celebrating Valley women
celebrating Valley women
Best-Selling author Maggie Stiefvater learns to live beyond her childhood dreams
A2 Making A Difference In Our Community
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DEPARTMENTS your WEDDING With wedding season in full swing, Valley women step away from tradition for their registries.
page 2 your TRAVEL A few Valley moms share how they’ve mastered taking long trips with kids on board.
page 4 your BEAUTY
Valley dermatologist Jerri Alexiou explains why sunscreen is so important so you’re covered this summer.
The Stuff Of Fantasy
ummertime and the livin’ is easy — or at least we want it to be. That’s why our staff included a lot of helpful pieces to make the hottest season of the year the coolest as well. Planning a wedding for you and that special someone? See how some Valley women break tradition and use their registries to get gifts they actually want. Taking a vacation with your kids on board? Get some tips and tricks on how to reduce the stress and get the most out of vacation for everyone. Speaking of stressful situations, our columnist Christina Kunkle has some advice to soar above stress that may be bogging down any workaholic. Or maybe — like us — you spend most of the summer reading. Our cover feature explores the life of Maggie Stiefvater, a New York Times Best-Selling author who lives in Mount Crawford. Read her story, then read the ones she’s written. That should keep you busy until the leaves begin to fall. Dying to try something new instead? Learn how the growing trend of pole fitness can empower both the body and the mind. However you choose to spend your summer, we’re glad you set aside a small chunk for us. And as editor for the first time, I want to thank the staff for their hard work, dedication and what I think is a great issue. Last but not least, keep blooming! Corey Tierney Editor
Maggie Stiefvater, author of The New York Times Best-Seller “Shiver,” lives just outside of Mount Crawford with her family.
your CAREER Valley women help make downtown Harrisonburg a vibrant business scene.
Soar Above Stress Columnist Christina Kunkle reminds us that it’s never too late to make the most of our time.
your HEALTH Pole fitness strengthens and empowers Valley women. page 25
Staff Corey Tierney, editor Aleda Johnson, staff writer Shelby Mertens, writer Sherrie Good, design CoNTRIBUToRS
Christina Kunkle, columnist Luanne Austin, writer Preston Knight, writer Bloom is a publication of Rockingham Publishing Co., Inc. Copyright © 2016 Rockingham Publishing Co., Inc. 231 S. Liberty St. Harrisonburg, VA 22801 For advertising information, call 540-574-6220.
A4 Making a List anD CheCking it twiCe By Aleda Johnson
edding season is in full swing, and as such, some guests may be struggling with the perfect gift to give the lucky couple. That’s where a wedding registry comes in handy. Registries are a way for couples to show their guests invited to the bridal shower or wedding what they would like to have in their home, according to Kat Schmoyer, owner of Dear Sweetheart Events in Harrisonburg. “It’s a nice way to direct guests toward what you want,” she said. “That way you know what to expect when opening gifts.” Traditionally, couples include items related to their home on the registry such as kitchen items, bathroom items, sheets, towels and home decor. Couples who like to travel may also include things like suitcases and other travel gear. Others choose to donate to a charity instead of receiving gifts. But with some couples living together before marriage, or waiting to marry until they are older, they don’t need housewares.
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A5 where they can list their registry options.” One of Shmoyer’s clients, Darby Sinclair, who got married in April 2015, registered her honeymoon through a couples resort in Jamaica. The resort gave them a web page where guests could give money in $20 increments toward champagne and excursions the Sinclairs picked. “We then got all the money, which was like $700, as a credit toward our trip,” Sinclair, 29, said. “We didn’t use it specifically for whatever we wanted, but as a lump sum payment.” But since the couple was paying for their honeymoon themselves,
In these cases, they are choosing to step from tradition, either opting to create themed registries or foregoing a registry all together. Some of Shmoyer’s clients have had honeymoon registries, where guests can help pay for room upgrades, spa treatments or excursions at the resort. “If traveling is something you and your fiance are interested in, and you don’t want to register for home products, you can register for things for their honeymoon,” Shmoyer said. “Usually resorts or cruise lines will give you a link, so if the couple has a wedding website, that’s
they were happy for the extra money.
“If traveling is something you and your fiance are interested in, and you don’t want to register for home products, you can register for things for their honeymoon.” — Kat Schmoyer “It made it easier to relax because it was less that we had to pay,” she said. “I’d give that if the couple has it as an option because they can make the most of their
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trip because you only go on your honeymoon once.” Julie Define, owner of Down the Aisle Events, LLC in Harrisonburg, has seen similar registries set up, but for first-time home buyers instead. “I’ve seen couples register at a bank to start a home savings account to put toward purchasing their home,” she said. “I’m seeing more of that and less of the traditional registry items.” No matter the registry, Schmoyer recommends couples register at two or three stores, whether digital or brick and mortar, giving guests a variety of gifts to choose from. SEE
Wedding PAGE 23
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A6 your TRAVEL
Photo Illusration by Sherrie Good
traveLing with the LittLe ones By Preston Knight
n a recent morning at the bustling Portland International Airport, one of the most horrifying scenes imaginable for an observing parent was on display. It was a mother and father with four young children in tow, wheeling a pair of twin babies in a stroller and commanding, as best they could, two toddlers who were outfitted with their cartoon-style backpack of choice. For anyone traveling with children, it’s no secret that getting from point “A” to point “B” can be a nightmare, especially as the distance between the two increases. The challenge is only exacerbated when in the back of a parent’s mind it’s understood that once arriving to the destination, the work
is far from finished. There’s no such thing as vacationing from being a parent. All hope, however, is not lost on enjoying the going-away experience with the little ones. As three Shenandoah Valley mothers — including one who doubles as a travel agent — share, no experience is insurmountable if the proper amount of planning and preparation is involved.
get theM engageD Harrisonburg resident Hilary Irons takes a multistep approach to ensuring that everything goes smoothly. It starts with having her children — ages 7, 3 and 7 weeks old — fed and rested, followed by assessing everyone’s wardrobe to feel comfortable that she
has enough clothing that will make the kids feel, well, comfortable. Entertainment comes next, she said. And the repertoire can span generations. “I try to buy or download a new or not recently seen movie for the car or plane,” Irons said. “I have gone to the dollar store and wrapped up small presents to unwrap on long trips. We play games like ‘Simon Says,’ ‘I Spy,’ or I sing a song lyric to a nursery rhyme, and they have to finish it.” Lastly, it’s important for parents to express their expectations for the trip, and lay out consequences for misbehavior, Irons said. For example, she recently made it clear to her oldest two
children that if they couldn’t keep their hands to themselves in public, they could forget about going swimming. This entire approach, from feeding to the frenzy of keeping behavior in check, is a good one, said Meredith Wells, a Broadway mother of two, ages 7 and 10, and an agent at Travel Leaders in Harrisonburg. She adds that an engaged young traveler makes for a happy young traveler, too. “If children are old enough to be responsible SEE
Travel PAGE 6
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A8 Travel CoNTINUED fRom PAGE 4 for a backpack, even a small backpack, let them be a part of the packing process,” Wells said. “Kids will stay engaged with what you’re giving them to do if they feel like a part of putting it together.” Her children have packing experience thanks to her job, which gives her an edge over many mothers in that she knows more about what’s out there, such as resorts or cruise lines that tend to be more kid friendly. Those places take some of the stress of finding entertainment away from parents, Wells said. Don’t limit yourself by focusing on places that cater to children, though, mothers say. “I am not one to say, ‘If you have kids, go to a kid
friendly place all the time,’” Irons said. “I believe kids can be taken to ‘adult’ locations as long as they are prepared for what they will experience, what they should expect and what we expect of them.” Bridgewater resident Katrina Spickler, the mother of two teenage daughters, said it’s OK to let children have input on the destination, even if they might only be picking between two locations. It’s a parent’s job, of course, to get that list narrowed for the youth opinion. “Plan early. We usually begin thinking about next year’s vacation right after this year’s vacation,” Spickler said. “I’ve found that if I don’t start looking for lodging at the beginning of the year, accommodations in a particular location can be
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scarce. … Decide if the trip is going to be strictly for fun or also educational.” Vacation planning is a back to school moment for parents: Do your research, and you’ll pass the test. “We just wanted to see what our kids would enjoy experiencing,” Wells said of her family’s trip history, which has included snorkeling and
swimming with dolphins. “We just do things that we can afford that gives the kids experiences that they wouldn’t get otherwise.”
Better with age? A vacation that requires a plane ride adds a layer of difficulty to traveling. One issue, Wells said, is simply that unlike riding in a car for
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A9 several hours, flying with children is an activity in which parents have little to no experience. A couple of tricks she offers are to have something, such as a sippy cup, available for the younger children to suck on during takeoff, and to pack a small vial of white vinegar. Drop some of that into your child’s ears in case they hurt during a flight, Wells has learned. “If you’ve never flown with kids, [the experience] can be really scary,” she said. If kids realize they’re in for a long trip, the situation is better, Spickler said. That comes with age, she said, particularly as it pertains to car rides. “They have more realistic expectations,” Spickler said of her daughters, 14 and 17 years old. “For example, they
know that Myrtle [Beach] is approximately an eighthour drive, so now that our daughters are older, we usually don’t get, ‘Are we there yet?’”
“Plan early. We usually begin thinking about next year’s vacation right after this year’s vacation.” — Katrina Spickler “Also, the girls now pack their own activities to keep them busy as we travel,” she said. Challenges obviously change, depending on the age of the children. “Certainly, the infant stage requires traveling with more
stuff. I have a stroller, a big car seat, multiple types of baby carriers, breast pump, bottles, formula, diapers, wipes … so much stuff,” Irons said. “Kids out of diapers travel much lighter. Not to mention the older ones can carry their own things.” Wells said parents need to be careful not to go “overboard” on packing, no matter the number or age of children involved. One spray bottle of suntan lotion, for example, should suffice. Practice can make perfect when executing a vacation with children, mothers say. You may have a horror story to share at some point, but if it’s any consolation, understand you aren’t alone. Irons looks back with a humorous tone at the closest thing she’s had to a
vacation nightmare, which, it turns out, was on her way to Portland, Ore. At Dulles International Airport, she wound up going on the down escalator with her son still standing up top. “I tried to run up the down escalator, but I wasn’t fast enough to get to him, and he just stood at the top of the escalator,” said Irons, who was pregnant at the time. “Some wonderful stranger helped him on as I continued trying in vain to reach him. All was fine once we boarded.” Once in Portland, more “glorious” strangers helped her pull luggage, Irons said. This leads to advice that can be employed in the parenting playbook year-round. “Don’t be afraid to accept help,” Irons said.
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ProteCt Your skin
By Aleda Johnson
he sun burns at about 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit, and during the summer months, people flock outdoors to enjoy that warmth and soak up its rays. But like Icarus, sunbathers may be surprised by how dangerous the sun’s rays can be, especially to our skin.
Because of ultraviolet radiation from the sun, tans put us at risk for skin damage with some lasting consequences, according to dermatologist Jerri Alexiou of Harrisonburg Dermatology. “A tan is your body’s defense mechanism against damage to the skin cells and the DNA and pigment
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in cells,” she said. “Ideally, one should keep from getting a tan at all because by definition, it means the skin has been damaged.” That’s where sunscreen comes in, acting as a shield against UV radiation. Chemical sunscreens, which are less visible on the skin, absorb the radiation.
Physical sunblocks, such as the zinc and titanium dioxide pastes frequently seen smeared on lifeguards’ noses, block out radiation completely. Both are equally popular and some sunscreens even contain both, Alexiou said. To truly get proper protection from wearing
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A11 sunscreens, a person has to apply the proper amount at regular intervals. “It takes about a shotglass of sunscreen to cover the body, and you need to reapply at least every two hours when in the sun,” Alexiou said. “But if you’ve been in the water, you should reapply every hour.”
reaPPLYing often Reapplying every two hours is imperative regardless of the Sun Protection Factor (SPF) listed on the sunscreen bottle, Photo Illusra which refers to the tion by Sherrie Good theoretical amount of time a person can stay in the sun without getting sunburned. resistance, it’s proven “We recommend people difficult to get the Food and use sunscreen that is SPF 30 Drug Administration and or higher,” Alexoiu said. “But sunscreen industry to agree. whether they use 30 or 70 Young, squirmy children or 100, it’s still only going to may be difficult to pin down last about two hours without and reapply sunscreen, so water exposure and one if in swim shirts, hats and UV and out of the water.” protective clothing work well. But anything less than SPF Even when not at the 30 is useless, Alexiou said. beach or playing in the sun, In her 16 years as a Alexiou wears sunscreen on dermatologist, she hasn’t her face and neck every day, been able to figure out why even in the winter. they are even sold. “The sunscreen in your moisturizer is completely “We recommend sufficient as long as the SPF is 30, but it still lasts people use only two hours,” Alexiou sunscreen that is warns. “You can put moisturizer with sunscreen SPF 30 or higher.” on in the morning, but if — Jerri Alexiou you’re going to a picnic in the afternoon, you should “It provides a false sense reapply before going out.” of security just like the Sunscreen application higher SPFs provide a false is also important for those sense of security because whose ears are exposed and people apply SPF 90 and those who spend a lot of time think it doesn’t need to be driving in the car. reapplied,” she said. Slipping up in application While there’s been an is risky because every effort to help standardize sunburn puts a person at sunscreen labeling more risk of developing and qualities like water skin cancer.
“DNA and the melanocytes [pigment producing cells] in cells get a little damage each time, and over time, small bits of damage and mutation can add up and lead to the formation of skin cancer,” Alexiou said. Fair-skinned people with blue eyes and red hair are the most susceptible to the damaging effects of the sun, but everyone should be wary. Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States with more than 8,500 cases diagnosed each day, and about 75 percent of skin cancer deaths are from melanoma, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. At Harrisonburg Dermatology, they diagnose about two cases a week, Alexiou said. Superficial spreading melanoma is by far the most common type of skin cancer, accounting for about 70 percent of all cases and most often seen in young
people, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. Most cases are likely to occur on the trunk of men, legs of women and upper back in both. So people should start taking note of their moles and watching them for any changes in color, growth and border shape as young as 20 years of age. Regularly tanning or burning can also lead to wrinkly and thin skin. “You see it most with elderly men who have really wrinkly skin on their arms and hands with skin tears from years of skin exposure,” Alexiou said. When the need for bronze skin is overwhelming, Alexiou recommends fake tanners instead because they’re a safe way to get a natural glow. For more information about sunscreen or skin cancer, contact Harrisonburg Dermatology at 433-8700.
A12 Spread Your Wings And Fly To Your Highest Potential On sOARIng AbOve stRess By Christina Kunkle, CTA Certified Life and Wellness Coach, R.N.
erhaps this is one of those I-can’t-take-one-moreday-of-this days: too much to do in too little time with too few hands for far too long without being able to catch a break.
Maybe you’ve noticed your spirits sinking more under the weight of unrealistic expectations, pressures and responsibilities, but aren’t sure how to get free from what feels like quicksand in your soul. Believe me, I get it. A few years ago, I fell into despair from living a life of “shoulds.” I spent time, energy and money earning my nursing degree and
invested almost 20 years in the profession. I had good friends, did my job well, yet left most shifts feeling depleted and disheartened. “What’s wrong with me?” I kept thinking. “I’m fully vested, have job security and am making a good living … I should be happy!” I was overwhelmed, overstressed and over it, but I didn’t want to fail. Unfortunately, I know what happens when you tell yourself “toughen up and stick it out” for too long. Stress headaches. Chronic fatigue. Anxiety. Depression. Self-doubt. Burn out. But there’s a silver lining. I’ve been there and done that, so you don’t have to.
A14 I used to think once you made a decision, you should stand by it, doing whatever it takes to make it work. But now I know three very important things:
1 You can be called to service for a season, and not necessarily a lifetime.
2 Nothing that happens is ever wasted, because our
experiences help us grow and discover our purpose.
3 There’s a big difference between just making a good living and creating a great life.
I believe that we best teach others the lessons we need to learn ourselves. That’s why it’s now my mission as a resilience coach to teach as many women as I possibly can how to soar above stress instead of burning out like I did. No matter your role — whether a nurse, mother, teacher, caregiver, attorney, business owner, or CEO of your household — life is too short to live depleted. You were not born to live with the pain of a sinking spirit, you were born to soar. In the face of stress, use these proactive tips to rise up, spread your wings and fly toward your highest potential. OwN IT. You are in charge on this one. It’s in your control. You get to define for yourself what will make you happy — not your friends, not your family or latest trends. TAKE-ACTION TIP: State “I take full accountability for my own happiness and fulfillment” out loud when you are tempted to blame others or complain about the circumstances you’re in.
wAKE UP. Now’s the time, so no more waiting. If you think you have forever to get around to that thing you want to do, think again. Take nothing for granted, and live now because this moment is the only one you can do anything about. TAKE-ACTION TIP: If today was your last day, what would you wish you had done with your life? Write it all out in a bucket list, then share it with someone close to you. Ask them to hold you accountable for crossing something off of your list on a regular basis, and celebrate each and every step along your path of progress. REFRAME PERFECTION. Unrealistic expectations will sabotage us every time. So will guilt over past mistakes, regret about missed opportunities and comparing your worst to everyone else’s best. TAKE-ACTION TIP: When you catch yourself thinking things like, “If I can’t do it perfect, why try at all,” “I missed my chance to develop my talent,” or “Other people are better or more skilled than me, so I have nothing special to offer,” Stop. Breathe. Then flip the thought to one more empowering such as, “It’s never too late to learn new things” or “No one can fulfill my mission better than I can.” LEvERAGE YOUR STRUGGLES. There’s nothing in your past that you can’t use to move forward. Every experience you’ve had, especially the challenges and struggles, can help you become clear about why you’re here and how you’re meant to serve. With this resilient mindset, we don’t just survive in spite of setbacks, but we intentionally thrive because of them.
COME CLEAN. Be honest with yourself and others about what you feel passionate about and what you don’t. TAKE-ACTION TIP: Does something you’re involved with feel like an obligation? Let go of any attachment to what you think your ideal life should look like, and release unnecessary roles and responsibilities that are draining you dry.
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LET YOUR HEART SPEAK. Learn to say yes to what your heart really wants. Is there anything in your life where you have that “gut instinct” about what to do next? Moments of intuition are blessings about the directions we need to take in our lives, but we can miss the quiet whispers of spirit unless we make an intentional effort to be mindful and listen. TAKE-ACTION TIP: Set your timer for 5 minutes. Go to a quiet place. Close your eyes, and place your left hand over your heart. Take a few deep breaths, and say the following out loud: “What do you really, really, really want me to know?” Give yourself space to just listen. Repeat the question if you get distracted. You’ll continue to receive answers, so pay attention to flashes of insight, creative ideas and inspirations, as well as things that you hear and see. Trust that these answers are authentic and a reflection of your true calling. Our soul is always calling us to grow and expand into a better version of ourselves. Be patient, knowing it’s OK to not have it all figured out. Have faith that the path to your purpose will become clear. The world can be happier and healthier because of the contribution you are here to make. The possibilities are endless as to how your gifts
could bless others. Whether it’s taking up a creative hobby, volunteering for a cause you’re committed to, writing a book, or mastering a soul-centered project, my greatest wish is that you follow your heart and claim your true calling with no excuses or apologies. Christina Kunkle, Rn and CtA Certified Life and Wellness Coach, is founder of Synergy Life and Wellness Coaching, LLC, creator of the “Synergy Success Circle” and “SOAR,” a heart-centered leadership development program. She helps busy professionals prevent burnout by promoting bounce-back resilience to stay focused, positive and excited about the challenges of work and life. To learn more, visit her website at www.synergylifeandwellnesscoaching.com or call 540-746-5206.
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TAKE-ACTION TIP: If there was a higher purpose for the tough times you’ve been through, what would it be? Are you being called to offer wisdom and guidance to those going through similar challenges? What’s one step you could take to begin doing that? Sharing your story could have a powerful impact on others.
A16 THE STUFF OF
FANTASY By Aleda Johnson Photos by Holly Marcus
aggie stiefvater had her first midlife crisis when she was 29 years old. She hadn’t lost a loved one or quit her job. She wasn’t struggling with self-image, and she wasn’t suffering from a lack of self-confidence. If anything, the opposite was true.
Stiefvater had a loving husband, two children and a beautiful house in Mount Crawford. She was an artist and bagpiper and drove a 1973 Chevrolet Camaro. But that was also the year she became a New York Times Best-Selling Author with her third novel, “Shiver,” which sold in 40 different countries and sat on the Best Seller list for 40 weeks in a row. And Stiefvater will admit it was the worst thing to ever happen to her, achieving her dream too soon. Likening herself to a squirrel hyped up on caffeine, everything the library-rat-turned best-selling-author does involves teaching herself a new hobby, writing the next cool story, designing creative artwork and generally enjoying the process of achievement over its acquisition. So what did Stiefvater do when she achieved her biggest goal? She bought nine miniature silky fainting goats and a race car. Then she found a new dream.
Maggie Stiefvater, author of The New York Times Best Seller “Shiver,” crafts her stories in the book-strewn office of her home in Mount Crawford.
A18 The Start Of A Dream Though there was never a time Stiefvater wasn’t writing, the Harrisonburg native first determined she wanted to be an author when she was 8 years old. One afternoon, her father found her typing on his word processor, and he asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up. Stiefvater had known since she first walked through an airport and saw all the paperback novels thrown on the stacks in the airport bookstore. She wanted to be that author who had her own book recommended to her in a bookstore. “Oh, you want to be poor,” he responded. “I was working on a novel about two dogs that were test driving a car, so it was probably a novel that would tend me toward poverty,” Stiefvater recalls. Determined to overcome the tendency, she practiced the only way she knew how.
She became a New York Times Best-Selling Author with her third novel, “Shiver.” With little social life to speak of, she focused less on learning new instruments, honing her artist skills or working on vintage cars with her father in favor of reading and writing. Even without a creative writing education (having graduated from University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Va., with a degree in history), Stiefvater knew practical experience was imperative. “I always doubt people who come up to me and say they want to be a writer, and I ask what book they read last, and they say, ‘I read something for school,’” she says. “And I think, ‘You don’t want to be a writer.’” She also began researching the publishing industry. One source said that, on average, an author had to pen five books before they could write full time. Stiefvater used that benchmark to push her from novel to novel when she finally published her first book, “Lament,” in 2008. At the time she was working as a portrait artist, painting the heads of cats on old masters and selling them on eBay. But the fact that “Lament” was only available online didn’t deter Stiefvater like it would other authors because she was still on track. “I always had in the back of my head that it was super great to be published for the first time, but remember that you have to do four more,” she says. So she wrote another novel, quietly releasing “Ballad” in 2009. Continuing her habit of consuming the printed word to better her writing, inspiration struck after reading “The Time Traveler’s Wife” by Audrey Niffenegger. The book managed to do the impossible, making the strongwilled author cry. “I know I’m a monster, but this book made me cry, and I was so betrayed,” Stiefvater says. “I thought, ‘I’m going to do this. I’m going to write a book that makes people cry.” Stiefvater accomplished her mission, publishing the tearinducing “Shiver” in 2009, but her third novel threw her best-laid plans into disarray. 16
Midlife Crisis It took eight months from the time Stiefvater sold “Shiver” to a publisher (for more money than she’d ever seen) for people to recognize her name on bookshelves. Described as a masterful storyteller by her editor at Scholastic, David Levithan, the news of “Shiver’s” success seemed to surprise only Stiefvater. “I think Maggie [Stiefvater] can expend more creativity in an hour than most people do in a year,” Levithan says. “It’s astonishing to behold.” In fact, the emotional rollercoaster of “Shiver’s” plot was the perfect vehicle for Stiefvater to explore her creation of the humanly flawed heroes she is now known for. Critique partner, fellow author and best friend Brenna Yovanoff describes it as the “King Arthur Appeal.” “[Stiefvater] is good at tapping into this emotional core or desire for the world to be larger than life and for people to be noble and heroic,” the Denver resident says. “She’s good at examining all the stumbling blocks that come with that and make heroism difficult but also truly worth trying to attain.” Eleven months later, the second book in the “Shiver” trilogy, “Linger,” was released to the same praise as its predecessor. That was when Stiefvater found herself standing in a bookstore, looking for a new book to read in the young adult section. A fellow patron approached her to offer some suggestions. Stiefvater informed the patron that she had read almost everything in the section and was looking for something with good characterization. The patron then asked if she’d read the first two books of the “Shiver” trilogy. “It was the worst thing that ever happened because I had hit that moment,” she says. “I hadn’t had to make a new dream since I could remember, so I had this giant midlife crisis.” Stiefvater’s goal had finally been accomplished, but she was at a loss for what to do next. “This was supposed to happen when I was 50, and that was my big break,” she says. “But even that big break is bigger than any author should really need.”
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Ot Stiefvater’s third hit novel, “The Scorpio Races” was inspired by what she enjoyed as a child.
A19 to to
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In addition to writing her novels, she also composes music for audiobooks.
Finding A New Dream With success coming so easily, Stiefvater found herself suffering from a lack of imagination — a difficult hurdle for the usually quirky author. And she struggled to formulate a new dream because they seem to lose their lofty, whimsical quality when they come from an adult mind. “It probably took a year because I’d been so in love with the concept of writing for so long, it felt almost fraudulent to come up with a new childhood dream when you were no longer a child,” she says. “Like you were being calculating instead of being dreamy.” One thing the success afforded Stiefvater was the ability to write whatever she wanted without having to think about the market. So as she formulated a new plan, she set out to write something she would have picked up as a teen. Her next hit series “The Scorpio Races” was the result. The critically acclaimed novel, which is currently in negotiations for a movie adaptation, offered Stiefvater’s fans the magic, fantasy and focus on racing that a young Stiefvater would have enjoyed. Going back to her young machinations did more than inspire a new book. It helped her find a new mission to that would take years to accomplish. “When I was a kid, I wanted to be a writer and do some of my music and stuff with my art, but just because I was super successful didn’t mean that I’d actually done anything with those other things,” she says. “So the new goal was to put those other things together again.” Thankfully for Stiefvater’s sanity, that’s proving to be a difficult puzzle to piece together.
Other Pursuits Never good at not being busy, Stiefvater finds other outlets for her energy when she isn’t solely focused on her new goal. But she always looks for pastimes that demand mastering a skill.
In fact, she prefers picking up hobbies she knows she’s bad at doing. “If I get into it and everything is easy the first time, it’s not interesting,” Stiefvater says. “But if there’s a skill I have to tackle then it’s suddenly interesting.” When she first bought a race car — after her midlife crisis — tackling a difficult skill was part of the fun of learning to rally race. Until she drove to Canada for her first rally car race and took first place. “In my head, I pictured a Maggie Stiefvater who was going to be the come-from-behind underdog who’d never been in a race car before, and through a series of races, she would crawl her way up from the back of the pack,” she says. “But then I was just holding on to the number one spot.” Instead, Stiefvater sold the race car and began harassing John Green, author of “The Fault in Our Stars,” on Twitter. “For about a week, I had tried to convince him — even though I didn’t know him — to buy the fastest Subaru that they were making at the time of writing,” Stiefvater says. “I don’t know why I thought this would be hilarious to convince a total stranger to buy a car through only Twitter.” Forgetting about her challenge, she was surprised when Green responded a month later ready to race. That was how Stiefvater found herself on a dirt road in Princeton, Minn., in her souped up Mitsubishi with a brand new engine. “We raced, and he was really slow, and his car caught on fire in front of all of his fans because he was driving with his foot on the gas and the brake at the same time,” Stiefvater laughs. “They had to deliver him out the window because it’s a race car and the doors were welded shut, and he put out his car and says, ‘I’m going again.’” Though the results were the same the second time around, Stiefvater still got a chance to race — and beat — local racers for the crowd’s enjoyment. Summer 2016
A20 Away From The Spotlight But even with touring, driving fancy cars and being a famous author, Stiefvater is her own breed of “noble bandit raccoon.” “She’s very driven, motivated and spontaneous and a very loyal and surprising friend,” Yovanoff says. “She likes to do things for people that will make them happy, but come out of left field.” For one Christmas, Yovanoff received a child size Soviet-era gas mask that arrived from Texas with no note. “I had five minutes wondering if this was the part in movie where I’m supposed to put on the gas mask before everyone else collapses,” Yovanoff recalls. “I walked out of my house holding it, and then remembered the one person who would have sent me this gas mask.” Stiefvater’s loyalty to her friends is also how Yovanoff ended up knitting in the passenger seat of Stiefvater’s ’73 Camaro as they traveled along the highway for a leg of her book tour, wondering which part of the Camaro would fall apart next. It did everything but catch fire. The master brake cylinder failed in Salt Lake City at 70 mph, the carburetor had to be rebuilt in Los Angeles and the alternator died on the side of the road in Colorado. “We just fixed the alternator using stuff out of [Yovanoff ’s] knitting bag and everything I knew about alternators,” Stiefvater says. “But we needed a jump start, and nobody would stop.” Frustrated that no one would stop to help a competent woman like Stiefvater, Yovanoff put down her knitting, got out of the car and laid it on thick.
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A21 “I saw some boys working on some dirt bikes and wondered if I stood a certain way by the car like I didn’t know what a car was they would come over, and they did,” Yovanoff says. “I’m not proud of it, but it worked.” When not picking pieces of her vintage car off the freeway, Stiefvater is at home with her husband, two children and four dogs. Growing up a Navy brat, Stiefvater spent her summers with her grandmother in Mount Crawford, but felt she would always feel homeless. Until she and Ed went house hunting. “We walked into a house, and I thought ‘This is it,’” Stiefvater says. “We found out it was seven miles away how the crow flies from the house I used to spend my summers.” Instead of locking herself in her book-strewn office when writing, Stiefvater’s children, who have taken after her artistic pursuits, will often offer inspiration. Working on her upcoming middle-grade series, “Pip Bartlett’s Guide to Magical Creatures,” Stiefvater creates the book’s illustrations with her daughter and listens to her ideas. “I did use one of her suggestions for a plot device in the second book because she reads all of the drafts before they go to my editor,” she says. “I told my co-writer about this, and she said it was a really good idea.” Continuing to work on her other pursuits with her children serves as a way for Stiefvater to perfect her next objective of marrying her passions. The closest Stiefvater has come to achieving her new goal was
designing a special wrap for her latest series, “The Raven Cycle” and composing the music for its audiobook. “I’m getting to do all the art and music and writing together, but haven’t quite managed to pull it off,” she says. “I keep thinking there is a bigger way of doing all of them together.” Luckily, she hasn’t figured out a way to do that yet, and hopes she doesn’t for quite a while, staving off a new midlife crisis. In the meantime, she writes, draws, composes, races, travels and tinkers to her heart’s content. And in typical inexhaustible Stiefvater fashion, she is considering taking up bookbinding while continuing her weekly cello lessons.
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A22 your CAREER
feMaLe Business owners ContriBute to Downtown harrisonBurg’s suCCess By Shelby Mertens
he women behind the revitalization efforts of downtown Harrisonburg all wanted to bring something new to the Friendly City. But this proved to be a challenging task. Through all the struggles, these women found support among each other. Just a few of the downtown female business owners include Amanda Cannon, owner of Food. Bar.Food, Lauren Penrod, owner of Midtowne Bottle Shop and Midtowne Market, Leslie Torres, owner of White Unicorn Hair Salon and Jessica Kyger of Whatever Vintage Boutique. Each of these women have contributed to making downtown a fun and exciting place to grab a bite to eat, sip on a local beer or flip through a vintage clothing rack.
aManDa Cannon Cannon, a native of Harrisonburg, remembers riding in her mother’s car to Spotswood Elementary School and glancing at the empty building at 126 W. Bruce St. The building, she said, had been vacant for a very long time. Several years and many waited tables later, Cannon would eventually open up 20
her own restaurant in that space. Her eatery, Food.Bar. Food, would become one of downtown’s favorite spots for global comfort food and specialty cocktails. “It was really meaningful and affirming to be a part of bringing this part of downtown back to life,” Cannon said. The restaurateur said she always had the drive to own her business. Cannon had business cards and a checking account at age 12. Cannon started bartending at Buffalo Wild Wings to support herself through college. A few of her regular customers who worked at the Joshua Wilton House encouraged her to apply to the historic fine dining restaurant. As a sports bartender, Cannon was hesitant. “I was really intimidated about it, but they were very persistent,” she said. “I will always remember what they told me, which was that they could teach me the logistics of white tablecloth service, but what couldn’t be taught was how to take care of people. That was something that I already knew how to do.” Cannon worked up the nerve to apply and landed a job as a server at Joshua Wilton House. She stayed there for four
years, eventually moving up to bartender and catering director. This was Cannon’s first experience in the high-end restaurant business. But at the same time, Cannon was also bartending at the Artful Dodger two or three nights a week. At the Dodger, Cannon planned and hosted elaborate theme parties like
House and the Artful Dodger.” About three years later, Cannon was asked to become the bar manager for the opening of Clementine Café. It was Cannon’s first official management position. She wrote her first cocktail menu from scratch and selected all the beers, including a bottle list of over 60 craft beers.
Amanda Cannon, co-owner of Food.Bar.Food, makes a spring-time cocktail, strawberry aqua fresco.
Anti-Valentine’s, Mardi Gras, Halloween and others. “I got to be really creative with the parties, and I learned a lot about the bar business and really grew into my own as a bartender with being able to manage a full bar,” she said. “It was sort of yin and yang, the Joshua Wilton
A year and a half later, Cannon was hired as the general manager for Local Chop & Grill House. This was her second time helping open a restaurant downtown. Four and a half years later, Cannon’s former colleague, Jeff Minnich, the chef at Clementine,
approached her about opening up a restaurant together. “I was ready for a new challenge as well,” Cannon said. “I had worked for really phenomenal restaurant owners in town, and the next logical step was to open my own restaurant.” Cannon and Minnich knew they wanted their restaurant downtown and saw the potential of the site past the railroad tracks on Bruce Street, which was home to only office spaces at the time. But the duo knew the Ice House project was in development. “We were the first restaurant or retail on this side of downtown,” Cannon said. “We also sit diagonally across from the farmers market, and we’re excited about the plans for the downtown park, so we knew moving into this space … that the downtown footpath was spreading to this area.” Food.Bar.Food opened in July of 2014 and has since received recognition for its innovative cocktail menu and brunch by Virginia Living Magazine. “It was exciting and affirming that people liked the drinks I made,” she said. The eatery draws on flavors, sauces and spices from all over the world, and Cannon uses that approach with the cocktail menu as well. Food.Bar.Food serves a mix of Asian-inspired dishes like noodle bowls, and typical American eats like burgers.
JessiCa kYger anD LesLie torres Jessica Kyger, 27, who started collecting vintage clothing when she was 20, had a similar experience
Leslie Torres, owner of white Unicorn Hair Salon, her 17-month-old daughter, Lilyana Somers, and Jessica Kyger, owner of whatever vintage Boutique, sit for a portrait at their downtown Harrisonburg store.
as Cannon: She wanted to fill an empty storefront in downtown Harrisonburg with something new and exciting. “I didn’t have the same itch to get out of here like all of my other friends did,” Kyger said. “I just wanted to see what I could bring to Harrisonburg to make it somewhere people wanted to stay instead of running as far as they could.” Through mutual friends, Kyger learned that Leslie Torres, 27, was looking for a business partner. Torres wanted to open a hair salon, and Kyger was interested in a vintage boutique, so the two decided to fuse both ideas together. They signed a lease on the building at 187 N. Main St. in August 2014, which became the home of White Unicorn Hair Salon and Whatever Vintage Boutique. The space used to be Glen’s Fair Price Store before it moved down the street, which Kyger remembered visiting as a child. Today, half of the store is lined with salon stations while the other half of the room has racks of clothes.
But before the space was ready for customers, Kyger and Torres had to gut the building. On top of that, Torres found out she was pregnant with her first child two weeks after signing the lease. She worked up until she went into labor. Torres currently has two stylists and two others preparing for licensure. The salon specializes in fun colors and trendy hairstyles. “We definitely enjoy some bright colors and some stuff that’s a bit more challenging that a lot of other salons might not enjoy doing,” Torres said. Kyger routinely digs for hours through piles of clothes at nearby thrift stores, a chore she enjoys. Most of Kyger’s clothes at Whatever Vintage are from the 1960s to the 1990s. “Fashion is always changing, so I feel like every time there’s a major shift in current popular trends, then that tends to influence the vintage stuff that I’m looking for specifically,” she said. “Right now I’m super into ’60s fashion and ’70s psychedelic.”
Torres has green hair and Kyger’s is blue, which they said was among the challenges they faced opening their own business. “Being young, being a woman and having blue hair, people don’t take you seriously,” Kyger said. But Torres added, “It’s crazy how everything fell into place the way it should have.”
Lauren PenroD Lauren Penrod sold craft beer at Midtowne Market, a convenience store she opened in 2010, but found she was running out of space, so she opened Midtowne Bottle Shop directly across from the market on Water Street. “We expanded our craft beer selection over the years and as the craft beer scene was beginning to grow in the town as well, it just became apparent that we needed, one, a bigger space, and two, a place dedicated to craft beer and nothing else,” Penrod said. Midtowne Bottle Shop is stocked with 400 different beers and ciders. Penrod keeps eight rotating tap lines for tastings every Thursday. Summer 2016
The shop also has growlers, so customers can take the draft beers to go. While Midtowne offers local beers, the shop prides itself on
its shelves of imported beers from Belgium, Germany, England, Japan, France, Italy, Canada and all over the U.S.
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you have in craft beer, I think that’s a part of what’s appealing. There’s a beer for everyone out there, you just need to find it.” Penrod’s shop is the only store solely dedicated to craft beer in the area. “I felt it was so needed,” she said. “According to the customers, it’s been very well received.”
ChaLLenges While all of the women listed finances as a top obstacle in opening a new business, Penrod also said it’s important to work with those you can trust and to put a face behind your business. “A lot of the feedback that I get is positive feedback about me being in the store SEE
Career PAGE 28
Lauren Penrod owns the Midtowne Market and Midtowne Bottle Shop in downtown Harrisonburg.
Penrod is a self-described beer enthusiast, which until recently was an uncommon moniker for women. “It just kind of became a fun thing to learn about and get involved in,” she said. According to a Gallup poll, women make up 25 percent of total beer consumption in the U.S. In the craft beer industry, women make up 37 percent of total consumption. The poll also found that women 18 to 34 years old now choose beer as their first drink of choice over white wine. “There really seems to be a growing trend of women getting much more involved in the craft beer scene, and that includes women brewers and business owners like me,” Penrod said. “I think with the variety of choices
A25 Wedding CoNTINUED fRom PAGE 3
s or st y
“You just want to make sure you’re not overlapping too many of your products on each registry,” she warned. “You only need so many towels or sheets.” And registries with online retailers like Amazon work for couples with guests from different places. “I’ve had international couples do that because someone in Europe has access to Amazon, whereas they wouldn’t have access to other big box stores,” Schmoyer said. But what if guests feel they can find the perfect gift not listed on a registry? While Sinclair appreciated some of the personalized gifts she received — such as a
monogrammed, heirloom ring box from her best friend — she also ended up with six personalized cutting boards.
“You just want to make sure you’re not overlapping too many of your products on each registry. You only need so many towels or sheets.” — Kat Schmoyer “We got six of them, which was so sweet, but silly because we don’t have that many places to use them or store them,” she said.
When in doubt, Define advises guests to get something from the registry, and then a small personalized item. “A lot of people want that personalized touch, but it’s important to realize the registry is there for a reason, and those items are things the couple may need,” she said. “Going the practical route is more helpful than personal, so maybe do some of both, going off the registry and then throwing in a little personalized item as well.” For more information about Dear Sweetheart Events, visit dearsweetheartevents.com For more information about Down The Aisle Events, LLC, visit downtheaisleevents.com or call 383-7252.
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A27 your HEALTH
PoLe fitness DeveLoPs strength, eMPowerMent By Shelby Mertens Photos by Holly Marcus
ords like “fun,” “stress relief” and “empowerment” are written on the storefront window of Pink Ambition on East Market Street, visible to all who pass by. Karen McIntyre’s students have used those words to describe their experience at the pole fitness studio in downtown Harrisonburg.
The women at Pink Ambition are quick to say they are not strippers — a common misconception they face. In recent years, traditional pole dancing has transitioned into pole fitness, which is completely focused on the athletic side of the pole. “It’s more difficult than what you’d think,” McIntyre said. “It’s an all-over, whole-body workout. It’s an incredible way to stay fit and stay in shape.” Besides toning muscles, pole fitness offers a chance to build selfconfidence in a fun atmosphere with women
At Reflections our goal is to create an unforgettable experience, thus leaving each bride one hundred percent satisfied with all of her bridal decisions. From the moment you step in to our store, our staff is here to assist you from start to finish. We pride ourselves on providing the personal attention and care that each bride deserves during this exciting time in her life.
Liz Nichols, an advanced student from Harrisonburg, stays suspended on the pole during a pole fitness class at Pink Ambition.
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A28 who support each other, McIntyre said. The pole area is blocked from street view, and men are not allowed in the studio. “It’s a really safe place to start exploring feeling a little bit more sexy and being OK with that,” McIntyre said. In January of 2015, McIntyre opened Pink Ambition after teaching pole fitness for six years at Inner Goddess Studios in Harrisonburg, which closed in 2014. The workout is popular in Harrisonburg. Each month, 150 to 200 people come into the studio, McIntyre said, which includes some repeats. “We have a lot of college students who come through and professional women,” she said.
Pink Ambition owner Karen McIntyre demonstrates with fellow instuctor Caitlin Fierro how form and correct technique are important before students can practice on their own.
Pink Ambition primarily offers pole fitness classes, with a few exotic stripteases. The studio also offers a variety of cardio, strength and conditioning, and flexibility classes to complement pole.
Each person starts at level 1 and works up to level 7 at their own pace. First-timers will practice with a thick foam mat at the base of the pole and an instructor spotting them. “Level one is basics,” McIntyre said. “We go over
all the different muscles that you’re using and how to use them safely. We learn little spins and holds, and then as the levels get higher, we learn more intense tricks.” Some of the basic moves include the “Fireman Spin,” “Butterfly” and “Crescent Moon.” Dancers learn to hang upside-down by level 3. Students work toward accomplishing moves successfully and safely and move up to the next level once the instructor has signed off. “It’s purely individually based,” McIntyre said. “It allows you to progress at your own speed and at your own schedule.” The women at pole fitness swear it’s the perfect workout for those who dread going to the gym.
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A29 “It is working out and breaking a sweat without panting and actually having the gym feeling,” said Caitlin Fierro, an instructor at Pink Ambition. “It’s kind of like a slumber party feel all the time in here. We all have a ton of fun, and it doesn’t feel like a workout, but you get one heck of one by the time you leave.” Pole requires much upperbody strength, but, McIntyre said, it also tones your legs and core. “Your legs are what’s holding you when you climb the pole … [and] your hip flexors help you lift your legs,” she said. “When you’re right side up, when you’re upside down, when you’re spinning, pretty much at any point, you need to have your shoulders back so
your trapezius muscles are engaged, your core is nice and tight.” Fierro, 27, started pole fitness a year and a half ago and has already completed level 7. Fierro, an operating room nurse at Sentara RMH, learned about pole fitness from a coworker. “Pole dance is flirty, and it’s fun, and I’ve always loved to dance, so taking it into a workout just seemed like my kind of thing,” she said. Fierro, who lives in Bridgewater, has been impressed with her results. She now teaches classes once a week. “I am a hundred percent stronger than I was,” Fierro said. “Upper-body strength, core strength — I was never overweight, but I’m way stronger from doing this.”
Pole fitness also teaches women of all ages self-love, McIntyre said, by challenging body image problems many women face.
you are in,” McIntyre said. “We’re going to teach you to hold yourself up on this vertical object and gain strength and be confident.” For Maria Moore, 33, pole fitness has given her a boost in self-confidence. “I had several friends at work who tried it, and they said it’s super fun, and I thought ‘Oh my god, I could never do that.’ And then one day, I thought I’ll just try it because I used to run, but running isn’t fun, so I came here, and I was scared to death at first,” Moore said. And it has challenges more than just physically, Moore said. “It’s very empowering,” she said. “Especially to push yourself out of your comfort zone. It’s very far beyond my comfort zone.”
“It is working out and breaking a sweat without panting and actually having the gym feeling.” — Caitlin Fierro “People are overly conscious of what they look like when they look in the mirror, that’s what they judge themselves by, and that’s not a healthy way to look at life. So I strive to show people that it doesn’t matter what you look like, it doesn’t matter what shape
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A30 Moore, who lives in Harrisonburg, started pole fitness in 2012 and is at the highest level. She placed fourth in the Atlantic Pole Championship in April. “I can do pull-ups now, and I’ve never been able to do pull-ups,” she said. There are three types of pole dancing, according to McIntyre: sexy pole, pole sport and pole art. “You can express so much from any of those categories through pole, and they’re all equally amazing and equally credible and equally deserve respect,” McIntyre said. But some people still can’t get past the stripper stereotype. Fierro said she even had someone unfriend her on Facebook because of her posts. “She thought it was
unprofessional to be posting pole dancing pictures,” Fierro said. “There’s always going to be people that think we do what strippers do, but we don’t. The fitness we do here is PG. We’re not a strip club, we don’t allow spectators. We come in to get fit.” Pink Ambition offers classes Sunday through Thursday from 4:30 – 9:30 p.m. and Mondays at 5:30 p.m. Private lessons and private parties are available on Fridays and Saturdays. A single pole class costs $20, but packages are available as well. Monthly memberships ranging from $35 to $50 can also be purchased for those looking to practice more than twice a week. Unlimited memberships give dancers access to open pole practice sessions.
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Career CoNTINUED fRom PAGE 22 constantly and people seeing and recognizing me, just knowing that I’m caring about what I’m doing,” she said. “Another thing is customer feedback. That’s kind of how we got started in the beer business in the first place — by continuing to listen to what customers wanted, and what they wanted was more variety of beer.” Kyger’s advice to women who are thinking about opening their own business? Just go for it. “There is a double standard that men can be assertive and headstrong, but when it’s a woman, she’s too aggressive,” Kyger said. “If you have a dream or a vision of what you want, go
for it. Be headstrong, don’t settle for anything less. Don’t let anyone talk you out of it.” Downtown Harrisonburg in particular has a concentration of female business owners who are supportive of each other, Penrod said. “When you have women helping other women, it’s just kind of a natural thing to want to help each other and lift each other up. And I know there’s a group of us women business owners downtown that are very supportive of each other and good about communicating any issues with equipment or experiences with horribly sexist salesmen or things like that,” Penrod said. “It’s nice to have that kind of camaraderie.”
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