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Monday, July 31, 2017

WOMEN WHO CARE, SHARE

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Featured speaker helps other women achieve goals, dreams

Beep, beep. Beep, beep. Beep, beep. It was that noise, the unmistakable sound of a kitchen timer in the background, that offered insight into Dale Smith Thomas, featured speaker for the third annual Women Who Care, Share luncheon benefitting the YWCA of Northwest Louisiana.

The event will take place on Thursday, Aug. 24, in the ballroom at Sam’s Town from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

It’s hard to disguise that sound, and Dale had no qualms acknowledging it. This polished woman, who speaks throughout the nation, has been on major television networks and who seeks to inspire others, apologized for the kitchen timer. When I called her for the interview, she was preparing supper for her husband. Cooking – makes me wonder if that was one of her talents when she was chosen Mrs. Tennessee in the early ’90s and competed for Mrs. USA. Clearly, she is an accomplished woman. And yet, she is at home cooking. She explains that with a heavy travel schedule, if she could pick an evening to restore her soul, it would be an evening at home.

Whether in the kitchen or appearing on CNBC, Dr. Phil or the Travel Channel, Dale Smith Thomas is a woman who is pleased to live in the moment and who relishes whatever she is doing.

“I am a Southern woman, so I’m still cooking when I’m home. And I can be a business woman and have a calling, too,” Dale said. That also includes being a mom to her son (a race car driver) and to what she calls “my bonus children,” the ones she inherited when she married her current husband. Dale reinforces how important it is to embrace the present moment, to live it and savor it. And that is just what she is doing.

Early in her life in a small town in northern Mississippi, Dale never envisioned the possibility of becoming what she is today. Her father was a farmer supplementing that income laying bricks. Her mother was a homemaker. She was, as she explains, “poor, but like many growing up in the South, we didn’t realize we were poor because we had a lot of love.”

Dale recalls that her mother made all of her clothes and that she did not have a “store-bought dress” until she was 22. She reasonably expected that her mother’s life would be her future as well. “I didn’t think there was any other option other than staying in Webster County,” she said.

So what changed? A piano teacher who had been in a terrible accident and who overcame that adversity against all odds inspired her. “That was the first person I saw who followed a dream, who had such a positive attitude and believed in the future,” Dale admits.

And then there was the woman who helped provide her education. That woman died with no heirs, leaving the timber rights from her estate to help children living below the poverty line in Webster County achieve a college education and future. That scholarship propelled Dale to Mississippi State University, where she earned a degree in education.

Dale has turned the help she received into a mission to help other women achieve their goals and dreams. She passionately believes that a person’s destiny is determined not by conditions but rather by decisions.

As she shares this message throughout the country, Dale considers it not a career but a calling, one she undertook after participating in the Mrs. USA competition.

“If what I share can help even one person think differently and realize they have choices that can change their life then I feel blessed,” she explained.

While Dale will speak to several hundred women at the luncheon, she will also be part of a pre-event meet-and-greet and book-signing for luncheon sponsors and table hosts. The networking aspect of asking women in the community to host tables reinforces the methods Dale promotes – women helping women. While anyone can sign up for the event ($100 ticket) or make a donation at Eventbrite.com, women on the YWCA board and friends of the YWCA are inviting their friends to come sit at their tables. (I am filling a table or two and would be honored to have you join me.)

Dale’s most recent book, “Good Morning, Gorgeous,” is scheduled to debut just before the luncheon. Why the title? “I think women have a hard time seeing what is right about us,” she noted. “We look in the mirror and see what’s wrong. When someone compliments us, we compliment them back. It’s as if we don’t think we deserved the compliment.”

The woman who describes herself as formerly shy and insecure believes that feeling pretty, feeling gorgeous, comes from within. “When that soul shines from within, the mirror reflects something wonderful back,” she says.

Dale’s message of women helping women is sure to inspire and elevate every spirit. Her assessment? “Together we will laugh, learn and lighten up during our time together.”

– Marilyn S. Joiner

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