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Beauty
Hard Times and Fun Times
Some folks would call me an idiot. I walked out of a comfortable life. A nice home, a marriage (notice I didn’t say a great one or anything like that, but we’ll avoid those details), and I didn’t have to worry about much.
But…when your sailor plays the ports and breaks the young girl’s heart, the pain changes you. You grow and morph into someone else. Or maybe you always were that other girl.  Regardless though, I left. I found someone to care for. He worshiped me and I him. The stars dripped from the skies and twinkled in his eyes every day. I was found.
Those were the days of hard times. He in school and I working just to pinch pennies for life, to survive. I dreamed then of just being able to go to the store and spend $25 without having a complete meltdown.  Yep, we were poor. Newspaper delivery, plasma donation, I did it all. Even did telemarketing for a graveyard…that’s another story. But guess what? We were happy. 
We loved and smiled our way together through raising kids, life’s challenges and sock puppet presents all the way to success. We learned and grew stronger. Held tight, cried and grew stronger. Now 30 years later, the bond is unbreakable, and fun has a new context.  From drinking days and acting like kids in love to grandchildren and watching them grow. The hard times
turned to fun times and also held some of their own.
Just always remember, each moment has a lesson. Even if you don’t see it yet, if you keep going, one day you’ll find the beauty and remember the fun of those days gone by.
- Sharon

Beauty is not in the face; beauty is a light in the heart - Kahlil Gibran

 

woman in window

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Smart
Letting go of negative or bad friends…
My daughter is a sophomore in high school – a challenging time when she is learning that some “friends” are good for you and that some are not. She is also starting to recognize who is a true friend, who is an acquaintance, and that not all friendships last forever.
The same is true when we are adults. As we get older, and our lives get busier, the amount of free time we have gets limited. We start to realize that we need to use our time well, and spend it with friends that are positive, honest, sincere, reliable, and trustworthy. We also learn that some people are friends, and some are really acquaintances.
Even as adults, it’s hard to let go of friendships that have endured for years, but it’s necessary when it becomes a negative situation or relationship. I’ve had to do this recently and it’s hard.
There’s a woman I’ve been friends with for over 10 years. We met through our daughters. She is a good person but is so negative that I don’t always want to pick up the phone when she calls. We just don’t see life the same way. I try to always look at things from the positive side and she has the exact opposite approach. When we talk, 99% of the time, she’s complaining…about everything and everyone. I know when the call is over, I will feel drained.
It can sound cold to distance ourselves from people, but I believe it’s important to do, in order to maintain our own quality of life. Time seems to speed up as we get older and life goes by faster. I want to set a good example to my daughter by showing her what healthy friendships look like and make my life easier. With the limited amount of time I have amongst work, my children, and running the household, I want to know that when I have my time with my friends, we will all enjoy ourselves, and feel good about the time we spent together.
The number of true friends we have may get smaller as we get older, so it’s important that you have people that are positive forces in our lives.
Heather
Smart amazing women use their time, treasure and passion to make a difference.  ~ Dr. Nancy O’Reilly
 

two female friends

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Sassy
I was married for five months and then got divorced.  That was a lot of fun [sarcasm].  Explaining just enough to get by to friends and family…not because I don’t think they deserved to know the whole story, I just didn’t wash to rehash so many times.  I had a beautiful wedding and from the outside if was a beautiful life.  Except I couldn’t help feeling that my ex didn’t want me to succeed.  It was like every job or personal opportunity that came up, he would find a way to talk me out of it or tell me how it wasn’t a good move for “us”. 
This didn’t start happening just when we got married, it had been going on for a while.  I got caught up with planning a wedding and wanting to be married.  Then I got caught up with where I wanted to be in life and where I wanted us to be in life.  Apparently, we were not on the same page and I was done saying ‘no’ to opportunities that kept coming my and our way. 

So, I made the decision to leave.  Could we have worked it out, maybe, maybe not.  I was so burned out on life and had no more desire to make it work. 
Since then, I have traveled globally personally and professionally, I have had two promotions at work, and have been involved in some really great non-profit work.  I feel prettier, more confident, and have a new outlook on life.  I feel sad for that girl that got married and had to get divorced, however without that experience she wouldn’t be where she is at today!  That experience made me.  It made me realize what I was worth, what I’m capable of, and the places I can go…oh, and I’m not done yet…I’m enjoying this adventure of life!
Samantha
Keep your lashes long, your standards as high as your heels

brunette sitting

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Olivia - Smart and Chic
I don’t know much about business to this day, but I do know passion and people. When a woman has the right reason, she can accomplish almost anything. Years ago, I was operating a small clothing boutique for spare cash. I’d put in ten or so hours a week and what I earned reflected that. Then everything changed when I heard an incredible speaker talk about Why we do the things we do. I got to thinking and evaluated why I wanted to operate my business. I truly enjoyed styling people and helping them find clothes that made them feel amazing.  I realized that my Why, was because I loved making people smile through clothes.

The moment I realized this, I was ignited. With a fervor and tenacity unlike anything I’d ever seen from myself, I began working more efficiently, more 
passionately, and genuinely caring and reaching out to my customers. My 
business began booming. I began selling thousands of dollars each month by not focusing on the numbers but the people.  
In the past, I could always answer what I did, and I could tell how I did it – yet, there was no passion behind it.  But the moment I realized why what I did was so important, I gained purpose in my life. I listened to my gut feeling about the business and did the right thing, my way.  I would stay up late packaging orders for my customers, answer every message that buzzed through on my phone, and when people talked, I listened. 
It was incredible that simply being available to people would make such an 
impact on my business and my life. I learned that everything I did mattered to someone. I’d love to say that I changed a lot of lives through my business, but I think the life that changed the most was my own. I could never again look back to my old way of thinking and see through that lens anymore. It was never again going to be about making a sale, it was about loving my customers and wanting to make that difference in their life…through clothing.  And in the process, I found my purpose in rows and rows of clothing. 

 

- Olivia


Find something you really care about and mix that with something you love doing.  - Kathleen Hanna

 

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Smart - following your gut and following your dream

My second year of college, I dropped out of school to follow my dream of writing.  Back then, I wanted to write screenplays, so I moved to Los Angeles.  Well as it turned out, it was pretty hard to make it in LA when you have no money to pay to make your screenplay happen and I was not a sales type person to pitch it to everyone.  So, I moved back home, much to my parents dismay, but they were happy to have me home.  I was never the one to feel like I needed a degree, however I went back to school part time while working and continuing my writing as more of a
hobby and outlet for my sanity.

Two years after being home, I started getting some of smaller writing pieces
published online.  There were still so many that were not getting noticed at all or being rejected.  I had a really hard time keeping my spirits up.  I kept thinking I was
destined to live at home with my parents forever, never finish school, and then live pay check to pay check.  Except that I also had a little fire inside me that wanted and longed to be a writer.  So, I kept writing and submitting pieces everywhere online. 
Somewhere around five or so years at being home, I got a call from someone out of New York.  They had been following my work for about a year and felt that I was on to something.  I started writing for their group that traveled around and performed short plays.  It took some time to change my writing from stories to plays, but I knew I could do anything I set my mind to…plus, that’s what I had set out on my original adventure to do.

Today, I have written one major play, numerous small plays, and I mentor young writers on the side.  The work is not slowing down and I am loving every minute.  This all happened because I followed my gut, my dream, and kept my mind focused on writing and learning.  It wasn’t easy, but it was worth every moment.  It also makes it so much sweeter every time that curtain opens. 

- Lisa, NY

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Strong

At only 24 years old, I lost all hope for a bright future. I was 100 pounds overweight, as my food addiction had consumed my entire life. I found myself falling deeper and deeper on a downward spiral of depression and pain. For the past year, my husband and I tried to get pregnant and dreamed of growing our family. After several negative pregnancy tests, I decided to see a doctor. It was then when I had been diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS).
This was devastating news for my husband and I.  
The doctor told me this is something that could be healed through proper nutrition and exercise. It was at that moment, I decided to take control of my life. I began seeing a therapist almost immediately. Over time, I began attending Overeaters Anonymous (OA) meetings. I left the job that had been making me unhappy for so many years. I reconnected with friends and family whom I had previously pushed away because of my own sorrow.
I am now approaching 26 years old, happy and healthier than ever. Throughout my journey, I’ve lost upwards of 90 pounds. Not only have I recovered physically, but mentally. For so long, I was my own worst enemy. Now, I can see the strength I had within me all along.

- Zoey

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Resilient - if you fall and don't get up, you miss out on life

I had recently gotten into cycling, mainly on roads, but I enjoyed the occasional light mountain biking with my friends as well.  One morning, on my ride into work, I was trying to bike to work a few times a week, I was hit by a car. I was almost to work and as I signaled to make my right turn, a car wasn’t paying attention and hit me.  

Outside of the immediate panic, embarrassment, and lots of anger, I was okay, which was most important.  I had a lot of scrapes and bruises and a dislocated shoulder, which has taken a couple of surgeries and physical therapy to get back to normal.  Not to mention a ruined bike. 

After I was cleared to ride again, I had no desire to get back on the bike again…until one day, a cycling friend of mine said, that if every time I “fell” in life, I didn’t get back up, I would eventually run out of things to do and I would miss out on the wonderful things life had to offer.  I didn’t take this to heart immediately until I started thinking how that applied to different things in my life…the first time I got let go – I had to get back up and find a new job, the first time I got a ticket – I had to get back to driving, the first time I cooked for my roommates and it was terrible – I had to figure out how to cook…the list went on and on.  There are a lot of things that had happened in my life where I “fell” and although the bike was a little different, it really wasn’t. 

I was very fortunate after my accident, I still had a choice on if I would get back up.  It’s been about 2 ½ years since the accident and I am still a bit fearful of riding in the city, however I have fallen right back into my cycling life, only this time on less busy streets. 

-Mia

cycling females-

 

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Keeping it Classy

I attend work events and entertain potential clients for my husband’s business on a regular basis.  And don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the
dinners, dressing up, and going to fun/new places, however with that comes a lot of varying personalities.  Some of the potential clients and investors are pleasant and we get along great and there are some that are well, down right terrible people.  Then my thought to my husband is, do you want to do business with someone that is just terrible?  That’s for another discussion.  😊

Regardless, there have been times when we have been out and said people are demeaning to the staff or are so demanding it’s embarrassing.  One of our recent outings, one of them complained to the manager of the restaurant and told us we should not tip based on the staff’s behavior.  The whole time I was thinking how difficult they were to the staff. 

So, what’s my point, I find myself in these situations and have to figure out a way to politely disagree, recommend something different, as well as apologize to the other party.  When all I really want to do is put a bunch of salt in their water next time or unscrew the leg from their chair.  You can’t sit in silence, otherwise you silently agree, however there is also a way to have tact and keep yourself together as the classy lady in the room.  So go ahead and have those choice words in your head, but do the right thing and keep it classy…and make sure you treat others as you want to be treated.  Now, I’m off to go prepare a dinner in our home for a potential investor – keep your fingers crossed for me.

- Vicky, NJ

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Comfort in my own skin

As a young girl in college, I was ready for a fresh start. Throughout high school, it had always been very difficult for me to make friends. I didn’t seem to fit in with other girls my age and often hung back with the guys. I guess you could say I was a late bloomer. I didn’t enjoy the typical things girls liked as teenagers. When most girls enjoyed going to the mall on the weekends, I looked forward to playing video games with my brother.

Fast forward to my freshman year of college, I was ready to make a change. Most of the girls in my dorm were considered popular around campus. They went to all the coolest parties and dated the hottest guys. I was determined to make a name for myself. I began hanging out with these girls, but in order to do so, I had to do things their way. For far too long, I pretended to enjoy makeup and gossip. I avoided going to class and rarely completed my schoolwork. I began partying every night and sought out attention from any guy who would look my way. Towards the end of my freshman year, I felt drained. The act I had been putting on all year was starting to dwindle. I had nearly failed several classes and faced my parent’s disappointment.

Coming home for summer break, I began to realize just how lost I’d truly been. It was then I began to find myself again. I didn’t enjoy living to make other people happy. Trying to impress other people all the time had been exhausting and I missed all of the people and things that used to bring me so much joy. Throughout the next 3 years, I attended college my way. I focused on my grades, lived at home with my family, and worked part-time at a daycare.

I have no regrets concerning my freshman year of college because it taught me a valuable lesson. I learned to love myself in its entirety, regardless of what anyone else thought.

Mary

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Making a Big Move… Washington, D.C. to San Francisco

I was 35 years old and had lived in the same city my entire life. My life felt stagnant and I didn’t want to live through another winter. When someone is thinking about making a major change in their life, they usually make excuses as to why they can’t move forward and do it. I did the same thing for a few years before I made the bold move. “My family and friends are all here”, “I would have to start all over”, “I don’t know anyone”, on and on for a few years, these and many other thoughts crossed my mind.

Finally, I woke up one morning and said, “I AM DOING THIS”. Once I made up my mind, it was simple. I became a machine and put my plans in motion. It became my main point of focus.  I booked flights from Washington, DC to San Francisco every three weeks (leaving Thursday night after work and returning on the redeye Sunday night and straight to the office). I went on LinkedIn and contacted as many players in my industry as I could. I found running groups and happy hour groups to attend while in town.

After 3 months of full on determination, I got the phone call that changed my life; a job offer in San Francisco. My hard work had finally played off. I will never forget that moment. I was in san Francisco on a warm sunny day, walking to the gym from my hostel. I got off the phone and went running up one of the steepest hills – because I couldn’t control my excitement.

Five years later, as I write this, I am proud of the goal I set and the hard work it took to achieve it. This life changing decision has been the best decision I have ever made! 

Emily, San Francisco


 

My life changing event…here goes…I married my college sweetheart, we had a beautiful house, an adorable dog, and a wonderful life…from what I thought. Unfortunately, he had another woman that I didn’t find out about until a few years after our wedding. We got a divorce and my life ended as I knew it. I gained about 50 pounds, stopped going out with friends or really out at all. I couldn’t get over feeling like I had done something wrong and wondering what I could have done differently. But that was just it, it wasn’t ME…I couldn’t change what had happened or what I or anyone else could have done differently, but me being overweight and unhappy was me, a sad version of me. So here I am 3 ½ years into my new and better life – still have my dog, almost rid of my extra weight, have more true friends now than I did before, and am overall happier than I could have imagined. My happiness didn’t come overnight and it didn’t come without challenges, however it DID come. So trust the you inside that is ready to bounce back and get control of your life again. I did it and so can you! XOXO

Jennifer, 32, New Jersey


My best friend of 20’ish years passed away a few months ago and I am still trying to get through it and make sense of it all. She was a beautiful soul and Heaven gained an amazing woman that day. I miss her every day, struggle with not being able to call her some days more than others, but finally being able to see signs of her throughout my life…I know she is looking down on me and helping me as best she can.

Not sure you really ever get over losing someone you care so deeply about, however every day gets better. I talk with her, I talk to others about her, I write things like this to help me, I look back on all of our memories and am still able to remember them like yesterday, and I laugh – I laugh like her and I would laugh on end together. Not sure I really ever want to “get over” losing her, I just want to always have her by my side and I know I will, just not the way it used to be. Love you CC!

Brenda, 48, Maryland, friend/mother