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.

Keep your skin hydrated and healthy!

Many of us will be spending a lot of time by the water this summer. Whether you are enjoying a trip to a local body of water, or traveling to a beach, it is important to take very good care of your skin.

Mud_jpgFind a good “go-to” product that adds moisture. We like Miracle Skin Transformer Miracle Revival Mud. The thick mud mask improves hydration, firmness, and clarity. It also helps create a more even skin tone and reduce surface shine. Regardless of what you choose, remember to save room for it in your suitcase when you travel. It may be difficult to find a similar product at your destination. Do not rely on the hotel to provide soap that is good for you. Some resorts distribute luxury spa items for skin care, but many hotels provide private label options with mystery ingredients. You could be allergic to their products, and you might not get the same level of moisturizer if you choose to use them.

Don’t forget to save room in your suitcase for sunscreen as well. It seems obvious, but too many people forget to apply sunscreen regularly to prevent sunburn and disease caused by overexposure to the sun. Be proactive, and take responsibility for your health. Set a reminder on your phone to apply sunscreen at regular intervals. If you do get burned, apply aloe often, in addition to your regular moisturizer. Also, nourish your skin with a cool towel soaked in water or milk regularly. Do not peel the sunburn, and remember to pat the affected area dry after a shower.

If you are flying to your destination, moisturize before and during your plane ride. This may sound excessive, especially for those who just want to relax in the air. Remember, the cabin is a small space and relative humidity is much higher than you might think. If soda, alcohol, and salty snacks are necessary to your vacation, it is a good idea to wait and enjoy them once you reach your destination. Also, drink plenty of water. Your body will thank you for it!

We know your schedule is jam packed this summer, but try to set aside a few hours to pamper yourself each month if at all possible. You can save yourself a trip to the spa by creating facial masks from products that you already have in your kitchen.

For example, in Asian Secrets of Health, Beauty, and Relaxation, Sophie Benge recommends using an avocado masks to nourish your face and body. Mash the creamy insides of one avocado into a soft paste and apply to your face using the avocado stone to massage the flesh into your skin with small, upward, circular motions. Wash off with warm water after a few minutes. The nourishing oil is naturally rich in vitamin E and leaves your skin feeling soft.

Look for more ways to pamper your skin on our website, www.lovelybella.com, and share your ideas with us on Facebook!

 

 

Body Image After Age 50

Mother Nature is cruel. In addition to hot flashes and night sweats, I’ve gained nine pounds in the last seven months and outgrown most of my clothing.

Going from a size zero to a size four and acquiring a jelly belly may not seem significant. But for someone who runs 25 to 28 miles a week and isn’t much of an eater, it’s pretty disturbing.

At the age of 51, I’m smack in the midst of perimenopause, a term describing the hormonal roller coaster prior to menopause. According to the internet, diminished estrogen levels are to blame for my weight gain. The loss of testosterone has reduced my muscle mass and lowered my metabolism. Online articles by medical professionals offer meager advice: “Move more!” (I already run 80 to 90 minutes four or five days a week), “Cut calories!” (Steamed vegetables comprise my dinner most nights), and the ever helpful, “reduce stress!”

Many products promise relief. There are progesterone patches and creams, herbal remedies, medical grade supplements, and bioidentical hormones.

Given the controversy over hormone replacement therapy, and the fact that I am a wimp who avoids taking medication unless it is really necessary, I opted to start with Estroven, an over the counter product from Trader Joe’s. If they sell it at Trader Joe’s, I reasoned, how harmful could it be? Or how effective? My hot flashes continued, and I struggled not to gain anymore weight.

“Sorry!” The 50-something female cashier said when I returned the product. “I tried this stuff too. It does nothing!”

Tired of listening to myself complain, I consulted my gynecologist. “Eat fewer salty snacks,” she advised.

Since I haven’t eaten a potato chip since circa 2003, I decided it was time to change doctors. My new GYN was much more sympathetic. “The weight will come off once you get through the process,” she reassured me.” But you will lose your waist.”

Lose my waist? That explained the jelly belly. She was a good listener, so I forged on. “My boobs are huge,” I whined. “Huge!”

I explained that in addition to larger pants and tops, it was also necessary to buy new bras, which became too tight within a few months. “Don’t throw away your old bras,” she advised. “Your breasts will return to their normal size.”

I took a breath and started to relax, until my doctor said, “and then they will become pendulous.” Pendulous! I thought, what an interesting word to describe my body, like something out of an Edgar Allen Poe story. I went home and replayed the conversation for my husband “Pendulous, pendulous,” we said it a few times together.     

Mother N. might be cruel, but she is on schedule. I haven’t had a period since last summer, so my doctor thinks I should be nearly finished with the bloating and weight gain of perimenopause.

Until I complete the transition though, I’ve asked my husband to gain a few pounds; take a couple of extra helpings of mashed potatoes and apple strudel for the team. Being the generous guy that I married, he’s made the sacrifice.

 

Beth Herman is an artist and essayist. She enjoys running the city streets of Washington and the hills of Charlottesville in almost equal measure.

 

Fall Bike Ride for a Great Cause

Virginia Tech is hosting a Veterans@VT Combat Cancer Bike Ride on October 12! The ride is fun activity for families and friends to participate in together as an effort to get outside and enjoy some beautiful fall weather.

In addition, proceeds from registration and donations will benefit the Blue Ridge affiliate of Susan G. Komen and student veterans at Virginia Tech.

Unlike most rides where riders choose one of several distances, this height-of-foliage season ride will feature a 20 mile loop that individuals or teams are invited to ride as many times as they like. This allows the ride to cater to all ability levels and ages, and makes it a fantastic family activity.

The ride will begin at 8am, rain or shine, and will remain open until 4pm. There will be bike shows, food stands, and a live band at the finish for your entertainment. So grab a bike and a friend and head to the Veterans@VT Combat Cancer Bike Ride on October 12 at Floyd Eco Village in Floyd, VA!

Register for the ride now at www.veteranscombatcancer.org. Registration is only $45, and it includes a long sleeve technical tee and a ticket for the chance to win some great prizes (including a bike)! You can also like them on Facebook by following this link.

 

Written by Eleanor Haeg.

Bella’s Favorite Beach Reads

Vacations are all about unplugging from life and mentally recharging. Make room in your schedule (and your beach bag) for one of the following selections from our favorite authors. These books are excellent vacation companions, but they are also the perfect escape from reality for your summer “staycation.” We have something for every taste in literature– and we are giving away a copy of each one to five lucky readers this month! Stay tuned to our Facebook page for your chance to win!

Do less: A minimalist guide to a simplified, organized, and happy life by Rachel Jonat
Vacations are about recharging and coming back to the chaos of everyday life refreshed and happier. Use your quiet time on the beach to learn new ways to rediscover the simple moments of a serene lifestyle. In a world where we are surrounded with the notion that we need more to be happy, this guide offers an alternative view and encourages readers to scale back their possessions and commitments to just what they really need.

Corrigan_GlitterandGlueGlitter and Glue by Kelly Corrigan

We could easily recommend any of Corrigan’s books for your summer travels. Her latest, Glitter and Glue, focuses on her relationship with her mother and how it has changed over time. It also focuses on the difference between traveling and having “life experiences” which is something that even adults in their late twenties often struggle to identify. Corrigan shares the lessons she has learned throughout her life by telling the story of her post-college adventures—humorous and serious alike. Her experiences not only changed the way she viewed the world, but also the relationship she had with her mother. You will laugh, you will cry, but most importantly, you may relate to her experiences—both as a mother and a child.

 

 

Wings of Glass by Gina Holmes
If you are looking for a story that leaves you feeling emotionally empowered, this is the novel for you. Holmes beautifully narrates the story of Penny Carson, a seventeen-year-old girl who places her heart and her future in the hands of farmhand Trent Taylor. Soon he controls every aspect of her life—until a welding accident forces him to allow her to take a job cleaning houses. During this experience, she meets two new friends who help her realize that she possesses more inner strength than the man who abuses her. Holmes, a local author living in southern Virginia, has other novels you may wish to bring on your trip including Dry as Rain and Crossing Oceans. Her latest novel, Driftwood Tides, will be available in September.

The French House: An American Family, a Ruined Maison, and the Village That Restored Them All by Don Wallace
Set on the beautiful and charming French island Belle Isle, The French House is equal parts romance, adventure, self-discovery and travel literature. In an attempt to further their careers as novelists and to reconcile the near rock-bottom lows of their relationship, Don and Mindy purchase an old house in ruins on the shores of Belle Isle and attempt to rebuild it. Along the way they encounter locals who give them invaluable advice and friendship as they begin to reconstruct not only their new home, but also their relationship and themselves. Wallace’s ability to articulate the honest struggle that most people face while trying to find their place in life combined with his breathtaking descriptions of the French isle’s landscape make this a perfect summer read.

Factory ManFactory Man by Beth Macy

You may have seen Macy’s work in several national magazines and, locally, The Roanoke Times. She is a fantastic author that writes about outsiders and underdogs. In Factory Man, she tells the story of John Bassett III, owner of Vaughan-Bassett, who employs more than 700 Virginians. Bassett’s fight to save hundreds of jobs in our area is inspirational and gives insight into the great globalization debate. Factory Man will be available on July 15th, but we have one to give away to one lucky reader! Stay tuned to our Facebook page during the month of July for your chance to win!

 

The regional magazine for women