All posts by Hayleigh Worgan

Opera Roanoke Presents Handel’s Julius Caesar

March is Women’s History Month—a time when we celebrate the accomplishments of amazing women who have inspired us to do great things.  Locally, you will be able to see talented women come together at Opera Roanoke for a fantastic performance of Handel’s Julius Caesar.  Amy Cofield Williamson, Teresa Buchholz, Carla Dirlikov, and Toby Newman will be joined by a female cast to tell the story of Caesar’s campaign in Egypt.  It features dramatic scenes for each of the principal characters performed by artists who are not only gifted, but also passionate about our community.

Buchholz will play the role of Julius Caesar—something that many men would likely find challenging.  “There is really no room for anything remotely feminine in his character,” she explains. “That has to be conveyed both physically and through my singing.”  It is a challenge that she looks forward to undertaking, but she realizes her masculine portrayal will require strength and creativity.  “Acting comes from within.  It’s not something you should layer on externally.  It comes out of the music,” she says, “[Great] singers act with their voices, not just their bodies.”

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Teresa Buchholz

Much like her colleagues, she is dedicated to giving her best to this production.  Their admiration for Handel and each other, as artists, will likely be evident in their performance.  For some of them it will be the first time they have crossed paths.  Others have been with Opera Roanoke for many years.  Regardless, they have spent months preparing for their roles and learning about their characters.  They do not make light of their responsibility to tell a story to the audience.

Newman also believes that her voice will be one of her strongest assets.  She describes it as a viable connection to those watching, and adds, “You have to sing and convey emotions that [they] can feel.  Your voice is an actor.”  The production will give the cast ample opportunity to make those connections.

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Toby Newman

Playing the role of Cleopatra, Williamson is excited to share Handel’s work with the Roanoke audience because she feels as though she has already connected with her character.  “I have so enjoyed preparing for this role,” she says, “mostly because of the beautiful music [he] wrote.  Of course, who wouldn’t love having the opportunity to perform the role of Cleopatra?  I can’t wait for Opera Roanoke to bring this beautiful music and history to life!”  Her respect for the production is contagious, and every cast member is committed to making the experience both enjoyable and educational.

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Amy Cofield Williamson

Phenomenal talent and passion for the stage is not all that makes these women unique.  Each one took a different path that led them to Opera Roanoke, and all of them display inspiring strength.  They stress the importance of having a mentor that brings out the best in you.  Many of them found mentors when they were very young, and almost all of them were inspired by strong women.  Dirlikov’s was her teacher and a famous African American opera singer, Shirley Verrett.  “She insisted that I strive for excellence,” she recalls. “She faced so much adversity in her career and never gave up.  I was fortunate to have her guidance.”

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Carla Dirlikov

We, as a community and an audience, will be the fortunate ones to see these ladies in action on stage.  Bella encourages everyone to celebrate Women’s History month by supporting the women you know who are doing great things in our community. Don’t forget to visit the Jefferson Center on March 21st or March 23rd to support this talented cast in their performance of Handel’s Julius Caesar.  For more information, go to Opera Roanoke’s website, www.operaroanoke.org.

Winter Blues

Let’s talk about the elephant in the room—the one that only you can see. If you are experiencing any type of mood disorder, you may feel as though you have very few options to pursue. It is important to remember that you are not alone. Many people live with seasonal depression, borderline personality disorder, postpartum depression, anxiety disorders, and more.
You may be surprised at the number of successful women who live with these problems. For years, we have been taught to hide our illness like dirty laundry. This is despite the fact that medical science has proven them to be the result of a chemical imbalance in our brains. Like many of you, I live with an anxiety disorder. It is made worse by the thought that I have to hide it from everyone that I meet. Over the years, I have learned a few tricks to control it.

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Surround yourself with positive reinforcement. It sounds cliché, but you will see yourself handling stress much better. Search for websites like Go Woman Go to find other women experiencing similar problems. You may discover that their empowering stories, like that of founder Lashinda Demus, will inspire you to keep going. Chances are, they will also remind you to be optimistic, instead of anticipating the worst possible outcome of every situation.
Try a sun lamp. It benefits those experiencing seasonal and nonseasonal depression, among other disorders. Eliminating harmful ultraviolet radiation, it brings the short wavelengths of sun light indoors. Consult your physician to make sure the treatment is right for you, especially if you are taking any medications. I have recently purchased one, and I am already noticing an improvement. My energy levels have increased, and I am almost as energetic as any other twenty-something. Additionally, I find myself waking up earlier without an alarm.  You can find one on Amazon.

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Most importantly, please remember that having a personality or mood disorder is not something of which you should be ashamed. There is no reason you should be unsuccessful as a result. It may take some time, and more than one visit with your doctor, but you will find a course of treatment that makes you feel better. Until that time, seek out those facing similar issues. Build your support system. There is nothing more comforting than someone who understands that although your illness is invisible, it is very real.

Product Spotlight: 800razors.com

Ladies, let’s be honest: shaving is not fun.  In the short term, it is less expensive than waxing or laser hair removal.  Of course, once the hair is gone, most of us feel better.  For whatever reason, smooth legs give us the confidence to rock a gorgeous skirt at the office or on a first date.  That doesn’t change the fact that every step leading up to the finished product is often a chore.

I have always believed that shopping for razors is a lot like buying hair dye in a box.  The women on the packaging look so happy and beautiful that you convince yourself the experience will be nothing but pleasant.  Then you get home, and after attempting to use it, you discover you are allergic to the chemicals in the hair dye.  Your scalp is itchy, and your hair is more orange carrot than blonde bombshell.

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I have never been good at buying razors, and I am often surprised at how many times you can succeed in accidentally wounding yourself with one.  Additionally, like many women, I have very sensitive skin.  So, my pretty little bare legs are often subject to razor burn—which is not pleasant, nor is it pretty.  All of these factors make that moment of buying a razor incredibly stressful.  I wander through the aisle with other bewildered women reminding myself, “This is a necessary evil.”

Recently, I stumbled upon 800razors.com, and I’m going to be completely honest with you—I was skeptical.  They advertise a razor and 12 replacement cartridges for $19.95, with free shipping no less!  The description claimed the razor was comparable to a Venus razor.  That was the hook for me.  If it was that cheap and could compare in any way to the only razor that had ever made the act of shaving remotely bearable, then I had to give it a try. 

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It only took a few days for my first order to arrive.  I typically put off shaving for as long as I can.  However, I had to try it out as soon as I got home.  I was excited to discover that my initial skepticism was incorrect.  The razor is phenomenal.  There is a little strip around the razor that has aloe in it, so your shave does not even require soap!  Seriously, even for people like me with sensitive skin.  After my shower, I had nice pretty bare legs without razor burn.  

Needless to say, I am done going to the store for my razors.  So, if any of you bewildered women in the razor aisle wish to escape with me, go to www.800razors.com and sign up for your first delivery today.  Let me know if you like them as much as I did, or if you have any go to beauty products that have changed the way you get ready in the morning! 

Email editorial@beckmediagroup.com or comment below!

For the Love of Books

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Starting a book club in Blacksburg can be a little intimidating.  Of course, so can relocating to Virginia from Charlotte with your spouse and six children.  Mims Driscoll is no stranger to hauling herself out of her comfort zone.  Although the environment is new to the Driscoll family, they have learned to follow her lead by finding their inner resolve and challenging themselves to live in the moment.  The Driscolls have faced individual personal struggles, sending their oldest sibling off to college, and even illness.  Yet they have discovered that the best way to overcome any obstacle is to take matters into their own hands and fight for their own happiness.Driscolls2

Facing these challenges has also required open communication within their family.  It sounds simple, but sometimes speaking openly with those we love can be a struggle—especially when you know that they are facing problems of their own.  Driscoll admits, “I wasn’t aware of how fully [the move] would affect all of our children.  It became a journey as a family.  We reoriented ourselves as to what family life would look like.”

Her goal was to immediately engage everyone, including herself, into the community.  Before moving, she began calling her children’s coaches.  Over the summer, they were allowed to attend practices and workouts with their future teammates.  As a result, they saw familiar faces at school from day one.  Afterwards, she attended a “Blacksburg Newcomers Club” meeting–in spite of her nerves.  It was a success.  “Almost as soon as I arrived, people began introducing themselves.  By the end of the night, I had already made a friend who invited me to the movies.”

Driscoll often reminds herself and her children, “We can’t control every dynamic we are going to be faced with, but we can control our responses.  We will get back up on our feet with grace.”

She hopes that the book club will choose a book each month that focuses on the human spirit and its ability to overcome.  “The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak is the club’s February selection.  It is a reflection of community values, and how, “in the time of turmoil, everything within us comes out: especially the desire for good, inner strength, and resolve.”

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“Books in the Burgs” will meet on the second Saturday of each month at 8 a.m. in the Blacksburg Recreation Center.