Here we are entering another New Year. 2012. Depending on your perspective, the idea of 2012 is fraught with fear that it is the end of the world “as we know it.” Or, from another viewpoint it is the beginning of a new era characterized by personal, planetary and spiritual transformation; perhaps the world of peace and harmony portended by many religions and spiritual teachers.
We humans seem always to be waiting for, looking for a time when the world we have inherited or that we have created for ourselves will be rescued and changed. There are so many aspects of human existence we aren’t in control of. As one theologian on the NPR program Being said, when asked whether we have complete free will or our lives are predestined: “techtonic plates do shift.”
I take that to mean there are certain givens of human life, particularly on the physical plane of earth with its natural characteristics. We may be causing Global Warming, polluting our water and air; things we can heal if we have the will. But some things are out of our control.
And, it seems to me that the vulnerability we experience, the fragility and precariousness of our very existence leads us to desire and look for a time when we are no longer impotent and at the mercy of, even ruled by, the mysterious powers around us.
I tend to be a very practical, rational person. When I look at history, I see that there have been other times when humans expected a messiah or saviour or believed the world was at its end. I certainly don’t intend to demean anyone else’s beliefs. I find, though, that I just don’t know much anymore about how existence works, or what to expect. It’s like the song says, “I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now.”
What I do know, or at least feel pretty certain of: the Universe is an unimaginably vast place; our earth is a tiny, tiny speck in that vastness; we are born and we die at some point that is mysteriously unpredictable. (If you doubt that, check out books and videos about Near-Death experiences; some people live through physical traumas that should really have killed them permanently!)
And what I also know, for sure, is that only through love and compassion and kindness and gratitude can life be full and rich and well worth the insecurity inherent in our lives.
So, no matter what 2012 may bring, I am grateful for the blessing of my life, my family and friends, my work, and you, Dear Readers.
An Update & Invitation to Participate
By: Barb Burless & Lyna Farkas
If you’ve been following the story of the gift of the Free Room Makeover in previous issues of WNC Woman, you’ll be happy to know that all is moving forward nicely! If this article is the first you’ve heard or read about the project, you can catch up via these links to the previously published articles:
You’ll remember that the winner of the Free Room Makeover is Gayle Sovinee, who added an unexpected twist to this project by paying her gift forward to the organization she started 6 years ago – Helios Warriors! Helios Warriors is a 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization that offers complementary and alternative therapies to veterans to assist in their healing from chronic physical and emotional pain, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), military sexual trauma (MST), and exposure to toxic poisoning.
Well, before any room makeover could begin to take shape for Gayle and Helios Warriors, a new space needed to be secured… a bigger space which will allow Helios to be open more days a week and to service more veterans than ever before.
The good news is, the Board of Directors of Helios Warriors has just recently approved a space in downtown Asheville, and volunteer workers will begin, in early to mid January, to turn the current wide-open floor plan into a space that includes treatment rooms, a reception area, and an office area! Once those walls are up we will begin the Room Makeover to create a peaceful space.
Help is needed! If you would like to pay-it-forward and help Helios Warriors get their new space ready to help the men and women who have served us and our Country, you will be greatly appreciated! “In Kind” donations and services (those donations that are in the form of goods and services rather than money) are tax deductible.
For more info, CONTACT: Gayle Sovinee, Executive Director at email@example.com or call (828) 299-0776
WISH & NEEDS LIST: (call Gayle if you have questions!)
- Reception area chairs
- Small tables
- Floor lamps
- Treatment room chairs
- Printer Stand
- 4-6 drawer locked file cabinet
- Storage Locker
- Small Microwave
- Small office refrigerator
- Event Support
- Legal Advice
- Computer Support
We’d like to recognize and say “thank you” again to the sponsors who have supported this Room Makeover Project from the beginning. Without them, this wouldn’t be happening!
Jonas Gerard Fine Art, www.jonasgerard.com
Frugal Décor & More (Upscale Furniture Consignment & Accessories), www.Frugaldecorandmore.com
Benjamin Moore Mountain Paint & Decorating, www.mountainpaint.benmoorepaints.com
The Outlet on Kanuga Bend (New & Used Furniture Consignments), Call Ron or Jennifer 828.693.3343
Gary Lord, www.primaticpainting.com
T J Maxx & Home Goods, 80 S.Tunnel Rd. Asheville NC
Not Just Brown Rugs, (Handwoven Custom Rag Rugs) Call Susan at 906.498.2518
BB Barns – The Garden Company, www.bbbarns.com
Silver Spirits Photography, Call Max at 828.776-7442
Spencer Campbell, Videography Student/UNCA
98.1 (the RIVER), www.98.1theRIVER.com
Mosaic Café, www.ilovemosaiccafe.com
1898 Waverly Inn Bed & Breakfast, www.waverlyinn.com
By: Kim Bushore-Maki
I always thought that minding my own business had more to do with entrepreneurial savvy than with my personal growth. If someone had told me, before I started a women’s center, that minding my own business had more to do with personal development, I would not have understood. I imagine I would have murmured a platitude similar to those that I murmured as a pregnant woman when every woman who had ever given birth voluntarily shared her birth story. I had no comprehension of the challenges associated with growing a business, just like I had no understanding of how becoming a parent would change my life. Yes, I assumed my life would be different, but assumptions are no substitute for experience. It is no surprise, therefore, that when I gave birth to Shakti in the Mountains my life irrevocably changed.
With a background in liberal arts, I was more concerned about scary words like “spreadsheets,” “tax forms” and “city code” than I was about personal growth. In fact, as someone who studied psychology, I figured that personal changes would occur within a context, which if not comfortable, at least would be in familiar territory. Instead, what I have discovered in the three-year process since leaving my full-time job with benefits is that I can ask questions and employ experts to support my burgeoning business. (Let me know if you need a good CPA, contractor or licensed engineer.) More challenging was holding my vision, speaking my truth, and setting my boundaries.
Before launching my dream of a women’s community center, I visited one in San Diego, California. During an inspiring conversation with a woman who worked there, I shared my concerns about responding to well-intentioned women who, while very committed to my project, had their own ideas about how things should be done. Leah looked me right in the eye and said with a voice from on high, “You are the vision holder. You have to be clear of your vision and stand firm.” She reminded me that my job as the visionary was not to please or accommodate people, but to be the beacon of light that drew people to my vision.
Lesson #1: Acknowledge one’s motivation for listening to others. My inner “good girl” was still trying to please people (be liked). Just when I thought that I had laid her to rest, she reared her carefully-coiffed head and shouted her bad advice. To be fair, my inner good girl saved my bacon on many occasions when conforming seemed the safer, less contentious route when I did not have the skill set or confidence to assert myself. During the business launch, I challenged myself, and consequently, old coping mechanisms resurfaced. By acknowledging that my good girl wanted me to succeed, I allowed myself the space to re-evaluate what strategy worked best. Vision holders, I have discovered, are not about safe. If I was going to direct a center where women nurtured their dreams and celebrated their authentic voices, then I had to model these behaviors.
Since opening Shakti in the Mountains, the opportunity to speak my truth has presented itself on multiple occasions, and most of the time, I have taken advantage of the opportunity. On the occasion when I have not, the opportunity presented itself repeatedly, usually in less comfortable circumstances. While I would not have described myself as someone who is conflict avoidant, there were definitely times when postponing the difficult conversation was attractive.
Lesson #2: When concerns arise, the sooner they are addressed the easier it is. As the vision holder, center director, bill payer, and service designer, I am likewise the primary risk taker. While it is true that the risk taker stands to reap the biggest gain, it is also true that the risk taker easily becomes the lightening rod when things go bad. One of the benefits of speaking with my authentic voice is discovering the contentment that comes when I act with integrity. When I speak from my truth, my decisions may not always be liked, but they are respected. My truth speaking became about liking and respecting myself.
Interestingly enough, the biggest challenges to my self-respect, and subsequently self-worth, arose from decisions that involved money. While many factors influenced my relationship with money, including my parents’ money relationships, cultural values, and lack vs. abundance attitudes, the value I placed on myself was the largest determinant of my financial decisions. The conundrum of balancing my needs as the facility manager and my needs as one of the service providers has presented one of my biggest challenges as an entrepreneur. Considerations such as offering affordable services, making a profit, and supporting other facilitators were all factors that influenced my financial decisions. Initially I chose other people’s welfare over my own best interests. “Oh,” I would say to myself, “she really could benefit from this class.” or “That facilitator is just getting started. I will discount the room.” Not until I started getting angry did I recognize what I had done. Not only had I put others’ interests before my own, I had let another old friend resurface – my inner rescuer.
My inner rescuer likes to “help” people, and when in charge, the “help” quickly evolves into an unbalanced relationship in which the receiver expects a certain response from me. I blame the receiver but, after soul searching, I realize I created the situation. Much to my chagrin, I discovered the rescuing was about feeling good about myself. When I finally admitted that I still doubted my own worth, I addressed my fears about money, and in the process, set boundaries.
Lesson #3: Discovering that I had difficulty setting boundaries was humbling. The admission contradicted my image of what a women’s center director did, and when I let my inner rescuer run the show, I was not modeling assertive, confident behavior. Unfortunately, this newfound clarity meant saying no to people whom I liked. Setting boundaries also meant having uncomfortable conversations with well-intentioned people, and on the rare occasion, letting go of people who did not like my answers. When I vented my frustrations with this process to a wise friend, she said, “Anger is a sign that one’s boundaries have been crossed,” and reminded me that I have a choice. I could choose to stay angry, and eventually say or do something that I later regretted, or I could set a boundary. Remembering that I had choice put me back in the driver’s seat, a place that very much fit my image of a women’s center director.
Throughout this journey of minding my own business, I picked up valuable tools to use as the vision holder, confronted old coping mechanisms, learned to speak my truth, let go of fear, and summoned the courage to set clear boundaries. While those lessons are invaluable, I am most pleased with the unexpected discovery of self-compassion. This desire to treat myself with loving kindness is still new, and therefore, intermittent. I am happy to report, however, that the more compassionate I am towards self, the more I want to be. As with all change, there are moments of resistance, and as I have discovered, part of minding my own business is recognizing that resistance is the treasure where I learn what I need most.
Kim Bushore-Maki lives in Johnson City, Tennessee with her partner and two children. She dreams of connecting equitable and sustainable communities from around the world and loves to hear from like-minded individuals. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit her web site: www.shaktiinthemountains.com or find her on Facebook: www.facebook.com/shaktiinthemountains
By: Elyse Averdick, MSN, FNP
We all want to feel young and healthy. You may be a person who eats well, exercises, takes supplements and has a generally healthy lifestyle. But we all know that is still not eno¬ugh. We often see the healthiest people deteriorate as they age.
Scientific research has discovered that a primary cause of aging is shortening telomeres – the protective end-caps of DNA at both ends of every chromosome. We have only recently begun to understand the critical importance of shortened telomeres. Research has shown that people over sixty who have long telomeres experience greater heart and immune system health than their age-matched counterparts with shorter telomeres. Thus, it is becoming well understood that maintaining telomere length may prevent age-related decline. We can fight telomere shortening with diet and exercise, but only up to a point. But now, we can actually change the course of events with telomerase activation.
Are you living a lifestyle that promotes healthy telomeres and longer cell life? Do you know how long your telomeres are? Did you know there is now a blood test that can actually measure your telomere length? There is a product called TA-65 that has been shown through scientific studies to lengthen short telomeres, thereby preventing our cells from going into crisis or even death (senescence).
Telomerase is an enzyme that can add DNA to chromosomes and actually grow back telomere length. And now, you can activate your body’s own natural telomerase with the world’s first proven telomerase activator. TA-65 is a natural molecule derived from the Astragalus plant, a Chinese herb used since ancient times.
Benefits people have reported:
• Improved energy and feelings of vitality
• Improved appearance as related to skin, hair, nails
• Improved sexual performance
• Improved memory and mental ability
• Improved vision, including the need to change to weaker eyeglass and contact lens prescriptions
In clinical trials there have been a number of statistically significant changes including:
• Improvement in T-cell count and immune system function
• Increase in bone density
I actually met the scientist that developed TA-65. He is a brilliant man who runs 100-mile races every month and does most of his training running through Death Valley. He was 58 years old when I met him. He laughed that he was running faster than ever while his competitors were progressively slowing down.
He believes we were designed to live at least 120 years. He talked to me about the fundamental principle of biology that every time a cell divides, it loses telomere length. Anything that accelerates the need for cell division will accelerate the shortening of our telomeres. This could include alcohol, stress, lack of sleep, infectious diseases and the like. In order to maintain the status quo of balanced functioning, parts of our body are going to have to divide to repair the damage and this is going to shorten our telomeres. In a sense we can think of it as burning the candle with a blow torch instead of a match.
I encourage you to read more about this fascinating topic. It’s another tool in our toolbox with which we can extend our well being as well as our lives.
Elise Averdick is a Nurse Practitioner who specializes in hormone replacement and other anti-aging therapies. She has offices in both Asheville and Atlanta. Please see RegenaLifeMedicalInstitute.com for more information.
Following are several ciations of recent studies if you are interested in learning more.
- Telomerase induction in T cells: A cure for aging and disease? Rita B. Effros, Experimental Gerontology, Volume 42, Issue 5, 416-420.
- Cell aging in relation to stress arousal and cardiovascular disease risk factors. Epel ES, Lin J, Wilhelm FH, Wolkowitz OM, Cawthon R, Adler NE, Dolbier C, Mendes WB, Blackburn EH. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2006 Apr;31(3):277-87.
- L’OREAL-UNESCO Awards Honor UCSF Biologist for Pioneering Research in DNA Synthesis. Researcher who Discovered Telomerase’s Role in Aging and Cell Mutation among Five Women Scientists Awarded in Paris.
- Telomerase-based approaches to enhance immunity to viruses during ageing. Rita Effros Presentation Summary for SENS (Aubrey de Grey) Conference 6 Sept 2007
- R.B. Effros David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, 10833 Le Conte Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1732, USA
Richard S. Schaffer, Jr., MD
MD Wellness & Weight Management
At this time of year, most of us are wondering if we are going to be able to keep those ambitious resolutions we came up with over the New Year’s holiday. One that always seems to top people’s lists is weight loss. At MD Wellness & Weight Management, I am regularly enlisted to help folks with this challenging, but important, resolution. Most studies show the reality is that by six months only about 45% of us have kept our pledges. Change of any kind is difficult, but when it regards your health, none of them could be more important. In focusing on changing your diet and overall lifestyle to one that is more healthful, remember that you are mostly dealing with behavior change and that isn’t something thaat happens significantly in a short period of time. Just being more aware of what you eat and how you live is an important start. In addition to that, I have compiled a list of my favorite tips to help you keep your resolution to lose weight and eat in a more healthful way. Good luck with your efforts, know we are always here to help, and best wishes for a happy and healthy 2012 from all of us here at MD Wellness & Weight Management!
- Set yourself up for success! Enlist the support of your friends and family. Better yet, get them all directly involved.
- Avoid fad diets and the quick fix mentality. Sustainable, lifelong weight loss and weight management takes time.
- Eat more slowly, mindfully, and with better awareness. Savor the flavors and tastes of foods.
- Make grocery shopping more fun. Shop at the Farmer’s Market, Co-op, local butcher, and fish monger. Buy produce that’s in-season.
- Get rid of all sodas in your life, even diet ones! Try coconut water, cucumber water, or diluted 100% berry juice (1oz juice with 8oz water).
- Try new Superfoods regularly. Gogi berries, sea vegetables, avocados, kale, nuts and seeds.
- Get your carbohydrates from natural sources, not processed ones.
- Eat breakfast! Make sure you never skip it and always include some protein with it.
- Cook for yourself. Control what you eat by preparing it yourself.
- Water. Drink more of it. Have a glass when you first get up every morning before breakfast.
- Eat naturally colored foods as regularly as you can, e.g. beets, carrots, bell peppers, chard.
- Grow your own food if you can. Plant a garden or have a planter on the balcony or indoors.
- Be more aware of mindless eating, especially in front of the TV! If you must eat and watch TV at the same time, at least portion out your food and don’t take the bag with you to the couch!
- Finally, have a good reason to eat and live more healthfully. Define it specifically, write it down, and reference it often.
Richard S. Schaffer, Jr., MD is board-certified in family medicine and is the medical director of MD Wellness & Weight Management on Hendersonville Rd in south Asheville. For further information about his practice, please visit his website at www.MDWWM.com or call 828-277-5554.
By: Susan Lachmann
This is a short story about challenges and overcoming obstacles written by an outstanding business woman. Portions of my story are, unfortunately, all too common. Take heart, Dear Readers, for in the end you will find that old business transforms into new business in the continuing evolution of the business-world .
I was busy minding my own business one day in my crowded little office cubicle when suddenly my boss appeared. Extending her arm full length, she delivered this memo: “It has come to my attention that you have borrowed money from one, possibly more, student(s) and that you have not paid it back. This violates professional boundaries. This kind of behavior is inappropriate. You are instructed to pay back students(s) from whom you have borrowed money immediately. This memorandum constitutes a formal verbal warning. Continued violations of this nature will result in further disciplinary action per our policy.”
Apply the word “stunned” here. Hesitating, I felt my heart racing as I shook my head, trying to clarify the words. I was expected to sign the document. Again, I hesitated. Beneath the signature line were the words, “Acknowledgment of Receipt.” Very strange: accusation(s) followed by directives, yet lacking in information while declaring formal disciplinary action with a promise (threat?) of further action. I had to decide: would I: a) comply or, b) not comply? What would you do?
Launching into a lengthy dissertation about the business of institutional hierarchies, bullying in the workplace, and illuminating legal parameters would suit here, but I’ll cut to the chase. I created the option to accommodate with comment when I signed and noted: “Received, but have no understanding of this. I will get information, so that this can be rectified. I am very suspicious about this communication.” Several weeks of memos and investigations ultimately discredited not only the content, but the people who concocted the story.
My story, however, did not happily end there but continued with extreme anxiety caused by bullying, betrayal, and attempts to dismiss and discredit. If I had a nickel for every sleepless night, I wouldn’t be worrying about medical bills right now.
Untangling the distorted actions and inactions, resolving the conflicts, and understanding what happened continues to be an ongoing process. Also, I remain stymied by the question: How do I forgive someone who isn’t even sorry?
Now, Dear Readers, comes my jumping-off place where I raise the stakes and move the story beyond anticipated results. Recognizing that it is my responsibility to remain happy, healthy, productive, authentic, and engaged, I changed the outcome.
Drawing on every skill set and applying elements of life-long learning, I fulfilled a need in the community and in the marketplace: created my new business, Sound Learning Smart Shops. In experiential meetings, I facilitate activities designed to improve interpersonal and intrapersonal collaborations and communications. My process-oriented approach involves considerable reflection. Thus far, the content, influenced by Quaker teachings in Creative Conflict Resolution for Children (CCRC), has been well received. Bank tellers, program directors, entrepreneurs, and teachers are grateful for the opportunity to practice resolving business conflicts.
Best of all, my business is a wholehearted investment in progress, supported by my study, practice and experience. .
MORAL OF MY STORY: Outstanding women can, with patient tenacity and clear intention, create transformation by minding their own business.
Susan Lachmann is a working Artist in Education based in Jonesborough, Tennessee. Also known as Host and Producer of Women on Air radio broadcast, she enjoys promoting creativity in a variety of formats.
By: Rachel Winner
Ellen Winner used to wear pantyhose that clung damply to her hips and thighs in the Florida heat. At the other end they were tucked gracefully into heels that clicked along the drab corridors of commercial warehouses. She spent her days brokering sales of commercial space in the geographical limbo between receding wilderness and encroaching civilization. She realized that with every deal, she was bouncing back with a little less spring. She also developed a refrain, only half-jokingly, that the more she worked with people the better she liked dogs. Then she hit a choice point: she acknowledged the need for a career change at the same time that her husband’s 25-year-old company merged yet again. Her kids were at transitional years in their education. She realized that if she didn’t rip off the pantyhose and dive into a new life right then, the life she wanted would pass her by. Ellen says that she knew the change was critical and imminent when she realized, “I was more afraid to not live the life I wanted than I was to take the risk of starting over.”
Ellen and her husband, Michael, sold everything, packed up their two kids, dog and cat and moved to the mountains of North Carolina in the summer of 2003. In a business model that would marry her love of pets and her inability to converse with people before morning coffee, they decided to put a spin on the bed and breakfast industry: guests in their own fully equipped and furnished vacation cabins would make their own beds, cook their own breakfasts, and congregate out on the lawn while their dogs played. The idea came from their annual family vacations to a resort in Minnesota – a magical place that has drawn Michael’s family to the lake every summer for over 50 years. It’s a summer camp for the whole family where memories are created – weenie roasts, Bingo, first kisses (not within the family, they swear) and boat rides. The one flaw in these idyllic reunions was that dogs were not allowed. Ellen would spend more time worrying about when she could liberate Snickers from “doggy prison” in town than she would spend relaxing. Dogs are part of the family – why can’t they have a vacation, too? So they created a goal to develop a pet-friendly mountain retreat. (The tag-line was reconstructed as a “dog-lovers’ vacation retreat” after the pot-bellied pig incident and an inquiry from the simian society for their annual gathering.)
Ellen and Michael put a contract on a 7-acre property with a pond and one cabin in Mills River, and then backed out for fear of losing their shirts. “This was a complete departure from what we knew and totally outside our comfort zone,” says Ellen. In the meantime, they bought a home to fix up right across the street from the land, along with two other houses to renovate and sell. She recalls breaking up studs from the basement and bringing them upstairs to burn for heat in the middle of winter. They dealt with foundation crises, floods, Ellen falling through the bathroom floor, and the drama of relocating two adolescent children. The retreat idea lay dormant for about six months.
Then serendipity kicked in. The land owners called and told Ellen and Michael that they believed in their idea and thought they would be good stewards of the property. The deed was signed in September of 2004—right before the hurricanes hit—three of them. Hurricanes weighed heavily in the Winner family’s decision to leave Florida in the first place, but as they saying goes, you can never really leave your baggage behind.
Amidst antique signs and license plates hung on the property’s little red barn was a sign that read Barkwells Antiques. She knew immediately that it was a sign for the right place at the right time with the right name—Barkwells. (www.barkwells.com) Ellen undertook development and management of Barkwells while Michael established a real estate publication. The retreat was a long-term play and the publication provided regular income until it succumbed to the economy. As it turns out, Barkwells has such a unique niche (as far as they know, it’s the only business model of its kind in the country) that it has become popular beyond expectation and the nucleus of their efforts. Barkwells started with just one cabin on 7 acres, and has grown to 7 cabins on 9 fenced acres, with a flock of chickens, two fainting goats and a list of nearly 2000 guests.
Just like Minnesota for Michael’s family, Barkwells is more than a vacation accommodation; it is a space of collective memories. A family brings its dog here in its first weeks, and in its last. Couples who’ve never taken a vacation because they couldn’t leave their dogs will unleash both pets and worries as they enter into this “heaven on earth.” Many families return annually to reunite with friends (both two and four-legged) that they’ve met during their visits. The guests and staff alike understand the special relationship between dog and owner. That’s why the people who work at Barkwells pay special attention to details that make the site luxurious for guests and furry guests of honor. The dogs get it, too —repeat guests often say that their dogs wind up with excitement as they approach Barkwells Lane and realize they’re at the gate to freedom. The space is a haven, but so is Asheville itself. While it feels secluded, the property is five minutes from the interstate and a quick drive to downtown Asheville, Hendersonville, the Biltmore and the Blue Ridge Parkway; but many guests don’t commute further than from the rocking chair to the hot tub on the front porch.
The creation of a safe haven is an integral component of the circle of values that shape Barkwells. Identifying a set of values was the first step in creating a mission and vision of the business and these values drive every decision. Other values in the circle are sustainability, community, the empowerment of women and, of course, dogs. Michael still refers to this approach as “woo woo,” but perhaps it’s just to push her buttons because he also affirms that sticking to these values has helped them shape and maintain the essence of Barkwells.
She says of the greenness of her business: “It came from the realization that even in our small operation we are having an impact… [We saw] the volume of trash coming out of just a couple of cabins. I wanted to walk the talk. If we can Influence people through our own practices, or at least make them mindful that they’re also making a difference, we might be able to positively impact the future. Barkwells uses all natural cleaning supplies, high efficiency washers, organic or all natural amenities of detergent, coffee, filters and soaps in the cabins. Several cabins have alternative energy hot water sources. One of her next projects is building a street lamp powered by methane from dog poop. What could be more appropriate?
She is a strong proponent of buying local: office and stocking supplies, natural cleaning products, organic coffee and t-shirts, cabin amenities and doggie treats all come from Asheville or a regional provider. She frequently explores ways to encourage her fellow small businesses or entrepreneurs. She and her office manager/cookie-goddess, Bobbi, are expanding the market for Bobbi’s (to-die-for) cheesecakes to Barkwells guests; Ellen has offered to sell crafts made by other artistic team members at the office as well. Ellen sees her business as an opportunity to support other women’s talents and aspirations.
This perspective emerges from her own acceptance into an environment of friendship, encouragement and enlightenment from women she met after moving to Asheville. Stranded in the front yard on a John Deere lawn tractor with a broken strut, Ellen was thrilled when her daughter’s friend’s mother, orthopedic surgeon Dr. Suzanne Hall showed up to skillfully guide her through the repair. “I felt like I was I was being led through a surgery, elbow-deep in tractor parts and tools. That was one of the most empowering moments of my life—when I realized I could fix my own tractor—and I could do all sorts of things I had never imagined doing!” Ellen recalls. Sandy McLeod, who owns Willow Winds Vacation Cabins, was a terrific mentor—freely sharing information on the hospitality industry and referring pet-loving travellers to Barkwells the day the doors opened. Lisa Black, a friend and organic farming entrepreneur, facilitated a visioning workshop. Womansong, the Asheville women’s chorus of which Ellen is an active member, was going through a similar process to redefine its mission and Michael’s former business partner, Barbara Koenig, weighed in with her expertise in branding. These parallel procedures were instrumental in helping Ellen and Michael identify their values, visualize their goals and create a Barkwells brand. With these bonds, she finds herself surrounded by a community of women to lift her up in every aspect of her life.
In turn, Ellen feels compelled to perpetuate this positive cycle by putting women to work. Many women don’t acknowledge their own strengths and gifts. She wants to empower these women to realize their value. Of her all-woman crew, Ellen says: They have so many talents; we have devoted grandmothers, bakers, painters, organizational queens and visionary gardeners. They remove the toughest stains, connect with guests’ interests to direct them to the best of WNC, resurface hardwood floors, splint broken chicken legs and duct-tape cuts on a catfish. She is inspired by her staff’s incredible resilience and work ethic and appreciates the dedicated and efficient team of women who care for the property and its guests.
Ellen says she is working harder than she has ever worked. However, the business itself is incredibly gratifying and she is never as stressed as she was when she was working where she thought she should be working. And she never wears pantyhose. But there really was no wrong turn: she is using every skill and experience in the history of her resume—real estate acquisition and development, management, photography, writing, marketing, even bed-making. When she was cleaning rooms at the Ramada Inn at 17, she never thought she’d be making her own beds forty years later (or telling other people how she wanted her beds made, for that matter). That list is ever-evolving as Ellen and Michael look to grow Barkwells in other markets. This is their toughest challenge as the economy continues to resist growth. They have to work creatively to expand this success story into the next location and the next chapter. But there are signs of hope: the bank has approved financing for Cabin #8 and it will be up and running in the spring. Ellen is the living lesson that fulfillment comes from doing what we love and following our aspirations even when we are afraid. And that Mom is boss. Always.
Rachel Winner moved to Asheville from Tampa, Florida when she was 16. She graduated from Dickinson College with a degree in International Studies and recently returned to Asheville from a volunteer assignment in Mexico. While at home, she is developing a website content business, interning at Carolina Day School and helping out the family business. She hopes to return to Mexico this spring to continue non-profit work and tortilla consumption.
By: Jamie Woody
What started as a love for the written word, has transformed into a passion to help talented southern authors achieve their goal of publication. In 2010, while touring during the release of her memoir In the Garden with Billy: Lessons about Life, Love & Tomatoes (Little Creek Books), Winchester encountered writers who were desperate to sell their books.
“Two ladies in particular are the catalyst for Make Your Mark Publishing: one had invested 20,000 dollars in a beautiful, yet overpriced, book. Another had remortgaged her home after spending 50,000 dollars on books she could not sell. While the books gathered dust in her basement, she lost her home to foreclosure.”
Winchester’s personal journey to publication began almost ten years ago after meeting beloved North Carolina author, Wilma Dykeman. “Wilma and I were at The Swag helping raise money for the Friends of the Smokies when I casually mentioned how much I enjoyed her work. I confided that I dreamed of becoming a published author. Wilma’s encouragement truly was the catalyst to my career as an author.”
In 2006, and 2008, Morehead State University awarded Winchester the Wilma Dykeman Award for essay. More awards followed, as did publication in prestigious magazines. “Winning the awards motivated me to expand my writing from short stories into book-length manuscripts. Both the Wilma Dykeman and Denny Plattner awards (Berea College) were special because the essays reflect my love of the mountains. To me, writing is an extension of your soul… a personal gift from me to you.”
In 2011, a year that saw the closing of many publishing companies and bookstores, Winchester took a calculated risk and published Stress-free Marketing: Practical Advice for the Newly Published Author through her company Make Your Mark Publishing LLC.
“After living in Atlanta for ten years and meeting hundreds of readers I know how to network. However, before I embarked on this new journey, (one which included relocating to her hometown of Bryson City, North Carolina), I wanted to understand the behind-the-scenes process of publication before offering my services to emerging authors. I knew I could teach new authors how to market their work; but I needed to prove to myself that I could deliver a quality product. Our books do not look self-published, because they aren’t. Make Your Mark Publishing is a small press specifically designed to represent regional talent. We publish only quality work that captures the heart, soul and voice of the south.”
Another source of pride is that the books are printed in the United States and authors aren’t required to order a large quantity of books.
“I would never encourage a first-time author to purchase 20 to 50 thousand dollars of stock. There are so many unscrupulous businesses out there preying on first-time authors. Fortunately, with my personal experience I know how many copies the average book sells.”
For that reason, Make Your Mark Publishing doesn’t have a warehouse filled with books. Authors order what they believe they can sell with the ability to re-order as often as necessary. In order to keep returns to a minimum, the books are designated as print-on-demand and are distributed through Ingram’s and Baker & Taylor. This means that independent booksellers have the option of ordering through traditional vendors, directly through the publisher, or the author. Regarding the printing process Winchester says: “It is ridiculous that books are being printed overseas. Frankly, that is unacceptable, especially in today’s economy. It is important to me as a writer and a publisher that books published through Make Your Mark Publishing are printed in the United States.”
One of the biggest challenges with forming a company has been time management and explaining the publication process to first-time authors.
“Once I determined to form the company I immediately wanted to announce to the world that I was open for submissions. However, I soon realized that cover artists, editors and those who format the finished product have their own time constraints. There is a reason books take months to create. Quality books are an investment of time and money. This is why many publishers aren’t taking risks with emerging authors. Established authors already have a reader following. My goal is to change that. I want to give emerging authors the opportunity to exceed national sales figures; but first, they should understand the business side of publishing.”
When discussing eBooks versus traditional printed books Winchester has this to say. “The biggest mistake any author can make is to upload an eBook and think that their job is complete. Doing so is a recipe for failure. There are millions of titles available for digital download. Authors must consider how they are going to approach readers. I won’t argue that eBooks reflect a growing market. However, when one delves into the statistics, many books included in the data are free books, with the larger sales going to authors with multiple titles who have built a platform. Contrary to what some believe, the printed word is alive and well. Make Your Mark Publishing’s books are available in electronic format, but I will always encourage that face-to-face personal relationship because I know that is what sells books.”
Tucked away in the mountains of Bryson City, Winchester is currently reviewing several manuscripts slated for a spring release.
“I often look back upon that chance meeting with Wilma Dykeman. Had she told me then that I would pen two books, and form a publishing company she and I would have shared a hearty laugh.”
Make Your Mark Publishing is currently open for submissions. Visit their website www.makeyourmarkpublishing.com or email her directly at email@example.com.
Jamie Woody is a freelance writer who lives in Jonathan Creek. When she’s not writing she’s spending time with her labradoodle.
By: Mary Ickes
Have you ever had a discussion with Ms. Intuition that sounded something like this?
“How can I possibly attend the fund raising luncheon for My Place Gluten-Free Bakery at the Claddagh Inn [in Hendersonville] when I have so many projects that must be done now?”
“Have I ever steered you wrong?”
“Uh . . . well . . . No.”
In 2009, My Place, Inc. began as an emergency response to a critical situation of youth homelessness in Henderson County . . . giving them . . . the opportunity to become responsible employees or entrepreneurs and help sustain the programs that assist them. My Place Gluten-Free Bread Company and Apprenticeship Program, a profit-sharing program for at-risk and homeless youth ages 18-22, will make the agency self-supporting. With two seasoned bakers and a financial manager supervising, the students will learn the baking trade and business financial management while studying for their high school diplomas. The program is licensed by the North Carolina Department of Labor; the bakery will sell certified gluten-free products through major grocers and cooperatives and to celiac groups and restaurants. I’ll be the first in line to purchase the millet-quinoa bread, banana walnut bread, and cheesy-herb biscuits served at our luncheon. Yum! Future goodies include brownies, gourmet chocolate mud cake, and cupcakes. For more information, please visit myplacewnc.org/bakery.html.
Connecting with such a noble organization that day would have been enough reward for my efforts, but then I met Chef Gina Kirkland, who prepared our gluten-free lunch. I read on the Claddagh Inn’s website that Gina left her Engineering Designer career at age 35 to become a chef and asked her to share her story.
Gina yearned to pursue an art career after high school, but she knew that earning enough salary to live and to repay her educational loans on time would be difficult, if not impossible. Tests for career options revealed that combining her artistic skills with mathematics qualified her for Engineering Design. Training complete, Gina traveled the country as a contractor, an exciting and challenging career until the economy declined. Stuck behind a desk with a mundane job and greatly decreased salary, she decided to change careers. Gina is honest about her venture: “I was terrified! One minute I was determined to succeed; the next minute I was thinking, ‘Am I nuts?’”
From childhood, the culinary world beckoned. Every Sunday, her great-grandmother cooked for 150 cotton pickers and farm hands. Her beloved grandmother “. . . fixed lunch and dinner for me every day of my childhood. My favorite memories are her cooking lessons and the special bologna sandwich on which she spelled my name in mustard and added my favorite hot sauce.” Her mother, a cosmetologist for 30 years, closed her shop every day to have supper on the table at 6:00 p.m. Gina worked at the Back Porch Bakery in Prosperity, South Carolina, during high school and financed her engineering education by working in all aspects of the hospitality industry.
On her first visit to the Culinary Institute of the Carolinas at Greenville Technical College, she “. . . fell in love with the program and the chefs.” Gina’s fears and shyness gradually dissipated as she studied with students of all ages, and chefs encouraging her passion: “The program was a culinary boot camp, sometimes 13 hours a day, but I loved the pressure, the excitement, and the chaos.” Gina graduated on the President’s List and the Dean’s List.
New owners of the Mountain House Restaurant in Caesar’s Head, South Carolina, hired Gina as their Executive Chef, an unprecedented achievement for a new graduate. Gina welcomed the opportunity to begin at the top: “Most students are comfortable with beginning as a line chef and working under someone for many years before advancing. I had no intention of following the beaten path. I wanted the challenge of expanding my skills and hands-on experience as quickly as possible.” Their working relationship flourished as the owners and Gina taught each other their respective businesses.
As the Claddagh Inn’s Executive Chef, Gina radiates enthusiasm and cordiality. Built in the late 1880s as a boarding house and extensively renovated over the decades, the inn became Hendersonville’s first bed and breakfast in 1985. With sixteen rooms (twin, full, queen, king, and family suites), Gina’s list of breakfast guests often escalates from a few to a full house, but she is a “. . . hands-on people lover who likes socializing and making her guests happy.” She specializes in guests with individual dietary requirements.
Gina’s culinary skills expanded when “Jane” called the Culinary Institute seeking assistance for “Ben” (names changed), her eleven-year-old son battling Crohn’s disease. A complex disorder of the gastrointestinal tract, Crohn’s disease causes life-threatening symptoms that diet may alleviate. Jane’s incessant research convinced her that Ben required a chef’s nutritional background and food-combining experience. The boy was home-schooled, lethargic, depressed, often confined to bed with severe food reactions, and occasionally looked like a blowfish from the numerous medications and injections.
Gina credits Jane for teaching her the mechanics of Crohn’s Disease, the basis of her interest in special dietary needs. As Gina caught up on her homework by reading Jane’s books and studying her previous research, they attended seminars and monitored new information. Tracking Ben’s food reactions for two years, they gradually eliminated gluten, preservatives, all but one cheese, milk, most nuts, and vinegar from his diet. Gina formulated recipes of vegetables, meats, grains, and almond milk to vary Ben’s meals; for snacks, she froze and dehydrated fruits and vegetables and concocted tasty nutrition bars.
Today, Ben takes no medications and maintains the proper weight and appearance for his age. Energetic and chipper, Ben attends school, and participates in sports. Gina learned much from Jane’s tutoring and Ben’s success: “I became convinced that diet truly affects all aspects of the mind and body. I wish more people in the United States and other countries understood this issue.”
She continues to diligently research specialized dietary needs and to experiment with recipes. Along with Crohn’s Disease, her expertise includes lactose-free, gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, and Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Guests dread asking for a special diet, because they “don’t want to bother her.” Yet, Gina’s happiest chef moments are their relief and gratitude when assured that fulfilling their needs is not a bother, but a crucial part of her guest service.
Gina’s advice to aspiring chefs? Don’t be fooled by the celebrity
chef programs; here’s the reality: the chef is ultimately responsible for an efficient kitchen, so be prepared to wash dishes, sweep and mop floors, clean bathrooms, wipe down ovens and hoods, take out the trash, change menus on a moment’s notice, purchase last-minute supplies to avert a disaster, and contend with other strong-willed chefs and nonchalant employees. Despite the reality, does Gina regret her career change? Not at all! She’s more excited everyday about her plans for the Claddagh Inn and Gina Marie’s Catering.
She has a long list of subjects for Weekend Cooking Schools, the first to be offered in January for mothers and children. At a discounted rate, they will stay at the Claddagh Inn learning about pasta and how to form raviolis, half-moons, and tortellinis. Early in 2012, Gina will offer wine and beer tastings, each paired with appropriate foods. She is collaborating on social hours before plays and symphonies that include discount tickets. Gina invites business, social, and civic groups to the Claddagh Inn for weekly or monthly meetings. And these are just the beginning of her ideas.
For the perfect introduction to Claddagh Inn and Gina, attend her brunch offered every Sunday from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. To whet your appetite, log onto the websites below and browse the photos.
And yes, Gina created the ice sculptures. You’ll see her working in the website pictures.
755 North Main Street
Hendersonville, NC 28792
Claddagh Inn: 828-693-6737
Cell Phone: 803-447-5135
Ballad of Tom Dooley
By: Sharyn McCrumb
Review By: Mary Ickes
Ms. McCrumb, when speaking at the Fountainhead Bookstore in Hendersonville, declared Tom Dooley’s overly-romanticized legend “. . . one smiling raccoon away from a Disney production.” According to the Kingston Trio’s hit song (1958), Tom Dooley and Mr. Grayson loved a beautiful woman, stabbed to death by Dooley. Grayson thwarted Dooley’s escape to Tennessee and returned him to vigilantes who hanged him from a white oak tree.
Ms. McCrumb had no interest in writing about Tom Dooley until asked to write 1,500 words for a magazine. The legend proved so incongruous with her initial findings, that Ms. McCrumb continued researching for a plausible explanation. First, she culled the legend’s facts: 1) Laura Foster was stabbed to death in the mountains of Wilkes County, North Carolina; 2) Tom Dooley was hanged for her murder, and 3) Mr. Grayson did not know Laura. Next, Ms. McCrumb identified every person involved and their roles.
Tom Dula, not Dooley, and his two brothers were raised on a farm in Happy Valley, Wilkes County; only Tom, the youngest, survived the Civil War. Captured at the Battle of Kinston in Lenoir County, North Carolina, he spent the last months of the war imprisoned in Maryland.
At home again, Dula announced, “I decided that I had done all the hard work . . . I intended to do in this lifetime. From now on, I’m going to take it easy . . . and take orders from no man.” Neither did he take orders from his mother and sister as they worked their farm while Dula played his fiddle, drank, and roamed the mountains visiting women, including Laura Foster and her cousins, Ann Melton and Pauline Foster.
All three women survived the Civil War by exchanging sexual favors for food and other necessities. Pauline laments, “It don’t seem fair to me that soldiers get forgiven their trespasses after the peace treaty is signed, but that the rest of us are condemned to eternal guilt by the long memories of our neighbors.” When the story opens in 1866, Laura, Ann, and Pauline are twenty-two-years old, illiterate, promiscuous, and enduring their grinding poverty with jugs of moonshine.
Laura Foster, is not a beautiful woman, but a bedraggled, overworked girl described by Pauline as . . . a little thing she was. The top of her head wasn’t much higher than a broom handle, and I’ve seen gourds bigger around than her waist. She had mousy brown hair, and good cheekbones in a heart-shaped face. . . . Laura lives with her father, a tenant farmer barely supporting his family. Her mother, exhausted from hard work, died giving birth to her fifth baby, leaving Laura to raise four siblings. Laura is the story’s only sympathetic character. She longs to be loved and to escape the drudgery that killed her mother. If not for her known fate, readers might consider Laura’s plans to elope as pathetic daydreams.
Laura’s role as the victim should guarantee her center stage, but not with Ann for a cousin: her . . . face had the sculpted perfection of Pygmalion’s marble goddess made mortal. Her alabaster skin was offset by smoldering dark eyes and a cloud of black hair that fell in waves about her shoulders. And she carried herself like a duchess, who had, by some error, fallen among ignorant rustics who had rudely imprisoned her. To escape her promiscuous, alcoholic mother, Ann, age 15, married James Melton, a kindly farmer and cobbler who considered her like having a fairy maiden out of an old ballad come to stay. . . . Too late, Melton realizes that Ann never intended to abandon Tom Dula for him and their family.
Tom and Ann are lazy, arrogant, self-centered, passionate only about each other and “. . . indifferent to the opinions of the world in general.” Confronted with Tom’s womanizing, Ann replies, “Sex ain’t nothing. If you’re thirsty, it don’t matter which cup you drink out of, does it? . . . He’ll never quit me.” Tom concurs: “We have belonged to one another all our lives, and nothing either one of us ever did with anybody else amounted to a hill of beans.” Tom and Ann openly flaunt their relationship before everyone, especially Melton in his home.
Into Happy Valley, March 1866, walks Pauline Foster from Watauga County, forty miles away. Since her parents never married, Pauline’s connection to the Foster clan is tenuous, but serves her purposes. Pauline asks to work as Ann’s hired girl for room, board, and enough salary to pay for medical care. Ann consents, relieved to be rid of responsibility for her two young daughters and squalid house. Pauline initially seems to be another sympathetic character, a young woman valiantly surviving tremendous hardships. As such, readers forgive her harsh judgments stemming from envy – but not for long. Pauline’s single redeeming quality is forthright honesty about herself and her devious schemes: “I cannot be moved. . . . Inside my head, I am as cold as a creek of snow-melt.”
These main characters and their roles identified, Ms. McCrumb focused on the crime. Early in the morning, on April 30, 1868, Laura Foster tied her few belongings into a bundle, stole her father’s horse, and rode toward the mountains. She spoke with two women; the first wished her well and promised to say nothing about seeing her; Mrs. Scott, the second woman and a town meddler, reported that Laura said she was eloping with Tom Dula. Whether Laura said so or not, Mrs. Scott’s meddling guaranteed a noose around Dula’s neck.
Ms. McCrumb believed that Tom Dula, as he claimed to the end, was innocent, because her facts proved that he gained nothing by killing Laura Foster; neither did Ann nor Pauline. Ms. McCrumb, therefore, diligently researched for her solution presented in this book. If you’re wondering, Reading Friends, how Ms. McCrumb succeeded after countless researchers studied the same information before her, here’s a clue: she states in her Author’s Notes that she focused on details in the trial transcripts that her predecessors considered inconsequential.
Descended from immigrants who settled in the Smoky Mountains in 1790, Ms. McCrumb is a writing legend in her own time. The Ballad of Tom Dooley is her ninth ballad book examining historical events in North Carolina. Her oeuvre includes St. Dale, a retelling of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, with tourists traveling the South to honor Dale Earnhardt. Ms. McCrumb’s books have been translated into eleven languages; she has lectured at Oxford University and the Smithsonian, and taught writers’ workshops in Paris. Her awards include the Virginia Woman of History Citation (Library of Virginia), Outstanding Contribution to Appalachian Literature Award, and Book of the Year Award (Appalachian Writers’ Association) for St. Dale.
View From My Catio
My literary concern this month is not what I saw, but heard. If Mary hums, sings, chirps, croons, whistles, yodels, trills, or even thinks about Hang Down Your Head Tom Dooley one more time, she will have a tuxedo cat (me) plastered on her face. Please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org for her medical report.