Tag Archive | Creole Magnolia Cafe

Project SHINE: Celebrating Sassy Warriors

Three of the most important attributes of a Sassy Sophisticate are her strength, tenacity and ability to inspire. For the Sassy Sophisticates waging war against breast cancer, these qualities shine brightly. Their unwavering courage, persistent drive and relentless refusal to give up inspire all whom they encounter.

The nation pays tribute to these shining warriors every October, and though we recognize the importance of Breast Cancer Awareness Month and are overjoyed to join the fight, many of us have been touched personally by these women, and thus battle alongside and claim small victories with them year-round. They are wives, mothers, grandmothers, sisters, daughters, grand-daughters, cousins, best friends and co-workers. These stars play leading roles in our lives and are deserving of their moments in the spotlight.

Project SHINE, a unique initiative created by Dana Klein of Photography by Dana, is an annual event held in Charleston, SC that celebrates the beauty of the breast cancer survivor. Its mission…To shine the light on these beautiful warriors. Through the coordinated efforts of hair and makeup talent combined with the photography skills of the project’s creator, local breast cancer warriors are treated to a day of beauty and pampering followed by a professional photo shoot to commemorate this special occasion.

Nancy Barnwell, one of the beautiful survivors celebrated during Project SHINE 2013!

Nancy Barnwell, one of the beautiful survivors celebrated during Project SHINE 2013!

This year, Project SHINE is 2 years strong, and I have been blessed to play a small role since its inception.

In 2012, after being asked to help spread the word about this wonderful cause, I was able to sit down in a one-on-one interview with Dana in order to learn more about her as both an artist and a humanitarian (She is extremely humble, and although I may get into loads of trouble for mentioning her too often, I must give credit where credit is due. She is a wonderful woman! Check out our interview from 2012 and see for yourself!).

This year, not only did Dana invite me back, but also she gave me a “backstage pass!” By allowing me behind-the-scenes access to Project SHINE, I was able to see first-hand how it all comes together.

And now here I am sharing it with all of you! I hope the positivity of this event and the strength and beauty of these women inspire you as much as they have me. These women are a true testament to the spirit of the Sassy Sophisticate!

May they continue to SHINE!

Is there a special warrior in your life who you would like to SHINE the light on? If so, I invite you to share in the comments below! Let us join you in celebrating her Strong, Sassy Spirit!

To learn more about Dana and Project SHINE, please visit her online at www.PhotographyByDana.com or on facebook at www.facebook.com/danaphotography!

 

“Inspiration is a dish best served with coffee!” ~The Creole Magnolia

 

And The Winner Is…

Greetings Sassy Sophisticates!

The last 2 weeks have been filled with marvelous encounters!

I’ve had the pleasure of being involved in several different activities and functions that have exposed me to some pretty spectacular ladies! And I have been overflowing with inspiration!

I was invited to be a part of the Renew & Restore Expo brought to you by Restoration From Within and even hosted my very first Sassy Sophisticate Social! At both events, all in attendance were able to enter the drawing for the Sassy Sophisticate Inspiration Sampler which is a gorgeous gift basket filled with tons of goodies designed to inspire the crap out of you!

Sassy Sophisticate Inspiration Sampler

If you have a dream, a goal, an aspiration–anything trapped inside and dying to get out–then pray your name is drawn, because the goodies in this basket were all selected with the purpose of encouraging you to explore your inner most thoughts and feelings.

Giveaways are awesome! Giveaways that inspire…Even Better!

I would like to thank you for taking the time out to enter. I am about to make one Sassy Sophisticate very happy!

So, without further ado, click on over to the video! Could the winner be you?! Find out now! And be sure to congratulate the winner in the comments!

Oh yes, and subscribe, too!

And remember…

Discover your passions! Create your own identity! And let the world hear your Voice!

Until next time…

Stay Sassy!

The Creole Magnolia

The Butterfly

FLORIDA  WILD    ~   NATURE & WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHY ~ BY LEIGH A WAX: FLORA BUTTERFLYS DRAGONFLYS &emdash; WO-9889-Black Swallowtail Butterfly
~

Once upon a time in a land not so far away, there was a beautiful valley nestled amidst two hills. There were open meadows filled with Milk Thistle, Shasta Daisies and Purple Cone Flower. There was a stream…wild flowers lined the sides of its banks.

This beautiful valley was the home to a community of butterflies in a wide array of colors and types.

The butterflies flew along the base of the hillside, throughout the meadows and near the stream. However, they never ventured beyond the valley. They never even flew to the top of the hillside to take a peek and what lied beyond this barrier. They were content with what they knew, and had no interest in expanding their horizons. The valley was a beautiful place, and they were just fine with that.

But one butterfly was not okay with this mediocre mindset. The valley was beautiful, indeed, but she wanted to learn new things, see new places and travel as far as her glorious wings could possibly take her.

So each day, Blossom ventured beyond the valley, taking in new sights and expanding her horizons.

The other butterflies did not like this at all. They scoffed at Blossom’s curious spirit and ridiculed her for seeking more. They did everything they could to dissuade Blossom from setting out on her journey each day,

But no matter how hard they tried to convince her that she was behaving foolishly, Blossom continued on her quest to discover amazing things. Each morning, after fluttering about in the valley, Blossom would fly high above the meadows and cross over the hillside.

She saw mountains, rivers and the ocean. She saw happy children playing in parks, far more than the few who would occasionally visit the valley to play. She visited the bushes and flower gardens of homes in quiet neighborhoods and frequented city parks surrounded by large buildings and honking horns.

And each day, when Blossom would return to her home in the valley, the other butterflies would laugh, point and stare. Some would whisper, while others would jeer.

One day upon returning from an exciting adventure, the taunting from the others was far worse than it had ever been. Blossom had had enough. “Why do you insist on being mean and spiteful?” said Blossom to the others. “Why do you poke fun at me every day and why is today worse than all the others?”  Bianca, who always seemed to be at the center of the mockery, fluttered forward. “Blossom, look at yourself,” she said in a disgusted tone. “You leave this valley every day, stretch your wings beyond their limits and spread them far and wide. And each day when you return, your wings are larger and grander than the day before. Now look at you! You are monstrous and hideously huge—a disgrace amongst butterflies.”

Blossom looked around at them all, shook her head at the sadness of this situation, drew in a deep breath and calmly responded, “Bianca, perhaps it is all of you who should look at yourselves.” They all looked around at one another, puzzled at the point Blossom was trying to make. “Have you all not noticed how much higher you have to fly before you get to the delicious bud of the Milk Thistle?” A few eyes began to open and expressions began to change. They hadn’t thought about it before, but now that Blossom mentioned it, they realized that was true. They quickly shook off any effect this truth had had upon them, and continued to scowl at Blossom. Blossom went on. “And have you all not noticed how long it takes you to flutter from one side of the stream to the other?”  Again, their expressions began to change. “And have you all not noticed how large the Purple Cone Flower is when you rest upon it, or how you must steady yourself when drinking from the Shasta Daisies so you don’t become stuck in its center or buried within its petals?” By this time, everyone was nodding in agreement. Blossom was correct…these things were true. But until this very moment, it had never occurred to any of them.

Blossom looked around at them all and said, “The flowers in the meadow have not changed. The hillside has not grown, and the stream has not widened.” She flew towards and landed upon a Shasta Daisy. “Notice my size compared to this flower. It is quite normal.” Everyone looked confused. Blossom did appear to be normal in size next to the daisy. They all looked at one another and then back at Blossom. “Broadening my horizons and spreading my wings has not caused me to become hideously huge,” she said. 

“Well then what is going on here, Blossom,” said Bianca in a flustered tone.

“Don’t you see?” responded Blossom. “It is not I who has become grand and monstrous. It is you and your wings that have become withered and wilted.”

~

Are you a Blossom or a Bianca? Will you allow your wings to wither and wilt?

Or will you spread them and take flight?

To view a live reading of this blog post, please click HERE

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Whirlwinds, Pinwheels and Passions

The past 4 weeks have been a whirlwind! It’s been both amazing and overwhelming.

Some of the highlights…

With many blessings–whether in business or on the home-front–come many responsibilities. And between you and me, sometimes the whirlwind is filled with chaos that ain’t so blessed! Yep, I’ve had to tussle with a bit of that, as well (A husband, 8 kids, aging parents and bills! Need I say more).

But even when the winds have blown in an unexpected element…even when they’ve stirred fearful emotions or have thrown me so far off balance that I miss a step or two…even when good stuff is all mixed in with a little bad…even when business blessings pile up so high on my plate that it appears to be too much for one person to handle…even then, it has been amazing!

An amazing whirlwind…

Whirlwind by Lisa Strazza

 

And me…I’ve been a pinwheel. Twirling. Spinning. Dizzy. One direction. Then the next.

 

Pinwheel1

Standing tall in the wind, facing its strong currents head on, allowing its energy to fuel my passions.

The Passion flower bears a stunning resemblance to a Pinwheel.

The Passion flower bears a stunning resemblance to a Pinwheel.

Dancing during times of challenge, showing off my colors as a celebration of victory…This is how I handle overwhelm.

Like a Pinwheel!

Why am I telling you this?

You know you’ve had those moments. Moments when the pressure seemed far too great. Moments when you’ve felt the weight of the world on your shoulders. Moments when you’ve felt you couldn’t possibly get through or hang on. Moments when you wanted to let go, cry and allow the whirlwind to sweep you away.

When the overwhelm is just too darn overwhelming and the winds become too intense, be a Pinwheel.

Hold your head high, tap into your why, and roll with it…one breeze, or gust, at a time!

Remember these 4 key points!

  1. Prioritize! You cannot handle everything at once. Focus on the most important demand, knock it out and move to the next!
  2. Change your outlook! You can’t get anything done successfully if you have an attitude of dread, doom and gloom. Think Pinwheel!
  3. Approach your tasks as challenges! How awesome do we feel when we’ve kicked a problem in the Patooshka or crossed an item off our To Do Lists?! Pretty dang awesome!
  4. Keep your vision at the forefront! By doing this, you’ll be inspired to come up with innovative ways to get things done.

Tell me…How do you handle overwhelm? When things have become so intense–whether good, bad or a combination–what techniques do you employ to get through?

Tell me in the comments below! REMEMBER! Your techniques may be the answer that someone else needs to hear! So please, share!

 

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Saying What I Need to Say

Today, I fully expected to pick up where I left off yesterday. For me the next reasonable step was to begin examining my why’s.

Why have I put myself in this position? Why do I continue to assist others in reaching their goals and realizing their dreams at the expense of my own? Is it fear? Greed? Competition? Inadequacy?

However, instead of exploring these very important questions, I remained stuck on one, single, solitary thought…

How will I “break up” with all my freelance clients? How will I tell them, “It’s over.” How will I get them to understand that “it’s me, not them?” 

Instead of facing the Why’s, I’ve gotten all ahead of myself and have fast-forwarded to the How’s.

My amazing friend Angie Mizzell, whom I mentioned in my last post, asked my advice today on a completely unrelated topic. She asked, “How do you find the courage…?” I had all the answers as they pertained to the topic we were discussing. Ironically, as it pertains to clearing my plate of all projects that distract me from my dreams, I don’t seem to have a clue.

Since she and I ended our conversation, all I can seem to ask myself is, “How do I find the courage?”

All day, I’ve tussled with this.

This evening, around 9:30 pm, my family and I popped The Karate Kid (the remake with Jaden Smith) into the DVD player. The kids were spread out on the floor and couches with blankets, pillows and stuffed animals. I sat here, on my corner of the couch, laptop open, staring at a blank “Add New Post” screen.

As the movie began, I couldn’t help notice how this mother and son were in the midst of making life changes that would inevitably lead to Clarity. Within the first 15 minutes of the movie, this mother and son arrive in a new place…China. And as they are taking in their new surroundings–uncertainty all around–a song is playing in the background.

That song spoke to me. It brought everything I’ve been feeling today into focus, and it answered my new question of How.

How do I find the courage?

The answer is: I may never find the courage.

How do I end these relationships with my freelance clients?

By Saying What I Need to Say…whether I’m courageous or not.

 

Even if your hands are shaking, say what you need to say...

Even if your hands are shaking, say what you need to say…

 

Thank you, Angie. Thank you, kids for wanting to watch The Karate Kid. And Thank you, John Mayer.

 

Using this blog challenge to find Clarity, Simplicity and the Basics!

Using this blog challenge to find Clarity, Simplicity and the Basics!

Navigating My Murky Waters, Feeling Strangely Refreshed

What a surprisingly amazing day today has been.

I reclaimed my position as captain, and today was my first day back at the helm. And though I was navigating through dark, murky, unclear waters, I felt renewed…light…lifted…hopeful and refreshed!

"Muddy waters should never prevent proper navigation of the ship or the spirit." ~Chase LeBlanc

“Muddy waters should never prevent proper navigation of the ship or the spirit.”
~Chase LeBlanc

I cannot allow the dreams, visions, aspirations and goals of others to steer my vessel any longer. As long as I permit the purpose of another to chart my course, I’ll always feel as though I am in unfamiliar territory. This realization alone has brought me so much joy.

I can taste the freedom that Clarity promises, and it makes me want it all the more. It makes me wonder why I ever gave it up.

As I coasted through this day, I realized that it’s not a matter of “IF” I will get back to the basics and claim Clarity, it’s “WHEN!”I drifted through the confusion and clutter and saw glimpses of beauty, freedom, peace, contentment…glimpses of me and reminders of my purpose.

Everything is lining up, and I know I’m moving towards the right decision…I know I have to throw any desires and dreams that are not mine overboard, or else risk sinking into the swampy, watery deep.

I’ll not drown in the labor-filled, uninspired tasks of others. I have far too much to give, far too much to do, far too much to create to do anything so foolish.

I haven’t even lightened my load, yet, and it already feels so good…

 

This is Day 2 in my Ultimate Blog Challenge and my quest to find Simplicity. Are you making moves toward Clarity, Simplicity and the Basics? Please, tell me in the comments below!

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Using this blog challenge to find Clarity, Simplicity and the Basics!

Using this blog challenge to find Clarity, Simplicity and the Basics!

Clarity, Simplicity and the Basics

For me the greatest beauty always lies in the greatest clarity. ~Gotthold Ephraim Lessing

For me the greatest beauty always lies in the greatest clarity.
~Gotthold Ephraim Lessing

Children understand the importance of clarity, simplicity and keeping ideas and concepts basic. They want clear answers without the layers of garbled muck.

We can learn a great deal from children.

Recently, I’ve been in a state of confusion. The Clarity I once, so victoriously, claimed seems to have slipped just out of my reach. The Simplicity I created for myself has become convoluted and complex. And I now find myself desperately trying to return to the Basics.

What are my basics, you ask? Growing my floral design business and becoming a published author…as simple as that.

Yet, everything I’ve done as of late has been designed to catapult someone else’s business or endeavor toward success. I have filled my plate with tasks and obligations that assist others and have, once again, allowed my dreams and goals to take a back seat.

I had, at one point, moved away from taking on any new projects that were unrelated to my specific career goals. I had made a decision to make precious use of my time and to focus on certain aspirations that required specific action to become realized. But, now, my Time is filled with deadlines that serve another’s purpose…deadlines that take me farther and farther away from the simplicity…from the basics…from me.

I feel lost in the crowd…bumped to and fro as hurried individuals shuffle and hustle on by. I keep thinking, “What about me?”

Then I found the Ultimate Blog Challenge–a challenge to write a fresh blog post everyday for 30 days. I thought this would not only be a wonderful opportunity to breathe new life into my blog, but also would afford me the opportunity to truly delve into why I continue to allow distractions to steer me off course and why I continue to place the dreams of others ahead of my own. This blog challenge will force me to sit face-to-face with this issue. And hopefully, at the closing of 30 days, I will have regained the Clarity that I once knew.

My theme for this challenge is Clarity, Simplicity and the Basics. During the next 30 days, I plan to ask myself a series of questions. When all is said and done, I intend to have clearer focus. Decisions will be made and my plate will only contain items that are good and healthy for my personal goals.

I hope you’ll join me. Perhaps there’s something in your life that has you wading in murky waters. Or perhaps there’s so much noise swirling about that you are unable to hear the symphony in the silence. Whatever has you feeling confused, stifled and bogged down, know that we can claim clarity together.

How do you plan to get back to the basics? Tell me in the comments below.

Using this blog challenge to find Clarity, Simplicity and the Basics!

Using the Ultimate Blog Challenge to find Clarity, Simplicity and the Basics!