We Are Not Broken; Just Bent

P!nk

By Michele Howey, Founding Member

I just watched the new Amazon documentary: Pink, All I Know So Far. I'm inspired by powerful women. Pink is one of my favorites.

I love that she isn't perfect and doesn't pretend to be. She is real and raw, open and vulnerable. I love that she has struggled and learned from it. I love that she has had problems in her relationship and they did the work on themselves and with each other. I love that she has fought for every inch she has taken and she doesn't apologize for taking up space. I love she is normalizing that it's okay not to always be okay. I love that she is body positive and inclusive.

I especially love that she puts her heart and soul into her art, and I love that her messages hit like lightening to the soul.

Life is super messy. My life hasn't been perfect, and has rarely followed a straight line. There have been a lot of zig zags. Painful lessons. Heartbreak, loss. Struggle. Joy.

Pink has a song called, "I am here." It really spoke to me on where I'm at right now. "I am here. I've already seen the bottom, so there's nothing to fear. I can think of a thousand places worse than this."

On a daily basis people suffer. We struggle. Sometimes, all we need is to be seen. To be heard. To matter to someone. Most of the time we are too focused on our own worries and troubles to stop and lift someone else. But it doesn't take that much. Sometimes all it takes is a kind word. A smile. Letting someone in traffic. Asking if someone is okay. Holding space for them. What if we could do more? Together. What if we tried?

One of my personal life philosophies is "everyone lift together." Maybe I can't lift it on my own. Maybe it's just too heavy. But maybe if we tried together, we can move it. This wall. This huge wall that we all keep dashing ourselves against called life.

That's why during National Pride month of June, we will be collecting "tips" (as donations) to support local LGBTQIA+ initiatives. 100 percent of all tips collected during this time will be matched to make a difference locally. 

Because when we all lift together, we can all make a difference. We will match your generosity up to $1000.00. We will also keep looking for more ways to lift together and make a difference in our community.

To quote another of my favorite Pink songs, "You gotta get up and try."

So with all the pain and suffering in this world, right here, right now, in our corner of the world, I'm going to get up, and stand shoulder to shoulder with you and do something about it.

Happy Pride Month. We see you.

What Nobody Tells You About Being a Mother

Howey Fam

by Michele Howey
Founding Member, Bite'z Cookies

I wish this stuff had come with an instruction book. And if it did, I bet the thing would have read like stereo instructions. (Haha, Beetlejuice reference for the win.) 

Don't get me wrong... I wouldn't trade any moment of being a mother for any reason. It's brought me my greatest joy and I have learned more about love and have loved deeper than I ever thought possible because of it.

Having them grow into little adults that I love so much it makes my heart ache, I'm proud of, and actually enjoy spending time with as people, has been the best work of my life.

But this is what nobody tells you: Motherhood will require every sacrifice from you. Also, no matter what you do, you will do it wrong according to someone. 

Sometimes even your own kids. 

But here is another thing they don't tell you: The job never ends and your kids will never know or begin to appreciate the sacrifices of your body, heart, and mind.

They will never know the joy coupled with worry, pain, and grief. They will also never know the overwhelming love you feel as a mother that directs your actions.

When I became a mother for the first time, it felt like I was barely more than a child myself.

I had complications during the pregnancy that led to bed rest. I laid there worrying, waiting, and wondering if everything would be okay. Welcome to Motherhood.

This is what they don't tell you: You will wait and worry the rest of your life.

I was now responsible for this other human being. This little person with so much potential and possibility. Who the hell was I to do this job? Let alone do it two more times.

I was totally overwhelmed with the physical recovery, the changes in a body I didn't recognize. Trying to figure out how to feed my child from the beach balls that had become my boobs (aka momma pillows) and wondering how all the women before me had done it.

I had none of the answers. I still don't. The truth is that I figured it out as I went. We all do.

That's something else nobody tells you: They don't actually have the answers either. They might think they do. But because every human being is different, so is every mother. Even for children with the same mother, they all had different mothers.

With my second son, I thought, I've totally got this.

Yeah, I felt more prepared. I knew how to do the basics. But this one was different. A totally different human being that required totally different things from me, especially as he got older.

As the middle child, he was spirited and funny, but also a handful. His needs and our relationship were and are very different than my first child. 

The challenges were equally as frightening and just like the first time, I had to figure it out as I went. Especially as we hit the teenage years.

Sometimes I thought, I've totally got this. I had moments where I felt like I got it right. My kids might disagree. Other times I was screaming in my head, "Holy shit, I don't got this." I made mistakes. But I promise, I tried my best.

Then with my third baby, a beautiful little girl with my sass, it was all new, all over again. I finally thought I had it all figured out, just in time to go from a mom raising boys to having a little girl. Again, a whole different set of challenges.

Now that they are young adults, with one married himself, another graduating High School, and our youngest going in, it hasn't gotten any easier.

The challenges have just changed and I've been equally unprepared. But I've still done the best I could. Sometimes in very difficult circumstances. 

So the last thing nobody tells you... no matter what you do, you will mess it up. And that's okay. Forgive yourself, and hopefully they will to.

Here is to all the mothers out there who give their all. Your children may never understand. But, if you are a mother, you get it.

It's okay. Take a deep breath and keep going momma. We know. We see. And we understand. You are doing a good job. Hang in there.

Harness Your Inner Badass

Molly Brown

by Michele Howey
Bite'z Cookies Founding Member

So one of the things I love about living in Vegas is how many cool things there are to do here. I get that it's for the tourists. But we can enjoy it too, right?

I loved the Titanic museum at the Luxor. The reason why I love Titanic history is one woman: Molly Brown.

I fell in love with her as a kid when my mom took me to see the musical about her life, The Unsinkable Molly Brown, starring Debbie Reynolds. (For you young ones, that was Princess Leia's real life mother. Yes, I'm a huge nerd.)

Very little in the musical is reflective of her actual life, other than the spirit of who she was. But who I found her to be in real life was even better. On a trip to Denver, I visited her famed home and purchased a biography in the gift shop.

I loved the real story of a scrappy, determined woman finding her way in this world. Bent on proving she could do it, she gave a solid middle finger to the establishment of the day. She was an independent, outspoken, kind, and generous soul.

Molly's name was actually Margaret. She is best remembered as a sassy, new-money pain in the aristocratic ass of her time, that survived the sinking of the Titanic.

She rallied those in her lifeboat that fateful night, saving their lives by keeping them from giving up, while also stripping down to her undies to hand out pieces of her clothing to those who needed it. The musical got that much right. Still pretty impressive and worthy of remembrance.

But she was actually a bigger badass for all the other things she did in her life outside of what happened in the middle of the Atlantic that cold April night.

She would be a force to be reckoned with in our time, let alone hers. Every time I've needed courage to do hard things, like open a cookie store in the middle of a pandemic, I think of Margaret and I harness my inner badass.

Just a couple of highlights from her life that are incredible:

She, alongside a friend of hers who was a judge, worked together tirelessly to insist on reform for children and juvenile offenders. She is the reason we have a children's justice system today in this country. Prior to that, children were usually housed with adult prisoners with no distinctions for age in charging them with crimes.

She fought hard for safety and workers rights, as an employer and co-owner of a large mining conglomerate. What's that? A responsible business owner who cares about the people that work for them? Yes. Told you. Badass. 

But this is my favorite thing: She took care of those around her who needed help.

Including heading a relief organization for the passengers of the Titanic the rest of her life. She started collecting and pressing her fellow first class passengers to help and had commitments for donations from many of them before she'd even stepped off the ship that rescued everyone.

She also raised her brother's children after their mother died, in addition to her own.

Why are these my favorite things she did after all of the other big things she is known for?

It's the simple things that often matter most to those around us. In our own homes. In our families. In our own communities.

Hey, if you have the opportunity to change the world for the better, we need it. Please do.

But for most of us, making a difference means making things a little better for the people we love. That's important too. Don't minimize that.

So here is to all you sassy badasses out there like our "Molly" Brown, making a ruckus, lifting others, and making a difference. Keep it up.

Show the world who you are, you sassy badass you.

bitezcookies.com

#LasVegas #LasVegasLocals #SpreadTheWord #SupportLocal #ShareLocalBiz #SmallBiz #SmallBusinessSpotlight #LasVegasSmallBusiness #SmallBizSpotlight

I Don't Like Labels

It's Not What You Think.

Labels blog

by Michele Howey
Founding Member

Labels bother me. Labels come with assumptions.

People, like cookies, can be many things. And just because someone or something carries a "label" it may not mean an assumption about that label is true.

From my experience, life is better when we have an exciting adventures filled with diversity of experience. Enjoying the richness that life has to offer.

When we deny ourselves those experiences because of labels or pre-judgement, not only do we miss out, but we perpetuate those assumptions and opinions.

If we label someone and then avoid them because of the perception in our head, we just missed out on potential awesomeness.

Let me illustrate with a brief recent example from one of our employees who was out in front sampling that we can apply to this topic.

Us: "Hey would you like to try our cinnamon sugar cookie?"

That person: *Takes bite of cookie. Eyes roll back in their head. "That was amazing."

Us: "I know! Right?" Then blurts, "Can you believe it's also Vegan?"

That person: *Nose scrunches up "You should tell people that."

Us: "Tell people what?"

That person: "That this is Vegan."

Us: "Why?" *Confused

That person: "Because people should know what they are eating."

Us: "You didn't know what you were eating? We just told you what you were eating. You were eating a cinnamon sugar cookie."

That person: "I don't like Vegan things. I'm not a Vegan."

Us: "You don't have to be. This is a cookie for everyone."

That person: *Pauses. Considers. Then goes in and buys a dozen "Vegan" cookies.

Us:

See what I mean? They thought they didn't like "Vegan Stuff" but when they tried it, they actually enjoyed it. 

Wild idea... So what if we as a society started to apply that same logic to people.

It can be this easy-

That person: Ew. I don't like {insert group}

Us: Have you ever had experiences with {insert group}?

That person: No. But I have all of these opinions and assumptions that were passed down generationally or from society that I'm too afraid to challenge or question.

Us: It's okay for you to challenge those pre-conceived notions and make up your own mind.

That person:

Us: Set yourself free and let go of the judgement. Maybe even try to understand their perspective or walk a mile in their shoes."

That person: I can't.

Us: Nope. You are choosing that. Give {insert marginalized group here} a chance. They are just like you. With the same thoughts, fears, hopes, joys, and sorrows.

That person:

Us: Try it. Grow a little bit. Stretch yourself.

That person: *Starts to make an effort to have an open mind. *Makes a new friend. *Has an illuminating conversation while actually seeking to understand. *Starts to build bridges. *Tries to see other perspectives and has new experiences. *Starts to come to the table. *Starts to heal things. 

You get it right? It's time. And we all have responsibilities here.

People, like cookies, come in all shapes, sizes, and flavors. And we can enjoy in all their varieties, and appreciate them.

We get in too big a hurry to judge everything and everyone. We as a society are starting to be more open minded. But we aren't there yet. Take a chance on trying something unexpected or different. People, or even cookies, may surprise you.

I made these cookies for everyone. You don't need to be Vegan. I don't care if you are or not. No judging. Because you do you. 

I'm Vegan because I have health issues that require me to be. But you are allowed to be whatever you want to be. And you are even allowed to enjoy the Vegan cookie, even if *gasp,* you are not Vegan.

Small side rant-

Know who else is Vegan? Oreo. Bet. Look it up. I promise. I'll wait.

Oreo isn't over there like, "Hey everyone, this is a Vegan cookie!!!"

Instead they are like, we are Oreo, and oh yeah, technically we are Vegan.

Why? Because it's not a cookie that's made for Vegans. It just happens to BE vegan.

Okay I'm back.

What if we all started to just enjoy each other no matter the label?

We judge people for all sorts of reasons. Instead of just allowing people to be what and who they are. We need to stop that. We need to celebrate all that is good. No matter the label. The same goes for cookies.

Like melt in your mouth moan inducing cookies that also happen to be cruelty-free, or you may know that as Vegan.

That means no animals were harmed in the making of your cookies. Our packing is also environmentally friendly. These things matter to us. I hope they matter to you. It's part of our mission statement. Which you can view here.

Bitezcookies.com/aboutus

But these things don't have to matter to you to enjoy our cookies. You can slap whatever label you want on it.

I just hope once you give our cookies a chance, the label you put on them is: "That's a damn good cookie."

I'm okay with that one. ;)

Come try one. First one's on me.

A Soldier, A Cookie, and a Legacy

Daddy-Daughter

By Michele Howey, Founding Member


To me, gratitude means being respectful enough to express it, pay it forward, or share with others.

My dad grew up hard. A child who understood the words struggle, abuse, and want, constantly bullied for being a little bit on the small side. He hated bullies.

He didn't graduate high school. But he did eventually get his GED and joined the Army. Later, he made the Dean's list in college taking night classes. Was a proud Teamster. Went on to open his own computer business, and served our Country faithfully as both a soldier and in a civilian career.

He was told he would never amount to anything and wouldn't be able to make it in jump school.

Not only did he make it. He excelled. As a member of the 82nd Airborne, he thrived. He was scrappy and strong. He was a survivor.

We've had to do a lot of surviving lately. But I hope we've learned to be more grateful from it. To not take those who give so much to others for granted.

When I was in sixth grade, my Dad worked in logistics as a civilian at an Army base. He came home one night and told us they needed logistics people to support the soldiers in Desert Storm.

My dad volunteered.

Why? He said it was because he was grateful for his Country. The most patriotic person I ever knew. He served others and wanted to protect people who couldn't protect themselves.

He taught me something I'll never forget. In a moment of quiet reflection he said, "Michele, there is a difference between our government and our Country. Never forget that I serve our Country and our people. Not our government."

I think that is an important distinction. He didn't serve one political party or particular candidate. He served our people. He served our communities. He served to stand up to bullies. He served out of honor and duty to our fellows.

While he was gone, my sweet mother dutifully baked him his favorite cookies each week and carefully packaged, then mailed them out. A light and fluffy cake like cookie with carrots covered in orange zest glaze.

He loved those cookies. But it wasn't about the cookies. My mom wasn't sending cookies. She was sending our love.

You may know them as C'Orange (Carrot-Orange) in our store. Noted as "Gary's favorite." That's for my Dad. And it's my mom's recipe. Because I'm grateful for them and all they taught me.

He enjoyed those cookies until the day he died. Having given his life for his Country too. Losing the only battle he couldn't win, to cancer caused by chemical agent exposure during his service in Viet Nam. I was 17.

He was the best man I ever knew and he taught me about how important it is to make a difference.

That's why we are running our "Difference Makers," campaign right now. Nominate someone you know who has made a difference in your life. Something big, something small. Something that fundamentally changed you, or something that just made your day brighter. If they are named as that week's Difference Maker, not only will they get a free dozen cookies, but so will you.

Because gratitude is about respecting someone else enough to say thank you for what they are doing.

Submit your nominations at:

https://www.bitezcookies.com/community

Bite'z, Not Just A Cookie

Are You Crazy!?

By Michele Howey, Founding Member

Are you crazy? 

Yeah. Maybe a little. I've had a few people ask me why we opened a business in the middle of a pandemic. "Haven't you seen all the restaurants closing down? All the small business owners suffering?"

Yes. Yes, I did see all of it.

What I saw was the world burning down. All around us. People suffering, losing their jobs, losing family and friends to an unforgiving illness. Watching people I care about suffer. 

Watching as hate exploded everywhere, and civil unrest dominated every conversation. Watching politics fracture us as a people even more. Watching my children struggle to learn online and my daughter slip into depression, isolated from friends and family.

I felt helpless.

I couldn't stand by and do nothing. 

One of my strongest personal beliefs and mottos is, "Everyone lift together." I thought endlessly about how I could lift those around me and make a difference. Change things. Heal things. Ease suffering, pain and loss.

Having been raised by a mother who loved through food, and taught me about making people smile through providing a treat, a hug, or a thoughtful homemade loaf of bread accompanied by a homemade bottle of jam, I knew it wasn't about the cookies, the bread, or the jam. It was about the way she made people feel.
Loved. Appreciated. Seen. Lifted.

Having been a franchisee for a major cookie company, as well as the President of their franchisee board for most of the time we owned our cookie stores, I thought, that's what people need right now is cookies.

When we had our store, I'd often seen the way a simple cookie could make someone smile. It could literally make someone's day better. At some point we added a personal touch. We'd been inspired by the story of Johnny the Bagger, (see the Youtube video) about how a bagger with Down Syndrome had watched a customer service training about how to make a difference by adding your own personal touches to the role. He thought about it long and hard and had a beautiful, special idea.

He came up with a quote of the day. His father would help him type them up and print them out. He would then cut them all neatly for distribution the next day.

Pretty soon his line reached the back of the store, even though other lines were less crowded. People wanted to go through Johnny's line. They were lifted and moved by Johnny's quotes. 

So we did a daily quote. All of the employees contributed quotes that meant something to them.

People smiled and enjoyed the simple touch. But overall what really impacted people was the effort that went into bringing people smiles.

Can cookies change the world? I think so. I really do. Because its not just a cookie. Its about the difference it can make. The smile it can bring, and what you can do with it.

We lift others by offering a free cookie. No purchase needed. Why? Because if you need a cookie, we will give you one. Your first one is on us. Always. I hope it makes you smile. I hope it makes your day better. I hope you pay it forward.

Community is something that is important to us. Cookies have the power to bring people together. They can also be a vehicle for supporting worthy causes. Buy a cookie, make a difference. Its that simple. A portion of our proceeds goes to support local causes. We did a food drive for our grand opening. We do in-kind donations when the opportunities present themselves. Why? Because it matters.

So back to the original question. Why did you open a cookie store in the middle of the pandemic? Because people needed a damn good cookie. Because people need the lift, the smile, and most importantly, the world needs the difference we can make together.

That's why we are "Not just a cookie."