Reflect & Take a Selfie

One thing this pandemic has taught me is that I am grateful for four minute blog posts, virtual meetings and selfies. Yes, selfies. Why? More on that later, but first, four minute blog posts.

Behind all the writing pieces you read on our blog are beautiful ladies who pour out their souls and write from the heart. It’s hard. Covid is hard and everything is a whirlwind and I can’t thank you enough for connecting with us and having readers like you who cheer us on. We are a team of volunteers who dedicate our time to curate content for our members, fellow parents and you–all in a four minute blog post. We wouldn’t be able to share our stories, expertise, recipes or places to go without you. I’m reflecting back on this new journey as a Blog Editor and how I am grateful for our team and readers like you.

How did it all get started? Well, COVID, plus a restructure of the CECPTA board positions were the first two challenges of 2020 for CECPTA. I landed the Community Outreach position, which encompasses community service, publicity and website. I jotted down a couple of goals for the upcoming year, such as enhance awareness, educate, contribute to our community, provide service projects and increase social media interactions.

How am I supposed to do all this with COVID? Challenge accepted. Recruit a team of writers with like-minded goals and launch a blog to connect virtually with everyone during these hard times. At the start of this blog, there were moms, like myself, who didn’t leave the house and were only connected with people through social media. I wanted to reach out to them and give them all virtual hugs plus high fives for doing their best each day. Most importantly, send them support with meaningful and feel good content.  It started with two writers and grew into six dedicated contributors plus eight guest bloggers, one copy editor and two webmasters in a mere five months. Over the past five months, with each virtual meeting, I’ve seen our team grow in confidence and witness their personalities shine through each blog post. Not to brag, but they are the absolute dream team. I am very thankful for them and all the four minute blog posts they have written collectively. Deadlines are met, they have meticulous writing skills, are highly creative and are very insightful to say the least. So without further ado, meet our CECPTA Team Blog.

Amber Gorski

Amber is my right hand girl. She is our Publicity Chair and is the hashtag queen for all of our social media platforms. We work hand-in-hand planning our social media content every week for our very important members and followers. Our greatest achievement this year is winning the North Texas Giving Day Marketing Contest. Our little PTA won against 3300+ non profit organizations with little to no marketing experience. We were more than elated, we were crying! I am beyond proud of Amber and absolutely grateful for her kind heart, patience and creativity. She is hard working, has a keen eye for detail and is very reliable. Major bonus points, she is extra smiley and my wellness buddy who checks on me from time-to-time. Find yourself an Amber and hold on to her tight.

Favorite drink – Iced fruit tea, chai lattes, water, moscato ☺️

Fun facts – I’ve been swimming with manatees in the gulf

What do you miss most during covid? -Being able to see friends and family and hug people, taking my daughter on indoor adventures and play dates, the lack of anxiety.

Sabeen Riaz

Sabeen is my left hand gal. She is in charge of Character and Spiritual which handles the community service projects. Her role has a deeper meaning. She inspires us all and boosts our morale with inspirational quotes and messages. She spreads her positive energy and her laugh is contagious. She is simply so sweet. I deeply appreciate her kind heart and generosity. Find yourself a Sabeen, who connects with your heart and sends you positive affirmations for a brighter day.

Favorite music: Depends on the mood, from Bhangra, Bollywood, classic rock, pop everything!

Fun facts about you: I can “thread” eyebrows. I’ve watched every version of the Pride and Prejudice movie multiple times.

What do you miss most during covid? Being with friends and family. Traveling to see my family out of the country.

Carrie Thomas

Carrie is the first person I recruited on our blog. We met in her backyard with Sabeen and we instantly connected through our young, similarly aged children. We shared the same parenting milestones of having three kids and we couldn’t believe we didn’t cross paths before by living so close in proximity. She used to live on the East Coast and we shared stories about the four seasons, food and, of course, the Texas heat. Her stories were fun to listen to and I knew instantly she would be a great story teller. She is authentic, wholesome and very easy going. Her well written pieces flow on the screen so flawlessly and she never misses a beat. I am extremely grateful to have her on our team. Find yourself a Carrie. She is selfless, sweet and the neighbor next door you never knew you needed until you meet her.

Favorite music, drink, book or anything: I love Dashboard Confessional and the Goo Goo Dolls and love the Unwind series by Neal Shusterman

Fun facts about you: I played the flute with my youth symphony at Carnegie Hall and I strongly dislike sweet tea.

What do you miss most during covid?: Live music, hanging out with my friends, going to the movies.

Lauren Reynolds

Lauren is our Education Chair, Red Playgroup Coordinator, our Pinterest handler, and one of the bloggers for our PTA. She does it all and she is a true beauty inside and out. She is full of energy and full of ideas. She is also driven, honest and comes to the table ready to work with great enthusiasm. I love her spirit and she is unafraid to share her experiences and knowledge. She writes as if she is speaking directly to you and you can hear her voice and simply just absorb it all in. This is Lauren and I am grateful to have her on our team. She brings all the happy giggles, fun, fresh ideas and laughs at all my corny jokes, too. Find yourself a Lauren, who will swiftly tell you, “You’ve got chocolate stuck on your teeth!”

Fave Music: Wide Range! Lol —> Selena everything, Heartache Medication, Waymaker, & Fleetwood Mac

Fave Book: The Last Lecture

Fun facts: I used to raise pigeons and was Miss Denton Co. my sophomore year of college

What do you miss most about COVID? Gathering with friends and my parents (dad and step-mom since I haven’t seen them since this started)

Jen Speer

Jen was recruited by Lauren R, and is in charge of the Children’s Program for CECPTA. She was a former 2nd grade teacher and most of her posts are educational and geared towards preschool-aged parents. She picks out fun informational videos for the kids, showcases crafts based on our monthly themes and writes about fun places to go. Her biggest blog hit was the pumpkin patch post. I met Jen during one of our publicity events during storytime at the Carrollton Library. We chatted, made some crafts and a few bites of cheesecakes later, she signed up to be a CECPTA member. Ever since then, she has been one of our most active members, who shows up at our events, playgroups, meetings and more. If there was a Miss Congeniality CECPTA award, I’d nominate her! She is very friendly, kind, gentle and just simply so pleasant to talk to. Plus, she roasts the best coffee beans in Carrollton, TX. Words can’t espresso, how much she means to me to be a part of CECPTA since Day One. Find yourself a Jen, she has a latte love to give.

Favorite Music: I’d have to say mostly country and pop: Keith Urban, Kacey Musgraves, Miranda Lambert, Christina Aguilera, Michael Jackson, Nick Jonas, Halsey, Backstreet Boys…

I could go on forever!

Fun Facts: I used to play the piano and the viola. I’ve also kayaked the San Juan Islands

What do you miss most during COVID? Going to restaurants with friends and family, visiting my grandparents and being able to hug them, and live music.

Favorite Holiday Tradition: Going to go look at Christmas lights with my family!

Kristin Merron

Kristin is the newest CECPTA member of our bunch and currently our Publicity Co-Chair as our Facebook moderator for our public page. She is a breath of fresh air and a seasoned writer. Her topics are very relatable, connected with stories and points of view. She has a magic touch that is consistent and compelling and written so beautifully. She is self-motivated, passionate and articulates well in all of her blog posts. She writes with intent, meaningful thoughts, and the audience in mind. I am absolutely grateful for her insight and for her to be on our team. Find yourself a Kristin, she will help you channel your inner self and creativity.

Favorite music, drink, book or anything:  I love mexican food and enjoying it outside on any number of Dallas’ beautiful patios.  Any day I can sit on a patio with a drink in my hand, chowing down on tortilla chips is a good day! I’m originally from Chicago but I moved to Dallas for the abundant patio weather. Even though I grew up in the midwest I love me some sweet tea!

Fun Facts: I studied radio in college and have worked at several radio stations including one in Dallas as an On-Air Personality.  Even though my favorite types of music are alternative and classic rock, I ended up working for Country music radio stations. After college I danced for a professional sports team in Chicago and we traveled around Japan for a month to perform for our Troops on an Armed Forces Entertainment tour.

What do you miss most during COVID? I miss being able to go out to area restaurants with my family, go to the movies regularly for date nights with my husband, and I miss being able to fly to see my extended family (all of them live outside of Texas).

Marisa Marshall

Marisa is our Copy Editor for our blog and CECPTA magazine. She is an avid reader and loves to run. I recruited her to help with editing and who doesn’t need another set of eyes.

She makes sure everything is readable, well-written, perfectly sound and ready to publish. She has a killer eye for details, and is a grammar guru, who is honest and well respected by her peers. She is phenomenal and I absolutely love working with her. Last year, we were both on the Auction Team and we worked ourselves to the bone. I wouldn’t have been able to pull through without her. She is sincere, patient, warm-hearted and truly inspiring. I am very grateful for our friendship and the time she takes to read through everyone’s work. Find yourself a Marisa, she is your lifelong friend you met in your past life.

Favorite music: Contemporary Christian and Praise music and almost anything from the 80’s!

Favorite drink: Chai Tea and Dr. Pepper

Fun facts: My mom and I traveled to West and East Germany when the wall was coming down in 1989. We had the opportunity to hammer part of the Berlin Wall down before it fell.

What do you miss most during covid?: I miss “normal life”. I just want to go out to restaurants and stores and see friends and family without thinking about masks, social distancing or COVID-19.

Jenna Leonard

Jenna is our Enrollment Chair, Facebook moderator for our CECPTA’s member’s page and playgroups and our website administrator. She wears many hats in our PTA and without her help, our blog would be nonexistent. She reads through and publishes all of our content on time and ensures it is our best foot forward. We were on the board for many years together and collaborated on many events together. She is a great creative team player and such a delight to work with. She brings all the funny puns, music jingle rhymes, and giggles, the sixth love language. She is our website’s savior and it is a true blessing to have her on our team. Find yourself a Jenna, she is the sixth love language you didn’t know existed and need in your life. Plus the best cheerleader on your squad.

Fun Facts: Has seen the Backstreet Boys live 10 times and has met them a couple of times.

Favorite Drink/ Book: Sipping an iced chai tea latte while strolling the book aisles at Target! Big Jane Austen fan.

What do you miss most during covid?: LIVE MUSIC (was supposed to see BSB two more times this year 😆) and taking my little to play places after school with friends.

Joylynn Huynh-Ngo

Fun Facts:  Two of my kids had the same due date as my birthday. I have lived in seven different states and 16 different cities. I don’t have any long childhood friends, but I met a ton of lifelong friends along the way.

Favorite food & drink: New Orleans food, boba tea & cafe au lait. New Orleans food is so unique in its flavor. It just can’t be replicated and found anywhere but there, especially the beignets and French bread on the po boy “sandwich.”

What do you miss most during covid?: I miss it all. I miss gathering together with family & friends. I miss going to the museum, theatre, concerts and all the fun indoor places.

As I reflect back, each month we meet virtually, brainstorm and bond through our ideas. We connect and dig deep to write something with value for our members and in hopes to grow our audience. We are all newbies and here to inspire others. We stepped out of our comfort zone, gained confidence along the way and friendships were formed. I’m in awe to witness the personal growth of each of our team members through our blog. It’s more than just a blog, it’s these virtual meetings we have each month that brings me joy. I am so proud to be part of such a talented, creative and motivated team. Look at them, all of them collectively and how much they shine through their selfies. I am beyond blessed for these virtual meetings and their selfies. There is something about their selfies that has a deeper meaning. I hope they look back on these 2020 selfies and remember the “One about the CECPTA blog.”

I challenge you to take a selfie and remember 2020 through your eyes. See the self growth within you, reflect on all the things you did this past year and boost that self confidence up (even if you need a filter.)  If you’re having a bad day, say, “plot twist,” record yourself with a filter and just tell the story. That filter is an instant self confidence booster. It’s a game changer, mood and all. That selfie can be your new self care routine. Watch your laugh lines grow, remember that very moment when you took that selfie and see the joy it brings you when you finally have a moment to yourself AND to see yourself. I know it’s been a difficult year. You are persevering and giving your best efforts. Keep on swimming, smiling and take that selfie! Wishing you and your family a happy and heartfelt Thanksgiving filled with good food and great memories!

About the Author

Joylynn has been a member of the CECPTA since 2014. She has served as Publicity chair, on the Silent Auction team, and is currently our Community Outreach chair over publicity, community service, and our website. She has a background in Fashion Merchandising, Graphic Design, Cosmetology, and Event Planning. Joylynn is mama to Talon, Emmy – yellow playgroup, and Edi – blue playgroup. Joylynn and hubby, Tuan, love to travel with the entire family. They have a goal of visiting all 50 states with the kids. 14 down, 36 to go!

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