All posts by Hayleigh Worgan

Meet Gil Harrington

Gil HarringtonGil Harrington’s work on behalf of the victims of crimes and in support of the families of so many young women who have been kidnapped and/or murdered is inspirational (www.helpsavethenextgirl.com). Beyond that, Gil serves in Africa with the Orphan Mission Network International, supports her husband Dan in his work as one of the Deans of the wildly successful Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine.  She reaches out in love and compassion to others with consistency and grace. 

Nominated by Bruce Bryan 

Join us each weekday during the month of October as we recognize extraordinary women in our area! Nominate someone you know by emailing us: bella@beckmediagroup.com.

Bella Girls Get Healthy!

When Bella girls Cory, Stacey and Hayleigh decided to try Pure Barre together, they knew they would need to commit to the workout routine in order to see significant changes in their lives. By signing up for a three-month membership, and committing to attending class at least three times a week, they began to feel healthier and lose inches within their first month.

“The first class was a killer!” Cory laughs and says, “I definitely felt it for a few days afterward. I have really been challenged, in a good way, to improve my overall fitness level.”

pb1In fact, all three participants are starting to notice a difference in their bodies. “I have noticed tremendous changes in my upper body strength in particular,” explains Cory, “and I am definitely tightening my core.”

Pure Barre is different from other workout programs. The moves are small, and the repetition really inspires change in your muscles. The instructors understand if you need to modify the movements to make them safe for you, but they encourage you to push yourself and reach your full potential. They also let you know when you are doing something right.

“I love how the instructors praise you by name in class,” says Stacey, “that helps when you are really trying to focus and have that mind/body experience. It is also incredibly helpful that, if they see you in the wrong position, they come over and try to help you. They want all of us to get the most out of the time we spend there and their attention to our strengths and weaknesses helps us achieve that.”

Fitness Goals:

Cory: “My fitness goals were to integrate a regular fitness regime to my week again after several months ‘off.’ I also want to strengthen and tone my body.”

Stacey:”My goals were very simple. I just wanted to get through the first class! Going into something with no idea what to expect is always a scary thing. I have found the workouts to be easier to complete each time, and I love the fact that when I stretch the next day I feel my muscles hurting. I know I am doing something right!”

Hayleigh: “I definitely wanted to tone and strengthen my body, shedding some of the weight I have gained in the past two years. For me, this is part of a lifestyle change. My ultimate goal is to have more energy and be healthier—losing weight and inches would be an added bonus.”

pbDieting:

To get the most out of any workout routine, it is important that your other daily choices reflect your new healthy lifestyle. Cory already had a well balanced, low carb diet that she continues to follow. Stacey and Hayleigh, however, had to make a few changes.
“I am trying to keep it low carb,” Stacey explains, “I am eating more fruits and vegetables—staying away from beer and bread. It kind of defeats the workout to indulge in those after class.”

“My biggest problem is turning down a slice of pizza when my husband makes one for dinner,” says Hayleigh,” However, the more healthy food choices I make, the more energy I have throughout the day. I also sleep better at night if I let him have the pizza to himself.”

All three women are excited to continue the program and share their results with you over the next three months. In the meantime, you should check out Pure Barre for yourself and let us know what you think! Visit their website, www.purebarre.com to find a class that fits your schedule.

Those That Mourn Must Not Give Up

As we remember and celebrate the life and accomplishments of Robin Williams, it is important to take a few things away from his tragic death.

Suicide. Depression. When did these words become so taboo that those being crushed under the weight of such thoughts felt forced to deny them? To be so ashamed of their illness that they could not reach out for help?

In reality, those who ignore their cries or expect them to “be strong” are the ones who should be ashamed for creating a culture where it is expected of everyone to wear their socially accepted mask in public and face their demons alone—behind closed doors.

We must re-examine our expectations of everyone we interact with on a daily basis. Do you want to make a difference in this world? Stop judging people based on their appearance, sexual preferences, past addictions and life circumstances. Stop making them feel weak when they ask for help.

Sit down and LISTEN to them. Sometimes, all someone needs is for another human being to see their struggle without sitting in judgment.

A lot of celebrities and news outlets are expressing that they are “heartbroken” in the wake of this announcement. Although they have every right to feel this emotion, we must remember that Mr. Williams, and the millions of people suffering from depression around the world, are often so well acquainted with that feeling that it does not even shock them anymore. In fact, it lives behind every smile, every laugh and every mask they wear.

If you take anything away from the death of Robin Williams, perhaps it should be that we are all facing struggles—even those who appear to have everything. Remember that we are all human, and sometimes we all need a helping hand. Be a friend.

Finally, if you are battling depression, the most courageous thing you can do is tell someone. There is nothing shameful about reaching out for help. If you are uncomfortable speaking with someone you know, I encourage you to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Easing the Financial Burden of Higher Education

Five Ways to Spur Savings While Prepping for College

From the college experts at DormCo.com

Sending a student to college has become an increasingly expensive endeavor. While the benefit of a good education can’t be overlooked, the cost of that education can be daunting! When prepping a new student for dorm and college life, make financially sound decisions to bolster savings — and to ease concerns. Saving and being smart about money can be practiced both by new students (college freshmen) and their parents. By proactively preparing to manage expenses, you’ll maximize savings. See below for five easy-to-implement cost saving tips for freshmen.  

1. Be smart about textbook purchases. Renting textbooks saves you money, but be sure to consider purchasing if the textbook is for a major course. It can be useful to have those core textbooks down the road. Also, when renting, compare prices. Big-name rental companies aren’t always the best option. Keep comparing until you find the lowest price. It might take a little longer, but it’s worth it.

2. Choose the most efficient meal plan for your personal circumstances. Many schools have multiple meal plan options, from a 7, 10, 14 meal/week to unlimited. Don’t overpay for a plan if you have a picky eater or a student with food allergies who will have to prepare many meals in his dorm room. Conversely, it also isn’t price-efficient to try and save money by purchasing a cheaper meal plan for your student if he’s the type to eat frequent smaller meals. If you choose a 10 meal/week plan and your student goes broke ordering pizza and going to a campus shop for overpriced convenience food, you’re losing major money. Saving money with a meal plan is multi-dimensional and unique to each student.

3. Split expenses with a roommate. You may think you’ll save money by deal-hunting and buying large dorm items (mini-fridges, televisions, etc.) upfront, but it could hurt you in the long run. Splitting the costs of those items (e.g. one roommate brings the TV, one brings the fridge, they both split the cost of cable) saves the hassle of potentially over-buying and being unable to return things down the line. Wait until your student gets assigned a roommate and then discuss options.

trunk4. Do one-stop dorm shopping. Use a dorm specialty store, like DormCo.com, to purchase all your dorm supplies! You can purchase reasonably priced college supplies — from bedding, to storage options, to trunks and seating — all in one place. Also, DormCo.com offers flat-rate $2.95 shipping on your entire order. (Yes, you can ship a bedding package, mini-fridge, AND a trunk for just $2.95.) This allows you to get a great deal on quality dorm supplies that will last your students throughout their years living in dorms, and you’ll save BIG on shipping costs, too. With all of other tasks on your plate to prep your child for college — tuition bills, scholarship applications and potential empty-nest syndrome — you’ll be happy that you chose an all-in-one online retailer for your child’s dorm necessities.

5. Teach students how to save. The number one way for a student to be financially unprepared for college is to know nothing about personal finance. If your family doesn’t have a lot of disposable income — or you don’t want to just be spoon-feeding your student piles of money — make him start saving before school and practice finance management. Students can take on an inexpensive monthly bill, like their cell phone, to learn budgeting. You can also allot them a certain budget that they HAVE to stick to. In the end, it’s up to the student — once he’s at school — to make sure that all your efforts mean something.

august dormcoAbout The Author

DormCo.com is the leading online college dorm supplies superstore. With more than 4,500 products, DormCo carries college necessities such as twin XL bedding, furniture for dorms, trunks and more. DormCo also offers a range of unique, useful, and even downright fun supplies for college that you won’t find in stores. Visit DormCo.com for a one-stop shop that provides everything needed to make dorm life more comfortable and convenient.

Words of Wisdom

Your age, your gender, your physical strength—none of it matters if you are not aware of your surroundings, how to prevent an attack, or how to defend yourself if you are attacked. Women (and men) fall victim to assault every day. Staying informed on tactics to prevent assault and ways to defend yourself could save your life. We have compiled a short list of reminders to help young adults living on their own stay safe.

Avoid traveling alone after dark. It sounds simple, but victims often tell themselves that walking home alone will be fine “just this once” or they are lured into a false sense of security that the areas they frequent during the day are safe at night. If you must walk anywhere alone in the dark, be aware of your surroundings. Rapists often look for victims who are distracted or seem lost. Try not to text, update social media, or make social phone calls that can wait until you are safely inside. Take a mental note of escape routes and avoid dimly lit areas as much as possible.

furneauxFight or Flight: Be prepared to run if you need to do so. If the situation allows, many experts recommend that you flee from your assailant as quickly as possible rather than engage in a fight. In The Superwoman’s Survival Guide by Ky Furneaux, she explains, “[The] surge of adrenaline is a survival response that gives you a burst of energy so that you can get away from a threat. If your life is in immediate danger, then capitalize on the short burst of adrenaline that the fight-or-flight response provides and get out of the way.” 

Fight Smarter: If you cannot escape from your attacker, focus your defense by striking the most vulnerable areas on their bodies. Aim for their eyes, nose, throat and groin. Many young adults carry weapons for defense, but Furneaux cautions that the presence of a weapon has the potential to escalate any situation. Be familiar with the items you trust for your defense so your attacker cannot take them and use them against you.

Trust Wisely. People do not make new friends by never speaking to strangers, but that does not mean you should trust someone that you have just met (even a few days prior) with your safety. Take responsibility for your own well being. Make wise decisions, like limiting your alcohol consumption and refusing beverages in open containers at parties. Again, it sounds simple—but many assaults happen in situations where one or both parties are impaired in some way. A victim under the influence of drugs or alcohol is  obviously not responsible for their assault. However, choosing to remain coherent in a situation where you do not know many people will not harm anyone—and a gracious host will understand.

Consider enrolling in Roanoke County’s four-week program, Self-Defense for Women, beginning August 7. Participants will learn the Rape Aggression Defense system from certified instructors who want to help victims learn how to respond to a realistic attack with effective self-defense tactics and techniques.

The Great River Institute is also offering a free introductory seminar on Jiu Jitsu on Wednesday August 20 from 7 pm-9 pm at their Grandin Road location. This seminar will include demonstrations on dealing with emotional and physical confrontations, hostile situations and scenarios, and how to more effectively maintain a positive personal balance. Visit their website for more information.

The courageous step of reporting your assault can help prevent future attacks. In addition to law enforcement, you can reach out to Sexual Assault Response and Awareness, Inc. by calling their 24-hour hotline, 540-981-9352.

A Friendship Blossoms

Local author Carol Wall shares the benefits of opening her mind and her heart in her memoir, Mister Owita’s Guide to Gardening.  Her friendship with Giles Owita, a local gardener, challenges her to step outside of her comfort zone and learn from his advice, despite her original inclination to judge him based on his appearance and profession.

“One of the most important lesions of the book is not to make assumptions,” she explains, “Just because someone is wearing work clothes, comes from a distant place, and knows secrets about trees and plants does not mean he cannot also be an accomplished scholar and an expert in his field. Assumptions I made revealed my biases and prejudices and made me examine the way I thought about things.”

Wall goes on to say that she was raised never to discriminate against anyone, and she desperately wanted to present her community as accepting of Giles and his family. Unfortunately, there were those in the community that did not welcome him as openly.

 “As the years of our friendship passed, I came to understand that Giles was African and held none of the biases that mark our strained race relations in the United States,” she says, “Though he would have preferred to make everyone his friend, life had taught him early on to detect those who, for whatever reason (including the color of his skin) would not be available for such relationships.”

Prior to meeting Giles, Wall had fought and won her first battle with breast cancer. During their friendship, the disease returns. She also faces the decline of her parents’ health. Eventually Giles’ own health problems surface and their friendship blossoms despite (and maybe because of) the challenges they face. He shares his own cancer story with her and she begins to look at her experience in a new light. She describes this moment as a feeling to which we can all relate, “You have such beautiful things and you are afraid of losing them.”

carolwall2Finally, Wall addresses the subject of illness with a unique and enlightening approach. Those who have experienced something like cancer, as a patient or close family member, will appreciate her honest explanation of the emotions that she faced.

 “I guess you could say I was ‘on strike’ from having a meaningful life,” she recalls, “That is how I was punishing myself for the sin of being sick. There is nothing my husband (or anyone else) could have done to console me. Being well [has become] a double blessing–the wellness itself covering us like a warm blanket that we pull around our shoulders at night, bringing with it the assurance that medical woes are meant for someone less worthy. Fear of illness takes away our logic and compassion and separates us from each other.  There is no disease reserved for the guilty.”

This is one memoir you will not want to put down until you have finished. Be prepared for a few tears and self reflection before purchasing your own copy of Mister Owita’s Guide to Gardening on Amazon. We will also be giving away a copy on Bella’s Facebook page this month.   

For more information on Carol Wall and her experiences, visit www.carolwall.com.

A Staycation You Won’t Forget

If you love music, fun, and meeting great new people—FloydFest is the place for you! This weekend, from July 23-27, an 80-acre plateau right off of the Blue Ridge Parkway near Floyd, Virginia will come alive for a summer celebration. Attendees will experiences a 5-day staycation with a new “Revolutionary” theme. With performances from Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite, Lauryn Hill, Ziggy Marley, Buddy Guy, Madrone, Lettuce, and many more, there is something for every taste in music. Visitors will also enjoy healing arts, sustainable workshops and panel discussions, safe and fun activities for young children and teens, and other functions throughout the festival grounds.

Since its inception, FloydFest has placed a strong emphasis on promoting sustainability and green initiatives. The FloydFest family has gone through great lengths to ensure that the festival area they love stays as unspoiled as possible. In 2011, FloydFest partnered with Klean Kanteen to provide free drinking water to all patrons and re-usable, stainless steel cups are available for festival-goers to purchase. The festival also hosts a multitude of sustainability panels and discussions ranging from composting workshops to water quality information sessions. Each year during the festival, a volunteer “Green Team,” monitors recycling stations, compost piles, and water bottle refill stations that are easily accessible to festival patrons throughout the entire venue.

FloydFest’s unique location opens the door for a wide range of easily accessible outdoor activities, including hiking, mountain biking, white water rafting, disc golf, and more. Back at the festival site, the Healing Arts Village offers massages, yoga classes, meditation sessions and sustainability workshops. FloydFest’s strategically built concert stages, such as the Virginia Folklife Workshop Porch, provide a sweet concoction of picturesque views and intimate mountain sound that you can’t find anywhere else.

Go to www.floydfest.com for more information and a complete line-up of performers. You can even build your own custom schedule to ensure you don’t miss performances from your favorite artists. Spend a couple of days (or the entire weekend) enjoying the scenery, the people, and the music of FloydFest. We will see you there!

Summer Products We Love

We plan on spending a lot of time outside this summer. Between festivals, beach trips, and other family events scheduled for July, it is important to be prepared for every scenario nature will give us. If you are prepared, minor setbacks will not inconvenience you and ruin your day. So, for the outdoor lovers out there, we have compiled a small list of things you may want to consider packing for your next adventure.

For campers, beach goers, and sports fans alike, the Breeze XL by Sport Brella is a necessity. A family size shelter, it can provide full coverage for two adults and two children. Its adjustable canopy has a UPF 50+ lining for maximum sun protection and can shift for ventilation and weather protection as well. The floor mat is easy to clean, and it takes about two minutes to assemble. Visit www.sportbrella.com to order your Breeze XL or any of the other excellent sun and weather protection products that they offer.

Bugs have the potential to ruin any outdoor fun during the summer. If you are going somewhere that requires sunscreen, it is always a good rule of thumb to bring some form of bug repellent. La Fresh Travel Lite Insect Repellent Wipes are safe for the whole family and they last for a very long time. They also come with a travelling case to make transportation easy. Their smell is not overpowering, like some repellants, and they work against more than just mosquitoes. Check out their full line of products and order some for yourself at www.lafreshgroup.com.

July BellarainrapsLocated in Richmond, Virginia, Rainraps started as a simple idea on a rainy day. Stacy Struminger, a New Yorker transplanted to Richmond, had long seen the need for a more stylish, lightweight and waterproof accessory. After searching her closet in vain, she decided to create something to meet her needs. Rainraps are reversible and come in a variety of colors to add style to your rainy day. In addition to their water repellant fabric, they dry quickly and are easy to store in their travel friendly pouch. If you plan on spending any time outdoors this summer, this will be essential to your wardrobe. Go to www.rainraps.com to order one (or two!) in your favorite colors.

If you are doing a lot of walking outdoors, it is wise to bring a large bag along in the car that includes your Rainrap, repellent wipes, chargers, etc. However, you may want to place all of your most valuable items (your credit card, drivers license, cash and cell phone) in a crossbody style bag to keep with you at all times. Choose a smaller style that can fit in your tote or beach bag, and consider leaving the larger bag in your car while you explore. We love crossbodys from Olivia and Joy! They come in a variety of colors, making them an excellent match for any summertime outfit. Visit www.oliviaandjoy.com to view their full collection and purchase one of your own.