The only online publication for women in Greater Cincinnati

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Life is short. It’s too short to not be living out your dreams. And as you learned from this week’s feature, women are unfortunately living a life designed with others in mind and not necessarily the life they envisioned for themselves, but deep down they are aching to live out their dreams in a truly authentic life.

And since Cincy Chic’s “Living the Dream Issue” is about all things authentic, the editorial staff scoured the Tri-State area in search of women living their life to the fullest through their cool, non-traditional jobs or careers.

A Passion for Fashion

Traditional route: Many women interested in fashion typically pursue careers in the industry as stylists, photographers, designers or even models.
Alternative twist: For the more adventurous fashionista who likes taking up it a notch, fashion is on an entirely larger scale. People like Carolyn Martinez – Cincy Chic’s own associate editor.

Martinez makes costumes for Footlighters, Inc., a small theatre company in Newport, KY, and it was a random meeting with a woman at a party that got it all started. “Ida was lively and looked interesting, so I sat next to her at a party,” Martinez recalls, “We started chatting and Ida mentioned she was producing a play. Immediately, I was intrigued. Ida shared her fears about producing a play for Footlighters. She had been involved with the theater as a costumer, but not a producer. Now she was looking for a costumer and fretting over being a producer.

My mind started wondering if I could do the costumes and what I could say that would make Ida think I was capable of being a costumer. Before I had a chance to say anything, Ida asked if I could sew. My answer was ‘yes!’ That was it. I was Ida’s costumer!…I left that party excited, proud and scared. The stars would be wearing my stuff!”

Martinez has now costumed approximately 15 plays and really knows what it means for the stars to be wearing “my stuff.” “To me, being a costumer is all about being creative, making the stars feel fab and adding to the essence of the play. Costuming is my side job. It’s hard work, but fun and a great way to network,” advises Martinez.

During the day, Martinez manages employee communications for Cincinnati Bell. Her proudest moment of her two worlds colliding? “I still remember feeling so proud and smiling to myself as I prepared an internal promotion about the Fine Arts Sampler Weekend for Cincinnati Bell employees; One of the plays I costumed was being featured in the Sampler Weekend!”

Are you good with a sewing machine? Love the drama and production that comes with a theatre play? The Footlighters is always in need of volunteers for all sorts of production needs. Click here if you are interested in contributing your time and talent.

A Need for Speed
Traditional route: Typically, when you think of stock car racing, you envision a man’s world of testosterone, metal, gasoline and speed.
Alternative twist: But in 16 year-old Super Cup Stock Car Series Racer Megan Reitenour‘s world of racing, it’s all about cheerleading, school work, basketball and a lil’ pink Barbie Corvette, “I started out in a pink Barbie Corvette at the age of two years old. My Dad placed pillows behind me and underneath me so I could reach the pedals of the car,” Reitenour says. “I’m part of a third generation of racers in my family….at age four, I advanced to a Quad Runner and couldn’t wait to get into a Quarter Midget at age five.”

Reitenour, who lives in Miamisburg, Ohio, is definitely not your typical 16-year-old. While other young girls may be aching to learn how to drive, so they no longer have to depend on their parents, Reitenour had different motivations to get behind the stock car wheel. “I pursued a career in racing because I just love it! I honestly can’t get enough of it. There is nothing like going wheel to wheel with a competitor at 140mph. The adrenaline, excitement, challenge and strategy that plays into the mix is indescribable,” Reitenour explains.

It’s that need for speed and an innate competitive streak that made Reitenour a three time Quarter Midget Track Champion, 2004/2005 Ohio State Bandolero Champion and the 2006 Young Lions Semi Pro Legends State Champion, “The [feeling] of being the first car across the finish line is amazing…there is truly nothing like it.” When Reitenour hits the pavement, this girl turns heads as she whizzes by on the course and is so good that she’s already amassed quite a “portfolio” of sorts:

  • Won three consecutive track championships and has more than 150 top three feature finishes.
  • Won the Great Lakes Nationals in Flint, Michigan
  • Won the Buckeye Nationals in Xenia, Ohio, ranking 5th overall in the Nation.
  • Finished in the top ten in 24 out of the 26 races of the 2006 Legend Series.
  • Won the 2006 Young Lions State of Ohio Championship, ranking in the top 20 percent in the nation of the semi-pro division.
  • Fourth place standing in the Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana Legends (KOIL) Touring Series. Set two records in the process: being the youngest driver to place in the top five and the other being the first ever female to place in the top ten of the series.

031708CAREER2.jpgHer advice for other girls or women interested in getting their feet wet in racing? “…racing is by no means an easy career to get into. Like many things in life, there are ups and downs and racing is no different. Racing is my passion and I try to stay focused. I feel being focused is the key to being successful in anything that you attempt. If I was to give advice to a female considering the sport of racing I would say don’t take it lightly and always give your best. It is very important to have a good support system and listen. Never forget the people that help you.”

For her personally, Reitenour says her successes and accomplishments would not have been possible without the support of her team, family, friends and independent sponsorships. “I am so grateful for them. I get great satisfaction from being part of a group that represents young ladies in this sport and I look forward to the goals and challenges ahead of me,” Reitenour says.

So what’s next for this up and coming racing superstar? She’ll be racing in the Super Cup Stock Car Series. “I’ve been fortunate enough to be selected as a development driver for Nesbitt Racing Enterprises Inc. We will be racing two races in Ohio this year: Columbus Speedway in Columbus Ohio on May 3 and Kil-Kare Speedway in Xenia Ohio on July 4,” Reitenour says. “Also, I’m trying to run for a national championship. Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to secure sponsorship in order for me to do so.”

If you would like to see Reitenour in action on the course, check out the rest of her 2008 race schedule here


Full of Hot Air

Traditional route: Some women who love to travel might typically become an airline flight attendant.
Alternative twist: When Mindi Gliatti surprised her husband Mike with a charter balloon flight to celebrate their fifth wedding anniversary, she ended up being surprised by what she felt after they landed, “By the time we landed, we were both trying to figure out how to get started in hot air ballooning. I started crewing and Mike began working on his FAA [Federal Aviation Administration] private and commercial pilot’s license. Four years later, we have a booming commercial advertising and private charter business,” says Gliatti.

And that’s all it took for this mom of a two-year-old and full-time sales representative for a biotech company to open Bella Balloons, LLC, in Lebanon, OH, in 2007. Bella Balloons provides hot-air balloon charters and advertising services to Dayton, Cincinnati, Lebanon, Waynesville and Southwest Ohio. “I work part-time as a managing partner and a crew chief at Bella Balloons. Although I love my ’day-job,’ there is nothing more fun or interesting as working with hot air balloons!” Gliatti says.

She says the highlight of her ballooning responsibilities is being a crew chief. A crew chief is the pilot’s partner. A crew chief helps evaluate and orient passengers, teams with the pilot to provide pre-flight safety briefing, assists with launch site selection, equipment layout, balloon inflation and lift-off. “Then the fun begins,” says Gliatti. “The primary job of crew chief is to act as the chase vehicle driver. Hot air balloons move with the prevailing wind direction and thus no two flights are the same!” The crew chief is in radio and visual contact with the pilot and balloon and approximately 50 minutes into the flight, helps identify a landing spot with the pilot. Landing locations include airports, schools, parks, soccer fields or someone’s backyard! The final job of the crew chief is to pack up the balloon, join in a champagne toast ceremony with the passengers as they officially become “aeronauts” and then return them to the launch site.

It’s an industry that has very few females but Gliattihopes that will change, “Very few females are involved in ballooning, but really should be! We are always looking for additional crew members. If you are interested in scheduling a flight or learning more about ballooning, please visit our Web site.”

Brush of Inspiration

Traditional route: Most artists reach for either a paintbrush or sketchpad and pencil, when they’re inspired by creativity.
Alternative twist: When 21-year-old Andrea Sisson does her “artistic thang,” she reaches for an airbrush gun instead and goes to town. Sisson is an artist at Anything Airbrushed Plus, a full-service art studio specializing in creating custom artwork for individuals or corporations. The company offers a wide variety of services such as portraits, commercial advertising, apparel designs, murals, 3-D renderings, makeup and body painting, airbrush tanning, to custom airbrushed shoes, helmets and teddy bears!

Born and raised in Cincinnati, Sisson, who is majoring in fashion design at The University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning (DAAP), really enjoys the flexibility of being an airbrush artist, “I’ve worked for Anything Airbrushed for about four years now as an airbrush artist. Right away I realized the laid-back atmosphere, respect and responsibility the job offers…while I’m at the store, it’s my store; while I’m the artist on duty, I set the prices to my ability. We get commission on the orders so the amount of work and time is mostly up to us. There are guidelines, but what it really comes down to is we make as much as we want. There are often several jobs we could work, in which we get to choose. We work out the jobs that will make everyone happy. There is no real ’strict schedule.’ It can always be tweaked to meet every employee’s needs,” Sisson says.

Another reason why she loves working for Anything Airbrushed is that they aren’t limited to one location as the company has a retail space at the Beach Waterpark (near the Wave Pool) and inside the Cincinnati Mills Mall and the company also travels the country airbrushing for a variety of special events and competitions. They also plan to open a new studio in Summer/Fall 2008.

Sisson finds inspiration from Christo and Peter Max and especially loves expressing her creativity through body painting. “The body painting is one of my favorites. I also love the exciting and meaningful orders that I get to do. On one hand, the stuff can be quite tacky – I’d never wear it – but on the other hand, we get to make custom keepsakes for people who really appreciate it and really get excited about it. When I do an order that I have a lot of fun designing, [customers can tell that I just love it] and they can’t stop smiling. It’s a little special connection,” says Sisson.

Sisson’s advice for anyone interested in getting a “handle” on the airbrushing industry? “…just check it out. You will see that it is fun and laid back and if you can work with a bunch of half-cooky, spirited artists, then you will love it!”

Interested in trying your hand at airbrushing? Go ahead and sign up for Anything Airbrushed Plus’ Beginner’s Course.


Shake It Like a Salt Shaker

Traditional route: Most women who like to groove may let loose with a bunch of friends on the dance floor at a local club.
Alternative twist: But when Kathi Godber shakes her stuff, her hip scarf lets out an enticing jingle of coins and bells. Godber is a belly dancer at Habeeba’s Dance of the Arts, the first belly dance school established in the Midwest and is the longest continuously-operating belly dance school in the country. Established in 1971 by Habeeba, the school offers an exclusive technique she developed as one of the master instructors in the United States.

Godber, who works as a financial advisor and planning associate during the day, credits the Bible, for being her inspiration into the world of belly dancing, “I was always fascinated with belly dancing. It might be the influence of all the Hollywood Biblical epic movies I watched on TV while growing up,” Godber says. “When I was 17, I began taking belly dancing lessons at Habeeba’s in Columbus, back in the 1970s when classes in the art form first became available  – and I was a hippie chick. It was a time when the women’s movement was in full swing. It was an era big on self-expression and we women began taking more time for ourselves.” She  had never taken any dance classes before, but she felt comfortable with the classes because they were full of women of all ages, sizes, and backgrounds. Godber says the dance is predominantly improvisational and that spoke to her creative side. “The dance doesn’t discriminate – it truly loves all women: short, tall, big, small, young and old. I cherished the friendships I developed at the dance studio, too. That was an unexpected plus. And where else do you get to play ‘dress up’ as an adult, eh? [But] caution: The costumes can become addictive!”

And according to the Habeebas site, there’s more to belly dancing than meets the eye:

  • Recommended for women of all ages, sizes and shapes
  • Builds self confidence
  • Firms and tones muscles
  • Lose inches
  • Developing better posture
  • Gaining coordination
  • Learning about a beautiful history and culture
  • Make friends!

The costumes and her love for belly dancing proved to be more addictive than Godber thought. So much so, that instead of pursuing a college degree, she decided to open up her own belly dancing studio. “I bought the Cincinnati studio location from Habeeba and relocated here. We’ve had classes here continuously since 1974. I have performed professionally at Arabic restaurants in Cincinnati, Denver, Chicago, West Palm Beach and Detroit. I also had the opportunity to dance in Cairo, Egypt. In 1983, I created a professional dancing troupe, which still exists with two original members.”

You might have had the privilege of enjoying a Habeeba performance locally, since they are such a hot entertainment act that has everyone asking for more. “My dancers perform at Andy’s Mediterranean Grill on Friday and Saturday nights. We also produce two or three shows a year. In September, we’ll perform “Behind the Veil,” a historical belly dance retrospective at Miami Hamilton’s Parrish Auditorium with dancers from all over the Tri-state area. It will be fabulous! We also have a studio spotlight recital at our location at The Place in Elmwood Place every August, our ’Harem Scarem‘ Halloween show in October and I co-sponsor a belly dance weekend retreat at Grailville in Loveland every May,” says Godber.

Godber might seem like she’s having more fun than she is working and feels that her passion and love for the craft far outweigh any financial cons, “I will say that it’s hard to make a ‘good living’ being a belly dancer. I’m sure that the same is true in most art forms. But it’s something that I love to do and teach, so I keep it rolling along. Our teaching staff are volunteers and most dance professionally.”  If you want a career in belly dancing, Godber says it takes years of training. She suggests you find a studio and instructor that you like and stick with it. “Many of our dancers can become professional after about three years of lessons. I have some dancers who have studied with me for 25 years!”

If you are interested in taking belly dancing classes or seeing Godber and her staff in the flesh at any of their performances or events, contact her at (513) 794-0055 or for more information.



Photo: Megan Reitenour, Megan Reitenour Racing

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You go to work to make money, not spend it. But after the commute, morning coffees, lunch meetings, afternoon pick-me-ups and happy hour drinks, your paycheck barely makes it home.

Sure, you can pack your lunch or carpool. But what if you’re already doing that, or those options just aren’t practical? Ginger Scherbarth, human resources and corporate wellness expert and owner of ANOVIA, says there are many “big picture” ways to save on work-related expenses, such as looking at your healthcare and personal wellness plan.

Healthcare Plan
First and foremost, Scherbarth says you should know your plan. “It is important to know what will be covered before getting a treatment, going to a doctor or having a prescription filled,” she explains.
“This is especially important if a plan only has in-network benefits or if the benefits are significantly reduced if you don’t go to a network physician.”

And, unlike the fashion world, “generic” isn’t a bad word when it comes to healthcare. Scherbarth says you should ask your doctor about a generic version of your prescription. “Generic drugs are the same prescription, same strength and same dosage as brand named drugs – and they are FDA approved,” she says.

Also, take the time to annually review your benefits package and selections. Scherbarth says you should ask yourself the following questions each year: Has your family situation changed? Does it make sense for a married couple to each carry their own coverage through an employer or would it be more cost effective to have one spouse cover both? Is it now time to sign your baby up for dental insurance?
If your company offers a health reimbursement account or flexible spending account, sign up! Scherbarth says these plans save you money by allowing you to get tax savings on the normal items such as deductibles, copays and prescriptions and also you get savings on many over the counter medications are covered. 

Personal Health
One of the best ways to reduce healthcare costs is to take care of your health. “Eat five to nine veggies or fruits per day, limit fats and drink lots of water,” Scherbarth says, “enjoy a twist of lemon or orange to spritz it up!”

You don’t completely need to overhaul your diet to have a healthier lifestyle. Scherbarth says just going for a walk or taking a short break can help reduce stress. But, she highly recommends hitting the gym when you can. “Exercise is great for your heart and your head and keeps the doctor visits at bay,” says Scherbarth. “Keeping yourself healthy means you reduce the likelihood of getting ill or having some preventable disease, such as heart disease, diabetes or cancer.”

Nutrition Costs
Not having a plan can mean havoc on your diet and your pocket. “On Sunday, before the work week begins, think of what you will be doing for lunch and for snacks during the days to keep your energy up,” says Scherbarth. “Lean Cuisine meals (and the like) are a good quick fix option. Add some of your own mixed veggies to up the nutrition value.” Scherbarth cautions to watch the sodium content, though, as some of the quick meals have a full day’s alottment in just one serving. Other ideas include natural peanut butter and jelly on whole grain bread, leftovers from dinner the night before. Even a slice of cheese pizza can fit into your diet, she says, but just supplement with a piece of fruit.

“Stay away from the drive thru voodoo!” warns Scherbarth.  “There are low fat options out there, but you have to do your homework to make sure there aren’t hidden fats and calories in the sauces and additives. Don’t just drive up and order what you’ve always ordered without thinking of the impact to your health.”

Consider good snacks, instead of that overpriced, unhealthy vending machine options. Scherbarth says nuts, yogurt, pretzels, low calorie granola bars and fruit are good options. “Pack a few snack bags on the weekend and you’ll be rarin’ to go when you need a little mid-morning or afternoon ‘pick me up,’” says Scherbarth. 

A Workable Plan
So, you have a way to watch your healthcare and nutrition costs, but you still need a tangible way to see how much you can save from these changes. Well, get out your pen, paper, calculator and thinking cap. Draw four columns. In the first column write down all your expenses and in the second column write down the cost per week for that item listed. Your expenses may list some of the following items:


  • Car parking
  • Lunch
  • Drinks after work
  • Afternoon snack
  • Gym fees
  • Babysitting

If you have other expenses, add them in so you get a personal snapshot of your own living expenses. In the third column, identify the expenses you can change:


  • Y for yes, can change
  • N for no, cannot change
  • P for possible change
  • D for definite change

In the fourth column, consider a cost saving value to provide a dollar value of the saving. For example, now that you know how much things are costing you:


  • Can you do with less babysitting? How much less? What will your saving be?
  • Do you need to purchase a coffee every morning before work? Can you make your own? Can you cut down to just one Starbucks per week? What would your saving be?
  • Instead of eating out for lunch, can you make your own? Are there less expensive places to eat lunch? What would your saving be?
  • Do you need to rely on quick pick up snacks? Can you organize your meals differently? What would your saving be?
  • Do you need to spend as much on new clothing? What can you do without or what can you change? What would your saving be?
  • Do you use the gym efficiently and cost effectively? Do need to change your membership to reflect a change in use? What would your saving be?

Costs You May Be Able to Deduct
So, you know how much you can save year-round. But now that it’s tax season, you’re probably wondering how you can capitalize on work-related expense tax deductions. According to, you can deduct a wide variety of employment-related expenses, including:

  • Transportation and Travel: Sometimes considered unreimbursed costs, and therefore deductible. For example, commuting costs cannot be claimed, but the expense of getting from a job with one employer to a second job with another is deductible. The per-mile reimbursement rate varies according to activity.
  • Meals and entertainment: They may be deductible but only at half the actual cost. As with many deductions, scrupulous records are required. Work-related doesn’t mean the pizza you ordered at your desk is tax-deductible. It implies you were with colleagues or clients and discussing business matters.
  • A computer or home office: If used exclusively for work, they may be deductible.
  • Union and professional dues and work-related licenses, legal fees and medical examinations.
  • Uniforms, tools, supplies and magazine subscriptions: They may be deducted if not reimbursed by the employer.
  • Work-Related educational expenses: Deductible if the coursework is required by your employer or helps you maintain or improve your qualifications in your current line of work.
  • Job search expenses: Generally are deductible, but only to change jobs within your current field.

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In today’s crazy world, it can be next to impossible to be able to maintain your career and social and family life. In the past, women were just relegated to the kitchen. But today, we’re not just in the kitchen, we’re in the board room, networking luncheon, book club, non-profit organization and PTA, too. Achieving a work-life balance is now a goal you work your whole life to accomplish. But it doesn’t have to be that difficult.

I am the founder of Strategies for Women’s Growth, and I created a program to help women overcome obstacles to their success. I teach the 3P’s: powerful professional and personal esteem; powerful verbal and non-verbal language and powerful presentations and packaging.

My book, How To Raise Your Self-Esteem, a Self-Enhancement System for Women, is part of the curriculum for the Hamilton County Justice Center Women’s Substance Abuse Treatment Program. In it, I teach women how to develop strategies to live life to the fullest. From it, I put together a list of 10 tips for balancing work and life:
Have reasonable expectations
Given your full plate ask yourself “What may I have to let go?

Take care of yourself
Ask yourself often, “Am I too hungry, too angry, too lonely or too tired”? If the answer is yes, take some time for you.

Have goals
Don’t just be a hamster on the wheel, ask yourself “Are my actions taking me where I want to go in life?”

Plan and organize
Reactive is dangerous. You can’t balance the load if you are in chaos.

More than five priorities and you will probably fail at all of them.

Anticipate crises
Even the best plans can get tripped up by a crisis. Have a plan B: backup child care, back up batteries in your alarm clock,  have “Fix a Flat” in your trunk and someone to set up for you in an important meeting, etc.

Delegate and set limits
Delegate at work and at home. You do no one any service by trying to do it all. Learn to set limits and be able to say, “no!”

People don’t know your needs unless you tell them. Learn to say “One thing I need right now is…”

Be in the present. When you are at work focus on the job and when at home focus on those that are dear to you.

Have a positive attitude
When feeling overwhelmed, ask: “Why did I make this life choice?” That should help bring you back to the joy of that segment of your life.

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Didn’t get picked for the latest reality show? Was your last lottery ticket a dud? Did your wealthy great-aunt Martha forget to leave you in her will?

You may have heard your grandmother say there’s more than one way to skin a cat. Well, there’s more than one way to retire a millionaire!

While it may not be as exciting as winning the lottery, making a deliberate choice to save on a daily basis will bring you closer to your goal of being a millionaire. In fact, that’s how most millionaires are made!

No doubt you’ve heard of paying yourself first. No, that doesn’t mean buying designer shoes before anything else! Paying yourself first is making sure you automatically set aside money for your future each month. You can accomplish this by either setting up your direct deposit to have a portion put into your savings account or set up direct transfers from your checking to your savings account. Having your money systematically and directly sent from your paycheck or your bank account to your savings account is the best way to save. If you don’t see it, you won’t spend it.
So how much do you need? If you start saving $995.51 a month at age 30 with a six percent return, you will be a millionaire by the time you are 60. If you wait until you’re 40, you’ll need to save $2,164.31 each month! So, you can see how important it is to start saving early! Try an online calculator to figure out how much money you need to save for retirement. 0208_INSTORY_makebelieveball.gif

If you haven’t already done so, signing up for your 401(k) plan at work would be a great move. In addition to your own contributions, your employer may have a matching contribution that will help you reach your goal. That matching contribution is free money!

How do you come up with the rest? First, take a look at your discretionary income (the money you spend on things other than necessities, such as food, clothes and rent) and try to come up with a budget. Are there places where you can cut corners to increase your “millionaire” account? Can you cut down on the cost of your essentials? Perhaps you don’t really need super-expensive designer jeans to survive. Another tip is if you get a raise (or a higher paying job), save the increase instead of spending it and bank any bonus (or income tax refund) you might receive. If you are really passionate about becoming a millionaire sooner rather than later, you may also consider getting a second job.

For many people, owning a home has been a practical long-term means to building net worth, although it isn’t generally easily transferred into spendable cash, such as a portfolio of stocks and bonds. But you’ll still need a place to lay your head at night when you retire!

0208GIBBERMAN.gif What about how to invest? The return you get on your investment and when you plan to retire will greatly affect how much you must save each month to meet your goal. Historically, stocks have returned more than bonds, so you are able to take on more investment risk when you are young. However, as you near retirement you may want to shift your allocation into stocks a little less aggressively. If the thought of the stock market dropping makes you a little queasy, just remember that those monthly investments when the market is down is similar to finding a Prada bag on clearance.

A financial advisor can help you determine how much risk you can handle and properly allocate your savings. She or he can help you choose between tax qualified and nonqualified investments, mutual funds and individual securities, allocating payments to reduce debt or directly increase savings. She’ll discuss taxes and inflation, risk and reward, dividends, interest and capital gains and will help you with the myriad of financial issues that are unique to your situation. And having someone to talk to during the rough spots in the market will help you stay the course and meet your long term goal.

Now, who wants to be a millionaire?


Photo: iStock Photo 

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Planning your wedding can be one of the most stressful things you will ever do. The simplest discussion can turn a catfight at a moments notice. The to-be-inlaws get too involved, the vendors aren’t holding up their end of the bargain, the bridesmaids aren’t speaking to each other…and all you want to do is stand before your family with the one person that will make you happy for the rest of your life and say, “I do”!

Well, Cincy Chic is here to save the day! We’ve pulled together three Cincinnati-based wedding planners to help you through the planning stages of your wedding. They shared some of their tips for how to get through some of the biggest problems brides-to-be face. Our panel of experts consists of Amy Boucher, Kerry Leedy and Alison Wenstrup.

Amy Boucher
, executive director of the In Style Event Group, says she has been helping with weddings since she was eight years old. It was only natural that she made a career out of it. She says she wants to help brides create “‘that’ moment – the one you wished wouldn’t end and have always remembered.”

Kerry Leedy
founded KL Wedding Designs in 2006 to do everything to help the bride and groom’s wedding day go smoothly.

Alison Wenstrup, owner of Aviva-Events, says her job is “to make things easier for the bride and everyone else.” She offers brides-to-be and their families a combination of coordinating and consulting.

Cincy Chic: How long does it usually take to put a fairytale wedding together?

  • Wenstrup: I’ve seen weddings planned in two months and in two years. But ideally, you need a year.
  • Leedy: I have planned a wedding in four months. I don’t recommend that for everyone. You’re not going to get the best vendors or venue.
  • Boucher: Places like Drees Pavilion have people camped outside the night before the release of available dates for the following year.

Cincy Chic: What should the bride do first?

  • Leedy: Your dress! It sets the tone for the ceremony and reception site.
  • Boucher: Secure a wedding coordinator! Reserve your ceremony and reception site, securing your officiate and setting a budget – just remember, your proposed budget and actual budget will probably be different.
  • Wenstrup: Your venue is important, but start working on whatever is most important to you. If that’s your dress, then do that first!

Cincy Chic: What are some things that most brides overlook until the big day?

  • Leedy: There are a lot of small touches that your guests will notice. Things like personalized cocktail napkins and a special thanks to the wedding party and family.
  • Wenstrup: The smaller details. Programs, place cards and what they are going to do with the gifts. Are the bride and groom going to take them back to the hotel or send them with someone else? You definitely don’t want to leave your gifts behind!

 Cincy Chic: What’s the best way for the bride’s girlfriends, mother, future mother-in-law or sisters to get involved – without taking over her wedding?

  • Boucher: Schedule a meeting, a luncheon or brunch would be a nice touch, and give each person a list of pre-set tasks. That way, there will be no confusion about who will be doing what, and keeps the bride in control of the helpers instead of the helpers controlling the bride.
  • Leedy: Have anyone who is interested help with things like assembling the invitations, folding the programs or getting the favors ready.
  • Wenstrup: For those who want to help with the wedding, but aren’t sure how, just let the bride know you want to help. Volunteer for the more mundane tasks and be specific about what you want to do.

Cincy Chic: What advice would you give to a bride who is having a Monster-in-Law problem?

  • Wenstrup: That’s a tricky question. Tell them you appreciate their suggestions, and you’ll take them to heart. Hopefully they will be happy with that.

Cincy Chic: How much can having a wedding coordinator help a bride on her big day?

  • Wenstrup: As little or as much as you want! An option a lot of people don’t know about is that some coordinators offer hourly consultations to check out what the bride has done so far and get suggestions. You can also often hire a coordinator just for the day or the week of the wedding.
  • Leedy: Just to have someone help set up is huge. It gives the bride peace of mind.
  • Wenstrup: It’s good to have someone with an objective opinion about things. We can also do things like review your contracts.

0208GIBBERMAN.gifCincy Chic: What’s something outrageous someone has had you do for her wedding?

  • Leedy: I don’t know if I’d call it outrageous, but there was a belly dancer at one of the weddings I helped with.

Cincy Chic: That must have been interesting!

  • Leedy: It was a lot of fun! Only the bride, who was Egyptian, and the groom knew about her. It was a surprise to everyone else. She came in through a secret door and performed on the dance floor. She got everybody up and moving!

To Do List
Here’s a more detailed to-do list, created by combining the lists from our wedding planners, to help all you brides out there have the smoothest wedding day possible:


12+ Months Before

  • Announce your engagement
  • Decide on a budget for the wedding
  • Set the theme for your wedding
  • Start planning your guest list and decide if children will be included (or if you will use a service such as Kid Quest Unlimited.)
  • Set your date and book your venues
  • Book your officiate
  • Set your bridal party
  • Have an engagement party
  • Start researching vendors
  • Interview coordinators (if you wish)


8-12 Months Before

  • Hire your photographer (and videographer if you wish)
  • Hire your entertainment (band/DJ)
  • Buy your dress
  • Block hotel rooms for out of town guests (Consider reserving a “block” of rooms for your out-of-town guests. Some hotels offer a discount!)
  • Start your gift registry
  • Choose caterer (if not provided by venue)
  • Send save-the-date cards

4-7 Months Before
  • Select and buy invitations
  • Look for bridesmaid’s dresses
  • Hire your florist
  • Arrange transportation
  • Select and order your cake
  • Start dress fittings for you and bridesmaids
  • Schedule hair/makeup artists
  • Start planning your honeymoon!


2-3 Months Before

  • Finalize menu
  • Finalize flowers
  • Purchase rings
  • Review your wishes/priorities with photographer and entertainment
  • Send invitations (6-8 weeks before the wedding date)


1 Month Before

  • Keep track of your RSVPs
  • Work on seating plan
  • Get your marriage license
  • Final dress fitting

Week of the Wedding
  • Confirm details with vendors
  • Create a timeline to send to bridal party
  • Set aside final payments and tips
  • Send final guest count to venue/caterer
  • Pack for your honeymoon

Post Wedding
  • Arrange for someone to return any rentals
  • Arrange for someone (usually maid of honor) to take the bridal gown for cleaning and preservation
  • Arrange for someone (usually best man) to return the groom’s tuxedo to the rental shop
  • Write and send thank-you notes to guests who sent or brought gifts and vendors who were especially helpful



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“Uh-oh,” you think as you hear Jane slam the door to her office. You’re in for another long day. “I wonder what set her off this time? How long will the rest of need to suffer?”

0208GIBBERMAN.gifWe all know what it is like to be around someone with a negative attitude and none of us enjoy it! They really do drain our energy, enthusiasm and liveliness and mak us feel depressed along with them. They definitely affect our morale and, as a result, our productivity at work.

So how do we make the best of things when we work with a person who is always in a bad mood? If someone is persistently critical, judgmental, pessimistic and angry, they are often looking for attention. The more you react to their negativity, the more they are encouraged to continue. The best response is to remove yourself from her presence. When that’s not possible, do not be drawn into her negative energy. Acknowledge that it must be difficult to see only the negative aspects of life, but do NOT mesh your feelings with her negative ones. Keep martial arts principles in mind – resistance causes tension and the opponent will remain stuck. If you ignore the intimidator, they have no one to argue with and will move on to a more willing sparring partner.

In my experience, consistently negative people use these down beat emotions to cover their own hurt or pain. If you want to help, ask questions such as: “What is it like for you to have everything go wrong?” or “What does it feel like to be so angry?” Focus on her where she is. Make the statement be about her, not the external things that may have triggered the mood. Do not talk about other persons, yourself or the world in general. It is the individual who is hurting who wants to be acknowledged and heard. If you are having trouble being kind to a0208_INSTORY_makebelieveball.gif steadfastly negative person, consider how you would treat a person who is physically hurt. The negative person is aching emotionally, and expressing it through anger and negative energy. Try to be as caring to her as you would someone who is physically hurt.

Another tactic is to ask the person with the negative attitude “What do you really want?” Often she does not know, which is part of the problem. Negative people can usually only tell you what is wrong or what they do not like. But that’s a start. The challenge is to help the cynical person change their experiences by changing their way of thinking.

How important is attitude to our success? According to Dr. Martin Seligman, the father of the field of positive psychology, in his study on why people succeed and thrive, the number one factor is attitude. Attitude is the foundation of everything we do or do not do, accomplish or do not achieve. The good news is: Your attitude is determined by you. You decide whether you will be positive or negative. Your choice will determine whether people want to work with you or prefer to be as far away from you as possible.

Think of this quote when you find yourself at a fork in the negative-colleague-road: “In one minute I can change my attitude, and in that one minute I can change my entire day!”

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It’s that time of year again. Roses, teddy bears and Valentine’s Day date plans. Ah yes, love is in the air. However, the soft glow of a candle-lit dinner has been replaced by the blaze of fluorescent lights in the break room. Office romance has become a thing of the present, but it should remain an idea of the past.

Having a relationship with a co-worker is commonly known as “dipping your pen in the company ink.” But there’s a reason why we don’t use quills and a jar of ink anymore, though – it’s messy.

It’s not uncommon, however, that the laws of attraction work against us, and Cupid shoots his love-dipped arrow right into the keesters of you and Mr. McDreamy in the desk next to you. There is no repellant that keeps the love bug from biting, and it’s easy to see why the office is the perfect setting.

Think about it – sleep aside, about 75 percent of your day is spent with your colleagues. You spend just as much time, if not more, with your co-workers as you do with a significant other. The more you see that special someone, the more attracted you get, and often times you can cut the sexual tension with a knife.

0208_INSTORY_makebelieveball.gif Look at how well you know your co-workers, too. You get all day to learn about their past, their likes and dislikes, and you get insight into their personality. It’s like the gates of communication open, and you become comfortable with that person on level like no other.

So Why Not Go For It?
If it’s your boss or a subordinate, nix it immediately. Bad, bad, bad idea here people!

Two words come to mind with this scenario: sexual harassment. If the love affair with your boss or subordinate goes sour, all that has to be said are those words and someone’s career is ruined – true or not.

Generally speaking, a lot of break-ups do not end well and one of the two is usually left with a bitter taste in their mouth. There can also be the assumption from others in the office that someone is getting special treatment. Even if you are the better worker, others may only see it as benefits of sleeping with the boss. Not only does it lower morale, but also what is hard work on your part can simply be seen as favoritism.

What was once a seamless career and flawless job is now sheer torture and misery. If your spicy love affair comes to a screeching halt, it can leave you in one heck of an awkward position. What if they are your cubical neighbor or room buddy? Think of your worst break up, then picture seeing that person every day, all day. Are you cringing with pain and disgust yet?

 “Earth to self – is anyone out there?” Being in the dreamy, honeymoon stage of a relationship can be the 0208GIBBERMAN.gifbest part, but can be a massive distraction on what you are there to do in the first place. That’s right, work, remember? Steamy e-mails, flirtatious instant messages, rendezvous by the copier – where do you find the time to focus on that deadline when all you can think about is your next romantic encounter?

So you think that you can stand the tide and overcome the barriers. If you’re living a Nelson song and “Can’t live without their love and affection,” keep these five ideas in mind:


  1. Do some research. Does your company tolerate inter-office relationships? Are there other relationships within the company? If so, how do they handle theirs and what problems do they have?
  2. Set boundaries. Let’s face it, we are adults now and should be able to discuss our relationships and the problems that may occur. Perhaps you both prefer to keep the work/home life separate from one another, or be in agreement with how you both will act if your fondness fizzles.
  3. Disclose your relationship to human resources, especially if it is serious. It’s not asking for their approval, you are just letting them know to protect your job and future situations.
  4. Have tact and be discrete. It’s your place of work, not date night. Not only is it slightly disgusting to slip some tongue by the coffee pot, but it also makes you look irresponsible, unfocused and inconsiderate of others.
  5. Think about what you are doing. Will this have a negative affect on your career? Will your relationship affect others? Can you maintain a work and sexual relationship? Is this something that you see turning serious? Can you deal with a break-up? These are all examples of crucial questions you need to ask yourself and your sweetie.

iStock Photo

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Long hours, bad bosses, unsupportive co-workers and overflowing inboxes. If these things get your heart racing just to think about, imagine what it does to your heart when you experience it every day at work.

Kay Fittes is the founder of Strategies for Women’s Growth, a company that specializes in helping women overcome obstacles to their career success. Fittes says a big obstacle for women is their work-related stress. She recently discovered the following statistics:

  • 83 percent of all illnesses are stress-related
  • 60 percent of women more likely to suffer job stress than men
  • The Families and Work Institute reports 26 percent of workers report problems with stress and burnout


0208_INSTORY_makebelieveball.gif "I cannot think of one client of ours that doesn't mention their job as a main stressor," says Dr. Gina Dalessandro, a chiropractor at Gateway Chiropractic Center in Montgomery. "Maybe they're not doing what they want to for a living, or maybe they are and it's just not the right environment. Regardless, work-related stress can have a very negative effect on your health, your heart in particular."

Fittes says these 10 questions will help decipher whether or not your job and work-related stress is affecting your health:

  1. Do you dwell on issues about work on personal time?
  2. Do you fanaticize about the perfect job somewhere else?
  3. Do you take work home with you on a daily basis, but not do it?
  4. Do you have a “me versus them” mentality?
  5. Have you had significant health issues while in this job? Headaches, stomach problems, hives, insomnia?
  6. Have your personal relationships been affected by your attitude regarding work?
  7. Do you have a sudden burst of energy when you leave the workplace?
  8. Are you unable to “let go” of minor grievances at work?
  9. Are you unable to develop a plan for making changes in your job situation?
  10. Do you feel a sense of hopelessness and helplessness in the situation?

If you answer "yes," to all or the majority of questions above, Fittes says your job is most likely affecting your health and you need to make a change.

Dalessandro says emotional issues eventually result in physical issues, and the body gives several signs to let you know that the emotional has escalated into physical. Chief among these signs are depression, low moods, tension in shoulders and headaches.

Dr. Brent Owens, also a chiropractor at Gateway Chiropractic Center, says these physical symptoms actually relate back to our primal makeup. "Your body is designed to have a fight-or-flight stress response. A stressful situation occurs, such as being chased by a lion,0208GIBBERMAN.gif and your body reacts to increase your ability to escape. Your heart races with the boost of the adrenaline in your system, your cholesterol goes up to help blood clotting and your brain essentially shuts down in terms of memory and other normal functions so that it can concentrate on escaping," he explains. "That's great when you're momentarily escaping from a lion, but not great when it's an everyday, all day stressful environment at work."

This fight-or-flight stress response can have a detrimental effect on your body over time with its resulting increase in cholesterol, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, lack of concentration, memory loss, anxiety and sleep-related issues. But, Dalessandro says there are easy ways to maintain control of that stress, and thus your unhealthy stress response:


  • Drink Water. Not only is water good for keeping your body hydrated and flushing toxins out of your body, it also makes you step away from your desk several times throughout the day to use the restroom. "Some times, just taking yourself away from your desk for a few moments is all you need to keep your stress level from escalating," she says.
  • Keep It Moving. "Your nervous system is driven by movement; it stimulates the brain," says Dalessandro. "Plus, your joints need movement to be healthy." Watch the Webcast below to see Dalessandro demonstrate easy stretches to do in your office throughout the day to keep both your body and mind healthy.
  • Don't Eat Fast Food. You might promise yourself a Big Mac if you can make it through another day with Mr. Stinksatbeingaboss, or a quick drive-thru meal is all you can fit into your hectic schedule, but Owens says fast food actually stresses your body out even more. "The toxins in fast food further weaken your already weak body," he says. Healthier, unprocessed, whole food options will help to build your body's defenses against stress, so opt for those next time.
  • Take Three Deep Breaths. Dalessandro attributes this tip to a book she recently read called Three Deep Breaths: Finding Power and Purpose in a Stressed-Out World by Thomas F. Crum . In the book, Crum suggests having landmarks for taking your breaths, such as a stoplight. "Every time he'd come to a stoplight, he'd take three deep breaths, which would help calm him down," Dalessandro says. "You could do that at work, such as right before you open an e-mail from a certain someone that always stresses you out."


Another thing that will help you decrease stress at work is a corporate wellness program. Dalessandro says Gateway Chiropractic Center provides these for both large and small companies. "We give wellness lunch 'n' learns for employees, provide ergonomic tips and work with individual employees to enhance their individual spaces." She says it's the responsibility of both the employee and employer to keep a workforce happy and healthy.

Click on the play button below to view an exclusive Webcast with Dalessandro as she demonstrates a few helpful ways to thwart stress and cardiovascular disease.

Photo: iStock Photo

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Jaime Carmody wasn't your typical 14-year-old. Instead of starting food fights and trading her carrot sticks for potato chips at lunch time, she was savoring every bite and idolizing the lunch ladies.

Carmody loved cooking at home and found herself an employee of the food and beverage industry before she could even drive. She worked her way up from sandwich cook, prep cook, lunch line cook to dinner line cook by age 20.

"I love all five senses of food: The visual, the taste, the smell, the sound, the feel," she says. "I like to eat and to enjoy food. I like to see people's reactions to my food. I like to take something you wouldn't think is good and healthy, and make it so."

She decided to support these passions with a formal education. "I decided to go to culinary school to figure out what else in food I liked besides restaurants," Carmody explains. She chose to study at the Scottsdale, Az.-based Scottsdale Culinary Institute. The school was 12 months of 40 hours a week classes with a three-month externship at a spa in Southern California. "I realized that I love food and I love the food industry," she says.

After her externship, she spent time with local chefs in Arizona, such as Eddie Matney, Gary Sherear and Michael Hubard. She found herself happiest working for hotels, because of the opportunities and numerous culinary jobs available under one roof. "I have worked for Destination Hotels and Resorts, Marriott and Hilton," she says. "I even have a picture of me with Mr. Marriott."

As the executive chef at the Hilton Garden Inn in Carlsbad Beach, California, Carmody got her greatest breadth and depth of experience with management, banquets, catering, restaurants, room service and employees. As a well-versed chef, she was living a dream. But her heart longed for her other aspiration – to be a mom.

"I had always wanted to be a mom and a chef," Carmody says. "I knew that if stayed on the path I was on, I would be a great head chef, but not have too much time for kids."

She and her new husband decided to move to Ohio where they could live the lifestyle they wanted without having to work a corporate job. "I researched the personal chef field and decided it was a perfect fit. I could be a chef and a mom at the same time."

After having a taste of being boss as executive chef, Carmody knew she enjoyed being in charge. And coming from a family of entrepreneurs, she had a great support system when it came time to start her own business. Today, she is not only a mother, but also the owner of Out Of Thyme, Ltd., a personal chef service. She does in-home meal preparation – where she makes up to a month's worth of food for you, according to your dietary guidelines – as well as intimate dinners, private parties and cooking classes.

Carmody increases her business through happy customers, networking groups such as eWomen Network and the Web. She also got involved with a professional organization of personal chefs, the American Personal and Private Chefs. "I still do the networking, [but] my best form of advertising is cooking for you," she says. "Once you meet me and try my food, you are my best advertiser."

She has some advice for anyone looking to break into this business: "Be prepared to work long hours and spend money on good shoes." And she also has advice that's applicable to any business owner, in any industry: "Be open to new ideas, flavors and tastes."

Turns out, Carmody found a career in quite a healthy industry. "The job outlook for chefs, cooks and other kitchen workers is very good," says Dawn Rosenberg McKay, a career planning professional and author. "There are expected to be many jobs available for those seeking them through the year 2014. Competition for chef positions in high-end restaurants is supposed to be tough, however."

Earnings vary depending on where and in what type of establishment one works. But, for example, the median salary for a Cincinnati-based sous chef is $39,760 and a fine dining restaurant chef has a median salary of $41,155, according to the Salary Wizard at

Photo: Amy Storer
Location: Women Idea Networking Expo Fundraiser, benefitting The Child's Wellness Fair of Ohio
Model: Jaime Carmody, owner of Out Of Thyme, Ltd.

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It’s a dog eat dog world out there, ladies, especially on the job market. You have to make sure your resume gets to the top of the heap and your potential employer knows who you are before the interview. One of the best ways to get yourself out there is also one of the hottest new trends: branding yourself.

No, I don’t mean actually taking a red-hot piece of metal and scarring your body, but that would certainly make you memorable. I’m talking about creating a niche for yourself, so to speak. For example, when a Cincinnati woman wants to get fashion, health, beauty or career advice, what is the first thing that pops into her head? Why, Cincy Chic of course! You want to do the same thing for yourself.

Keep in mind; branding isn’t just about promoting yourself. It’s about creating a trusting relationship. It’s like buying a certain brand of jeans because you like the way they make your butt look. You go with that brand because you know what they’re all about. You want potential employers to feel the same way about you.

So, how do you develop your brand? First, you have to determine what you love, what you hate, what you’re good at. And then you have to make it look good.

Dawn Werner, the owner of Career Vantage located at 8044 Montgomery Rd # 700, says the key is creating an individual look. Whether it is your resume or your letterhead, or whatever you send, when someone opens it they need to know whom it’s coming from. Be sure your strengths and skills are clearly displayed along with your contact information and a nice headshot so they’ll recognize you when they meet you at the first interview.

Other than your resume and cover letter, another great tool for branding yourself is having a Web site. Think of all the cool things you can do: videos, pictures, blogs, links to projects you have contributed to, even a full bio. Try making a short video explaining yourself, your strengths, the jobs you have had, what you would like to do and why. It would be like a video resume. Keep up with the trends in your industry and blog about them.

And whatever you write on your Web site – it’s always a good idea to have someone else edit your content before you go live.

One thing to beware of is your MySpace and Facebook pages. Employers now search for their prospective employees on social networking sites to try to learn more about them. It probably isn’t a good idea to have those bachelorette party pictures available for just anyone to see.

Branding is about advertising yourself. By creating an organized, professional image, you can have potential employers lining up to offer you jobs!