Day 1: Five Problems With Social Media

Social media can be a wonderful tool.  I’ve found many great recipes, reconnected with friends and family members, and even found this writing challenge via social media.  However, for all of its greatness, social media can also be problematic.  Here are five problems I see with social media:

  1. People have a hard time distinguishing fact from reality – Posters can create whatever mood or persona they’d like from behind a computer or cell phone screen.  Likewise, those who read post, can also have difficulty sorting through what’s fact versus fiction. This results in a lot of misinformation being transferred, resulting in useless posts, countless arguments, and sometimes severed relationship.
  2. People no longer understand social norms outside of social media – I am a 40-year-old woman.  The majority of my friends are in my age range.  In the world of social media, everyone conceivably can be your friend.  The result is a generation of children and young adults who do not know how to engage in age-appropriate conversations and behaviors in the presence of their elders.
  3. No one engages in true research anymore – if it was on social media, then it must be true, right?  Thanks to social media, people do not take time to read newspapers or magazines, or engage in in-depth research.  If it was on social media, then it must be true.  As a result, we have said R.I.P. prematurely to countless celebrities, as well as changed our Facebook settings without merit.
  4. Social media has made us less social – we’re connected with hundreds of people online, but connected far less with the people we can easily encounter on a regular basis with minimal effort.  Examine any dinner table in America and what will you see?  Yes, you’ll see families and couples having dinner, but how many are doing so without some type of electronic device in their hand?  And for those that do manage to engage in meaningful activities sans a device in hand, a check in via social media likely occurred before or after the activities commencement.
  5. There’s nothing sacred anymore – people tell or show EVERYTHING!  Just because you can say it, doesn’t mean that you should.  Just because you can take a photo of it and instantly share it, doesn’t mean you have to.  Some words should be left unspoken, and for the sake of our eyes and stomach, some photos should not be shared either!

These are just a few of the problems I see with social media.  There are others.  Despite the problems, I think the good out weighs the bad.  I will continue to use social media in ways beneficial to me.



Jack of All Trades: Pairing your “Jack” with an “Ace” to Create a Winning Hand

The saying, “jack of all trades, master of none,” is frequently used to describe a person who has quite a few talents, but is not particularly outstanding (perhaps even gifted) in any of them.

I am (was) Jack.  Over the years, I’ve tried a lot of things, with varying levels of success.  I danced for over ten years, and was quite good at it, but alas, some twenty-plus years later, my plies and leaps are nowhere as low or as high as they were when I was a teen. I played piano for years as well.  I was good enough to play for various aspects of worship.  However, I became a choir director, and that took my focus off the keys.  Changing ministries also changed my skill use, and I haven’t tinkled the ivory in about 13 years.  I’ve bowled, played tennis, swam, sang, did sign language, sold make-up, sold candles, and participated in a variety of interests and side hustles over the years.  I was a poster child for the “jack of all trades…”

Though I can see when and where my interest in each of these activities shifted, I will not say that I failed in any of them.  I just didn’t have an “Ace,” something to pair with my “trades” to creating a winning situation.  I paired my “Jack” with “fear,” “self-doubt,” “lack of planning,” and a variety of other things which created a bad hand.

It was a statement by Dr. Shante Bishop that essentially provided me with my winning combination.  She encouraged her readers; those looking to start their own businesses, expand existing businesses, or those trying to discover their passion, to know their worth, and to work whatcha got!

Out of that nugget of wisdom, I begin to reflect on what I was good at; really good at, and I came up with a list of a few things.   I then began to explore what those things were worth.  Finally, I began to work the list; exploring ways I could turn them into lasting success.  Side note: success isn’t synonymous with financial well-being, either.

The first item on my list led to the birth of Desserts by Drea aka The Rum Cake Lady.  As the name suggests, I specialize in making rum cakes.  Am I capable of making other dishes and desserts?  Certainly, but my winning hand calls me to focus on this specialty right now.  I’ll add other “cards” to the hand as I MASTER my trade.

Desserts by Drea is not the only thing on my list, however it is a starting point.  What’s on your list that can be started today, or in the very near future?  Explore, plan, and execute!  Don’t let your talents go to waste!  Find your “Ace” and create YOUR winning hand.

And stay tuned…Richardson Retrospect has MORE to come. #winning

Failing to Execute Ends the Plan


Many of us have heard this statement, or some variation thereof, numerous times.  This morning, I realized that failing to plan has never been my problem; I always have a plan.  Failing to execute, however, is the sin that does me in every time.

Last week, I wrote about having numerous “Day 1’s”and talked about part of the reason I have so many “Day 1” experiences is because I let one setback through me off my entire game.  As I reflected this morning, I realized that I can do better if I plan my executions of my plans better.

Let me explain:  I’ve partnered with another friend and we’re starting Dr. Ian Smith’s Super Shred program tomorrow.  I planned for the start of this program by purchasing and downloading the book to my iPad, looking at the needed groceries for Week 1, adding those to my grocery list, then picking up those groceries at the store yesterday.  I didn’t stop there.  I realized that the eating plan pretty much requires all meals/snacks to be consumed in a 12-hour window.  My 12-hour window doesn’t match the book, so I sketched out my day.  I didn’t stop there.  I looked at the recipes so I could create snack and meal options that worked for me, and when I realized one of my meals falls during my evening commute or after-school activities, I polled my Facebook friends for ways to make and store smoothies for later use.  I didn’t stop there.  I didn’t put the tomatoes I purchased in the refrigerator when I got home.  I turned the oven on, washed the tomatoes, halved them, and roasted them to make tomato soup.  While the tomatoes were roasting, I joined the SuperShredders group on Facebook.  While in there, I learned that the 4th day of Week 1 is mostly liquids.  Cool!  I got that covered with the tomato soup!

What’s your plan for this week?  This month?  This year?  Don’t procrastinate! Execute the moves needed to make your plan successful!  You may need to make some adjustments along the way, but you won’t know that if you never move the plan from paper to progression.

Day 1…Again

Yesterday, my family began having Family Fitness time.  Everyday, we each commit to do at least 20 minutes of cardiovascular activity, followed by some sort of strength training.  We’d been taking about doing it or some time, but the first Monday of the New Year and the Polar Vortex allowed us an opportunity to all be home and have time to begin.

Afterwards, I had my daughter take 3 pictures of me – a front shot, and both sides.  I framed the picture in Instagram and labeled it “Day 1.”  This is not my first “Day 1.”  I’ve had several.  There was “Day 1” of Weight Watchers.  Actually, I’ve had quite a few of those.  Weight Watchers worked until 1 day of forgetting to track what I ate turned into 10.  And, there was the meetings…who has time to attend those every week?!?  Not I, said the cat!  So, I let Weight Watchers go.  Then, there was “Day 1” with the personal trainers, yes, plural.  I’ve tried them before.  I enjoyed the work out sessions, but then there was the days I didn’t feel like going, or the days when I could really use that money for something else.  That ended personal training.  Then there was “Day 1” of protein shakes and juicing.  That went well until I ran out of Almond Milk, didn’t have spinach or frozen fruit, or I overslept.  No smoothie in hand, I ended up at Dunkin Donuts, and that ended that.

Life is filled with many “Day Ones.”  I’ve worked several jobs.  All of them had a “Day 1.”  Some didn’t last long, but many turned into “Year 1.” My last job went to “Year 7” and I’m currently in “Year 7” of my teaching career.  There was “Day 1” of being a mother.  I’m entering “Year 22.”  There was “Day 1” of being a wife.  I’m entering “Year 12.”  All of these have had there challenges, and there were times I wanted to give up, but didn’t.  Why?  And not just “why?”, but how could I apply the same commitment to my weight loss journey?

Before I began a new job, or even became a mother and wife, there was a preparation period before the task began.  For my career, I had multiple years of schooling, as well as some on the job training.  Before I became a mother, I had the months of my pregnancy to get me ready for the precious gift.  With each additional child, I had the experiences of having the previous one to prepare me.  For marriage, we had the dating period, to prepare us for marriage, and the wisdom and guidance of other married couples, along with God’s Word, to guide us through the ups and downs.  The same is true for my weight loss.  I didn’t go to bed one night and wake up the next morning at 212 pounds.  I graduate high school 20 years ago weighing 135 pounds!  I know that I can weigh less than this!  I’ve lost weight numerous times over the past 20 years.  I’ve gotten down as low as 175.  What’s stopped me from going further?

So, I took some time to really analyze what’s stopped me from committing to losing weight and I’ve come up with this:

Everyday is Day 1.

I know they say it takes 3 weeks to make something a habit, and a bunch of other numerology theories that relate to weight loss.  I understand and believe them, but for people like me…3 weeks seems like a long time.  So, instead of beating myself up about not making it 3 weeks, or 3 months, I’m treating everyday as a Day 1.  Everyday is a new opportunity for me to start anew.  Tonight will be the 2nd “Day 1” of Family Fitness.  After 21 “Day Ones,”  I will take another picture of myself to see my progress.  I’m actually on the 6th “Day 1” of logging my food intake on  I like this site and it’s corresponding app for many reasons.  It reminds me of Weight Watchers, which I did have success on, however, I don’t have to try to figure out food points.  I find the foods I’ve eaten in its expansive data base and it lists their nutritional values. Based on my fitness goals, it tells me how many calories I should eat each day to achieve those goals.  It also tells me what weight I’m predicted to be at if I ate like that current day, every day, for 5 weeks.  It allows me to see what days  are “good days” and what days are “not so good days.”  I also like it because it’s FREE!  You can partner with other friends who also use the site/app, see their progress, and encourage each other.  I really like that because I really do not always have time to attend weekly meetings, but I’m always on my phone, iPad, or computer.  The quick encouragement posts are my “meeting.”

I do have long term goals.  By the 90th “Day 1,” I hope to be down 30 pounds.  By the 60th “Day 1,” I hope to have my blood pressure medicines reduced.  This isn’t just about me, however, which is why I’m glad my family is on board with this, too.  The other 4 members of this household don’t have weight issues, but we would all benefit from the increased energy levels and improved strength that fitness will provide.  I think in the long run, we’ll be better spouses, daughters, cousins, nieces, students, and employees, because we have committed to making everyday a “Day 1” of getting our bodies and minds in order.

So, make today your Day 1, and tomorrow, your Day 1…again.  Repeat that daily until December 31st and you’ll look back and see how wonderful your Year 1 was.


Age Ain’t Nothin’ But a Number

40.  That seems to be the magic number when it comes to mammograms, however women of all ages are encouraged to do monthly self-checks of their breasts.  Women who have a family history of breast cancer may be encouraged to begin mammograms earlier.

At 37, I was satisfied with having three years to go until my first mammogram.  My family history didn’t raise any concerns.  I had an aunt who died of breast cancer when I was a little girl.  I didn’t know many details except that she had it, and she passed away.  I always shared that with my doctor when we reviewed my family history.  Her yearly checks of my breast, and my monthly self-checks never yielded anything, so we didn’t worry.

I’ll never forget when things changed.  It was September 2012.  I was sitting in bed and my husband walked in.  He looked at the t-shirt I was wearing and said, “are you leaking?”  The look of puzzlement on my face was warranted since our youngest child was five-years-old at the time and I hadn’t breastfed in almost as many years.  When I looked down, however, I noticed my t-shirt was indeed wet.  What in the world?!?  I immediately ruled out pregnancy since my tubes had been burnt and clipped in 2008 and my uterus was removed in 2010.  Still, furthest from my mind was breast cancer.  I assumed it was hormonal; perhaps even thyroid related.  I booked an appointment with my primary care physician to be sure.

Less than a week later, I was sitting in my doctors office.  I hadn’t leaked anymore, and the doctor couldn’t get any fluids to come out during my visit.  She didn’t feel any lumps, so she ordered blood work to check my thyroid and pituitary gland.  48 hours later, I had the results.  Normal.  My doctor scheduled a diagnostic mammogram.

The time frame between my blood work results and my mammogram was about a week, but it felt like an eternity.  I began to think of the people I knew who were under 40 and had breast cancer.  Most had not survived.  I had three, beautiful daughters and a husband who I was not ready to leave yet!  I had just earned a degree that I hadn’t had an opportunity to use yet!  I prayed, “God, please don’t let this be cancer!” as I entered into the mammogram room.

The mammogram itself was not that bad.  I’d heard horror stories about the smashing and posing in uncomfortable positions.  Trust me, it’s not a glamor shoot, but it’s doable.  Because my mammogram was diagnostic, I was not allowed to leave until the pictures were read by a physician.  That doctor came and got me and took me for an ultrasound.  Her words were quick and clear – “we’ve found lumps in both breasts.”  My head begin to spin, but I didn’t have time to panic because they were immediately preparing me to do an ultrasound to get more detailed pictures.  As I lay there, we talked more and she explained that she didn’t think the lumps were cancerous, but instead were intraductal papillomas; benign (non-cancerous) lumps in the ducts of the breasts.  Because they were abnormalities, she had to check off a level of risk on my referral to the breast surgeon, but she reiterated as I left that she was fairy certain they were non-cancerous.  A biopsy would confirm.

My meeting with the surgeon took place a week later.  I was given two options: needle biopsy or surgical biopsy.  The basic difference was that the surgical biopsy would not only check the lumps for cancer, but remove them as well.  Since I was having symptoms (the leaking), I went for the latter option.  The surgeon also showed me how to find the lump in my breast.  For the first time, I could literally feel it!  That scared me.  I couldn’t wait to have it removed.

Surgery was scheduled for the day before Thanksgiving.  That meant dinner would not be at my house.  I could live with that.  I just wanted to make sure I would live, period.  It was an outpatient procedure.  I was home by rush hour.  I had some soreness.  I had to wear sports bras and not lift anything over ten pounds for about two weeks.  My results confirmed that in the breast where I had the leaking, I did indeed have a papilloma.  The other breast was inconclusive, however.  We would repeat the mammogram in three months.

January 2013:  Clean bill of health.  Repeat mammogram in six months.

July 2013:  I came skipping into the mammogram office.  I was a few weeks shy of 38-years-old and looking forward to celebrating with my girlfriends at the Cincinnati Music Festival.  I’d just been to see my regular physician a week prior.  My monthly self-breast exam and her check of the “girls” were both clear.  I knew everything would be fine.  So, when the technician said she needed to “redo the right side with a different lens,”  my heart sank.  “Not again, Lord!” I sighed.  Sure enough, I made that familiar walk to the ultrasound room.  Another lump.  Since the lump was small and I was having no symptoms, I elected to have a fine needle aspiration this time, but after Cincinnati.  I had celebrating to do, just in case it would be my last time.

August 2, 2013:  The needle aspiration went so well it scared me!  My three tattoos hurt worse!  I left the office and walked five miles.

My biopsy results confirmed that I did not have a papilloma this time, but a benign lump.

January 2014: Repeat mammogram and ultrasound of the right breast reveled no new abnormalities.  Return in six months.

July 2014:  Diagnostic mammogram of both breast.  The all too familiar “redo of the right side” happened again.  I immediately feared the worst.  My husband urged me to remain calm.  This time, when they called me back, it wasn’t to the ultrasound room, but to an office with two computers, where the doctor quickly turned around to tell me “all is well!  See you next year!”

When I have my next mammogram in July 2015, I will be 40.  Though it will not be my first, it’s good to be on the “normal” testing schedule now.  I encourage all of you to know your body.  Know your breasts.  If something isn’t right, call your doctor!   Know your family health history (on both sides), eat foods that are proven to reduce cancer risks, and avoid those that increase the risks.  I’ve been beef and pork-free since June 2014.

What’s your breast cancer story?  Share it today:





Richardson Retrospect Goes PINK!

Richardson Retrospect Goes PINK!

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Richardson Retrospect has gone PINK! We’d love to feature your story of survival, or highlight your experience as a family member, friend, or caregiver to someone who’s battled breast cancer. We’d love to post tributes to those who’s lives have been lost to breast cancer. We want to educate and empower, so e-mail us your story TODAY:!

In the meantime, please share this post and follow the link to additional resources.