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J U LY 2 0 1 2 FREE

Casi Morris Enhancing Beauty. Empowering Lives.

CHESSIE CROSBY More Than a Survivor

lisa stripling Innkeeper Who Keeps on Giving

NEW OPPORTUNITY School for Women

Avery Women Keep Family Fun in the Ring

Thank you for your d n a e c n a d n atte participation! we hope you enjoyed the event. Special thanks to our sponsors, vendors, speakers, performers, volunteers and the great staff at watauga high school.



Photo by Sherrie Norris

publisher Gene Fowler

executive editor Tom Mayer

editor Sherrie Norris 828.264.3612, ext. 251

writers Genevieve Austin Danielle Bussone Heather Brandon Sharon Carlton Bonnie Church Jeff Eason Bill Hensley Heather W. Jordan Corrinne Loucks Kelly Penick Raney Rogers Angie Ryan Jeanne Supin

production Jennifer Canosa Meleah Petty

design Jennifer Canosa Meleah Petty Kelsey Steller

advertising Radd Nesbit 828.264.6397, ext. 271

cover photo by Mark Mitchell

Any reproduction of news articles, photographs or advertising artwork is strictly prohibited without permission from management. ŠCopyright 2012 A Mountain Times Publication

contents nurture local happenings 6 high country women’s fund 10 mom’s world 12 heavenly touch 14 pets 16

create michelle fisher-hanson recipes beth mckee by the book

30 32 34 36

transform not so grounded young at heart healthy lady beauty making a difference

casi morris

18 chessie crosby

20 lisa stripling

38 40 44 46 48




new opportunity school for women

high country horse club



editor’s note Someone reminded me last week that half of the year is over. I saw it coming, but I couldn’t believe it happened so quickly. I feel as if I’ve missed something along the way and that I need to back up and start over, but I’m not sure at which point I would choose for another beginning. Not January 1 — I’d have to make more resolutions. I didn’t keep the ones I made then, so why would I want to make more? February? No. I wished for snow everyday. I just wanted one day with a valid excuse to stay at home and curl up by the fire with a good book, without feeling guilty. I don’t want to repeat the disappointment I experienced when all I got was sunshine. (How sad is that one?) March marked yet another birthday. I don’t want to gain another year so fast — I’m feeling old enough already. April? Forget it. No spring to anticipate here. We had spring in February. Mother’s Day came in May. My one and only son had to work that day and all I did was sit at home and feel sorry for myself and miss my own mother. Two evenings prior, my son and daughter-in-law prepared a lovely dinner in my honor. Their efforts should have carried me through the day without my pity party. As June arrived, I was full steam ahead — and all about the women’s expo on the 23rd. I stayed awake for hours into the early mornings, trying to plan the perfect event. It soon consumed my every thought. On one particular morning as I drove to work, I seemed especially out of kilter, but prayed for God to keep me focused on the tasks ahead.



It seemed to be working quite well. Within an hour, my wonderful husband called, saying he was worried about me and wanted to make sure that I was all right. I had driven right by him that morning as he sat on the side of the road with a flat tire. I didn’t have a clue. A few days later, I went to Belk for a new outfit. I ran into a close friend of mine, who commented that I looked tired. That’s all it took. Moments later, I was walking into the restroom to dry my eyes — and just as quickly, I was turning around to get out of there. Wrong door. Those things don’t hang on the wall in the ladies’ room. I cannot describe an out-of-body experience, but I am quite sure that I have just recently had an (extended) out-of-mind experience — at least until, or shortly after, June 23. The All About Women Expo turned out to be a great event, after all. I cannot find words to adequately express my gratitude to my coworkers, to our sponsors and vendors, to our volunteers, to the speakers, the entertainers and all those who came to show their support to us — and to this magazine. Thank you, for it all. It’s July, now. I am thinking more clearly. I don’t want to start over. I want to move forward, but I want to do it at a slower pace. I want to enjoy the freedom that we’re celebrating this month. And, especially, I don’t want to be so distracted that I miss my sweet husband, should he be sitting by the side the road with another flat tire.

newsbits&clips Local Charities Gain From Blowing Rock Tour of Homes The 54th annual Tour of Homes, sponsored by St. Mary of the Hills Episcopal Church in Blowing Rock, will be held from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. on Fri., July 27. The tour begins at the church, located at Main and Chestnut Streets. Transportation will be provided to the five homes on this year’s tour. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased at the church on tour day. All proceeds go to support community outreach projects. Other activities available at the church on the day of the tour include box lunches served by the choir, a silent auction, a bazaar featuring St. Mary’s cookbooks, aprons, baked goods and note cards, and Timeless Treasures will offer original art and other special items. Parking will be available in several areas close to the church.

Photos by Amber Mellon


Town of Boone Partners With Girl Scouts For Gardening Project The Town of Boone is on the winning side of a community service project adopted by Girl Scout Troop 10492 through which the girls have pledged to care for and maintain a small garden plot located next to the Jaycees Park. The girls wish to thank Mayor Loretta Clawson and the Town of Boone for providing them with the garden space, as well as the plants to go therein; also, Lowes Hardware for providing gloves and spades, and the Peddler Steakhouse for a picnic lunch at their after-gardening celebration.

TOP COOKIE SALES Ann Mellon, a member of Girl Scout Troop 10492 in Boone, has recently been awarded a $500 college scholarship. Ann was selected from among the Daisy Girl Scouts who sold more than 500 boxes of cookies during the 2012 cookie season. She sold 1,226 boxes of cookies this year. Ann is a rising second-grader at Hardin Park Elementary School. Her troop is based at St. Elizabeth Catholic Church.

Linda Eder – Songbirds: A Tribute to the Ladies

57th Annual Grandfather Mountain Highland Games

Described as one of today’s most powerful Broadway and recording artists, Linda Eder pays tribute to music icons Lena Horn, Etta James, Barbara Streisand, Judy Garland, Eva Cassidy and others, at Farthing Auditorium in Boone at 8:00 p.m. on July 20. For more information and tickets, call (828) 262-4046 or visit

Thurs., July 12- July 15 Grandfather Mountain Brawny athletes, delicate dancers, noisy bagpipe band parades, rocking Celtic music and a spectacular highland setting makes this colorful celebration of Scottish culture the best highland games in America. Admission charged. For more information:




Annual Blowing Rock Fundraiser Benefits New Medical Facility The 35th Annual Blowing Rock Hospital Benefit Champagne Luncheon and Fashion Show, featuring styles from Nordstrom of Charlotte, will be held at the Blowing Rock Country Club beginning with an 11:00 a.m. champagne reception and a 12:00 noon luncheon on Fri., Aug. 3. Reba Moretz will serve as honorary chairwoman for the event. Limited valet parking will be available at Blowing Rock Country Club; shuttle service will also be available from The Green Park Inn. Tickets are $60. All proceeds will benefit the new medical facility being developed in the Blowing Rock community. For tickets and/or more information, call Megan Ellis at (828)262-9564 or


“Life is a journey, not a destination,” said Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Rounding out a full weekend of POP events is Melissa Reaves, who will be performing with her band, The Willys, during a brunch concert at Crestwood Resort and Spa on Sunday, July 15.



For some, the journey is filled with love, fun and adventure; for others, it is filled with sadness, worry and pain. The High Country Women’s Fund helps women having that second kind of life journey, and the organization has chosen “Sharing the Journey” as the theme for this year’s round of fundraisers, which include the Power of the Purse Luncheon, POP Rocks, and Croquet for a Cause. Janice Holly Booth keynotes this year’s POP Luncheon on Friday, July 13, at the Blowing Rock Country Club. Bestselling author of “Only Pack What You Can Carry: My Path to Inner Strength, Confidence, and True Self-Knowledge,” Booth’s presentation will explore the essentials for finding the path to the life you truly want to live: solitude, introspection, courage and commitment. No stranger to solitude and courage, Booth’s life experience includes a threeday solo exploration of Utah’s slot canyons. “The best thing that ever happened to me, aside from dark chocolate, was I had to take that trip alone,” she says. Booth has been “addicted” to solo travel ever since. At the heart of her presentational stories is a call to face fear, embrace ambiguity and experience the transformative power of both. The second event in this year’s Power of the Purse weekend is a Melissa Reavesdelivered, rhythm and blues concert and brunch at Crestwood Resort and Spa on Sunday, July 15. Reaves will perform with her band, The Willys.

Originally from North Carolina, Reaves has toured nationally and internationally. She maintains a strong base of local fans that miss her when she’s gone and come out strong when she performs locally. When she’s not touring, Melissa divides her year between the ageless mountains of the High Country and the high desert community of Bisbee, Az. “We’re extremely fortunate to have been able to engage both of these strong and accomplished women for this year’s Power of the Purse weekend,” said Rebecca Moore, executive assistant for the High Country Women’s Fund. “We especially want to encourage women to bring their spouses and partners to POP Rocks and to let the music move them. There will be room to dance.” Moore went on to say that the High Country Women’s Fund is also grateful for the continued support of Bonnie and Jamie Schafer of Westglow Resort and Spa. “They’ve been a sponsor at the premiere level ($5,000) for several years, and this year they doubled that amount,” Moore says.” We’re able to help so many women and children in need in the High Country with that level of support.” Guests at both the luncheon and concert will have an opportunity to purchase raffle tickets for several valuable packages. All packages will be available at the events; three of them — Spa-cation, Food Fantasy, and High Country Adventure — are also offered to the public, online, at The drawing will be held July 18.

Events at a glance: POP Luncheon: 11 a.m. to 1:30 pm Friday, July 13, at Blowing Rock Country Club, 200 Country Club Dr., Blowing Rock. POP Rocks: Sunday, 1 to 5 p.m. July 15, at Crestwood Resort and Spa, 3236 Shulls Mill Rd., Boone.

For more information about the POP events, tickets, and the High Country Women’s Fund, contact HCWF at PO Box 144, Boone NC 28607; Phone (828) 264.4007; Email or visit An initiative of High Country United Way, the High Country Women’s Fund is a giving circle of caring and committed women who work to inspire, educate, and empower women moving toward self sufficiency by connecting them with local resources and with other generous women in our community. Bestselling author, Janice Holly Booth, is keynote speaker for this year’s Power of the Purse Luncheon on Friday, July 13, at the Blowing Rock Country Club.


Roller Coaster Realities Click. Click. Click. Click. The momentum was building, but I didn’t know, two years ago — when my eldest son was on the cusp of adolescence — just how quickly we suddenly would roar into the teenage years. It has been, well, thrilling and terrifying, simultaneously. Lately, in pondering this huge transition, I have wondered just who would have designed life in such a way that mothers, often times, are hitting perimenopause as their kids screech through the trials and tribulations of hormones, changing friendships and relationships — and identity searching that characterizes the teen years. But, who am I to ask? After all, maybe it is the way that we, as mothers, can best relate as we revisit similar changes. When I was growing up, on the cusp of my own adolescence, I was waiting impatiently for being big enough to ride “The



Thunderbolt,” the wooden roller coaster, which was the epitome of thrills at the historic theme park “Kennywood” in Pittsburgh, Penn. As my parents rode it, I waited on the bench with my sisters or best friend, watching the coaster go speeding past. Finally tall enough, I remember my first ride. Click. Click. Click. Click. The Thunderbolt went painfully slow up the first hill, as we climbed above the mostly oblivious park as the anticipation began to build. Then, we hit the part when the track levels out for a few seconds while thinking, “This is cool. Not too scary. This will be fun.” Next, the coaster cars start to rush with increasing speed and gravity into the first hill and the screams began and the G-forces propelled us into the next hill. Click-click-click-click-click, faster than

the first time, and then, you knew what was coming — curve with leveling track, brief pause and dark tunnel to disorient you further. Then, catapult at warp- speed through time and space through the next huge hill. It was, well, as I said before, thrilling and terrifying. We rode laughing, almost to tears, with such a mixture of intense emotions and then suddenly we’re pulling into the station getting ready to get off. And, then, running around to the back of the line to do it again. I can honestly say I have hit all of the emotions going through the past year or two with my son as I did on that first ride of The Thunderbolt. I have had friends and patients who have preceded me with their own children and talked about this time of their lives. But, I don’t think you can know just how intense it is until you do it yourself.

I have felt joy and pride like I have never known, bursting from the depths of my soul at my son’s accomplishments in academics and sports. “You must be so proud,” some people say. “You’ve done a great job,” say others. But, I am hesitant to take much credit. He is a very driven and bright young man — all by himself — and his gifts are certainly his gifts. My husband and I work hard to support his talents, however, and try to keep him from despairing too much when the roller coaster that we are all on starts plummeting downward. I have felt pain and despair, as I’ve watched some of the internal demons that can haunt him, as I know they do other kids, when he struggles with his own expectations of himself — and others around him — and he feels the solitude that comes with this transitional time. I can tell that my own hormones are fluctuating; the patience that seemed to come so naturally my entire life seems harder to come by, at times. Sometimes, I speak things that were probably better left unsaid; I vent and berate, like the fail-safe switch somehow got turned off internally. The realization hits me, at times early in the cycle, other times too late, and the tears flow as I hold my son and apologize for my own perceived inadequacy at coping with the unexpected and intense reality of this ride we are on. He forgives me. I forgive him. And we proceed together. We sort through feelings, disappointments, and work on healthy ways to relieve internal pressure. Quickly, these difficulties give way to new joys and thrills and we travel up once more. Do we put our hands up? Scream? Laugh? Cry? The track is well-worn, but we’ve never been on it before and the dark tunnels can be a bit intimidating. Even so, knowing my son — we will probably be in the front seat hitting the thrills head-on and ultimately, enjoying the ride.

heather jordan, CNM, MSN Comments or questions? 828.737.7711, ext. 253

Garden Hats and Foot wear

Boone Drug and Healthcare at Deerfield 345 Deerfield Road | 828-264-3055




Heavenly Touch Masasge owner, Chris Cornett, seated, and three of his 12 staff members, left to right: Catherine Gilmore, Denise Brown and Taylor Stansberry, welcome you to enjoy a massage and one of the many other stress-free treatments they offer in Boone’s newest spa atmosphere.

Photo by Sherrie Norris

When Avery County native Chris Cornett returned home after a

‘Heaven’ Is Just a

Massage Away 14


total of 10 years as director of operations at Texas Motor Speedway, one thing he missed was his monthly membership at the spa. “Having massages every other week was really good for my back,” he says. “Paying full price every time you go in for a massage can get expensive, but a monthly membership provides added benefits at a discount rate.” Unable to find those same advantages in close proximity to his Crossnore home, while at the same time, trying to decide his next career move, Cornett did the inevitable. On January 19, Cornett opened Heavenly Touch Massage in Boone, offering the High Country the membership concept, which he says has, in turn, given new meaning to relaxation. “I was planning to come back home to be near my family, but I didn’t expect my house to sell as quickly as it did,” he says. “I had started looking into a couple of franchises, but I wasn’t sure, at first, what I was going to do.” He couldn’t have chosen a better business venture, he says “for myself or for the

hundreds of clients we have coming in here every month.” Membership relates to family, Cornett says, and Heavenly Touch is all about family, “Especially, since my mama, who is an angel, helped decide on its name.” Chris grew up in a Christian home and was taught family values, as well as good business practices through his family enterprise, Avery Heating and Air, in Newland; he owned Verizon Wireless stores in Boone and Newland, prior to moving to Texas. The staff members of Heavenly Touch share a special camaraderie, much like family, Cornett says, that goes beyond their expertise and certification. “I did a lot of research and went through the state board to make sure I hired only those massage therapists and estheticians that were certified, licensed and insured,” he said. “Today, we have 10 women and two men on staff who meet those qualifications. They are very professional with experience, plus, at the same time, they are very personable — which is a rare combination.”

Cornett says it’s no cliché that his business offers “a personal touch at a very affordable price.” Services offered at Heavenly Touch include trigger point therapy and a myriad of massages — Swedish, deep tissue, sports, reflexology, prenatal, couples and geriatric. Among the newest “menu” items are waxing and body treatments, the latter of which are great for the skin as they help exfoliate and detoxify, as well as for circulation and one’s overall health and wellbeing. “Heavenly upgrades,” as they are called, can be added to any service, and include various options such as numerous therapies - deep muscle, aroma, hot-stone massage and facials. “Heavenly Touch Massage memberships allow you to enjoy less stress, more energy and improved wellness on your schedule,” Chris says. Seasonal membership plans, as well as a referral program that offers discounts, are also available. But, Chris is quick to say, you don’t have to sign on as a member to enjoy the ser-

vices at the luxurious new spa. “One time, 10 times or as many times as you want to come in, we are here for you,” he says. There are no age limits for a massage, but parents must sign a waiver for anyone younger than 18. Many new clients have learned about Heavenly Touch through All About Women, Chris says, and also through gift cards, which are great, last minute surprises for women and men. For more information, call (828) 2644335,, or stop in at 246-D Wilson Drive in Boone. Find the business on Facebook or follow on Twitter.

sherrie norris Editor, All About Women


Photo by Genevieve Austin

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We have a new resident at our house: “The Shadow” is an appropriate nickname for a most glamorous young cat that came to us already named Alvin. It was only natural that we began to expect mischief from Alvin, as we quickly learned that he was one of three siblings named after a trio of infamous cartoon characters. Alvin’s brother, Simon, was my son’s first choice that we brought home earlier from the Humane Society. After discovering that Theodore had already been adopted, we weren’t about to leave Alvin there without his siblings. Simon is the mischievous, curious cat who greets and pounces and pries his nose into any new event, nook, cranny and corner.   Shy, reserved and having no desire to venture toward an outside facing door, Alvin loves the quiet life and remains out of sight when company arrives.  However, we’ve discovered that he is the mountain climber, the shelf daredevil and the tightrope walker who finds his way to the tops of doorsills, from where he quietly observes our actions below. Should we feel a presence while thinking we are alone in the house, most likely, Alvin is watching from a secret place. My son owns a book called, “All Cats Have Asperger’s Syndrome,” which has been a great help to us in identifying the characteristics of these cats.  Simon’s personality symbolizes the boundless sense of oblivion symptomatic

to Asperger’s, Alvin certainly has the oversensitivity, the fear of crowds, loud noises and ruckus. We’re not sure how he feels about causing the ruckus, but, he is the one that turns closet shelves into stair steps and leaps five to six feet from a laundry room table to the small space between the cupboards and the ceiling.   Alvin will disappear the minute someone comes through the door, but will just as quickly, in a quieter setting, briefly land into an open lap. It seems his favorite pastime is to knead my head when I am either in a peaceful rest or already asleep, his loud purring rousing me as his gentle rhythmic paws move through my soon- to-be tangled locks. It is a funny gift, I’ve decided, a final greeting at the end of the day, from my enigmatic, feline friend. All he seems to need, in return, is a few strokes to his silky, soft coat before he settles down for the night at the foot of the bed. I just have to remember the extra brushing I’ll need in the morning-after to undo my “shadow do,” ala Alvin.

the High gh Country’s Cou local source for all your pet needs!

Genevieve Austin Genevieve Austin is a mother of one, who received her teaching certificate from ASU; she is a writer who is working on her first book, ‘The Toy Box,’ and is also a radio personality, artist, singer and animal advocate.



Photo by Sherrie Norris

Chessie MacRae Crosby More Than A Survivor By Bill F. Hensley

This is a busy month for Chessie MacRae Crosby who celebrates her 87th birthday on July 9, just days before she welcomes countless friends and relatives to Linville for the 57th annual Grandfather Mountain Highland Games. “I have attended every one of the Highland Games except for the very first year,” Chessie says. “We were living in Asheville at the time and I was expecting our fourth child. My husband brought our three children to Linville and left his pregnant wife at home. I was not very happy about that, but it was worth it, in the end.”


Fifty years ago Chessie MacRae was one of the area’s best-known and most active residents. She was a tall, familiar figure who was busy in a variety of projects, including the creation of Beech and Sugar Mountains. Her energy, enthusiasm and unique spirit were catching, and she charmed prospective buyers with her entertaining spiel, a delightful sense of humor and her vast knowledge and love of the area. She greeted everyone in a deep, husky voice that meant business. While her husband, George MacRae, sold real estate in the new developments, Chessie handled myriad details from project design, to landscaping, to building a ski area. It was a labor of love and it showed in her day-to-day duties. Today, the Linville resident is known as Chessie MacRae Crosby, and she is a widow for the second time. Her fast gait has slowed, her once dark hair is snowwhite, her voice is softer, and she walks with a cane. “I need it to make me stand more erect,” she says. But her eyes still sparkle and her rare wit is as sharp as ever. There is an aura of excitement in everything she says. For the record, she is a survivor, having lived through the death of two beloved husbands, a devastating bankruptcy that ended her dream and an airplane crash that nearly took her life. But, the lady hangs tough and smiles through her memories. She was born Serena Chestnut Randolph in 1925 in Birmingham, Ala., but her playmates started calling her Chessie in grammar school and the name stuck. “None of my friends know me as Serena,” she says, “even my children.” After finishing high school she decided not to attend college. Instead, she took a job on a friend’s farm in Vermont where she milked cows, took care of the horses, raked hay and fed the chickens. In the spring, she made maple syrup. “It was hard work but, I enjoyed every minute of it,” she says, “and I learned a lot that they don’t teach in college.”

After two years, she returned to Birmingham. “Mother said she needed to get the dirt from under my fingernails,” she says. Throughout her active career, it was a family tradition to spend the summer in Linville. Her grandparents started coming to the mountain retreat in 1908, staying at Eseeola. Chessie and her parents kept alive the annual routine. “I have spent 87 summers in Linville,” she says proudly, “coming here for the first time when I was 3-months old. During my teens, I learned to play golf, tennis, croquet, ride horses, hike the mountain trails and swim. I was part of an active generation.” In 1948, Chessie met George MacRae of Wilmington, whose family had founded the mountain resort and community in 1892. “He was actually courting my sister and my cousin,” she says, “but they didn’t pay him any attention, so I jumped in.” The MacRae’s married life took them to farms in Maryland and Virginia before they settled in Linville. A Princeton University graduate, MacRae always wanted to be farmer, so he enrolled at N. C. State University and studied animal husbandry so he could excel at life on a farm. But, in time, MacRae’s career took a different twist, and he took up real estate. In 1965, the MacRaes joined entrepreneur Grover Robbins’ team during the development of Beech Mountain. George sold real estate while Chessie handled administrative duties and the entertainment of property owners. The couple welcomed the new challenge. With the experience they had gained at Beech, the MacRae’s put together a development group in 1969 to cultivate Sugar Mountain and Flat Top Mountain, a large site that MacRae had inherited from his grandfather, Donald MacRae. The four-season resort was to include residential property, two golf courses, a ski area, tennis and other recreational amenities. “We worked hard at creating Sugar, but

it just didn’t work out for us,” Chessie says. “Despite our best efforts, the property went into bankruptcy in 1974.” The lingering effects of a failed development have haunted her for years, she says. “Losing isn’t easy.” To their credit, the MacRae’s saw to it that all creditors were paid in full. While Sugar was being developed, Chessie was involved in an airplane crash that resulted in a fatality and two serious injuries. The private plane in which she was flying crashed during takeoff and caught fire after impact. One passenger died a week after the tragedy and Chessie was hospitalized for two months with burns over 25 percent of her body. “I was lucky to get out alive,” she says. George died in 1988 at the age of 73. The couple had four children — three sons and a daughter. Today, Chessie has five grandchildren. In 1992, she married Gordon Crosby Jr., an insurance executive from New York City. He died in 2004. Now at 87, she remains active, but not like the athletic days of her youth. “Playing croquet now is my sport,” she says, not mentioning that she is a fine player and a pioneer in the game’s development. “I play when I can. I also play bridge occasionally, stay in touch with family and friends, and keep up with politics in the newspaper to make myself mad.” “Chessie is a fine lady and a great asset to the Linville community,” says John Blackburn, president and general manager of Linville Resorts. “She was the first woman to serve on our board and she did an outstanding job.” In Linville, she lives in a house on the 17th hole of the famed Linville Golf Course. During the winter, she goes to St. Augustine, Fla., where she recently moved to a retirement community at the World Golf Hall of Fame village. “Life is less active these days,” she states, “but I’m hanging in. Being a survivor is not all bad.”



Lisa Stripling An Innkeeper who keeps on giving When she moved to Boone with her family during her senior year of high school, Lisa Stripling had no idea that she would fall in love with the area — or that she would end up staying and become a restaurant owner and innkeeper. Following graduation in 1986, she attended Appalachian State University and worked various jobs while in college before settling in at Twigs in Blowing Rock, where she discovered a love for the restaurant business. “While my classmates were moving away after graduation to pursue their business careers, I just knew that I did not want to follow in their footsteps,” Lisa says. “For a few years, my friends would tease me, saying it’s time for me to grow up, or time to move on, since, after seven years, I was still working in a restaurant,” she says.  In 1996, one of those “too-good-tobe-true” opportunities came up for Lisa. Her classmate and coworker, Rob Dyer, became her new business partner as they purchased the Best Cellar Restaurant. Lisa remembers signing on the dotted line and that her hands were shaking so badly that she made Rob sign first.  “We took a leap of faith and it has definitely paid off,” she says.  With only a few slight changes to the



menu, the duo continued to build upon the successful reputation for which the Best Cellar was known. However, a call Lisa received early one morning nearly shattered her dream. “I rushed over to the restaurant immediately afterward, but when I got there, the firefighters wouldn’t even let me up the hill,” she says. “I stood at the bottom, with tears flowing down my face as our business went up in smoke. When Rob arrived, thank goodness, he broke through the block and retrieved our customer guest book and reservations log from the office.” Lisa spent the next day “trying to keep a steady voice,” she says, “while explaining to the families of graduates, our reserved dinner guests on that graduation weekend, that our restaurant had burned to the ground and referred them to other restaurants.” Lisa still remembers being comforted by those customers, as they expressed sorrow over the loss of their special-occasion dinner spot.   Within days, the business owners were offered the use of the vacant restaurant facility at the Inn at Ragged Gardens Bed & Breakfast. The idea wasn’t easy to conceive, at first, Lisa says. But, thanks to the dedication and hard work of indebted employees, the move appeared seamless to loyal

diners — “no more than just a blip on the screen.” That same level of dedication hasn’t changed much through the years, she says. “Our employees are key to our success. Many are college kids, just like we were, and they come to us for advice, help and sometimes even advances on their paychecks to make rent,” she says. It’s much like she and Rob were treated when they first started out at Twiggs, Lisa says. “We have very loyal employees and have seen some of them through marriage, children — and then some.  Everyone pitches in and helps. We’re like one giant family,” she says.  Lisa and Rob later purchased the Inn at Ragged Gardens that housed their restaurant and more recently, the successful duo also obtained ownership of the nearby Maple Lodge, in February. “It’s really a perfect fit for us, now that we’ve had experience managing an inn — and especially with its location right across the street,” Lisa says.  As the longest-running bed and breakfast inn in Blowing Rock, Maple Lodge has a rich history, including details of a fire that destroyed it during World War II. Apparently, when the blaze erupted, the alarms were mistaken for air raid sig-

LisaStripling nals, so the guests closed their windows and hid. When no one came to extinguish the fire, the inn burned to the ground and had to be completely rebuilt. Through the years, the lodge maintained a Victorian personality, which was transformed during a “light renovation,” by its new owners, this past spring. With the help of staff, Lisa took on the project and transformed the lodge — adding paint, new furniture and modern décor — to complement the atmosphere of its sister property. Today, its earth tones and soft muted colors blend well with artwork and beading, to capture the peaceful ambiance for which guests keep returning. “I sat there with a picture of the 11 rooms in front of me and chose colors that would flow easily from room-to-room throughout the inn,” Lisa says.  Both properties stand on their own merit, but, fortunately, provide full-time opportunities for the combined, hardworking team, which is cross-trained for


the businesses that easily overlap, Lisa says. The rare occasions that she’s not on the jobsite, she and her significant other, Billy, try to take an annual tropical vacation and slip in a few short getaways to enjoy their boat at the lake — but otherwise, it’s work, as usual. Time doesn’t allow Lisa to volunteer as much personal service to community efforts as she would like, but all who know her will attest she has a vested interest in her community. She and Rob are known for their generosity through their businesses when it comes to donating gift certificates for dinners, goods and services. Additionally, they sponsor Friday night concerts on their business lawn during the summer, which have become highly anticipated “neighborhood parties” that everyone anticipates from one week to the next. “They’re so much fun and they also give us a chance to highlight the nonprofit

organizations that we love,” Lisa says. Not only do the hosts provide free live entertainment with a different band every week, but they also invite a non-profit organization to set up a table to educate the community about its services — such as the Blowing Rock Art and History Museum or the local Humane Society. They also have supported the F.A.R.M. Café by donating furniture, glasses and other goods. Lisa has worked hard to be a part of the community, she says, a place that she loves. “I thrive on treating our guests in a manner that makes them want to keep coming back. I want my guests to feel as much a part of the community as I now do.”

Corrine A. loucks Keller Williams High Country Realty 643 Greenway Road, Suite H-2, Boone (828) 773-1615 Cell (704) 439-5226 Fax

deserve a relationship with a real person. Thatʼs our stand.

Wendy Green 869 Hwy 105 Ext #1 Boone, NC 28607 (828) 264-6828

newopportunityschool This year marks the eighth annual summer program of the

Karen Sabo, current director. Photo Submitted



life-changing New Opportunity School for Women at Lees McRae College. Springing from a need for women of Appalachia to become better educated and gainfully employed, the concept for the school originated in Kentucky by Jane B. Stephenson, wife of former Berea College President, John Stephenson. The original mission continues today in both locations as one to improve the educational, financial and personal circumstances of low-income, middle aged women. Jane Stephenson moved to Banner Elk after 18 years with the Kentucky school and in 2005, approached LMC about starting a similar program to serve the women in and around the High Country area. “The women chosen for the Lees McRae program are from North Carolina and Tennessee,” says Karen Sabo, current director. “They range from those who were raised in farming and taking care of the home, to those who are middle-class and married or once married who now find themselves needing to work and provide for their families.” The summer program enlists 13-15 women between the ages of 30- 55 who have a high school diploma or GED, but have not earned a college degree.  They are typically of low income, demonstrate an eagerness to learn and to improve their situations and a commitment to remaining on campus for the three week stint. “It is a strenuous program with little down-time for the women,” Karen says. “Sometimes, half the battle is just showing up.”  A vigorous recruitment effort is conducted by the school throughout the year to find potential students through various community and service organizations, domestic violence shelters, and other programs that serve women throughout an 18-county region.  “Some of the women come from very difficult backgrounds,” Karen says, “and change can be very difficult for them. This program actually offers them a three-week life makeover.”    The women chosen for the program

are interviewed either by phone or in person. They receive three weeks of training and education on various subjects dealing with self-esteem, asking for what you want, learning to say no, resume writing and self-defense. They attend two classes each morning, giving them an idea of college structure and scheduling.  They are given the opportunity to learn interviewing and computer skills and how to prepare resumes. Afternoon and evening outings offer unique cultural excursions, such as plays, storytelling and other expressional arts opportunities.  This year’s program includes a “day out” in Boone, as well as an evening performance of the Horn in the West outdoor drama.  Favorites of all classes are “makeover days,” which include make-up applications by a professional Mary Kay esthetician and haircuts, provided by the cosmetology department at Mayland Community College.   Thanks to the generosity of local businesses and individuals, there is no cost to the women who attend the New Opportunity School for Women’s summer program. Program tuition is estimated to be valued at $4,200 per person, all inclusive. The 2012 summer program begins on July 8 and will conclude at a graduation ceremony on July 28. Each participant will be honored for her accomplishments and have the opportunity to share her experience and reflect on how the program has impacted her life. Many graduates of the program have gone on to achieve personal and professional success — reaching milestones they never thought possible prior to attending the program.  For more information, visit www.nosw. org, or call (828) 898-8905.


Giles Crowell, MD, MBA

August 14, 2012 6:30pm The Chetola Inn North Main Street Blowing Rock, NC 28605 Please RSVP by August 13, 2012 by calling 800-973-0362. Light food and beverages served.

Corrine A. loucks Keller Williams High Country Realty 643 Greenway Road, Suite H-2, Boone (828) 773-1615 Cell (704) 439-5226 Fax


Avery Women Keep Family Fun

in the Ring It’s all about family fun and bringing back the simple pleasures of life, say Rebecca Ward and Cindy Thompson, who, as president and vice president, respectively, of The High Country Horse Club, based in Newland, are carrying on a long-time mountain tradition. Not only do the two serve as leaders in the club, but they also host regular horse shows “based on good, clean, old fashion family fun,” Rebecca says. The club also provides opportunities for children to become familiar with the animals and have the opportunity to ride them — especially children who otherwise, do not have access to horses. “I grew up with horses and have had a passion for riding for as long as I can remember,” Rebecca says. “I love to watch kids — and adults — enjoy their first encounter with this wonderful animal we call a horse.” Cindy, too, loves the fact that the club offers something positive for local families, especially through the shows. “Times are often hard for all of us,” she says. “The happy times we experience will get us through and that’s what I like most about being involved with this. We are helping families build memories together. I love watching parents and their children laugh together and to know that we are bringing a little fun to their lives.” When the gates are open at Heritage Park in Newland, at 3:30 p.m every other Saturday — May through August — these two women are always there and eager to

welcome families into the arena for the preshow events, which are followed by the actual shows that usually begin around 5 p.m. “We always open our shows with prayer,” Rebecca says. “Two club members circle the arena, carrying the Christian and American flags to show support for our Lord and to our wonderful country, and then, the fun begins.” The shows include a variety of classes — most open to youth and novice riders — in categories of hunter, western pleasure, gaited horse, halter, barrel racing, pole bending and more. “We also have the Lil’ Britches Class, which allows a parent to lead their kids around the barrels and poles,” Rebecca says. “This gives the youngsters the opportunity to gain confidence and rider skills.” The Peewee class is for children who have gained confidence and want to do the class independently. Since Rebecca and Cindy have been involved with the club and hosting the shows they have seen many children experience increased self-esteem, which has led to improvements in they way they interact with others and in their daily lives, in general. “One little boy was fine as long as his parent led him — and as long as the pony didn’t trot,” Rebecca says. “If he got faster than a walk, he seemed frightened and cried. This year, however, he is not only riding by himself, and not at a walk, but at a full canter with a smile as bright as the


sun on his face.” That’s the kind of response that makes their efforts worthwhile, the duo agrees. The Redneck Rodeos are simply fun and games — and not just for the kids. “Adults, also, dress up, along with their horses, and enter the costume contest,” Rebecca says. “We also have competitions, like the tater race, flag race, bubble gum race and other fun speed events.” Spectators must be good sports, we’re told, as they are often randomly pulled from the crowd, taken into the arena, blindfolded and forced to dance to “Boogie Fever.” The winner takes home “a great prize.” If that’s not enough fun for one night, redneck polo on horseback is something you don’t want to miss. During Redneck Rodeo nights, free Tweetsie tickets are given to the best dressed little cowboy and cowgirl in attendance. Proceeds from previous shows have been used to help less fortunate families, Cindy says. “We also take up donations from time to time to help with special needs when we know people are having a hard time. We have purchased medicine for an elderly member, we’ve helped provide fuel assistance, helped after a house fire, and we did a benefit show for a 25-year-old member who had a stroke.” New members are always welcome to join the HCHC; annual fees are only $30 per family or $10 per person. It’s also easy to become a fan on Facebook. Rebecca and Cindy thank their club members, volunteers and the following sponsors for their help and support: Diamond Creek, Mast General Store, Appalachian Energy, Blue Ridge Energy, Mack Brown Chevrolet, The Pet Place, Tweetsie, Coca Cola, Roan Mtn. Riding Co., Modern Toyota. “We couldn’t do any of this without them,” Rebecca says. Upcoming events include: July 14: Redneck Rodeo; July 28: Fun Show; Aug. 11: Fun show; Aug. 18: Redneck Rodeo.

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Casi Morris Enhancing Beauty ~ Empowering Lives When beauty industry insider Casi Morris returns to the High Country as a consultant for the Blowing Rock Hospital Fashion Show this month, she brings a lifetime of passion and fashion flair — along with a dazzling career of experience in empowering others to be their most beautiful and confident selves. In following her innate love of beauty and fashion, the Boone native has become a respected cosmetic developer, designer and marketer, as well as a noted beauty insider and company spokesperson. From her base in Los Angeles, Casi recently created and launched her own beauty brand. Born at Watauga Hospital to Jim and Beth Morris, Casi’s creative side surfaced early in childhood. Casi danced with Studio K, performing in presentations of “The Nutcracker;” in musical theatrical productions of “Annie” and “Carousel” and she studied piano under Faye Parker Ayers. Casi credits her Brownies co-leader and mother with promoting her participation in the arts, while her father, head baseball/hall of



Photos Mark Mitchell JULY 2012 | by AAWMAG.COM 27

fame coach at Appalachian State University, instilled within her a love and knowledge of sports. Casi was a member of the varsity tennis team at Watauga High, she was an avid skier and she cheered enthusiastically for ASU sporting events. Both her performance in arts and sports allowed her to build confidence and to feel comfortable in the spotlight. “The opportunities outside school, that my parents provided, helped me develop grace under pressure,” Casi says, “That was perfect preparation for being a company spokesperson where I must always have an answer.” In addition to her parents, Casi has been blessed to have additional mentors throughout her life. Recalling the influence of Linda Mauldin, her third-grade teacher at Hardin Park, Casi says, “She recognized that I think ‘outside the box.’ She let me know it was OK to think differently when she encouraged me to design my own dollhouse.” In citing Watauga High English teacher Sandy Deal’s influential role in her life, Casi praises Deal as “ a woman’s woman.” Her respect for Trimella Chaney, who coached Casi in Playmakers at Watauga High, blossomed into a friendship that continues today. Through her close relationship with Trimella, Casi was invited to serve as runway director for the upcoming Blowing Rock Hospital Fashion Show. Casi discovered mentors through her career, as well. After completing a degree from the University of Notre Dame and a law degree from Creighton University, coupled with a masters degree in business administration from ASU’s Walker School of Business, she worked as deputy director for Erskine Bowles. In her roles within that position, Casi further sharpened her communication skills, working with publicity, special events and protocol.

In that high-pressure, high-visibility position, there was no room for error. “While he was adamant about precision in our work, he led by example,” Casi says. “Erskine Bowles is the personification of how to conduct oneself in business life.” Although her work in politics was satisfying, the world of beauty beckoned, and Casi accepted a position as manager of development and special products for Coty Cosmetics, in which she learned to develop, market and brand — bringing new products from concept to store shelf. At the research labs, Casi watched, listened and asked questions, and learned the technical aspects of formulating and manufacturing products. Her ability to observe cultural and health trends, along with her analytical skills, helped her translate those trends into innovative and profitable product concepts. Her work with Coty led to positions with some of the world’s largest beauty companies as well as cutting edge boutique brands. As her early predictions that fashion, music and popular culture would specifically influence the beauty industry rang true, Casi was recognized as a trenddriver and as a key influence in shaping the direction of the beauty industry. Her predictions and product development for organic and green products won her specific accolades. Recruited by a company in Los Angeles to overhaul its brand, Casi moved west in the mid- 2000s. Whereas the company’s products had previously been sold only in health food stores, during the next three years Casi developed more than 30 new products geared toward both mass-market and higher- end boutiques. Along the way, she also built a public relations department as part of the marketing department and served as the company spokesperson. In recognition of her successes, Casi was asked to speak at the Health and

Beauty Association in New York City in 2009. Addressing her peers at the prestigious gathering on the topic of “Green Beauty” was a career highlight for Casi. Not only was she quite young for such recognition, but the awareness that her efforts helped bring green beauty products into a mainstream category brought Casi satisfaction. When the CEO of another prominent beauty company began a new venture several years later, he opened yet another door for Casi. He also allowed her the opportunity to consult other clients, which has led her to develop a bi-coastal base of clients that keeps her travelling. He has also supported her in the development of her own beauty product line. While overseeing the development and launch of dozens of fragrance, color cosmetics, skincare and hair care lines, Casi spent years developing unique formulas for her own skincare line. The products will represent her philosophical approach to beauty products. “There is no filler — just what you need to bring out existing beauty,” she says. “My products are ‘multi-taskers’ that work. You should not have to spend a lot of money for beneficial beauty products.” Having licensed her brand to another company, Casi remains involved and will be a key spokesperson in the initial pitch for the skincare line. In the near future, she will be back in front of the camera filming various television promotional supports to market her products. “Beauty has brought me full circle — back to my theatrical roots,” she says. Through her firm, Casi Morris Consulting, she also writes and speaks on beauty industry topics. She has written for national publications and is a featured blogger for several beauty and lifestyle blogs including The Examiner, Revolution Beauty and “Beauty and fashion are often misun-

‘I so enjoy helping others understand how beauty can play a role in regaining their sense of self-confidence and becoming contributing members of society.’ 28


derstood as fluff,” Casi says. “However, witnessing the sense of empowerment you can instill with a few products is intense. Seeing a person who has been traumatized by acne or scars have her life changed, is incredibly rewarding.” Understanding the potentially lifechanging value of beauty products, Casi co-founded a California-based nonprofit agency to assist others in getting back on their feet and prepared for the workplace. “I so enjoy helping others understand how beauty can play a role in regaining their sense of self-confidence and becoming contributing members of society,” she says. Supporting the Blowing Rock Hospital through the fashion show fundraiser is another way Casi hopes to assist others and give back to her hometown. She looks forward to using her experience in styling the production. Beyond the Blowing Rock Hospital Fashion Show, Casi may be seen more often in the High Country as she has recently been offered and accepted a vicepresident position with a Charlotte-based health and wellness consumer product company. She anticipates more “inspirational” time with her family and friends while she continues developing life-enhancing products. “My roots are in Boone. All of the things I have accomplished are a direct result of the things given to me or instilled in me by my family, as well as the incredibly strong female role models in the early years of my life,” she says. “They all impressed upon me the fact that I could do anything. I love what I do and I am very blessed to be able to do what I love.” Sharon Carlton Sharon Carlton, High Country Courtesies ©2012 Director of High Country Courtesies, writes and speaks on modern etiquette and life skill topics. Conducts customer service workshops, hosts dining etiquette classes, and is Director of High Country Cotillion, a social education program for youth. Contact her at




Photo by Raney Rogers

It’s like entering a world of color and brilliance in which you quickly notice that it’s not just the gemstones that sparkle. Michelle Fisher-Hanson is a shining star in and of herself as she commands her fiery surroundings with a beautiful smile and radiating presence when she offers her, “Welcome to Backstreet Beads” to those who enter her business. Michelle grew up in Ashe County and although she left a few times, she always returned to the town that she loves. As a registered nurse, Michelle worked at Ashe Memorial Hospital for 16 years, winding out that phase of her career with Hospice. It was during those days that Michelle began working with beads and stones to create an outlet for her stress. Choosing the perfect stone, arrang-



ing the beads “just so” and adorning herself with her designs, gave Michelle the chance to step away from the demands of her job and, although she didn’t realize it at the time, simultaneously begin her own business. Michelle wore her works of art on a daily basis and each time, her coworkers noticed, admired and requested baubles of their own. Soon, Michelle began designing beads for those in her circle. When her brother announced that he was closing his small barbershop on West Jefferson’s “Backstreet” and moving to Tennessee, Michelle, who had contemplated setting up her own hobby shop, knew what she had to do. In November 2007, a new chapter of her life began when she packed up her boxes, stands and tools, and opened up “Backstreet Beads.”

Michelle was not deterred by the fact that few tourists usually found their way to West Jefferson between December and May. She decided it would give her a chance to make her jewelry and build up an inventory, which she did. And, the shoppers came, so much so that by February 2011, she was able to make “the big move,” to Main Street. Selecting only the finest stones for her work is something Michelle does with care. She attends numerous gem shows at which she chooses from stones found around the world. She takes considerable time to study specific stones carefully — those she knows she must have — and allows each design to “flow” naturally. Of the three main categories of gemstones with which she works —quartz, jas-

per and agate — Michelle favors jasper. And, each has its own “power,” Michelle says. If worn for reasons other than it’s “healing power,” malachite, she says, will easily crack. Rhodocrosite, the stone of love, if worn, will enhance the love you have, or will bring you the love you need. Rose Quartz is thought to help depression, but must be worn against your skin, while iolite is known for detoxifying the body; hematite has been purported to heal the body and lapis lazuli for alleviating pain, boosting the immune system and lowering blood pressure. (A good reference book she recommends for stones and their healing properties is “The Crystal Bible” by Judy Hall.) Michelle is always looking for new and unusual stones to add to her designs, which become “original hand crafted pieces that on one else will have,” she says. She can easily provide custom designed pieces for those special outfits and occasions. One groom commissioned her to create a Siberian Jade necklace to match previously purchased earrings, which he placed on his bride at the altar. The bead business continues to look good for Michelle, with the past mild winter and early spring, combined with an improving economy, welcoming increased tourist traffic, as well as local shopping. Michelle enjoys working in her “own little world,” she says, where she is energized by the stones and crystals that surround her on a daily basis. Backstreet Beads offers something unique for every budget and need. It’s where customers keep coming back when they need that “something special.” Stop in today at 111 A North Jefferson Avenue in West Jefferson, to see what you’ve been missing, or visit or call (336) 877-7686. Hours are 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Mon – Fri.; 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Sat.

raney rogers Well-known artist, art instructor and owner of Acorn Gallery in West Jefferson.

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cookin’ With Catherine and Caroline For those of you who were lucky enough to squeeze into the cooking classes at the All About Women Expo recently, you know what fun it was to spend a few minutes with the dynamic duo of Catherine Scantlin and Caroline Stahlschmidt. For those of you who missed the opportunity, you are sure to enjoy the same healthy recipes they shared that day, in the comfort of your own kitchen — it just won’t be as much fun as watching them at work. For all of you who want to learn more about transforming your kitchen and cooking habits in a way that will provide a healthier

lifestyle for you and your family, plan to join Catherine and Caroline for one of their monthly cooking classes at Chetola Resort & Spa. Two upcoming classes that you don’t want to miss are: Farm to Table, 4-6 p.m. on July 29 and Gluten Free Goodness from 4-6 p.m. on August 19.   For more details and to register, visit: fitness.html.  For more recipes and other wellness-related classes, visit:

Tropical Green Smoothie

Creamy Kale Salad

1 banana (frozen or fresh) 1 cup pineapple (frozen or fresh) 1 cup mango (frozen or fresh) ½ tsp. vanilla or coconut extract (or both) 2 cups spinach 1 cup nut milk (almond, rice, soy, oat, hemp) 1 cup coconut water (optional, replace with additional nut milk or regular water if desired) 1 Tbsp. ground flax seeds Add ice cubes if using fresh fruit and you want a cold or thicker smoothie.

1 bunch kale, chopped (stems removed) ½ cup shredded carrots ½ cup diced red pepper ½ cup chopped scallions ¼ cup toasted sesame seeds ½ cup toasted almonds 2 tsp. minced ginger ¼ cup nut butter (I like almond butter) ¼ cup Vegenaise 2 Tbsp. soy sauce ½ tsp. sesame oil 1-2 Tbsp. rice vinegar

Place all ingredients in the blender and go. Best enjoyed fresh, but it will keep in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.

Whisk together nut butter, Veganaise, soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, ginger and enough water to make a thin dressing. Toss veggies, nuts and tofu in a bowl, pour dressing over salad, and serve.

Edamame Hummus

Orange Chocolate Mousse

1½ cups edamame (green soy beans), cooked and shelled 2 Tbsp. Tahini paste (sesame seed paste) ¼ cup water, plus more if needed 1 Tbsp. lemon zest Juice of one lemon 1 clove garlic, crushed ½ tsp. cumin ¾ tsp. sea salt Freshly ground black pepper to taste 1 Tbs. chopped cilantro (stems are fine)   Boil the edamame in water for 4 to 5 minutes then drain. In a food processor, puree the edamame with all the other ingredients until smooth.  Serve as a dip with veggies or crackers, or use it as a spread on wrap.

1 package silken extra firm tofu (12 oz. nonrefrigerated) 1/8 cup maple syrup ½ tsp. orange extract 2/3 cup chocolate chips (without milk fats) Mix tofu, maple syrup and extract in a food processor until very smooth – a little more than a minute. Melt chocolate chips in a double-broiler, until smooth. Add to tofu mixture in food processor. Blend until smooth. Refrigerate at least an hour for best results.


It’s All About Southern ‘Sistas’ with Singer and Songwriter, Beth McKee Photo by Stephen Allen



Many people spend their entire lives dreaming up a goal, but few are daring enough to venture out and actually try to make it happen. Of the individuals who do take the risks, many are let down, rejected, or fall short. Too often, failure is found instead of success, and dreams are abandoned. Yet, for some, dreams do come true. Singer and songwriter, Beth McKee, no stranger to the High Country, understands how to dream a dream, how to take a risk, how to face the feeling of failure — and most importantly, how to get up and try again. Originally from Jackson, Miss., Beth got her first gig in the 1970s as a church pianist at 14, but, becoming a professional musician in Mississippi, especially as a woman, was difficult to imagine. She lacked local professional, female musician role-models and she was insecure and unsure of how to become a musician, so she opted, instead, to pursue a degree in accounting. After one interview, Beth knew that numbers were not for her, so she packed her bags and moved to Austin, Texas. “When I got to Austin, I saw women musicians everywhere and I thought ‘Yes!’ ” she says. Beth began working her way up the musical ladder — climbing all the way to New Orleans and into the band Evangeline, which signed to Jimmy Buffet’s Nashville label Margaritaville. Touring as his opening act, success seemed close at hand. Sadly, Nashville wasn't ready for an allfemale band at that time. With the disappointment of being so close and falling short, Evangeline disbanded and Beth retreated from the music business, moving to Florida with future husband, Juan Perez. The beauty of dreams is they never really go away, they just wait until we have the courage to try again. As she began the new chapter of her life in Florida, the heartbreak and failure of Evangeline stayed fresh, but music remained her dream. To realize it on her own terms, Beth decided to record in her home, using a band anchored by her husband on drums, giving her creative control. After her 2009 release of “I’m That Way,” an album of covers by songwriter Bobby Charles, Beth was fortified by the CD’s success, as well as Charles’ endorse-

ment of the album. She recorded her newest album of original songs titled “Next to Nowhere,” chronicling her career rebirth. How is McKee choosing to try again? An excerpt of lyrics from her song “On the Verge,” clues us in:

On the Verge First time in a long time letting down my guard A little bitty light is shining way out in the dark Things that I’ve lived through made it hard for me to see Good things come to you pain has a remedy What happened to derail me was a faulty start This time I’m gonna get it right, put the horse before the cart It feels like I’m on the verge Right on the edge of believing again Ready to trust like I never did Just like Noah stepping off the ark I believe I’m on the verge of a hopeful heart

“Trying again,” can be scary, Beth says, attributing her courage to her “Swamp Sistas.” So, what is a Swamp Sista? While touring with the band, “I’m That Way,” Beth met women at her gigs with whom she shared a common thread, since most were Southern. To keep in touch, she created the Facebook page Swamp Sistas. Soon, a community emerged of women who would eventually share with and support each other. Beth’s Swamp Sista community has grown into a thriving membership of 1,300-plus woman; her values of “share and support” remain the foundation. When asked to describe the Sistas, Beth says, “We have one foot in our roots, one foot pointed ahead, we celebrate what we have in common and learn from each

other about what we don’t.” Her recording, “’Next to Nowhere’ is about the Sistas, she says. “I wanted to be their voice and they were my voice, too. Knowing them, what they were going through, relating it to what I’ve been through and the common theme of having the courage to put it all out there is what Swamp Sistas is about.” With family and friends in the High Country, Beth is a summer local of the region; she is currently working as a collaborator with researcher and Appalachian State University Professor, Suzi Mills, who is documenting the Swamp Sista phenomenon and musical roots of Beth’s performances. This summer Mills is teaching ASU graduate students about ethnographic research using Beth’s project as a model; part of the project will be presented and open to the community on July 12. For more information about this event, contact ASU’s Hayes School of Music. Beth will be performing with her band on July 13 at Canyons in Blowing Rock. Before the concert, meet Beth and her “Swamp Sistas” on Facebook at Beth McKee or at Swamp Sistas. “Next To Nowhere” can be found at

Photo by Shirley Rowe Angie Ryan JULY 2012 | AAWMAG.COM


What Doesn’t Kill Us Imagine taking a peaceful stroll through a quiet, sunny meadow bordering a cool forest, a thick medley of green vegetation and fragrant scents beckoning you to step into its depths. You follow a meandering trail deep into the wood. Careless of your direction, you saunter through the forest, absentmindedly taking in the pleasing sights and sounds around you. Turning a bend around a copse of trees, you suddenly find yourself face to face with an enormous bear. He raises up on his hind legs and roars a ferocious challenge. You smell the wild tangle of his fur. You can almost feel the heat of his body — he is that close. He growls menacingly and thrashes the air with his great claws, barely missing your face. Your body surges with adrenaline and you are in full fight or flight mode. Now, imagine feeling like that all the time, every moment of your life. Whatever you are doing, whether walking your child to a school bus stop, taking a bath or working on your computer in an office setting, severe anxiety and a sense of impending doom informs all your thoughts. It’s as if every cell in your body is on high alert and you are completely incapable of relaxing your vigil. No one in your life understands your torment. You must fight your demons alone — just as alone as if you were in the dark depths of a forest facing a threatening bear; the danger to you is no less real and no less terrifying. Day after day, year after year, your fears and despair mount until you can no longer bear it. You are being tortured nearly to death, murdered from within the confines of your own mind and body. Until



you just can’t take it anymore. This is the world described to us in L.A. Nicholson’s poignant memoir, “What Doesn’t Kill Us: My Battle with Anxiety.” Nicholson chronicles her descent into mental illness, triggered by the tragic and untimely death of her beloved mother. With painful honesty, Nicholson leads us through a series of events which would cripple the healthiest psyche: the adoption of a child, her mother’s death, her husband’s loss of employment, a move across the country away from any support system she knew, to a life which seemed entirely foreign to her and, finally, a devastating divorce from a man she believed with all her heart to be the perfect husband. Throughout it all, she struggles with the daunting realization that she is ill, and that she simply can’t turn off the fear in her heart. She turns to health professionals for support and describes the lack of understanding and competency in the mental health industry. She is prescribed medications which only seem to worsen her condition. At last, she does the only thing her weary mind can think of to end her torment — she reaches for a razor. L.A. Nicholson, finally diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder, courageously recounts her experiences, from a time when she was happy, to the time she takes a razor to her throat. Then, she brings us back again. She describes her incarceration in two hospital psychiatric wards and her fight to regain both her physical and her mental health. She also describes her struggle to regain her independence, returning to her role as a single parent and provider for her child. Nicholson’s memoir is a journey of hope for the millions of Americans struggling with a mental disorder.

“What Doesn’t Kill Us: My Battle with Anxiety” is a must-read for anyone burdened under the yoke of severe anxiety, or who has considered or attempted suicide, and for the millions who know someone in this situation. It is a book every mental health professional should read, providing raw insights into the patient’s perspective. Nicholson takes us into the mind and heart of a troubled soul and helps us to understand the forces at work, the chemical imbalances — which can affect the proper functioning of the mind — and the medications which can help, but which can also create greater problems. Most importantly, she shows us a light at the end of a very dark tunnel. There is hope. There is recovery. There is a good life awaiting those willing to fight for it.

Danielle Bussone Danielle Bussone is a writer and artist. To learn more about her, visit

A Whole Body Approach to Health and Fitness Photo by Leo Nicholson

About The Author L.A. Nicholson lives in the mountains of North Carolina with her son and numerous pets. She is a certified presenter for the “In Our Own Voice” program of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. “What Doesn’t Kill Us: My Battle with Anxiety” can be found at Black Bear Books, the Appalachian State University Bookstore and online at

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Heart of Decisions I’m tired of making decisions. Whether figuring out dinner, choosing an outfit, crafting a book outline or pondering my next product, my choices are exhausting. Whether big or small — well, enough already. Modern times grant me more freedom and exhilarating opportunities than available to millennia of my female ancestors. So, how come some days I’d rather curl up quietly in a prepackaged fate and be spared all this relentless deciding? As it turns out, conventional decisionmaking wears us out so much that choosing among options for even an hour leaves us grabbing for the least risky default with alarming, bleary-eyed speed. Prisoners lucky enough to be on the judge’s early morning schedule are 85 percent more likely to get paroled than those scheduled for late afternoon, despite the same charges and circumstances. When we have to pick too many features on that new laptop or car, we suc-



cumb to more gigabytes or rust-proofing than any human being could possibly need. Our exhaustion gets particularly acute when we have to exert willpower. Groups of college students were brought into a lab room and presented with two bowls — one full of radishes and the other full of hot, freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. Researchers then instructed each group to eat from only one bowl or the other. Afterward, a new set of researchers asked the same groups to complete an impossible puzzle. The group that had been allowed to eat the cookies tried harder and longer to solve the puzzle. The radish eaters tried fewer variations and gave up in less than half the time. They just gave up. Self-control has a short shelf life. And, if we have to make trade-offs when constrained by a tight budget or a calorie limit? Forget it. First, our brains crash, especially the willpower we desperately need. Then, our physiology screams for an instant boost of

gratification or glucose. So, the very act of having meticulously to choose between the cost of going to the dentist or buying the kids new sneakers this month, or weigh the dietary advantage of snacking on an apple or a piece of cheese, causes us physiologically to throw up our hands and go straight for the credit card and M&Ms. How bleak is that? Especially since every day I seem to be bombarded with more decisions, not fewer. While conventional researchers have dutiful names for this, like “decision fatigue” or “ego depletion,” the solutions focus on narrowing the options or making choices crystal clear. But I love the freedom to choose without limits, so I need different strategies. Daniel Pink says our right brains are more helpful these days than our left brains. We’re better off if we replace rational, step-by-step thinking with the power of storytelling, empathy, humor and play. Scrap those logical pro-and-con lists and instead envision a symphony full of intri-

cate harmonies, synchronized flow, and options undulating in a woven sea. Admittedly, that sometimes makes me very dizzy. So, what if we scrap our brains altogether and use our hearts instead? Or, at least seize the huge advantages when we blend the two? My elementary grasp on anatomy and physiology stopped at this embarrassing — and apparently wildly inaccurate — conclusion: My brain did the thinking. My physical heart did the pumping. My metaphorical heart did the loving, breaking — and loving again. But, as it turns out, the heart contains the same stuff as the brain. That beating piece of magnificence has its own nervous system with 40,000 neurons that clue into hormones, neurochemicals, heart rate and pressure information. The heart’s nervous system morphs these messages into neurological impulses that get shipped to the brain where they affect all sorts of things from stress relief to decision-making. It goes way beyond pumping, breaking and loving. The heart has its own gig, a tapestry of its own that acts independently of our brains. The heart learns, remembers, feels and perceives. And then the heart contributes this vast array of knowledge to the brain’s cortical powerhouse. Bottom line, good decision-making requires both the heart and the mind. Let’s be clear: this is not the all-powerful brain wizard occasionally patronizing that sweet little ol’ beating organ full of those cute (but, ultimately irrelevant) little ol’ emotions. This is not the brain doing all the calculations and then throwing a stray “How does it feel?” bone to the heart. These babies are equal gargantuans in the rough and tumble world we call “flight or flight,” “rest and digest” and “should I stay or should I go?” Yet, our typical decision-making strategies only tap the brain side of the equation. All those exhaustive lists of pros and cons? The interminably weights and measures? The stories that hook us? The ads, the money-back guarantees, and buy-now offers that rattle our willpower and jerk our hands toward our wallets? All brain machinations. Thus, only half of our intelligence. If I want to make decisions without also crawling into a fetal position, I have

to tap my heart, shut off my brain, and listen inside to the beat below my head. And, this can be astoundingly simple: Literally touch your heart, smile, and breathe in and out through your sternum and fingers. Then, marvel how quickly you can calm down and think. Do random writing. Maybe its Julia Cameron’s daily practice of writing three pages upon waking. Or, maybe its prayer, intention, affirmations or spiritual musings. It doesn’t matter. Just write. No editing, no mandatory topics, no motives and no judging. Ignore reality, accuracy and proper spelling, too. Do it often, and you’ll be amazed by your own intuitive brilliance. Pay attention to what you know inside your heart, even (especially) if it’s ridiculous or requires so much change you’d rather throw yourself off a bridge. You don’t necessarily have to follow your heart, but consciously giving it an internal voice allows that heart juice to boost the brainheart concoction. Check out HeartMath’s cool EmWave device to strengthen heart coherence and turn that heart strength into a flat-out superhero. ( Decisions are lurking around every corner, but I’m tired of the hand-wringing. My choices make my life worth living, and if I want to have fun deciding, I have to go to the heart.

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Sources: Pink, Daniel. (2006), A Whole New Mind, Riverhead Trade. Heath, Dan & Heath, Chip (2010), Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard, Broadway Books – Random House. HeartMath Institute, http://www.heartmath. org/research/science-of-the-heart/introduction.html and Tierney, John, “Do You Suffer From Decision Fatigue?” New York Times, 8/21/11 Julia Cameron (2002), The Artist’s Way, Tarcher.

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Adventures in

Disc Golfing



By the end of 2012, one in two people will be an avid disc golfer. That may be a slight exaggeration, but the sport is becoming very popular. My husband, Roger, discovered it several years ago and now plays regularly. He has explored all the area courses and has found a group of buddies with whom to play — one being my stepfather Curt, who has started watching YouTube instructional videos in an attempt to improve his throw. Roger and his disc golfing mates scour the sporting goods stores for their preferred discs, research and review the courses they want to play or have played, and describe the weather in terms of its suitability for disc golfing; i.e. the wind today might negatively affect the trajectory of my backhand. According to the Professional Disc Golf Association— yes, there is a professional association — the sport, which was established in the 1970s, is one of today’s fastest growing recreational activities.

? What is disc golf Di D iscc g olf is p ol llaaye a ed much mu uch h llike i e tr ik ttradiadi Disc golf played tional golf. Instead of a ball and clubs, however, players use a flying disc. The object is to complete each hole in the fewest number of throws. A golf disc is thrown from a tee area to a target; the most common is an elevated metal basket called a pole hole. As a player progresses down the fairway, he or she must make each consecutive shot from where the previous throw has landed. The trees, shrubs, and terrain changes provide challenging obstacles for the golfer. Finally, the "putt" lands in the basket and the hole is completed. Let’s just say that the point is to toss the flying disc-thingy towards the metal basket-thingy in the fewest number of throws, while attempting not to hit trees, birds or other players. My first foray into the world of disc golf occurred on an unseasonably warm winter day. While the sun was shining and the temperature was pleasant, there was also a layer of snow covering

the Ashe County Park course. Roger was desperate to get out and play and I agreed to give it a go. I did enjoy the lovely day and did not even mind trudging across the course in snow boots; I did not enjoy searching for my discs in snow drifts or averaging par 30. (That is not a typographical error; it did actually take me 30-plus throws to complete each hole). With scores like that, the PDGA should be beating down my door any day. And, then there was Roger’s birthday party last June. The day had great potential. We met friends at Ashe County Park for a picnic lunch, after which Roger divided us into teams and we set off to play. Three holes in and we found ourselves staring, dumbstruck, at the approaching dark cloud. “Run,” someone shouted, breaking the spell. Chaos erupted as we fled in various directions for cover from the wall of water falling from the sky. I am reminded of the adage that I just made up — “If it’s Boone in June, expect a monsoon.”


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I most recently played a few weeks ago at the Yadkinville course with Roger, Curt and my father-in-law, Allen. By the end of the afternoon, all I could do was laugh and shake my head in dismay. My throws barely went five feet and often travelled in unintended directions. Many ricocheted off trees and more rolled down embankments. I landed several discs in streams and more than a few in the shrubs. The boys were very patient. They laughed outright only 10 or 20 times. They kept it to a subtle snicker the rest of the game. And, they continuously offered helpful tips on how to improve my forehand, my backhand and my wrist flick — among others. “Hop, skip and jump while extending your throw through your shoulder and flicking your wrist at a 32.67 degree angle,” instructed Allen.



“Spin counter-clockwise three times and then release the disc along a slightly curved path to the right,” said Roger. “Go ahead and throw overhand and hope for a good roll,” Curt stated. I did notice, however, that whenever it was my turn to throw, they all ducked and covered. What can I say? My throws should come with the following warning — flying objects are closer than they appear and may change direction suddenly and for no apparent reason. To learn more, visit Source: “A Guide to Disc Golf from the PDGA.” heather brandon Considers life to be one big anthropological field experience. She observes and reports. She enjoys travel, food and wine and adventures with her husband, Roger.

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Fatigue, by definition, is exhausted energy. It can be a ‘red flag’





warning of a potentially serious health condition such as anemia, thyroid malfunction, heart disease, infection or a chemical imbalance. But for most, according to the National Institute of Health, fatigue is related to a poor diet and lifestyle. Once fatigue-producing disease is ruled out, it is time to connect the dots between your fatigue and your diet and lifestyle choices. To reverse it, you need to replace energy-exhausting behaviors with energy-stoking alternatives. There are four energy sources in your life: physical, emotional, mental and creative. Each one needs to be addressed to optimize your energy level.

To maintain physical energy- balance your blood sugar: Blood sugar is the body’s fuel. A car without fuel — or filled with the wrong kind of fuel — will sputter to a halt. This is also true of your body. Not eating enough, eating too much or eating unhealthy food will zap your physical energy and pack on the fat. Following are some helpful hints to optimize your physical energy: Eat a healthy breakfast within 60 minutes of rising. Eat small meals and snacks every three hours.   Drink two quarts of purified water each day.

healthylady Reduce the white stuff: sugar and flour and refined grains. Sleep 6-8 hours a night.

ergy stores. Try the following helpful suggestions to optimize mental energy:

Take brief 'movement' breaks throughout the day — two minutes of stretching or walking up stairs.

Reduce interruptions by performing high concentration tasks away from the phones and email

Exercise 30 minutes a day

Respond to voice mail and emails at designated time during the day

To maintain emotional energy, respond rather than react to frustration: When we become reactive, striking out at life’s frustrations, we create chronic stress in our lives. This not only destroys relationships, but it also destroys our health. Following are some helpful hints to optimize your physical energy. Defuse negative emotions with deep abdominal breathing. Fuel positive emotions through positive affirmations. Make it a habit to express appreciation and encouragement to others. Develop an action-plan for overcoming challenges. Example: If debt is draining your emotional energy, develop a debt-reduction plan and stick with it. When challenged by a person or circumstance, instead of viewing yourself as the victim, use a different lens: A reverse lens: What can I learn and how can I grow from this challenge? A long lens: How will I likely view this challenge a year from now?

Every night identify the most important challenge for the next day. Then get it done first thing in the morning.

To maintain creative energy, schedule joy into your life:

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our skin — Types I,II and III — the latter of which is the most stable and long-lasting. This “toughening” process, or glycation, apparently transforms collagen type III into type I, which has less volume and is more easily damaged. According to studies, because it is sweeter and cheaper to produce, the excess use of high-fructose corn syrup in processed foods appears to be responsible for many of these skin problems that are often difficult to assess. With this in mind, adherence to a whole-foods diet, rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, as opposed to processed, prepackaged foods, is a step in the right direction in our battle against premature aging. kelly penick Licensed aesthetician 828.773.3587

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Making a difference

By Jeff Eason

Appalachian Women’s Fund celebrates five years with Women of Vision Luncheon The annual Women of Vision Luncheon was held recently and the view was fantastic. In honor of adding new agencies in Avery County to the roster of organizations that are Appalachian Women’s Fund (AWF) beneficiaries, AWF decided to hold its 5th annual Women of Vision fundraising luncheon at the Linville Ridge Country Club, with its panoramic view of the High Country. The event was held Thurs., June 21. Another new twist for the 5th anniversary event was that AWF did not name a new “Woman of Vision” to honor. Instead, it paid tribute to Marnie Werth, the former program coordinator for Watauga Avery Mitchell Yancey Community Action (WAMY) who died last December after a two-year battle with cancer. “Today, as we celebrate the women in our lives, I have the honor of celebrating with all of you the life of a muchloved woman from Avery County: Marnie Werth,” said Patti Turner, one of the founding members of AWF. “Marnie worked as a program coordinator for more than 20 years at the WAMY Community Action office in Newland in

Avery County. She dedicated her career to improving the lives of local Avery County families mired in desperate poverty. She arranged for much-needed educational and technical training to improve their employment opportunities and she helped struggling families attain better living conditions for their children.” During Turner’s presentation, she shared a testimonial that had been given to her by Mariko Cerda: “I met Marnie in the fall of 2007. I had just begun esthetician school. WAMY bought my school uniforms and gave me a monthly gas allowance. This initial help motivated and encouraged me. “In the beginning of 2008, my life changed dramatically. I had to quickly find a place to live for myself and young son. I dropped by Marnie’s office to let her know how my school was going and she immediately realized I needed more help to survive. She was determined to facilitate opportunities that would allow me to help myself and my family. “By the end of February, I had moved my family into a modest home in the Cranberry community of Avery County. I was determined to never again be in a

Photos by Jeff Eason

Musician Patrick Williamson performed ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ on ukulele and voice to close the luncheon.



situation where I had no place to go.” Cerda finished her schooling, became a licensed esthetician and now owns the home she had been renting. “Marnie’s legacy of compassion and help for women continues through the important work of WAMY and the AWF,” said Turner. “We celebrate her life today and offer our heartfelt gratitude to a woman who loved the people of Avery County and beyond.” According to Parker Stevens, executive director of the AWF, the organization has previously given grants to organizations that help women and children in Avery and other counties such as WAMY, Hospitality House and the Community Care Center. Beginning this year, AWF will also benefit some strictly Avery County organization such as A New Day, a resource for battered or abused women. Stevens also pointed to two women who inspired her to help others. “In college, I spent half a year in Tanzania,” said Stevens. While I was there, I met an amazing woman called Mama Hezekia. In Tanzania all mother-aged women are called mamas, but this woman was the epitome of all things maternal. She cared

Gwen Dhing served as emcee of the AWF Women of Vision Luncheon’s silent auction.

for more than 20 orphaned children living in her four-bedroom house. Somehow, this woman—who was by no means wealthy— managed to feed all these children every day. She cared for them, clothed them and loved them. Stevens stated that in caring for the orphans, Mama Hezekia and her husband lived by the motto, “We cannot change their pasts, but we can change their destinies.” Stevens also spoke about a High Country mother named Alice. “Alice is an amazing lady,” said Stevens. “She’s strong, she’s kind and she is a fierce mother. Although she does not run an orphanage out of her home, she does have two children of her own, who are now grown. She also adopted a young girl who was one of her son’s classmates in elementary school. This girl was mistreated and neglected by her own parents, but found a mother and friend in Alice.” Stevens stated that within the past two years, Alice lost her job and her home and developed some serious health issues that she can’t afford to treat. “Yet, somehow, like Mama Hezekia, she always remains upbeat and positive and ready to help others. These two women live on opposite sides of the earth, with very different cultures, and they have both opened their hearts and homes to those in need, even though they both fight every day to make ends meet.” In addition to the luncheon, the event featured a giant silent auction with donated items and gift packages from area restaurants, artists, adventure outfitters, hotels and other businesses. The luncheon

and silent auction serve as the largest annual fundraiser for AWF grants. Public relations director for AWF Cathy Williamson spoke about one of her favorite movies, “The Help,” and a quote from it: “You is kind. You is smart. You is important.” “Those nine little words are spoken by a black nanny to a pudgy, undervalued white baby in her care,” said Williamson. “The first time we hear them is when the nanny lifts the toddler from the crib and carries her to a rocking chair. “That nanny has the foresight and experience to know the power of those words. And she makes sure they are the very first thing the child hears every morning, before her tiny feet hit the cold, hard floor. Williamson related the movie quote to the AWF mission and how each child should have the chance to hear those words on a regular basis. “For the families we serve, what is it that gets in the way of that possibility being a reality,” asked Williamson. “Too much poverty; too little education; too much substance abuse; too little support; too much violence; too little love. “What a difference nine little words can make in the life of a baby girl, a blossoming teen or a grown woman.”

Bidders look over silent auction items at the Appalachian Women’s Fund annual Women of Vision Luncheon at the Linville Ridge Country Club.



Photo by Sherrie Norris

‘When you teach your son, you teach your son’s son.’ - The Talmud

Doris Aldridge of Boone has a lot to smile about as she is covered in kisses by her grandson Mark Steven Aldridge, left, on his wedding day, and her son, Mark Aldridge.

‘It is never too late to be what you might have been.’ - George Eliot

All About Women July 2012  

All about women of the high country.

All About Women July 2012  

All about women of the high country.