Author Archives: Rebecca

My Personal Celebration of Women’s History

Celebrating the Women Who Made Me

It’s March.  It’s Women’s History Month.  And when we began discussing fabulous historical females here at #AIBC, I kept hitting walls.  I was never that great at historical timelines and dates… I cannot tell you who the 17th President of the United States (or any of the others for that matter) was.  I’m better at recognizing the voice of a singer about 10 seconds into a song.  But I CAN remember the women who have made a difference in my history so far, and today I would like to thank them.


It is cliche to start with my mother, so I won’t go into great detail, but she is obviously where I began.  She is the source of my kindness, my compassion, my deep rooted desire to give back and help others, my sense of family, and an amazing example of being the glue that holds everything together.  It goes without saying that she should be mentioned, but she deserves an eternity of recognition and celebration all her own.  So I will move on for now.

The single event that will forever shape my life?  As a child, I had cancer.


Dr. Judy Ochs was my pediatric oncologist when I was a patient at St. Jude.  She is the reason I wanted to enter health care, from a very young age.  She gave me the stethoscope off her neck and told me I could be a doctor when I grew up.  She was brilliant, kind, and loving.  If I could reach out and connect with her today, I would not even begin to know how to thank her.  She was part of the team that fought to give me a future.  You can’t make much more of an investment in someone.  I owe her a great deal.


The most formative years for a person are their school years.  The list of amazing females I encountered along the way is long.  Miss Lyle was was the first teacher I ever had.  Kindergarten.  I could read, say the ABC’s – she loved me and I was officially enamoured with being the teacher’s pet.  I may not remember why, or what made me stand out to her, but she always supported me, and throughout my life she would brag about how fantastic I was.  That does wonders for a girl’s self esteem.  Especially when said girl has zero self confidence, and gets picked on quite frequently.  For seeing something great in me, I would like to thank her.

Mrs. Linda Arant kindled my love for music and to this day that carries over into every aspect of my life.  Mrs. Sarah Love encouraged me to excell at everything I could get my hands on.  I still try to do it all.  Sometimes that is hard, but I thrive under pressure and I truly thank her for showing me I could do anything.  Mrs. Pam Shelton taught me how to type fast and blessed me with the invaluable etiquette skills I still reference to this very day.  In addition, she was strong-willed and never took no for an answer.  When she believed in something, by damn it was going to be a success.  Ms. Carrie Boykin was the popular teacher in our high school.  I could never really tell if she liked me, but that kept me on my toes.  She dealt out the tough love with directness.  I definitely wasn’t teacher’s pet, and she helped me develop a thick skin and a sense of independence while somehow influencing my future career path. Carrie taught me to fight for the things I wanted to achieve because they sure as hell were not going to be handed to me.  For that, I am grateful.

Mississippi University for Women.  There were so many influential encounters with fantastic women in college.  I cannot list them all or I would be writing for days.  Classmates, professors, friends…but heads and shoulders above most are the women of the Highlander and BlackList Social Clubs.  These are the sisters I never had, the friends that last the rest of your lifetime, the people that rush to your side when you are in need and when you are celebrating life’s successes, these women are my family.   The connections with all of the incredible women I met along the way are literally still a part of my life every single day – I truly am the person I am today because I was a W Girl.

Female Scientists in the Laboratory.  Lynn Ingram, Jackie Li, and Donna Patterson…  These women have shaped me more than they will ever know.  Tough love, directness, honesty, compassion, and true friendship are the commonalities among the three, but each of them are special to me in very different ways.  Lynn took me under her wing and gave me every opportunity for professional growth and development I could have ever imagined while also becoming like a mother to me.  I can rely on her to call me out when I am getting out of line.  Jackie Li is brilliant, a very hard worker, dedicated to being a good steward and providing quality patient care while also maintaining a very high level of professionalism.  The day she told me that I reminded her of herself, I knew she was invested in helping me be the best I could be, and she has pushed me more than any manager or supervisor ever has before.  I have learned so much from her.  Donna Patterson amazes me daily, and I am so lucky to have the opportunity to learn from her and grow as a leader in my profession.  She balances work and life better than anyone I have ever known, but she does not miss a beat in the process.  She knows everything going on in our department every minute while still being willing to take the time to give me advice and answer the smallest quetions.  I can only hope to be like Donna when I grow up.

I have missed many women in this post because there is no way to mention them all.  However, I would like to challenge you to think about the women that have played a role in your life.  How did they each shape you?  How did they help you to succeed?  Did they make you the person you are today?

Happy Women’s History Month!  Try to celebrate the women that are important to you everyday — you don’t need anyone’s permission to do so!



Women’s History and Fat Tuesday


Have you ever wondered why women use their assets to earn beads during Mardi Gras?  Well, here at AIBC we were wondering too.  Would you believe we have the Women’s Lib movement to thank?  Yeah. 

Surprising, huh?

Before you go out tonight, brush up on your Women’s History along with all of us at #AIBC and prepare to have a Happy Mardi Gras!


Be Less Horrible to One Another

No… it isn’t the 2014 version of Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey, but it could be.


The past 5 days have pulled me all over the country with the news of insane bills and potential laws that are, at their core, new ways for us to be horrible to each other.  The past 5 days have brought tears to my eyes, broken my heart, and given me renewed hope for the future all at the same time.  The past 5 days have caused me to reflect on my life, how I was raised, and how I have been treated. The past 5 days have been exhausting.

I grew up as an intelligent, overweight, glasses-wearing kid in the heart of the southern United States.  I was raised Southern Baptist. I was a cancer survivor – but people didn’t really remember that about me in school.  As a child I sang in church, “Let us love one another” and I believed that was how God and my parents wanted me to be.  Teachers loved me.  I loved school and the challenge of learning.   But I was teased, and there were times the teasing verged on bullying.  I cried more times than I could count because my best friend chose a new friend, because the boy I liked told everyone “not that fat girl,” because the boys that did start calling me wanted help with their homework or they wanted me to ask my friend to go out with them.  I barely even realized I was a lesbian before the teasing and disgusting jokes at my expense began all over again, and another best friend decided we weren’t going to be friends anymore.  At 19 I relived the teasing and tears of my 11 year-old self, feeling that I had no one at home to turn to.

Risk of Gay Teen Suicide by Region in 2011
Source: Huffington Post

But I got away from all that.  I moved away and I moved on.  I didn’t leave the south, but I left the confines of my close-minded environment.  And now, as an adult I am an intelligent, successful scientist who owns my own home, pays all my bills, gives to charities that I believe in, and mentors to students as they work their way through school to join my profession.  And yes, if you are wondering, I am a Christian. I consider myself lucky. I have been able to embrace who I am and live (mostly) without worrying about hiding who I am. I have worked hard to make something of myself.  But all around me, every single day I am bombarded by stories and images of hate.  Discrimination is just another form of teasing, of bullying, of making people feel isolated and hopeless.  Is this how Christians really think Jesus would act? I do not believe that it is. We all should just love and are for each other. That is what Jesus would do. But will we ever get there?

Have you heard of the Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act?  It’s being disguised as an update to the state seal, so it is sneaking through committee, but it also aims to “restore religious freedom” in Mississippi.  It basically says we are all free to exercise our religious beliefs without fearing the burden of the law.  Beat up the gay kid in class because your church said being gay is a sin?  That’s okay, you were exercising your religious beliefs!  There are so many ways to interpret that.

Did you see House Bill 2453 in Kansas?  Same story.  A bill concerned with religious freedoms in respect to marriage.  It’s aim was to protect someone from being discriminated against for their religious beliefs by allowing them to discriminate against anyone in a civil union, gay marriage or similar arragement.  A restaurant owner could put up a sign that said “No Gays Served Here” and that would be perfectly legal.  Next we will have separate water fountains and “Gays Only” bathrooms.

How about Idaho?  Same story. Different state.  Segregation and discrimination legalized under the veil of religious freedom.  It’s not the loving one another religion I sang about as a child.  It doesn’t feel freedom of any kind to me. And sadly there have been similar bills proposed in South Dakota and Arizona, I may have even missed a few.

Across the globe, the Ugandan President plans to sign a bill that would make it illegal to be gay in Uganda.  The Anti-Homosexuality Bill (AHB) is an attempt to “combat the spread of HIV/AIDS” and wage a war on the “homosexual lobby” in Uganda.  So rather than seek care when they are ill, gays and lesbians will likely retreat and hide from the possibility of being arrested.

In researching for this blog post, I came across this column – a story from someone growing up gay, searching, looking for someone like them.  This is what it feels like to be isolated, every day of your life.  This is what it feels like being teased and bullied as a kid.  But, this is what it also feels like when we make laws that allow adults to discriminate against each other, be horrible, and hide behind relegion while they do it.  Instead of embracing each other with love, when we are faced with the unknown, with differences, we “eat our own.”

This leads me to the “Turn the Gays Away” bill in Tennessee.  Also known as the “Religious Freedom Act,” and very similar to the bills in Mississippi and Kansas, this bill was actually aimed at protecting wedding-related business from lawsuits if they refused service to same-sex couples if it violated the business owners’ religious beliefs.  But on Tuesday, Tennessee Senator Mike Bell shelved his bill.  A small victory, considering the legislators who were supporting the bill all stated that they felt current laws will protect people of faith from having to participate in activities that violate their religious beliefs, but it was a victory none-the-less, right?

Then I watched this video.  It was part of the Human Rights Campaign’s Time to Thrive Conference.  I watched as a young Hollywood starlet came out as a lesbian in front of an audience and cameras and more.  If you don’t know her, meet the star of Juno and Whip it, Ellen Page:

“You’ve adopted as a core motivation the simple fact that this world would be a whole lot better if we just made an effort to be less horrible to one another.”

Ellen says it all.  She’s tired of hiding, tired of conforming to what Hollywood says she has to be, and you can tell she’s a little scared.  Her voice is shaking.  Personally, I think she’s probably exhausted, and I think she hits the nail on the head.  She had me crying.  Why can’t we all just be kind to each other?  Why can’t we all practice our religion freely and love one another?  If we approach everyone and every situation with love and kindness, does it really matter who we choose to marry?

Choose love.
AIBC team member zenkitty


Ten Ways to Lose a Friend

This is one of those What NOT To-Do Lists.  Unless, of course you want to have your oldest friends get fed up enough to send you straight to voicemail every time you call.

So, here is the AIBC Top Ten for how to lose a friend:

10.   Ignore the text messages that your bestie sends by not opening them so it looks like you haven’t “READ” them.  For days.


9.  Make plans for dinner with your friend.  Cancel.  Reschedule.  Cancel again.  Via text message.


8.  Decline an invitation to a girl’s night at the movies by saying you have a migraine.  Post photos on Facebook of the game night you attended instead.

7.  Never initiate.  Let her rearrange her schedule and invite you to concerts, plays, dinners, and sporting events without returning the favor.  Every girl wants a side-kick!


6.  Bring your new boyfriend, your mom, your neighbor, your parents (whoever happens to be in your general vicinity) when your bestie calls and asks you to meet her for drinks because she had a horrible day.

5.  Text your friend to say that you are dreading the coffee date plans you made for Wednesday.  Realize that she is the one you have coffee date plans with on Wednesday.


4.  Call on your highly successful college suitemate to be a sponsor for the charity event you are currently planning.  You know she will say yes because she sends you an email to support her cross country bike ride every year even though you have never donated.


3.  Ignore milestones even when you realize you are a day (or week) late.  Birthdays, anniversaries, buying a house, relatives passing away — you can’t spare a minute to send a quick message apologizing and making plans to talk soon.


2.  You finally made it.  You are presenting in front of several hundred people and your friend pre-unwrapped a whole bag of cough drops in order to sit in the front row and smile and start your standing ovation.  Two weeks later it’s her turn, and the date has been on your calendar for months.  Forget that you have plans and declare on Facebook that Thursday night kicks off your long weekend consisting of sweatpants, alone time, and wine on the couch.

1.  Your friend scores sweet seats to an outdoor concert you have been dying to see and offers to sell you one.  Drive to the venue in the rain, sit in the car for fifteen minutes, and then decide you are going to sit-out the opening act to see if the rain lets up.  Text after half an hour that you decided to go home.  Leave your friend there to find a ride home.  Never pay her for the concert ticket because you didn’t use it.


Want to ditch the person who has been there for you through break-ups and hung around during the “new phase” of your rebounds?  Dying to lose the pal who texts you to see how you are doing when you call in sick and brings you soup if you have the sniffles?  Need to cut the cord with the BFF that knows your Starbucks order without asking and drops everything to help you kick out your loser boyfriend while nursing her own hangover?

Just stick to the list above.  You should be well on your way.


AIBC Team Member Zenkitty


A New Year: Don’t resolve… Evolve


Lose weight.
Get out of debt.
Exercise every day.
Take a real vacation / travel.
Keep in touch with distant family and friends.
Spend more time with your kids and less time at work.

Sound familiar?  These are examples of common New Year Resolutions. Some of them are resolutions that I have actually made in years past.  A few have been resolutions for several years in a row.  I always have grand intentions, but like others I know, I don’t always have the time to follow through and keep my resolutions going.

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I am proud to say there have been years where I made great strides towards change, and I felt like everything was moving in the right direction.  Those years it felt great to have goals and be able to achieve them.  In the span of a year, I lost 70 pounds, walked my first half marathon, and got a promotion.  But the following year I gained 30 pounds, took a 15% pay cut, and started feeling winded walking from my car into work.  There ended up being underlying health issues which led to unexpected medical bills. The reality is, despite the best laid plans, some years we are just lucky to get by and see another New Year’s Day.

Speaking of NYD, I spent the majority of the day reflecting on resolutions of the past, the good years and the bad years, what has and hasn’t worked for me, and I came to the realization that most resolutions fail for one reason: it’s too much at one time. Change is good. We hear that all the time, and it is true. But too much change at one time can make a person lose it! Lose their mind, lose themselves, lose the desire to enact change period.


So I decided NOT to make any resolutions this year.

This year, I have decided to take an alternate approach.

I am going to EVOLVE.

Slow and steady wins the race, they say. It makes sense that success would come when you take your time, make tiny changes here and there, and keep forgiving yourself when you mess up. A person is more likely to keep trying if the effort itself doesn’t make them feel like a failure. Take it easy on yourself. Have broad over-arching goals, and give yourself flexibility with your deadlines. Evolution is a very slow process, but the changes lead to survival.

I walk in stride with people
much taller than me
and partly it’s the boots but
mostly it’s my chi
and I’m becoming transfixed
with nature and my part in it
which I believe just signifies
I’m finally waking up

“Evolve” — Ani Difranco

Did you make resolutions?
What is your plan for success this year?

I would love to hear your story!

Happy New Year,



Living well is not about being calm; it is about being present. – Judith Hanson Lasater

The Do’s and Dont’s of December Birthdays

As a long time member of the “Holiday Birthday Club,” I thought I would share my list of what-not-to-do when trying to show those December babies that you care.  Think of this as sort of my Christmas gift to you.

First off, DO get a birthday gift for those friends or family members who will be celebrating a birthday close to Christmas if that is what you would do for birthdays that fall any other time of the year. This is especially important if their special day actually falls on the 24th or 25th. Assuming that the receiver will get plenty of presents, or even combining birthday/Hanukkah/Christmas gifts together is something you DO NOT ever want to do.  No ornaments, Christmas sweatshirts, or snow globes allowed, especially when the gift receiver is a child. Kids keep score, and they will always remember that one time you cut corners for their special day.


Wine glasses = good. Opt for a whole set of non-decorated ones in addition to the fun one for the guest of honor to drink from during the party.

The next step in celebrating those holiday-time birthdays is to always wrap their Birthday gifts! But DO NOT use Christmas paper to do so.  It’s lazy, a shortcut, and it may seem trivial to you, but makes the birthday seem “less than” to the birthday boy or girl.  And again, when children are involved, other kids at the party will likely get upset that they aren’t getting Christmas presents too.


And while we are talking about gifts, DO feel free to display gifts before (or during) a birthday party, but DO NOT EVER place them under the Christmas tree. No. No. No. This is not okay.


There are also birthday cards to consider. If you would normally send cards for a friend or family member’s birthday, absolutely DO send a card to those celebrating December birthdays. Just DO NOT send this card inside of the Christmas card you were also planning to send. And DO NOT choose a birthday card with a Christmas scene on it.


Finally, there are birthday cakes to think about. Everyone loves cake, so when in doubt you DO want to have cake at a birthday party during the holidays.  Just make absolutely sure you stress to the cake-baker that you DO NOT want a single tree or holly berry anywhere near the cake itself.  It is a sugary birthday abomination.


When in doubt, just treat a holiday birthday like anyone else’s birthday.  It’s not fair to let the hoilday overshadow the birthday celebration.  Recognize the individual.  Make great memories.  That’s really all anyone can ask for.

Happy Birthday first – happy all-the-other-holidays second.


What’s your ideal Thanksgiving scenario?

As much as you may want to run and hide… there is no more putting it off.   Ready or not, Thanksgiving is this week.  It is time for plans to be finalized.

Funny Thanksgiving Ecard: This year, I'm secretly stuffing the turkey with Prozac . . . so we can finally have a stress-free holiday!

All of us here at AIBC have been discussing what we will be doing for the holidays.  The myriad of events range from cooking an extravagant dinner at home with no extra guests invited, to traveling across multiple state lines for a meal with family only to turn around and make the return trip the next day, to a rag-tag group of friends and neighbors gathered around a table with beer and board games.

So we want to know:  What is your favorite way to spend the Thanksgiving holiday weekend?  (Participate in our poll below.)

And if you end up having a catty encounter during the holiday weekend while you endure racist dinner conversation and a Black Friday shopping beatdown — please send us your stories!  We would love to feature your holiday nightmare for the entertainment of our other readers.

Happy Thanksgiving from ‘ZenKitty2’ and the AIBC Team!