My story: The Tale of the (not so silver) Spoon

April 7, 2013
Baby Jessica and a photo of my son and I

Other than the details of my brothers murder, I have refrained from painting anything other than the beautiful details of my life.  It hasn’t even been a highlight reel of the chaos and ugliness that I have witnessed.  I love my southern roots, but the reality is southern women are raised to hide their problems.  Cheating spouses, abusive husbands, and deadbeat dads are easily masked with a smile and a Sunday visit to the church pew.  We are raised to fix our bleeding mascara, slap on some lipstick, put on our big girl panties, and pretend to the world that everything is okay.  This might seem like the best option in a non-idealic situation but when it starts to eat away at you.  The grief, pain, heartache, and unhappiness will eventually start to consume who you are.  There is no amount of masking it.  It will twist and contort your soul, and sooner or later you will become your problems.  Little did I know, my pain began long before I was born.  I am not just a product of a broken home, a broken childhood, or a broken heart.  

If you have ever read my previous posts, you know my father comes from a coal mining family.  Coal miners can often be like the black coals they dig from the ground.  It shouldn’t diminish from who they are, but if you spent most of your life in the dark miles below the surface of the earth you would change too.  They can be cold, hard, and rough.  How many years does it take for a piece of coal to become a diamond? How many pieces of coal never make it that far?  Long before the change occurs they often crushed and burned by mankind.  Coal miners often endure a similar fate.

My father was a coal miners son.  He was desperate to overcome his circumstance.  Growing up in a coal mining camp can’t be easy.  I have heard in high school he walked miles or hitchhiked to football practice.  It is a reality for many children in southeastern Kentucky.  The ultimate struggle to overcome poverty and circumstance.  There are

My dad and Phil Simms in the Morehead yearbook

very few ways to get out, and for my father football was the only way out.  It might seem like an insurmountable feat, we weren’t from a region of incredible football teams or players. The public high school he attended was in a rural area that didn’t always have the best fields or equipment.  He made the best of circumstance.  He became a football “Kentucky Headhunter” and eventually earned a scholarship at Morehead State University.  If you aren’t from Kentucky and that team doesn’t sound familiar, my dad played on the same team as the future Super Bowl MVP Giants quarterback Phil Simms.  You would think his life would change drastically but did it? 

I think that this enough sharing for today.  I’ll continue my story tomorrow.  I am hoping my readers will slowly get a sense of who I really am and how I got here.  

Happy Solemn Sunday,

Becoming an Agent of Change

March 16, 2013

If your follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you might hear my friends and I banter about being an agent of change or a change agent.  Did we spark your curiosity?  What is an agent of change and how do I become one?  

Change agents are people devoted to making changes in society and around the world.  You can change your own life and the life of those around you, often with very small acts.  How about checking in on a neighbor?  You can make dinner for a new mom or volunteer to babysit for a friend while she does errands.  It could be as simple as pay the toll for the car behind you or buying an extra cup of coffee.  A gesture of genuine kindness can go a long way, especially to someone who might be having a bad day or week.  

Think your ready for a bigger act of change?  Learn to lobby for causes that you love.  I have recently lobbied for several causes I hold dear global vaccination access, domestic violence, and military legislation.  Lobbying can be as extensive as a visit to your representatives office or as simple as a phone call.

Social media has given us better access to our family, friends and even politicians.  You can make your voice heard.  Participation in the Global Mom Relay is incredibly easy.  You just need to “share” the daily blog posts on Facebook and Twitter.  It is as easy as the click of a button!  

Do you believe that every child deserves a shot at a healthy life?  Did you know that vaccines are one of the most cost effective forms of humanitarian aid available?  You can help support the United Nations Foundation Shot@Life campaign by pledging your support via email.  The pledge is simple and no donations is required but always appreciated!  
Shot@Life Pledge
I believe that every child deserves a chance to have a healthy life, no matter where they live. By pledging my support today, I add my voice to the U.S. movement to give children around the world the shot at life they deserve.
I understand that, for children in developing countries with limited access to life-saving immunizations, childhood vaccines are an essential part of ensuring healthy development and a productive future.
I pledge to do what I can to help children around the world gain access to life-saving vaccines.
I will encourage my friends, my family, my community and my local, state, and national leaders to speak up for children who need vaccines to survive and thrive.
By pledging my support and lending my voice to this movement, I believe we can give millions of children a shot at a healthy life no matter where they live.
Make your pledge to the Shot@Life campaign by signing up for the monthly newsletter by clicking here. It is easy and completely free, it can be your start to becoming an agent of change.  If you are compelled to sign up please note it that you learned about the campaign through a Shot@Life Champion and include my name Jessica Urgelles. 
I am hoping at this point you have the urge to do something, and maybe a little inspired to do more you originally intended.  These are just a few tips of how you can help change our society for the better.  It really does happen one person at a time. 
I also would like to personally invite you to the Shot@Life twitter party where you can make some new tweeps (friends for those who aren’t use to twitter lingo) and find other ways to become a #changeagent.  I hope to see some of you there!  You can follow me via my twitter app on the sidebar of my blog or find me at Bluegrass_Belle 

Happy Social Saturday!  

Pinwheels for Prevention

 Five children a day die in the United States alone from abuse and neglect according to Every Child Matters.  Every child deserves a shot at a healthy future and life.  They should be dreaming, pretending, learning, and growing.  They shouldn’t be fearing their caregivers, dealing with physical or mental abuse, or worrying about food, clothing, and shelter.  Sadly, this is a reality for many children in the United States and around the World.

A pinwheel is often a fond reminder of happiness and childhood.  Please join the Bluegrass Junior Women’s Club and other Lexington area General Federation of Women’s Clubs in honoring children facing abuse or neglect on April 7 at 4pm with a Pinwheels for Prevention garden at Wellington Park.  The club is requesting $20 donations to Prevent Child Abuse America to be included on the sponsorship sign but any donation is welcome.  If you want to be included on the sponsorship sign please ensure your donation is made prior to April 1st and online donations can be made via paypal through this link.

Happy Friendly Friday,

So you think you want to be a Disney Princess?

February 28, 2013

Due to popular demand I am blogging about my race experience with Run Disney at the Princess half marathon at Walt Disney World Resort.  It wasn’t as “magical” as I dreamed it might be but it wasn’t a completely poor experience either.

My personal race bib and my team bib.  

The Race Expo was moved from the Disney Wide World of Sports Complex to the Coronado Springs Resort due to events being held at the sports complex.  It was very congested (like most of the race) and very hard to get around.  I picked up my race packet, and made it through half of an aisle before I got frustrated and we left.  I don’t understand why they crowded the aisles into such a very small space, there was still a significant amount of space left in the ballroom.  There were things I really wanted to pick up but I just couldn’t bare to deal with the crowds.  My family and I spent the rest of the day on Friday at Magic Kingdom but I will blog about our vacation experience in a second post.

We spent Saturday at Animal Kingdom.  I waited to pack my race bag which was a huge mistake.  My ear phones disappeared.  I frantically ran out to the local Winn Dixie to pick up a pair.  I ended up not getting in bed til about 11pm which isn’t great when you are getting up at 3am.  If you can’t handle getting up really early, this isn’t the race for you.  I was out the door by 330am and still managed to forget my breakfast.   I drank a 16oz coconut water and some gatorade on the drive over.  

My first piece of advice is stay at a Disney Resort.  Run Disney provides transportation from all Disney hotels.  I stayed at a Disney Good neighbor hotel, Marriott Residence Inn Buena Vista.  It was just a few miles down the road and it still took over an hour for me to drive into the parking near Epcot.  If you are military affiliated, stay at the Shades of Green resort (I will discuss this at length in the vacation post).  The grounds are beautiful, the staff is so friendly, and they have Run Disney transportation. 

Like many large races you will be herded into your corrals much like cattle, and there is a pretty significant walk from the starting entrance to your actual physical corrals.  It is a good way to stretch your legs and stop for a potty break.  Bag drop ends at 430am.  The actual first gun and wave starts at 530am.  You are suppose to be physically in your corral by 5am.  I was in wave G which was 7th.  It started at 617am.  Someone told us that it was easier to get out of the starting gate in the later corrals if you were a decently swift runner.  This wasn’t the case at all.  I am pretty sure you were going to hit traffic no matter what start time you got.  I don’t advise starting later, it gets boring standing around waiting.  Even if a Fairy Godmother is entertaining you…. 

My adrenaline was starting to wear down before the gun fired and I was exhausted trying to get around 
people out of the gate.  There is something to grab your attention most of the course, so you won’t get bored.  There are forms of entertainment, water stations, character stops, the usual Disney sights, and all the volunteers cheering you on around the course.  I have a love/hate relationship with the character stops.  There are plenty of options but be prepared for significant wait times on all the popular characters.  Mickey/Minnie and Cinderella were both 20+ waits for personal photo opportunities.  I regretfully stopped for both and my photos have yet to appear (I am still crossing my fingers).   I also stopped for Cinderella’s evil step sisters and the castle which were about 10 min waits each.  

I realized later in the race it would be easier to just go back to the park with my medal and get photos later.  The only official race photo I have found so far is my finish line photo.  I really hope my other photos turn up.  This is one I had them take with my Iphone.  The next photo is of Minnie and I on Monday before we left the park.  

It would be much less stressful and the run would be more enjoyable if the wait times weren’t so long for most of the characters.  I don’t see that changing in the foreseeable future, so I would strongly suggest unless there is someone you really want on the course or maybe the castle, don’t stop.  Otherwise, I would wait and take photos on a visit day in the park.  

The run was pleasant.  I wasn’t so winded when I finished that I needed to lay down.  I actually had a phone conversation with my dear friend Myrdin right after I crossed the finish line.  I could never build up any speed on the course it was so congested.  I probably paced about a 10 min mile.  There was an overcast so it wasn’t too hot.  The last 3 water stops I grabbed a powerade to drink and a water to pour down my back.  I strongly suggest hydrating on each stop even if you don’t feel the need.  

I saw alot of people ditching their costumes.  There were people who didn’t run in costume, so don’t feel obligated.  If you decide to run in costume, make sure you do at least a training run in it.  Running skirts are popular.  I did a tiara and tutu.  

It was an overall fun experience.  How many times will you get the chance to run through Cinderella’s Castle?  I am hoping to do it again next year with some friends, and maybe do Wine and Dine in the fall to see if my experience is any different.  I don’t expect the issues with congestion to change.  It is a popular race series and you probably aren’t going to set any personal records on the course.  

I have two other half marathons in the next two months.  I am doing our locally owned and operated half marathon Run the Bluegrass.  It is on the beautiful grounds of Keeneland and set to be a wonderful race experience.  I know Eric Marr and his team have worked very hard to set the bar high for this race.    If you are moving past a 5k but don’t think your quite ready for a half marathon, he is offering a 7 miler which is a good introduction to distance running.  The Rookie’s Run the Bluegrass info can be found by clicking the link.  They are also offering .9 mile kids races which benefit Girls on the Run and the YMCA of Central Kentucky.  I am looking forward to seeing many of my friends Run the Bluegrass. 

I was also fortunate enough to be drawn for the Nike Women’s Inaugural half marathon in Washington, D.C. in April.  Who wouldn’t want a cute fireman in a tuxedo and Tiffany’s finishers medal waiting on the finish line?  

If you have any running or race specific questions please feel free to post in comments or email me.  I will be happy to answer them to the best of my ability.  I am by no means an expert.  I am hoping to do my first full marathon soon and I would love if some of my friends would commit to join in.  I am going to be doing a separate blog post with general Disney vacation tips and another about using the Charity Miles app for organizations like the United Nations Foundation Shot at Life campaign.  

Happy Fairy Fast Friday! 

Violence Against Women Act VERY URGENT! Immediate action required!

February 27, 2013

One Billion Rising has alerted everyone that tomorrow a vote will occur in Congress regarding the Violence Against Women Act.  Please take a few moments and locate your Congressman, and make your voice heard.  

There are two votes happening that need your attention.  
I am cross posting this from the V-Day facebook page because it needs immediate attention:

ONE BILLION RISING V-Day facebook page 

There has been an important and TIME SENSITIVE development with VAWA. 

On WEDNESDAY, February 27th, the House will vote on a rule to proceed with consideration of VAWA. We want them to vote YES on the Rule. 

On THURSDAY, February 28th, the vote on the actual bill will occur. We want them to vote NO on the House substitute bill and YES on the Senate version of VAWA.

Your Congress Members are listening to you! We only have a few hours to act so please call today and tomorrow morning. Members must hear loud and clear that they need to pass the bipartisan Senate version of VAWA! Your work has gotten us this far – let’s get this done!


To reach your Congress Member, call the Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121 or look them up here When you’re connected to their offices, ask to speak to the staff person who handles VAWA.


I am a constituent from (city and state) and my name is _________. I’m calling about the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). I urge Congress Member ________ to vote NO on the House substitute bill and then vote YES on the bipartisan Senate version of S. 47. VAWA can and must protect all victims.

Tweet to your Congress Member:

@[congress person’s handle]: On 2/28 vote NO on the House substitute bill and then vote YES on the bipartisan Senate version of S. 47. #VAWA  I have even included twitter handles.  

In Kentucky our members are 


District Name Party Room Phone Committee Assignment
1 Whitfield, Ed R 2184 RHOB 202-225-3115  
2 Guthrie, S. Brett R 308 CHOB 202-225-3501
3 Yarmuth, John A. D 403 CHOB 202-225-5401
4 Massie, Thomas R 314 CHOB 202-225-3465
5 Rogers, Harold R 2406 RHOB 202-225-4601
6 Barr, Garland “”Andy”” R 1432 LHOB 202-225-4706

Twitter handles

Please know your Districts… Congressman Barr is Fayette and surrounding counties.  Knox County is Harold Rogers.   It only takes a minute or two, there is a link up top regarding other States.   

If you follow me on Twitter you can just RT my tweet and like it.  Please feel free to share!  

Happy Wonderful Wednesday

Call to Action: Domestic Violence and Dating, Child Fatality

February 20, 2013

Warning: This article touches on very sensitive topics so if you’re triggered by the topic of domestic violence then I advise you to stop reading. If you’ve been affected by domestic violence then it’s important you seek legal help to protect yourself. Similarly, if you’ve been wrongly accused of domestic violence then it’s important you talk to a Criminal Defense Lawyer Fort Worth Tx to help fight the charges.

Unfortunately, most people do not realize how easy it is to let your government leadership know how you feel. Generally a quick call to their offices will do. There are two proposed bills that need our support. House Bill 9 and House Bill 290 both deal with issues related to domestic violence.
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Kentucky House Bill 9 This bill would allow dating couples to get get domestic violence protection orders.

It is unfortunate that Kentucky and South Carolina are the only two States in the Nation that do not allow a dating couple to file for a civil protection order. In Kentucky you can only file for civil protection to couples residing in the same home, have a child together, or have been married. House Bill 9 would allow dating couples to receive the same protection. Civil order are often considered more serious. They are often the most quickly executed, and can be vital to saving someone’s life. Civil orders often have extended time frames.
Here is a link to the actual bill House Bill 9

Kentucky House Bill 290 An act relating to the external child fatality and near fatality review panel. Create a new section of KRS 620 to establish an external child fatality and near fatality review panel; establish its membership, duties, and responsibilities; and amend KRS 620.050 to allow records to be provided to the panel. The provision would allow records to be released to the panel to review fatality and near fatality cases in children who were suspected victims of domestic violence, abuse, or neglect. If you would like to read over HB 290, I have included a link directly to the Bill. Kentucky HB 290

One in four women will experience an episode of domestic violence in her lifetime. My brother and a dear cousin both lost their lives to domestic violence. No child should ever die at the hands of a parent or caregiver. A parent shouldn’t have to grieve over the loss of a child, and it is equally devastating for a sibling. I will never get over losing my brother Brandon, and no family should ever suffer the way we did. My dear cousin Angie lost her mother Cathy at the hands of her father. It is never easy to lose a loved one, but it certainly isn’t easy to lose them at the hands of someone you trusted.

It is very easy to call. The number is 1-502-564-8100. Please remember that legislators are elected by voting districts. If you live in the Lexington-Fayette area here are some contacts. You can let the operator know you support one or both of the proposed bills.
The names you will want to give them are
Julian Caroll x 651
Kathy Stein x608
Tommy Buford x610
Alice Forgy Kerr x625
Stan Lee
Ruth Ann Palumbo

Click here for the link to legislators by county in Kentucky

Please make your voice heard. Whether you believe it or not, every voice counts.
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Speak up for those that have already lost their lives to domestic violence. Far too many people struggle in silence, and so much more needs to be done to help survivors of domestic violence feel able to get in touch with a denver domestic violence lawyer or a domestic violence law specialist in their area. You really could help save lives with your action.
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Please and Thank You
Happy Thankful Thursday

And please feel free to share the link to this blog. We need to spread the word and make our voices heard!

Self-fulfilling prophecy…

February 17, 2013

How many times have you believed the worst in people or a situation, long before you know enough to make an educated decision?  I am guilty.. guilty.. guilty!  We often develop preconceived notions about people and their intentions.  We can use the theory of self-fulfilling prophecies to our advantage but often they are detrimental to us.  

Self-fulfilling prophecies are known as the Pygmalion effect.  Paul Watzlawick, an Austrian born psychologist and philosopher said, “A self-fulfilling prophecy is an assumption or prediction that, purely as a result of having been made, cause the expected or predicted event to occur and thus confirms its own ‘accuracy.'”  It is the theory that we can sabotage or improve a situation by either negative or positive thoughts about it.  

I wish I could be a perpetual optimist but unfortunately my life experiences have taught me otherwise.  I hate being pessimistic, but it can be devastating to be let down.  I have had people who I put faith in, hurt me and shatter my confidence in others. In reality I know I have (often unintentionally) done the same.  I always expect patience and understand for myself, when I am not always willing to give it freely to someone else.  

“Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier.”
~General Colin Powell

I challenge you to be more optimistic about the world around you.  Our children are taught by example.  We can’t steal the hope from their eyes.  We need to be kind, loving, hopeful, and most of all optimistic.   We need them to know they can fail with grace but they can succeed with determination.  

I will use myself as an example.  I am happy to point out that I grew up in a very rural part of southeastern Kentucky.  I am proud of where I came from.  Life isn’t always easy growing up in the foothills of the mountains.  The entire World has a preconceived notion about Kentucky and especially rural Kentucky.  I hate the stereotype that we are all barefoot and pregnant at sixteen.  This stereotype is only compounded by my thick southern accent.  

Someone once asked me, “Aren’t you afraid they will make fun of you?”.   I figured out how to use my accent to my advantage.  It is a conversation starter.  I once spent a large chunk of an evening volunteering at the KET gala entertaining then football coach Rich Brooks and his friends with my accent.  I like proving that just because, “I talk slow, doesn’t mean I am stupid.”  

Instead of walking into a room or speaking with hesitation, I speak with great confidence.  I am determined to undermine the stereotype that hinders many in Kentucky.  I am using a self-fulfilling prophecy to aid instead of hindering myself.  

We shouldn’t lower our expectations of others just out of the shear fear of disappointment.  We should aspire them to greatness with our expectations.  

Happy Spectacular Sunday,