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FALL 2011











the silence on ovaRian canceR


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the sound of

fReedom Freedom means different things to different people. It is something many live to experience and strive to find in their lives all over the world. It can take on a different note of understanding from many growth perspectives of what it means to be truly free. As a five year-old child, Composer-Musician-Producer and Master Engineer, Maurice Gainen found freedom on a piano built in 1923, in his family living room. Today, The Sound of Freedom is more than just the title of his new album. For Gainen, freedom is doing what he loves independently, sharing his


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An International

Journey of Music Creation

passion for music, spending time with loved ones and being inspired by life’s journey and the journey of others who have become part of his life’s musical tapestry. “The inspiration for the theme came from the song and the song inspiration came from a visit with George Grosman in Toronto in 2009. He was one of the first people I met when my family moved to Israel when I was in 11th grade. As a teenager in Czechoslovakia in 1967, he was awakened to Russian tanks rolling down his street in the middle of the night.

By Stacey Kumagai

His father, who was a well-known (1964 Academy Award) Jewish author was told he should leave right away, so they fled to Israel. He was driving me to the airport and we were talking. He said, ‘When I was a kid in Czechoslovakia and I heard The Beatles, Stones, Jazz, Blues, the BBC and Voice of America, that was the sound of freedom to me.’ “I said, wow, that is a great song title, you should run with it!” “When I got back to LA, it would not leave my head. I called him and said, Dude, remember that sound of freedom stuff we were talking about, when I said you should

write a song? Well, I just wrote it, but you have to write a verse about your experience growing up in Czechoslovakia,” explains Gainen. Music truly sets people free in many ways. In The Sound of Freedom music video, Gainen adds colorful notes with his saxophone to the lead vocals of Grosman in Czechoslovakia via Toronto, Immaculee Awino in Kenya, Africa and Jamal "General" Patton in South Central Los Angeles, who punctuates his story with Rap-style lyrics. They share their true-life stories in the song’s lyrical message. These real-life experiences are what make freedom worth celebrating as they discover themselves and their own life harmony by what they’ve endured and overcome in hard times. Also making an appearance with his soulful, gritty back-alley blues vocals is blues great Mighty Mo Rodgers. After studying at Berklee College of Music, Gainen’s music journey has been both an interesting and successful one. Receiving accolades on his music performance

from numerous music publications from Music Connection to Billboard Magazine, he plays the flute and saxophone effortlessly and produces music and video creatively, with dedication and passion. While most may marvel at these talents alone, what some may not know is that Gainen is also an accomplished Master Engineer in music. “I am blessed to get paid to wallow in the best music ever created of all types. Too many to list, but just for starters, Jimi Hendrix, John Lennon, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Joni Mitchell, Sinatra, Marvin Gaye. I have Mastered 140 compilations for Starbucks, often getting the opportunity to make the songs sound better than they ever have through restoration.” While most of Gainen’s time is spent on remastering legendary artists, he’s kept true to his own self-imposed ‘my own CD every two years’ deadline to create the music he wants to produce. His other inspiring works include Jazz World Colors and Jazz Flute Jams. But it is 7 Continents

that transcends airspace via cyberspace – a world-fusion CD he produced with an entire cast of thirty-eight musicians via the internet with vocals and music performances from yes, all seven continents! “Music is a great unifier,” explains Gainen. His next work will come in July 2012 with his own works tentatively called World Jazz Remixed with video shoots in Brazil and Africa for the new CD. “There is more great music out there than one can absorb in a lifetime…great musicians in big and small cities all over the world. You just have to make a little effort to seek it out. A lot of very worthy stuff gets left behind or not supported enough. I am in as much control of my destiny as anyone can be. All I have to do is stay focused and break the silence in a positive way,” concludes Gainen. Maurice Gainen is breaking the silence, indeed. If you listen closely, you may actually hear the sound of freedom. Now that can be music to anyone’s ears.

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“I want to


furniture that

grows up

out of the floor” Verner Panton, Architect and Designer veRneR Panton was one of the most influential designers of the 1960s and ‘70s. Born in Denmark, Panton relocated to Switzerland in the early 1960s. He became known for his original and imaginative designs in the field s of furniture, lighting and textiles. Installations such as the legendary ‘Visiona’ exhibition demonstrated Panton’s masterful use of colour, a hallmark of his work. “I want to design furniture that grows up out of the floor. To turn the furniture into something organic. Which never has four legs." Pushing materials to their limits was a passion of this Danish architect and designer, who always approached

design challenges in unconventional ways. Verner Panton, born 1926 in Gamtofte, Denmark, studied at Odense Technical College before enrolling at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen as an architecture student. He worked from 1950-52 in the architectural firm of Arne Jacobsen, and founded an independent studio for architecture and design in 1955. His furniture designs for the firm Plus-linje attracted attention with their geometric forms. In the following years Panton created numerous designs for seating furniture and lighting. His passion for bright colours and geometric patterns manifested itself in an extensive range of textile designs. By fusing the elements of a room—floor, walls, ceiling, furnishings, lighting, textiles, wall panels

made of enamel or plastic—into a unified gesamtkunstwerk, Panton's interior installations have attained legendary status. The most famous examples are the "Visiona" ship installations for the Cologne Furniture Fair (1968 and 1970), the Spiegel publishing headquarters in Hamburg (1969) and the Varna restaurant in Aarhus (1970). Panton's collaboration with Vitra began in the early 1960s, when the firm decided to develop what became his best-known design, the Panton Chair, which was introduced in 1967. This was also the first independently developed product by Vitra.

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THE UNSEEN WAR ON AMERICAN FAMILY FARMS The government needs to stop harassing small farmers, private food buying clubs and co- ops without food freedom…. we are not free.

ameRicans’ Right to access fResh, healthY foods of theiR choice is undeR attack. Farmageddon tells the story of small, family farms that were providing safe, healthy foods to their communities and were forced to stop, sometimes through violent action, by agents of misguided government bureaucracies, and seeks to figure out why. Filmmaker Kristin Canty’s quest to find healthy food for her four children turned into an educational journey to discover why access to these foods was being threatened. What she found were policies that favor agribusiness and factory farms over small family operated farms selling fresh foods to their communities. Instead of focusing on the source of food safety problems—most often the industrial food chain — policymakers and regulators implement and enforce solutions that target and

often drive out of business small farms. These farmers have proven themselves more than capable of producing safe, healthy food, but buckle under the crushing weight of government regulations and excessive enforcement actions. Farmageddon highlights the urgency of food freedom, encouraging farmers and consumers alike to take action to preserve individuals’ rights to access food of their choice and farmers’ rights to produce these foods safely and free from unreasonably burdensome regulations. The film serves to put policymakers and regulators on notice that there is a growing movement of people aware that their freedom to choose the foods they want is in danger, a movement that is taking action with its dollars and its voting power to protect and preserve the dwindling number of family farms that are struggling to survive. A Distinctive style . com



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cover music performed by jENNIfER wARNES | IT’S RAINING SO HARD www.jENNIfERwARNES.COM

editor in chief DENISE MARIE

fashion editor TERESA LOUISE jOHNSON


cinematographer SEERGEI kRASIkOv | www.kINOSERGE.COM



director of sales and marketing STACEY kUMUGAI


editor-in-chief EDITOR-IN-CHIEf@ ADISTINCTIvESTYLE.COM © COpYRIGHT 2011 A Distinctive Style Magazine. All rights reserved. Registration on or use of this magazine constitutes acceptance of A Distinctive Style’s User Agreement and privacy policy.The material on this site may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, cached or otherwise used, except with the prior written permission from A Distinctive Style Magazine.








fALL 2011








THE SOUNd Of fREEdOM An International journey of Music Creation with Maurice Gainen fARMAGEddON dOCUMENTARY The Unseen war on American family farms


WASTE LANd dOCUMENTARY Turning Garbage into Art


INGREdIENTS dOCUMENTARY An Exploration of the Local food Movement


MARIO LOpEZ Encourages friends to Give Back


STUdENTS fIRST American Students at Risk


fORCE Of NATURE A glimpse into the events that shaped David Suzuki's life and career


A dAY IN THE LIfE A documentary about a kaleidoscope of images we call life






WILd HORSES & RENEGAdES A documentary about wild horses being killed at taxpayer’s expense






CANCER STORIES A variety of inspirational stories from all ages, that have dealt with or are dealing with the disease




SHARYN WYNTERS putting Cancer where it Belongs — IN THE TRASH










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WASTE LAND What Happens in the World’s Largest Garbage Dump will Amaze You!

Filmed over nearly three years, WASTE LAND follows renowned artist Vik Muniz as he journeys from his home base in Brooklyn to his native Brazil and the world's largest garbage dump, Jardim Gramacho, located on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro. There he photographs an eclectic band of "catadores" — self-designated pickers of recyclable materials. Muniz's initial objective was to "paint" the catadores with garbage. However, his collaboration with these inspiring characters as they recreate photographic images of themselves out of garbage reveals both the dignity and despair of the catadores as they begin to re-imagine their lives. Director Lucy Walker (DEVIL'S PLAYGROUND, BLINDSIGHT and COUNTDOWN TO ZERO) and co-directors João Jardim and Karen Harley have great access to the entire process and, in the end, offer stirring evidence of the transformative power of art and the alchemy of the human spirit. WWW.WASTELANDMOVIE.COM


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the giPsY magna


Photograph by vik muniz courtesy of vik muniz studio

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ameRican WoodtuRneR

bOb STOCKSDALE Bob Stocksdale (born in Warren, Indiana) was an American woodturner, known for his exquisite bowls formed from rare and exotic woods. He was raised on a farm and enjoyed working with tools. According to an oral history he recorded at the University of California Bancroft Library, he powered his first lathe with a surplus Maytag gasoline washing machine


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motor. He turned baseball bats and spindles among early projects. After graduating from high school, he worked in a factory making wooden paddles used by cracker bakers. Later he worked in a factory that made cedar chests. His job was to assemble the chests from the pre-cut wooden pieces. He was a conscientious objector during World War II, and

was sent to several CO camps doing forestry work. This brought him to the West. While at the camps he was able to procure a lathe and began turning bowls. He was encouraged in his woodturning efforts by Helen Winnemore, the owner of a crafts gallery in Columbus, Ohio. After the war Stocksdale moved to Berkeley, California. He

bought a Victorian duplex in South Berkeley, where he lived and worked for the rest of his life. He put together a shop of modest tools in his basement, and there turned out work that gradually earned him acclaim and fame as a woodturner. He died at age 89.

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Regina taYloR

micki gRant

caRmen de lavallade

Actress, Director, Playwright, Activist. Golden Globe, NAACP Image, Tony, Peabody & Gracie, Hope Abelson, Helen Hayes, L.A. Dramalogue Award. First African-American woman to play Shakespeare’s Juliet in Broadway’s “Romeo and Juliet”

A multi-talented actress, singer, author, composer-lyricst, playwright. Grammy Award Winner, Tony Award Nominee. CLIO Award Winner for commercial jingles. The first AfricanAmerican cast member of a daytime soap opera.

Legendary dancer, choreographer, professor and stage and film actress. Awarded the Black History Month Lifetime Achievement Award, the Rosie, the Bessie, the Capezio Dance Award and received her Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts from Julliard

A prolific playwright, Taylor penned and directed Crowns, the most performed musical in the country in 2007. The play pays homage to African-American matriarchs – and their beloved Sunday hats or “crowns” – by immersing audiences in the colorful richness of black Southern culture. Taylor has won numerous awards throughout her career and is a leading example of an artist-advocate whose work inspires humanity. Taylor is bestknown for her role as Lilly Harper in the television series I’ll Fly Away. She starred in the CBS drama The Unit, in films such as The Negotiator, Courage Under Fire, A Family Thing, The Keeper, Clockers, Losing Isaiah, and Lean on Me. On stage in such plays as As You Like It, Macbeth, Machinal, The Illusion and Jar the Floor. An Artistic Associate with Goodman Theatre, her plays Magnolia and The Trinity River Plays have played there. Most recently Taylor wrote and directed Post Black, which is part of the Ensemble Studio Theatre’s “The River Crosses Rivers” festival in NYC. It features Ruby Dee, Carmen de Lavallade, and Micki Grant.

Ms. Grant has appeared in numerous plays and musicals, on Broadway and in regional theatre, such as To Be Young, Gifted and Black, Brecht on Brecht, The Cradle Will Rock, Leonard Bernstein's Theatre Songs, and Funnyhouse of a Negro among them. Of the multiple shows for which she has been both lyricist and composer, the most notable were, Your Arms Too Short To Box With God and Working which was adapted from Stud Terkel's book of the same name. She has been the recipient of Grammy, Drama Desk, NAACP Image, Outer Critics' Circle, and Obie awards. She performed throughout the country in the mid-1990s as Sadie Delaney in the stage play Having Our Say: The Delaney Sisters' First 100 Years. An enduring and remarkable talent, she additionally has historical significance, having been one of the first Black daytime contract players on network television with running performances on soap operas The Edge of Night, Guiding Light, and a seven year run as attorney Peggy Nolan on NBC's Another World.

de Lavallade began studying ballet with at the age of 16. She studied painting, acting, music, set design and costuming, ballet, modern and ethnic dance. She made her Broadway debut in Truman Capote's House of Flowers. Her television debut was in John Butler's ballet Flight, and in 1957 she appeared in the television production of Duke Ellington's A Drum is a Woman. She also appeared in several off-Broadway productions, including Othello and Death of a Salesman. An introduction to Twentieth Century Fox executives by Lena Horne lead to more acting roles between 1952 and 1955. She appeared in several films including Carmen Jones with Dorothy Dandridge and Odds Against Tomorrow with Harry Belafonte. She staged musicals, plays and operas and became a professor and member of the Yale Repertory Theater. Choreographed Porgy and Bess and Die Meistersinger at the Metropolitan Opera. In 2010, she appeared in a one-night only concert semi staged reading of Evening Primrose by Stephen Sondheim.


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In her new play POsT BLACk, Regina Taylor, along with legendary actresses Ruby Dee, Carmen de Lavallade and Micki Grant, tells the story of Pearl; a 110-year old woman who is, among many other things, a cancer survivor. In this captivating one-woman play,Taylor uses Pearl to show us “Life is supreme, life is precious…life is something to be fought for with all of its complexities. There is nothing that we can’t move through.”

Regina Taylor was one of five playwrights chosen to participate in the Signature Theatre’s new Residency Five initiatives as part of their expanded programming. This is a unique program that guarantees each playwright three world-premiere productions of new plays over the course of a five-year residency. Taylor will receive a significant cash award, full health benefits, a stipend to attend theatre, access to Signature’s resources and staff, and like all of Signature’s playwrights, a place at the center of the artistic process. For her recognition Taylor responded “With an open heart, spirit and mind I enter into this new experience as a student and strive to bring my full self to all the work presented.” For more info visit: www.thesignaturetheater.org A Distinctive style . com



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INGREDIENTS A DOCUMENTARY FILM A Seasonal exploration of the Local Food Movement

At the focal point of this movement, and of this film, are the farmers and chefs who are creating a truly sustainable food system. Their collaborative work has resulted in great tasting food and an explosion of consumer awareness about the benefits of eating local. Attention being paid to the local food movement comes at a time when the failings of our current industrialized food system are becoming all too clear. For the first time in history, our children’s generation is expected to have a shorter lifespan than our own. The quality, taste and nutritional value of the food we eat has dropped sharply over the last fifty years. Shipped from ever-greater distances, we have literally lost sight of where our

food comes from and in the process we've lost a vital connection to our local community and to our health. A feature-length documentary, INGREDIENTS illustrates how people around the country are working to revitalize that connection. Narrated by Bebe Neuwirth, the film takes us across the U.S. from the diversified farms of the Hudson River and Willamette Valleys to the urban food deserts of Harlem and to the kitchens of celebrated chefs Alice Waters, Peter Hoffman and Greg Higgins. INGREDIENTS is a journey that reveals the people behind the movement to bring good food back to the table and health back to our communities. www.ingredientsfilm.com A Distinctive style . com



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The unique colors we shine and contribute in life, through a smile, a nod, a twinkle of an eye, create a beautiful image and paint a gorgeous picture of life. We create art from within just by being. By Stacey Kumagai

I stopped inside a Starbucks in my local neighborhood for coffee. Everyone was busy, chatting away and blenders were whirling about making Frappuccino’s. Little kids were screaming outside chasing pigeons. People dressed in their Sunday best were either going to or just coming back from church. Fitness fanatics were wearing spandex and getting their morning reward or caffeine fix. The world was spinning. Life was happening. All the while, off in a corner, sat a very graceful, handsome gentleman with a cane. He had on a stylish hat and wore glasses. His beard was grey. He looked like a teddy bear. He was sitting there, telling a story and also listening intently to a young ‘cyber’ junkie yammering on who may or may not have known who he was. He had a style about him, a presence. His friendly demeanor was infectious and contagious. He was unassuming. Just sat there without a care in the world, just being himself. Being a jazz/blues lover, I tried with all of my being to retain my composure because I recognized him. The impactful aura of being in his presence with about 60 or so Starbucksters roaming about and no one even bothered to notice him in the room or know whose presence they were in the company of. A legend. Not acknowledged? Forgotten? It was none other than one of the greatest jazz singers in history, Bill Henderson. Bill Henderson is what is known as one of the world’s “Last Great Jazz Singers” on the planet. To understand the accomplishments of this Chicago native, you have to go to his website www.billhendersonmusic.com. Making his mark as the lead vocalist for The Count Basie Band is where his impressive career path dazzles. Playing at the Apollo with Dizzy Gillespie, performing and touring with Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Quincy Jones and many others, the list is endless for this multitalented man that I happened to be in the same room with. I had the honor to see this man in the flesh. Not in a concert setting. Not singing with Count Basie or the Oscar Peterson Trio or the vast array of historical musical moments…but sitting there, exchanging and storytelling. Bill was celebrating the moment. He was taking in life, in the here and now. It wasn’t important he rattle off who he was or what he’s done or what he was about to do. He was sitting there living life as Ella Fitzgerald was singing in the background and I was tapping my toe. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw me tapping. He maintained the conversation he was having – but I knew the twinkle. The twinkle in his eye was thankful that someone even

gave a damn about his era of music and that I was moved by it. While he was not performing on this particular Ella track that was playing it didn’t matter. What mattered to him was that the music was embraced and that’s all he needed to know. People can still appreciate this music today. It lives on. What was happening here? As an artist sits, an artist knows that deep within his soul, his spirit soars when he does what he loves. The rest of the time, he can enjoy life and soak up the elements as inspiration to continue to have the life experience in his soul to do what he does. The simple liberation about the arts is being able to express yourself in ways the daily grind of life does not enable you to. No one and nothing can take away the talents you were born with. Not even a boring day job, can take away the continued cultivation of that talent you have that burns from within for you. Whether or not your name is in lights, what matters is that you do what you love and what inspires you. Whether you are Blind Lemon Jefferson or Bill Henderson or someone who plays a harmonica in a garage or performs on a street corner, the common denominator is found in your soul, you are a musician. If you paint walls in your house or spray paint your bicycle or paint on a canvas or maybe you’re Michelangelo and paint on ceilings, the common denominator is in your soul, you are a painter. If you are five years old playing with Play-Doh or you mold clay and showcase your work in a gallery, your soul knows you are a sculptor. One thing stands firm and true: Passion in the heart becomes your art. What your job title is, does not define you. What your paycheck is or whether or not you are on the cover of some magazine, does not define your level of success. Success is doing what you love, when you can, as you can. The master of his or her own art is one that takes great pleasure in being human first and an artist second. The artist will emerge regardless and that in itself is art which gives us life in return. Bill Henderson demonstrated this brilliantly. The unique colors we shine and contribute in life through a smile, a nod, a twinkle of an eye create a beautiful image and paint a gorgeous picture of life. We create art from within just by being. And yes, Bill we'd better love you when you're gone. You’ve given us more than art, you’ve shined your artist within, just by being you. A Distinctive style . com



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Kind Hearts Mario Lopez and girlfriend Courtney Mazza encouraged friends and family to give back—while their baby Gia grows up.

By Rachael Sokol


ctor, TV host, and fitness guru Mario Lopez—best known for his beloved role as AC Slater in the popular 80s teen sitcom, Saved By the Bell—and his stunning girlfriend Courtney Mazza, celebrated their daughter Gia Francesca’s first birthday by asking friends and family to give back for a good cause. The couple created Gia’s birthday registry on MyRegistry.com, letting friends and family know what to gifts purchase for Gia. Besides toys and diapers, one of the gift requests was to make donations to the Community Youth Athletic Center of Chula Vista, California—near Mario’s San Diego hometown—an organization that benefits troubled youth from the San Diego area.

“Gia and I are so thankful to be able to work with MyRegistry.com to donate to the Community Youth Center of Chula Vista, a wonderful organization that deserves tremendous support,” said Mario Lopez in a press release. According to Mario, the couple was “excited” to celebrate Gia’s birthday in this extra special way. MyRegistry.com can be used for weddings, birthdays, baby showers, graduations, or any other gift giving occasion. But what makes this site so unique is that it provides users a platform to assist charities and nonprofit organizations. MyRegistry.com believes that Mario Lopez and his family will help inform and inspire others to, “use their own gift giving occasions to create donation registries for their favorite charities.”


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r de n t s f i u t s . w ww

st.org Great teachers make a tremendous difference in students' lives. This year we risk losing some of the best teachers in America. • At least 160,000 teachers face layoffs. • Most layoffs will be based solely on seniority, not on performance.

• The result: many of our most effective teachers will lose their jobs. • Even if there have to be layoffs, we can save great teachers.

Parental engagement is critical to ensuring student success, so we'll work to get all families more involved in their schools. But lasting reform requires that whole communities get involved in the


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fight for better schools. Without a widespread, concerted movement that engages all sectors of society, our country will continue to fall further and further behind the rest of the world.

If you agree with our mission, and want to help transform education in your community and throughout America, join us. www.studentsfirst.org/pages/membership

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Röhm is Where the Heart Is Former Law & order actress elisabeth röhm is a woman’s healthcare advocate, red Cross volunteer, writer and mom. By Rachel Sokol

Elisabeth Röhm loves serenity and being home. The actress, mommy, and healthcare advocate splits her time between New York and Los Angeles, but she knows how to channel her inner Dorothy Gale. “Home is an essential part of your life, it’s important for me, and for my young daughter Easton, to have a peaceful environment at home, whether it’s in Los Angeles or New York,” she explains. “I love the security I have around me in New York, it is home. I can just hop on Amtrak or Metro North to escape.” The native New Yorker calls the Empire State, ‘the most beautiful’ but has come to really enjoy the West Coast. “We are lucky we have that New York-slash-Los Angeles diversity in our lives,” says Röhm, a Sarah Lawrence graduate with a degree in Writing and European History. The cheerful, forward-thinking Röhm actually describes herself as “quiet to an extent.” “I like being surrounded by my inspirational quotes and pictures and artwork. My refrigerator and walls are covered with my daughter’s art,” she says. “I am a big advocated for doing crafts and art projects together and we do them all the


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time.” Röhm’s favorite quote is: “When the going gets tough, do it anyway,” from the poem, “Do It Anyway.” “It’s just a little gem I turn to,” says the actress who starred as the spunky Assistant Attorney Serena Southerlyn on the popular NBC series Law & Order. “I turn to that poem as a reminder to not take things so personally.” Currently filming a series of movies such as Sara’s Cell and Blueglass Run, Röhm refers to her years on Law and Order as her “first big break.” “It was filmed in my hometown, after all. I felt like I was recruited by the Yankees, it was my dream come true,” she recalls excitedly. “It was also an intellectually stimulating show, which I liked. I also liked the consistent work of television.” There is “no real method to the madness,” laughs Röhm when asked about balancing work with being a mom. (Easton’s father is Röhm’s fiancé, Ron Wooster.) “I try to really focus on what’s in front of me. And I worry a LOT less now than I did in my 20s. Instead of worrying about when, where, what if, I remind myself that every career has its demands,” she explains. “My job may not be 9 to 5, but we can go away for a week or a month…I can play a

part, then be with Easton for a solid month,” she says, pointing out a difference between television and film work. Motherhood, says Röhm, also taught her, “to be present, to be forgiving—and that it’s OK to not be perfect.” Röhm, a voracious reader, loves the literature of DH Lawrence and Pat Conroy—to name just a few. “As a child, I fell in love with books and Easton loves books too. I read her books by Brian Andreas— he writes children’s books with adult themes.” One of Röhm’s other gems is the Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, a book she has turned to since the loss of her mother, two years ago. “I thought it was going to be a bunch of spiritual mumbo jumbo, but it’s absolutely not.” Röhm, an only child, beautifully describes her mother as someone who, “just loved me with every drop she had—she was always so incredibly patient with me,” recalls Röhm, whose mother passed away from a heart attack at age 60. “Sadly, my daughter will never know my mom in body, but she will know her in spirit. She had a huge heart.” Continued Next Page

PhotogRaPheR: Russell BaeR A Distinctive style . com


Rohm, pictured here with daughter Easton, soon to be 4 years old.

Röhm is greatly moved and inspired by the lessons and values her mother taught her. “My mother was quite the gardener. I would love to know more about gardening, for Easton’s sake as well,” says Röhm. “My mom had a huge garden in New York; the blueprint of her work is still there.” Röhm says her family loves to eat organic, healthy foods and she is focused on that with Easton. “We are a vegetarianfriendly family and I like to share this with Easton. I’d love to create a large garden of our own someday.” As a mom, actress and someone just full of passion, inspired by her own mother, Röhm supports “healthy child, healthy world, and global green issues—how to llive a greener life.”


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“As with all great things in my life, my work with the Red Cross was inspired by my mother,” says Röhm. “At a very difficult time for my mother financially, her house was in a fire and the Red Cross replaced her roof. My mother urged me years later to focus my energy on their relief work, which I have done in New York as well as internationally,” says Röhm. “I’m an emergency-trained volunteer in New York, and have been involved with fundraising on their behalf.” Röhm is an advocate for the Campaign for Cancer Prevention, an organization that supports cutting-edge research and prevention strategies against cancer. The Campaign is partnered with Brigham and Women's Hospital, a flagship hospital of

Harvard Medical school. “It’s important for me to get behind a campaign that excites me,” says Röhm, who often writes about the Campaign’s mission. “Most charities are grassroots and you don’t know where your donation money goes. That can make you powerless when it comes to diseases,” she says. “The Campaign for Cancer Prevention (www.causes.com/cancer) educates donors and participants. There is information about where your money goes. With cancer, we have a big fight ahead of us.” Röhm writes a popular Web blog about her life and travels as a working mom. To learn more about Elizabeth and to read her writings, visit www.Elisabeth-Röhm.com.

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David Suzuki, iconic Canadian scientist, educator, broadcaster and activist delivers a 'last lecture' — what he describes as "a distillation of my life and thoughts, my legacy, what I want to say before I die."


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Winner of the People's Choice Documentary Award at the 2010 TIFF, Force of Nature offers a glimpse into the events that shaped Suzuki's life and career.

What happens when you send a request out to the world to chronicle, via video, a single day on Earth? You get 80,000 submissions and 4,500 hours of footage from 192 countries. Producer Ridley Scott and Oscar-winning director Kevin Macdonald took this raw material and created Life in a Day, a groundbreaking, feature-length documentary that portrays this kaleidoscope of images we call life. National Geographic brings it to theaters. Prepare to be amazed.

A LIFE IN A DAY www.movies.nationalgeographic.com

Photo BY stuck in customs 39

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The eco-conscious every Woman’s Way I’ve been trend-spotting recently and though many of the Fall 2011 runway trends aren’t my cup of tea, that’s not to say eco designers haven’t hit the mark with their latest collections. One of those eco apparel lines, Nally and Millie, is exceptional in that many of their pieces are reversible while still maintaining a stylish elegance and affordability. Deborah Lindquist’s line of vintage cashmere for Fall 2011 promises to be eco-sexy but it’s so much more than that with what’s sure to be wide audience appeal. Always impressive although this season more than ever, Dahlia Drive pieces fit trend without being over-the-top or unattractive, which is essentially how I’d describe the runway versions of this season’s hottest. However, couture trends are ever-present in our lives and we can certainly fit them into our eco closets by re-interpreting them.


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bold Colors Color in its many splendored variations hit the runways this season. Eco-clothing line Dahlia Drive (www.dahliadrive.com) hits the mark for Fall 2011 with eye-catching kimono tops in bright colors and floaty feminine shapes pairing look-at-me with flirtatious lady. Color, color everywhere in autumn shades like rust and green with gallant yellow peeking in, like the sun through the multi-colored trees. Best of all? Designer Wendy Van Riesen has chosen to use recycled saris, curtains and vintage scarves to create her apparel, making her mark not only in fashion but on the environment as well. Proudly heralded as a company whose apparel is made in the USA, Nally and Millie (www.nallyandmillie.com) is unique in that some of the pieces are reversible and some are handmade for intricacy. The pieces speak of a designer’s eye that is beautifully unafraid of color (and pattern) but who is familiar with elegance and an understanding of the female figure (every woman’s figure, which is particularly important to this fashion lovin’ mama).

Ponchos Don’t think Grandma. Think soft blanket to snuggle with on a chilly fall day. Think pairing it with high boots and skinny jeans. Think wrapping up in it with a loved one. Think handmade Cecile Benac Knitwear (www.cecilebenacknitwear.com) in organic cotton and viscose. The neutral poncho I spotted on her website with braided detail is a testament to craftsmanship and the everywoman’s answer to this season’s poncho trend.

Color blocking Deborah Lindquist’s color blocked reincarnated vintage cashmere sweaters (and skirts and dresses) are elegant and subtly rendered. They’re done in bright but attractive colors and range from pretty to sporty to neutral shades to sweet, so there’s one for every girl. Even the girl who is shy about color can find a long sweater in neutral shades of brown to throw over her jeans or pair with a simple dress (www.deborahlindquist.com).

Going Dotty Dots might not be for every gal (admittedly, I have very few dotted items in my own closet) but Dahlia Drive has come up with a cute response to this challenging trend. The translucent bubble dress in a light hue of yellow with large muted purple and pink dots sounds a bit out there but is quite fetching paired with gray leggings and boots. The twirly pleated hemline is flirtatious, making the garb date-worthy indeed. A Distinctive style . com


Swinging 60s United Bamboo’s (www.unitedbamboo.com) 100% Cotton Orange Beige Abstract Print Cotton Dress is not only a throwback to little swingy 60s frocks but it’s a subtly printed work of art as well. Pair it with boots or flats for a look that’s modern appeal and a look back. Appealing to most women is the lack of a wild cacophony of psychedelic color and pattern you’d be afraid to leave the house in.

Subtlety Pure and simple looks graced the runways for Fall 2011; jackets in dark solids gave us wearable outerwear options. To create the subtle look, United Bamboo is a top choice with items like the Lightweight Hooded Blouson Jacket, simple but thoughtfully designed or lace-up boots in natural shades paired with sporty knit tanks or the 100% silk pale green dress in the refined print.

Flower Power Some of the flower-themed designer pieces are a little overthe-top for a typical professional woman’s workplace or PTA meetings but California based Nally and Millie’s brand does flowers with a subtlety that is breathtaking. The Begonia Scroll Reversible Skirt is like a work of art, done in a print that gives the impression of pink water color flowers on a dark watery canvas without evoking thoughts of grandma’s chesterfield.


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Mid-Calf Skirts Women know (and designers have discovered this season), whether instinctively or by observation or word-of-mouth, that flirting is easier in a skirt, especially a flowing one that plays around the legs like a happy cat. Enter A.D.O., the eco line (www.adoclothing.com) that promises style the sustainable way using organic materials, dyes made from herbs and plants and even tags made with recycled paper. I adore their mid-calf length dresses, particularly a belted gray number with detailed shoulders.

bold Shoulder

Giving back Never Goes Out of Style

For this season’s decorative sleeves, Sofia (www.sofiaclothing. com) Clothing offers several possibilities in an array of colors and styles. From a one-shoulder red empire waist top to a gray jacket with graduated shelves of black running down the shoulder to a transparent pouf sleeve blouse, Sofia’s shoulders are statements of stunning elegance.

Though these are just some of this season’s trends and couture is striking and has its place, it’s undeniable that eco designers make them wearable for everywoman. Not only do eco designers provide us with earth-friendly, luxurious fabrics but they create jobs in employee-pleasant environments and are charitable as well. Nally and Millie employees, for example, are touted to be close-knit relatives and friends who are dedicated to a quality product. To Desire’s designer Jeeta (www.todesire.com) created a collection of Hugg wraps specifically to benefit the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. Proceeds (in part) from purchases go to the foundation during the month of October and buyers are rewarded not only with good consciences but also with luxury wraps in exotic fabrics. The owner of TAB bras (www.tabbra.com), Yvonne Hogenes, founded the LaPenita Mexico Project. She journeys to Mexico every year in February to give away 500 bras to women who are living with breast cancer. Women travel from all over to get clothes, wigs and makeup as well. Fashion isn’t simply about looking presentable or being creative with one’s appearance. This fall, it’s so much more than that; it’s about giving back, about saving lives and feeling good on more than a superficial level.

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Kjaer Weis

ECO-COSMETICS a RefillaBle make-uP sYstem

GREEN LUxURY "Ultimately what I wanted to achieve as an alternative that fused beautiful color, texture and design with organic, non harmful formulas. I think it's the way forward." ~Kjaer Weis

By Teresa Louise Johnson

Kirsten Kjaer Weis grew up in the countryside of Denmark, an upbringing that brought her closer to and taught her to value nature. Her love of “design, art and color” took her to a make-up school in Paris and since then, she has spent over 15 years as a make-up artist in Europe and the US. As a make-up artist, she came to realize that many of her clients were struggling with sensitivity to the majority of cosmetics lines, sitting down in her chair and listing off products they couldn’t use. Kirsten created her own collection of make-up, choosing neutral colors she’d worked with time and time again that she knew would suit every woman and opting to use clean formulations found in minerals, plants and wild flowers. She liked that these ingredients not only brought out the beauty of the wearer, working well with a woman’s skin, but that they were so pure as well. She was happy to provide women with a product that didn’t fight a woman’s body but worked with it instead. To Kirsten, eco-cosmetics are the equiva-


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lent of eating an apple straight off the tree rather than munching on a processed cookie. She says her cosmetics are equal in both texture and color in comparison to high end mainstream lines but they’re also all-natural. Kirsten didn’t stop at creating a product whose ingredients resonated with the skin. She took her collection a step further, creating packaging that is pretty and reusable. She likes to think of it as “a design outside with a green inside.” The compacts are made to fit refill pans that can be recycled and replaced with a new paper carton when a new color is required. Kirsten worked with designer and well known art director Marc Atlan to come up with the package design, which she hoped would be glamorous and “not too recycled looking.” The packaging for the Lip, Cheek and Eye compacts is a work of art, while the show stopping red lacquer make-up boxes open up to metal compacts with a simple but elegant white enamel KW logo. The compacts are known for the sound

they make when clicking shut, as it is similar to a Mercedes door closing; it gives a whole new meaning to green luxury. That’s not to say they’ll deplete the bank account. KW compacts are a one-time purchase of between $44 and $54 and the refills are priced from $20 to $24. Though the colors Kirsten has chosen for her collection are neutral so far, she’s adding a blue eye shadow and a dark berry lip stain for fall. The range might be small at present but it is designed to flatter a variety of skin tones. Lip tints are available in raspberry red, pink, nude and plum colors while the cream blush is offered in coral, rose and tan. For the future, Kirsten hopes that Kjaer Weis will continue to grow. She’d like to add foundation, powder and mascara to the collection, making it a full line of natural cosmetics. See her current collection and the innovative KW packaging at www.kjaerweis.com.

ADs FAVORITE THINGs www.deborahlindquist.com

PatRicia Palson

Weaves WeaRaBle aRt that shimmeRs With light and coloR

Award-winning weaver with 20 years of fashion experience, Patricia Palson wants to make you look fabulous in her clothing, and that’s not too difficult to accomplish. Every item that she weaves is instantly recognizable. Three elements make Patricia's formula work: exquisite craftsmanship, innovative fashion design, and a hardheaded business sense. Her fabrics are created with both visual and tactile effects in mind. Bold juxtapositions of color and pattern give her designs a 'wow!' factor. Patricia changes her colors often and experiments, she loves using lots of colors in each fabric. Working on a large loom allows for the depth of color and pattern in every weave. Patricia is a Master Weaver that displays her wearable art at galleries throughtout the country.


fashion designeR


lindquists’ ReveRsaBle

Deborah Lindquist Eco Fashion Brand is the premiere brand of unique environmentally conscious couture and ready-to-wear apparel. Lindquist’s long lasting commitment and devotion to eco-sexy fashion has earned her the the moniker of “Green Queen” in the fashion world. Lindquist’s unique trend-setting designs are synonymous with style, fashion, and sex appeal. Her iconic vintage cashmere apparel has created a cult following among Lindquist’s fans all over the US, Europe and Asia. Recognized as one of the finest fashion designers, she has dressed such mega stars as Sharon Stone, Jessica Alba, Christina Aguilera, Rhianna and many more.


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the eco fRiendlY

guilt fRee

This handbag features 100% hemp body using recycled leather trim and comes in four wonderful Fall Colors (taupe, herringbone, grey or teal). Did you know that hemp is among the oldest industries on the planet, going back more than 10,000 years to the beginnings of pottery? This company takes their ecofriendly practices very seriously; they adhere to Fair Trade practices, use hemp and recycled labels, along with recycled shipping boxes. AND the company donates a portion of their profits to Animal Rights Groups as well as Vote Hemp, a non-profit agency that promotes hemp farming. A wonderful guilt free gift idea for any occasion!

WhY i


Pink: confessions of a

BRacelet collection foR J.cReW



mona mini handBag BY hemPtRess

lulu fRost

Founded in 2004 by New York based designer Lisa Salzer (Lulu), Lulu Frost quickly became a fan favorite, and the designer was awarded in 2005 as the Best New Accessories Designer by GenArt. The Art History and Fine Arts major used her skills and honed in on some of her families, as her grandmother was in the estate fine jewelry business for over 30 years. From Victorian to Nouveau to Art Deco, period pieces she has seen throughout her childhood play a large part in her design aesthetic.

vintage glass dRoP eaRRings

BReast canceR


Maryellen Brisbois is currently a Ph.D student and nursing instructor, whose life as a nurse and caregiver was completely turned on its head when she was diagnosed ith breast cancer and learned she would now be on the receiving end of medical attention. Her debut memoir, Why I Hated Pink: Confessions of a Breast Cancer Survivor is comprised entirely of one page vignettes that are filled with helpful, heartfelt and often hilarious examples of how Ms. Brisbois handles the entire process, from diagnosis to treatment to eventual recovery. In her compelling story of survival, Maryellen shares the intimate details from each point of her journey back to health from initial diagnosis through chemo treatments, from waiting rooms to hospital theaters, from family reactions to day-to-day struggles, all written with refreshing honesty and warmth. “I mean, I never thought I’d find myself in an MRI machine lying on my stomach with my breasts hanging toward the floor in these ‘cone-like’ compartments. All I could think was that a man must have invented such a thing.” www.amazon.com


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living With canceR


An inspiring special edition published in partnership with Susan G. Komen for the Cure® and General Mills’ Pink Together. Written by Kris Ghosh, M.D., M.B.A. and Linda Carson, M.D. With a message from Nancy G. Brinker, Founder and CEO of Susan G. Komen for the Cure.® A diagnosis of cancer rearranges your life and priorities. Many things change including what used to be the simple tasks of cooking and eating. Nutrition is a critical factor in the fight against cancer. Betty Croker Living with Cancer Cooking Pink Together Edition is a collection of more than 150 delicious recipes that provide the best in nutrition without sacrificing taste. Written with the expertise of two oncologists, along with a nutritionist and presented in Betty Crocker’s friendly authoritative style, this book tackles the challenge of eating while undergoing treatment.

neW this fall gingeR PumPkin

Give your hair the treat it deserves this fall with Chaz Dean’s WEN.® This award-winning line of hair products has always been a favorite of A Distinctive Style staffers. The cleansing conditioner takes the place of your shampoo, conditioner, leave-in treatment and styling products while it soothes your hair with aloe vera leaf juice, chamomile extract, and sunflower seed oil. You will really notice a brilliant difference in strength, texture and overall health of your hair! Take our word for it, achieving ultra soft, glamourous hair is easier than you think...try their Fall Ginger Pumpkin, it will put you in the mood for baking!


cleansing conditioneR BY chaZ dean

Rescue RemedY foR natuRal stRess Relief Because life’s demands don’t stoP

Formulated to help you stress less and keep up with life’s demands, RESCUE Remedy is available in several convenient formats to fit within your busy day. Keep Pastilles handy for the rush hour commute, drops in your child’s beverage before an exam, or Gum in your purse for that unexpected change in schedule. You won’t find anything but all natural ingredients in RESCUE Remedy. So go on and Rescue your colleagues, friends and family (including the fourlegged kind!). www.rescueremedy.com A Distinctive style . com



n Wild Horses & Renegades, Anaquad-Kleinert weaves shocking footage of actual roundups with the story of a horse named Traveler and his journey from a strong stallion on the range to a broken inmate at a Bureau of Land Management processing center in Canon City, Colorado. Shot in high definition, this film's incredible aesthetics contrast with the mismanagement of our last wild public lands. In the film, Willie Nelson, Sheryl Crow, Viggo Mortensen, Raoul Trujillo, Daryl Hannah and Dances with Wolves author Michael Blake join with former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson and Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) to highlight how the great symbol of the American West is being purposefully driven to extinction by a corrupt Bureau of Land Management. The documentary captures the corporate benefits of wild horse roundups, including clearing land for Uranium mining claims, oil and gas pipelines and corporate cattle grazing. Anaquad-Kleinert is offering the film as a tool to spark support for an executive order ending Bureau of Land Management wild horse roundups and an a congressional investigation into the Department of the Interior. "Whereas most Americans would be shocked that the very symbol of the American West is ending


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up being sold for human consumption, the Bureau of Land Management shows very little regard for the life of wild horses," said Director James Anaquad-Kleinert. "The federal attack on the American wild horse is an indicator of what is to come of our public natural resources. Wild horse advocates are seeking: • A moratorium of roundups in all but verifiable emergency situations while the entire BLM wild horse program undergoes objective and scientific review; • Higher Appropriate Management Levels (AML) for wild horses on rangelands designated for them; • Implementation of in-the-wild management, which would keep wild horses on the range and save taxpayers millions annually by avoiding the mass removal and stockpiling of wild horses in government holding facilities. "If the public could view what's being done to wild horses, the public would stand up and take action. This is not a film just about America's Wild Horses, this is a film about what is happening to America itself," states Michael Blake, author of Dances with Wolves, in Wild Horses & Renegades.

Wild hoRses &

Renegades With dramatic footage, Wild Horses & renegades exposes how millions of taxpayer dollars are being used to corral the few remaining American wild horses, which are then underfed, forced into inhumane and diseased living conditions, and sold for adoption or to Mexican slaughterhouses for human consumption. The Bureau of Land Management estimates it has over 40,000 wild horses in holding facilities, costing taxpayers $120,000 a day. www.theamericanwildhorse.com A Distinctive style . com



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By R. Sokol

neW YoRkeR mauReen santoRa is a fighter, just like her son. After her beloved son, firefighter Christopher Santora, sadly lost his life on 9/11, Maureen fought tirelessly to keep 23-year-old’s memory alive. She created a scholarship in his memory and also wrote children’s books in his honor. My Son Christopher tells the wonderful story about Chris Santora’s life and interests, and The Day The Towers Fell outlines what happened on that fateful day. Both books, published by SEGR Publishing, are illustrated by Maureen’s youngest daughters; Christopher’s sisters. “I found the writing process to be therapeutic,” recalls Maureen, an award- winning New York City Public School educator. “Kids are very wise, and with 9/11 all over the news, they know something terrible happened that day. Kids relate better to a story if it involves a child, so I had my daughters create the illustrations in a way that schoolchildren can relate to, so they can embrace the book.” Just days before the tenth anniversary of 9/11, Maureen further explains she wrote these children’s books (which were initially self-published) “for kids to know what happened. I also wanted to create an outlet for teachers and parents to help children fully understand what happened.” The resounding moral of the children’s books, says Maureen, is: “We can counteract hatred in our lives.” Maureen’s husband Al was a firefighter. “We grew up in a firefighter home; and Christopher wanted to be a firefighter like his dad,” recalls Maureen, who always encouraged young Christopher to embrace reading. After graduating from Queens College, where he studied History, Christopher worked as a substitute teacher,

declining a full-time teaching gig to pursue his dream as a firefighter. Assigned to Engine 54 in New York City’s vibrant Theatre District, Christopher had been working for just a few months when 9/11 happened. Just 23 when he lost his life saving the lives of others. Christopher’s body was found outside a Marriot Hotel that also went down on 9/11. Christopher was one of the youngest firefighters to lose his life on 9/11 and from Engine 54, his body was the only one recovered. Sadly, Chris’s station lost more people, a total of 15, than any other firehouse on that tragic day. Maureen attended every single memorial for Chris’ fallen comrades. “There is no closure from losing your child,” says Maureen. “You’re part of a club you don’t want to belong to.” According to Maureen and her family, it was important to remember the day, but in those early years “you are emotionally in a different place.” One memory Maureen recalls was learning what her son was like at work. “Al and I found it ironic that friends and family said that as a firefighter Chris was very quiet with his colleagues and did the dishes. We joked, ‘Our son? Quiet? Dishes?’ He was naturally very chatty. Christopher talked all the time! He couldn’t keep quiet for 20 seconds,” explains Maureen. “I would sometimes say put your lips together and be quiet for 5 minutes, and he could never do it! He loved his job that much.” Christopher also left behind a serious girlfriend that his family is still in touch with. Shortly after his passing, Maureen created The Christopher Santora Scholarship Fund for New York City schoolchildren. Since its inception, the Scholarship Fund has awarded $50,000–$60,000 in scholar-

ships every year for 10 years. The scholarship invokes traits that embody Christopher – writing, history or social studies. “The Scholarship essay is always history-related and has to embody Christopher’s spirit,” explains Santora. After a committee of judges reviews all submissions from students of all ages, the winning students are honored at a celebratory dinner reception with their families. Maureen meets them all. “One Special Education student said winning this scholarship changed how he viewed himself,” beams Maureen, who says all the judging is anonymous; judges do not even know the names, ages or races of the students who submitted essays. “A winning Muslim student told me he thought he didn’t have a chance. I always tell the scholarship winners, ‘You won because you wrote the best essay.’ I think winning changed this particular student’s view of America.” Christopher Santora is the only firefighter to have an early childhood school named in his honor. Located in Jackson Heights, Queens, Christopher’s sister taught there and his nephews proudly attends the school. Maureen donated his firefighter uniform and hat to the school. “We found an extra uniform of his in the trunk of his car,” explains Maureen. The uniform hangs in the hallway cabinet of the school, so students know who Christopher was, and what he embodied. Maureen also donated some of Christopher’s old favorite toys. “The school inspires students to never give up on their dreams. Chris sure didn’t,” she says. To learn more about Christopher, Maureen’s books, and the Scholarship Fund, visit www.christophersantora.com.

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“To this day, I'm not as interested in music as people think, I'm more interested in how close we can get through the music.” – Jennifer Warnes


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“Her voice is like the California weather, filled with sunlight. But there’s an earthquake behind it.” – Leonard Cohen

JENNIFER WARNES A True American Treasure By Jane Waide

The sound of Jennifer Warnes’ voice is immediately recognizable and absolutely unmistakable. As a two-time Grammy Award winner for her duets with Joe Cocker on “Up Where We Belong,” and Bill Medley, on “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life,” Warnes voice, style and talent continue to defy categorization and genre. Some of her earliest performances were in the late 60’s as a regular member of an amazing ensemble of burgeoning artists, performers and creative thinkers who appeared on the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour. Regarding this time period, Warnes shared that she had a gift for being in the right place at the right time; “I always find

myself energetically resonant with certain situations and I just fall into them...the Smothers Brothers was one of them. I stepped up, I sang, they said you’re in! I hung out with the most intelligent, beautiful people.” During the 70’s Warnes was a recognizable member of a talented array of musicians, such as Joan Baez and Maria Muldaur, who shared center stage in Mimi Farina’s Bread & Roses Concerts. Warnes twice toured throughout Europe with poet and lyricist Leonard Cohen, a time that she refers to as a “real eyeopener.”

Her face and voice are instantly recognizable alongside Bonnie Raitt and K.D. Lang on the video and CD “Roy Orbison and Friends: A Black and White Night.” With an impressive array of albums and CD’s that have sold in the millions, Warnes plays to “sold-out” venues whenever and wherever she tours. In March of 2011, she performed alongside her friend Jackson Browne and a host of other musical luminaries, in a benefit concert held in Tucson Arizona. The proceeds of which were directed to the Fund for Civility, Respect and Understanding. Continued Next Page

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Photo BY maRk schmidt

Out of the oceans and waves of artists and performers that have graced or savaged our ears over the decades, Jennifer Warnes is a true American treasure. A composer, producer and and an exquisite interpreter of song, her voice is a song writer's dream.

When asked if there was one thing that Warnes wished to convey to her audience through her voice, she answered; “It changes from season to season, because my voice is part of my soul and my progression as a human being.” “When I first started out, my reasons were different than they are now. I’m going out on tour soon and I have a larger picture of what I want to do than ever before. I want to make contact with the audience, but I want my ego off the stage and only the art, the music and the meaning to occupy the moment. I have to constantly beat back my ego and say; ‘Stop that!’ I want to stop my opinions and just let the songs flow through.” Warnes continues: “There’s no use ascending a stage unless you’re prepared. For me that means doing yoga, vocalizing and eating right...it’s my duty as a performer. I want anything that’s standing in the way of the heart connection to dissolve. Whether it’s coming from the audience, the equipment; or me, whatever is standing in the way or preventing the


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heart connection, I want that to go away.” “When a performer and an audience are hooked up, it’s an amazing thing; it’s like a warm river of feeling that emanates from the chest. They feel it, you feel it and it’s quite powerful. You have to be a strong physical person in order to contain it, especially if there are 20,000 people in the room.” “You want to feel that river of heart. Once that’s established, anything that happens is fine. Forgetting the words, somebody coughing, a baby crying, anything that happens is fine. It no longer matters because then you know the spirit will take over.” “I work with musicians who know this as well, who understand that anywhere the song goes is fine. Of course you rehearse, you plan the three-minute moments, but past that, it’s like plugging the wire into the wall. Once you’ve hooked up to the force, whatever happens is supposed to happen on that particular night.” “The audience gets a feeling that they’ve

received their own special gift, presented especially for them. I want them to feel that the evening belongs to them, and it couldn’t have happened without their destinies, their stories, their histories, their families.” “People give themselves over to you when they come to see your perform, and that’s an honor. What are you actually giving to them for an hour and a half ? It’s not the sounds that come from your throat; it’s the emanations from the heart. I bring my whole life to them. I bring my father’s death and the fireworks to them in song. My job is to bring who I am, honestly, to the moment.” “What do I want to convey through my voice, you ask? It’s my heart. I really don’t want my mind engaged anymore, I want my heart engaged... period…that’s it,” Warnes tells us.

If you're not familiar with her work, give yourself a treat and listen to Jennifer Warnes. www.JenniferWarnes.com

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click to heaR video


JuST A WorD A song about healing and the reason for pain in our lives By Rachel Sokol

Pop singer Rachael Lampa has toured with Destiny’s Child, Boyz II Men, Nickel Creek, Stacie Orrico, Amy Grant, Vince Gill, Jordin Sparks, the Jonas Brothers and Britney Spears. Since age 15, she's been skyrocketing to the top of the music scene. You can currently catch her performing on the current season of NBC's The Sing-Off. So, the real question is... what hasn't Rachael accomplished yet? Michigan native and Christian-themed singer Rachael Lampa is grateful for her musical success. Modest and practical, the 26-year-old singer doesn't necessarily believe in luck. "God has us on a journey. That no opportunity presented to us is an


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accident. That every ‘success’ we may encounter was not by anything I may have done except remain faithful to God," she says, in an exclusive interview with A Distinctive Style Magazine. "I found that there is a running theme to all of these musical opportunities, and it is the chance to love people. To meet people where they are and to be met by others at the same time. These are all chances to experience God in different and exciting ways." Rachael snagged at record deal at the coveted age of 14; she enjoyed performing Christian music and even got to sing for the Pope. "I loved God and I loved writing

songs," she said. So, after a period of musical success in which she toured globally, Rachael left her record label and set out for Nashville to record a new, more adult album. "You can write an entire song off of one tiny thought or feeling. That's the beauty of music," says Rachael. "That one feeling can be the feeling you get while driving into your hometown after a long time, or the rush of a new love, or the fear of a new adventure...." she continues. "I also love to write about conversations I have with others or stories I hear about other people's lives." One of her favorite songs off her new album “All We Need” is,

Beauty's Just a Word. "It's a song about healing and the reason for pain in our lives. In reflecting times of loss and pain, I've always been able to find the light and the lessons that come of it," she says. "Even though I might never know the exact reason why bad things happen, I can rest in the beauty and joy that He makes all things good. That there can't be good without bad, or joy without pain. Sometimes our character needs to know both." She also has a special place in her heart for her new song, Feel. "It's about feeling at the end of myself. Like I can't fix anything anymore. Like I am out of words or reasons," she says. Rachael's creative process doesn't necessarily have a specific flow or methodology. "I'll get inspired by something—mostly it's spontaneous—and write it on the closest thing I can write it on and usually I'll call a friend, co-writer, or even my husband and form a song from it," says the singer, who is married to singer/songwriter Brendan McCarthy. "I've written on everything from napkins, airline magazines, and even my own

hand! I like to catch ideas when the emotion is fresh and real." Rachael appears on Season 3 of the NBC singing competition, "The Sing Off." "In late June, a friend named Jeremy Lister, who won second place on The Sing Off last year with his group 'Street Corner Symphony,' called me. He was putting together a group of local artists and was seeking a bunch of singers who had never performed a cappella before to come together and give it a try," explains Rachael. "Turns out, we weren't terrible, and a month later we were on our way to tape the show in LA. The season is full of ups and downs, trials and errors, and ultimately GREAT music and amazing talent!" Rachael recently moved from Los Angeles, where The Sing-Off tapes, back to Nashville. "I love the sweet, small community feel of Nashville. It is easy to feel at home in Nashville," she says. "But I love the beach and the fast-paced aliveness of LA. I like to be able to take them both in doses. For now, I am able to travel back and forth which is great for me. Who knows, maybe there's some kind of secret

little Southern-like beach town that I have yet to discover." When she's not performing, Rachael is involved with an organization called Not For Sale (www.notforsalecampaign.org), which helps to rescue victims of human trafficking. "I also am part of an amazing homeless ministry run by my brothers and sisters along with volunteers all over Nashville," she says. Still full of contagious hopes and dreams, Rachael wants her fans to connect with her music—on whatever levels best suits them. "Whether it comforts someone, helps him or her heal, points him or her to Jesus, or allows him or her to escape and worship. Music is so powerful, it always has been," she says. "I also just feel joy and freedom when I am creating music. It's just fun. I feel blessed to be able to enjoy what I do." To learn more, follow Rachael on twitter @rachaellampa and on Facebook. Don’t forget to see her a cappella group The Collective-@thecollectivetn and on Facebook as well. www.rachaellampa.com

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ee click to s


Wounded vets cheer By Rachel Sokol

for their hero j.r. martinez

In an exclusive interview with A Distinctive Style, war veteran, actor, dancer and motivational speaker J.R. Martinez, and his best friend Daniel Vargas, discuss success, being a role model, and ways to support the troops.


s J.R. Martinez is walking from his home to a car—en route to The Tonight Show With Jay Leno— where he'll be Jay’s featured guest, you can hear Los Angeles residents cheering for him, calling his name. He stops to greet them kindly before climbing into the waiting car. Apologizing for his weak mobile phone service, he says, "Sorry, my signal isn't that great here in the valley." After we briefly discuss the pros and cons of various cell phone providers, I ask if he’s ready for his Jay Leno interview. "To be honest, I was hoping I could grab a bag of Doritos on the way or something, but I didn't have time!" he laughs as he settles into the car ride to Jay's studio. It's been a busy week for J.R. Actually, busy is an understatement, and perhaps insane is

a better word to use. Not only is he making the talk show rounds, he spends hours of time practicing his two-step. J.R. is currently a contestant on Season 13 of ABC’s hit reality show Dancing With the Stars. (DWTS) [Editor’s Note: At press time, J.R. remains in the competition]. His professional dance partner is Karina Smirnoff, who has become a dear friend to J.R. and vice-versa. “Karina and I pray right before the show starts,” he says. “Right before I go on stage to perform, I kiss a necklace of a saint that I always wear and I always do the sign of the cross.” J.R. has become so beloved here in the United States that he was recently featured on the cover of People magazine. Just five minutes after People.com posted a picture of J.R. on its official Web site pro-

moting his cover issue, hundreds fans from all over the nation confessed their love for J.R. on the site’s posting board. (We have a feeling his girlfriend, also featured in People, isn’t jealous! “People fall in love with him,” she has said.) “Not only can J.R. dance, but he is a total cutie with a great personality,” writes one fan. J.R. was raised in Louisiana and Georgia, the latter is where he played high school football and made the decision to go by J.R. instead of his given name of Jose Rene. “What I love about the south is that everyone's so willing to help one another and support one another. I really enjoy the culture. The biggest thing I took away from the south was everyone’s willingness to give a helping hand to someone else,” he says. He never knew his father and grew

up bilingual; his mother is from El Salvador. It’s J.R.’s intriguing and inspiring personal story of survival that immediately draws people to him—that and his infectious personality, of course. Inspired by the commercials on TV, J.R. joined the U.S. Army in 2003, at age 19. Tragedy struck when, stationed in Iraq for just a few weeks, his Humvee hit a landmine. Trapped inside the vehicle as his fellow soldiers escaped, the Humvee became engulfed in flames. Although J.R. was rescued and survived, more than 40 percent of his body was seriously burned. Transported to a hospital in San Antonio, Texas, he underwent more than 30 surgeries, leaving him depressed, scared, and unmotivated. “I saw Freddy Krueger,” he said, when he first looked in a mirror after five weeks in the hospital. Encouraged by his mother and the hospital staff, J.R. gradually began talking to other burn victims and realized he had a knack for motivational speaking. He continued visiting burn victims and injured soldiers

at military bases around the country. “I met J.R. in 2004, when he was already out of the hospital and undergoing outpatient care,” says his close friend Daniel Vargas of San Antonio, Texas. Daniel is the Executive Director of Operation FINALLY HOME, a program that provides custommade homes to wounded and disabled veterans as well as to widows of the fallen to help them get their lives back on track. He operates the organization out of New Braunfels, Texas, and J.R. has supported him ever since he joined the organization two years ago. Daniel says he “teared up” when he saw his friend on the cover of People. “The cover photo was just so J.R.—smiling and confident. He used to joke that he was a guinea pig for the doctors who performed so many surgeries on him. In fact, since he started on Dancing With the Stars this season, many doctors have approached J.R. and said, ‘Oh, I can help you, I can do this for you or perform a special surgery, and J.R, has turned

them down, saying ‘This is who I am.’ And I respect and love that about him.” In 2008, Daniel received an email from the ABC soap opera All My Children. The show was seeking real-life veterans to audition for the recurring role of an injured war veteran returning home. “I sent the email to J.R. and then called him. I told him he had to go to New York and interview for this role. I knew in my heart he would get it. Anything he puts his mind to he gets done.” His friend’s intuition was rock solid—J.R. landed the role of veteran Brot Monroe, and his fan base started to grow. Little did he know how much it would skyrocket. Unfortunately, ABC recently cancelled All My Children. But lots of good came from the show’s cancellation. For one thing, J.R. met his girlfriend, Diana, the assistant to an executive producer, on the soap opera. And then, of course, ABC offered him the DWTS opportunity…a journey that J.R. says, actually began on Facebook. Continued Next Page

“Fans on Facebook started asking me if I’d consider doing DWTS. They said, ‘Oh, you’d be great.’ I entertained the question and kind of laughed it off and moved on. When they announced All My Children would be cancelled, I received text messages from people who said, ‘What about DWTS?’ I asked my close friends who thought it would be a great idea. A call was made to ABC and a week later, DWTS called me and I met with them and they said they’d let me know—and then made me an offer,” he recalls. “I decided to do it because I believe that we should challenge ourselves. That’s how we grow as individuals. I knew it would be a great way to push myself.” Despite his Latin roots, J.R. swears he’s never danced before. “No, not at all,” he says. He could have fooled the DWTS judges and the viewing audience, who praise his technique on a weekly basis. “No! He’s never danced before,” agrees Daniel. “On the show, you get to see the real J.R.” Of his competitors—who include actor David Arquette, singer Chynna Phillips and actress Ricki Lake, to name just a few, J.R. says, “There is a lot of goofing around behind-the-scenes, but we are always pulling for each other. We all hang out and when we perform, the pros (professional dancers) will help someone who may be struggling with a step. We all enjoy each other’s company.” Daniel believes that God and faith “had a plan for J.R. and that plan was to share his story with others. He has not only been an inspiration to the troops, but to the military families as well. He’s created a platform for so many people, especially those shunned by society for their looks. They’ll see J.R. on television and think, if he can do it, I can too; I can go back to school or pursue my dream…When you look at J.R., you don’t see his scars. You see his spirit.” According to Daniel, his friend also represents a “new generation of veterans and burn victims. They love him. He’s been a tremendous inspiration.” However, although he’s been called “remarkable,” “hero” and “role model,” “J.R.


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hasn’t had it easy, as there are many psychological affects of war,” says Daniel. Both J.R. and Daniel encourage others to support troops who are returning home from war by visiting veterans at local hospitals. J.R. has finally come to terms with the word, “hero.” “As service members, wounded or not, we don’t necessarily use the word hero, we don’t classify ourselves as heroes. We just think we're doing our jobs, and we’re blessed with an opportunity to do so much for other people. I’ve come to terms with people calling me a hero. It’s an honor for me to be a role model, to be a voice for people individually who don’t feel like they have anyone to look up to...if I can be a snippet of all of the above to them, and help them get through a tough phase in their lives, that's what it's all about,” he explains. Daniel says J.R. visits wounded troops when he’s in San Antonio. “He’s been very generous in not forgetting the troops. He emcees fundraisers, talks to military families, and tells those injured overseas that life doesn’t end because you were injured.” Recently, J.R. was in attendance when a home in Nashville was presented to an injured war veteran, his wife, and young son. Operation FINALLY HOME teams up with a builder to find land, contractors and a team to build the veteran a mortgage-free home. Operation FINALLY HOME pays the first two years of taxes and insurance. “In the past year, Operation FINALLY HOME has grown tremendously. Last year we presented 4 homes to returning veterans, and now we’re up to 32 homes,” says J.R. J.R. helps raise awareness about the organization. “I don’t do the actual building with the nails and hammer. I want the house to stay up strong, I don’t want it to fall down and it would be all my fault,” he jokes. Daniel recently attended a live performance of DWTS to cheer on his friend. “There’s open seating for the audience and sometimes people will stand in line for hours in the hot Los Angeles sun hoping to see the show. J.R. said to me as we pulled

WhY do Wounded vets

go Back to seRve again?

Martinez says many people ask why some wounded veterans say they would “go back” and serve if they could. “We kind of feed off of the importance of what we do in the military. The things we do individually and collectively together helps us defend this thing called freedom, which we enjoy every day. When guys are wounded, they feel like they can’t go back, and thus, that element is gone,” he explains. “I can’t serve again in the physical capacity, but I can serve in a different capacity by being a spokesman. I can be a voice for all these men and women. And it’s been working so far.” Martinez advises those who wish to help returning vets to, “Rally behind that person, whether they’re injured or not.”

up to the studio, ‘Come with me. Let’s go thank those people.’ He grabbed a Sharpie marker and started at the front of the line, signing autographs and thanking everyone for coming out to see the show. He made sure he spoke to every single person on that line. They were so excited. That just says it all about him.” For more information on J.R. Martinez, visit: www.knowJR.com. Operation FINALLY HOME is an awardwinning program created by the Bay Area Builders Association Support Our Troops. It was established in 2005 as a non-partisan/non-profit 501(c)(3) organization and partners with corporate sponsors, builder associations, builders, developers, individual contributors, and volunteers to help severely wounded heroes and their families’ transition from the battlefront to the home front and help them succeed in their challenging new world so they may ultimately enjoy a productive and rewarding life. For more information, visit www. babasupport.org.

PeTer shanKman

a skY-diving, cat-loving,



A CEO. Angel Investor. Entrepreneur. Adventurist.

if You google PeteR shankman, the hyperlink at the top of the list reads: Peter Shankman CEO. Angel Investor. Entrepreneur. Adventurist. And those four descriptors are just the very basics. This sky-diving, cat-loving, born-and-bred New Yorker is best known for founding Help A Reporter Out (HARO), the world's largest free source repository. Shankman, a man who has a Where's Peter Today? page on his website, encourages anyone who happens to be in the same city to contact him just to have a chat and grab a cup of coffee. On a recent Friday

morning, A Distinctive Style had the privilege of being the first stop on this social media guru's list of new people to connect with. I highly suggest you do the same. In the following interview, Peter Shankman, a self-proclaimed "connector," shares with us the importance of connectivity in a social media world where "speed is life." Visit Peter Shankman’s website for information about his latest books, blog, news, tips, consulting, speaking engagements and more: www.shankman.com A Distinctive style . com


ASKramer A sAfe spAce for your questions And concerns About conflict in your life Kramer is a professional mediator, author and freelance photographer who traveled the world studying and sharing human cultures around the globe. A professional mediator since 1993, he helps people resolve conflicts in a number of arenas including: family issues, workplace and business conflicts, divorce, parent/child conflict and educational institutions.

ellen asks: How does one resolve conflicts with people who believe they are 'always right about everything' and never budge? I ask this both on a personal level and because Congress could use this answer as well!! deaR ellen: There are important considerations to be made in addressing any conflict. One is to determine whether or not the other party is willing or capable of engaging in a sincere conflict resolution process. We each have our own conflict resolution tool kit. A child who throws a tantrum as soon as he is denied something he desires displays a limited tool kit or capacity for resolving conflict. The unrelenting stance of an adult who always has to be right may be a revelation of an equally limited conflict management toolkit. If you are engaging in some sort of communication or relationship with a person who never admits to being wrong, that person may be suffering from some degree of personality disorder such as narcissism or anti-social personality disorder. If you share a workplace with this person and she/he is above you in the corporate hierarchy, attempting to resolve the conflict could jeopardize your job. In regard to your reference to Congress, there are numerous articles commenting on the narcissistic behaviors of many politicians. In an article in National Review online, historian Victor Davis Hanson recounts several legislators who recently made headlines with narcissistic behavior. Hanson asks the question, “Do narcissists gravitate to political office, or does the insular, Versailles-like nature of a Washington, an Albany, or a Sacramento turn normal men into narcissists?” If reasonable attempts to resolve conflict are rebuffed, contact a local mediator for advice or intervention. If the person is truly immovable from their position, I sincerely hope the conflict doesn’t involve children and custody issues. In such cases, litigation may be your only recourse. maRY asks: I have been accused of being a "serial monogamist." What is wrong with that?? Exactly WHAT is it? deaR maRY: The question triggers a huge topic with multiple aspects. The ongoing debates, challenges, religious and secular edicts and judgments on the nature of relationships indicates that there is no one answer for everyone and the nature of relationships is not static and cemented in form but ever evolving and changing. If you're an


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optimist, serial monogamy implies that you will not stay in a relationship that reveals no hope of providing the love and nurturance both of you need. Instead you are willing to try any number of differing personalities until you find the "one" relationship for you. If you're a pessimist, it may imply that you are not capable of or interested in long term, stable relationships. A combination of the two points of view may also be valid. A conservative approach would be that whatever happens, no matter how unhappy you are in marriage, that is your life's destiny and you make it work. However, given the strength of patriarchy throughout most human cultures, those terms often benefit men more than women. Democracy is a fairly recent invention and the liberation of women from the older confines of the societal norms is even more recent and, along with the rest of the human race, still evolving. From that foundation, my brief response to your question is that you are guilty of not being willing to stay in relationships in which you feel marginalized, manipulated, controlled and unacknowledged. The early stages of all relationships are artificial in many ways; after a few months or years, they evolve into the rhythms and patterns that reflect the true natures of the participants. One day you wake up and say, "I'm no longer feeling the affection that enticed me into this relationship; instead I'm feeling unsatisfied and while it seems to work for him, it leaves me completely un-nurtured and unhappy. At that point, "until death do us part" really means, "until the death of our love do us part." I have a longer theory about the quest to find the perfect relationship. Since as humans we have our frailties and since we are continually evolving, there is no ultimate state of perfection, only the perfection of being in process. If the process facilitates one or both of you changing in ways that no longer fit within the relationship as it was established, either you reinvent the relationship (hopefully together, in collaboration) or you move on with your newly evolved self into a relationship that in some way reflects the growth you have experienced. If you have a question for Kramer you can email him at: ASKramer @adistinctivestyle.net

Live Your Light you are here to make your unique contribution to the world through your gifts and loving energy. By Mikaela Jones

hello and Welcome. I am honored that Denise Marie has asked me to share my experience and wisdom with you via this column. My intention for “Live Your Light” is to offer you new ways of perceiving, being and acting in your world. I hope these ways will inspire and uplift you to pursue your purpose and your passion, no matter what challenges life may bring you. My worldview is that we are each spiritual beings having a physical journey. This journey is complex and sometimes chaotic, but always full of magical beauty and potential. Most importantly, always remember no matter who you know, where you live, or what traumas and burdens you may carry… you are here to shine. You are here to make your unique contribution to the world through your gifts and loving energy. The way I see it is when we are born, we come in as shining spirits ready for adventure, but sometimes the challenges and perceived tragedies of life veil our true identity, our voice and gifts and can make it easy to lose sight of our purpose or even to give up on our dreams altogether. It is my mission to help you live from the expanded consciousness of your spiritual self, your inner light, so that you may not only create an enriching and fulfilling life for yourself but also help create

a more peaceful and sustainable planet. The focus of this Fall Issue of A Distinctive Style Magazine touches everyone. My father passed away from pancreatic cancer almost twenty years ago and I spent the last year of his life with him. Going through that challenging and ultimately heart-breaking, yet transformative experience changed my life’s course. It inspired me to want to help people traverse life’s challenges with more ease and grace. This set me on a path of studying hypnotherapy, as well as many spiritual techniques and healing modalities. Years later, when I had a severe neck injury and was told I’d lose the ability to walk and could possibly die, I used what I had learned, enabling me to heal my neck holistically. I’m delighted to say I walk and dance quite well (in my humble opinion) again! In this issue’s Delight Frequency® Video, I share three techniques to help you release stress and return to a place of centered well-being, which is so important when you are facing any challenge, whether it is physical, mental or emotional. I recommend using these techniques as often as you can. Quantum physics tells us we are all energy and at the deepest level our energy is all connected. So as we raise our individual vibration by living more and more

from our inner light, we raise the vibration of humanity. These can be powerfully positive times for the planet if we use our energy wisely and with intention. I hope you will join me in this Delight Frequency® Revolution.

Bright Blessings! Mikaela Jones has a fifteen year background in hypnotherapy, as well as various spiritual traditions, meditation and energy healing techniques, including New Thought, affirmative prayer, the universal laws of attraction and perception and Theta healing. For more information and tools to help you face life’s challenges, please visit www.MikaelaJones.com. Feel free to download her free 10-minute audio entitled ‘Light Meditation’ which will help you become more grounded, centered and uplifted in your powerful, loving light…so you can shine. The author of The Little Book of Light: 111 Ways to Bring Light Into Your Life as well as the Weekly Beam of Light. Mikaela is the creator of the Delight Frequency® Manifestation Practice and is an inspirational workshop leader and speaker. A Distinctive style . com



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Regina Taylor is an award winning actress, playwright and director whose awards and accomplishments on stage and screen are momentous. Her most magnificent work reaches outside of the performing world to help victims of ovarian cancer and to promote awareness of the early signs of cancer.

Photo BY JosePh isaacs A Distinctive style . com


Photo BY gRegoRY costanZo


By Briana L Packen

first met Regina Taylor at the final dress rehearsal for her new play, Post Black, at the Ensemble Studio Theater, in NYC. Dressed simply and beautifully in all black, she possessed a quiet, peaceful intensity about her—both as a woman and an artist. “I’m Regina,” this confident director said, extending her hand—all of her at-


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tention on me in a room abuzz with technicians, legendary actresses, and the ticking time element of only an hour in the space to nail down lights, cues, and acting, before the next play loaded in. “Thank you for so much joining us today.” Regina Taylor is an award winning actress, playwright and director whose awards and accomplishments on stage and screen are momentous. Her most magnificent work reaches outside of the

performing world to help victims of ovarian cancer and to promote awareness of the early signs of cancer. Taylor attended college with the intention to work on her writing and to eventually become a journalist. In an interview for Kentucky Education Television she described how writing was a way that she could express what was inside of her. While in college she took an acting class and realized that acting was another medium that would allow her to reveal and explore many aspects of herself. In the interview she described how while acting she could be transported to 7th century England or Italy or Africa and could be having conversations with the celebrated minds of those times. While still in college in 1980, hanging around a film set, Taylor learned that casting was open for Crisis at Central High, a television movie about the nine students who broke the color barrier in the Arkansas school system. She auditioned and scored the role of Minniejean Brown, one of the Little Rock Nine black students who, against great resistance and harsh treatment by white students, integrated Little Rock Central High School. The experience, which included working with Joanne Woodward, was so positive that after she graduated, Taylor moved to New York and “starved for a while.” In New York, Taylor honed her acting craft performing and eventually working her way into leading stage roles. She was invited to audition for the role of Lilly Harper in the television series, I’ll Fly Away and through the run of the series earned a Golden Globe for best actress, an NAACP Image Award, and two Emmy nominations. From there, Taylor’s career took off as she began to perform in numerous films and television shows including Spike Lee’s Clockers, Courage Under Fire, A Family Thing, The Negotiator, and television films Losing Isaiah and

Strange Justice (in which she earned a Peabody award for her portrayal of Anita Hill). Taylor never stopped performing for the stage; she was the first black woman to play Juliet in Romeo and Juliet on Broadway. Additional Broadway credits include Macbeth and As You Like It, and her off-Broadway productions include Jar The Floor, Machinal, The Illusion and A Map of the World. She received a Dramalogue Award for her role of Ariel in The Tempest. It was inevitable that Taylor’s love of writing and theatre would eventually merge; she has become a prolific playwright whose works have been performed all over the country. The brilliance that shines in her acting is equally evident in her playwriting. Her plays touch upon deep roots, societal conflict and finding oneself in ways that are accessible and enlightening to her audiences. Taylor’s life changed the day her mother, Leannell called from Dallas and asked her to come home. She flew in from New York the very next day. She joined Leannell on a doctor’s visit and was told that her mother had cervical cancer and had six months to live. A second opinion corrected the diagnosis to ovarian cancer but that doctor did not put a time limit on her life. Taylor moved back to Dallas and spent the next four years with her mother. She learned that Leannell had ignored her symptoms, thinking she would power through, the same way she powered through many earlier challenges in her life. During our interview, I was inspired by the strength and openness that Taylor shared about her mother’s battle with ovarian cancer, and how it transformed them both for the better. “I feel like I grew up taking that journey with my mother. I saw things in a different way, I saw her in a different way,”

Taylor recalled. “She revealed herself to me in a way that went beyond a mother/ daughter relationship. I think that is what brought me to Ovarian Cancer Symptom Awareness Organization. We have to share these stories, these experiences to raise the awareness. We have to talk about it.” Taylor revealed the need to listen to one’s intuition, “A lot of times, women are used to taking care of others. They are taking care of business, taking care of family, taking care of friends,” she said, “and I think they have to take care of themselves. The last person on the list is self and I think that has to turn around to put self first. If you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of anyone else.” “We have to be very active,” she continued, “of the importance for women to take charge when they see possible signs or symptoms in their own bodies. Know you have to be an advocate for self. Sometimes we come to professionals and leave it to professionals to tell us how we feel. But to become educated, to read about, to talk to other people and to ask questions—TO ASK QUESTIONS, is very important.” Ovarian Cancer is the number one reproductive cancer killer in women. This is often because for one reason or another, women brush off or ignore the symptoms in its early stages. Taylor spoke very candidly of the impact her mother’s death had on her. She talked from a place of discovery, a place of newfound understanding, how her mother’s cancer was a conversation—an opportunity for both of them to grow. “It is just as in the raising of a garden – the cycles of the garden – the beginning and its waning – is our cycle. There is a continuum. What I have found after my mother passed is that I didn’t lose her, I gained a greater sense of self and I continue to have conversations with her

“You have to find the sweetness with the bitter. There is an opportunity to learn from anything that life hands us.” even now. I can still feel her presence in my life. I have conversations with her as part of a larger dialogue with myself.” She went on, “I think it is in gaining that continuum that did help me to understand myself – that keeps me moving forward in a positive way – to touch other people’s lives as part of that continuum.” An eager student of life, Taylor told us, “You have to find the sweetness with the bitter. There is an opportunity to learn from anything that life hands us. I always come in not assuming that I know everything. I come in with everything I do as a student. I think this keeps you fresh and open to the experiences at hand.” “A breath is sweet, the beating of a heart is amazing, reaching out and touching someone is AWESOME,” Taylor tells us. “And it’s that wonderment – amazement of the openness of a child that I enter into – into new places, into new adventures, into new journeys.” It appears this childlike wisdom Taylor brings to her life and her art is what allows her to go so gracefully with life’s ebb and flow. Ovarian Cancer Symptom Awareness ovariancancersymptomawareness.org Regina Taylor’s website: www.reginataylor.com A Distinctive Style staffer Matt Kramer also contributed to this article.

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Tips on how to turn your bedroom into a sanctuary

Blanche Garcia leed aP, asid, ceRtified inteRioR designeR

Your bedroom should be a place to

recover, renew and regenerate...


he word sanctuary originated in 1340 to describe a “building set apart for holy worship.” 1568 is when the word became a “place of refuge or protection.” You will hear people describe how they would like their home to be their sanctuary; this is never truer for those with cancer. With all of the difficulties that cancer patients face, space shouldn’t be one of them. It should be their cocoon to emerge into a butterfly. We want to reduce pain, stress, and depression while improving sleep and health. Scientific studies have shown that exposing patients to nature and high levels of daylight can produce significant alleviation of pain. If your space doesn’t afford you the luxury, then use artwork of nature with well-known artists, such as Ross Hoddinott and Jurgen Fround. Research published in Science compared post-surgical patients who had a view of trees with those who had a view of a brick wall. Those with a view of nature needed fewer pain meds, suffered fewer minor complications (like fever, constipation, and nausea), and stayed an average of .74 fewer days at the hospital. The best way to improve mood and reduce depression is through receiving natural light from windows. When possible, indirect light is the best option to increase overall mood. Adding a few wall sconces can decrease dark shadows within the room, which are easy to install. Layers of light are important and should include task lighting for reading, overall lighting for moving around the room, and mood lighting because sometimes you’ll want relax amongst a soft glow. A smart system which allows you to control the lighting, window treatments, air systems, music and TV from a remote control, will not only save tons of money on energy bills but will empower you to have

control of you environment without ever having to leave the comfort of bed. Look through www.smarthome.com for an easyto-use version. While in bed, window treatments will ensure that a more restful sleep is achieved, which is optimal for recovery and good health. Carpeting is a great sound absorber and great for your health. A study found that certain pathogens don’t survive as well on carpet as on vinyl, wood or rubber flooring. It’s also a great way to add warmth and texture to a room and to avoid slips and falls. Help the environment and yourself by choosing a natural fiber like bamboo or wool. Wool is durable, stylish, and a rapidly renewable material. The higher the wool content the better, which makes Wools of New Zealand carpets a great choice. Choose fabrics that are soft and hypo allergic (or should that be hypoallergenic?). Don’t be afraid to include all different textures; touch is very important to comfort. 100% cotton, especially organic, is great. This is especially true for bedding since most time is spent there, especially in recovery. Keep enough sets to have clean sheets any time of the day. A nice 300-800 thread count feels the best. Keep the colors in your fabrics, carpeting, and walls soft and relaxing. I tend to defer to Feng Shui teachings when choosing colors; for instance, green is the color known for healing and life force, but not for cancer patients because green is the color for growth. Peach on the other hand is one of the healthiest colors in color therapy, representing general health, healing and well-being. Try mixing it with blue (great for peace and helps with insomnia). The popularity of low or non-voc paints (Sherwin-Williams Harmony collection or Aura from Benjamin Moore) has made it easy to color your world without having to breathe in toxic fumes. The new furniture

smell is volatile toxins that are being released into your home. It’s much safer to reuse, repurpose, or buy items with a GREEN seal such as the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) or the Sustainable Furniture Council (SFC). Keep the furniture and décor simple but cozy. Create different zones for sleeping, reading, eating, and even meditating. Make sure there’s ample space away from the bed to regenerate and reconnect. You want to make this area just as comfortable as your bed. A small table to eat, converse with friends, or work on a hobby is a welcome addition. Also have a cabinet or drawer space to stow away any medications or devises when not in use. Having them visible is unfavorable to relaxation. After chemotherapy sessions, it is advised that separate bathrooms are used. If not possible, have antiseptic cloths to wipe down all fixtures before and after use. Again, cotton or bamboo is the best choice for towels, and buy white so they can be bleached. Most cut flowers are full of chemicals and pesticides so you should pot flowers outside the window. Depending on your sensitivity, you can use an air mister with your choice of scent. The Sweet Dreams Lavender Aromatherapy from www.basqnyc.com is one of my favorite and calms the mind. The most important thing to remember is this isn’t just a sanctuary. It’s your sanctuary, so when pulling it together make it personal and make it meaningful. Blanche Garcia is a Certified Interior Designer and Owner of B. garcia designs in Montclair, NJ. She will be writing a column for A Distinctive Style in every issue, and we are so excited to have her on board! We look forward to her tips and advice on interior design. A Distinctive style . com


Photo couRtesY of tv land


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ninetY PeRcent

of canceRs aRe causedBY



Fran Takes Action

“It is important to be aware of carcinogens and reduce our exposure to them, We need to be aware of what we are putting on our skin, in our stomachs, and in our homes.” ~ Fran Drescher

By Surinder Moore

“I got famous, then I got cancer, and now I live to talk about it,” says Fran Dresher, actress, model, writer, and President of the Cancer Schmancer Movement. “Sometimes the best gifts come in the ugliest packages.” Dresher, a New York native best known for her role as “Nanny” Fran Fine on the hit 90’s sitcom The Nanny, (which still airs in syndication) is a uterine cancer survivor. “It took me two years and eight doctors before finally being told I had a gynecologic cancer,” she says, admitting she felt “betrayed” by her body and the medical community. In 2002, Drescher wrote the book Cancer Schmancer, to share her story of survival. “The book was not the end, but rather the beginning, of a life mission to improve women's healthcare in America,” she has said. And, with that, Drescher launched the Cancer Schmancer Movement and Cancer Schmancer Foundation to transform women from patients into medical consumers, and “to shift this nation's priority from searching for a cancer cure towards prevention and early detection of cancer.” In another exclusive interview with A Distinctive Style, Dresher updates readers on her global health mission. “This summer, Cancer Schmancer turned four and I celebrated my 11th year of wellness from uterine cancer. I feel very blessed to continue with our message of prevention and early detection,”

she begins with. “To really focus on our preventative efforts, we have just launched our new program called Trash Cancer.” According to Drescher, Trash Cancer is about educating others about the harmful chemicals found in common household and personal care products, “and how to be smart consumers in order to live healthy lives.” “Ninety percent of cancers are caused by environmental factors, so it is important to be aware of carcinogens and reduce our exposure to them,” she says. “We need to be aware of what we are putting on our skin, in our stomachs, and in our homes.” Dresher says that “there is formaldehyde in some baby shampoos and lead in some lipsticks. We live in a toxic world and it is our responsibility to protect ourselves from these poisons.” Right now there is an important bill in Congress called the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2011. If passed, the bill would “require gaps in the current federal law to be closed. These ‘gaps’ allow dangerous chemicals in cosmetics and personal care products,” explains Drescher. “This is an issue that affects men and women, Democrats and Republicans, old and young. We need to be an active voice in this initiative and tell our elected officials to support this bill because our health matters.” Continued Next Page

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According to Drescher, shampoos, lipsticks, deodorants, shaving cream, lotions, mascara “and every other product we put on our faces, in our hair, even on our teeth, can contain toxic chemicals linked to cancer, infertility, neurological problems and other health problems. And it’s perfectly legal!” Drescher explains, “this bill will eliminate the most harmful chemicals known to cause cancer or reproductive harm from personal care products; require cosmetics companies to tell us everything that’s in their products; and set up a system to review the safety of cosmetic ingredients. Additionally, ‘cosmetics’ refers to products that men, women and children use every day. This bill affects every single American. Men use an average of six personal care products every day. Women use 12!” Drescher continues: “We need to advocate that more attention be paid to diagnostic screenings and biomarker testing. We also need to start figuring out what’s causing cancer and the effect of environmental factors.” She also wants today’s younger generation to learn more about Cancer Schmancer’s WE THE FUTURE campaign, which is “all about empowering the next generation to learn how to live healthier lives and help their families and communities do the same. The earlier our children learn how to ask questions and choose healthier lifestyles, the better off they will be.” When she’s not working as a healthcare advocate, Drescher stars in the in the TV Land sitcom Happily Divorced—which is


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currently on hiatus. “The show is inspired by my personal experience. The storyline revolves around a woman who, after 18 years of marriage, finds out her husband is gay,” explains Drescher. “Because of the economy, the two are forced to continue to live life together even after their divorce. The underlining message throughout the journey of the two trying to reinvent life on their own is that love is love.” As we move in 2012, Drescher the message Drescher wants to relay to others is simple, effective and to-the-point. “By empowering Americans to be educated medical consumers, to ask questions of their doctors and the screening tests available and to learn how to live a less toxic life, we can save lives today,” she says. “Did you know that when cancer is detected early, there is a 90 percent survival rate? We are working toward a day where no person loses his or her life to late-stage diagnosis of cancer.” To learn more, visit www.TrashCancer.org, and use the GoodGuide search bar to evaluate the health ratings of home products. Visit CancerSchmancer.org to learn more about the early signs of cancer and the tests available. For more information on WE THE FUTURE visit www.facebook .com/wethefuture, which features weekly discussions, contests and more.

A Distinctive Style staffer Rachel Sokol also contributed to this article.

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Pink RiBBons aRen’t enough urge leaders to

support state

medicaid programs... contact your

legislators aBout

the drug


shortages of the very


needed to treat

cancer patients

life saving

tReatment is in JeoPaRdY



There are

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CANCER AWARENESS MONTH is around the corner. Pastel pink ribbons will be emblazoned on products, buildings, and lapels. It is the month when “ta-tas,” “boobies,” and breasts become common dinner table conversation. The frenzy of awareness activities sends women (and even men) scurrying to imaging centers and doctors for evaluation. While all of this is beneficial and we use the month to simultaneously validate the struggles of breast cancer as well as prevent its progression, it overshadows an even bigger problem. Many states are making severe cuts to Medicaid programs, the unemployment rate is at 9% and employers are dropping group insurance plans, which leave many people without health insurance. This means that individuals with serious illnesses like cancer are faced with trying to find insurance for their pre-existing condition, which can be extremely expensive. Not even the government’s new pre-existing insurance plan will cover them until they have been without insurance for six months. This time period can literally mean the difference between life and death. Healthcare reform can be debated and argued about for months, but the bottom line is that the problem is now. There are currently people that have no way to pay for their healthcare and are receiving the news that they have cancer today. As a result, hospitals, treatment centers, and practices are struggling to bear the cost to treat their patients. Cancer care often requires costly drugs, specialized nursing care, sophisticated imaging and linear accelerators that cost practitioners millions of dollars to maintain. Offices are frantically reducing costs and providing free care to patients where they can but unfortunately, there are too many patients in need. Patients are obligated to reach out to the few foundations and charitable organizations that directly pay for treatment. Unfortunately, because of the economic crisis and increased demand for services, these organizations have been literally running out of funds in a matter of hours each month. To compound the situation, there are also national shortages of the very drugs needed to treat the patients. And not unknown ones, either. The very popular, effective, and low cost medications that are the gold standard for treating lymphoma, breast, ovarian, and testicular cancer are now not available to treatment centers when they are needed. It is unconscionable as a society to encourage others to get screened for cancer if we refuse to help with the treatment of it. “So before we encourage each other to buy something to show that we ‘support cancer’ or wear a shirt encouraging others to check their ‘ta-tas,’ we need to urge leaders to support state Medicaid programs, send an email or phone call to legislators about the drug shortages, or send a donation to an organization that directly helps pay for treatment,” says Melissa Veselovsky, Director of Patient Advocacy for Ironwood Cancer & Research Centers. “We may even have to reconsider encouraging others to get screened for cancer if there aren’t enough resources to treat it.” Go to www.ironwoodcrc.com for a list of national charitable organizations that directly help adult patients pay for treatment and www.fda.org for information on drug shortages. Ironwood Cancer and Research Centers is one of the largest providers of outpatient oncology & hematology services in Arizona, is a pioneer in the treatment of breast cancer with brachytherapy and is a leader in the treatment of prostate cancer. Ironwood CRC offers medical and radiation oncology, surgical urology, diagnostic radiology, research, brachytherapy, immunotherapy, and numerous support services such as a Patient Navigator program, American Cancer Society Resource Centers, tai chi and oncology massage therapy. Visit the website at www.ironwoodcrc.com or call 480-821-2838 for more information. A Distinctive style . com



Kaitlan My journey began in February when I felt a lump in my throat. Several doctors later, back pain that would not go away, multiple biopsies, and finally an MRI, I was diagnosed with Stage 4 Diffuse Large B Cell Lymphoma/Leukemia (Leukemia because there was substantial cancer present in my bone marrow) on April 20, 2011. At the time of diagnosis, I had cancer in my kidneys, liver and spleen. I had a large tumor at the base of my throat deep into my chest. And I had a fracture in my neck from the cancer eating away at the bone. All in all, I was very sick. I was diagnosed and am being treated at UCSF. As of October 1, 2011 I have completed 8 of 9 rounds of chemotherapy. On this protocol I will not need surgery or radiation. I can remember wanting to tell my best friends (Alexis, Jamie, Madelynn, and Alyssa) and boyfriend (Cody) in person, so I made my parents swear to not tell anyone but my grandparents until I could tell them in person. The 4 girls came a couple days after diagnosis and Cody came the next day. In addition, there are several others that are really special to me and have been part of this journey. From the beginning, my friends have been the best and are all very supportive. At the time of diagnosis, one of my nurses helped me explain to them that I had cancer and what that meant. I remember them being sad and scared, they all asked a lot of questions. They proceeded to decorate my room, have held numerous fundraisers, have come to visit me many


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isn't about waiting for the storm “ toLifepass. It's about learning how to dance in the rain. ” ~ V iv ien G reene

times in the hospital and hang out with me when I am at home. I have been fortunate in that chemotherapy has not been taxing on my body. I have kept my appetite, lost little weight, and have not been nauseous. I did have one serious blood infection that really made me appreciate what nurses do that much more. The nurses are amazing!!! As for my hair, not a big deal, great not having to shave and hoping it comes back the way it was. Must say, I loved my hair! When I was first diagnosed, my hairdresser came to hospital and cut it into a short bob with enough in a ponytail to be donated to Locks of Love. Then when it began falling out, it was like having a dog on steroids, there was hair everywhere. On one of my visits home, my uncle shaved it all off. Since then I have lost my eyelashes, which I also loved, and my eyebrows. For bigger events, I pencil in the eyebrows and apply fake lashes, which I was accustomed to using before getting ill. I have had 3 wigs, 2 of which are too dark (I had always wanted darker hair and what better time to try it) and one that was given to me from a cancer survivor (and is my favorite!). I love my scarfs and beanies also.

Don't get me wrong, I can't wait to have hair back! I wanted to have portraits done and am soooo happy I did. The power of social networking is truly amazing. There is an inspirational 6-year-old boy in Colorado (fighting cancer also) — my mom connected with his mom while she was researching photographers. She then sent out a message to her social network that landed in the inbox of Marielle Hayes of Oakland, CA. Marielle took my portraits last month and made it an amazing experience for myself, Cody and my friend Alexis. Marielle is one of my favorite all time people and such an inspiration! I will be completing treatment in October and then will be going back to school in December or January. Although it's been almost 1 year since I have officially gone to school, I have been able to keep up with

inthe Rain my studies and have been on campus for dierent events, which I believe will make going back much easier. The biggest aha moment has deďŹ nitely been the science behind the treatment. It has been a great learning experience and I am amazed how far it has all come. From the combination of chemotherapy drugs (protocol) to the timing and doses, it all comes together in a very concise laid-out plan. Four days after beginning treatment, the chronic back pain that I had, and was on strong painkillers for, was gone and within 6 weeks all my scans came back clean. I had

always thought that it took the entire length of the treatment to rid a body of the cancer, but that is not the case. The cancer is killed quickly and the remainder of the treatment is intended to keep it away. I understand that I am one of the lucky and blessed. There are many that do not have it as easy and others that do not make it. But for those that have a high prognosis of success, a cancer diagnosis does not have viewed as an impossible battle. Follow Kaitlan’s journey on her blog: www.kaitlinsluckymia.blogspot.com

Photos BY maRielle haYes WWW.maRiellehaYes.com

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leslie haYWood

I was a stay-at-home mom to two beautiful daughters ages one and three when a dinner party changed the trajectory of my life. My husband served me the wrong piece of chicken off the grill and that night I started sketching prototypes for my gift idea and grilling innovation known as Grill Charms.™ A few months after that very spicy light bulb moment and right in the middle of all that is involved with starting a company, raising two children and building a grilling gadget empire, my life would change again with a simple yet also very complicated call. “It’s cancer” my doctor said. My first introduction to Breast Cancer happened at the tender age of 16, when my then thirty-something mother sat the family down to talk about the terrible disease. My mother had found a lump and after a lumpectomy, biopsies and further testing it was determined that she did indeed have breast cancer and it had progressed to stage IV. After being told by the doctors that my mom had six months to live, my mother and father sought treatment from one of the most aggressive oncologists in the area who bombarded the advanced cancer with high doses of chemotherapy for a prolonged period of time. My two younger sisters and I watched as the treatment to this horrendous disease drained the mind and spirit of the most happy, healthy, positive person we had ever known. After the fight was over and the battle won, YES, my mom is now 21 years cancer free and my biggest fan, I knew that I had to be ever vigilant. Having a mother who was stage IV in her thirties, I knew the genes were not on my side. At the age of 30 I went for my first baseline mammogram. All was well, but I knew I could never become complacent. At the age of 34 I went in to have my digital mammogram and this time something was “different”. My doctor said, “I really don’t think it’s anything, but with YOU, I don’t want to mess around.” A week later they did the needle biopsy and we waited for the results, wondering if this time was going to be THE time. Unfortunatley, it was. I thought about my own two precious daughters who were one and three years old and felt so sorry for the genetic legacy that I had potentially left for them. The "something" they found was extremely small and was thought at the time to only be stage 1. A lumpectomy and a little radiation would have done the trick, but I didn't want to live the rest of my life waiting for the other shoe (or in this case... the other "boob") to drop. I wanted those B sized ticking time bombs GONE! Now with my bilateral mastectomy and reconstruction complete, the scars won’t let me


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forget, but because of my "radical" treatment choice, I fell like my personal fight is done and I can sleep at night. Both my mother and I won our battles, but the war is far from over. I have two younger sisters and two beautiful daughters, so my mind still can not truly leave the disease behind. UpdATE Just last month my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer AGAIN. It is in her other breast (back in the day, 1989, they did not do bilateral mastectomies). All the more reason why I am so thanksful I chose to get both of mine taken care of at once!! Her surgery is September 15th. She will have a mastectomy and natural breast reconstruction on BOTH breasts so she's even. We will know after the sentinel node biopsy what "stage" she is, but based upon the size of the lump and because we are ON TOP of boobie cancer round these parts, the doctors think it's early so please cross your fingers and toes for "stage I”. Also, my sister had a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy May 6th 2009, because she didn't want to wait around for the cancer to get her. Here is a powerful photo taken of both of us by a friend. Yes, that is a real tattoo on my sister's arm and those are my perky new tatas! Ten percent of the proceeds from The Pink Collection go to help fund breast cancer research and find a cure. Maybe someday, we can let this disease live only in the past. I also give back to the cause through the "Pink Collection" of my product Grill Charms: www.grillcharms.com/the-pink-collection

Photo BY: teResa RogeRs of Pluff mud PhotogRaPhY

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My dream in life is to inspire others to live out their dreams and pursue their passion By Stowe Dailey Shockey

i Rolled oveR and looked at the clock, 4:20 a.m. Leaning back into my pillow, I breathed deeply and stared at the ceiling. I had the feeling that something big had happened the previous day. For just a moment, I felt excited. Were we going on a trip? Then it hit me like a Mack Truck, Ohhh...I have cancer! Sitting up in bed, I felt the tears welling. Oh, God . . . was this really happening? My chest ached as I thought about my mother’s untimely death from breast cancer when I was three; my father’s death from lung cancer; and my grandparents, who’d also died from cancer. Three of my cousins fought the battle, too. Now, it was my turn. My heart raced as I thought about those dreaded words—chemo, radiation surgery—and the doctor’s order, “You’ll have to make a decision soon.” April 16, 2008 marked the beginning of a journey that would eventually take me to the edge of death. At forty-seven I’d seen a lot of life. Now I wondered had I really lived it? My lifelong dream of being a hit songwriter and singer in Nashville had brought me some success though not exactly what I’d imagined. I see now that my life was full of fear—fear of failing, fear of not being good enough or maybe


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it was fear of actually succeeding beyond my wildest dreams and having to face all that goes with it. Broken-hearted, I laid my guitar down, left the music business and became a mother and eventually an author. Along the way I boosted my chances of avoiding cancer by becoming a vegetarian and an advocate of alternative medicine. Yet, despite these measures, I still ended up with cancer—a very unglamorous one at that—rectal cancer. Anyone who has faced a life-threatening illness knows that along with the difficult decisions, the physical strains and pains and the days and nights where your heart beats hard, come new discoveries, times for reflection, a chance to cry, and lessons in learning how to love and live. I’ve come to the place where I feel grateful for what I choose to call “the gift of cancer.” But I didn’t always see it that way. Three weeks of intensive, near-fatal chemo and radiation treatments left me hospitalized and discouraged. I closed my mind to allopathic medicine, including the recommended ostomy surgery. Instead, I put my faith in prayer and alternative methods. But it would take more than raw food and herbs for my healing. There’s an old saying, “When the student is ready, the teacher will come.” I

was fortunate to have, not one, but two teachers—the cancer itself and a man named Calvin LeHew. Rising above incredible challenges, Calvin has fulfilled every dream he’s set his mind to. He is a pilot, a self-made millionaire, an entrepreneur and a student of the school of positive thought. He’s also a cancer survivor. Intrigued with Calvin, my husband, Peter (a filmmaker and author) and I decided to share his wisdom through a film and book called Flying High. With Calvin as my mentor I began chronicling his life, while also keeping a journal of my story and what I was learning. I challenged myself to change my negative thought patterns and soon felt a positive shift in my attitude. Empowered, I set new goals for my healing and myself. Maybe I could overcome this disease and even my long held fears. But months into the project, as the book’s chapters grew, so did my tumor. Pain meds dulled the hurt but I was quickly losing energy, weight and hope. All along, I’d wanted to be healed supernaturally—without medical intervention. That was my mantra. But Calvin taught me that while we can ask God for what we want, we can’t dictate how it comes about. “That,” Calvin says, “is for a higher power than you or me to determine.” With this new shift in my consciousness, I made

choices where I trusted God with the outcome. Maybe surgery wasn’t a promise of a long life, but I could still make a difference with the time I had left. That was more than worth living for. At a hundred pounds, I was only months away from dying when I finally chose to have, what I call, a rectal amputation. It was a difficult operation but I came out singing, “Ain’t no drag...Mama’s got a brand new bag!” Calvin always says, “With every adversity there is within it a seed of greatness.” For me, the treasure was a chance to see the value of my life, to appreciate—maybe for the first time—who I am and why I’m here. Sometimes it takes a great trial to release us from the gravity of fear. I am finally free to fly and to sing songs that bring hope in the face of adversity. Earlier this year I lost a fellow songwriter to melanoma. Before he died, I stood at his bedside and sang to him with some friends. That beautiful moment inspired me to become a musical therapist for Nashville’s Alive Hospice. It’s an honor to play and sing for those who are ready to pass over. I feel humbled that, for the moment, I am on this side of the bed, pursuing my passion and sharing my story. I’ve been given a second chance to live, love and serve. It’s a gift I don’t take for granted. www.flyinghighbook.com

PhotogRaPheR keoni k WWW.kloudmachinePhoto.com A Distinctive style . com


shameless JeWelRY suPPoRts

“ BReast canceR

We want to extend ourselves to this cause since . it is among the leading issues we face today as women. We all have friends, family and co-workers whose lives have been affected by this disease and we wanted to do our part in finding a way to bring an end to the suffering caused by breast cancer.


~ Shea Curry

The popular jewelry line, shameless, joins the struggle against breast cancer by promoting awareness and encouraging research to finding a cure. Available 'all year round,' 20% of all sales of the "Go pink" ID Bracelet, with it's pink hearts and adjustable chain and retails for $40.00 on the website, will be donated to the Breast Cancer Charities of America, one of the world’s leading breast cancer organizations. shameless jewelr y is giving away "go pink" Id bracelets

to a few lucky readers. enter for a chance to win by clicking below.

Shea Curry, a jewelry designer and actress who started making jewelry in her movie trailer on the set of Princess Diaries 2, The Royal Engagement with Anne Hathaway, Chris pine and julie Andrews. It was on this set that her career as a jewelry designer took shape. During the film’s three month production, she had many hours to sit in her trailer. So to pass the time she made jewelry for the entire female cast and crew. It wasn’t until she designed her pink wedding dress and made her own jewelry, which was featured in INStyle Weddings Magazine, did she think she might have something unique. After receiving rave responses, she decided to push forward with her own line. She called it shameless because she considers herself to be unabashedly bold, bodacious, spunky, and saucy. Shea believes that all women are both naughty and nice and that we should embrace not only our inner beauty but also our inner bitch. Shea’s unique spirit can be seen in her naughty/nice collection.



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Putting Cancer Where it Belongs—in the Trash! By Sharyn Wynters

Cancer awareness groups are springing up everywhere and it’s about time. People are finally beginning to realize that cancer is a disease brought on by our modern living environment, and that cancer is preventable—absolutely preventable. For years, a number of individuals and small groups have been trying to make the public aware that toxins in our environment (air, water, food, personal care products, building materials, cleaning supplies, etc) are causing cancer, allergies and a whole gamut of new diseases. For years, advertising dollars have had the upper hand, sweeping the truth under the rug and lulling the public into believing that a certain amount of toxins are “safe.” But with the increasing incidence of cancer and disease everywhere, it is becoming more difficult to keep the entire world from seeing the truth. We have reached a point where there is just too much evidence to be covered up any longer. The “jig is up” as they say. The truth is spilling out everywhere and just like those nuclear reactors that we have also been told are safe, the ugly truth comes oozing out from a million tiny places, as it can no longer be held back. The first step to preventing cancer is awareness. We need to come to grips with the fact that just about everything sold in conventional stores these days has chemicals and toxins in it. It’s not just about eating organic food which a lot of people believe. It’s about everything we surround ourselves with. For example, in the personal care industry, chemicals are used to create suds; they remove grease,


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stiffen your hair, make your skin feel smooth, stop you from perspiring, change your hair color, lengthen your eyelashes and make you smell good. In the clothing industry (you probably didn’t know clothes could make you sick, did you?) chemicals are used to soften fabric, to add color to it, to keep it from wrinkling, to make it fire retardant, to create resistance to stains, to keep it from collecting static and to make it water resistant. Unfortunately, the chemicals that do these things also cause birth defects, allergies, hyperactivity, learning disabilities, attention deficit, early onset of puberty, neurological disorders . . . and cancer. It is no longer a theory, these are well-known facts. In 2010 Burton Goldberg and I published a book entitled, SURVIVE! A Family Guide to Thriving in a Toxic World. It was our way of contributing to the rising awareness of the toxins we have come to accept all around us and to provide alternatives. We have been told that the book is scary and empowering, a good combination. It gives people a reason to change their consumer habits and it provides suggestions for how to do it. Awareness is the key and knowledge is power. With knowledge we can step out of victimhood and into the victor’s circle. One organization that is doing a lot to bring cancer prevention into the open is Fran Drescher’s new movement called Cancer Schmancer and her campaign called “Trash Cancer.” I love the name of the campaign, it tells the story in two words. It’s time to gather all those cancercausing products and get them in the

trash. Perhaps I love the concept because it’s exactly what I did years ago to cure myself of cancer. I’m a survivor too and like Fran, surviving cancer changed my life. It put me on a well-defined path to make a difference. Once I got better, I became a Naturopath and dedicated my time to helping others discover better habits and better health. But beyond changing our personal habits, we eventually have to correct the problem at its roots. We have to demand changes that will provide a clean living environment for us all and for our children. It’s similar to those oxygen mask demonstrations in an airplane. If you are a parent, you’re told to put your own mask on first then to take care of your children. When it comes to toxins, the immediate concern is to protect yourself, to become aware of the problems and to learn how to avoid them. But eventually we have to look around and ask, “How can I help someone else? How can I make a difference?” It is our birthright to breathe fresh air, to drink clean water and to eat vibrant food produced by loving hands that are connected with Mother Earth. It’s time to claim our birthright—to demand products without toxins and to demand change on a global scale. I’m honored to be a part of the movement. Will you join me? Sharyn Wynters is an author, naturopath and health advocate. She is an ambassador for Cancer Schmancer and the Campaign to Trash Cancer. www.wyntersway.com www.cancerschmancer.org

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CArL o. HeLvIe

Wants You to Be

healthY haPPY and medication

By Matt Kramer

The difference between a bureaucratic administrator and a people oriented leader can be seen in the results. The bureaucracy provides marginalized service erring towards sustaining dysfunctional systems at the expense of the people that are supposed to be served. The top administrators will be well paid in spite of the fact that (1) the work environment is stressful and inefficient; and (2) the clients receive compromised or useless goods and services. The people oriented leader will constantly challenge bureaucracy, cutting fat, eliminating redundancy and fostering a culture of community and compassion by putting the needs of people above rigid guidelines, self serving agendas and grandfathered parasitic systems. As a solution oriented thinker, Carl O. Helvie is a bureaucrat’s nightmare; when necessary, he does not hesitate to bypass red tape and get things done. If his ideas about how to live free of prescription drugs throughout your life become popular, the pharmaceutical industry may also lose sleep (and profits) as a result. The good news is that overall; more people will be living healthy lives that are less stressful and more productive in satisfying ways. Helvie lives what he preaches; at the age of 78, he is one of the 11% of Americans above age 65 who live medication free. Helvie grew up in the small country hamlet of Natural Dam in upstate New


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York, not far from the St. Lawrence River. He graduated high school in 1950 and got a job in the stock room of the hospital in the nearby town of Gouverneur (named after one of the less well known signers of the Declaration of Independence). Curious and gregarious, he became friendly with the nurses and the hospital dietician and was informally trained to help prep patients for surgery. The experience was so positive, he enrolled in nursing school and began a life of service eventually earning a doctorate in public health and wellness and becoming an educator, author and activist for the public health sector. Helvie holds the title of Professor Emeritus of Nursing at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia and received the Distinguished Career in Public Health Award from the American Public Health Association in 1999. A dream sparked a significant turning point in Helvie’s life in 1974. In the dream, he received the message that he needed to get an X-ray. He had no symptoms but the X-rays revealed a spot on his lungs that was diagnosed as lung cancer. Reviewing his experience as a nurse, he surprised the doctor by refusing the prescription for surgery. The doctor responded by pronouncing, “You’ll be dead in six months.” A friend of friend at the National Cancer Institute had success with a program that included laetrile, a raw fruit and vegetable diet and an exercise program.

Helvie began the regimen and incorporated his own program of prayer, meditation and positive visualization. When asked about the controversy surrounding the use of laetrile, Helvie described how the body uses certain enzymes involved in protein digestion to work with the laetrile. In his experience, part of his program’s success was due to following nutrition guidelines. Eating meat or fish prevented those enzymes from being available for the laetrile. In due course Helvie was pronounced cancer free and has been cancer free ever since. In the 1990’s, Helvie was asked to sit on the board of an agency serving homeless women. After two years of reviewing and making policy, he decided he wanted to be more active and began visiting the homeless shelter checking blood pressure and discussing health issues with the residents. He brought his students to help with the volume of people needing attention and eventually obtained a grant to open a clinic and provide more consistent service. Until that time, most homeless people were not able to afford early treatment for their health issues and would wind up in the emergency wards when their condition became life threatening and required more time and more resources to treat. Developing an effective clinic became a community project. To extend the life of the grant, Helvie was able to get doctors to donate their services; the local hospital

“I was saved from lung cancer 36 years ago for a reason; I am a resource for people.” – Carl o. Helvie

provided free lab services and pharmacies filled prescriptions for cost plus $4. Chronic diseases such as diabetes were caught earlier and supplies were available to keep the homeless healthier. Ironically future funding was denied because of a national need for more nurses; the funds went towards education and scholarships and the clinic had to close. Helvie later assessed that the cost of running the clinic was much less than the financial burdens endured by emergency rooms and other services that had to be employed when people waited until they were very sick to seek help. You can read more in Helvie’s book, Homelessness in the United States, Europe 1999. In his book, Healthy Holistic Aging, Helvie outlines the importance of living a holistic life; “lifestyle is very important in staying healthy; incorporate spirituality and enjoy what you’re doing in life. If you’re not staying positive, you’re not attracting positive back to you.” Helvie wants you to live a healthy and medication free life. When he was interviewed for this article, he stated, “I was saved from lung cancer 36 years ago for a reason; I am a resource for people.” He is looking forward to being a healthy, happy and active centenarian – you are invited to join him there.

You can listen to Carl O. Helvie and his guests discuss the cutting edge in health issues every other Saturday on the Holistic Health Show: www.bbsradio.com/theholistichealthshow

Photo BY shiRleY m. Whitenack A Distinctive style . com


A Happy 24-MonTH



with Leukemia

mY name is ketRen Waites. I'm a happy 24-month old boy that loves airplanes, cars, motorcycles and playing ball. On April 28, 2011, I was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia and I’d like to share my story with you. Around mid April of 2011 I started to have a limp in my right leg, my mommy took me to the doctor right away and they did all the standard exams and x-rays. Nothing was ever found during any of the routine visits or on any of the x-rays so the doctor’s advice was to just "wait it out" because it could just be a stone bruise, growing pain or hairline fracture. Well, if you know my mommy, she doesn't "wait" very well...she persisted with the doctors...at least 1-2 visits a week with "why, why, why" because my limp not only became worse, but I had finally resorted to crawling instead of walking due to the pain. My mom was finally able to get a referral to a Scottish Rite Orthopedic Doctor and we were on our way to finding answers! Once we arrived at the doctor’s office he ordered a CAT scan. Thank goodness my mom, dad, and 2 other nurses were there to hold me down while they IV’d me because I'm a strong boy and the grown ups were sweating by the time they got my drip going! I was sedated and had the CAT scan performed, we were not even out of the Scottish Rite parking lot when the Ortho doctor called and wanted us to see a hematologist because there was some dark bone marrow showing on my scan. My mom, not knowing what this meant, asked, why, why, why? That's when the doctor said; "Well, we just want to rule some things out, I don't want to scare you, but we need to rule out


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leukemia." And so it began, my mother went hysterical for the first, of many times thus far. The doctor said she would have the hematologist look at the blood the next morning and call us with an update, boy, that was a long night! But sure enough, the doctor called the next morning and said "good news, the hematologist looked at the blood and didn't see any osteoblasts which are characteristic in leukemia patients. Ketren’s white blood counts are good so we can probably rule out leukemia!" HALLELUJAH! I think we danced for an hour, however, the doctor still wanted us to follow up with the hematologist the next week. And we did, uh-oh....

When we showed up at the Scottish Rite Aflac Cancer Center and Blood Disorder office the next week, they immediately did blood work on me. Shortly thereafter the doctor came back into the office and said they were sending my blood off for a "flow" test which tests for leukemia since he saw some "suspicious" cells in my blood. Can you imagine the confusion in the room? Hysterical cry #2 for mom by the way. The doctor then said, regardless of the tests’ outcome they would need to admit me to the hospital because I had an infection in the bone/blood of some type that needed to be treated with antibiotics, so onto "Hotel Aflac." We started the admission process while worrying about the call with results of the "flow" test. Me, mommy and daddy were in room 194 around 9:30 that evening, when the doctor called with the test results. Daddy answered the phone and mommy immediately knew by the look on his face that the news wasn’t good. She saw the tears in daddy's eyes and knew I had leukemia. Daddy hung up the phone, hysterical cry #3 for both parents. The doctor came over right away in spite of the late hour and spent time explaining to my parents what I would be going through during the next few days. The type of leukemia that I had was the "good" kind, if there was such a thing, because it has a very high survival rate. The doctor explained about the port-a-cath that would be inserted into my chest, the spinal tap that I would be getting, and about my chemo. So my 3-year fight began....

Ketren currently has a Caring Bridge page at www.caringbridge.org/visit/ketrenwaites that is constantly being updated throughout his treatment.

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insPiRation. suRvival. miRacle.

How one woman turned a less than one percent chance of survival into a beautiful new beginning. By Alyssa Phillips


I have to be honest, I really just didn’t see it coming. You never think it’s going to be you anyway, right? You never think that the impossible things of life, the ones that only happen to “other” people, can happen to you— that is, until suddenly it does. I’ve now had the “impossible” arrive on my doorstep—twice. The first time it arrived the day my younger sister Lauren died suddenly from bacterial meningitis while we were in college together. Healthy and vibrant one day, then gone the next, her absence rocked me to my very core, literally bringing me to my knees. The aftershocks of the void she left behind echoed through the years. But happiness and joy eventually returned, slowly seeping back into the hollow places and time marched on, as it tends to. I chose to move forward with it, taking her with me by stitching her sweet presence into the very fabric of my being so she would be with me wherever I went. I graduated from college, finished my Physician Assistant training, landed my first job and got married. Life was back on track. Things were good—really, really good and I chose to be better for what I’d been through. But then the unthinkable happened again. Just over a decade after my younger sister’s death, I was suddenly facing the “impossible” again as I was forced to confront my own mortality. In May of 2008, just weeks after running my best time in a half-marathon, I was told I was in Stage IV of one of the rarest and most aggressive types of cancer known and given a less than one percent chance of survival. I was 31 years old and had never felt better. What came next arrived in a blur of bad news, each test result and recommendation worse than the last, compounding the horribleness of it all. “Less than thirty documented cases…” “metastatic disease…” “poor prognosis…” “few survivors, if any...” “emergency radical hysterectomy...” “never going to be able to have any children of your own…” “high dose chemo…” “two back-to-back bone marrow transplants…” “nine months of mandatory house isolation…” “then hope for the best...” “we just don’t know…” “we just don’t know…” “we just don’t know…” A Distinctive style . com

If my sister’s death was soul shaking, my diagnosis was soul shattering. In the blink of an eye I’d been catapulted from the prime of my life into the fight of my life. In an instant I was leaning out over the edge of life with the weight of such staggering odds threatening to push me over from behind as I frantically tried to backpedal. A long-time runner and “health nut,” a Physician Assistant with a nutrition degree, a dream life finally unfolding again, and suddenly I was watching helplessly as it all crumbled before me and began to slip away. They were going to strip me down to my elemental beginnings and press the restart button—twice— and I felt a restart button deep within me being pressed as well. Without warning, something quite profound happened, a sudden clarity amidst the chaos and devastation swirling around me, I heard a voice from within calling me to do the unthinkable—to leap out into the unknown and trust. Sizing up my options, I realized I couldn’t go back. There was nothing to go back to. I couldn’t run away. It had already caught up to me. As I looked at the heavy shoulders and brokenness in the eyes of my husband and parents fearful of possibly losing me, I decided something. They will not know this. I didn’t have a crystal ball, I didn’t know how everything would turn out but I did know one thing for certain, I still had a chance, no matter how small that

sliver was. Just the fact that I was still here meant I still had a shot and I was going to take it. I realized I couldn’t control a lot of things but I could control my heart and my mind. I would fight but I would not fight cancer—I would fight to live. With all my being, I summoned up all the courage I never knew I had, took a deep breath and jumped out into the unknown on faith and faith alone, trusting that all I needed—to navigate this vast ocean I’d been called to cross—would come. I won’t tell you that my journey was easy. It was not. But I will tell you that it was worth it. I wouldn’t wish what I went through on anyone but I am who I am today because of what I’ve been through. And you know what? I’m proud of who I am and what I’ve learned. I’m different in a lot of ways now because of this experience, in fact it actually feels as though I’m different in every way, with one small exception, I know that my essence, that is tested in times of trials and stress, is much the same, if not better. I know myself more now. I know what I’m about and what I’m really made of, I play more, I take more risks, I care less about what other people think and more about what feels right for me. I do things that make me happy because, well, that’s reason enough. My grasp is looser, not tighter, on the things I love because I now understand love in a completely different way. I listen to myself and look inside when I need answers, using the outside only as my gauge as to how I’m doing. I know now that miracles can and do happen, that how we choose to look at things can change everything and that all true healing happens within. Most importantly, I know now that the challenges, and even the tragedies, of our lives are veiled lessons and gifts that dare us to be more than we ever imagined and inspire us to become the people we were always meant to be—if we let them. That’s why I know that, no matter what it looks like, Something beautiful is happening™. Alyssa lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband. After beating overwhelming odds, Alyssa has traveled extensively and reinvented herself with one mission in mind—to LIVE & GIVE. She is currently writing her first book, a memoir about her inspiring cancer journey and the pivotal inner shift that occurred in its wake. She regularly shares the story of how she turned a less than one percent chance of survival into a beautiful new beginning to inspire others to view the challenges of their own lives in bold new ways. To learn more about Alyssa, her upcoming book, photos of her journey & subsequent trips and more, please visit her at her website, www.alyssaphillipsinc.com or connect with Alyssa on her Facebook & Twitter pages. A Distinctive style . com


Amber was recently diagnosed with Leukemia. This incredibly strong, young lady is determined to ďŹ ght, and win, the battle against cancer. The overwhelming love and support from family and friends has been amazing. We know everyone wants to continue to support and follow her progress, so we've created a website. Together with family, friends, and Amber's resilient personality... cancer doesn't stand a chance! Please continue to share your love and support for Amber, and keep her in your prayers. Let Amber's strength be an inspiration to all! Phoenix Children's Hospital has provided hope, healing and the best healthcare for children and families since 1983. Today, Phoenix Children's is one of the ten largest children's hospitals in the country and provides specialty and sub-specialty inpatient, outpatient, trauma, emergency and urgent care to children and families in Arizona and throughout the Southwest. www.phoenixchildrens.com


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amBeR Was diagnosed With aml (Acute Myeloid Leukemia) on Friday, July 22, 2011. Amber was out visiting family in Virginia over summer break. She had an amazing time helping on the farm, spending quality one-on-one time with her grandparents, and learning more about her Virginia roots. During her visit, she fell ill, and was diagnosed with pneumonia. She rested and took the doctors medicine as prescribed, but her condition did not improve. In fact, it worsened. The doctor's were concerned and ran some additional tests, determining that Amber had leukemia. She is currently at the Phoenix Children's Hospital under the supervision and care of an excellent medical team. If you'd like to make a donation to the continued research and treatment of leukemia (to benefit Amber and others that are diagnosed patients), please visit the following site: www.lls.org/waystohelp/donate/donateonline kellY feRnandeZ, Amber’s mom, is currently staying at Phoenix Children’s Hospital in Phoenix, Arizona with her daughter Amber. She graciously agreed to an interview, so we could share with you what a mom goes through when her child is diagnosed with this horrific disease, and how she and her family are coping.

We want to give a special thanks to melissa veselovskY, the Director of Patient Advocacy at the Ironood Cancer & Research Center in Phoenix, Arizona (www.ironwoodcrc.com) for putting this together for A Distinctive Style Magazine. Melissa worked very hard to make sure this story was told, and she works tirelessly on a daily basis to help others as well. Melissa wrote an article (see page 76) entitled “Pink Ribbons Aren’t Enough,” about the National drug shortages needed to treat cancer patients. She tells us about the struggles that hospitals, treatment centers, and practices deal with on a daily basis and how many states are making severe cuts to Medicaid programs. Melissa says; “With the unemployment rate at 9% and employers dropping group insurance plans, it leaves many people without health insurance. This means that individuals with serious illnesses like cancer are faced with trying to find insurance for their pre-existing conditions, which can be extremely expensive. Not even the government’s new preexisting insurance plan will cover them until they have been without insurance for six months! This time period can literally mean the difference between life and death.” READ MORE ON PAGE 76

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nine-YeaR old


insPiRes otheRs

to live life By Suzanne Andora Barron

our mission is to instill Christopher’s passion and zest for life by offering underserved children unique opportunities to live life and pursue interests about which Christopher was most passionate.


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If I were to describe Christopher, perhaps his fourth grade friends said it best, Christopher is the type of friend everyone would want; smart, loyal, brave, funny and always a good sport. Christopher was very brave and had to deal with far more than most adults in his lifetime. In 2001, at the age of 3, our sweet child was diagnosed with leukemia. Thankfully, he went into remission quickly and his prognosis was excellent. Still the whole experience encouraged us to live in the moment and appreciate everything. Christopher was such a passionate kid and loved many things. He would get just as excited about a barbecue at Nanna’s & Popop’s as going to see his beloved Mets play. “Christopher had a great range and you could tell that he really enjoyed his life, especially the little things,” one of his friend’s moms said. When Christopher was eight, after reoccurring fevers, he was diagnosed with relapse leukemia. This time the treatment was a lot more strenuous, but once again he went into remission quickly and did great on treatment. Losing his hair was especially hard at eight. Not wanting to be different and have the no-hat rule changed for him at school, he went off to third grade with no hat, no hair and a big smile on his face. Christopher loved to draw on everything including his desk, his jeans and in his own comic books that he created, The Adventures of Ultimate Man. He sold the first issue, The Birth of A Hero for fifty cents on the front lawn in front of our house. At the age of nine, Christopher had developed a strong sense of fairness. One night, while preparing for bed after a day at Shea Stadium, I said to Christopher, “I saw you and Ryan, his younger brother, praying in the ninth inning when the Mets were down by two. Did you pray to ask God to help the Mets win?” He shook his head and said, “Mom, I would never ask

God to make one team win and another team lose because that would not be fair. Instead I asked God to give the players the courage to believe in themselves so they could hit a home run.” Sadly, a month later, one of the life-saving chemo treatments caused a more aggressive cancer. This time, the doctors couldn’t get him into remission. This time they couldn’t save him. On July 23, 2007, our sweet child passed away. It hurt to breathe, let alone live. But we had to find a way because Christopher’s younger brother was only seven and needed functioning parents. I felt this intense need to continue to parent Christopher and at the same time help other children – children that may not have had the same hope and opportunities that Christopher had. In 2009, with the help of my friends, we created a 501(c)(3) nonprofit called the Christopher Barron Live Life Foundation. Our mission is to instill Christopher’s passion and zest for life by offering underserved children unique opportunities to live life and pursue interests about which Christopher was most passionate. At the same time, we seek to empower children by encouraging them to earn such opportunities through perseverance and hard work. Given Christopher’s love of comics, we created Christopher’s Comic Book Inspirations and partnered with School 21, an elementary school, in Paterson, New Jersey. Each January, we provide their fifth graders a six-week comic book writing workshop series in which professional comic book writer, Alex Simmons, from Archie Comics teaches them how to create four-panel comic strips just like the professionals. The series is followed by a culminating event to celebrate their efforts. This past year due to New Jersey state budget cuts and the loss of all of their

enrichment programs, our workshops were the only creative outlet the kids received all year. It’s inspiring to see how the development of plots, characters and sequencing helps the kids to develop stronger organizational skills as well as greater confidence in themselves and the realization that they can create something extraordinary out of nothing. The workshops have proven to be an emotional outlet as well as a creative one. For example, Gary who loves everything soccer, wrote about gangs instead. However, unlike in his reality, all of the gang members are caught in his comic. Kassandra created a character that is half robot/half man who has supersonic hearing to detect the cries of homeless people and a heart to make food for them. Our hope is to expand the program to more inner city schools in the future. We still miss Christopher terribly, but it helps to know that we are inspiring other children to dream big by sharing his passions with them.

For more information about the Foundation or to make a donation, please visit www.ChristopherBarronLiveLife.org.

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Profile for A Distinctive Style Magazine

A Distinctive Style Fall 2011 with Regina Taylor