FEISTY Chic A community for Free, Expressive, Inclusive, Smart, Thoughtful - YOU

Welcome to FEISTY Chic

What does it mean to be a Feisty Chic?

As I have reflected on my life and career there are a few words that always seem to pop-up when other people have described me – direct, courageous, tough, and my personal favorite - FEISTY.

But who am I really? As I thought of those words and the people that said them to or about me, I realized they only see what they wish to see – not all of me as a person, a mother, a sister, a friend. I decided to re-brand FEISTY into a term of endearment, a word that truly describes who I am and who I believe the vast majority of women are or wish to be – FREE, EXPRESSIVE, INCLUSIVE, SMART, THOUGHTFUL – YOU! Regardless of whether you are a stay at home mom, work in corporate America, are a civil servant, or an entrepreneur, we all want the freedom to be authentically who we are. I believe all women, irrespective of their background, want to be the truest version of who they were created to be.

There is no time like the present to start and in the words of Eckhart Tolle, “People don’t realize that now is all there ever is; there is no past or future except the memory or anticipation in your mind.”

So now, let me introduce FEISTY Chic - an online community that captures the stories of extraordinary women from all walks of life. We are a community that appreciates each other’s differences, embraces each other’s similarities and along the way, we will marvel at the strength and tenacity we share. We hope you not only enjoy our first edition, but also participate with us to make this a community where we all are supported, encouraged and feel comfortable discussing our thoughts, beliefs and ideas.

The stories are real, they will lift you up and hopefully make you see that your life’s journey is important. The authentic power of being true to you can, and will, make a difference in the lives of others and most importantly, provide encouragement so that we know it's okay to be imperfectly real – in our best and worst moments.

The community’s five focus areas are – Life, Politics, Education, Art and Wellness. Each section will feature a story from a fellow FEISTY Chic, as well as comparisons of varying viewpoints. In today’s world, it is critical that we have open dialogue, understand why we make the choices we make, and reflect on how we can be better - together. Let’s go!

Our first featured FEISTY Chic - Melissa Kelley

A warm, summer evening ride to watch the sunset on Paris Mountain changed my life in the blink of an eye.

Hope & Butterflies

It was a warm summer evening in July 2000 – perfect for a motorcycle ride to Paris Mountain to watch the sunset. I got on the back of a friend’s motorcycle and we hit the road. As always, I said a silent prayer before we left and then gave him the signal that I was ready. About 5 miles down the highway, a car, going in the opposite direction, turned into the median to cross the highway and ran directly into us, directly at my left leg. As I think back, I remember seeing the bumper of the car approaching me and then hearing a loud crunch and feeling a sudden pain. I thought my leg may be broken. The next thing I remember was holding onto the driver of the motorcycle and saying, “Pull over my leg hurts”. My friend had been able to maintain control of the motorcycle and had driven long enough to pull over safely to the side of the road. When I looked down at my leg I saw bones, muscle, blood and more than I ever cared to see. I do not remember getting off the motorcycle, but I remember laying my head back on the pavement. I was in excruciating pain.

As I lay on the pavement, I experienced a sudden, peaceful feeling from my head down to my toes. I heard a voice - not an audible voice but it seemed like it to me. God said, “You have lost your leg but we are going to get through this together”. The ambulance arrived, with no sirens. I never passed out, I knew every turn we made in that ambulance ride and informed the paramedic when we had arrived. They wheeled me into the trauma bay of Greenville Memorial Hospital and instantly I was surrounded by a team of medical professionals. My parents had arrived and I remember the doctor showing me a metal plate and telling me that they were going to take me into surgery to put that plate into my foot to repair the damage. I told him he was not going to be able to repair the damage to my leg, because my leg was beyond repair. Remember, God had told me, lying on the side of the road, my leg was lost.

Melissa riding her bike.

When I woke up in the recovery room I was aware my left, lower leg had been amputated. I spent eleven painful days in the hospital. The nightmares were terrible. Every time I closed my eyes it was a replay of the accident - including the sound of the car hitting us. The pain was terrible even with the strong pain medications. I experienced phantom pains and how real they were. I looked at my body and I no longer had two beautiful legs. I felt like I was no longer a whole woman. A multitude of feelings were drowning me. Yet, at the same time I could still feel God’s peace.

While I was recovering in the hospital, I had a visitor – someone I had never met. She had on shorts with a prosthetic leg and smiley faces all over it. She also had a huge smile on her face, in her walk and in her spirit. I - not so kindly - told her to leave that I would never be like her. She left that day but she did not give up on me, as she continued to visit me and is still a wonderful mentor and friend to me to this day.

I was determined to go home, with my three children, and that I did. My strength during the hospital stay came from support of family and friends, as well as a verse I had recently learned a few months prior - thank God for all things even in the bad situations. So every day I would silently say thank you God for allowing me to lose my leg. I was angry, upset and did not think my life would ever be the same, yet I said thank you! At that time I had no idea why I was thanking him, but I did it.

I endured the next few months, though not very gracefully most days. I hopped on one leg a lot to get things done; I spent the majority of time in a wheelchair or asleep. I had already fallen in love with butterflies, a few months earlier; I had some pieces of butterfly cloth cut to cover up my amputated leg. I had staples above and below my knee that looked like a railroad track of sorts. I did this because I was ashamed of my leg. In public people would stare at me, making me feel embarrassed and ugly. Needless to say, I did not feel very pretty at this time. I did a lot of physical therapy and was determined to walk again - no matter what. Most days I would hop on one leg to do what could not be done in a wheelchair. From the inability to walk, to the logistics of using a wheelchair in my home, it sent me into a deep depression. I did not want to see or talk to anyone. I thought my life was over. I felt I would never be a real woman again and definitely not pretty or desirable. Many days I fell while I was home alone. I fell a lot - more than I ever told anyone - because I refused to call for help every time. It was such a struggle sometimes to get out of that floor, but I always got back up.

I had good days as well - days when I would get on the power chair and ride down the street to my parents’ house or to the local store nearby. It felt good to have some independence back. I drove children to school in the mornings and picked them up in the afternoons. I went to the food pantry and got food for us. My strength came from God and determination. I remember a dear friend telling me “this is only temporary” and I got upset with her. She was right….nothing in this world is permanent. The tragic, accidental loss of my leg was, and still is, only temporary. The moments of despair and not wanting to live any longer were only temporary.

Through the grace and strength of God I became a feisty, determined woman that wanted nothing but to walk again. I worked tirelessly with my physical therapist. I talked with my prosthetist and he knew it was time, not physically but emotionally, for me to have my first prosthetic leg. I told him I wanted be able to do what other people do like swimming, painting my toenails and walking. So, the process began. I had choices of having a plain, skin toned prosthesis with no metal showing, but with that I could not go swimming. I chose the prosthetic that had the metal showing - the one that could get wet and dirty and be washed. The toe nails could be painted and that was very important to me. In the socket part of the prostheses I was able to pick out a piece of cloth for them to meld into the fiberglass of my new leg. Thinking back to my visitor with smiley faces all over her prosthetic leg, there was no question that I wanted butterflies. My favorite bible verse is 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation: the old has gone, the new is here.” This had become my favorite verse in early 1999 when my love for butterflies began and like butterflies, I was becoming new again. I was a new creation; the old went away in the second the car struck my leg on that summer day in 2000.

Learning to walk again was a painful process. Determination, perseverance and HOPE were the keys to each step in my recovery. I went from a wheelchair to a prosthesis with two crutches. It felt awful, it looked awful and I hated it. It was so bad that one day I put it in a duffle bag and returned it to the prosthetic office. I hobbled in on my two crutches with this bag and when I got into the room for my appointment I gave it back to him stating that this was not going to work for me - I just could not do it. He looked me directly in the eye and said he had made me the best prosthetic device that he could, but he could never replace my God-given leg. “I could either put it on and learn how to walk again, or sit in a wheelchair on my pity pot for the rest of my life. The choice is yours,” he said.

As tears flowed down my face, I put the device on and he made the needed adjustments. I walked out on two crutches with an empty duffle bag. I had to patiently learn how to walk on the new leg and to trust it. This process involved a lot of physical therapy, as well as a lot of falling and getting back up again. Things like stepping up onto a sidewalk, taking a flight of stairs, walking on gravel or uneven surfaces, walking in the woods - things we all take for granted and do without thinking - had suddenly become a challenge I was determined to master and overcome. I slowly progressed from two crutches, to one crutch, to a cane and then kept the cane for one extra month after feeling like I could go without it because the therapist said it would help me to walk with no limp.

I had developed an attitude of determination to be a strong woman with pretty toe nails that was going to have a pretty walk even if I had a butterfly metal leg. I got used to people staring at me, for the most part. God gave me strength and willingness. I still had my amputee woman mentor that I talked to through the rough times. Her life was thriving and I wanted to be like her. I was a single mother with three children that depended on me - twin teenage girls that I needed to show how to be strong and succeed, no matter what life throws at you, and a young son who thought the wheelchair was cool to pop wheelies in and the robot-looking leg was cool. I wanted to go back to work. I wanted to feel beautiful again. I wanted to keep my independence as much as I possibly could. I had HOPE and I would remind myself this is only temporary. Practice, therapy, hope, and determination became a way of life for me during the next few months. Thank you God, for allowing me to tragically lose my leg. It has afforded me many opportunities that I wouldn't have had otherwise.

Today, I wear my butterfly leg with great pride. I walk and don't ride in a wheelchair. I don’t wear clothing to hide my prosthetic. It is a part of me - just as I was promised. It is who I am today by God’s grace. It does not matter if the butterfly print does not match the dress I’m wearing. It does not matter if people stare at me or when little kids say, “Look mommy, she has a robot leg.” I am not saying that every day is a perfect day in the life of an amputee, but it is sure better than “sitting in a wheelchair on my pity pot.” I now go visit the new amputee women and men. I do peer visits in their hospital rooms, sporting my butterfly leg, just as was done for me. I follow-up with them through the process of learning to walk again, and hopefully provide encourage to them.

“Perhaps the butterfly is proof that you can go through a great deal of darkness yet become something beautiful” -Anonymous

As crazy as this may sound, I am grateful that I had this experience. I learned that beauty is on the inside. I gained strength and a passion to succeed in life. I am proud of my butterfly leg and with it comes the freedom to be me and to love who I am. Our true beauty comes from within, so YES, a woman missing part of her leg can still be whole, free and beautiful. My body may not be whole and I may no longer have two beautiful legs, like most women do, but this is not what completes me as a woman. My body is only a small part of who I am. I am mind, spirit and emotion, too – although, I will say it is still important that I have pretty toenail polish. :-)

After my recovery, not only did I return to my career in hospice, I have now been working at Hospice for almost 20 years. It is my passion and although I lost the specific job I was doing before the accident, I have been given the opportunity to do various jobs within my field. This has allowed me to advance and broaden my horizons. In 2009, I decided I needed to go to college. I now have my Master’s degree and proudly walked across that stage for my Associate’s, my Bachelor’s and my Master’s. YES, I walked three times because I wanted to be sure I walked for each one of those diplomas.

I live in today, I never know what tomorrow may bring.

Thoughtfulness has a whole new meaning for the new me. Holding the door for someone on crutches or in a wheel chair is huge, because too many times it was not done for me. I know what a struggle it is. I can relate to exactly what other amputee women are going through in the long healing process. I always try to be thoughtful in supporting them where they are today and not forcing them to rush their unique journey.

I am glad that I never gave up. I am okay with losing my prosthetic leg in the ocean once and scooting to the shore line, while my friends and family skimmed the ocean floor to find the lost device. I am ok with laughing about it now and laughing at the strangers on the beach that thought a shark had attacked me because I was screaming "my leg, my leg". This butterfly prosthesis is MY leg - it is a part of me it and not just a piece of hardware.

I am far from perfect. I have many flaws and imperfections but I am grateful that I am not the person I used to be and not the person I have yet to become. I am confident that I am still, and forever will be, a work in progress. That promise God made years ago still holds true today, “You have lost your leg but we are going to get through this together”. Yes, we did.

“She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.” — Proverbs 31:25

Cindy Gatewood

AN OUNCE OF PREVENTION

I have been a court reporter now for 28 years and, as such, have listened to the testimonies of thousands of people over those years who have fallen on hard times - people who have lost their jobs, their homes, their freedom, and lost loved ones. After a while, patterns begin to emerge and you begin to notice common threads woven into those stories along with their foreseeable unhappy endings.

One of those common threads we’ve heard a lot about lately is heath care. Many of the cases I hear are directly related to our health system, such as malpractice cases, auto accidents, and slip and falls. Countless others, though, have their beginnings in health care as well that might not be so obvious. For instance, medical bills are the leading cause of bankruptcies in the U.S. Marriages end in divorce and small businesses fail under the weight of financial problems and stress from medical issues. Over 100,000 workers’ compensation cases are filed annually, and often those workers lose their jobs and insurance as a requirement of settlement. In case after case, one of the basic issues to be decided is how to get the litigant the care they need. Needless to say, the legal system is a highly inefficient and expensive delivery system for health care, but it’s the only way many people can get access.

We rank 26th in infant mortality, 42nd in life expectancy, and 18th in obesity prevalence, the highest of any modern industrialized country.

The U.S. spends more money for health care than any other country in the world, over $10,000 per person annually, even more than countries with universal coverage. With all that money going toward health care, you would think Americans would be the healthiest people by far, but we aren’t. In fact, I couldn’t find a single survey that even put us in the top 10. We rank 26th in infant mortality, 42nd in life expectancy, and 18th in obesity prevalence, the highest of any modern industrialized country. Clearly our insistence that we have the best health care system in the world is unfounded.

I titled this article “An Ounce of Prevention” because it’s an old axiom that everyone can immediately relate to and agree on. We cannot continue to ignore the basic health needs of millions of people and then complain when the end result is exorbitant insurance premiums and an ever-increasing budget deficit. The recent attempt by the GOP to control costs through their American Healthcare Act bill, the pound of cure method, is just too high. It centered on reducing the payment side of the equation by limiting Medicaid payments and other programs, which would have translated into far fewer people with health care coverage and many more of the aforementioned bad outcomes that I see every day in my line of work.

So what do the more successful health systems have in common? Prevention, prevention, prevention. No two systems are exactly the same in their delivery, but the countries with the best outcomes begin by providing health coverage to everyone. That’s why the World Health Organization made it a priority goal for all UN Member States to achieve universal health coverage by 2030. Another key element is to have integrated social services that target education, housing, nutrition, and poverty. While the U.S. spends the most on care, we spend far less than our counterparts on social services. This kind of integrated approach is a cost-effective way to affect better outcomes by providing education on disease, increasing compliance, reducing re-admission rates, and preventing abuse. And last, we must seriously look at single-payer and the ability to negotiate pricing for drugs and services. Insurers currently add billions of dollars in administrative costs, advertising costs, executive compensation, and profits to the bill, all while decreasing efficiency in the complicated patchwork of ever changing benefits and services.

It may seem like an impossible goal to achieve, but our taxes already cover almost two-thirds of all health care costs in the U.S. through Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP, VA, ACA subsidies, and coverage for government employees.9 We know that a switch to single payer would greatly reduce administrative costs and that refocusing our resources on prevention will pay off down the road through a reduction in preventable disease. What we don’t know is if our political will is strong enough to tangle with an industry worth $900 billion. As Paul Ryan said after pulling his reform bill, “Doing big things is hard.” But before we can do anything, we need to decide as a country if we’re going to reclaim our health as a right that belongs to each and every one of us or are we going to allow it to remain a commodity to be profited from?

As Paul Ryan said after pulling his reform bill, “Doing big things is hard.” But before we can do anything, we need to decide as a country if we’re going to reclaim our health as a right that belongs to each and every one of us or are we going to allow it to remain a commodity to be profited from?

For those of you who are life-long learners, like myself, edX is an awesome resource for free learning. They offer courses from Arts and Culture to Data and Computer Science. I participated in the Science of Happiness course, offered by the University of California at Berkley, and it provided wonderful instruction online via video and lecture, as well as a forum for sharing thoughts and ideas with your classmates. For a reasonable fee, you can also "receive an instructor-signed certificate with the institution's logo to verify your achievement and increase your job prospects."

Check them out at the link below and learn anytime, anywhere.

Getting Rid of Negative Energy in Your Home

A Spring Simmerpot - Lemon & Rosemary

Sliced lemon, sprigs of fresh rosemary and a few drops of vanilla extract create a fragrant combination with a bright, crisp scent. Your whole house will smell divine.

So you ask, "how do I make a simmer pot?" It’s easy! Just slice up the ingredients, place in a stock pot and add enough water to cover (about 2 cups). Place the pot on stovetop and set heat to low. If you plan to leave your simmering pot on the stove for an extended period of time, be sure to check the water level every so often!

Poetry

Imagine was written late, one night as I thought about our society and the problems that we have in relating to one another - simply because of our ethincity, our religion, our politics, or our social status. If you think about birds and how they are all different - they look different and they have different gifts. We appreciate the differences of each bird, whether it's a song bird or an eagle soaring. Why do we not feel the same about our fellow man? We all have different gifts, talents, and innate ability to be true to who we were created to be. We may look different but as Maya Angelou said, "We are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike."

Imagine and enjoy the video!

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Created By
Lisa Darnell
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Credits:

Created with images by Kaz - "girl leaping rock"

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