All posts by Joey Beck

Young Female Writers Club: Yasmeen Jaaber

Leading with the Written Word

Written by K.L. Kranes

The iconic Whitney Houston once sang of how children are the future and we should let them lead the way. Recent events have turned those lyrics into truth. Our children have stepped onto the world stage as the real leaders in the movement for equality and justice. Some speak out on television, such as the Parkland students. Others use a different medium, the written word. 

One such writer is 15-year-old Yasmeen Jaaber of Chesterfield, Virginia, who infuses her poems and stories with deeply personal experiences and ideas in the hopes of spreading a message of tolerance and love. It is the kind of leadership only our children seem to be able to achieve—honest, open and fearless.

Yasmeen started writing at a young age. In elementary school, she would come home every day and write stories on her sister’s computer. She’d always loved to read, but hated to finish a book. Writing gave her the power to continue stories as long as she wanted.    

At first, Yasmeen wrote what she called “silly stuff,” just for herself. As she grew older and entered her teen years, she started to view the world differently. “More issues became more prevalent to me,” Yasmeen explains. She suddenly found herself writing about her fears and hopes for America. 

As a Muslim-American and a black woman, Yasmeen feels it is important to talk about the issues facing minorities. “I need to use my voice as an artist to talk about something that really matters,” she says.

Talking to Yasmeen is like talking to a ray of sunshine. Her voice rings with positivity as she tells the story of how she made a video as a young girl in which she told her future self she would have a book published by the 9th grade. “My old-self was telling me what I could do,” Yasmeen says. This time-bending pep-talk exemplifies Yasmeen’s fearless, can-do attitude. 

Her younger self was also right. Yasmeen could do it. She recently published her first book, a picture book, through the Richmond Writer’s Workshop called Flea-Man. The book is about how a boy’s love of a superhero teaches him to learn to be himself. It can be purchased via the Richmond Writer’s Group website (http://www.richmondyoungwriters.com/picture-book-project/).

Although Yasmeen reveled in seeing her name on a book for the first time, it was one little boy’s response to her work that truly impacted her. “When I handed it to the little boy, he looked so excited and he ran upstairs to get his dad to read it to him,” Yasmeen explains. “That experience was really profound for me because it was the first time actually seeing the kids I was impacting with my story.”

Although Yasmeen oozes positivity, it does not always come naturally. “I often struggle with keeping a consistently positive attitude because it can be very exhausting.” It is not surprising. Prejudice has followed Yasmeen throughout her short life. “In school I’ve had many, many ignorant things said about my hijab,” Yasmeen explains. 

Like many minorities, Yasmeen feels as if she lives in a state of constant worry. The kind that makes her look over her shoulder or fear walking to the bus stop alone at night. “If I wasn’t Muslim or black or a woman, there’d be a lot of things I wouldn’t know. Being who I am, I’ve experienced things that have taught me lessons about being a minority in America.” 

Yasmeen channels these experiences into her writing, tackling topics many might view as controversial, such as homophobia and racism. Recently, she wrote a poem about burning the Confederate flag. It helped her sort through her emotions about the symbol, which she notes gives her shivers whenever she sees it. “When I finished it [the poem], it was more lyrical than I imagined,” Yasmeen says. “There was something so calming about it even though it was a crazy thing to write about.”

Yasmeen recognizes the importance of her role as a writer and how it can help change the world. “A lot of people just don’t know. If you grow up in a world where nobody tells you anything you’ll keep going as if what you’re doing is fine.” According to Yasmeen, writers have the power to open minds and change the world by sharing their perspectives in an intimate way, which is something Yasmeen does not shy away from doing. Yasmeen’s poems and stories tend to be intensely personal. 

One of the pieces Yasmeen is most proud of is a poem inspired by the recent #MeToo movement. In it, she writes a letter to the person who sexually assaulted her. “I felt the momentum from the #MeToo movement and I was so angry I had to get it out some way,” Yasmeen says. “I wrote the poem for myself, but I’m still insanely proud of myself for acknowledging it in such a detailed manner, and not breaking down. It’s really hard to talk about it, but writing about it is like going back in time.”

This type of raw strength to face personal injustice, prejudice and fear permeate everything Yasmeen writes. She is the type of fearless young woman needed not only in literature but in the world. She challenges the status quo, tries to help educate through her work and shares her own experiences to help open minds. Young women like Yasmeen Jaaber are our future and we will be lucky if they lead the way.

K.L. Kranes is a blogger and author of young adult novels. Her debut novel, The Travelers, was published in 2016 by Saguaro Books, LLC. See more from K.L. at www.klkranes.com/blog.

Summer Skin Savers

Don’t overlook a good facial mist when packing your travel (or pool!) bag this summer. Calm irritated skin, set (or reset) makeup, brighten a dull complexion, balance pH—it’s a simple product but one you need to make a habit of throwing in your bag. We’ve found 4 products perfect for balancing, hydrating and reviving your summer skin for an instant pick-me-up! 

Farmaesthetics Cool Aloe Mist   This simple aloe preparation is a multi-purpose product to restore and protect the skin. The herbal combination wards off travel related flu, colds, sinus infections and coughs. Aloe vera and lavender together provide moisturizing, anti-bacterial action for the skin and nasal passages, which is important in stale, re-circulated air. Use the Cool Aloe Mist to tone and refresh, set makeup, condition the skin or as a sunburn remedy.  www.farmaesthetics.com

Little Seed Farm Balance + Tone Facial Mist   Tone and refresh with this daily pH balancing and pore refining facial mist for all skin types (especially sensitive!). Organic aloe and blue German chamomile soothe and calm skin while reducing redness. Marshmallow root extract plumps skin with naturally present hyaluronic acid.  www.littleseedfarm.com

Mad Hippie Hydrating Nutrient Mist    The Hydrating Nutrient Mist offers a harmoniously hydrating blend to minimize the appearance of photodamage—perfect for face, arms and chest. You can find Mad Hippie products at EarthFare or online at www.madhippie.com.

Lotion Yon-Ka     This versatile healing water drenches your skin with the solar charged energy of five essential oils for purifying, toning and invigorating effects. More than just a toner, this alcohol and paraben free treatment will soothe and tone the complexion. With a gentle aroma, its energizing effects can be felt throughout the whole body.  www.shop.yonkausa.com

5 Tips for Getting your Finances Vacation-Ready

Learn how managing your money this summer can make travel season even easier

Presented by Member One Federal Credit Union

Planning for summer travel means choosing a location, booking your stay, and counting down until vacation time. It also means effectively managing and protecting your money so your anticipated getaway doesn’t turn into an unexpected staycation. Follow these simple tips for keeping your financial life in order before, during, and after vacation. 

Notify your financial institution before you hit the road. Nothing could ruin a vacation faster than a lack of funds due to a limited cash supply and/or a frozen credit or debit card because of suspicious-looking account activity. Letting your financial institution know that you’ll be traveling helps keep your accounts safe and avoids interruptions in your credit or debit card services, especially if you’ll be out of the country. Many financial institutions offer a simple online form that you can complete ahead of your travel.

Record card information and other important documents. Before you leave, record card numbers and customer service contact information, your passport, and insurance cards. Take photos of each item or write the information down on paper and keep it in a safe location, like a hotel safe. You can also store the information on your computer or email it to yourself. As long as you can locate an Internet connection, you’ll have quick access to this information in case you need to report that it’s been stolen.

Pay for larger purchases with cards. A credit card in particular offers the most security because, unlike a debit card, it’s not linked directly to your bank account—so there’s no risk of fraudsters gaining direct access to your money. Plus, purchases made with a credit or debit card might be replaced by the card company if the item is stolen. 

Don’t carry all your money at once. One tactic to keep cash safe is to split it up. Keep a certain amount in your wallet and another amount stashed away for later. Overall, the best approach is to carry a combination—a credit card for the majority of purchases, another card as a backup, and cash. While cash can be easily stolen, it’s a good idea to keep a small amount on hand in case you encounter a merchant or service that only accepts cash. 

Review your bank and credit card statements. Upon returning from your trip, look at your bank and credit card statements to check the accuracy of transactions. Get a receipt for every transaction made while on vacation and compare this to the total charged to your account. Receipts are also helpful to have on hand in case you have to dispute a charge with a vendor. 

Join Member One here each month for more money-saving tips and financial advice! Be sure to visit their website, www.memberonefcu.com, for more info on their products and services. Member One Federal Credit Union is federally insured by the National Credit Union Administration.

Single Girl Travel

A few tips for exploring the world around you this summer

Traveling alone can be a little intimidating. However, with a little planning and some research, it is possible to plan a solo trip that you will never forget. Keep the following tips in mind as you plan your next adventure, and check out www.lovelybella.com for more tips throughout the summer!

Written by Hayleigh Worgan

 

Plan, then train.  Know approximately how far you will be walking. Work your way up to walking the distance you’ll need to walk to enjoy the places you want to see. Start small, and remember to stay active every day. If you work through the discomfort in your muscles now, your body will thank you later. 

Be frugal.  Traveling solo does not have to be expensive. For example, at the time this article was written, you could ride a Greyhound (www.greyhound.com) bus from Roanoke to Miami (one way) for $107 on June 1. The trip includes one hour (approx.) stops in Raleigh, Fayetteville, Savannah, and Orlando. The trip will take around 26.5 hours total. An Amtrak (www.amtrak.com) trip, with the same destination, was $157 for one reserved coach seat and takes approximately 32 hours with a three-hour transfer in Washington, D.C.

Want to travel outside of the United States? The trip may be more expensive, but you can still save money if you do it right. Great Value Vacations (www.greatvaluevacations.com) is a fantastic place to find and plan the trip of your dreams. At the time this article was written, you could purchase a six-night trip for one person to explore Ireland’s Wonderful West: Adare Villa for $916. This includes airfare, airport taxes, accommodations, full-size car rental, and tours.

Stay safe, but not afraid.   We are surrounded by reports of violence on television and social media. All of these stories can keep us from living our best lives and experiencing all that the world has to offer, but they don’t have to have such a powerful influence. The important thing to remember is to BE ALERT. Know your surroundings from the moment you step off a plane. Resist the urge to wear headphones or be distracted by your phone. (Really, you shouldn’t be scrolling through your newsfeed on vacation anyway). Being alert does not mean being fearful. In the same way that you would look both ways before crossing a street, be aware of the people around you. Learn how to avoid danger (and how to respond if it can’t be avoided) in Fearless by local author, Logan Doughty. 

Travel light.  Believe it or not, you can fit a week’s worth of clothes, toiletries, and basic necessities for one person into a standard backpack. This is great for road trips with friends or a small group, and it is even better if you are traveling by plane! As soon as you arrive, you simply throw your backpack over your shoulders and exit. There is no hassle in waiting for your luggage or digging through everyone’s belongings to find your suitcase. You are ready to begin your adventure from the moment you arrive. For more information on packing like a minimalist, visit www.theminimalists.com. To see minimalist travel in practice, check out www.thetravellinglight.com.

Virginia Made: TeTai

Meet Tabitha Venditti of TeTai

Summer vibes have finally arrived. Sunshine, warmth and vacations. Beaches are calling your name and cookouts on the weekends become norm. Fun in the sun is the theme for June as outdoor activities are planned for the entire family. Through all the chaos there’s one thing that sometimes takes the back burner. Skincare. That’s where Tabitha Venditti, founder of TeTai, a natural skincare line, comes in.

Tabitha grew up in Portland, Oregon and later moved to Pennsylvania. In 1993, she found herself in Lynchburg attending Liberty University. Twenty-five years, and a family later, Virginia is where they call home. Tabitha recently completed a degree in English from Lynchburg College. Raising a family, running a business and working for a local family as a personal chef while taking classes was not an easy task. Not a woman to back down from a challenge, Tabitha not only completed her degree but graduated with special recognition for her writing abilities.

TeTai began as a challenge as well. Named after her two daughters (Tegan and Taitum). It all started when Tabitha’s oldest daughter, Tegan’s, eczema became more and more problematic. An aunt in Hawaii sent the family a recipe for a scrub using oil and sea salt that helped but was too oily for the three-year-old. Tabitha took on the challenge of creating a product her daughter could use with success. The result was a unique scrub that combined seven unique oils, fine sea salt and essential oil of lavender. The natural product healed Tegan’s skin without all the harsh chemicals and created a demand among friends and families.

“Every product I make bears the names of my daughters and represent quality. I couldn’t sell it if I didn’t believe in its quality.” Each product created within the skincare line covers a variety of issues within the skin for both men and women. From extremely oily to dry, sensitive skin and acne, there’s a little something for everyone. Scrubs, bath bombs, toners, facial oils and essential oils are just a few naturally-based products offered. The newest additions of TeTai were motivated by Tabitha’s own need for a regime to combat large pores and sagging, aging skin. The TeTai Toner and facial oil combination of argan oil and organic lavender solved her problems better than any name brand skincare without costing hundreds of dollars.

Tabitha’s passion for her daughters and leading a natural lifestyle are what have built TeTai into a trusted brand amongst her clients. Her willingness to research, experiment, fall and get back up again are examples of the tenacity it takes to run a successful small business. As her friends were asked to describe Tabitha their words matched everything reflected in her business. Words like “passionate, young-at-heart, determined, quirky, vivacious and loving” were just a few mentioned. When she’s not experimenting for TeTai you can find Tabitha enjoying her college and high school-aged daughters, reading To Kill A Mockingbird, or watching Jumanji through tears. On Saturdays, catch TeTai at the Historic Roanoke City Market and various craft shows around Virginia.

Find TeTai:

www.etsy.com/shop/tetai   USE BELLA CODE: BELLA for 20% OFF

 

www.tetai365.com

Written by Faith Jones of Hill City Handmade

Faith Jones is a local entrepreneur, creative, and believer.  Her businesses include Faith Inspired and The Hill City Handmade. Faith has a degree in Art and Photography and is a former high school art and culinary teacher. She enjoys spending time with her family and travelling. Faith’s motto is, “Paris is always a good idea.” 

www.thehillcityhandmade.com

Let’s Travel… Locally!

Adventures are waiting for you—maybe even in your own backyard! 

Looking for a fun mini-vacation this month? Why not use this opportunity to support the local economy? There are plenty of fun places to visit and spend time with family and friends in Southwest and Central Virginia. Check out our favorites below…we may just see you there!

Written by Hayleigh Worgan

Carvins Cove Natural Reserve – This is a beautiful experience for anyone who enjoys the outdoors. With over 12,000 acres of hardwood and mixed pine forests, 60 miles of trails for hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding, and more than 11,200 acres protected by the largest conservation easement in Virginia’s history, this is a place where you can truly appreciate the beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains. At the reserve, take advantage of free-ride downhill trails, boat rentals (kayaks, 14’ boats, and paddle boats), stand up paddle boarding, and fishing opportunities. Hop on the free ride downhill trails or the cross country single track. Pack a lunch, and take a friend! www.roanokeoutside.com

Fairy Stone State Park – Warm weather is here, and that means it’s time to break out your camping gear! Fairy Stone State Park is the perfect place to spend a long weekend enjoying the scenery (including the 168-acre lake adjoining the Philpott Reservoir!). Attractions include cabins, a campground, group camping, an equestrian campground, a conference center, hiking trails, lake swimming, rowboats, canoes, paddle boats, kayaks, picnicking, and two playgrounds (one of which is in the water!). This is a great mini-vacation for children of all ages, as the park is one of few places in the world where you can find the legendary Fairy Stones. There are all kinds of superstitions attached to these stones, but the best part about them will be the special memories attached to the ones you find. www.dcr.virginia.gov

Apple Ridge Farm – You may already know Apple Ridge Farm for its reputation for providing environmental education and camping experiences for more than 70,000 youth, many from Roanoke’s inner-city neighborhoods and public housing projects. However, it’s also a great place for adults to relax and unwind! This unique location is surrounded by beautiful mountain views and five miles of hiking trails to take advantage of during your stay. The best part? Guests can book their stay in an actual train caboose car! Specifically, a remodeled 1978 Norfolk Southern Caboose Car. Outfitted with a queen size bed, sofa, table for two, and an attached outside deck, it provides a unique aesthetic you won’t soon forget! Your stay will include a complimentary breakfast basket, and all proceeds provide funds for Apple Ridge’s mission to “Help Kids Grow.” Book your stay on Airbnb. www.appleridge.orgBedford, Virginia – While we are on the subject of Airbnb, there are plenty of beautiful locations to choose from if you are interested in exploring the Bedford area. In Bedford, you can truly experience what it means to eat and shop local, supporting local farmers, artisans, and small business owners every step of the way. On the weekends, start your Saturday off right at the Forest Farmers Market. The selection may vary, but in the past vendors have offered fresh local fruits and vegetables, baked goods, arts and crafts, and more! For lunch, head to Town Kitchen Provisions! They offer specialty and deluxe deli sandwiches and super deluxe green salads in addition to espresso drinks, beer, and wine. Spend your afternoon on the Bedford Wine Trail, which includes Hickory Hill Vineyard, Peaks of Otter Winery, Ramulose Ridge Vineyards, Seven Doors Winery, LeoGrane Winery, and White Rock Vineyards. Or, visit the Bedford Visitors Center to learn about Bedford’s rich and intriguing history. Head to dinner and Olde Liberty Station, where you’ll choose from local cuisine options like steak, pork chops, and chicken paninis. www.visitbedford.com

Floyd, Virginia – FloydFest isn’t the only time of year to visit and support Floyd’s local economy! Start making your trek up the mountain this month, and check out the small businesses that offer products and experiences you can’t find anywhere else. You’ll love the wood fired pizzas at DogTown Roadhouse (www.dogtownroadhouse.com). On the weekends, they offer live music as well! There are many dining and shopping options to choose from in downtown Floyd. Set up your tent or RV at Chantilly Farm and spend the weekend exploring everything this part of the Blue Ridge Mountains has to offer! At Chantilly Farm, you can wake up and enjoy bike riding, walking, and running in their wide open spaces. They also offer a wooded hiking trail, two disc golf baskets, and rentable corn hole boards. www.chantillyfarm.com

Abingdon, Virginia – There is nothing quite like a stay at the Martha Washington Inn and Spa in Abingdon, Virginia. A short road trip from Roanoke, the inn sits right on Main Street, allowing visitors to experience the relaxing environment of the spa before spending a day (or night) on the town! Take a ride on The Virginia Creeper Trail and return to the Martha in the evening for a generous glass of port wine at the front desk. If you stay at the Martha, use their complimentary town bikes to ride down Main Street, relax in a therapeutic salt water heated pool, and unwind by the fire-pit. Dine at one of the many excellent restaurants in Abingdon before catching a play at the Barter Theatre. Visit the restored train station now known as The Arts Depot, where you can mingle with working artists. You could easily spend a whole week in Abingdon and still find new things to do every day. www.visitabingdonvirgina.com

Fashion: Pardon Muah

Summer Trends to Try

Written by Amanda Marshall, Pardon Muah

Summer will be here soon and there are several new trends you’ll definitely want to try! If you haven’t done your Spring cleaning, now is the time to empty out those closets. Fortunately, many of this year’s popular warm-weather wearables are quite versatile! Which means you can mix and match them, wear them often, and hopefully keep them for years to come. Here you’ll find some of my favorites!

Blue & white stripes made their big debut (again) this Spring and will carry over into the Summer months. Blue and white striped pieces have never really gone out of style but this year they are bigger than ever. You’ll see lots of tops in all kinds of styles in light blue & white and navy & white. Button ups, off the shoulder, tees, embellished blouses, etc. It’s a trend you can take with you on vacation to the beach, wear casually on the weekend, or bring into the office when worn appropriately.

Bright pops of color are going to be everywhere! No matter the occasion or your style, you can easily incorporate your favorite hues in vivid shades. And if you’re not comfortable wearing brights for your top or bottom you can easily grab a colored shoe, bag, or cosmetic! It’s also easy to incorporate these items into your usual wardrobe. 

Ripped knee jeans may initially seem overly trendy, but there’s a way to wear them so that they are feminine and age appropriate. My favorite way to sport ripped knee denim is to pair them with a simple white button up and a pair of mules, either flat or heeled. It’s a casually chic statement you can wear without having to feeling too edgy. 

Floral embellishments are everywhere on dresses, tops, bag, shoes, and even denim shorts! Weather its embroidery, a pattern, or actual flower accents, you really can’t go wrong. This print is versatile enough for any occasion… bridal shower, wedding, a luncheon, hanging out with friends, etc. You can even mix a flower heavy print with another trend like ruffles or off the shoulder.

Clear components on bags and shoes are super popular. At first, this trend may seem strange, but hey, it goes with just about everything! My favorite way to wear clear is on the toe strap of a sandal. It gives them a fashion forward flair perfect for pairing with any color combo. Clear cosmetic bags and beach totes are also a great way to show you know what’s up this season!

For more summer trends and ways to wear them, check out pardonmuah.com or @pardonmuahinsta on Instagram. 

 xo Amanda

Amanda is a Kentucky native and author of the lifestyle blog Pardon Muah. She shares beauty products, motivational stories, and fab fashion finds weekly. www.pardonmuah.com

Earth Girl Wellness

Which Diet is Best For You?

Written by Tina Hatcher, Earth Girl Wellness

We are pounded daily with a plethora of diet options. Vegan, the New Atkins, Paleo, South Beach, the Zone, Volumetrics…the list goes on! How can anyone possibly know which way to turn! The answer is relatively simple. No single meal plan is a perfect fit for everyone. What may have been successful for your BFF may not be so grand for you. Variations in lifestyles including activity levels, current health, desire or ability to cook, and budget can make or break various menu options. Consider that some individuals have no trouble going on a strict long-term meal plan, while others simply can’t give up their evening glass of wine or weekend ice cream treat!

So where to begin? The following three questions should set you on a course for success! First, where are you now? What time do you have to commit to a new meal plan? What foods can you not live without? What does your budget allow? Do you want a strict routine to follow or more flexibility? All of these variables can change over the course of your life (or even several times a year!) Choose a meal plan that won’t cause major disruptions to your current lifestyle.

As you learn to eat healthier, you can always challenge yourself a little more! Choose a meal plan that will challenge you but won’t create an entirely new routine and lifestyle overnight.

Second, what are your goals? Weight loss? Improve fitness level? Lower cholesterol? Feel happier? Different meal plans are geared towards different results. A small, female cross-country runner will have a far different menu than a large, male weight lifter. A diabetic losing weight will have different considerations than a new mom hoping to take off the last five pounds of baby weight. Choose a meal plan that will provide the energy, protein, and vitamins and minerals that will, first and foremost, create a healthier you. Choose one that still provides you with a few “loves” but encourages you to make wiser choices.

Finally, does the recommended guidelines and meal plans make sense? Let’s go to a reality check here…no one can lose 10 pounds in a week. It’s physiologically impossible, so why set yourself up for failure to begin with? Does the plan eliminate entire food groups? If you are forbidden to eat healthy sources of carbs, where will your energy come from? If you can eat excess volumes of fat, does it make sense you can actually take off a few pounds? Most of us have enough common sense to know deep down when a book makes recommendations that just seem unhealthy! Follow your gut (literally) and choose a healthier option!

Earth Girl wants you to be successful! So choose a lifestyle that will set you up for success! If you can’t sustain a nutritional lifestyle for the rest of your life…it is not for you!

Tina Hatcher is the owner of Earth Girl Wellness, LLC. Her passion for overall wellness has allowed her to work in multiple disciplines from corrective exercise, sports performance and sports nutrition, weight loss, and nutritional counseling across all ages for the last 25 years. www.earthgirlwellness.com