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As Texas plunged into single digits with multiple days of a windchill below freezing, millions found themselves stranded with no power or water. Living along the Gulf Coast we have weathered hurricanes and endured power outages for much longer periods, but somehow this seemed different. Maybe for those of us close to the shoreline it was the unusual sight of snow we experienced as opposed to the natural disasters we usually face that arrive with rain, wind, and sweltering heat.

Our son and daughter (in law) were finally able to take a long-overdue honeymoon to St. Lucia in December. Cecelia interned one summer for a travel agent so naturally called the company to book their trip. What an incredible experience they had, and I was reminded WHY using a travel agent is worth the expense. Fees range depending on the service, but most charge between $300-350 to plan a vacation somewhere in the Caribbean Islands. 

Q: I will be a new mom soon, and I have been preparing for life “after” a newborn. There is a lot of information on raising babies, and how dads can support mom, but I cannot find much on how moms can support dads. A lot of my mental preparation has been around my marriage. Specific questions: How do I preserve my marriage? How do we embrace the changes? How do I maintain my husband as a priority when we have a tiny human demanding everything? How can I help my husband bond with our new child?

Want to set your children up for success? Then look no further than the habits of successful people you know, whether that be in the corporate world, media, or within your own circle of friends. Experts agree that there are certain common traits all successful people possess. This is great news because it means we can emulate those leaders that have come before us. 

How can you tell if someone will be successful? When I was in high school, they still had a category for a graduating senior titled: Voted Most Likely to Succeed. How, at 18-years-old, could classmates look at someone and say, “Yeah, I think they will be the most successful person in our graduating class.”

Many of us grew up learning multitasking was a hallmark of a productive person. While sounding good in theory, this practice has proven to be incorrect. Studies now reveal that multitasking is nothing more than switching back and forth between tasks and it lowers our productivity. Below are 5 points that deal with the facts behind project hopping and the lack of performance that occurs when we allow seemingly innocuous interruptions to occur in daily life.

The way my husband structures his day is different from how I organize mine, but there is one thing we both do. We start with a morning routine. I make coffee, read the news while eating my breakfast, and then dive into an hour of bible study. Once I finish, I pull out my journal and plan my day. About 2 years ago I discovered an organizational method that resonated with me.

Remember as children, during holidays, we would spend what seemed like hours creating homemade craft projects for our parents? It might be a paper Christmas snowflake sprinkled with glitter or a cutout heart for Valentine’s Day. We would address it: To: Mom or To: Dad. We would sign our name, and this become the gift we gave our parents. The act of giving is how we should view all letters, especially a thank you note. We may not be cutting out cute hearts, but when we take time to put pen to paper and share a little of ourselves with someone else, we are giving a part of our heart to another.  

People give to make you feel loved and remembered. Sometimes gifts are given out of obligation, but mostly they are presented to honor a special relationship or occasion. No matter the reason, we need to know how to show our appreciation. Here are my 7 tips to become a gracious gift receiver.  

Table manners seem to be the area in which I receive most of my questions, but it is introductions that have people the most baffled. After I explain the correct way to conduct an introduction, I often get that starry-eyed stare that tells me, “I really don’t understand what you just said.” To help all of us, I have broken down the process into a simple format. Before I proceed, let me say this. Do not let a lack of confidence in handling an introduction keep you from DOING an introduction.

I recently bumped into a friend at the store, and as we began talking, she expressed how she struggles with the holidays. When January rolls around, she feels like she somehow “missed out.” I understand this feeling because I, too, have often felt this way. Life was so busy with the preparation of celebration, that I missed the joy that awaited each of us this time of year.

Have you ever seen someone walk into a party that looked scared to death, unsure of themselves, and then watched them slink off to an obscure corner? Their body language screaming, “I wish I was anywhere but here!” Entering a room full of people that you do not know can be intimidating. I get that. Yet, your entrance is important in displaying overall confidence and portraying a strong image.

Giving a party, of any type, requires a great deal of work. If you have been fortunate enough to be included in a festive soiree, it is nice to arrive with a gift for the hostess. The typical present will cost between $15-$30, but there are less expensive things you can find at the local discount store.

  • Alina Gersib

5 Tips for Reducing Social Anxiety


With school starting up for the fall, the world seems to be opening again. Groups will start meeting, trivia nights will be re-scheduled, and co-workers will grab dinners together. In the past few months of distancing you may have found not being around people as much has you both excited but also anxious to re-engage. The thought of talking to new people can be daunting. If this is the case for you, do not worry. Below are a few easy to implement suggestions to quell social anxiety and get you ready for your next get together!

1. First Things First

Take a few minutes at the beginning of each day (especially on days when you have plans) to reset and speak some affirmation into yourself. This helps get your mind settled and automatically feel more confident. Some of my favorite affirmations are, “I enjoy socializing. I am a good communicator. I have something important for someone to hear, and I will share it today.” I find that saying these out loud and making eye contact with yourself in a mirror is a powerful way for the words to sink in.

2. Think About the Times You Feel Most Anxious

On a day when you do not have anything planned, sit down, and think through the times when you usually experience social anxiety. Is it attending a house party with lots of new people where you need to make small talk? Visiting a bible study? Going out with co-workers? Grabbing dinner with certain individuals? If you feel incredibly anxious under certain settings but not under others, this could be a sign that you do not feel you are allowed to be your authentic self in those settings. The best idea I can recommend is thinking thoroughly if the purpose of the group outweighs the feeling that you cannot speak from your heart.

3. Consider Finding an Alternate Way to Socialize

If you feel that you could go to a different sort of gathering and feel less anxiety, it is worth trying and comparing the two experiences. I used to feel incredibly anxious when I would meet with a specific group. When I stopped going to that group and joined another, I found my anxiety significantly reduced. If you are experiencing social anxiety it is far easier to build relationships by attending smaller gatherings, especially when there are a few trusted friends present as well. Remember, this is all about assessing why you feel anxious in certain settings. Be honest with yourself and make adjustments where necessary.

4. Go in Prepared

Once you have identified the areas you feel anxious, it is now time to figure out a game plan for the event. It is easier to socialize during an event if you prepare beforehand. If you find that making small talk with new people at house parties is what triggers your anxiety, then prepare a list of questions you could ask. People LOVE to talk about themselves and also love complements. I find an easy way to approach someone is to simply compliment something about them and then ease into a conversation from there.

5. Remember that You Have Something to Share

Many times, social anxiety can feel like a stone on your chest that weighs you down and keeps you quiet. However, this is not the way it was meant to be!! You are meant to speak truth and share what is in your heart for others to hear, not to be silenced by anxiety and fear. You have something vitally important to share. Remind yourself of this whenever you feel nervous. Take the focus off yourself and your own insecurities and put attention instead on the other people and see what you can bring to a conversation that will enhance their life.

At the end of the day, socializing should not be something to feel anxious over. You are simply sharing your life experiences and insights with another human being. With some people you may find a shared bond and continue to pursue the friendship. With others you may part ways after conversing once. This is totally fine! Enjoy yourself in the process and just remember that every other person at the party will feel awkward at some point, too. The easiest way to get out of your own head is to think about someone else. Be there for the person who is standing alone at a party and step out of your comfort zone to start a conversation with them. It will help you feel better, guaranteed.

Alina Gersib

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