Support The Movement–Victory Over Violence

Just by walking and/or running you can assist the Women’s Center win their battle with sexual assault and child sexual abuse.*  You can participate in their 22nd Annual Victory Over Violence (VOV) Walk/Run on Saturday, April 14, 2018 at the Duck Pond at Trinity Park.

 

Public awareness of sexual assault has increased with the advent of the #MeToo and #TimesUp campaigns.  Rape Crisis centers across the nation have seen an increase in the reporting of sexual assault, harassment and abuse. The Women’s Center has itself seen over a 13 % increase in hospital accompaniments during forensic rape exams from 2016 to 2017.  Year to date, they have seen a 16% increase year to date compared to the same time period in the year 2017.

Many people participate in the VOV Walk/Run to acknowledge and remember those whose lives have been affected by sexual assault or intimate partner violence.  It is their way of giving back.

Victory Over Violence 2

To participate, volunteer or learn more about the Women’s Center, please click The Women’s Center Victory Over Violence Walk/Run.  The 1K Fun Run will begin at 8 am with the 5K Walk/Run starting at 8:30 am.  This years emcee is Courtney Gilmore, reporter at NBC DFW.

The proceeds from the Walk/Run are used to support The Play it Safe!® program.  This program has been designed for children Pre-K through high school and uses materials in ways they can best learn and respond.

Remember, “thisisyourbestyear”.  Take a walk or run and help the Women’s Center and all that are affected claim Victory Over Violence.

*We incorrectly reported that this run was focused on stomping out domestic violence.  While it can be a part of sexual assault there are many other organizations that specifically address domestic violence.

 

Red Is Your Color

by CY Cooper

Last week, Thursday, March 1st, to be exact, the 2018 Tarrant County Go Red for Women Luncheon took place at the Omni Hotel in downtown Fort Worth, Texas.  The annual event, in conjunction with the American Heart Association drew women, and some men, from all over Tarrant County to come together in their quest to end heart disease and stroke in women. Heart disease kills more women than all forms of cancer combined, and 1 in 3 women die of cardiovascular diseases each year.

The Go Red for Women endeavor began in 2004 and every February/March, women all across the country proudly wear red, telling their stories of survival and raising awareness of heart disease and stroke as the Number 1 killer of women.

This year’s Tarrant County Go Red Luncheon not only raised much needed funds for lifesaving research and awareness, but it also featured keynote speaker, Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to officially enter and run the Boston Marathon.  Switzer told the packed ballroom, it doesn’t matter what age, size, gender or stage of life you may be in.  It’s never too late to make a change for the better for yourself and for others.

Before the luncheon got underway, attendees were treated to a mimosa reception, complimentary health screenings, cooking with heart demonstrations and a silent auction.  During the luncheon all were encouraged to donate to this year’s fundraising effort by opening up their hearts along with their checkbooks.  Members of the Fort Worth Fire Department were present to assist in collecting the donations.

With the tremendous success of this year’s event in their rear view mirror, organizers have begun planning for the 2019 Tarrant County Go Red Luncheon for Women, scheduled for Friday, February 15th at the Omni Hotel.

Remember “thisisyourbestyear” the color red looks good on everyone.

 

An Interview With Fort Worth’s Rare Diamond–Author Amara Russell

Fort Worth native, Amara Russell is the author of the much talked about novel “A Rare Diamond”. Even though this is her first novel to be published she is no stranger to writing.  Her love for writing has been evident to those around her since elementary school when her first article was published in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. It was our honor to have a great conversation with her.

Who are some of the authors you enjoy reading today?

Some of the people I enjoy reading are Priscilla Shirer. Her book “A Jewel in His Crown” is one of my favorites; it has brought me through a lot of things that were occurring in my life at the time. Another author that I like is Lysa Terkeurst.  Her book  “The Best Yes” is about making wise decisions when going through certain situations.

Who and what do you read just for fun? Also, what is a book that you have read more than once?

I love romance novels.  There is a book by Eric Jerome Dickey called “Friends and Lovers” about different relationships.  He adds a lot of humor to his books and I enjoy that. It’s a thick little novel, and I have read it several times.

Was “A Rare Diamond” the first manuscript that you finished?

It was the first manuscript that I finished.  It took me a year to write it.  I was laid off my job in 2015, and for the first couple of months, I spent my time trying to find employment. When I didn’t find anything I decided to use the time to do something that I liked–writing.  Writing helped to heal my stress. I put my frustrations into the manuscript.

Writing became my full-time job.  Every day when I woke up, I poured myself into writing.  It was something I loved to do.

Tell us about the inspiration for the novel–was any of it born out of personal experiences?

Actually, there are a lot of bits and pieces of the story that are related to my life, and things around me. I would visit coffee shops, relatives houses and observe activities that I added to the story.

When I found employment, I wasn’t able to put the time I needed into the writing of the book.  When I loss my mom I  was able to relate to Celeste, the main character in the book who loses her mom.  This event inspired me to get back to writing nonstop.

That’s interesting what you said about being able to relate to Celeste after the loss of your mother.  That’s something people tend to think they can relate to but can’t when they have not experienced that loss.  They know what to say, but they can’t relate.

Right, when I would express to people that I was still hurting they couldn’t understand because they had not experienced it, and until they do, they won’t understand.

I understand, and God will get you through it, but you never get over it, and it is never the same.  There is a void that is always going to be there.

Right.

Now Celeste is the main character in your novel.  Tell us a little about her.  I know that you said she loss her mother at 5.  Without giving away the story tell us a little bit more about her.

Celeste is witty, smart and beautiful.  She is courageous, and she doesn’t bite her tongue about anything, but she says what she means in a subtle way.  She takes her characteristics from her mother who was filled with integrity.  Her mother could walk into a room and capture everyone’s attention.  Celeste picked up a lot of those qualities.

The story is about her life from the age of 5 to 25. She is a young woman trying to find her way, her identity without her mom.

What other characters in the novel play a pivotal role?

Derrick is a childhood friend of Celeste who grew up in the neighborhood.  Really he was her brother’s friend first.  As they grew older they were able to relate because he had suffered the loss of his father at an early age, and he had older siblings who were all girls, and her older siblings were boys.

Another main character is her brother Craig. Celeste and Craig have a very close relationship.  She leans on him, and he leans on her in certain situations.  I would say that Derrick and Craig are two of my other main characters.

From some of the comments that we  have read people say that the book kept them on their toes until the very end.  So if we were going to the bookstore what two sections would we find “A Rare Diamond”?

Probably in the Faith-based section and also in the Romance section.

If you were to have “A Rare Diamond” made into a movie, who would you have to play the main characters?

Oh my God, I knew you would ask that, and I have those people written down (laughter).

It’s important because when people read a novel they picture certain people.  I have to read the book before I see the movie.  I remember going to see “Waiting to Exhale”, and none of those people were the people I pictured except Loretta Devine.  She had the sass that was in the book.  I met Walter Mosley and told him that I did not see Denzel Washington as Easy Rawlins, and he said he didn’t either.  I told him I pictured a young Laurence Fishburne.  He told me when you sell the rights to your book, then the studio picks the actors.  So who do you have as Celeste?

For Celeste, there were two people. I had in my mind LeToya Luckett could play her or Keisha Knight Pulliam.

Oh, why those two?

The similarities when I envision my character, I see them as her. And then their personalities when I see them in films or on television.  Those personalities fit Celeste.

Ok, what about Derrick?

Derrick, the minute I started writing I don’t know why but I envisioned the actor Lance Gross.

Oh, okay, yes.  That’s a good one.  What about Craig?

Craig because he’s so hilarious–even when I was writing the novel I would crack up from some of the things he would say.  To me, I always said Mike Epps (laughter) .

Oh my God! (laughter).  He would be a wonderful big brother. 

Just to add one more, the mother because she is such an inspiration.  It’s like I didn’t want to kill her off at the beginning so I was kind of going back and forth, but Angela Bassett always came to mind when I was writing the story.

She would be good.  Even in her personal life, she seems to be into her family and her faith. You are going to have a hometown book signing.  Tell us about it.

The book signing will be downtown Fort Worth at the Marie Antoinette Parfumiere and Spa which is located at 101 West 2nd directly across from the Worthington Hotel.  It will be on Saturday, February 10 from 3 to 5.  A pre Valentine event.

Are you working on a sequel or another novel?

I am actually working on a trilogy to “A Rare Diamond”, I’m going to break it up into three parts.

That will be nice.

Well, we thank you for your time.  We’ll see you at your book signing.

Thank you so much, I appreciate it.

 

“A Rare Diamond” can be purchased at Amazon, the Barnes and Noble website or on http://www.nspired2write247.com.

Remember “thisisyourbestyear”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Enjoy Yourself–You’re Worth It

by CY Cooper

It seems like it was only a day or so ago we were all enjoying the sights and sounds of the Christmas season.  It’s really hard to believe that we are now moving toward the middle of January 2018 and getting set for the next BIG holiday, which is Valentines Day.  It didn’t take the retail stores long to move forward as they were putting up hearts and flowers the day after Christmas.

You know it’s not a secret that the holiday season is just plain busy for everyone. Whether it’s family, friends, co-workers, church or other organization functions, most of us find ourselves so busy we don’t have time for ourselves or to just look around, sit for a quiet moment and ENJOY the season.

Well during the holiday hustle and bustle I did a couple of activities for yours truly.  I registered for a total of (3) cooking classes.  Two of the classes took place at the Fort Worth Cooking School at Central Market and the other at Sur La Table in Fort Worth.  Let me tell you, all (3) classes were hands on, educational and a lot of FUN.  Besides taking home the recipes and instructions on what we accomplished in class, all participants took home a nice sampling of our finished baked goods.  Now I’m sure you’re probably thinking that you want to do anything but cook/bake, BUT as stated earlier it was FUN, a lot of FUN. It was an activity where you could go with a friend or by yourself and meet other people with an interest in cooking/baking.  Plus, for about 1 1/2 – 2 hours you were away from the holiday rush.  I learned to bake everything from buttermilk biscuits in a cast iron skillet, Parker House rolls to eggnog cranberry swirl bread just to name a few.

I didn’t just stop with the cooking/baking classes.  My sister and I attended the Texas Ballet Theater’s THE NUTCRACKER at the wonderful Bass Hall.  It’s become a family tradition and it’s a MUST SEE.  If you’ve never had the chance to see this ballet, you should.  It just may become one of your Christmas traditions.

carol 3

And finally, yours truly is a fan of tea, and The Ashton Hotel in downtown Fort Worth starts their Holiday Tea Service the day after Thanksgiving.  This was my first time attending but I can tell you it won’t be my last.  I tried to reserve a couple of seats for the week before Christmas but they were all booked up.  I made a reservation instead for a date after Christmas and even then there wasn’t an empty seat to be found.  Holiday Tea at The Ashton Hotel runs through the end of the month of December.  The tea was EXCELLENT and so relaxing.  DEFINITELY put this activity on your TO DO list for the 2018 Holiday Season.  

The Christmas of 2017 was busy and it sped by quickly, but I can truly say it was FUN and memorable.

It’s 2018.  Remember “thisisyourbestyear”.

Christmas In Songs

As a child the songs of Christmas and the holiday season were always some of my favorite tunes.  At that time they always made me happy.

Even today some bring back memories of times gone by.  While in elementary school I was a member of the choral club, and doing one performance I actually had a solo.

Once I entered fifth grade I was made a member of the famed girls group at school–the Charmettes. This group sang on the two annual school programs. The winter program was called “Winter Wonderland”, and we always closed the program with it. Every time I hear it now I call my best friend and we break into song and laughter.

While working at a high school, the choir would do caroling through the halls. A lot of us would follow them to hear our favorite song.

I remember the great Christmas celebrations on Della Lane at home.  How much fun we had decorating the tree.  It seemed that everyone had a picture window where they displayed their tree.  The memories of home always come to mind.  I can’t go back to that time, but each year I do go home for Christmas–if only in my dreams.

Merry Christmas to all.  Remember “thisisyourbestyear”. What’s your favorite holiday song?

At The Texas Conference For Women–Women Rock

It is always great to be in the presence of women, especially smart women.  The Texas Conference for Women has so much to see, hear and do that it is hard to decide which way to go. That is why you see me rushing almost running in the halls of the Austin Convention Center with my two bags, comfortable shoes, and phone. I was off to races.

Texas Conference 2 Photo by Getty

I was able to snag two great interviews with two amazing women.  My first interview came as a surprise.  We just struck up a conversation, and I knew women would love to know about her company “iFundWomen”.  Below is the interview that I did with the CEO and founder of “iFundWomen”, Ms. Karen Cahn. For women who are looking for ways to fund their startup, she is the person to know.

20171102_120111 (2)

My second interview was with the Emmy award winner, Ms. Gaby Natale.  She is the host of the Emmy award-winning show Super Latina, and now the author of the book El Circulo Virtuoso.  Her story is one that a lot of people can identify with. She is inspirational.  My interview with Gaby is below.

Both women are successful entrepreneurs who have found their passions and turned them into their careers.  As each would tell you it has been a journey that has taken some unexpected turns.  They epitomize the women that attended and participated in the Texas Conference for Women.  This year there were 7,500 women in attendance from all over the United States.

Each of the women had their own schedule to adhere to and knew which sessions they wanted to attend and why.  All of us were able to hear the three keynote speakers, Ms. Anita Hill, Ms. Sheryl Sandberg, and Ms. Viola Davis.  Their presentations were informative and more.  You can see some of Ms. Anita Hill’s talInstagramFacebook Page–thisisyourbestyear, Instagram–thisisyourbestyear and Twitter–@mariciajohns.

If you have never attended this conference, you should think about it for next year.  There is something for everyone from, pitching your product to QVC, working on your Linkedin Page, coping with grief, fitness and much more.

This is one of the highlights of my year, seeing and hearing the speakers and meeting up with other bloggers, photographers, and other media again.  Hope you will take advantage of this great gathering of women.  Remember “thisisyourbestyear”.

To find out more about how to fund your business go to the “iFundWomen” website.

www.ifundwomen.com

If you would like to know about Gaby Natale, and how to contact her for speaking engagements, book signings and more please visit her website.

www.gabynatale.com

Join me on Instagram!

We’re on Instagram as @thisisyourbestyear. Install the app to follow my photos and videos. https://instagram.com/download/?r=380485317

You can also follow us on Facebook–thisisyourbestyear, Twitter–@mariciajohns and of course our website–www.thisisyourbestyear.com.

          Remember “thisisyourbestyear”.

As I Look Back And Celebrate My Birthday

Today, October 2, 2017 I have officially done something neither of my parents was able to do.  I was able to celebrate my 65th birthday.  Daddy passed at 49 and mama left us at just a month shy of 65.  So on this birthday in particular I am thinking of them, and that little girl who loved to play in the dirt in East Texas. The little girl who could not wait for the birthday parties held on the front porch with all the friends from Fox Hill.

When I tell friends that I worked on my birthday, they are a little confused since it is a day that I should be celebrating.  My children inform me that they don’t, and will not work on their birthdays. At one time that was my position, but as life would have it circumstances change. Working on my birthday does not upset me since I have decided to celebrate my birthday everyday.  There may not be an official celebration with cake, gifts and such, but nontheless there will be a celebration–a celebration of life for myself and those that did not make it to celebrate their 65th.

2017-10-01 18.07.46

Remember “thisisyourbestyear”.  Happy Birthday–celebrate everyday.

Can You Do This?

My mother was very good at teaching my sister and I about being an independent woman. She was quick to tell us that we might never marry so we needed to know how to do things for ourselves. At the age of 44 her words rang true for her when our father suddenly died. I can honestly say that my mother never missed a beat.

In time I saw her prepare her will so that my sister would be looked after if something happened to her.  I observed her negotiate to buy my first car, and believe me she was negotiating. As time went on I saw her begin to travel and let go of the fact that she was not willing to stay home and look at an empty house. I saw her sit in the window with her coffee and yes, her cigarette and just pray in all of her kindness.

I was privy to her calls to the city of Longview seeking solutions to potholes, streetlights and much more. Her determination to vote was passed on to her children. She made sure we could do just about anything, and if not at least we knew how locate the people who could.

These and other thing should be passed on to out daughters and granddaughters. I know there will be others, but here are a few things that we need to teach and possibly learn for ourselves.

  • How to check the oil and put air in your car tires–some of our sons need this too. If all else fails how enroll in roadside assistance; and in Texas be able to locate the roadside assistance number on the back of the driver’s license.
  • Take a gun class. Yes, I am serious. If for no other reason than to get over the fear of them.
  • Know your worth. Diamonds shine their brightest when they are buffed so learn to pat yourself on the back sometimes. Just remember only the best can tell real from fake.
  • Learn how to invest. Some of us need to quickly learn this. Social security and employment pensions are becoming a thing of the past. Never leave this to someone else.
  • Stand for something. Wrong is wrong and right is right. Enough said.
  • Know what to say when asked “tell me about yourself”.  You are so much more than a job title.
  • Learn how to read a roadmap. I need to do this better. What happens if there is no cell service or the phone dies. In addition learn how to get out of the garage if the power is off. You still have to go to work.
  • Learn to swim or at least wear a life vest when you are on the water for pleasure.
  • Learn to go it alone. Want to go to movies, out to eat, but no one to go with you?Don’t miss out. It is much easier to add someone, and it makes for a nice surprise.
  • Learn how to put a hem in a garment, sew on a button, use a safety-pin so nobody knows it is there.

There are so many things that we should teach our daughters and granddaughters that it is impossible to list them all. Even with all of our wisdom there are some things that we don’t know how to do. What are some things that you have taught your daughters and granddaughters?  What’s something you need to learn to do? Let’s share the knowledge.

Remember “thisisyourbestyear”. Knowledge is power, and you are never too old to learn.

There Will Be No Paper or Plastic…

I’ve decided that there will be no paper plates or plastic ware in my house.  Yep, you heard me right.  The only thing used for eating and drinking that will be paper will be napkins, and that’s because I hate to iron.

A couple of years ago I decided to give my daughters part of their inheritance so that I could see them use it.  To my youngest, she would get my mother’s beautiful china which I can still remember the day my father gave it to her.  This was something that she had wanted forever, she was beyond excited, she was ecstatic that she could now serve special occasion meals in beautiful dishes.  I was ecstatic too because I wouldn’t be allowed to wash the china–too clumsy.  On those special days we would polish the flatware that was never used, iron the napkins, wash the china and crystal and place them on the dinning room table that only saw food on special occasions.

To my oldest, I wanted to give my china that was given to me by my father.  I remember when he started buying it. I was only a sophomore in college living with my sorority sisters, but I was excited. Visions of special dinners popped into my head.  I would set this beautiful table, and my mother and grandmother would iron the napkins. My father passed away before all the pieces were purchased, and I could never find the sugar bowl and creamer at any replacement site.  On one of my many trips to San Antonio to one of my favorite antique shops I ran across both pieces.  I was ecstatic.

Neither of the girls took me up on my offer.  The oldest one informed me that she already had a set of china which she does use some of the time (mine looks better).  If it didn’t go in the micro wave the youngest one didn’t want it. I tried the sympathy plea– “You will always have something to remember Granny Ruby by”.  It didn’t work.  I was informed they would always remember her.

What was I going to do with two sets of beautiful china, delicate crystal wine, champagne and water glasses?  The champagne classes are not fluted, they are the kind you see in the movies and they stack them. I had flatware and napkins that had nevfer seen the light of day. My husband solved the problem because he had a problem.

One day after a weekend of family as the dishwasher was humming along, he didn’t have a clean plate, and there were no paper plates.  What was he going to do? Stop the dishwasher and remove a half cleaned plate?  Go to the store and buy paper plates? No, just reach up there and get one of those china plates. From that moment on I decided there would be no paper plates or plastic ware used in my house.

That moment made me realize that I was going to use each and everything in my house.  So when you come to dinner you just might have your takeout/delivery on fancy china with paper napkins.

Remember “thisisyourbestyear”.  Everyday is special.