Celebrating Bike Month

Okay, Virginia, it’s time to dust off your bike and explore our region!

Written by Kristine McCormick

For decades learning to ride a bicycle was the quintessential experience for American kids. Just part of being a kid in cities, suburbs & rural America alike. Long summer days filled with the freedom to ride away from your house, and your parents, maybe siblings too. Do you remember your first bicycle? Mine was a sparkly purple number with a banana seat and handle bar streamers.

The majority of Americans stop riding a bicycle sometime in their childhood. For most, it is during the teenage years when the hallowed right of passage known as “Driving” occurs. Bicycles get left in the garage or basement to collect dust as teenagers gallivant around town in cars. As adults we favor cars because we perceive ourselves as simply too busy. We absolutely must get from one thing to the next and then the next with lightening speed.

The benefits of riding a bicycle are enormous; it produces quantifiable heath benefits, it is a good non-impact way to build cardiovascular health while still being easy on joints and has a wonderful calming, almost meditative effect on the brain. A person who rides a bicycle is also simply more engaged with the community as they ride around town. Traveling at a slower pace gives one time to notice what is going on in the neighborhood. Bicyclists have the opportunity to look at their surroundings as they pass instead of zipping by in a car with all attention focused on the road ahead.

My bicycle got left behind at my parent’s house when I moved to D.C. and it was 18 years before I was on two wheels again. I can’t recall how I first decided to start riding a bicycle after all that time, I’m just very happy I did. Cycling in general makes me happy. I look forward to it. Cycling has a way of making my whole day easier, I’ve lost weight and I find myself to be a more patient person. I owe these changes to riding a bicycle.

In celebration of Bike Month you are invited to dust off that bicycle hiding in your garage or basement and start exploring your neighborhood via our Greenways. It may feel a little awkward at first but the old adage is true, you never forget how to ride a bicycle. You can find info about Roanoke’s Bikeshare program at: https://ridesolutions.org/bikeshareand info about our wonderful network of Greenways here: http://greenways.org/?page_id=21

Kristine McCormick is a Marketing Consultant and busy mom to three girls who after living in eight different cities has adopted Roanoke as her “hometown” because she loves riding bikes in Virginia’s Blue Ridge. 

Earth Girl Wellness – What’s a GMO?

What’s a GMO?

Written by Tina Hatcher, Earth Girl Wellness

Food manufacturers praise their products as Non-GMO. A television commercial portrays Triscuits as “Nongenemodiscuit.” So what’s with the Non-GMO trend? Is it worth our interest since most food marketing departments have long tried to lure us in with fancy wording to entice us to buy their product? Especially since many of these marketing ploys are only vain attempts to make a product inaccurately sound healthier? Earth Girl thinks the Non-GMO marketing trend is worth the added effort.

GMOs are “Genetically Modified Organisms.” Essentially natural food items (fruits and vegetables) have their genetic material altered to create a newer, “healthier” version of the food. Take corn for example. One species of corn has a piece of its genetic material taken and inserted into another species of corn to make it more resistant to drought, torrential rain, bugs, or undernourished soil. The new version of corn is then easier to grow in harsh conditions, creating higher crop production and lowering cost. Sounds great, doesn’t it? Cross-breeding of crops has been done for centuries to create similar results. So what’s so bad about that? Cross-breeding is a naturally occurring event. A farmer can put two similar breeds of corn together to make a new breed. Genetically modifying the corn is a scientific process occurring in a laboratory; two unrelated species are forced to combine. Think of it like this: You can create a new breed of dog by allowing natural puppy love to occur or you can create a “Frankenpup” by taking an eye from one and a leg from another.

As a point of debate, most of these new species are created to help bolster food supplies in challenging environments. Unfortunately, food executives have also used the technology to make a maximum amount of profit from their products. Most of the products containing GMO ingredients are of such poor quality, we shouldn’t eat them. But let’s push the point a little bit. What other ramifications can come from GMO products? Not a single GMO product can be labeled as organic and can’t really attest to the health of the nutrition or the potential harshness of the product to the land. There is not a single long term study which can validate the safety of these products. GMOs may not have dramatic effects on the current generation but can side effects show up in our children or our children’s children? Additionally, GMOs can ultimately eradicate normally occurring species of many fruits or vegetables. Cross pollination can occur across GMO farm and organic farms that are literally miles apart.

So how can you know if your food is safely free from GMOs? The most commonly genetically modified crops today are corn and soy. These are found in virtually every packaged product on the supermarket shelf! Earth Girl highly recommends putting any GMO product back on the shelf. Look for the Non-GMO Verified Green Seal of Approval and buy organic when possible. For more information on GMOs, go to The Non-GMO Project at www.nongmoproject.org.

For more info about Earth Girl Wellness, visit here.

Pardon Muah: Spring Makeup

Spring Makeup Favorites

Written by Amanda Marshall, Pardon Muah

 

Spring isn’t just for closet clean outs. It’s also the perfect time to sift through your cosmetics and get rid of anything old or unworn. It’s important you consistently check your lipsticks and mascaras, as they can collect germs quickly. Powder products can be kept longer, but if you don’t wear it, toss it… at least that’s my personal policy. The best part of the process is purchasing new products you’re in need of! Lately, I’ve added several amazing glosses, lipsticks, brighteners, and even a drugstore mascara to my makeup arsenal.

One of my favorite high-end glosses is by Chantecaille in the color Charm (found at Nordstrom) and has a luxuriously fabulous formula. It’s super smooth and doesn’t get sticky or cakey throughout the day. I’ve been wearing it paired with a lipstick by Charlotte Tilbury called Kim K.W. (also found at Nordstrom) and absolutely love the combo. For any nude lip lovers out there, this duo is for you! The second gloss I’ve been obsessing over is called Fortune Cookie and is a drugstore gloss by NYX that really surprised me. It has a candy sweet smell, looks really beautiful worn over a lipstick like Blush Nude by Tom Ford (also pictured), and only costs $4.99.

For a tired under eye, I’ve been wearing an instant brightener by Maybelline and love how it really wakes up the eye. Sometimes I wear it alone when I’m in a rush or under my usual concealer if I really want a stark highlight. And for those really tired under eyes, I’ve been loving no more baggage by dr. brant (found at Sephora). It’s best used on bare under eyes (I wouldn’t use anything underneath like moisturizers or serums) and has an orange coloring to counteract any darkness. It instantly tightens the skin with a nice cool feeling!

Additionally, you’ll find some products that bring color and life to the skin. The first is by Charlotte Tilbury and called Healthy Glow. I’ve been using this when I self-tan since I don’t tan my face but still want some color. It comes out of the tube white and self corrects to a nice bronzed glow when rubbed into the skin. Great for no-makeup days! And for the perfect punch of blush, Tom Ford’s Frantic Pink gives a nice peachy-pink glow to the skin. 

I also threw a new mascara in the mix by NYX called worth the hype. I’m so impressed by it! It’s an awesome price point and gives the lashes a ton of length! FYI, I suggest using with a lash primer for even longer lashes.


When in doubt, check out pardonmuah.com for more beauty product suggestions and tutorials on Instagram at @pardonmuahinsta.

xo – Amanda

Running for Your Health

Top Tips to Get Ready to Run

 You’ve made the decision to get in shape, and whether your goal is a full marathon or simply a few laps around the neighborhood, there are a few steps to consider taking before you strap on those shoes and head toward the finish line.

Here are a few tips to help get you ready for the big race:

Seek Quality Sneakers – Feet come in a variety of widths and sizes, so visit a specialty running store to find perfect-fitting sneakers. These may come with a hefty price tag, but there are no shortcuts for comfort and support while running long distances.

Make a Schedule – Try to aim for at least 10 hours of training per week, including three days where you run and two or three days of other physical activity such as cycling or strength training. To avoid exhaustion, be sure to include at least 1-2 “rest” days per week.

Stick with Water – Avoid sports drinks that are loaded with preservatives and sugars. You can’t go wrong with the hydrating power of water. As a rule, try to consume at least 6-8 ounces of water for every 20 minutes you run. Proper hydration after the run is also vital.

Go Online – Many websites have training guides for various skill levels or different types of races. If you have a smartphone, look for apps that can take you through day-by-day workouts to get you marathon-ready.

Nutrition – Filling your body with the proper amount of fuel can help ensure finish-line success. Load up on quality carbohydrates, such as beans, peas, whole-wheat pastas, whole-grain cereals, apples, brown rice, and root vegetables. Protein also plays an important role in a runner’s nutrition, so fill up on lean meats, fish, eggs, low-fat dairy, peanut butter and soy protein sources, as well.

By following these general rules, you’ll be able to focus on achieving your goal and enjoy the thrill of finishing the race. Find more tips for a healthier lifestyle at eLivingToday.com.

Funding Your Next Home Improvement Project

Four Tips for Funding your Next Home Improvement Project: Finding the money to cover these costs may not be as difficult as you think.

If you’re a homeowner, you know how long your home improvement to-do list can be. The kicker? It just keeps growing. While finding the time to complete these projects is tough enough, you also have to factor in the cost. Before you put off the deck repairs or master bathroom upgrade for yet another day (or year), consider these options for funding your next project.

Save up the cash. This is the most financially responsible way to pay for home improvements. While you might have to wait longer to complete the project because you’re saving up the funds, you’ll be in much better shape financially when you don’t have to make future payments toward a loan that generates interest. Just don’t blow your entire savings and make sure you still have the recommended three to six months’ worth of living expenses saved up in an emergency fund for unexpected expenses.

Refinance your mortgage. This option can potentially free up extra cash each month with a lower mortgage payment. You could also look into cash-back refinancing. This allows you to take out more money, using your home as collateral, that you’ll receive once you close on the refinance. This works well if you have equity built up in your home and can cover the addition to your monthly mortgage. Many homeowners prefer this method because they don’t have to worry about making a separate payment elsewhere.

Open a home equity loan or line of credit. Home equity is calculated by taking the value of your home and subtracting the total amount you owe on all mortgages. With a home equity loan, you receive the money you’re borrowing in a lump sum payment. It usually has a fixed rate and is often best for large, one-time expenses like a new roof. Alternatively, a home equity line of credit operates more like a credit card in that you can draw money as needed from an available maximum amount. This is best for ongoing expenses that require spending flexibility.

Get a credit card. The benefit of using a credit card is that you can make purchases as needed while spreading the payment out over time. Look for a card with a low, fixed annual percentage rate (APR) or one with an introductory APR and plan to pay it off before the promotional period ends. Otherwise, you could be stuck with a hefty credit card balance that accrues interest. Also look for a card that offers cash back or reward points for your purchases that you can redeem later. If you go this route, try to use the credit card to pay for smaller things like materials rather than the entire home renovation so you don’t incur thousands in credit card debt.

Presented by Member One Federal Credit Union

 

Making Her-story

Former Texas Senator Wendy Davis will be speaking at the Planned Parenthood Spring Luncheon

Written by Hayleigh Worgan

Senator Wendy Davis will be the keynote speaker for the Planned Parenthood Spring Luncheon on Thursday, April 26. Senator Davis is known for her defense of women’s rights, and her fight for gender equality. Specifically, her eleven-hour filibuster in 2013 that temporarily thwarted a bill in the Texas Senate to enact a bill that would greatly restrict a woman’s right to end a pregnancy in a safe and legal fashion. Although the bill was later passed, the filibuster inspired women across the nation to stand up and fight for their reproductive rights. It called attention to the politicians who were trying to strip those rights, and others, from their constituents while few were paying attention. Most importantly, it added fuel to the momentum of a movement that continues five years later.

“I’ve had so many women, young and not so young, who have shared with me and continue to do so to this day, the inspiration experience that they had watching the 2013 filibuster. It motivated them to get involved on this issue, and I think that was the most important thing that happened that day. We brought awareness to what is happening in Texas and across the country. We made a lot of women who thought this was a right we could take for granted understand that it’s not,” Davis recalls.

Restrictions on ending a pregnancy in a safe, legal environment will ultimately cause devastation to women and families across the nation. Currently, we are facing potential limitations on abortions after 20-weeks. These cases only make up a small percentage of abortions, and those that do occur often happen because the baby will be delivered stillborn or is endangering the health of the mother. This is not a decision that women make lightly. As Davis explains, even if the law is written with exceptions in order to anticipate what women may be facing, each individual case is different.

“No language can capture what each of us, as individual women, may face. There is the danger that our autonomy is removed,” she explains. “My feeling is, why would we make a change from where we are today, when currently we are allowing women and their doctors, guided by their faith, to make these decisions for themselves?”

This is a question that needs to be repeated before every politician until lawmakers understand that women are not going to watch their rights be stripped away. With so many ignoring phone calls and refusing to see constituents, communication can feel difficult, if not impossible. It’s important to find respectful and effective ways to discuss these matters. If you’re looking for suggestions, try Davis’ organization, Deeds Not Words (www.deedsnotwords.com). Described as a “starting point for turning ideas about women’s equality into action,” the group began as a way to provide answers to questions people asked Davis as she travelled across the country. She found that many young women were passionate about gender equity, but had no idea how to get involved. They were at a loss on how to use their energy and passion to really make a difference.

Deeds Not Words seeks to show those fighting for gender equity how to do so digitally, by engaging, inspiring, and motivating women to understand how the process works at local, state, and federal levels. The goal is to show them where they can most effectively add their voices to progress in a way that motivates change. In Texas, advocate trainees recently worked ten different bills proactively and they were able to pass seven of them. All were centered around protecting women from sexual assault, particularly on college campuses, and protecting vulnerable young women who are victims of sex trafficking. They hope to expand their advocate trainee program to other parts of the country soon.

Ultimately, Davis and the Deeds Not Words program hope that women will continue to get involved in running for office in 2018 and beyond.

“We have to start by looking at who represents us across the country and the fact that we have an incredibly small amount of women at the local, state, and federal levels. What that means, of course, is that we don’t have the champions that we need. There are many men who support women’s reproductive freedoms. However, the true champions for these issues are women, and they are the ones who are going to fight with everything they have to make sure we don’t go back,” says Davis.

Davis is encouraged by the fact that more women are owning the responsibility for themselves of stepping out of their comfort zone and running for office. As she explains, if we don’t do it, no one will do it for us.

In her memoir, Forgetting to Be Afraid, Davis quotes Lady Bird Johnson on the idea that sometimes you have to get so caught up in something you forget to be afraid.

“The good thing is that we are there for each other,” she adds. “I see that more and more, particularly post-2016 election, the number of women stepping forward to run for office and support those putting their names on the line is increasing. There is a growing sisterhood and network, and that is important to know when we, as candidates, feel afraid. It’s so nice to know that our sisters are there and have our back.”

Davis hopes to continue to stay a prominent part of the conversation about gender equity and its many forms including reproductive autonomy, safety for women from domestic violence and sexual assault, and equalized economic opportunity. Although she knows she speaks from a place of privilege, she will use her voice to do everything she can to empower other women. Don’t miss this opportunity to hear her speak in person. Purchase your tickets to the Planned Parenthood Spring Luncheon at springluncheon.ppsat.org. Space is limited, so make sure to secure your tickets as soon as possible!

Virginia Made: Lane Paper Works

Meet Sydney Lane of Lane Paper Works!

Written by Faith Jones, Hill City Handmade

In a complicated world, there’s something to be said for simplicity. Simple shapes and colors are the signature that twenty-four-year-old Sydney Lane has become known for. What began as hand drawn greeting cards has now grown into illustrations and custom portraits. Lane Paper Works has emerged to be the area’s go to source for uniquely illustrated family portraits, localities (Roanoke, Lynchburg, and Nashville to name a few), and pets. Each of Sydney’s digitally drawn designs capture her subjects in a cartoon-like way that has become instantly recognizable as her work. After graduating with a degree in Graphic Design and starting Lane Paper Works, she never dreamed that it would all take off so quickly.

Exactly one year from its internet launch, the company opened a storefront location on 11 S Main Street in Chatham. The quaint building features not only her own handcrafted designs but those of fellow makers. With a passion for supporting small businesses, the contents of the store consists of artisan gifts, each piece carefully selected from talents across the region. There are many advantages and challenges to going from a website to now running a store. Sydney has not given up her website or selling at handmade markets, she now has not only her products but all of the store inventory to take into consideration when making decisions.

Every day her she remembers the advice of her grandfather, who recently passed, “Do your best.” Sydney holds these words close to her heart as she goes through the day to day operations of planning out store products, display windows, and sales all while still creating for herself. While there are many pressure-filled days running the business, Sydney feels extremely humbled to have a supportive family and loyal customers who follow her work and shop in Lane Paper Works.

A self-proclaimed cat lady who takes pride in the unique names she gives her cats, Sydney also enjoys music. Her love of music keeps the tunes in the store changing to match her mood for the day. Every day is a fresh start. New and old customers to interact with and get to know, window displays to design around the season, and new work to create. Most importantly, every day is a day to be thankful as an artist and as a supporter of artists. Giving back is just as important as profiting. Her grandfather’s favorite three words of encouragement are featured in one of her prints whose proceeds benefit the American Heart Association. In addition, Lane Paper Works also supports another charity, A21 with proceeds from Sydney’s “Strong Women” print. “It is about 10% luck and 90% hard work, day in and day out. However, it is worth it—so worth it.”

For more information, visit www.lanepaperworks.com. She’s on Facebook and Instagram @Lanepaperworks. Enjoy a special discount during April for our readers! Enter code “lovelybella” for 25% OFF!!

Meet Maryam Durrani

Young Female Writers Club: Fan Girl Dreaming

Written by K.L. Kranes

It sounds like the plot of a book. 13-year-old Maryam turns fanfiction success into successful book series and finds her true self in the journey.

This isn’t fiction. Maryam Durrani, fanfiction writer, novelist, self-published author of three books, has accomplished more in her 18 years than many writers twice her age. Maryam’s book dreams likely started far before fanfiction readers discovered her stories of the Last Airbender. In fact, it really started with a shampoo bottle.

“I always loved reading,” Maryam explains. “When I was little, in the bathtub I’d read the back of shampoo bottles.”

As a child growing up in Ashburn, VA, Maryam would read anything. If it had letters strung together to make sentences, she devoured it. She spent hours daydreaming, building worlds and characters in her mind.

Soon she picked up a pencil and strung together sentences of her own. Family, friends, and teachers encouraged her to write. Maryam completed her first book in the back of an English classroom, filling 350 pages of a spiral-bound notebook. It still sits on her bookshelf in her room, a token of her passion and talent.

Winning first place in an international writing competition gave Maryam the courage to aim for something bigger. At 13-years-old Maryam stood in front of her parents and told them she wanted to publish a book.

Many parents would pat their young daughter on the head, smile, and forget about the idea five minutes later. Most 13-year-olds would forget five minutes later too and move on to another whim. Not Maryam. Writing was not a whim. She was ready to write and publish her novel even if no one supported her. She expected a lecture on the difficulties of publishing a book. Instead, her parents gave her the kind of advice Dumbledore might give Harry Potter. “You have to do it because you never know where it’s going to go until you reach the end,” they told her.

And so she did. Maryam was only 14 years old when she self-published her first novel, Assassin.

By its name alone one might expect Assassin to be a story of an innocent boy trained to be a deadly assassin. It might conjure an image of him with swords crisscrossed behind his back and a scar from his temple to his neck. But Maryam had read enough books about boys battling for the fate of their souls. She wanted to write something different.

A determined, intelligent girl, Maryam didn’t always connect with the characters in young adult books. She gravitated toward strong female characters and they were hard to find. Even Hermione Granger, one of Maryam’s literary idols, didn’t star in her own story. She was a sidekick.

Maryam longed to read books about smart, independent female characters who took control of their own destinies. Since she couldn’t find any, she decided to create one. Adalia, the main character of Assassin, became the character Maryam had always wanted to read. Instead of a boy with swords crisscrossed on his back, it was a girl battling for the fate of her soul.

“Adalia doesn’t let anyone slow her down. Her confidence, perseverance, and determination always shine through even in the darkest of times,” Maryam explains of her main character.

Like her main character, Maryam oozes confidence and determination.

“If I had a catchphrase would be, “Prove ‘em wrong!” Maryam explains.

Although there’s little reason to doubt Maryam’s ability to accomplish her goals. By the time she turned 18, Maryam’s young adult, science fiction novel had grown into a trilogy, Assassin, Ascendant, and Apprentice and Maryam had grown as a person and a writer.

She’d fought to write and publish her work. She’d fought against self-doubt, spending many nights wondering if editing, revising, and the painful process of story creation were all worth it. Now, at 18, Maryam speaks of herself and her writing with the kind of maturity usually found over three or four decades, not less than two.

“Don’t be afraid of what people think, because, at the end of the day, your writing is yours,” she says.

Maryam also looks to the future with a practical determination. Although filled with dreams, she understands the difficulty of becoming a professional novelist. It’s time for her to leave behind writing in the back of high school English classes. She is considering a career in the sciences. That doesn’t mean she won’t continue to write. Maryam has already figured out the writer’s secret. If you’re a real writer, then you’ll write. It doesn’t matter whether or not it’s your job.

“Wherever I am with whatever I have and how much I’ve achieved,” she says. “I see myself content, curled up in a warm blanket with a hot cup of coffee and an exciting new book to read.”

Books are a part of Maryam’s soul and she could never leave them behind. It is only a matter of time before the story of another strong female character stirs Maryam’s pen to start writing again. Until then, there are plenty of chances to enjoy her writing.

Maryam’s work is available on Amazon and on Wattpad (www.watpad.com/user/draninator).

 

 

The regional magazine for women