Jerrie and Horse


I  Meet Jerrie….Ms. September!

Who Is She: Jerrie Rutlege

Age: 47(48 in two months)

Occupation: Change Manager at Bank of America

Why We think she is Girlfriend of the Month:

I met Jerrie about 6 years ago and I have to say I was immediately drawn to her and her personality. She is someone whom I admire very much. She is so comfortable in her own skin..(where I hope to be one day) and she epitomizes a strong, independent woman. She is such a positive person, has the most contagious smile and you can’t help but love her. She is successful at work, as a single mom and as a friend! After you read more about her, you will know why she is our Girlfriend of the Month. I just love her!!!!

How did you come to do what you are doing?

I have been fortunate to work for a large corporation over the past 20+ years. I have been able to work in a variety of roles and learn so many things.

Have you always been driven?

I have but it has come in many different forms. Some of my drive is survival and some of it is going for my dreams. I grew up poor in a very tough neighborhood. We were on welfare; there was crime and drugs. I vowed I did not want that for the rest of my life. I chose to get out of that enviroment through education, finding mentors and being persistent. I was also driven to be good at what I did. I had goals at work and I worked hard for each new role and promotion. I think I am able to apply the survivor mode into my drive to be what I want to be, to try new things, to learn new skills and keep me moving forward.

Does money motivate you?

Money is great-can’t lie there. It pays the bills and allows me to do the fun things I do. But I would not say it is my motivator in all situations. I have taken jobs for the learning and opportunity without worrying about the pay raise or other money factors. The new skills, capabilities and knowledge can be so much more valuable than the initial promise of money.

If money doesn’t motivate you, what does?

I am also motivated by how I feel when I am involved in something I enjoy. I have had a passion for horses since I was very young. I am in a place in life now that I can truly enjoy it and share this with my daughter. My passion motivates me to find time to be at the barn, to be up EARLY for horse shows with my daughter and to learn about horses. Having a passion for something helps motivate me for sure. Now if I can only devleop a passion for the gym….

What is your defintion of success and what makes you feel successful?

Success for me is being happy in your skin and the life you are in. Success is not just about money, it is not about power, I think success is about making thoughtful choices and going for it! Success is living happy, giving to others, and reaching for your dreams!

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

Oh, and those gremlins like to follow me around! Work and life can be tough! There are many opportunities to doubt yourself and your actions. I have learned to not fight the fates and as a very close friend of mine always says “everything happens for a reason”. I truly believe that and when something does not go my way; I have learned it’s usually for the best! I am also so thankful for the wonderful group of friends I have around me. They keep me from going to my own pity party. They encourage me, remind me of my strengths, make me laugh and help me keep it real. Also, a skill taught to me by another amazing friend is critical reflection. Use reflection to think about situations you are in or just occurred. What went wrong, what could have been done differently, what would you do next time. Its just as powerful in what went right, what role did you play and how can you do that again! It takes the doubt away and empowers you and keeps the gremlins at bay!

Who inspires you?

Girlfriends of course! I have several friends who inspire me for different reasons. I have a very good friend who is an amazing caretaker. I am so inspired of her ability to give in so many situations and make people around her feel special and taken care of. I always feel better just being around her and it makes me want to try harder to be a better person. I also have friends who dedicate so much of their time to helping animals and work tirelessly to foster, rehome and rehabilitate them. It is a blessing to witness people following their passion and their love for something. I have friends who are strong businesswomen and still keep it real. They have inspired me in my career, my learning and how to be professional and still be me.

Have you ever had any mentors or been able to mentor somebody?

I love mentors! I truly owe so much to the people who have mentored me. I think having a variety of mentors is a must. Each mentor can provide a view into very different aspects of your life. You can have a mentor on presenting, on planning, on career development, and I like having a different mentor on each skill or area you are working on. I think its important to set up a formal plan of what you hope a mentor can provide to you, help them understand your expectations, check in often, listen to them and share in success for both of you! I mentor people too…and its is a gift to share. I have had lots of great success and feel so happy when you can help someone learn something new, guide them, and share your experiences.

Do you believe in luck?

I do believe in luck, fate, and chance. Some things I feel are just unexplainable! I have had wonderful experiences where I can’t explain what happened as anything but luck! I do believe that luck is balanced with choices and actions too!

What kind of advice would you give other women reading this interview?

Give yourself a break. Love who you are. Surround yourself with good people and friends. Get a mentor to help you. Give, give, and give…it feels sooooo good and in giving you grow and you never know some poor scrappy kid you help could use that help to turn their life around . Keep a log of things and time when you felt happiest.

What makes you happy?

I really enjoy being crafty. It takes me away from the stresses of the day. Nothing like paint and a glue gun! I also really enjoy trail riding – so peaceful and can’t help smile from ear to ear with the beautiful scenery and nature at its best!

How important is having girlfriends to you?

VERY IMPORTANT! I am so “lucky” to have some of the most amazing girlfriends ever. They are accomplished, funny, inspiring, intelligent, warm, caring and are always there for me. My girlfriends are fascinating, from the lives they lead, the things they are involved in the relationships they have, the careers they have….I learn so much from them.

What are you thankful for?

I am thankful for the many chances I get to keep trying to figure out who I will be when I grow up. I am thankful for my love for horses and how it has offered me something to share with my teenage daughter as she grows up and wants less mommy time. I am also thankful our horse is the man in her life for now! Ha! I am thankful for my friendships and how each one has helped me grow.

What time do you get up in the morning?

Usually 6 or 6:30. On weekends the dogs will sometimes let me sleep in until 7:30!

What is your one indulgence or splurge?

I guess wine could be an indulgence – I love a good glass of wine! My splurge is anything horse related. I am always buying some type of gizmo I know I just need!


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.




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.




Meet our June 2013 GUTS Girlfriend of the Month!

Chelsea Whitten Photo

Name: Chelsea Whitten

Age: 27

Occupation: Electrical Engineer

Why we think she is Girlfriend of the Month material:

In addition to being successful in a very male-dominated occupation, she manages to find time to run the wellness program in her office, coach CrossFit classes and be a part-time guest blogger.  No doubt in our mind that she is girlfriend material.


Q. How do you define success?

A. Success is when you and those around you recognize that you have worked hard to achieve something, and then achieved it. There is a huge social component to success as well as a personal one. Though the personal one should be more important, the social part of it has always heightened the experience for me. Having others acknowledge your accomplishment makes you feel good.


Q. What makes you feel successful?

A. I feel successful when I set a goal, work hard, and then achieve it. This could be anything from getting a list of errands and chores done in a day, to studying for a licensing test for my job and passing or learning a new exercise at the gym and practicing until I master it. There is always something new to conquer and learn, and the continuing experience of challenging myself and succeeding is what makes me feel successful.


Q. What traits or characteristics of yours do you most attribute to your success?  Where does your drive come from?

A. I think a personal love of learning (all sorts of things) has always been my driving force and what has made me successful. If you don’t have an interest in something and a desire to learn, it is very difficult to be successful. That being said, I am certainly not interested in everything, and my interest in other things waxes and wanes over time. Choosing the things that most interest me and keep me passionate to put my time into is also an important factor in my success. 


Q. Have you always been driven or did you find that quality later in life?  If you found it later, what was it that motivated you?

A. I think I have always been driven. It helped that my parents and family were encouraging of my successes, and held high expectations for me. I wanted to live up to their expectations, and even surpass them. 


Q. What makes you happy, peaceful or contented?

A. Good food, friends and family, and making small improvements every day at work, at the gym, and at home makes me happy. I also take comfort in checking off lists!


Q. Who inspires you?

A. The people around me, especially when they do small things for each other without asking just to help each other out. The kindness of community has always been the most meaningful to me.


Q. Do you have a personal song, anthem or mantra?

A. I don’t have a song, but I do have a couple of latin phrases that I love. One is “Acerbus et Ingens” which means “Fierce and Mighty”. Another is “Temet Nosce” which means “Know Thyself”.


Q. What is your one indulgence/splurge?

A. Food! I spend money on the best grassfed beef, organic veggies, and high quality oils because I know that putting good fuel into my body makes me feel awesome. Also, I just love to eat!


Q. How do you chase away the bad thought demons or the nasty gremlins of self-doubt?

A. By recognizing where those feelings are stemming from. Most of the time, all it takes is some self-awareness of why you are feeling doubtful or bad, and thinking about it in a broader context to make you realize that things really aren’t so bad.


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

A. After the sun comes up, preferably! I don’t like getting up in the dark.




2 comments on Girlfriend of the Month

  1. Chelsea
    July 2, 2013 at 11:21 pm (5 years ago)

    I’m reading a book called ‘Lean In’ by Sheryl Sandberg who has worked for Google and Facebook. She defines success as “Making the best choices we can…and accepting them.” Thought this was also a great definition :)

    • Girlfriend Jennifer
      July 3, 2013 at 2:33 am (5 years ago)

      You might have to let me borrow that when you are done, if you can. It’s on my Amazon wish list. She seems fascinating!

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