on NBC, has caught my fancy. Each episode manages to tug at my heartstrings as a young couple raises their two surviving triplets along with an adopted baby who happened to be dropped off at the fire station on the same day as the other births. If you want to question your own parenting, watch as these parents always seem to be able to choose the best way to react to their Big Three issues! 

Worthington:  Heart of Dixie / Netflix

FAVORITE CONCERT YOU’VE ATTENDED, AND WHAT MADE IT SPECIAL? 

Jackson Chenery:  Lynyrd Skynyrd with the Grass Roots at Soaring Eagle Casino last year with my lifetime girlfriend Julie. We reconnected, shared a hotel room, and stayed up giggling all night. In the morning when we were checking out, we got to meet the band! 

Shaw:  I enjoyed sitting near the front row of Miller Auditorium to watch and hear jazz tenor saxophonist,  Branford Marcellus, years back. His brother played the drums while his father, Ellis, played the piano. 

Worthington:  Billy Joel at Madison Square Gardens. Best part being there with my husband who LOVES Billy Joel.

ONE RANDOM ITEM ON YOUR BUCKET LIST?

Jackson Chenery:  I would love to spend a day with Mick Jagger or Richard Branson.

Shaw:  I’d like to try skiing someday. I’ve always been mildly athletic, but grew up in the flat plains of Saginaw valley. I stayed in Kalamazoo mainly because of the hills that add so much character to this region. 

Worthington:  Cross country trip in an RV! My retirement plan.

Three awesome women answering three random questions. Here’s a thought… How about combining all three questions? You know, once you’ve devoured Season 2 of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, practice your own standup routine while walking the Kal Haven Trail or one of the other many marvelous parks in the area!

Heidi McCrary is a contributing
writer for Women's LifeStyle.

Feeling Invisible isn’t a Superpower

n-OLDER-WOMAN-SITTING-ALONE-628x314A 50-year-old French author, not worth naming, recently remarked in a magazine that women older than fifty are invisible to him. “The body of a 25-year-old woman is extraordinary. The body of a woman of 50 is not extraordinary at all,” he is quoted as saying, showing his maturity level to be closer to a pubescent boy than his actual age.

While the paper-thin insights of this one man isn’t worthy of rebuttal, the truth is, the belief that women 50+ lose their luster is shared by a disproportionate number of people in modern-day culture. A recent study revealed that more than two-thirds of women over the age of 45 have experienced a fallen lack of confidence—judged negatively because of their age from the opposite sex, and by younger women.

Technology also plays a role in the perception of older women being out of sync with social media and the digital world, which is not at all true. But perception is everything, and while the cliché is that men grow old in a dignified fashion, women just grow old. As a woman 50+ with my own domain, Twitter handle, and Facebook professional pages, my online footprint is impressive, and I look within and see anything but.

WhitmerOn the local-front, Michigan Governor Whitmer, at age 47, is just hitting her stride. Other notable West Michigan women include WMU Athletic Director Kathy Beauregard, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, and countless other professionals, artists and creative souls finding their voice at an age that shouts from the rooftops, “I’m just getting started!”

Glenn Close - CopyLet’s follow the lead of 71-year-old actress, Glenn Close. As a 2019 Golden Globe winner for her portrayal in The Wife, she delivered this impassioned acceptance speech honoring her late mother.

“… I’m thinking of my mom who really sublimated herself to my father her whole life. And in her 80s she said to me, “I feel like I haven’t accomplished anything. …What I’ve learned from this whole experience is, women, we’re nurturers, that’s what’s expected of us. We have our children, we have our husbands if we’re lucky enough, and our partners. But we have to find personal fulfillment. We have to follow our dreams. We have to say, “I can do that, and I should be allowed to do that.”

The other day, as my grown son gazed at the DIY décor flowing throughout his parent’s living room, he looked at me and asked why I never displayed my artistic flair while he and his brother were still living at home—not comprehending the sacrifices a mother makes when given the choice of self-expression or simply keeping a home from imploding.

But the truth is, we need to make time for ourselves at every phase in our lives. Women in particular are far too willing to sacrifice self-worth for the sake of loved ones, and it doesn’t have to be an either-or decision.  My job is balanced with my passion for writing and my life-long goal of becoming a mediocre golfer. As a woman 50+, I’m looking forward to the second half of my own story.

Follow Heidi’s column in Women’s LifeStyle  of Greater Kalamazoo Magazine

Heidi

 

Christmas Shopping Gone Wrong

WARNING…

This Christmas season, young girls everywhere will once again be forced to drive toy cars, cook in play-kitchens, sing into play-microphones, play guitars, and read books that come in only one color… PINK.

PLEASE…

Stop buying pink toys for your girls. Contrary to what the local Target Store believes, girls have been known to grow up to play guitars that come in colors other than pink.

Young girls deserve to enjoy ALL the other beautiful colors.

Thank you.

She Means Business…

Below, is a photo of women…

She Means Biz Photo 2018 - Copy.jpg

Photo courtesy of K. Redmond Photography and Women’s LifeStyle of Gr. Kalamazoo

These women live in the Kalamazoo area and either own their own business or are part of a team that employs and appreciates what women bring to the table.

A quick glance at this group shows a wide swath of personalities, backgrounds, and lifestyles. No two are the same or even similar. Within this group of women, you’ll find a commercial real estate consultant, a banker, a therapist, a photographer, an advertising expert, a professional personal assistant, an image consultant, a magazine publisher, an artist, an event planner, and a plethora of other professionals.lego-nasa-women-set

So, saying that the photo above is “a photo of women,” is like saying these boss astronaut action-figures are simply Lego blocks.

Celebrate Women in Business by doing business with women. It’s that simple.

Embrace Your Inner-Weird

If I had to live my life again, I’d make the same mistakes, only sooner.

~~ Tallulah Bankhead

As the Kalamazoo Growlers put the screws to the Rockford Rivets on a recent Saturday afternoon, a group of 50+ year-old people (men and women) sat under the baking sun, discussing what age they would choose if given the opportunity to travel back to a younger day. Not surprisingly, no one wanted to be in their twenties again. After all, most twenty-somethings in my day were cash-poor and working at McDonald’s to supplement college classes and nights at Wayside.

But what was surprising is that no one in this lively group wanted to relive their thirties either. The overwhelming go-to age to revisit if given the chance?

Forty.

Because it takes forty damn years to finally get comfortable in our skin and accepting of who we are. So, with help from the rear-view mirror, here are the bits of wisdom I would share with my 18-year-old self…

Heidi and Silvia Camping - 5-85

My sister & my 24-year-old self.

Embrace your inner-weird – Part theater geek, part tomboy—I knew I wasn’t your average kid way back then. I just didn’t know that I could celebrate my quirky inner-weird. Remember that oddly talented girl in school who didn’t care what people thought of her? Be her.

Relax – If only someone had taken me aside when I was a mere twenty-something and told me to relax—that I was only halfway to becoming my whole self. While teens envision 30-year-olds as being grownups, the truth is, at 50+ I’m still looking forward to reaching grownup status.

Take that summer job at Yellowstone – Or the camping trip with friends to the U.P. The point is, celebrate your newfound independence. You may think that you have your entire life to travel but life is about twists and turns, and before you know it, you’ll be pushing a stroller through Disney World and holding your mother’s hand in the nursing home. Yep, it goes by that fast so it’s OK to be a little selfish now.

Make your own mistakes – Oprah Magazine once featured the following tips for succeeding in life – “Learn from the mistakes made by others.” I could not disagree more, for I have never learned from watching others make mistakes. In fact, if you’re not making mistakes, you’re not living. Legendary actress Tallulah Bankhead had it right with her wisdom that mistakes should be made often and earlier. Don’t spend your life on the sidelines watching others have all the fun—make your own mistakes. Heck, I don’t even care if you make some of the same mistakes twice.

The advice I would give my younger self? Embrace your inner-weird and enjoy the ride—mistakes and all!

What’s a Girl to do?

Does everyone lose when girls are forced to choose between Girl Scouts and the all new Scouts?  

scout photoWith the simple removal of one word, a firestorm opened up on a centuries-old organization known for helping boys build campfires and character. After recent years of facing criticism and opposition from the socially-minded community for suppressing freedom of gender preference and identification, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) is soon changing the name of their Boy Scouts program to simply, Scouts BSA.

While this has appeased the more progressive-minded, some parents along with many in the faith-leaning population are taking the organization to task, claiming that BSA is pandering to left-wing activists and losing its way as an organization established with the mission to assist young men on their journey of exploring life and their own identity. No girls allowed.

After all, girls have their own organization. Girl Scouts of the USA has been around for nearly as long as BSA (1910 and 1912 respectively) and offers not only the “get your fingernails dirty” camp-style activities found at BSA but also programs that appeal specifically to girls. With the new Welcome Girls! sign now hanging over the door at BSA, where does this leave the parents of little Emma  who’s looking for a merit badge? And what does this mean for the once-amicable relationship between Girls Scouts and BSA?

With the announcement of the new Scouts program, BSA faces the loss of support from the Mormon Church which has declared that they are severing ties with BSA and taking the memberships of over 400,000 boys with them. With BSA membership numbers falling at an alarming rate, growth needs to come from somewhere and while targeting girls may seem like a logical solution, it comes at the expense of another organization whose sole mission is to provide a safe environment where young women can empower themselves while gaining compassion, courage and confidence. And like the BSA, Girl Scouts is experiencing its own recruitment challenges. Children today have a multitude of afterschool activities to choose from—from soccer, dance and cheerleading to debate, tennis, volunteering and theatre. Parents are overwhelmed, and children are stretched tighter than rubber bands resulting in families passing on signing their children up for an organization that may have passed its relevance years ago.

Except it hasn’t. In fact, both organizations offer more benefits than ever for boys and girls. And today, as women recognize that they no longer have to sit on the sidelines, girls now have the option of joining Girl Scouts or the soon to be, Scouts, BSA. And while both organizations have much to offer young women, the two organizations still differ on many fronts, with Girl Scouts still offering a tremendous advantage over Scouts, BSA.

Studies within Girl Scouts show that young women partaking in activities within a single-gender environment achieve greater growth and satisfaction in a variety of ways…

Better performance – Improved scores on achievement tests in a variety of subjects

Stronger ambitions – Higher career and educational aspirations

School Completion – More likely to finish high school

Self-Confidence  – Enhanced self-assurance and positive personal judgement

Employment Security – Higher probability of employment after graduation

Social Awareness – More politically and socially aware and involved

Whether parents choose to enroll their daughters in Girl Scouts or Scouts, BSA, the good news is that girls now have a choice. While Scouts, BSA is now welcoming and actively recruiting girls, it’s safe to say that this organization was created with young men in mind, and simply erasing the word Boy isn’t going to erase decades of a belief system that this organization was created as a place where boys can be boys, and girls are an afterthought.

So, while girls are soon to be welcome at Scouts, BSA, Girl Scouts offers a more complete setting for programs and activities designed for young women. Even still, for young women looking for something more hands-on, Scouts, BSA may be the answer. A mother in West Michigan recently pulled her daughter out of Girl Scouts because her daughter complained that her troupe, “Did a lot of sitting around, talking about feelings.” While Girl Scouts offers a balanced focus ranging from science and life skills classes to political and entrepreneurship programs, this particular girl might feel more at home at Scouts, BSA where building campfires and racing pinewood derby cars are commonplace.

Not everyone is thrilled about the news of Scouts, BSA opening its doors to girls. Girl Scouts CEO Sylvia Acevedo is quoted in a recent USA Today article as saying, “ We are disappointed that Boy Scouts of America has chosen to open its program to girls in contravention of its charter, rather than focusing on the 90% of American boys not being served by Boy Scouts. We believe strongly in the importance of the safe, all-girl, girl-led and girl-friendly environment that Girl Scouts provides.”

Even locally, Girl Scouts is feeling the pressure of the push by the local Scouts, BSA Chapter to enlist girls—believing that Scouts BSA is undermining the principle mission of the Girl Scouts—providing girls with experiences and adventures in a safe all-female environment while also serving as a support system to young women during challenging times in their lives.

Scouts, BSA will never replace Girl Scouts and shouldn’t, and parents need to simply see it as one more option for young women—and that’s a good thing.