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Real Women, Real Stories| Brooke’s Story: Providing Hope & Healing for Child Survivors of Sex Trafficking

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brookecrowder

Roots: I’m originally from Oklahoma City, OK. I lived in the same house same city until I left for Texas to attend Baylor. Since then, I’ve moved so many places-too numerous to mention. I have lived in Austin, TX since June 2010.

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Brooke and Calvin with 3 of their children 

Family Life: We’re one of those crazy, messy blended families. My husband, Calvin, and I have 4 children and 3 dogs between us: Oldest son Joe is 27 and married to our daughter in love Samantha, they live in Houston; son Austin is 21, and daughters Mary Beth 19, and Erin 18, all in college. Our daughters take credit for introducing us, which is technically true!

Work Life: I’m currently the Founder and Executive Director of The Refuge. Before that I was a hospital chaplain and prior to that a missionary in Costa Rica. In addition, I’ve worked at several Foundations. I’ve been in some type of nonprofit work for over 25 years.

My favorite quote…It’s something my Grandfather said often to me: “Life is an adventure to be lived, not a problem to be solved.”

I’m most inspired by…people who despite very adverse circumstances, live a life of gratitude and joy.

The best advice I’ve been given…It was advice from one of my dearest friends and mentor, Kellie, that has walked through the darkest of times with me. On the very worst days she would say: “Don’t borrow grief from tomorrow. All you have is today so do the very next thing.” This has been a point of reference for me no matter what is going on, good or bad, and it is basically the truth we find in scripture in Matthew 6: 25-ff. We’re told to not worry about tomorrow, that will have enough trouble of it’s own, but seek first the Kingdom of God, and all other things will be taken care of.

Something people may not know about me…I’ve played the piano since I was 6 years old. I write music/songs.

If I weren’t in my current career I’d be…an Emergency Room Nurse.

I’m most  looking forward to…I’m looking forward to meeting the first girl who will live at The Refuge!

When I’m not working, you can find me…In the mountains of Colorado, specifically Telluride: hiking, skiing, fly-fishing-anything you can do in the mountains.

 My Story: Providing Hope & Healing for Child Survivors of Sex Trafficking

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Brooke helping girls outside of San Jose, Costa Rica

The trajectory of my life changed completely in June of 2002 when I took a team of women to Guatemala to work in an orphanage for a week. Like many, I thought our little band of women from our church would go to this foreign land and “bless” many of the 500+ children who lived in this orphanage called Casa Aleluya. Instead, the children, staff and the land of Guatemala changed and blessed me, actually turned my life upside down. Before I left for Guatemala, I was living very comfortably in a beautiful home in The Woodlands, TX. I had two healthy children that I was able to stay home with while working a part time job in which I was able to set my own hours and the flow of my work. My life was tidy and predictable and I was in control of it. In addition, I had great friends and family nearby. I didn’t really have a plan for my life other than to be the best mom and wife I could be, and provide a comfortable and easy life for my children. That woman got on a plane to Guatemala that June and never returned. The night before our team left Guatemala to return to the states, I was so overwhelmed by the experience I’d had, the stories of the children, and the sacrifice by the staff, I spent the entire night in the rain on the roof top patio of our hotel, crying out to a God, who up until then, had fit into my neat box of understanding and control. What I had seen and experienced in Guatemala did not fit my paradigm with how the world should work. I asked God how in the world I could think He was good if He allowed so much suffering and evil to occur. Despite that turmoil, I also promised Him that I would spend the rest of my life helping hurting children.

A year later, I was enrolled at Asbury Theological Seminary working on a Masters in Intercultural Studies and Mission. However, the jolting experience I had in Guatemala paled in comparison to what happened to me my first year of seminary. During a chapel service, I saw a video of young girls (ages 5, 6, 7) being rescued out of a hole underneath a brothel in India. These precious little girls were held in this hole during the day and brought out at night to be sold for sex. That was their life: captive by day, sold at night. My daughter, Mary Beth, was 6 years old at the time and so the horror of that reality literally broke my heart. I was unable to stop weeping for over an hour. The chapel cleared out and my advisor found me sobbing. He said: “Brooke, look around you. There is no one else here crying like this. Clearly your heart has been broken and clearly this is the calling on your life.” I knew to my very core that was true and spent the next three years in seminary researching what was happening to children around the world in regards to poverty, abuse, and sexual exploitation. Upon graduation, our family moved to Costa Rica for language school. But while there, I learned that Costa Rica was one of the top places in the Western Hemisphere

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Mercedes with a beautiful smile

for child sex trafficking. That led me to connect with a small group of social workers and missionary women who were working with those girls in one of the worst slums outside of San Jose, Costa Rica. I did that work for four years. It was dark and frustrating work with very few resources to help the girls. I was assigned to work with one girl in particular, Mercedes. She came to our center unwilling to speak or even look you in the eye. Her mother told us she was deaf and mute. I soon learned she was neither, she was severely traumatized by her experiences of abuse and exploitation. I began to dream about how I could help Mercedes if only we lived in the United States where I had access to all the resources necessary to help her heal from her extreme trauma. I worked with Mercedes for 4 years, mainly just showing up and loving her, encouraging her and telling her that her life mattered. By the time I left, Mercedes was working on continuing her school, laughing and dreaming about a future. Leaving her to return to the states was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.

Upon my return to the states in 2010, I began asking around who was helping and working with children who had been trafficked. Frankly, I was angry and dismayed that our country was not utilizing our resources for our most traumatized and vulnerable children-those who had been trafficked. I knew it was very complicated and wouldn’t be easy, but I also knew that if our small team of women in Costa Rica could help girls with very little resources and in very dangerous and uncomfortable situations, we could certainly bring people together in Austin to do the same. That belief and dream took shape in October of 2013 when I met with a man over coffee who had a similar passion to help child survivors of sex trafficking. At the end of our meeting he asked me if I wanted 50 acres to build this dream of a healing community for children. I said “yes” and it was then that The Refuge for DMST (Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking) was born. It’s been 3 years and we just broke ground in October 2016 on our 48 bed therapeutic ranch for young girls who are survivors of sex trafficking. We have an amazing team of folks on our staff and on our Board, along with tremendous community support. Had you asked me upon my return from Guatemala 14 years ago if I could envision this today, I would have said no. But, I would have said, “all I can do is the very next thing as I seek God’s will and His Kingdom. I trust He will take care of what I do not know today.” And if you had asked me 3 years ago if we’d be in a place of building one of the largest therapeutic ranches in the country for child survivors of sex trafficking, I would have said no. But, I said then as I say today: “in the end, no matter what happens, because of Mercedes, I realize the power of one. I don’t know if we can help 48, but I know we can help one. And, that’s enough.”
One person, consistently walking alongside another person, loving them, believing in them, speaking truth into their life and in essence laying down their life for another, is the greatest force for healing in the world. Yet, lest you think it was me giving that to Mercedes, just as I learned in Guatemala, it was Mercedes giving that to me.

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Rendering of the Ranch with view of chapel

The Refuge Ranch Austin

The Refuge Ranch provides long-term, holistic care in a pastoral and peaceful setting to girls 11-17 who have been rescued out of sex trafficking. Each girl in our care will have her own plan of restoration, which we call her Circle of Care, unique to her age, situation, and needs. On site schooling, a medical clinic, therapeutic programs that include equine, art, music and pet therapy, along with one on one counseling and group therapy with licensed professional therapists are all part of our long-term, residential care. The girls are housed in specially designed cottages providing safety and security, but a sense of family and community as well. For more information, check out The Refuge Ranch website.


iGnite is offering 2 Donation Classes benefitting The Refuge Ranch next Friday, December 9th.  All donations given for Core Flow at 7am and Vinyasa Yoga at 8:30am at Breath & Body Yoga at 2415 Exposition Blvd. 78703 will go directly to The Refuge Ranch. See full schedule and more information about classes here.


iGnite’s Real Women, Real Stories is a series highlighting the inspiring lives and experiences of women in our community. We hope their stories motivate and inspire you to live your life to the fullest.

Know someone who would be a great candidate for a Real Women, Real Stories feature? Email nominations to hello@igniteyourlifenow.com


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Guide to the Best Hikes & “Hops” around Austin

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Sha Klatt

by Sha Klatt

My husband and I have always loved hiking. We love to get out in nature and let it work its magic! Many times when I think of going hiking, I think of Colorado, New Mexico, or places even further away. But recently we have been exploring hikes in and around Austin that are quick, easy and fun, and give us our nature fix on a regular basis. Our favorite hikes always end with a refreshing hop into some body of water!

Sculpture Falls on the Barton Creek green belt is a great quick hike. Only minutes away, just past Barton Creek Mall, on south Mopac where all those cars are parked on the side of the frontage road. We like to go early in the morning (8:00ish) to beat the crowd. Start at the trail head and within 10 minutes you’ll be alongside Barton Creek. Go to the right and the first set of low waterfalls you’ll see is Twin Falls. Check them out, then keep hiking along the creek for about 20 minutes and you will come to Sculpture Falls. There you’ll find the water rushing through a series of slots cut into the riverbed. There is an area for swimming and wonderful places to sit and let these low falls flow over you. You might want to check the flow before you go.

Hike along Bull Creek for another beautiful retreat from the city. There is a 2.9 mile loop complete with pretty water falls and places to swim. You might want to wear water shoes to walk in the shallow water. This park is less maintained than others but definitely worth exploring.

We also love some of the nearby hiking and swimming holes just outside Austin. Try Jacob’s Well in Wimberley, a pretty, 45 minute drive away. You can reserve a time slot online or you can also just show up. They control the numbers of people, so as some come out, others are allowed in. Take a 20 minute hike along a nicely groomed path. You will arrive above Jacobs Well, where you’ll have a great view of the Well and the creek below. The Well is over 100 feet deep, filled with chilly, clear water. There are great rocks for jumping. After you have cooled off, head back into Wimberley and eat at the nicely casual Leaning Pear restaurant there.

Another jewel just outside Austin and just over an hour away is Pedernales Falls State Park. Plenty of great short hikes plus an area to take a splash in the river. If you’ve never been, take time to go! It is beautiful!

iGnite_Hike&HopBut my several times a week “go to” hike is right in Zilker Park. I love hiking from Barton Springs Pool and heading south into the green belt. This portion of the path is the newly developed Violet Crown Trail. The VCT leads from Barton Springs to Sunset Valley and will eventually extend 30 miles, all the way into Hayes county, connecting neighborhoods, shopping centers and other trails. I love hiking along the VCT and coming back for a refreshing swim in Barton Springs . . . makes my body happy!

How lucky we are to have these wonderful jewels right in Austin’s backyard. Hope to see you out on the trails!


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Class Highlight: Cardio Blast

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Cardio Blast

Molly Daniels

Leader Molly Daniels

Who wouldn’t want to take a class surrounded by nature with an amazing view? My Cardio Blast class is located at Mount Bonnell – a great location for a fabulous cardio endurance workout with a hill, stairs, ledges and picnic tables while overlooking Lake Austin at the top!

Cardio Blast takes place on Wednesdays, so it’s the perfect mid-week “break” between strength training days. Because you want to give your muscles at least one day to recover from lifting weights so that they can grow and change, some form of cardio is a great go-to. And, if you are looking for a great quad and glute workout, this one is for YOU!

DSC_4445This high intensity class has many benefits especially because we aren’t moving in one steady state. Cardio Blast focuses on the lower body through hill and stair sprints with intermittent bodyweight exercises. This type of interval training :

  • burns more calories than steady state cardio
  • increases your level of HGH (human growth hormone), which in turn engages your fast and super-fast twitch muscle fibers so you are healthier and stronger
  • improves insulin sensitivity, which can improve your overall health since poor insulin sensitivity can lead to chronic disease
  • produces results faster

iGnite - Mount Bonnell Group
I hope you’ll join me for Cardio Blast and experience the benefits above as well as improved speed and performance, higher energy levels, stronger quad and glute muscles, and increased oxygen in your blood.

This class is very fun and challenging. Although we move at a fast pace, all fitness levels are welcome! Plus, you’ll have a group of women who encourage you every step of the way.

See you at the bottom of the stairs!

View Class Schedule


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10-day Re-boot: Susan’s Day 7

iGnite 10 Day Body Reboot

Susan P

by Susan Palombo

Sunday is the day for relaxation and restoration; that fits right into our reboot philosophy and my primary objective for this tour: self-care. My key theme this year is Growth16 and so with our reboot and my recent completion of the Austin Half Marathon, I continue to experience physical, mental and spiritual growth. This is my third iGnite reboot and the last two times my daughter, Megan, has participated with me. It is much more fun to do the reboot with her.
lemon waterI awoke rested today, receiving 8 hours and 15 minutes of sleep—at goal and definitely more than I get Sunday-Thursday. Shortly after waking, I had my wheatgrass (which has been a part of my routine for about 3 years), my hot lemon water (which I enjoy but usually only do during the reboot and for a few weeks after), and a little bit of steel cut oats so I don’t have an empty stomach.

yoga2Since there aren’t any iGnite classes on Sunday, I headed over to Free Yoga at Luke’s Locker. Stacey and Jenny alternate teaching this class at both 8:30 and 10:00 a.m. Today we worked on balance, feet and lots of hips. I am definitely feeling better after this.

beet and kale smoothieI had a small smoothie when I got back from Yoga — this one was beet, kale, pineapple and blueberry — and then I prepared some food for the upcoming week – getting the cranberry water made and preparing the Detox Salad (iGnite recipe pages 32-33 ). sunday prep

 

 

 

 
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Then in keeping with my promise to myself to relax, renew, reboot, refresh, restore, retool and rest; my next Sunday Funday activity was to go with my daughter to get a manicure and pedicure at Lacquer in downtown.

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We met Megan’s twin brother and had an outside brunch at the Café No Se in the new Soco Hotel on South Congress. We split the hummus with vegetables and I had Fresh Tuna with Avocado Salad. It was nice to try a new spot for brunch with healthy delicious food and get an outside, fresh air fix with two of my kids. There are always lots of temptations at restaurants, and I was proud of myself for avoiding both the margarita, instead opting for Chamomile Tea, the Laffa bread that came with the Hummus!
bridge wallespaghetti squash and meatballsAfter a Lady Bird Lake Walk with our dog, Wall-e, we had homemade meatballs (using Gluten-free breadcrumbs) and spaghetti squash with a side of roasted green beans and carrots.  Now my continued relaxation is reading and a quick catch up on the Academy Awards.

The most difficult part:
epsom saltInitially, I thought the body brushing and Epsom Salt baths would be the most difficult part. In my first reboot, I think I accomplished one bath for about 7 minutes. After working on it, I have since really come to love that part of the reboot and it has been incorporated as a regular element of my routine—not 3x/week but definitely several times each month. I particularly appreciate it after a long run like yesterday!

The parts that I have incorporated into my life:
I ate pretty clean before I started all of the reboots but I love the intentional re-setting that it provides for me. Time to stop and access how you’re spending your time, what you are putting into and on your body. It is easy to let things slide back in. The reboots are a good time to remind myself how much better I feel without many of these elements in my body. Definitely the daily outside time, the exercise and variety of different ways to exercise are important things to remember. I have discovered that I actually do feel better without gluten so I opt to eliminate whenever I can when I’m not on the reboot. I love some new tortillas I have found made of almond flour and coconut flour. And of course, as some of you already heard, in my first reboot, I discovered I had a dairy allergy. Decades of eczema virtually disappeared without dairy. So dairy has become a permanent elimination.

Tips for success:
saladgetting organizedGetting organized in the kitchen is a huge help for my busy weeks. I keep my pantry stocked with a wide variety of seeds (flax, chia, pumpkin, sunflower), nuts (brazil, almond, walnut,), fried fruits (cherries, cranberries, blueberries, apricots, currants, raisins, figs, dates, prunes) and legumes. I keep my refrigerator stocked with easy to access spinach, kale, shaved Brussel sprouts, peas, shredded carrots, diced zucchini, diced roasted beets, sliced cabbage, sliced jicama, pineapple spears, detox salad, cooked chicken thighs, and other vegetables and fruits that can be quickly cut.  This enables me to make fabulous salads to eat or take to work lunch and to add to side dishes with a protein for dinner. The real culprit for most of us in eating healthy is running out of time when we’re hungry or our family members are hungry. When it is easy to make a healthy snack, we are much more likely to choose that route. Above is a photo of how some of those elements come together to make a salad in about 2 minutes.

New findings:
The oil pulling is something that I remember in the last reboot’s closing session. When it was added this time, I was curious to try it. If even half of the touted benefits are true, it is certainly worth the incorporation into your routine. I often did it while washing dishes or taking the dog out.
Good luck with the last few days of your reboot!

Spreading Hope, Love and Joy to the Hopeless

Operation Spread Hope, Love & Joy, Part II

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Point to Ponder:
How do you view the homeless or those on the street asking for help?

iGnite Neissa

by Neissa Brown Springmann

Sadly, in Austin and in most cities it is common to see homeless, desperate or hopeless people standing at busy intersections asking for help. Despite being advised by law officials and professionals to not give them money, if I have cash, change or any unopened food I always give what I have. And, when I do not have anything to give I get embarrassed and avoid eye contact. Ugh! Definitely not a mature and or compassionate response! I realize that by giving money I could be enabling their pursuit of getting a job or supplying funds for their next possible drug fix, but I don’t know their life story or history so to judge seems wrong and unfair.

Shamefully, there was a time when I didn’t feel this way and my heart was filled with judgement. While I didn’t voice it, when I saw someone asking for help my thought was that they should have more pride and work ethic than to lazily ask for my hard earned money. After all, I grew up with limited financial resources yet managed to work my way through college and make it. Why can’t they? However, several years ago I attended a Caritas luncheon where the co-authors of the book, Same Kind of Different as Me spoke. This experience changed my heart and perspective.

If you haven’t read the book, I encourage you to. Or if you wait until April 2016 it will be out in the theaters. In summary, through volunteering at a homeless meals program in Fort Worth, the co-authors Ron Hall (a wealthy Fort Worth art dealer) and Denver Moore (a literal modern-day hobo) developed a unique friendship. An intense bond was formed and both lives were changed– with Ron’s heart experiencing the greatest transformation. As a result of the book’s message and success, the two men traveled to speaking engagements, with Austin being one of them. Towards the end of the luncheon, Denver, the modern-day hobo and former prison inmate spoke. While he had no formal education, he understood life, the spiritual world, and had a connection with God like I had never seen or heard before. The room was silenced by his compassion, faith and wisdom and while I clung to every word he spoke, it was his advice on whether or not to give the homeless and hopeless money that I will never forget.

Having lived a life of homelessness, desperation and having people look down on him, Denver passionately urged the audience to bypass judgement towards the homeless, as we will never know what they have experienced in life and why they are in the situation they are in. Furthermore, he acknowledged that we’ve all been told not to give the homeless money, however he pleaded that we give what we can, and in doing so respectfully look them in their eyes and smile. Ultimately, he reminded us that we will never know if it will be our dollar, our smile or our words that will be the difference in their life.

After his sincere message, rather than look down on the homeless or beggars, I began to view them, their situation, and people in general with more compassion. I contemplated how I would want someone to treat me, my children, my family, and friends if we where homeless, desperate or falling on hopeless times. Or, if we were just in need of some help, support or encouragement. In doing so I realized how self-righteous and judgemental I had been. Then recently it was upon reading Matthew 26: 34 – 45, verses that I have listened to many times before, that I finally heard and realized how much more I can and need to do:

On His right, he will say; (Jesus) Come here, you beloved, you people whom My Father has blessed. Claim your inheritance, the Kingdom prepared for you from the beginning of creation. You shall be richly rewarded, for when I was hungry, you fed Me. And when I was thirsty, you gave Me something to drink; I was alone as a stranger, and you welcomed Me into your homes and into your lives; I was naked, and you gave Me clothes to wear; I was sick, and you tended to My needs; I was in prison, and you comforted Me.
Even then the righteous will not have achieved perfect understanding and will not recall these things.
Righteous: Master, when did we find You hungry and give You food? When did we find You thirsty and slake Your thirst? When did we find You a stranger and welcome You in, or find you naked and clothe You? When did we find You sick and nurse You to health? When did we visit You when You were in prison?
Jesus: I tell you this: whenever you saw a brother or sister hungry or cold, whatever you did to the least of these, so you did to Me.
And then He will turn to those on His left hand.
Jesus: Get away from Me, for I was starving, and you left Me with no food. I was dry and thirsty, you left Me to struggle with nothing to drink. When I was alone as a stranger, you turned away from Me. When I was pitifully naked, you left Me unclothed. When I was sick, you gave Me no care. When I was in prison, you did not comfort Me.
Unrighteous: Master, when did we see You hungry and thirsty? When did we see You friendless or homeless or excluded? When did we see you without clothes? When did we see You sick or in jail? When did we see You in distress and fail to respond?
Jesus: I tell you this: whenever you saw a brother hungry or cold, when you saw a sister weak and without friends, when you saw the least of these and ignored their suffering, so you ignored Me.

Despite your faith or belief, the idea that we should treat others as we would want to be treated says it all. And, we have all been given a conscious that guides us and gives us valuable information, which is why I am unable to make eye contact when someone is asking for help and I don’t have anything to give them. I know it’s not right or respectful to not show someone respect and give them the dignity they deserve by simply looking in their eye and exchanging a smile.

As a result, several months ago I began creating baggies of crackers, rice crispy treats, and breakfast bars. And, as of last week I added our printable ‘iGnite spread hope love and joy’ note cards. I keep the bags in my car so that I can have them with me at all times and it truly has made a difference! Therefore, as we continue to focus on spreading hope, love and joy, I hope you will consider doing the same and making care packages that you can hand out when needed. While the person you give the goodie bag and smile to will appreciate your generosity, I promise that your heart will be the one filled with hope, love and joy.

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Goodie Bag Basket

Action Item:
Create goodies bags and fill them with helpful items and the printable iGnite note cards. Keep them in your car and with a smile and eye contact, hand them to the homeless, hopeless or someone in need.

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Member Spotlight: Melinda Twomey


Roots:

I was born in New York City and raised mostly just outside New York in Englewood, New Jersey. We have lived in Austin for 16 years.

Basic Family Stats:IMG_1621-1
I have been married to Barry Twomey for 26 blissful years, and we are blessed to have four wonderful children: Paul (sophomore at Beloit College in Wisconsin), Margot (sophomore at University of Texas in Austin), Laura (freshman at Trinity University in San Antonio) and Mark (high school senior at AESA Prep Ac
ademy).

Current/Previous Occupation:
After attending Smith College and Columbia School of International Affairs, I worked in New York at several investment banks until retiring to be a full time mom. I currently serve on the boards of Fountain Valley School of Colorado and Tomorrow’s Children Foundation.

Biggest lesson learned through iGnite experience:
The biggest lesson I have learned through iGnite is to try new things! iGnite had literally been on my mind to try for years, but I was just too stuck to my routine. I finally made the leap in April, and the rest is history – thank goodness!

Who inspires you the most and why?
My girlfriends inspire me the most. They are smart, informed, readers of great books, travelers of the world, givers to those in need, sensitive, funny, interesting, fun, loving and humble. How lucky am I?!

In my free time…
I like to travel, hike, ski, read, do jigsaw puzzles, watch Homeland, Downton Abbey and House of Cards, work on my photography skills, spend time with family and friends, and most of all, I love to iGnite!

What is your guilty pleasure?
I only have two guilty pleasures: Chardonnay and Kone coffee (which we actually order from Hawaii).

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Member Spotlight: Nancy Dacy

IMG_4010Roots:
I grew up in Midland, Texas. I came to Austin in 1975 as a Junior in college to attend The University of Texas as a transfer from SMU. I have been here…wow…40 years.

Family Life:
I have been married to David, an Austin native, for 35 years. We met here at UT. We have 3 children: Catherine, 29, Christopher, AKA “Cricker” 28 and Alexis, 24. And as I am sure everyone knows, we have 2 grandchildren: Grayson, 3 1/2, and Madison, 4 months.

Current/Previous Occupation:
I taught Kindergarten a LONG time ago. I have done a little health coaching but primarily I have lived my adult life volunteering in many different capacities. My focus now is the Helping Hand Home for Children.

Biggest lesson learned through iGnite experience:
I have gained so much from iGnite, but I think the biggest lesson is that I/we are capable of doing so much more than we think we are. We just need to take advantage of opportunities and with encouragement, all we need to do is step out of our comfort zone and give things a try. You never know until you try. As I have said, I never dreamed I would be surfing without a rope on my 60th birthday. That was 100% iGnite and Kathleen.

Best advice given and from who:
Not sure where I heard this but it has stuck with me ever since: Everyone takes responsibility for their own happiness. Happiness is a choice that comes from within. Being happy doesn’t mean everything is perfect. It means you’ve decided to look beyond the imperfections. There are choices you can make every day to feel the effects of happiness. Choose to do something meaningful. Choose to take care of your body. Choose to be around the right people. Choose a good attitude. Choose to express gratitude. Choose to forgive. Choose to focus on what you have, not on what you haven’t.

In my free time…
My first choice is to be on the lake. It is truly my happy place. I love to travel – just need to do more of it. I am working on a needlepoint stocking for Madison, my granddaughter. So, more time than usual, is spent in front of a LifeTime movie stitching. Otherwise, I am with Madison and Grayson a lot.

Who is your celebrity look alike?
Well, for some reason, people are ALWAYS telling me I look like someone they know. It is really the oddest thing. But, for many years, everywhere I went (and I am truly not exaggerating), people told me I look like Cindy Brooks who used to anchor the Channel 5 news here in Austin. I had no idea who she was because I didn’t watch that channel. Finally, I did. Of course, I didn’t really see the resemblance. Many people said it was the smile. And…again, I don’t see it, but many people have told me I look like Jane Fonda. All I can picture is Monster In Law.

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