So much has been given to me; I have no time to ponder over that which has been denied.
The Strength of Our Anchors is a collection of personal stories told by Dawn M Bornheimer, Erin Antroinen, Jackie MacDougall, Emily Clark, Kim LaMontagne, Leia Lewis, Natasha Novak, Anna Owusu, Kathy Clark, and Tina Paulus-Krause. Their stories are woven with the challenges they’ve overcome, lessons learned, tools acquired, and the perspective that comes as a result of their willingness to reflect.
FEATURED CONTRIBUTING AUTHOR: JACKIE MACDOUGALL
In the chapter entitled “It’s Been a Wonderful Life,” Jackie shares her unique journey through grief and gratitude and how the two have collectively shaped her entire life.
Life can kick us around once in awhile. It’s crazy to believe we can live without adversity. But it’s that adversity that has actually brought me to my own purpose, passion and peace. I have faced the dragon and I’m still standing. I no longer look at my personal challenges with that “why me?” attitude, but see them all as an opportunity to become more of the person I’m meant to be — to choose gratitude above all else.
ABOUT JACKIE: Born and raised in Boston, Jackie MacDougall packed everything she owned (with $700 bucks to her name) and hit the road for Los Angeles. Since then, she’s worked for over two decades in TV and digital marketing, creating content for women with some of the most recognizable and innovative names in entertainment like Queen Latifah, Harry Connick Jr., Tyra Banks, Chrissy Teigen and Sharon Osbourne.While her passion for all things entertainment brought her to LA, it’s what she’s experienced personally and professionally that brought her true purpose. Now instead of just creating content for others to market to women, the award winning blogger and community builder taps into her own personal insight and voice to connect with women — online and in person — helping them find their own distinct voices and use that voice in a way that’s authentic and effective.
Living in California where we send the kids back to school in temps up to 100 degrees, one thing the kids cannot do without is a quality water bottle. We’ve probably been through dozens of water bottles over the years, either having to throw them out for being ineffective in keeping anything cold for more than a few minutes, or losing them somewhere on the bus, playground or a number of locations in between (seriously, losing water bottles is my kids’ super power and YES, I label them).
I recently asked my FB friends which quality water bottles they’d recommend and I received no shortage of answers. So to save you time, money and a drawer full of ineffective bottles taking up space, I’ve compiled a list of quality water bottles at pretty much any budget. Note: there are some links on this post that can be defined as “affiliate links”. This means that I may receive a small commission (at no cost to you) if you purchase something through the links provided. However, that has absolutely no bearing on the choices below.
My family has personally used these bottles and always amazed at how long they keep things cold. However, we’ve broken each and every lid to these bottles so I recently purchased new lids at the Reduce website instead of buying brand new bottles. (I’ll keep you posted how long we go without breaking the lid this school year.)
Hands down, more people recommended the Hydro Flask more than any other bottle. Hilary and Megan love it. Paula says: “Doesn’t sweat. Keeps water cold all day. Has a selection of different lid types to choose from. This lid does have a plastic straw inside but it comes with a few straws so you can swap for a new straw as needed. That said, my daughter only drinks ice water in hers and she washes the bottle every evening.” Janice suggests purchasing at LL Bean for added personalization.
* Means lead tested and approved by environmental activist Tamara Rubin. For her list of tested water bottles and recommendations, visit TamaraRubin.com.
If you asked me what my super power is, I’d have to say problem solving. Whether it’s in my professional or personal life, I absolutely live for listening to a dilemma, finding the key facts and flipping the situation on its head like a boss. It’s why a colleague of mine declared me PS Jackie, a nickname I have enjoyed for over a decade. I love fixing things and helping people solve issues when they can’t see the solution themselves. But the problem you’ll read about below was something of a different kind.
PROBLEM: So we moved into our current house a little over two years ago. We loved our dining room furniture but it didn’t really fit the space so we sold it and the room has sat empty for at least the past few months. I personally love to entertain so not having a functional dining room makes me crazy. I have these romantic visions of a long solid wood dining room table that would seat 8 — even up to 12 with a leaf or two. Along with the long table, I wanted an oversized china cabinet, one that would fit all of our nicer dishes, glassware, etc.
So here’s the thing. I just don’t think they make furniture as well as they used to. All of the dining room furniture either feels like fake wood, or there’s not enough storage space, or it looks tiny in our room with high ceilings. It’s been discouraging to say the least. That’s when we (see: convinced my husband that is was “we”) decided we would look for a solid piece that we could makeover. I was obsessed with all of the results I was seeing on Pinterest of those using chalk paint and wax to turn an old dated piece into a conversation starter.
So I began looking on Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace and anywhere else I could find pre-owned pieces that fit our idea.
SOLUTION: And there it was. I found this Drexel Heritage china cabinet just a couple of miles away from us. We negotiated it down to $80 and borrowed a friend’s truck to pick it up. Holy smokes, was it heavy! (So I hear, anyway. I was just hoping I wouldn’t have to drive my hubby to urgent care or pay any doctor co-pays for the guys who helped us move it on either end.)
The mother of all china cabinets before we bought it.
We got it home and that’s when the fun began. We researched and researched and researched chalk paint options and settled on Annie Sloan. But when we decided to go pick some up, we realized that it’s only sold at select retailers and the one by us is closed on Sundays. Argh! Being the instant gratification kind of girl I am, that wasn’t going to work. I wanted to get started! So we decided to go in a different direction and trekked down to our local Lowe’s for Valspar Chalky Finish paint. Plus, Valspar saved us a couple of dollars per can so win/win, right?
There didn’t seem to be as many color options going the Valspar route but we ended up choose Opera Gown for the exterior and Her Dainties for the interior and we absolutely love it.
But the biggest decision throughout this project was whether to just go with a sealing wax over the chalky paint or to take that extra step and add antiquing wax too. I had seen some projects that used the antiquing wax and honestly, it made some of the pieces look old and dirty. But others I saw, the antiquing wax was the very thing that turned a nice piece into a downright gorgeous piece.
We decided to hold off on the decision to antique or not to antique until after we painted, sealed and sat with it for a few days. We didn’t want to jump into it and then regret it, which would force us to paint the whole piece all over again.
A few days later, we knew we wanted to try it. We brushed on the antiquing wax with a small brush, wiping it off as we went along. It created dimension and depth in the corners and throughout the piece, providing character and making the look feel more intentional. In fact, it’s the antiquing wax that turned the cabinet I really liked into a piece I absolutely LOVE.
So… without further ado, I present to you our new china cabinet. Voila!
I am so happy with the outcome of this project! This cabinet will be in our family for years to come and I love that my husband and I (and our daughter at times) created it together, even when at times we felt like dragging it to the curb and leaving it.
I learned so much about the process and happy to share if it helps the next person rock their DIY project.
• The reason to choose chalk paint is to avoid all of the sanding and prepping of the wood. No priming, just paint! That being said, the blue covered beautifully but the white… that took quite a few coats and could probably still use another. I’m not saying to not use a light color, just be prepared. We used twice as much paint for the inside of the cabinet than we did for the outside.
• Be patient. As I mentioned above, I’m a huge fan of instant gratification. Waiting or taking my time isn’t exactly my strongest quality. But a project of this size requires a whole lot of patience. Allowing the paint to dry completely before waxing is obviously important. And then you’ve got to wait for the sealing wax to dry before starting on the antiquing. In total, between cleaning top to bottom, two coats of paint on the inside, at least three on the inside, plus touch ups, sealing and antiquing (never mind two working parents and three kids), it took us a few weeks to get it all done. But it was totally worth it!
• Paint the inside first. I won’t go into it (sorry, honey) but save yourself some time and stress. I am actually considering re-doing the inside with adhesive wall paper or something similar to give it a little personality and depth. We’ll see!
• When it comes to hardware, measure, measure, measure. The holes already in the piece were pretty specific and didn’t fit with most of the hardware out there for sale. We were limited on selection due to the sizing. If you’re handy, you can always create new holes for hardware but a piece this old doesn’t match the standard sizing.
I hope you enjoyed our DIY project. I’m happy to help answer any questions – just leave them in the comments.
Got a problem or dilemma you want me to help fix? You might just get free advice and a feature on the blog! Comment below.
It was like a scene from a movie. She walked in the door of the salon, with the bright rays of the
summer sun wrapping around her body like a soft blanket, highlighting her beauty. She was
stunning, gracefully floating across the busy floor; her makeup applied perfectly, her outfit
simple and elegant and her soft gray curls bouncing gently on her shoulders.
I couldn’t help but stare. Her name was Rita and she had the most gorgeous head of silvery locks
I had ever seen. It was like she had spent hours at the salon having shiny, sassy color painted on
strand by strand. Here I was next to her with foils in my head, just five weeks after my last color
(which was five weeks after the one before…) thinking, “What am I doing here?” I have spent
more time and money on covering up gray hair when I could just embrace it and wipe another
“to-do” off my list. Maybe I could even save the obscene amount of money I spend on color for
like, oh I don’t know, my kids’ college education (there’s a concept).
I probably freaked Rita out, or at the very least pulled her out of her relaxing salon moment,
when I leaned over and started firing questions at her. Was that her natural color? Had she ever
colored her hair? At what age did she decide to stop the coloring madness? Was it hard to do?
She was as pleasant as she was stunning, sharing that it was ten years prior (at the age of 48) that
she decided to let nature have its way with her hair. Being married to a silver fox of a husband,
Rita said she said it was easier to join him, no longer feeling the pressure to live life relying on
the bottle. So she went for it, asking her stylist to snip her color-treated locks into a tight crop.
After a little transition period, Rita was soon sporting a sexy silvery do.
If she can do it, the rest of us can too, right?
“Hell NO” was the resounding answer (I swear it boomed from my computer) when I conducted
my informal online poll. Out of over 70 women on Facebook and Twitter (and a few in person),
only a handful said yes, they’d actually let their hair go unprocessed, while another five women
admitted they would possibly consider it as they got older. Hair coloring is as common as
clipping nails or cleaning our ears, with no sign it will ever slow down. Plus, out of those I talked
to who color their hair, most actually started hitting the bottle well before gray arrived, more for
fun or some variety in their appearance.
Janeen colored and highlighted for years before realizing gray is the only way when it comes to
her hair. Not only does the lack of hair effort fit best with her busy life as a single mom, but it’s
also a family tradition. “The women in my family tend to have this gorgeous silver hair as they
age. It’s always kind of been our thing. My mom never dyed her hair, and I always thought she
looked great. (Still does.) So, by about 43 or so, I decided to just quit messing with it. Not many
women my age had natural hair, so it was fun. I’m lucky in that I have a white streak around my
face and then it’s more salt and pepper in other places, with various levels of salt or pepper. So, it
looks very much like the way you work very hard to get your highlights to look.” But Janeen
says her natural locks don’t exactly make her a bold trendsetter in her community. “I live in an arty-farty small town, and I’d say 75 percent of the women here don’t dye their hair, so I’m just
one of many.”
Renee, a longtime stylist in southern California, says going gray is not necessarily for everyone
and that it’s important to take a couple of factors into consideration before making the leap.
Hair color While we call it all “gray,” the actual tone of the hair can vary greatly. Do your
natural locks come in “Betty White,” silver a la Emmy Lou Harris or maybe a Jamie Lee Curtis
salt and pepper? While some “mature colored” hair may look gorgeous on one woman, are you
really ready to rock the Golden Girls look in your 30s, 40s or even 50s?
Skin shades Renee says the color of your skin can be just as important as the color of your hair
when deciding whether to go gray. “Light skin with gray hair can look washed out. Brunettes
tend to be the prettier grays because they have color to the eyebrows and lashes already, which
Ok, so you’ve decided to take the plunge. The next steps should be based on hair length and the
shade of gray…
Short hair: Many women (like Rita above) opt to chop off the length in order to start as fresh as
possible. Renee says some opt to also lighten it up, creating a shade as close to its natural color
to help make the transition as smooth as possible. “I had a client who had shoulder length hair,
we cut it into a pixie cut and kept highlighting it until it was her natural color.”
Long hair: It’s all about the highlights. Renee suggests having a colorist highlight hair to get it
closer to the gray, using a toner to take out some of the yellow tints that can come with gray hair.
Whether you’re a wash and go kind of girl, hit the salon religiously or are considering a new
look, it’s important to consider your own lifestyle and personality. Your hair should be a
reflection of who you really are and an opportunity to show the world the real you. And for those
of you who read this thinking it’s not something you’ll ever have to face, remember this: Behind
every head is a silver lining… you could be next.
I GOTTA GET OUT OF HERE!
Hate your job? The pros and cons of making the leap without a net.
Roughly 15 million Americans are said to be self-employed and enjoy an ever-
growing range of resources and support via networking groups, online
communities and more podcasts everyday. But what about those who punch the
clock everyday at a job that’s run its course and making them miserable –
where’s their support? Over and over, I’ve met people who, while they don’t know
what’s next, definitely know what they’re doing is no longer working. Should they
just up and quit? Suck it up?
How do you know it’s time to jump ship, even when you have no life raft?
It's risky, of course. But some women have found benefits in leaving a bad
situation without a good one waiting for them in the wings. Tara, editor of
scoutiegirl.com and mother of one, quit her “going-nowhere- fast, low-paying job,”
with big dreams and some serious determination. “I desperately wanted to be
with my little girl all day long and couldn't stand the idea of returning to a bad job
while someone else took care of her.” A belief in herself and a husband who
made just enough to cover the bills was enough to help her make the leap from
bored in the retail world to an in-demand Website designer. “If I had advice for
women contemplating the same jump, I would say to really figure out what makes
you happy, where your skills lay, and then do some serious research on how
people are making money using those skills and passions.”
But making drastic life changes is not for everyone. Contemplating quitting a
comfortable, secure position without another one lined up can feel like jumping out of a
perfectly good airplane to get rid of a little motion sickness. How do you know you're not
just in a professional funk and things will eventually improve?
3 signs that a job is not likely to get any better:
There's nowhere to go but out. You work for a small company with limited career
and/or salary growth opportunities—it's a corporate dead-end.
Your company or industry is scaling back. Departments are being dissolved into other
areas, management is hush hush about changes happening and your gut tells you things
are going downhill – fast.
Negative culture Employees talk freely about the chaos and challenges, but managers
either pretend it doesn’t exist or they find ways to make excuses, not change. And if
there’s a rate of high turnover, it’s not just you unhappy.
Before you go, it’s time to prepare to quit rather than capriciously jump ship.
The three things to accomplish before you give two weeks' notice:
A nest egg Save up enough money to pay your basic expenses for at least three months
(six is better). In times like these, it's not unusual for it to take six to twelve months to get
a new offer or get that business off the ground.
A solid resume Find out how your credentials compare with people in other companies
or departments who have the job that you want, and whether those departments are
actively hiring. You may need to additional education or training to compete.
A few clients lined up. If you want to become an entrepreneur, do the necessary market
research and promotion to get clients into the pipeline while you still have a steady
Even with the right prep work, making the leap without knowing where you'll land is
always scary—but so is staying at a job that makes you miserable.
What is wrong with me?
Am I losing my mind?
Or is my attempt to do five things at once just backfiring.
These are common questions asked by many women over 40. It’s scary to
run into someone you know and having to fake it, because you’ve
completely blanked on her name. When is it just a product of a busy life and
when is it time to worry?
The good news (and bad news, depending on who you ask) is that it’s pretty
Jami: “I’m 28 and can’t remember anything! It is so frightening sometimes.
Sends me into panic attacks because I’m wondering if I have forgotten
something important for my kids or work even.”
George: “I went to the store for laundry detergent, that’s all. I came home
with a baguette, hummus and tomatoes. No laundry detergent. This kind of
thing happens to me now on a regular basis.”
Julie: “For sure it has become a problem for me. They changed the school
schedule and the kids get out early on Wednesday. I have to set a weekly
alarm to remind me because forgetting to pick up my kids, not once but
Tracy: “I misplace my phone at least once a day. Literally, within a minute
of laying it down I’ve forgotten where it is!”
Age According to FamilyDoctor.org, we begin to lose brain cells as
young as our 20s, the same time our bodies begin to make less of the
chemicals the remaining brain cells need to work, affecting our memory as
Hormones As if that’s not bad enough, a study done by McGill
University found that decreasing estrogen levels also do a number on our
working memory, which can explain why many women complain of
“mommy” or “menopause” brain
Sleep Without adequate sleep, your brain has a harder time absorbing
and recalling new information, according to WebMD. But sleep does more
than help sharpen the mind. Studies show that sleep (or lack thereof) affects
physical reflexes, fine motor skills, and judgment, too. One study showed
that participants who were sleep deprived were more likely to think they
were right when they were, in fact, wrong. (Not that any of us would do
Stress The need to get it all done and perfectly is enough to send
anyone over the edge. Think you’re a great multi-tasker? A recent study
says you’re wrong. (Maybe you just think you’re right because you’re sleep
deprived.) In fact, the study found that the better a person thinks they are
at multitasking, the worse they actually are. “The people who multitask the
most tend to be impulsive, sensation-seeking, overconfident of their
multitasking abilities, and they tend to be less capable of multitasking,”
study researcher David Strayer, also a psychology professor at the
University of Utah, said in the statement.
But what if overextending ourselves isn’t really the issue. How do we know if
we have a real problem?
While we may make jokes about the challenges of memory loss, how
do we know the difference between a common occurrence and something
more serious like dementia?
Could I Have Early-Onset Alzheimer’s?
According to FamilyDoctor.org, memory loss can become a more
serious problem as it affects your daily living. If you find that any of the
following apply to you, it’s best to consult your doctor.
• No longer remember how to do things you’ve done many times
before (losing your way to work even though you’ve taken the same route
over and over, not being able to follow directions in a recipe…)
• Changes in mood and personality
• Memory loss tends to increase over time (from several months to
What are some things we can do to thwart memory loss and
keep our minds sharp? Certain foods and food-based multi-vitamins are
said to be helpful in boosting memory and sharpness.
Allspice (promotes memory)
Avocado (remembering details)
Flax (assimilation of information and memory improvement)
Papaya (memory retention) Rosemary (forgetfulness)
And some lifestyle tweaks can go a long way in keeping your mind
Find a system For some, writing things down is enough to keep them
on track. For me, I’ve channeled my inner-nerd, creating spreadsheets for
everything from homework, paying bills, grocery lists and work assignments
(Now if I could only remember to open them).
Use it or lose it Like muscles, your brain needs to be exercised in
order to stay sharp. Consider skipping an hour of those mindless online
games and use the same time to learn a new skill, start a hobby, read a
book or even challenge the kids to a game of Scrabble.
Get healthy It’s not exactly breaking news that healthy diet, regular
exercise and clean living is said to keep you on your game. While you’re at
it, decrease or cut out the mind-zapping alcohol.
Sense of humor While memory loss can be extremely difficult, don’t
sweat the small stuff. Remember, we’re all getting older, don’t take it so