Archive of ‘Jennifer’s Posts’ category

Adventures in Asperger’s – The Outtakes – Part 3



I love this one.

One day my daughter was trying to tell my son a joke she had learned and the conversation went like this:

Summerlyn: “Mac, why did the chicken cross the road?”

Mac: “What chicken?”

I know that wasn’t the intended punch line, but I laughed so hard I almost wrecked the car.

Thought for the day- freedom from money

What would you be doing if money wasn’t an object?  I don’t mean like if you won the lottery.  That tends to elicit different, more fantastical and over the top responses.  This is slightly different.  What would you be doing, what would your day to day look like if you didn’t have to work for money or if you just didn’t need that much of it?


Adventures in Asperger’s – The Outtakes

Hard to tell if this was an Asperger’s conversation or a typical 5 year old conversation, but it was funny nonetheless!


Mac: “I want to have pajamas with zippers on them, but I don’t want to zip them up.”

Daddy: “Won’t they fall off then?”

Mac: “Then I want pajamas with buttons but I won’t button them up.”

Daddy: “Won’t they fall off then, too?”

Mac: “I just want to sleep in my underpants.”


Meet our August 2013 GUTS Girlfriend of the Month!

mel w her ball

Name: Melissa Davis (Mel)

Age: 46

Occupation: Certified Fitness Personal Trainer

Why we think she is Girlfriend of the Month material:

There is hardly a thing about Mel that DOESN’T make her Girlfriend of the Month material.  Despite several very serious and debilitating illnesses in the past 5 years, she manages to be the absolute picture-perfect, positive attitude, can-do girl.  Mel is the perfect girlfriend.  She is supportive of all of her friends’ endeavors, always has a kind or inspiring word to say, always looks on the bright side and is, in general, one of my favorite people to be around because of all of her aforementioned attributes.


Q: How did you come to do what you are doing?

A: I’ve been an avid gym-goer for most of my adult life.  I’ve always dreamed of being a personal trainer and helping people with their fitness goals and healthy eating habits.  Although, I got caught up in the corporate America world working for an insurance company for the past 23 years, I still never lost hope of my dream.  I stuck with my same routine, even when I received my diagnosis of Ulcerative Colitis in 2008.  It was then, after my recovery, that I decided to become a Certified Personal Trainer and Nutritionist (Certified Dietary Manager).  I am still employed at the insurance company during the day, but now I find time to help other people with their fitness and nutrition goals as a Personal Fitness Trainer.  I look forward to the challenge and also challenging my “stronger” body each day.


Q: Have you always been driven?

A: No, not until I became older and “wiser.”


Q: Does money motivate you?

A: Sometimes it can motivate me.


Q: If money doesn’t motivate you, what does?

A: It’s more so the satisfaction of seeing clients AFTER I’ve trained them.  They are usually pumped up with energy and a feeling of accomplishment, for example “Wow!  That was great!  I’m so glad I made that a part of my day!”


Q: Do you consider yourself successful?  Why or why not?

A: I feel that I’m successful because of how my life is balanced and in alignment with where I should be.  I’m successful at living my life in PEACE and making time to help people achieve their fitness and health goals one inch or one pound at a time.  I am successful because I LOVE what I do.  I feel I’m a success because I make time for family, friends, my dogs, and myself and I try to be continually balanced with all of the crazy things that happen in life. 

I am a success at continuing to strive for personal achievements and raising the bar all of the time.  I never want to stop learning and I never want to stop growing.  I believe that having these qualities make me a success. 

I also feel successful because I have overcome obstacles in my life: failed relationships, foreclosures, bankruptcy, repossessions, job loss and illnesses requiring hospitalization.  But nothing can stop me from moving FORWARD.

I am a success because I inspire the uninspired, motivate the unmotivated and challenge the unchallenged.

Mostly, I am a success because I am ME.


Q: How do you chase away the bad though demons or those nasty gremlins of self-doubt?

A: I’m probably the same as everyone else in this category.  Doing anything the first time is always the most difficult; feeling insecure, not confident, very nervous, like going back to college the first time, training my first client or first day at a new job.  But, I’ve always had that thought in my head “if they can do it, then I can do it!”


Q: Who inspires you?

A: Women that can live life with calmness, little worry, have patience for anyone and have so much peace around them.  I know very few women like this, but my mother-in-law is one of them.  She seems to never have a lot on her mind and is always thinking of others.  She always reaches out to help others in need, but she’s never in a rush and just makes life look so simple.  I want to be like her. 


Q: Do you believe in luck?

A: No, I don’t believe in luck, but I do believe in opportunities.  If you feel one is right in front of you, you better grab it!


Q: What makes you happy?

A: BALANCE is key to having peace of mind for me.  Not only do I need order, routine and a little chaos and drama in my life, but also special, quality time with my husband, my girlfriends, my dogs and my clients.


Q: How important is having girlfriends to you?

A: Very!!  I need my girlfriends in my life.  That is part of what makes me so very happy.  It is part of my BALANCED life.  Sometimes when time goes by and I haven’t made time with my girlfriends, I can tell because my attitude changes.  I feel a “girl” always needs her “girlfriend fix”.


Q: I know you read a lot because we are always swapping book recommendations with each other.  What is one of your favorite books to recommend?

A: I think it would have to be “Eat That Frog” by Brian Tracy.


Q: Do you have an anthem or song that you use to rally yourself?

A: Rallying myself to do my own workouts can sometimes be a challenge.  More ofthen than not, I love getting up and pumping iron, but there are times that I don’t feel like it just like everyone else.  This quote has pushed me through so many workouts that I didn’t feel like doing: “TRAINING IS A PRIVILEGE, NOT A PUNISHMENT.”


Q: What are you thankful for?

A: In March 2008, I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis, causing me to be hospitalized for 2 weeks.  I then returned home, still very malnourished and anemic.  I took me a long while to get strong again and then in May I was diagnosed with Thyroid Cancer.  Learning to walk to the mailbox at the end of the driveway was a huge feat for me.  And this was after I used to do lunges down the driveway twice a day. 

Then, in May of 2013 I was hospitalized for another 2 weeks.  Unfortunately, the previous regimen of care wasn’t as successful and I now have to have infusion therapy every six weeks.  It is known to have some side effects and commonly attacks the immune system.  So, I have to be careful of catching any viruses or colds. 

I was discharged from the hospital and couldn’t wait to begin my life again but another setback seven days after discharge landed me back in the hospital with blood clots.  There were more scares, more medicine and more healing.  I needed to heal quickly because I had really been looking forward to my planned vacation with my family in Ocean City, Maryland.  There was no way I was going to miss it.  But, because of the medicine I was on, my blood levels weren’t great and I had to give myself injections in the stomach for the next several days while I was on vacation just so they would let me go.  It wasn’t fun, but I got through it with help from my family.  Mainly from my sister saying “Mel, if you can get through 3 tattoos, you can certainly poke that little thing in your stomach!”  I still laugh about it because she was right!

Each day is a healing process and I am still recovering.  I am at about 85% right now and I just started back to work at my corporate job.  My own fitness training is very limited but each day I am adding a bit more duration and intensity.  I am excited to say that in August, I should be back to training clients and I can’t wait!


Q: What time do you get up in the morning?

A: 6AM


Q: What is your one indulgence or splurge?

A: Bruester’s Birthday Cake Ice Cream.  I’ve cut it down to only once a week, but I’m working on once a month.



40 in T Minus 30 Challenge-Week 3-3/4


OK.  I missed posting my update on Monday and we are already most of the way through this week, so we will call this week 3 and 3/4.  Part of the reason I didn’t post is because I have been a little bit under the weather since Monday and all I really wanted to do was sit around or lay around.  That is also part of the other reason that I didn’t want to post any updates because I haven’t really gotten a whole lot of exercise while sitting and laying around.  I have managed to lose another 1/2 pound just by sort of watching what I eat but the whole exercise regime sort of went by the wayside last week.

No matter!  I still have 10 days until my birthday and I can still make one last sprint toward the finish line and end up feeling pretty good by then…. I think.

I had the most awesome little dinner tonight!  I sort of copied something my mom and I had gotten and a Peruvian restaurant in town on Sunday.  Have you ever heard of stuffed avocado?  Can you say YUM?!?!  The one we got at the restaurant was stuffed with “veggies” and shrimp.  I say “veggies” because as far as I can tell, I think it was just onions.  At any rate, it was good.  I tricked mine up a little bit because I didn’t have any shrimp on hand.  I used chicken instead.  You basically just remove the pit from the avocado and fill it with shredded chicken, sweet onion, celery, garlic powder and a little bit of mayonnaise.  I guess it doesn’t sound like much, but it was actually delicious and since I didn’t use a whole lot of mayo, probably a wee bit healthier.   But the best part??  It involved absolutely NO cooking whatsoever!

Fingers crossed and hoping that I can actually breathe out of my nose this week and get back into the gym!

Anybody got any healthy recipes for me to try this week?  I’d love to hear your suggestions.

Onward to 40!


Finally! A Normal Sized Model Getting Recognition

This is awesome!!  Check out this article I found online.  
You can find the original article here:
Warning: do not read her blog if you are hungry!!

Vogue Model Robyn Lawley’s Plus-Size Lingerie Campaign. Total Game Changer


(Boux Avenue)Robyn Lawley is a size 16 and proud of it. Australian Vogue’s first ‘plus-size’ cover girl has just broken another boundary in the fashion industry as the new face of a U.K. lingerie line for women with curves.
“I am delighted to be chosen as the face and body of Boux Avenue lingerie,” Robyn said in a press statement.”The brand is striving to promote a healthy body image and their size range reflects this.”
Demand for more body types in fashion grows
Notice she didn’t use the term ‘plus size.’ “I’m a normal size. I wish we could all be known as models, rather than ‘plus-size,'” she told The Australian in a recent interview.At 6’2, the 23-year-old Sydney native spent the early part of her modeling career struggling to be the opposite of “normal” to suit fashion industry standards.
‘I stumbled across pro-anorexia websites and scoured them for tips,’ she admitted in a 2011 Fabulous Magazine interview. “I began starving myself and making myself sick after meals.”Watch: When did size 6 become plus-size?But by the time she turned 18, her mindset changed and so did her potential impact on the industry. She signed with a modeling agency for natural body types and in 2011 landed on the cover of French Elle. Robyn modeling polka dots in her new campaign. (Boux Avenue) Now part of the growing movement of fashion insiders challenging the industry’s unhealthy body expectations, she’s embraced her foodie instincts with the blog Robyn Lawley Eats, a collage of recipes, indulgences and firsts (“Trying oysters for the first time properly!”) It’s everything the pro-anorexia sites are not: the only models on her tumblr are from cooking store displays. In a recent post she wrote: “A simple pan $1000 at Willams-Sonoma…not gonna lie I want it.”

She can probably afford it now. After replacing the campaign’s former plus-size model, Ola Jordan, who was six sizes smaller, Robyn is making headlines with her viral photoshoot. Lets be honest, the pictures aren’t only popular with female supporters. Dressed in a pink satin and lace bra and skimpy underpants, lounging on a sheepskin rug, normal isn’t the first word that comes to mind. Neither is “plus size.”

Former Plus size model: Size 10 model Ola Jordan was the company’s brand ambassador before Robyn (Boux Avenue)And that’s just the point. The UK brand’s Hidden Allure and After Hours Glamour lines, with sizes ranging from 8 to 20, are far from girdles. These lacy bras, undergarments and animal print slips, aren’t about reigning in waistlines but vamping them up. For now the mid-priced line (think $20-$40 range) is only available in the UK, but according the Boux Avenue website they “do their best” to accommodate international requests over email.

From an industry standpoint, Robyn’s campaign is proof that Victoria’s Secret skinny Angels aren’t the only skimpily clad models with cross-over sex appeal. (Remember when those runway models were considered “normal” because they had muscles?) From a consumer’s perspective, it’s also a sign of what’s to come: lingerie designed for showing off your curves, not hiding them.And as for Robyn, it’s the next step in a game-changing career.



The Tooth Fairy is Getting Antsy!

You ever met a kid that absolutely REFUSED to allow their teeth to come out?  I thought most kids looked forward to getting their loose teeth out and putting them under the pillow at night to awake in the morning in awe and wonder at whatever the tooth fairy left under their pillow.  That’s pretty much how I remember my childhood.

My seven year old daughter, on the other hand, has never lost a tooth the “normal” way.  Her first tooth came out in a washcloth when my aunt was washing her face.  The second one just fell out when she was sitting in circle time in kindergarten and tumbled right onto the floor where the teacher had to pick it up for her (teachers really aren’t paid enough).  The third and fourth ones were basically knocked out by her younger brother wielding trucks and ride-on cars.  The fifth one came out in a bloody mess on a family beach vacation as she somehow managed to basically punch herself in the face as she was wrestling with the seat belt in the car (that was fun taking her to the grocery store with a bloodied shirt.  I kept halfway looking over my shoulder to make sure they weren’t sending the cops after me).  The sixth one she swallowed in the middle of the night and the tooth fairy was never able to collect on.

Here we are now at the seventh tooth.  You would think there would be some acceptance or routine by now and that she finally would have caught on to the normal sequence of events- the tooth gets wiggly, you wiggle it some more, back and forth, side to side, twist it around and out it pops in a matter of days.  Nope.  Not the case.  At all.  There is absolutely no physical bond holding that tooth to her head at this point.  It is just astounding.  The only thing holding that tooth in now is sheer will and determination.  This particular tooth once resided in the top right side of her mouth.  It is now hanging so far down that it looks like it belongs to the grouping of teeth on the bottom left side of her mouth.  I am mystified.

I keep telling her she has to get it out so she can properly brush her teeth and she keeps it in somehow and we have now been having this little argument for WEEKS.

If she is able to hold in a tooth with this kind of determination and tenacity, I can’t wait to see what kinds of things she can accomplish when she gets older.  I just she gets a scholarship because I’m pretty sure I can’t afford tuition for Stanford, Harvard or MIT.

Here’s hoping we wake up toothless in the morning.  Her, not me.  That would be some wicked karma!


GUTS Event at The Painted Parrot

We enjoyed our first GUTS event at The Painted Parrot in Fort Mill.  The event was a huge success and a great time was had by all.



The three of us were very excited to be able to host an event and bring together women that inspire us for an evening of good, old-fashioned female bonding and  fun.


Our hostess was owner, Karen Norman.


We want to thank all who came out to join us for your support.


We are already underway with planning our next event.  Details will follow soon and we hope to see you there!

To see more photos of the event, check the Guts Events page.


The GUTS Girls

Jennifer, Amy and Flo

40 in T Minus 30 Challenge-Week 2

Ok.  I have completed 1 full week of my 40 in T minus 30 challenge.  It is slightly harder than I thought it was going to be and I did miss a day with no workout.  However, I weighed myself this morning and I managed to lose 1 whole pound!  At that rate, I will be down 5 pounds by my birthday and that would be awesome!
I did notice right off the bat that I actually did feel a lot better when I was watching what I ate and drinking lots of water and making sure I got some physical activity daily.  It’s hard to argue with that, but still why does my body still feed the need to crave cake??   I just tried to modify my usual cake habit with angel food cake in the hopes that it won’t be quite as bad.  I can’t deny myself completely, right?
I am going to try this recipe this week.
Power salad: chicken, avocado, pine nuts, feta cheese, tomatoes and spinach.
 Spinach Salad with Chicken, Avocado and Goat Cheese
Anybody got any other skinny recipes I should try?  I am most partial to those with little to no actual cooking involved.
Have a healthy and happy week!

Who’s got the “GUTS” to do a 5K?


So, you’re really not a runner?  Me neither.  I have tried and tried to make myself a runner, but I’m just not sure if I will ever get past a 5K distance.  To be honest, it took me a long time before I could even get to the point where I could run 1 mile without feeling like I was absolutely going to keel over, much less 3.1 miles.  I guess that was probably because I didn’t really have a training plan when I started.  My plan at the time was just to go to the gym several times a week and see how far I could get on the treadmill each time.  An actual plan may have moved me along a little faster.

Luckily, I have a nifty little 5K training plan right here for anybody else who’s interested.  Who’s with me?  Anybody out there have “run a 5K” as a goal on their bucket list?  Let’s go ahead and cross that one off the list.  There are a lot of great races in the fall and I am looking for one to do.  If anybody wants to join me, I would love the company.

There are a ton of training plans out there for beginners, but some of them just aren’t realistic AT ALL.  I mean, who needs a 5K training program for a BEGINNER that starts you out on the first week running 1.5 miles?  You’re already halfway there at that point!  This one is MUCH more realistic and seems a lot easier to accomplish.

This training plan was taking from  Sorry about the formatting.  Go to their website if you want to read more about this plan or check our their other training plans if this one isn’t challenging enough for you.


Workout 1

Workout 2

Workout 3


Brisk five-minute warmup walk. Then alternate 60 seconds of   jogging and 90 seconds of walking for a total of 20 minutes.

Brisk five-minute warmup walk. Then alternate 60 seconds of   jogging and 90 seconds of walking for a total of 20 minutes.

Brisk five-minute warmup walk. Then alternate 60 seconds of   jogging and 90 seconds of walking for a total of 20 minutes.


Brisk five-minute warmup walk. Then alternate 90 seconds of jogging and two minutes of walking for a total of 20 minutes.

Brisk five-minute warmup walk. Then alternate 90 seconds of   jogging and two minutes of walking for a total of 20 minutes.

Brisk five-minute warmup walk. Then alternate 90 seconds of   jogging and two minutes of walking for a total of 20 minutes.


Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then do two repetitions of the   following:

  • Jog 200 yards (or 90 seconds)
  • Walk 200 yards (or 90 seconds)
  • Jog 400 yards (or 3 minutes)
  • Walk 400 yards (or three        minutes)

Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then do two repetitions of the   following:

  • Jog 200 yards (or 90 seconds)
  • Walk 200 yards (or 90        seconds)
  • Jog 400 yards (or 3 minutes)
  • Walk 400 yards (or three minutes)

Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then do two repetitions of the   following:

  • Jog 200 yards (or 90 seconds)
  • Walk 200 yards (or 90        seconds)
  • Jog 400 yards (or 3 minutes)
  • Walk 400 yards (or three        minutes)


Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then:

  • Jog 1/4 mile (or 3 minutes)
  • Walk 1/8 mile (or 90 seconds)
  • Jog 1/2 mile (or 5 minutes)
  • Walk 1/4 mile (or 2-1/2        minutes)
  • Jog 1/4 mile (or 3 minutes)
  • Walk 1/8 mile (or 90 seconds)
  • Jog 1/2 mile (or 5 minutes)

Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then:

  • Jog 1/4 mile (or 3 minutes)
  • Walk 1/8 mile (or 90 seconds)
  • Jog 1/2 mile (or 5 minutes)
  • Walk 1/4 mile (or 2-1/2        minutes)
  • Jog 1/4 mile (or 3 minutes)
  • Walk 1/8 mile (or 90 seconds)
  • Jog 1/2 mile (or 5 minutes)

Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then:

  • Jog 1/4 mile (or 3 minutes)
  • Walk 1/8 mile (or 90 seconds)
  • Jog 1/2 mile (or 5 minutes)
  • Walk 1/4 mile (or 2-1/2        minutes)
  • Jog 1/4 mile (or 3 minutes)
  • Walk 1/8 mile (or 90 seconds)
  • Jog 1/2 mile (or 5 minutes)


Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then:

  • Jog 1/2 mile (or 5 minutes)
  • Walk 1/4 mile (or 3 minutes)
  • Jog 1/2 mile (or 5 minutes)
  • Walk 1/4 mile (or 3 minutes)
  • Jog 1/2 mile (or 5 minutes)

Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then:

  • Jog 3/4 mile (or 8 minutes)
  • Walk 1/2 mile (or 5 minutes)
  • Jog 3/4 mile (or 8 minutes)

Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then jog two miles (or 20   minutes) with no walking.


Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then:

  • Jog 1/2 mile (or 5 minutes)
  • Walk 1/4 mile (or 3 minutes)
  • Jog 3/4 mile (or 8 minutes)
  • Walk 1/4 mile (or 3 minutes)
  • Jog 1/2 mile (or 5 minutes)

Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then:

  • Jog 1 mile (or 10 minutes)
  • Walk 1/4 mile (or 3 minutes)
  • Jog 1 mile (or 10 minutes)

Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then jog 2-1/4 miles (or 22   minutes) with no walking.


Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then jog 2.5 miles (or 25   minutes).

Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then jog 2.5 miles (or 25   minutes).

Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then jog 2.5 miles (or 25   minutes).


Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then jog 2.75 miles (or 28   minutes).

Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then jog 2.75 miles (or 28   minutes).

Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then jog 2.75 miles (or 28   minutes).


Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then jog 3 miles (or 30 minutes).

Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then jog 3 miles (or 30 minutes).

The final workout! Congratulations! Brisk five-minute warmup   walk, then jog 3 miles (or 30 minutes).

Happy running!!



Meet our July 2013 Girlfriend of the Month!



Name: Ilene Grayson

Occupation: Owner, Apartment Arrangements by Ilene

Why we think she is Girlfriend of the Month material:

Despite never advertising, Ilene has built a very successful independently [female] owned business based solely off of word of mouth endorsements.  Ilene is very active in the Charlotte community and is always seeking out her next adventure.


J: What is your definition of success and what makes you feel successful?

I: I think I am successful because I am happy and I like my job and I like what I do.  What I do is a service even though I do what people tell me. You can deviate a little bit, but doing what you’re told is a piece of cake.  How can you be wrong?

Success is making enough money to cover your expenses.  You might see a big house and a picket fence as a goal, but I never did.  I was raised in a big house with lots of fences all around.  It was a rural coal mining town.  My goal was to live in places all over the world.  I used to take a month off every year and go somewhere in Europe, North Africa, Alaska, New Zealand or wherever.  I would have to work like hell to get caught up after I got back though.

J: Why did you want to go all over the place?  Just because you wanted to see it?

I: Yes.  I was raised in a very small town.  We didn’t go to the beach.  We lived in the mountains so we didn’t have to travel for that.  We would go to the lake sometimes. I still want to see everything.  I just don’t feel like taking a month off anymore.  I feel like I could hit and run in a week now.

J: You went to school in England for two and a half years when you were younger.  What was that like?

I: I was 19.  I was in nursing school and interested in Psychiatry.  I talked to somebody about it and got a letter of recommendation and then a few months later, I was in England.  It was scary and terrifying and wonderful.

J: Why was it terrifying?

I: I had spent some time away from my family in Hartford, Connecticut, but I was still attached to mom.  I would fly home and spend time with the family.  But this was way across the ocean.  I went on the Queen Elizabeth.  We were at sea for 7 days and we had a storm and they had to bring out the stabilizers and everything.  I was down below with all the poor people and students.

J: What was England like?

I: I would study in the morning and then do some work in the ward in the afternoon and then I would work and stay on for high tea because it was like dinner.  The British would pay you for anything that was a service to society but I was scrounging a lot back then.

Later, my goal in working was to see how much fun it would be to stay in a five star hotel.  I deserve it.  It’s fun.  It comes with breakfast, dinner and a massage.  I haven’t done that in a long while.  Now I will meet family in Pittsburgh and share a room with family for $80 a room.

J: You got to where you are now by starting your own thing.

I: Yeah, because I don’t really have any talents.

J: I will stop you right there.  I remember you telling me quite some time ago that you believe that EVERYBODY has a talent.

I: OK.  I did have a talent.  My gift of gab is my talent.  Relating with people.  Learning how to ask a question that doesn’t offend somebody because I want to know everything.  Eventually, if you ask the right 2 or 3 questions up front they will take over and tell you everything.  I recently was working with a man from Mexico City and he didn’t want to talk initially.  Finally, I saw that he had a pack of cigarettes and I asked him if he wanted to stop for a smoke and he did.  So we went along and stopped every couple of hours so he could have a cigarette and then I found out all about his dogs and how he’s allergic to them and how he has a new 9 month old baby.  I joked with him and pointed out that he mentioned the dogs first before the baby.  He laughed.  He thought that was funny, too.

J: Would you say that you have always been driven or did you recently acquire that trait.

I: No.  I was a kept woman.  That means married.  A housewife.  I was the hostess and the trip-booker and the watch the kid person.

J: Did you enjoy that?

I: No.  Not very much.  I once took off 17 long weekends to visit family and others.  I didn’t like ironing and I didn’t like laundry, even though I’ve always been a compulsive cleaner.

J: You say you weren’t driven then, but was it something that you acquired later on or was it hidden or hibernating somewhere?

I: No.  I’ve always been an adventurer, but not driven business-wise.  I was always driven to have a new adventure and my husband was like that when we first met but as he got more involved in business he became less and less like that.

J: When you started your own business, you had $40.00 in the bank.  Weren’t you scared?

I: Yes, I had $40 and I have doubled it!  Yes, I was petrified.  But it was fun, really fun.

J: I thought you said scary.

I: Scary, fun.  I was scared all the time, but being scared is fun.

J: So you were fearless, which is not to say that you didn’t have any fear, but you didn’t let it inhibit you.

I: Actually, the fear kind of made me be stronger because not only did I have to accomplish what I needed to accomplish, I had to accomplish it while being afraid to do what I was doing.

J: Even when you were a housewife, you would work here and there and volunteer everywhere.  That doesn’t sound like somebody who’s not driven to me.  Are you very restless?

I: Oh, yeah.  I am an A++ personality.  I have to do something all the time.  I can’t sit at my desk for more than 2 or 3 hours.  I will have to get up and go somewhere.  I’ll call it an adventure.  People who work in offices all the time don’t fare as well as others health-wise.

J: What made you decide that you wanted to strike out on your own and do this job?

I: Well, before I started the business and when I was married, we moved 17 times in 20 years.  My husband would hire a new somebody and ask me to take so and so’s wife out and help them find an apartment, help them find furniture.  Help them get their electric turned on.  So, I was doing that and one lady in an office one day said to me “how much do you get paid for this?” And I said “I don’t get paid. I do it for free.”  She then mentioned that there was another lady who was doing it and helping people find apartments and I told her I went a step further and helped them find furniture and get set up.  I’m like their mom.

So I looked into starting a business from that day on.  This was in my head actually before the divorce.  When everything started to disintegrate at the same time, I went downtown and got a business license.  I had a friend who had just started a business at the time who helped me name it.  He said that I would want to name it with the two A’s so I would be in the front of the phone book.

J: What time do you get up in the morning?

I: In the summer, just when the sun wakes me.  In the winter, around 7:30 or 8:00.  I do get up in the middle of the night sometimes and do things though.

J: Do you have insomnia or something?

I: No, sometimes I just wake up and I have an idea.

J: Do you keep notebooks by you?

I:  Oh yeah. By the bed, on the bar, everywhere.  I get so mad at myself if I forget whatever great idea I had.

J: Do you ever suffer from negative self-talk?

I: No.  I have an ego problem that is really difficult for everybody and myself to deal with.  I think I am right and I think I can handle everything.  I have never been plagued by self-doubt.  I just keep busy.  Sometimes I worry about facets of my business that aren’t doing well, but they aren’t my part of it.  For instance, if I have a vendor that I am having trouble with, I have to figure out how to deal with that.  I probably had a confidence problem when I was young.  I was really shy so I just go involved and tried out for everything.

J: Do you have anybody in particular who inspires you?

I: Me.  I’m my own hero.  I have been asked that so many times.  I have overcome so many things and I have accomplished so many things without any help.  I’ve never borrowed any money-ever! I’ve asked for advice but I’ve never asked someone to just do it for me.

J: I know now that mistakes are valuable.  Do you agree?

I: Oh yeah.  I have a list of 150 things that I have done wrong.  Somebody told me a long time ago that ignorance is not a dirty word. It’s an opportunity to go out and learn something.

J: Have you ever had any mentors.

I: Yes, my ex-husband.  During our family gatherings in the morning, he used to plan his day.  I do that now.  It’s Saturday and I know now what I am doing on Monday.  He was devoted to his job.  He was very strict with his employees and with himself. He was always on time.  He always looked nice and the store always looked good.  I learned a lot from him as far as business.  I didn’t like the way he excluded his family at that cost and that is why I have incorporated my son into my business.

J: Do you mentor other people?

I: I have started three people in this business.  One was my sister and she did it for 15 years up in Pittsburgh. I also helped 2 of my former assistants.

J: Do you have any particular theme song, mantra or phrase that you really relate to?

I: Yes!  “Let’s take the rest of the day off.”

J: One final question.  What kind of advice would you give to other women?

I: You have to find out what you do best and what you like to do.





Fabulous Zucchini Pizza


By Jennifer

Day 3 in my 40 in T minus 30 challenge.

I am happy to report that I have done pretty well over the weekend with my exercising, water and food choices.  Today, I made myself lunch using a recipe inspired from something I saw on Pinterest.

These zucchini pizzas were surprisingly tasty.  It tasted like eating a real pizza but without the calories from the bread.  Big bonus here: it is super easy to make!!

I have seen this done with strips of zucchini as opposed to the rounds that I used.  I just happened to have been given a mutant sized zucchini from somebody’s garden and I am trying to figure out how I am going to eat it all.  I put a dent in it today.

To make, you put the zucchini slices on a baking sheet and spray them with olive oil.  Then, you top your slices with pizza sauce, mozzarella cheese, pepperoni rounds and a little bit of parmesan cheese to top it off.  Bake at 400F for about 15-20 minutes and voila!!  Delicious pizza snack!

Does anybody have any other healthy and delicious recipes to share?


40 in T minus 30

By Jennifer

I will turn 40 in exactly 30 days.  Last year, just after my 39th birthday, I sat down and wrote out a bunch of goals that I had hoped to achieve by the time I turned 40.  I am sorry to say that I have achieved very, very few of those goals.  Somehow, I took my eye off the prize and now at the 11th hour I am trying to cram for my exams.

I know that it sort of defeats the purpose and it is unrealistic to expect that I can achieve all of my goals in the next 30 days, but I can at least pick 1 of those goals and start working on it now and hope that in 30 days, I will see some improvement.  Big shocker!  I am picking my fitness goal.

Last year, I wanted to be able to run 5 miles without stopping and be able to do 2 pull-ups (yes, I realize how very pathetic this sounds, but you’ve got to start somewhere, right?).  I also wanted 6 pack abs, but let’s be realistic.  I know now that you can’t actually achieve 6 pack abs simply by drinking Michelob Ultra.

So, while I doubt that I will be able to run 5 miles without stopping at the end of this 30 days, and I’m not all that confident on the pull-ups either, I want to at least feel like I am making progress toward a goal and, frankly, I want to look and feel good so I can really enjoy myself when 40 comes careening around the corner.

Wanna hear my plan?  Good!  My plan is to work out EVERY SINGLE DAY for the next 30 days.  I am not committing myself to grueling workouts, but I am committing myself to at least 10 minutes of exercise each and every day for the next 30 days.

I will also make myself drink at least 32 ounces of water each day.  Again, seems pitiful, but I am pretty sure the liquid content of my body at this point is 90% tea and diet sun drop and 10% water.  I will work over the next 30 days to reverse those numbers.  But I will NOT commit to giving up my hot tea in the morning.  That’s a recipe for disaster.

Finally, I am going to watch my food intake.  Since I will be working out more, I will try to not ruin it like I usually do by eating crap (read: cake, cupcakes, French fries, potato chips).  I am going to fill up my fridge with as many fruits and veggies as I can reasonably eat at a time and concentrate on those.  Added bonus: I can torture my kids with this awful healthy food, too!

To help me keep myself accountable and to help anybody else who might want to go along on this little journey with me, I will post fitness plans and healthy recipes to try for the next month.  If anybody has any fitness tips or healthy recipes they want to share, please do!  I can use your help.

I will post my progress weekly and I ask that you please help me hold my feet to the fire.  I need to keep my eye on the prize, which, if I am successful, might be an awesome, perfectly fitting (better fitting) new outfit for me to sport on my 40th birthday!!



Adventures in Asperger’s-Part 1-The Diagnosis

By Jennifer

My 5 year old son was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome a little over a year ago.  It was one of those things for my husband and me where we just knew that something wasn’t “right”.  Though we would find that we would have a hard time getting anybody to see it like we did.

As an infant, our son was fairly typical- he ate, slept and pooped like any other infant does.  He opened his eyes, looked at stuff, made noises and otherwise developed along a fairly normal trajectory.  Then, as a toddler, he still seemed fairly typical.  He talked and played and laughed a LOT (in fact, most all of the video I have from him as a toddler is of him belly laughing at different things.  His laugh is infectious and one of my favorite sounds in the whole world.).  He was, however, slightly delayed in the typical milestones like crawling and walking.

When he first became mobile, he didn’t start with a normal crawl.  He would do this army drag kind of thing across the floor as if he had no legs or as if they had been severely mangled and had been rendered useless.  Then, after a while, he finally got the hang of crawling the proper way but that must not have been fun enough for him because he would “trick it up”.  He used to like to move his head from side to side while he was crawling.  I don’t know if it made him dizzy or what effect it had, but he clearly seemed to enjoy it because he did it all the time.

It took him a good while before he was comfortable walking.  I don’t think he really started walking well until about 18 months.  But, by then he could really cover some ground.  He was tough to keep up with and he made me a nervous wreck because he had no regard for sharp corners on tables or shelves or anything else that could harm, maim, cut or break him in some fashion or the fact that his balance still wasn’t all that great.

It was about the time in between crawling and walking that we really started to notice his quirks.  He would get down on the floor and really study the screws in the bottom of his jump-a-roo and he would intently explore the feel and texture of them with his thumbs.  He explored everything with his thumbs.  Then, he found something on the bottom of the jump-a-roo that would spin.  I think it was a washer on a screw or something and he would spin it over and over and over again with his thumbs and this would give him hours of joy.  In fact, anything that spun would entertain and delight him for hours.

Then we stated to notice that he would compulsively compare things.  For instance, he would crawl from the living room to our bedroom and back again all the while looking upward so he could compare the ceiling fans in each room.  Keep in mind, he was less than 2 when he was doing this.  It just seemed “odd”.  I never saw any other 2, 3 or even 4 year olds doing this.  Most other kids never bothered to notice the fans at all.

We knew his behavior was little bit quirky, but we somewhat disregarded it until his 2 and 3 year old behavior started to become so rigid that it would induce tantrums which caused us to start having to alter our plans periodically because he would get too worked up and we couldn’t reason with him or calm him down.  He was completely irrational in our opinion and we couldn’t understand how a kid that was seemingly so smart wouldn’t listen to reason.

This is when we really started to take notice.  But, we kept getting the same basic responses from other parents – “Hey, he’s a three year old!  They have tantrums.  That’s what they do!”  OK.  I understood that, but his somehow seemed different from a typical two or three year old tantrum, though we couldn’t pinpoint why exactly.

I should mention that we were comparing him to his older sister, somewhat unfairly, I suppose.  But, she was our only real frame of reference.  She is a “typically developing” child as they say, but she was so far on the other end of the spectrum with being compliant that we knew we weren’t really getting a good comparison.  She was so well-behaved and sweet and somewhat abnormal in her exemplary behavior.

But, I think back to the time at the beach when he refused to go out on the beach because he couldn’t stand the texture of the sand.  He would only wear certain bathing suits if he liked the design, but more often than not, he required ones that didn’t have a design of any sort on them.  He didn’t want to wear his shoes.  He wouldn’t wear his hat and getting sunscreen on him may as well have been like pouring sulfuric acid directly on him (I should mention here that my son is a very, very fair redhead and that wearing a hat and sunscreen is absolutely non-negotiable).  He was, in a word, rigid.

At home, he would only wear certain pajamas, again mostly if they didn’t have any print or designs on them.  He would throw a gigantic fit if you tried to put him in a shirt he didn’t like.  He would freak out whenever I would wear a tank top.  To this day, he still calls it a “bad shirt” and he wants me to wear something over it.  When we would ask people “don’t you find that odd behavior?” their reply was usually “maybe a little, he’s just very smart and very particular about things.”

It was the staggering number of other things like this that started to add up that finally got us to take action.

After hearing from the pediatrician at his 3 year check-up that he was “perfectly fine, just intelligent and highly inquisitive” and after hearing from everybody else that “he’s just a three year old”, we started scouring the internet for articles on Oppositional Defiance Disorder, ADHD and autism, we were starting to suspect that his issues lay somewhere on the autism spectrum.  It’s just that he laughed and talked and looked us in the eye just fine and the articles on autism seemed to focus on the non-verbal, non-engaged, more severely affected autistic individuals, which left us confused.  Was he or was he not autistic?

Still, we had our suspicions and after an exhaustive search, we finally found a doctor in our area that would test him for autism.  Now, it wasn’t a cheap process and insurance didn’t cover it, so we had to save up for a while before we could take him back for the actual testing after we had the initial consult.  Meanwhile, we blew up the internet with searches on autism and eventually Asperger’s.  We felt pretty certain what we were dealing with before he ever had the first test.

Flash forward 6 months and we were sitting in the doctor’s office awaiting the results of the Cognitive testing she had performed.  When she came in she didn’t even beat around the bush.  She started the conversation by looking at us and saying “Yes, it’s Asperger’s.  Not a doubt in my mind.”

Now, you might think that we would have been disappointed or a little bit sad or scared, but the truth is that we felt vindicated.  We knew it all along.  Now, this gave us a formal diagnosis that we could use to his benefit.  Now we knew what we were dealing with and we could start taking action to help him.  It was actually a big, giant relief.  We weren’t crazy.  We were his parents and we trusted our gut and I am so very happy that we did.

It makes me wonder how many other parents are out there struggling to make sense of their child’s behavior and know that something isn’t connecting quite right, but can’t seem to get it figured out.

I will be writing a regular series on my experiences with parenting a child with Asperger’s Syndrome.  I hope with all my heart that I will be able to help somebody along the way.  And if anybody has any insight or tips for me for dealing with Asperger’s, I implore you to please share them here with me and anybody else that might find them helpful.  Knowledge is power.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of Adventures in Asperger’s-The Plan of Action.

So Tell Me What You Want…


In the famous words of the Spice Girls- “So, tell me what you want, what you really, really want.”


I know I am going to be getting this question a lot.  People are going to ask just what in the world GUTS is and what it is exactly that I am hoping to get from it.  Now, mind you, I don’t want to speak for Amy or Floretha.  What I express here is just what I want.  They may want the same things or something slightly different but along the same lines at least.

I want to establish a place where there is a real sense of community and support.

I want for us to collaborate with awesome people (that’s you!).

I want to exchange ideas with one another.

I want us to go on adventures together.

I want for us all to have an unlimited supply of Girlfriends- the ones that really care, not the caddy “I want to compete with you and stab you in the back” kind.

I want us all to help each other achieve goals, however big or small.

I want us to push each other to be more than we ever even though we could be.

I want us to give ourselves and each other kudos for each and every accomplishment.

I want GUTS to reach beyond the geographical boundaries of the United States and connect with Girlfriends from all around the world and experience all kinds of different cultures and traditions.  I want to shrink the world.

I want to think bigger and not be shy away from doing something grand out of fear that it’s a dumb idea or that I will be laughed at.  I will probably need a push from my Girlfriends to do it.

I want us all to be as independent as possible and learn as much as we can to make us and keep us independent, but have a huge support system, too, and not be afraid to fall back a little bit every now and again on our Girlfriends.

I want us to teach each other.  Whatever our particular skill set is, I want for us to be generous with our knowledge and mentor each other when possible.

I want for us to give back to our community.  Charity and community service will be a GUTS mainstay.

I want to host a variety of events where all of the Girlfriends can get together and enjoy each other’s company.

I want bad self-esteem and second guessing ourselves to be a thing of the past-for ALL of us!

I want to be able to spend my days and nights working on all things GUTS related because I believe in the idea.


I know it sounds like I want the sun, moon and stars but I want it for ALL of us.  The world is pretty good right now as it is (yes, I am an optimist), but imagine how much better we can make it if we are willing to help each other grow, learn, share and practice compassion with one another.

Sounds like a tall order, I know, but WE ARE WORTH IT, ladies!!

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