Thursday, November 26, 2015

gratitude 2015

Gratitude, its a contagious feeling. And, I have much to be thankful for! @bigpittstop

I wasn't sure about 2015 at times.  It kicked off with a bang and has had its own ups and downs.  But, I can say this has been a year of loads and loads of ups.  I'm so grateful or so many things.   Life is full.  My calendar stays packed.  I have friends and people that love me. I feel like I've found my stride. I live in one of the coolest places ever (seriously, I think NWA is the best!)

I have much to be thankful for:
  • NWA feeling like home
  • finding your tribe and developing friendships
  • Junior Achievement has become one big blessing and a place I feel like I was made to volunteer! 
  • I have an amazing group of friends that I get to encourage and cheer on.  I love being surrounded by fearless women making a difference in this world - like the real kind of everyday differences.
  • working in a role that is pushing your limits, making your stretch your skills, giving you opportunity to learn new things, and allowing you to be something you never dreamed...its a good gig!
  • working at a place that lets you volunteer and invest in the community
  • Starbucks Mobile Pay - I might be, being lazy here, but when you can order your coffee from a mobile app at the red light before you get there and walk in and they ask if you are Keisha and your coffee is on the counter..I'd say 2015 is definitely winning
  • Walmart Grocery Pick-up - I'm not being really is great
  • having friends and mentors invest in you and push wind in your sails (it really might be my 2015 theme!) 
  • the Northwest Arkansas Bloggers have been a huge blessing.  I've loved this #NWArkCares campaign that has made me want to write and write lots and has given me a place to pursue life passions
  • writing/developing/implementing Family Ministry equipping tools has been a highlight of the last year. Working with and leading a team of people on an initiative that I wasnt sure we could do has been a big "life stretcher".
  • feeling validated and respected as an expert in my field - and actually knowing what I'm talking about - its been fun to be part of several social media campaigns,  teaching technology classes and just investing in people that have no knowledge and move them to confidence is a pretty good feeling.
  • serving on the NWA Tech Council and NWA Tech Summit Marketing Team
  • learning how to develop a Wordpress blog for work when I do everything personally on Blogger
  • cleaning out my garage and learning that simplicity really is a better way
  • And, this guy. He makes my heart soar!
Today, I'm spending the day with my people - Mama, Daddy, Resi and Zaky.  We are blessed.  We get to serve the people around us.  Our bellies are full.  Our lights work.  Our house is warm.  We laughed together at lunch.  We elbow bumped as we made our meal.  We have a sweet puppy with big puppy dog eyes begging for a piece of anything we will give her and we have extra to share.

We have more than people in 95% of the world have and we are grateful.  May our hearts be ever content by the bounty of blessings we have been given!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

what can you do: Women in Leadership

Earlier this month, I asked the question, "what grade would we give ourselves?"
Wonder what she is thinking? Then invite her to the table! Women in Leadership - What can you do? @bigpittstop #NWArkCares

Culture of women in business?
Culture of women in politics?  Nationally, statewide and locally?
Culture of women in church work?
Culture of women as community change agents?
Culture of women in true leadership?

Are we comfortable with women leading?  If not, what makes us uncomfortable?  Is it women who are holding women back? Or, is it "old culture"? Or, is it men?

The Representation Project goes so far as to challenge us that media is teaching this message early on.  I'd love to see a NWA group host a viewing of Miss Representation and let us have the conversation.  If the #NWArkCares project has taught me anything it's that stereotypes are killing us.  We have got to drop the walls and build bridges!

So, what can you do?

Invite "them" to the table!
  • Don't be scared of what might happen if a woman suggested a great idea that everyone else had over looked or not developed yet.
  • Don't look around and wonder what the women would do..ask them!
  • Don't wait for her to invite herself to the table...send her the invitation.
Educate Yourself
Educate the next generation
    What's Holding Women Back from Top Jobs
  • a fellow blogger, Julianne said it best! - I love Julianne's point that she is responsible for teaching her kids to not be is our job to teach the next generation
  • and another blogger, Sarah, shares how she is giving her daughter the tools she needs to know she can achieve
  • we cant be so scared of gender equality that we push people in to roles they may not be ready for
  • And my friend, Rhonda, is looking and what leadership looks like now for her kids
  • I'm always impressed by my friends who are raising boys and girls and aren't scared when their son "accidentally" puts on a princess dress like his big sister, or her daughter wants to wear a jersey and helmet like her brother.  We learn a ton when we look at the world from the "atypical" perspective.  
  • I wasn't really friends with girls until I got to college.  I always hung out with the guys.  I know how guys think and its a scary place.  But, it has served me well professionally.  I can sit at the table with the big boys and hang with with the conversation.  My thoughts are valid and validated and I know, when given a seat, I can be there fully and participate.
Get Involved
  • Run for an office
  • Volunteer to teach girls 
  • Host a viewing party or help on a campaign
  • Use your voice - amplify the causes that matter to you and when possible keep the causes that affect women at the top of the priority list
Biggest thing you can do?  Invite a girl to the table!!!
This post is part of the #NWArkCares series by the Northwest Arkansas Bloggers group. To view other posts, visit the Northwest Arkansas Bloggers Pinterest Board or follow #NWArkCares through social media.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

women of the confederate

What happens when a group of women dare to dream?  It’s the question we’ve been asking all month.  Last month, my parents came to visit in pursuit of their annual fall foliage sighting.  I love when they come to visit in October because it means 2 things: I get to plan a fun adventure and cater to my parents and my camera gets dusted off to capture it all.

I had a lovely jaunt planned down Hwy 16 to the Pig Trail Section of Hwy 23 making a big turn on 215 to find the Oark General Store.  But the adventure was scheduled to begin at the mouth of a Civil War journey at the Headquarters’ House and Confederate Cemetery in Fayetteville.  Both were little treasures I found on a list of fall must see spots in Northwest Arkansas.  And, a Tuesday morning proved to be the perfect quiet moment in a place that took my breath.

Women of the Confederate and the story behind the Confederate Cemetery in Fayetteville, AR #NWArkCares

After I passed the beautiful stone entrance, I stopped at the first site marker to read.  I wanted a little perspective before I began exploring.  What I saw stopped me in my tracks.  I was a marker traced and outlined with a series of picture of a group of women from the late 1800’s.  My vintage soul always loves seeing pictures of women from this time period.  But these pictures were different.  It wasn’t a group shot….it was a series of headshots.  And since this wasn’t a journalism project of me looking through old yearbooks or a museum exhibit at the Girl Scout Headquarters (yes, I’ve explored both this year!) I knew there must be something significant to the fact that individual pictures were displayed of several women. 

Women of the Confederate and the story behind the Confederate Cemetery in Fayetteville, AR #NWArkCares

And, I was not disappointed as I began reading about these famed women.  Brave women.  Dreamers.  Doers.  Women who did not let “no” deter them.  Women who developed a cause and fought for it by raising money to make it happen. Something that all the sudden felt very familiar. 

Fayetteville, AR.  1865.  A town is rebounding from devastation.  Devastation from several battles.  The rural terrain the perfect setting for a showdown.  All was delivered.  Young men, families, a community buried in mass.  Roadsides, pastures and fields all became graves.  While the government made provision for Union soldiers, nothing was done for their Confederate counterpart. 

Nothing that is until a group of women, proper Southern ladies, opted to gather around the cause of properly caring for the “Confederate dead.”  These ladies formed the Southern Memorial Association of Washington County.  Their first cause was “securing the land for the establishment of the Confederate Cemetery.”

Women of the Confederate and the story behind the Confederate Cemetery in Fayetteville, AR #NWArkCares

Women of the Confederate and the story behind the Confederate Cemetery in Fayetteville, AR #NWArkCares

A year later, after petitions through the local newspaper and “dimes and dollars” fundraisers, they dedicated the Confederate Cemetery with 3,000 onlookers.  A memorial plaque in the cemetery holds this quote from one of the founding members.

“These monuments we build will speak their message to generations.  These voiceless marbles in their majesty will stand as vindicators of the Confederate soldier.  They will lift from these brave men the opprobrium of rebel and stand them in line of patriots.  This is not alone a labor of love; it is a work of duty as well.” –Lizzie Pollard

I remember just being taken aback reading all this thinking, “of course a group of women did this.”  I’m not being feminist or anything extra, other than being amused by the great accomplishments of women gathered.  I found it interesting that each of the women listed as being part of the founding group were also listed as who they were wife of.  No doubt some of that was because they were fallen men or their dads, brothers, neighbors and friends.  But, why does the identity of a woman have to be tied to the man who she was married to.

Instead, today I honor a group women.  Women who did something in their local community.  They gathered, petitioned, caused and created.  They have faces and names alone.  And, a lasting beautiful memorial of the work they did.  

Women of the Confederate and the story behind the Confederate Cemetery in Fayetteville, AR #NWArkCares
Confederate Cemetery did not disappoint.  The rows are beautifully aligned.  The display is arranged into 4 segments and honors the battles with neighboring states.  It’s a peaceful, quiet place overlooking the Fayetteville Square and Dickson Street.  Its collection, feet from the battleground, serves as a respite and honors lives.  The lives of those interned.  And, the lives of those who caused and created; the women who led a community to honor and remember.

This post is part of the #NWArkCares series by the Northwest Arkansas Bloggers group. To view other posts, visit the Northwest Arkansas Bloggers Pinterest Board or follow #NWArkCares through social media.