Feb. 21, 2008, Vol. 6 Issue 4
I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “Bless her heart.” While the nuance may vary from conciliatory to sympathetic, it is undoubtedly said with a Southern cadence. It’s one of the things that Southern women know how to do well.
I was recently introduced to Ronda Rich, the woman who wrote the book on the topic, What Southern Women Know (That Every Woman Should), and thought that this charming and wise woman is one whom our clients in the South, North, Midwest, East or West could learn from — especially because they’ll be laughing all the way to the front of the line, or wherever they’re trying to go, when they learn from Ronda.
What’s really surprising about Ronda is that her background is in sports reporting! Women, don’t you love it . . . we’re just full of surprises. Women on the runway in red at Fashion Week were full of surprises this month, too, raising awareness about women and heart disease. Did you know you can bring the red dresses to your community? Find out how in this issue.
“Bless Her Heart”
As her New York editor put it, “We want you to write a book about Southern women and tell us how to be just like you. What we want to know is how you Southern women can say anything you want and get away with it. Tell us how to do that.” Ronda Rich couldn’t imagine who would want to read about that, but the editor was right. What Southern Women Know is now in its 25th printing.
If you’re expecting white gloves and tea cakes, well, they’re included, but there’s a whole lot more to this Southern storyteller. Ronda is also the author of My Life in the Pits, stories from her days as a sports writer and publicist on the NASCAR circuit. “I always knew I wanted to be a writer,” she said. “I came out of my mother’s womb loving books.” She started sports writing with Gannett Corporation, wrote for USA Today in Washington, D.C., covering every kind of sport and winning a top Associated Press award before going on to the NASCAR circuit.
“I was sent to report on the races or lose my job. I wrote the story from a woman’s point of view. I had been covering the Atlanta Braves and SCC football, and I was always having to wait outside the locker room. When I went to the NASCAR garage, I was on equal footing with the guys. I always found it to be a sport of Southern gentlemen. They were wonderful to me — great mentors and they took a lot of time to teach me. I fell in love with the sport. It’s a sport of great hospitality, great courage and great heroes.
“When editors came to me about doing a second book, they asked me what are we going to follow this up with? They said it has to be very Southern, it has to be full of stories like you tell stories. I realized that my most formative lessons, those you can’t learn in college, that you only learn from life itself, I learned in the NASCAR garage.
She never planned on becoming a speaker, let alone one who is in great demand. Her success is, I believe, because she is a storyteller at heart. “There are many things that are identifiable solely with the South,” she says. “Among them — grits, magnolias, kudzu, incomparable hospitality and a summer humidity that can destroy the most perfectly prepared and lacquered hair. But undeniably, one of the greatest contributions that the South’s people have made to the world is the stories they tell in prose, song and poetry or just by sharing a good tale with good friends.
“Whether it’s sitting around the kitchen table exchanging tales over a cup of coffee, grouping in the church yard after service, congregating at the post office or huddling at the beauty or barber shop, Southerners are prolific storytellers,” Ronda says. “This, undoubtedly, comes from the Celtic roots of many Southern whites since 75% of the Southeastern whites were Celtic descended when the Civil War started.”
As for the secret of Southern women getting away with saying just about anything they want . . . “It’s very simple,” Ronda says. “We give you two compliments, slide in a criticism and we wrap it up with a compliment. Southern women have a bit of a wicked mouth,” she continued. “We’re not shrinking violets. As long as you wrap it in, ‘Bless your heart,’ you can say anything you want to say.” For instance, “Bless her heart, she can’t help it that her hair looks so bad today. She should never have given herself that home perm.”
Ronda has just contracted for her fifth book, What Southern Women Know About Faith. Her other books are What Southern Women Know About Flirting and her first novel, The Town That Came A Courtin’. She has appeared on dozens of television shows including The View, The Other Half, Best Damn Sports Show, CNN and appeared in many magazines including Cosmopolitan, Redbook and Woman’s Own.
Learn more about Ronda Rich and bringing her Southern wisdom and hospitality to your community by visiting our website or giving us a call at 503-699-5031.
The Power of Red
Red dresses took center stage for the kickoff of New York’s Fashion Week earlier this month, but the models were the stars, hamming it up. Twenty-three celebrated women modeled one-of-a-kind red dresses by America’s top designers. “The Heart Truth” initiative of the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, created and introduced the Red Dress as their national symbol for women and heart disease awareness in 2002 to deliver a wake-up call about heart disease to American women.
Fashion show reporters noted that this year’s program of The Heart Truth Show was loaded with high energy as celebrity models “shimmied, shook and danced” down the runway (no shrinking violets here!). In fact, the audience joined right in, dancing and clapping their support. They also noted that the models came in a wide variety (read tall, short, big, small, rounded) of sizes, not just the pencil-thin runway norm.
First lady Laura Bush, wearing white (hmm, did she miss the red dress memo?), introduced the show. More insightful, our local Oregonian newspaper reporter, Vivian McInerny wrote, “Daughter Barbara Bush attended wearing a red sweater, bless her heart.” (I’ll have to check and see if Vivian has Southern roots).
Our good friend and client Emily Lard from Arkansas, attended the show. She said it’s just fascinating to see so many famous people and how they’ve rallied around this cause. Some of the celebrity models included Rita Moreno, Sarah Ramirez (Grey’s Anatomy), Ana Ortiz (Ugly Betty), Lisa Rinna (Dancing with the Stars), and model Heidi Klum.
“The press was just amazing,” Emily said. “It’s just so impressive how they come out for this — rows and rows and rows of press from all over the world. It showcases the power of celebrity.” She said Liza Minnelli wrapped it all up, stealing the show with a surprise rendition of “New York, New York,” and bringing the audience to their feet amidst red confetti pouring from the ceiling. Ahhh, women, they do know how to put on a show.
Our photo above is from the display of four of the 2007 Red Dress collection at last year’s Oregon Health Sciences University (OHSU) Women’s Health Day in Portland, Oregon.
Short and Sweet
To close today, just for fun, a few, concise words of women’s wisdom from Ronda Rich:
“Southern women and kudzu have a lot in common. Both are practically indestructible, thrive in Southern soil and both refuse to be controlled by a man.”
Until next time, “Bless Your Heart (in every good way)” for your good health and those you love.
PLEASE NOTE: The information shared in this e-news is designed to help you make informed decisions about speakers and the programs they offer. It is not intended as a substitute for any treatment prescribed by a doctor. If you suspect you have a medical problem, seek competent medical help.