Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Say What? Pink Tax, Less Pay It’s All in a Day

By Cindy Pitts Gilbert Buford Weekly Illustrated 11/23/16
American’s are yelling foul.  The man who insulted and threatened their way of life is the most powerful man in the nation, with that comes fear. Has learned from mistakes? We can only hope. This isn’t a political article. It’s about women.  All women, who mother, want to mother, are in the workforce and those who stay at home.   

Women who stand up for themselves and are insulted, disrespected or called nasty names. Women who are meek and criticized for being  naive and trusting.  Women who are abused by men larger than them and you ponder, how can she stay, is she weak? Women who are raped and accused of asking for it or lying.  

This is about manipulation and the ignorance that shapes what we believe in this world. We need to see through the games, be confident, believe that we are worthy. We need self esteem we must help others to have self esteem as well.  This is a difficult road ahead of us since this election. Our task is no more difficult than the road our fore-mothers paved for the right to vote .
What was said about women during the campaign, women now have to explain to our daughters and sons. Who you voted for doesn’t matter now. What women believe about themselves does. 

Facts to consider; Women make 25% less than men for the similar jobs (  Women in heterosexual relationships still prepare most of the meals.  How often do we hear “Dad what’s for dinner?” Women complete  80% of the household and parental duties. Women spend more on the products and services, due to a pricing trend known as the pink or gender tax. On average women pay 7% more for similar products; shampoo, razors, blue jeans and deodorant that differ only in color, including pink toys.  Dry cleaning the same shirt costs more because of all the absurdities, the shirts do not fit on the press. Large retailers at ( show women’s pay more for senior care, baby care, health and hygiene. How do we be the change? Awareness is a start. 

Refuse to purchase gender specific items when possible.  If it seems the same it probably is.  Be the example. Work for gender equal companies.   Men your sons need to believe that you believe that women are worthy of respect. Your daughters need to believe they are worthwhile.  And ladies, if a man holds a door open for you don’t ignore the gesture. Accept the sign of respect and say thank you. Because you are worth it.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Players Guild Ends Year on Hilarious High Note with Holi-Daze

Play Review by Cindy Pitts Gilbert November 10, 2016
The Sugar Hill Players Guild began their last play of 2016 at the Buice School on Friday November 4.
In Holi-Daze, the Guild takes a step back in time to the golden age of radio. The 1930s and 40s were a simpler time, where people gathered around the radio to listen to their favorite programs. According to a 1947 C. E. Hooper survey, 82 out of 100 Americans were found to be radio listeners at the time.
Not unlike today’s television programming, live radio shows were complete with sponsors, a fancy word for commercials.  Often times the announcers would integrate commercials into the commentary by hosting recipe segments that promoted using Pet Milk or Kraft Cheese as ingredients. 
photo credit: Anne Mulligan 
The audience enjoyed a behind the scenes look at the entertainment of past generations. They had the chance to experience what it was like to be part of a live radio audience, complete with an “applause” light.  The costumes were era-accurate, from the tilted hats and wavy tresses down to the shiny, two-tone shoes of days gone by.
They enjoyed the melodramatic antics at the sound effects table by various actors, including Jennifer Lawler. Lawler, a seventh grader from Dacula Middle School, acted well beyond her age, adding hilarity while channeling Vanna White and Carol Merrill when displaying the sponsored products. The audience was left laughing at the corny commentary and ridiculous skits. 
Jennifer Lawler photo credit Anne Mulligan
The cast for Holi-Daze included; Mike Richardson, Lindsey Sutter, Richard Sutter, Michael Wright, Susan Briggs, Carol Counter, Joyce Cutchins, Steve Embry, and Abigall Hyma.  The play concluded with a Jack Benny rendition recreating the first time the poem, “T’was the Night Before Christmas,” was read on the airwaves, read here by Terry Mulligan.
The playbill featured an extra treat in the form of a sing-a-long insert of Christmas tunes that the audience was invited to join in on with the cast.  Music was provided by the Sugar Hill Broad Street Concert Band.
You can catch future showings of the play on November 11,12 and 13 at the Buice Auditorium in Sugar Hill, Georgia.
Their upcoming 2017 Season will begin with 12 Angry Men. Check out their website for dates, upcoming shows, and auditions.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

by Cindy Pitts Gilbert Buford Weekly November 2016

Conflict is inevitable in life. How  we deal with conflict and forgiveness either makes us healthier and happier or is toxic, make us miserable, and leads to disease.
What is your approach to conflict?  Are you a grudge holder or a get even vindicator? A bottler, avoider, or venter? Or perhaps you are the peacemaker. No matter which way you handle conflict there can be consequences for the actions we choose.  We all want to believe our way of handling a situation is the right way.  Everyone else is wrong  and we are justified in our anger. Maybe we feel justified when we feel we have been wronged, but it could be killing you.
How much time do we waste in our relationships living in a state of “un-forgiveness?” Who really gets punished more? Being angry at someone close to you is hard work. Not only do you feel angry for what they may have done to you, which is draining enough, but you then have to  contend with the loneliness of keeping up the good fight.
We sit around on our high horse of righteousness and, honestly, we miss a lot of joyful moments with the person who upset us. Let’s say you get angry with someone at work for repeating something you said in confidence. They tell someone else and you find out.  Do you have a right to be mad? Yes, of course. But how long do you stay mad and how many others have to suffer right along with you and the one who offended you.  They get to hear you complain but they also have to deal with the awkwardness of the situation.
I have a saying I use all the time: “Let the punishment fit the crime.”  How long or how loud does the punishment go?   Some people will hold a grudge for weeks for some simple offense while others will have their say and move on. We do feel justified when we are wronged, yet why do we feel justified until everyone around us is punished equally for our hard earned anger?  Do we get angry at work and take it out on family? How about the silent treatment for those who have offended? Are we so obvious in our grudge that we make others at work or home equally uncomfortable?
How about our  inner circle? Are they held more accountable for our feelings than those who may be just acquaintances?  People are human and we all make mistakes. We all learn what is right and wrong. I’m not talking the big betrayals, like cheating, lying or causing real harm, or those who keep hurting us over and over. I’m talking about the daily routine conflicts.  Aren’t we responsible for our own reaction to any given situation?
Science has proven that those who hold grudges or bottle their emotions are much more likely to die younger from the stress hormone Cortisol (the fight or flight hormone) than those who vent and release. When Cortisol is present in the body, the feel good hormone, Oxytocin, cannot exist.  Oxytocin is what mother’s feel when breast feeding and what a really good hug feels like. Those who cannot forgive and move past a situation hold onto Cortisol, causing inflammation to build up in the body.
Inflammation leads to disease and disease to pain and eventually death. The longer you hold onto your anger the more physical damage you are doing to your body.  Forgiveness is really more for you than the person who wronged us. So much time wasted  getting in our own way.  We get mad at someone we care about for some offense and everyone loses.  Take the healthy approach: just let go of the little offenses that are part of being human. Give the people in your life a break, especially yourself. Smile more than frown or your face will stay that way.

Friday, October 28, 2016

School Bus Driver Appreciation Week

by Cindy Pitts Gilbert Buford Weekly Illustrated 10/28/16

School districts across the country observe National School Bus Safety Week throughout the third week of October. The week is designed to teach students how to safely interact with school buses in an effort to minimize danger and accidents. October 17th kicks off the week every year with Bus Driver Appreciation Day. This is a day for students and parents to let their school bus drivers know how important and special they are.
On Bus Driver Appreciation Day, parents who have students who ride the bus are encouraged to find a way to teach their children to let their bus drivers know they’re valued. Nothing means more to a driver than having a student or parent on their route say ‘Thank you.’
All Buford City School System bus drivers received a Buford monogrammed roll cooler as an appreciation gift. If you missed Bus Driver Appreciation Day, it’s not too late! Here are some ways you and your child can appreciate your child’s bus driver:
  • Stand at your bus stop with a ‘Thank You’ poster
  • Have all the children at your stop make and sign a card
  • Give a basket of muffins and a to-go coffee
  • Bake a plate of cookies or brownies
  • Fill a thermos with steaming hot cocoa
  • Fill a gift basket with a mug and coffee or tea goodies
  • Give a gift card that can be used for breakfast or lunch
  • Fill a basket with dollar store snacks and a tumbler cup
  • Review the bus safety rules with your child and ensure he or she understands why they are important
During Bus Driver Appreciation Week the students were also taught about bus safety. “The objective is to make sure all students are aware of the rules, regulations, and possible dangers that can be involved with riding a bus,” according to Gloria Whidby, a staff member of the Buford Elementary School, “we hope that students learn how to be safe to avoid any accidents.”
Tracy Kitchens, Vicki Pinkard, Tammy Bush, Teresa Hughes, and Rick Littlefield are some of the drivers who participated in bus safety last week.
Photo Provided by Buford Elementary School.

Every bus driver on the road is responsible for the safety of our children. Many have been driving their routes for over two decades. They become emotionally invested in their student riders and, for many, their job is a labor of love. Be sure to find a way to express your appreciation for your bus driver!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Proposed Amendment 1, State Privatization of our Public Schools

by Cindy Pitts Gilbert Buford Weekly Illustrated 10/12/16

When I first heard about the proposed Amendment 1 on the November 8 ballot, I thought I had been transported to the magical world of Harry Potter, when the Ministry of Magic took over the school of Hogwarts.
Jokes aside, this is serious business. Last week, the Buford Council Meeting addressed the potential Amendment 1, which is based on similar programs in Tennessee and Louisiana. If passed, the proposed Amendment 1 would allow the state to take over a failing school and run it through a superintendent appointed by the governor’s office.
What this legislation could potentially do is take away the voices of parents, local school boards, teachers, and administrators when it is decided that a school is failing. So, who decides when a school is failing? It appears that this will be up to the governor. Quoting the AJC, “Governor Nathan Deal feels this would be a way to break the cycle of chronically failing schools, especially in low-income or minority communities.”
The probable scenario is that the failing school would be taken over by the state and then made into a state school run by a for-profit educational management company and named an Opportunity School District, or OSD.
Do we really want more state government control? Is privatization of public education really in the best interest of our children? Aren’t our parents and teachers the true voices for our children? Are we prepared to lose our voices? This amendment brings up so many questions.
Where do you stand on highly debated issues such as standardized testing, No Child Left Behind, and Common Core? Many believe these are all failing our children. What if the state decides that arts in education is unnecessary? Our choice will be gone. Right now, a month before the election, we still have one.
I find it ironic that the proposed Amendment 1, that may very well remove our local voices, by name bears a striking resemblance to our First Amendment, which guarantees our right to freedom of speech. Fellow voters, we still have time to do our research. Study, scrutinize, and make the right choice about Amendment 1.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

What are They Trying to Say?

by Cindy Pitts Gilbert Buford Weekly 09/28/2016 
Communication , that is such a loaded word isn’t it? What feeling does that word bring to mind when you hear it. Do you automatically think about that coworker that has none? Do you think about your spouse who either talks too much about their day or too little? Maybe it’s while you are out there in the business world meeting and networking and you are trying to communicate effectively what you do and they look at your like you have two heads. I have been pondering that word and sheer art of communication. We are bombarded with communication now through Television, social media, email marketing, the news that shares the whole world with us not just our little corner of it, and through local papers like this one that share so much of our local news in our day to day lives. Yet, I what are they trying to say?
What is always so interesting to me is how easy it is to misinterpret communication and how many people walk away from an encounter with a totally different opinion of the same event. I saw this meme on Facebook that is so true. Take the numbers 6 and 9. If you draw one on the ground and have one person stand at the top and another stand at them bottom. One will see a 6 and the other a 9. Who is right? There is always your perception, their perception and then there is the truth, or is there? What did the artist of the number intend to write. You can’t know unless they communicate their intent or there is a another number like 7 or 8 next to it. Perceptions are never the same are they?
Let’s say you have a coworker and you are frustrated about something they either did or didn’t tell you. So you communicate in a less than positive way because it caused your more work. You think you are just telling them how you feel or your frustration at the situation, the other person hears that you are angry and becomes defensive and an argument ensues. You have just “mis”-communicated.
Communication is the key to any kind of relationship but it’s not just communication. Communicating in a negative way or unhealthy way is just as bad if not worse than not communicating at all. Communication has to be both positive and honest for it to enhance your relationships. So how do you do that when there as so many personality types trying communicate with each other?
First, it’s a good idea to identify the different personality types and then decide which one resonates with you. There are great books and classes, I teach a few on how to communicate more effectively.
There are basically 4 different personality types. There are many nuances, yet most people tend to fall into 4 main categories.
Aggressive; Loud, Pushy, Controlling or even Angry these personalities are going to have their way and aren’t going to let anyone get in their way and might just bulldoze over you if you let them.
Passive allows things to happen or accepts what other people do or decide without trying to change anything. They are either really at peace with the world or completely storing up all their issues in pot that will someday boil over.
Passive-Agressive; Avoid direct confrontation, may procrastinate, pout, or misplace important materials. Watch your chair with this personality. They keep smiling while they put tacks in your chair when you aren’t looking.
Assertive; Self-assured, confident without being aggressive. they are willing to speak their mind and be less likely to allow themselves to be taken advantage of. They often seem to intimidate those who are less self assured and are not well liked when they call someone out on their crapola.
We have all these types of personalities running around the world being judged by each other trying to exist together at work, at home; with families and friends, all just trying to figure it out. Sometimes we do a masterful job at it then sometimes we botch it royally. So how do we master the skill of communication? I think we have to master it one person at a time. First, Ask yourself what are they trying to say? You have to want to improve communication and that takes 2 parties. Pick the people closest to you and then say two little words. “Let’s talk.” It will take practice, real effort, learning how to listen with your heart and not your head and a real desire to improve the communication.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Don't Dress for Dinner Review

by Cindy Pitts Gilbert, Buford Weekly Illustrated September, 2, 2016

Gypsy Theatre Company pleases again, with the wildly funny high quality reproduction of the wildly funny Tony award winning, “sort of sequel” to the Broadway’s smash -hit Boeing-Boeing at the Buford Community Center.
Opening night, August 25th we enter the Sylvia Beard Theatre, to be greeted by an open stage and lovely set, both rustic and elegant as a renovated French farm house with a prominent and unusually long couch from  1971. There was no change of set during the show as it was performed in the main living room of the country house somewhere outside of Paris,  The design was meticulous in every detail down to the rustic sliding barn door to the piggery and cow shed as married couple; Bernard played by Davin Allen Grindstaff and his wife Jacqueline played by Julie Trammel, affectionately named the 2 guest rooms on each side of the stage complete with, appropriately labeled cow and pig wooden cut outs which I might add, become quite helpful to aid the audience in keeping the revolving bed room assignments straight as the play’s complex relationship statuses continue to change which both confuses and delights the audience.  
Our story begins with Bernard,  who hopes to send his wife, Jacqueline, to her mother’s for the weekend, so that he can be alone with his mistress, Suzanne, a Parisian model, played by Alessandra Scarcia.  Bernard has hired a Cordon Bleu cook, Suzette, played by Rachael Endrizzi and  invited his friend Robert played by Aaron Gotlieb to dinner to be his alibi .
Jacqueline cancels her plans to be with “her” Robert after she learns Robert is also spending the weekend. This causes Bernard to panic, and he tells Robert of his affair with Suzanne. who is to arrive at any moment. Bernard begs Robert ,against his will to pretend that “Suzy” is his girlfriend.  
Bernard and Jacqueline leave to buy groceries, Suzy arrives — but it’s the caterer, not the mistress un-beknownst to Robert who then introduces Suzette as his girlfriend upon the couples return. Bernard is furious because of the mix-up, and Jacqueline feels betrayed thinking she was Robert’s only mistress.
Suzanne with a very authentic French accent finally arrives, learns she must now play cook is outraged but, reluctantly agrees to play her part.  All in the first 15 minutes of the show.
The lies continue to grow, Suzette the cook, with the  brash and truly entertaining cockney accent , is the winner of the cast as she cashes in by being coaxed repeatedly  to pretend to be different players in the twisted schemes of deceit, orchestrated by the cheating lovers to keep their lies intact and everyone’s temper at bay.  The cast did an amazing and professional job but,  Robert and Suzette won my heart with their animated expressions and difficult tongue twisting monologues. Don’t dress for dinner was a truly hilarious lesson of what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive. If you haven’t gotten tickets yet you still have time what are you waiting for,  It plays though September 11th, 2016.

Original Article Buford Weekly Illustrated September 2, 2016 

Departure, Journey Tribute Band, Transports Audiences Back to the 70’s & 80’s

Cindy Pitts Gilbert Buford Weekly Illustrated, August 17, 2016

Departure, the Journey Tribute Band, returned to the stage for the 3rd time and magically sent its audience well those over say 40+ back to the late 70s early 80’s for the 3rd time at The Buford Community Center,  Friday August 27th, 2016.  Although, there were a few millennial and younger who danced and swayed in the theatre, a majority of the audience knew every word to every song.
I realize that because I am true Journey fan my review could be somewhat subjective. Journey was, in fact my favorite band in high school. I played their albums over and over again, turned the radio up when their tunes come on and am not ashamed to admit, have the Escape CD in my car and still play it regularly.  I will for the sake of professional journalism remain objective, yet will also say  I set my Journey tribute band standards particularly high.
It would be an understatement to simply say Departure was not a disappointment, with eyes closed  you weren’t simply transported, Departure is  the musical essence of Journey.  I wasn’t the only one transported back.  The audience participation was complete with cell phone flash lights that apparently touched the members of the band who recorded us waving to “O Sherry with lights out and cell phone flashlights on. A far cry from our lighter from the 80’s but still honored the joy the band gave to us.
The band who have been perfecting their craft for the last 9 years together, took the stage and the Journey transformation was almost immediate, not attempting to be Journey look a likes the band definitely took on the look and feel of rock bands from the era. Lead vocalist Bryan Williams  with waist length long hair sporting white tails with his jeans and black T-Shirt.  Keyboard player Joel’s long 80’s rock band esque wavy tresses began blowing wildly from a fan under his keyboard as he stepped onto his pedestal creating a true rock band feel started the show with; Anyway You Want It, other songs included; Be Alright Without You, Steve Perry’s Foolish Heart, Wheel in the Sky with keyboard player Joel taking over the leads on  guitar.

Lead Vocalist Bryan Williams has true stage charisma. Engaging regularly with the audience stepping across the side boxes like steps tapping heads and twirling the ladies in the audience on the first row.  The entire band was entertaining to watch and although unique were the essence of Journey and many rock bands of the era.
Williams , lead the  ladies in a friendly woo hoo contest, against the upper balcony and ground floor as the band honored the ladies with their rendition of  Girls Can’t Help It.  By the time, they announced their last song the audience of course true children of the 70’s and 80’s, whistled and cheered until Departure returned to the stage with our favorite Journey encore songs including Open Arms, Stone in Love, Faithfully and finally ending with Separate Ways.  We know this 3rd performance in Buford won’t be their last.  Get your tickets early when they do because they always sell out quickly.

Original Article Buford Weekly Illustrated August 17,2016

Sunday, August 14, 2016

It's All Fun and Games Til It's Not.

Cindy Pitts Gilbert, Buford Weekly Illustrated September 2nd 
Are you a planner, a worry wart, or a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of person? Are you that person who offers a warning from your experience or the person that says, “That will never happen to me”? We live in a world of uncertainty. The only thing that is certain is that nothing is certain.  
Everything is going along just great until you spill your coffee on your shirt before a big presentation.  You rip your suit pocket before you meet with the boss, or you accidentally wear two pair of shoes that are identical, except one is blue and the other is black. Do you carry a change of clothes, “just in case?” Do you drive too fast or too recklessly, making your passengers gasp in all the air in the car? Have you ever drank too much at a party and maybe even lost your dinner hanging over the porcelain throne exclaiming, “I’ll never do that again”? How about that ridiculously fragile cell phone? Is the cover on or off? Everything  will be alright, until someone screams at a spider, and hello, cracked screen, or plop, plop into the toilet it goes.  I once picked up my phone from my desk, forgot it was plugged in, the cord yanked back, it literally, flew out of my hands and flipped right into my full cup of coffee; true story.
What is it about humans that we naively believe that all the terrible things that happen are not going to happen to us?  Experience has a lot to do with it.  I’m not suggesting living in a bunker and not living life. I am just suggesting that perhaps taking advice from those who have “been there, done that” might be advantageous to those who haven’t, and more importantly, shouldn’t. I will admit I did things when I was younger that I now know were unwise. Did I listen to anyone? Probably not. I am now more cautious in my car than my children would like because my car once sailed across the highway into ongoing traffic all because of a thin sheen of water on the road. Those same children that didn’t heed the words of their wise mother have learned the hard way: it’s all fun and games until it’s not.   
We walk through this thing called life making multitudes of mistakes and hopefully, yes, I said, hopefully, we grow wiser and learn a lesson. There are, of course, those people you know that seem to be a bit more stubborn than others about this lesson thing. We learn very young that if we touch the stove it may be hot and burn us, but some children may touch it a time or two more than others. It’s a personal journey, though, isn’t it? We can’t seem to save many the benefit of our mistakes, or can we? The lucky ones become “the elders,”  those wise ones who survived the carelessness of not listening to their elders. We shake our heads at the young and offer words of wisdom and warning from our own mistakes while the young shake their heads believing that the elders know nothing. “OK, grandma,” they say. “I’ll be careful,” until they are not, the fun is over, the “I’m sorry” is said, and the lesson is either learned or not.
Could it be that there are no accidents? Maybe accidents are only incidents due to a lack of focus and experience. To be a  great photographer you have to learn how to focus a camera. You can either do it yourself by investing a lot more time than you’d like into figuring it out yourself, or by learning from a skilled professional. Make life easier on yourself, learn how to focus your camera of life from someone who knows how to get a clear picture of the consequences before you shoot. And try to remember, life isn’t digital. It’s 35 millimeter film; once you shoot, there is no delete.

Wear Your Own Guilt

by:  Cindy Pitts Gilbert Buford Weekly Illustrated 8/10/2016

Recently, I had a very short conversation about guilt.  It prompted a very long thought process about where guilt comes from. Who is responsible for causing the guilt? 
We all feel it, I would venture to guess it happens daily. The question of the day is who's fault is it when you feel guilty.  It may be that you feel guilty because someone spoke up and let you know how your actions made them feel.  Is this type of guilt their fault or yours?  I believe you have to wear your own guilt. It's yours to either wear like a badge of honor or brush off. Guilt can be crippling or it can help you become a better person, unless you are a sociopath everyone feels guilt. 

Parents feel guilt if they want some me time, when they can't  help  with  homework, your expectations are too high or too low. It is a no win situation isn't it? How about the guilt you feel in relationships maybe you aren't spending time with your significant other. Anytime you stand up for yourself to do what you want to do you run the risk of feeling guilty about it. I love to read but will admit, sometimes when read for pleasure I feel guilty about it. I feel like there is something else "more productive" that I need to be doing.

Don't even get me started about religious guilt? It can be a major part of the experience and issued in big doses to keep you on the straight and narrow path of morality.  Parents can in turn use guilt to ensure their children follow the rules.  How do our friends use guilt? If we just don't feel like going out with friends how can they possibly have a good time without us? Our friends may lay on the guilt because you decided to stay home. What if you'd like to be out with friends but feel guilty if you leave your loved one at home alone? Is it because we believe that if we leave them they can't survive without us? Who is responsible for the guilt?  Did the significant other make you feel bad by hanging their head low, wrapping their body onto your leg and begging you not to go?  Did they cry and scream like Nellie Olsen from Little House on the Prairie, "You hate me,  You hate me."  That may be the story guilt put into our heads.  

Have you ever felt guilty for leaving a pet at home? Seriously our entire family is whipped. We all  feel guilty leaving our dog alone. We pick up the keys she begins happily wagging her feathery little black tail, sure she is about to go for a ride. The ritual starts with "You have to stay," then promptly followed up by, "We'll be back"  Why do we feel compelled to tell the dog we'll be back. Her tail immediately stops wagging as she stops dead in her tracks and then slowly looks up with the those sad little hound dog eyes. Ah, there is it, the guilt.  Now, did the dog set out to make us feel guilty. Was it a manipulative attempt on her part to make us change our mind and do her bidding? Of course not.  The next time someone makes you feel guilty be it a parent friend, boss or colleague, take a moment and evaluate the intent.   Is it really guilt they are trying to evoke or are they just expressing a need and we heap our own personal  guilt?  It could be a bit of both.

So, is guilt  emotion or a learned skill? We are taught from a very young age to feel guilty to correct bad behavior.  The key word there is "taught"  Have you ever witnessed a baby feeling guilt. Um, No! Guilt is a learned response. Guilt exists because we allow it to. So, wear your own guilt , take responsibility for your own reactions to it.  Let the available lesson serve you, then let it go just like a pair of old jeans.

From the Other Side

By Cindy Pitts Gilbert  Buford Weekly Illustrated August 17, 2016

I know you are thinking this is going to be one of those  articles about the afterlife.  We’ll save that for another day. Today I want to speak to those who are in the depths of a struggle.  When trauma and heartache happen to us may it be; a breakup or a divorce, or perhaps you are in a career that isn’t working for you anymore or some overwhelming financial crisis.

Whatever it may be, all you know is that you are in pain and what your friends and family know is that you cannot think clearly.  You literally can’t see the forest for the trees. Your heart just aches. I have experienced some pretty significant personal losses and traumas. I have had to completely start over more than once and ask myself the question through the anguish, how will I survive this? Can I tell you a secret from the other side? 

You will survive it. It will take time and it will also mean that you have to make the choice to move past the pain, and often you have to learn to forgive and let the past go. Then you make a decision to put a new plan in place and start again.  We are all so much stronger than we give ourselves credit for.  The key for me now is to know that although some of the things that I feared would happen did happen yet I not only survived them,  I learned from them and came out stronger on the other side.

After my worst fears came to life, I mourned the losses sometimes wallowing in them for a while, then slowly the pain and the discomfort of hardship or sadness settled. I learned to appreciate what I have, Then developed a new plan and started over again.  Each and every time becoming more peaceful, stronger and a happier version of myself.  So from the other side let me assure you that you will be ok. 

Choosing the simple things over the complicated ones is better and when you are ready, learn the lessons from the experience.  Don’t sweat the small stuff, no really don’t! Things are just things and do not make you happy. Healthy relationships can replace unhealthy ones, that is provided you learned your lesson. We all have a road to travel and each experience is unique. You are not alone please remember that we, your friends and family want to be there to help you through it, so let us.  Look out, because you are gonna love the new you.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Sister Knowitall: Introducing- Dear Sister Knowitall Column at the G...

Latest Article link to my new Dear Sister Knowitall Column at the Gwinnett Citizen.
So very excited about this. 4 years of blogging and now so many people will get to benefit from my 12 years of real life experience.  This is one of my dreams coming true.  Thank you Gwinnett Citizen. You are awesome!

Sister Knowitall: Introducing- Dear Sister Knowitall Column at the G...: by Cindy Pitts Gilbert  Gwinnett Citizen  July 2016 Permalink Sister Knowitall Just wanted to say Hello Gwinnett.  Sister Knowi...

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Cherish the now, It's the Moments that Matter

by Cindy Pitts Gilbert Buford Weekly Illustrated July 13, 2016

Have we completely lost our minds. You can not turn on the news without hearing terrible tragedies: animals hurting children, adults hurting seniors, police being targeted and multiple serial murders. Over the last week, I've had an opportunity to reflect on the moments. We are so over exposed to what happens around the world. Gone are the days where we just hear about what happens in our own community. We are now inundated  with all the traumas, explosions, mass shootings all over our nation.
Last week, I had  good friend pass away unexpectedly, full of life and 5 years younger than me.  Social media keeps me in touch with friends around the world. Another friend's family now sits in hospice with a dying parent. It sounds so cliche', I know. Yet, what does that mean, Cherish the now?
Now is this very moment, no matter what you're thinking, stop and take a moment to breathe in deeply. Feel it in your lungs, count to 5 and release it. Take a couple more deep breaths. Enjoy the feeling it gives you. You are breathing. Becoming aware of your breath and letting go of all thoughts, gives you a chance to step away from the insanity that is this world and gives us a moment to reflect on the fact that we are alive, we are breathing and that is not a given. Do you worry about what has happened to you in the past? Do you keep your eye on the prize? Do you spend all of your precious time in a place that is no longer here or has yet to come?  
I would like to challenge you for one week to cherish the now. Be present because it is truly a gift. It is summer time. Go outside feel the sun, look around at your surroundings and cherish the moment. Enjoy family time. Let go of that person who cut you off in traffic, or that person who hurt you in the past; it is wasted energy. Stop worrying about how you are going to pay that bill or that you have so much to do. Cherish the moment.  
My friend had no warning; he was simply tired. He went home from work a place that he had built over time. I watched him start that business with no prospects and no hope of making a dime due to a crashed economy, and over the years, he built a great team and will truly be missed as a well respected member of our community. He truly had his eye on the prize. He sat down last week on his couch after a great day at the office, closed his eyes never to open them again.  
So I challenge each reader to take deep breath let go of the past. Stop thinking so intently about the future and concentrate on this moment. Do your best in each moment even if you don't love what you are doing. I'm not saying you shouldn't prepare for the future or work hard for it.  Just remember to be in each moment as you make plans and stop dwelling on the future so much that you miss the now.  You are here and if you don't cherish each moment it will too become an instant part of your past. The future never ever gets here.  All we have is now.
I often tell my husband that it's all about the memories.  I plan to be really old and as my husband and I rock together in that chair on the porch. I want to have a full life to reflect on.  I want to know that whether I make it to that rocker or not that I cherished the now, each moment as it happens.  The time with my children and grandchildren while they are with me.  The laughter with friends and family while we are together.  The flowers and trees from my patio. The work I do each moment which is why at this time of my life I am doing what I love.   

Challenge yourself to be present in the now.  I think you will find that you are more productive in the now. You will smile more in the now and will have an unlimited number of  memories from the now in your own rocker on the porch.   

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Pick Your Battles, Are we focusing on all the wrong things?

by: Cindy Pitts Gilbert  Buford Weekly Illustrated June 22, 2016

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Summer is upon us the graduations ceremonies a memory Yet, there are students who worked hard and made the grade yet didn't receive their diploma.  I have always told my kids as they were growing up pick your battles.  I lived that  as a parent  as well. There were just some rules not worth fighting over with your kids, So what, if my kid didn't want to change their or yours wants to sleep in the bathtub one night. 

Crazy stories on the news recently that caught my attention.   A straight A student had a beard  throughout high school and was given a choice shave the beard or don't get a diploma,  Really? The kid was a the top of his class and he made a choice. He shaved all but just a small portion of his beard and sat in the audience and cheered on his fellow classmates.  I applaud his decision.  What are we thinking when it comes to educating our children are we really so narrow minded that we can't pick our battles any better than this. 

The Board of Education in South Carolina  passed a skinny jeans policy as improper dress.   They are too distracting. My question is who is it distracting?  Apparently, it is distracting to the clothes police at the school.  Are they are so busy policing student attire that they are forgetting about the real issue. Educating our children to become the leaders of tomorrow.  I am a big proponent of the dress for success philosophy in business. 

I also believe in being yourself and expression through clothes are how teens express themselves.  It is somewhat puzzling that the U.S. specifically here in the south with Georgia being right in the middle of the "Bible Belt"  is unlike much of the world.  

We spend so much time worrying about who is going to be disturbed we lose focus on the really important issues.  Is the fact that they wear jeans that are form fitting  or have a beard worth all the hoopla?  Teens dress the way other teens dress. They want to be popular, accepted or perhaps  they take the other route and dress completely unique. I am not going to dwell on the transgender bathroom issue in the school system I just have to ask myself and those who make the rules?  

Here are some staggering statistics:  
 28% of all students report that they have been bullied ages 6-12 according to  According to one in four kids are bullied in the United States on a regular basis.
-According to the Department of Veteran Affairs' National Center for PTSD 13-35 percent of students have intentionally harmed themselves at some point. 
-Teens 16 to 19 years of age were 3 ½ times more likely than the general population to be victims of rape, attempted rape according to the 2012 maltreatment report released by the US. Department of Health and Human Services
-According to a 2013 survey titled "Youth Risk and Surveillance" ten percent of high school students reported physical victimization from a dating partner before they were surveyed. 
-According to the United States represents five percent of the world's population and 75 percent of prescription drugs taken. 60 percent of teens who abuse prescription drugs get them free from friends and relatives.        

Our teens face a great deal more at school than facial hair which bathroom they use or how baggy or tight their jeans are.   Why are we drawing attention to all the wrong things?

Monday, June 6, 2016

Customer Service: Do You Have Unrealistic Expectations?

Customer Service: Do You Have Unrealistic Expectations?
Do you have a problem or are you the problem?
By Cindy Pitts Gilbert  Buford Weekly Illustrated  June 1, 2016
I recently wrote an article about both good and bad customer service. We are ready to pounce on that terrible customer service representative, often times because that is what we have come to expect. Have you ever given something away or put it in the back of a closet, or perhaps just thrown it in the trash because returning it or dealing with the issue is just not worth the effort? There are a lot of people out there who are unhappy at their job. They don't offer the best service because they are frustrated with the circumstances they are in. We don't know why they act the way they do, or do we?
Recently, people have shared a few stories about that terrible customer they had to deal with. It is easy to get upset with the customer service person. You do not have an attachment to them so their feelings at that moment may not matter to you. Maybe they are not solving your issue or meeting your expectations, but what if your expectations are unrealistic? What then? Someone shared this story with me about their customer nightmare. A consumer went to a store and purchased a large piece of electronics. Employees at the electronics store showed them that the item worked and there is even surveillance video showing they tested it for the customer.
The next day the customer returned to the store with a shattered screen and wanted their money back, claiming that the item was still under warranty. An argument ensued and the police were called. The officer told the store owner that in a court of law the warranty sign meant that they had to give the customer a replacement. The store owner felt forced to replace the item and then purchased additional signage stating that the warranty excludes items broken after they leave the store. I'd love some feedback from our readers on this. Is it just me, or is this an outrageous and unrealistic expectation? I started recognizing similar stories over the last few weeks.
A store owner felt forced to issue a refund on an item that had a 90-day warranty because the customer just did not have time to return it and held onto it for 5 months. Is this customer's expectation unrealistic? Do you ever get irritated with someone in customer service because they do not refill your tea quickly enough when the restaurant is packed or leave a penny tip; to not only prove your point but insult the server as well?
It is important to believe in our consumers and make sure their experience is the best it can be, but as a consumer it is also your responsibility to be realistic and not set the bar of customer service so high that we cause a business to lose money over something that is truly our own fault, or because we have unrealistic expectations. It is always a good idea to put yourself in the other person's shoes as much as possible when dealing with a potential conflict in customer service. Everyone with a job has to deal with a client or customer at some point. Be sure the finger you are pointing should not be at pointed at yourself.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Summer Gardening

By Cindy Pitts Gilbert  Buford Weekly Illustrated  May 11, 2016

My husband and have been growing a little garden for the past several years.  Our first cucumber plant that grew cute little cucumbers made us so proud. We called it our baby and posted it on social media like proud parents, then we ate it.  What started as a home school project for my kids, that they now will have nothing to do with has turned into a way of life for my husband and I.  I look forward to spring every year and plan out what I'm going to plant each year.  I enjoy going to local plant sales at local nurseries as soon as the plants come in.  I always take a friend or two out to Growers in Loganville which is now a tradition and based on the crowd, it is a tradition for a lot of Gwinnett County. We also have to  make a trip or two to Creative Enterprises. I love supporting local growers and non-profits like Creative Enterprises. If you haven't been there it is a wonderful place. This organization is dedicated to assisting adults with disabilities and others with barriers to employment in maximizing their potential. They have multiple programs and services to help these adults develop skills to be as independent as possible. If you haven't been there to get your plants you really should visit.  It really is a very special place. 

Our garden is small but we love eating the results of our labor.  There really is  nothing more beloved
in the south than a home grown tomato, to grow a garden without them would be, well a waste of effort.   A large number of people I know who garden consider it a labor of love. There is something so therapeutic about digging in the dirt, making our own compost from kitchen scraps and then watching the blooms turn into the literal fruits of our labor.  We love making homemade salsa, macaroni salads, adding our own fresh homegrown herbs to our Italian dishes. Summer eating is so much fun, however if you play your cards right and do a bit of prep and planning you can store up some of that summer yumminess for winter soups, and dried herbs for teas. Have you ever tried a nice lemon balm and peppermint tea, so soothing for a winter cold, or enjoyed savory seasonings like rosemary, sage and thyme for crock pot cooking. Nothing is more delicious than taking canned tomatoes, dried basil and oregano and making your own homemade spaghetti sauce.  I don't consider myself a chef by any means, yet cooking something you have grown somehow makes the experience so much more enjoyable.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Gwinnett County Celebrates Earth Day

By Cindy Pitts Gilbert  Buford Weekly Illustrated  April 10, 2016
Gwinnett County  just celebrated its sixth Earth Day Recycling Event on April 9th, 2016 at Cool Ray Field Gwinnett Braves Stadium. Cars lined up in 4 rows from Highway 20 to the parking lot, where vans and trucks lined up to take old tires, paper in need of shredding, old cans of usable paint, old sneakers, electronics, as well as empty printer ink and toner cartridges.  Gwinnett Recycles twice a year; in November for America's Recycle Day and in April for Earth Day.  This year the lines were longer than ever to donate their recyclables.  Over the last few years, Gwinnett County Waste Management has recycled over  a hundred tons of electronics, thousands of pounds of textiles, thousands of shoes and printer cartridges.  The team at Gwinnett County Waste Management  headed  by Schelly Marlatt and her team do an amazing job coordinating the different vendors that collect recycling.
There are a large groups of students and adults who volunteer each year for this community event.  High School students interested in community service events and a group of Fire Explorers help to direct traffic and keep everything running smoothly.  The fire explorers are all students from age 14-18 who spend every Thursday evening learning drills and learning what it is like to be a fire fighter here in Gwinnett. 

I spent some extra time meeting the vendor's this year and learning what they do with the recycling.  The old sneakers are separated into two groups one group are those that are just slightly used and can be given to those who need shoes. The shoes that are no longer wearable are ground up and turned into playground material.  The paint donated must be at least 25% full and usable. They take the paint to other countries, This batch of paint will go to Liberia to paint the university there,which hasn't been repainted since their civil war in 1987.  The school will require over 4,000 gallons to repair the still bloodstained walls of the university.  They have also painted projects in Mexico, Haiti, Central America and many other areas in need of recovery.  The printer cartridges will be re-manufactured and resold, reducing the need for new products to be created to meet demand.  Recycling ink and toner cartridges reduces the waste in our landfill.  Some pieces of cartridges take over a thousand years to decompose and the amount of those thrown away every year if put end to end would circle the earth 3 times.  

Secure paper shredding is a great way to create additional space in your home and feel secure that the documents you are disposing of don't end up in the hands of identity thieves.  Over the years, televisions and computer monitors have continued to grow it has only been very recently, that flat screen technology has allowed the television to become part of the living room not the entire focus of the room. Large bulky televisions and old monitors  that are recycled have a significant impact on the reduction of  waste that doesn't decompose or poison the ground in our local landfills. 
Gwinnett County thank you for your contribution to our community by offering this event twice a year.  Please check their website or join the newsletter for the next recycle event to be held in November. 

Cartridge World Buford Gets a New Owner

By Cindy Pitts Gilbert  Buford Weekly Illustrated  March 30, 2016

Ink and Toner Sales with an Environmental Twist

Cartridge World Buford has been proudly serving the residents and businesses of Buford  at 2725 Hamilton Mill Rd, Buford , GA 30519 across from Walmart behind the Chili's, for the last four years and before that they spent five years across from the Mall of Georgia.  Mary Hines the previous owner decided to pursue other interests in December of 2015 and sold the Buford Location Nancy McGill owner of Cartridge World Lawrenceville to the oldest and largest store Gwinnett County.
Cartridge World is a franchise with over 1000 stores worldwide. Their goal is to help the environment by taking  empty ink and toner printer cartridges printer and completely re-manufacturing them into ready to use cartridges for both the business consumer and the home user. Consumers get to save two ways with Cartridge World Buford.  They can reduce their carbon footprint by purchasing refilled cartridges which keeps them out of our landfills.  They can also save  up to 30% off of retail big box stores.

Nancy McGill and her team bring a lot of experience and customer service to the Buford area and are all excited to become a part of the Buford Community.  The Lawrenceville and Buford store have a full staff to serve you.  There are two customer specialists, Mattie Smith and Belle Young.  They spend most of their time visiting with both potential new business customers  as well as taking care of the needs of their current  business customers.  Eddie Diaz is the store manager of the Lawrenceville store and is instrumental in making sure that the Buford store has the product and support it needs, as well as offering his expertise as a printer repair technician for both locations.  The rest of their team,  Zach Miller, Cindy Gilbert and Rich Stoner overlap the other responsibilities of: marketing, their free business delivery service, inside sales, ink and toner re-manufacturing and technical support for both locations.  They have all been working hard to bring the store up to the same level of service that Lawrenceville, Snellville, Loganville and Grayson have been able to experience. 
Cartridge World has a great recycling program  for non-profits like the schools churches and other civic groups.  Cartridge World has given back over sixty-five thousand dollars back to the community over the past 11 years.  More than 50 Gwinnett County schools buy their ink and toner from Cartridge World. 

Nancy feels that it is important to give back to the community where she lives works and plays. She is a part of the Lawrenceville Rotary,  the Gwinnett Medical Center Women's Council and has been  Ambassador of the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce.  She is currently part of Leadership Gwinnett's class of 2016.  She was the Gwinnett Chamber Small business of the month in 2011 and 2012 and was Gwinnett Chamber Ambassador of the year.  She has been nominated as one of Gwinnett's top small businesses for Pinnacle awards in 2013 and 2014.

Cartridge World Buford and Lawrenceville are a part of the Gwinnett County Recycling Event held twice a year;  November for America's Recycle's Day and April for Earth day for the past 3 years. Be sure to go see them at Cool Ray Field April 9th from 9am to Noon along with companies who take old electronics, old tennis shoes, secure paper shredding and paint recycling. If you find yourself in Lawrenceville you can  visit that location at:  Lawrenceville store at 911 Duluth Hwy, Lawrenceville, GA 30043.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

What's Happened to the Service in Customer Service?

By Cindy Pitts Gilbert  Buford Weekly Illustrated May 4th, 2016 

Sometimes people really amaze me.  Have you ever walked into a retail store like a Walmart or
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Costco and you see 6 people behind the customer service counter and no one will look at you? You can be big or small, yet you are still a ghost.   We have all experienced it,  you look at each one of them really do the puppy dog eyes pleading, just look my way for a second, and not one single person looks your way.  It is as if they think that if they don't make eye contact, you aren't really there.   What kind of training in customer service skills class do they give these people.  Ok, today we'll learn how to avoid eye contact.  Sometimes I just want to laugh and wave my arms and say "Um ,Hello people I'm right here.  What they don't realize is the longer we wait without being seen the more frustrated we become.  Waiting like cattle, waiting for the person behind the counter to look our way and say, "Can I help you?" Then pray they help us or dash all our hopes for resolution.  It's not only the person behind a counter I'm referring to, how about phone customer service rep? When I need help on the phone; my cell phone provider, my bank, or the dreaded call to (insert scary music here,) the local cable provider.  My least favorite customer service nightmare is the rep who knows they can't solve my problem and they put me on hold. I hear the not so beautiful hold music and then silence. Really, I just got disconnected. You know at least 50% of the time that was no accident. They just didn't want or didn't have the skills to help you solve your problem so they hang up on you pretending that it was an accident.  I have literally had to call in and relive the same scenario three to four times.  The golden ticket is that sometimes we walk into an establishment and there it is a smile that lights up the room. Hello, Gorgeous! I'm not saying the person is magazine model perfection. I am talking about the person who gets it.  They are hired to do a job, take care of customers' needs. They get that customer service is all about, yep, you guessed it, service.  This individual comes in to work, leaves all their own problems at the door and offers you service that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy.  I just want to hug this bright eyed or perky sounding human being who actually has me laughing with them make me feel like they truly care about making my problem go away and my day just got a little bit brighter.  I have worked in customer service in one form or another all my adult  life.  I believe it's a choice, not just a paycheck. If you don't like what you do find something else to do but let's all agree, not to take it out on the people who pay good money to keep you employed, our customers.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Motherhood is Hard

By Cindy Pitts Gilbert  Buford Weekly Illustrated April 26, 2016
Recently, I saw a Facebook post that really struck a chord with me centering around motherhood. Mother's Day is upon us and I'd like to personally say to every mother who reads this.  Happy Mother's Day from the bottom of my heart. Your commitment and sacrifices are truly appreciated for raising our future leaders, doctors, judges, writers and artists of our future. The Facebook friend who wrote these three little words really stayed with me. What an understatement.  Motherhood is really hard.  It doesn't matter what stage of motherhood you are in, most mothers that I know and love are amazing women and incredible mothers. I truly feel empathy for this mom as I'm sure every mother in her friend list did.  It really doesn't matter what she was referring too. I know from those three words that what she was saying is this;  I made a hard choice, my son or daughter now hates me and I feel like the most horrible mother in the world.  Does this sound familiar?   Why do we beat ourselves up for not being perfect and for making choices that aren't popular, yet are almost always necessary?

Non-mothers out there think it is so easy. Those well meaning, friends who have all these ideas about how they would do things differently, "if it were me..."  I saw a post by a non mother who gave a stranger, a mom with children in a Chic- Fil-a, an ice cream coupon with a note saying, 'it looks like they could use some attention.'  I say so what? This mom took some R&R in a restaurant and chatted it up with a friend which may have been the first bit of "me time" she had experienced all day. Perhaps, she should have spent quality time with her boys in the Chic-fil-a. It isn't my place to judge. Trust me, there were days when my children were young that we might have gone out to get a break from the spills and little fingers under the bathroom door saying  mommy, mommy can you see me, for the hundredth time.  You know the old saying don't judge anyone until you walk a mile in their shoes.

Be grateful for these guilt ridden mothers.  The hardest job a mother has is bringing this little ball of happiness into the world, falling instantly in love and then doing her best to make sure that they turn out to be accepted into society, by making hard choices that make them hate you for a minute. One day, so much sooner than you realize you have to give them wings and let them fly. To the mom's with graduating seniors, I promise you will make it. To the mother of the bride; she will always be a part of you especially, when she hears your voice as she makes those same hard choices. To the groom's mother, you will know by the way  he treats his bride. Mothers, Let go of the guilt and enjoy your special day.