Inspiring, Informing, Enriching Complimentary JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2023 Volume 14 | Issue 1 NW GEORGIA How Sweet It Is! It’s a Date! 15 Fun and Romantic Activities for Couples 2023 Wedding Guide Budget-Friendly Planning, Registry Etiquette, and More The Power of Reflection How to Have Your Best Year Yet
Open Enrollment We’ve got you covered. Ends January 15th Call for a free quote (706) 250-8319 | AlliantPlans.com Competitively Priced Alliant offers wallet-friendly health plans. Provider Network Alliant offers access to more than 21,000 local providers and facilities. Check our Provider Directory at AlliantPlans.com. Plans that Fit You and Your Family See all SoloCare Plans available in your area at AlliantPlans.com. • HMO & PPO • Catastrophic, Bronze, Silver, Gold & Platinum • Medical with dental & chiropractic benefits
Cave Spring, GA
Loved Us. BECAUSE HE FIRST
The venue at Angel Farms features a huge timber frame barn on 92 gorgeous acres on the Georgia/ Alabama state line. The grounds feature a creek, a beautiful forest, and a heartshaped pond with corn fields and fields of flowers. On the property are a covered bridge, country store, and chapel barn. Angel Farms is the perfect venue, not only for weddings but for corporate events!
Now Booking! Affordable packages feature many incredible amenities, including an event coordinator.
For more information, visit angelfarmvenue.com. Call 256-475-3030 to schedule
336 Rocky Hollow Road SW, Cave Spring, GA 30124
1 John 4:19
Photos by Ashley Shepard Photography
4 Letter From the Publisher Everybody Dance Now! 6 Calendar for Living Happenings in our ’hood. 22 contents JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2023 | VOLUME 14 | ISSUE 1 features 2023 Tying the Knot Special Section 22 A Wedding with Personality Ceremony and reception ideas to make your big day truly one-of-a-kind. 25 5 Wedding Registry Mistakes to Avoid Be wary of these blunders. 26 To Have and to Hold, and To Not Break the Bank How to plan a wedding you can love and afford. 30 The Digital Dance Experience only the best technology and social media have to offer by establishing boundaries around your digital devices. 38 Win with Reflection Achieve your goals in the year ahead by first thinking back on the year that’s passed. This stunning wedding dress was made by the bride, who wanted to incorporate her career as a fashion designer. Photo: Mary Claire Photo + Video 8 Dog Eared Must-read masterpieces perfect for long winter nights and to enjoy throughout the year. 10 Dollars & Sense High inflation is here, but it’s still possible to hedge your finances against it and its future effects. 40 Robert’s
12 Community Getting to know Trey Benham, co-founder of Black Bartow Events. cover story 16 Date Activities From cooking and baking to hang gliding and stargazing, there’s something for every kind of couple. 14 Wanderlust Blast off for a weekend in Huntsville, the Alabama destination dubbed Rocket City. 34 Get Cookin’ Save time and money with these menu planning pointers and recipes. departments 2 | NW GEORGIA LIVING JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2023
World Outings with my wife
a little different these days.
This is what life is supposed to feel like. When you aren’t held back. When you have a health partner that doesn’t just treat part of you – they care for all of you. That’s why more people prefer Atrium Health, with the most complete care that lets you get back to the moments that matter. That’s what it’s like to live fully.
Everybody Dance Now!
The New Year’s resolutions most people make are usually to get in shape and lose weight. Mine is about doing something new, exciting, and challenging this year. One dreary Saturday, I stopped by my bank ATM and saw a giant neon sign flashing Atlanta Dance. Over the years, I, like many of you, watched Dancing with the Stars, where celebrities learn to dance, and toward the season’s end, they blow you away with their moves. I always thought it would be so much fun, and I used to love to dance, but I married a man who told me he didn’t dance. Period.
That day, I did something bold and signed up for a course taking private lessons to learn East Coast Swing. My instructor, Wayne Zwick, was the former owner of Atlanta Dance in Marietta and is still active, teaching advanced classes, coaching, and competing. Before my first lesson, I had both jitters and butterflies, but Wayne took my hand and assured me that it would be life-changing and that I’d project a newfound confidence when I walked into a room. But the best part, he said, is when I go to weddings or parties, I can find a partner, hit the dance floor with some skill level, and enjoy myself.
At first, I felt like an awkward tween, so nervous that I had no rhythm. A flashback came to me of when I went to my first middle school dance wearing a purple and white dress, and even though I wore braces, I was cute — but standing alone with no one asking me to dance made for a long night. Wayne brought me back to reality and started instructing me by telling me the importance of standing tall and striding, not bouncing, by doing the three basic steps. Those are one and two steps to the right, then three and four to the left, rock back slightly to five and six, and repeat. It sounds simple, and it is with a good instructor. I must have some Tigger tendencies because the urge to bounce seemed more fun, but I had some basics down at the end of the first lesson.
Before the second lesson, I studied by watching educational YouTube videos. Then I started practicing, dancing in the kitchen with my Australian shepherd, Bandit. I play music on my Bose speaker every night, and my dog loves music! While I’m doing my moves listening to the Jazz Pop Swing station by Caro Emerald on Pandora, Bandit will do the conga line with me, but mainly he likes to jump up and down smiling. We’ve been having so much fun that I’ve started singing to him. Jerry’s office is on the first floor directly under us, and he said it sounds like a herd of cattle, but he loves the music and thought it was sweet that I was singing to our Baby Dog. It brings us joy, and Bandit doesn’t mind that I sing off-key!
After my second lesson, I felt much more relaxed, learning some turns and new moves. My photographer, Tressa Cash, was so excited to learn that Wayne gave her a mini-lesson, and now I’ve got a few friends who want to take classes. I’m not ready for a recital, but I’m doing something good for my soul. I’ll keep dancing, and singing badly, this New Year, but if it makes me happy, I’m all for it. Embrace your playful side, turn on some tunes, and dance!
Publisher and Founder Editor-in-Chief Laura Wood Erickson
Alexandra McCray email@example.com Creative Director Andi Counts
Designer Mackenzie Kuhn Copy Editor Elin Woods
Karen Adams, Jill Becker, Ande Frazier, Becky Kimmons, Bisi MacGregor, Diane Martinez, Alexandra McCray, Karla Moore, Kathy Patrick, Robert Smyth, Elin Woods
Contributing Photographer Tressa Cash, Memories are Created Photography & Imaging (MACPI)
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NW Georgia Living P.O. Box 72546 Marietta, GA 30007
We welcome all contributions, but we assume no responsibility for unsolicited material.
NW Georgia Living is published bimonthly by L. Wood LLC. Copyright © 2023. All rights reserved. No portion of this publication may be copied, scanned, or reproduced in any manner without prior written consent from the publisher.
JAN/FEB 2023 Volume 14 | Issue 1
4 | NW GEORGIA LIVING JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2023
Atlanta Dance instructor and former owner Wayne Zwick is helping me master the art of East Coast Swing. Photos: Tressa Cash, Memories are Created Photography & Imaging (MACPI)
678-908-4423 Make a Resolution to Create a Cherished Family Portrait in 2023 Mid December to mid February A. Dam Food Truck Park & Beer Garden 5619 Canton HWY. • Cartersville, GA Phone: 678.721.4884 Tuesday — ThursdaY Kids $10 — Adults $12.50 Friday — Sunday Kids $12.50 — Adults $15 Friday: 4 to 10 pm Saturday: 11 to 10 pm Sunday: 12 to 9 pm Tuesday — Thursday: 4 to 9 pm Enjoy From Come One, Come All! Have Some Fun! interFest W ice skating at the rink Sponsorship opportunities Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Winter Fest Ice Skating at The Rink
Now through Mid-February, Tuesdays-Thursdays and Fridays-Sundays
A. Dam Food Truck Park & Beer Garden, Cartersville
Adults and kids alike can spin and glide on a 40-by-100-foot covered ice rink available for the season. There’s also plenty of space for those who’d rather spectate.
Portraits of Hope Opening Reception, Resource Fair, and Lecture
January 5, 4-7pm
Booth Western Art Museum, Cartersville
See the beauty of life after addiction and get to know organizations aiding people impacted by substance abuse. Then, hear more about recovery from those who are living it and the people who support them and others. boothmuseum.org
Atlanta Boat Show
Georgia World Congress Center, Hall C, Atlanta
After a two-year hiatus, the Discover Boating Atlanta Boat Show, in partnership with Progressive® Insurance, returns. Featuring hundreds of new boats and marine products for sale, plus a variety of boating activities and education, the event offers nautical fun for all ages and experience levels. atlantaboatshow.com
The Boston Brass
January 13, 7-8pm
Ford Building, Berry College
Having taught and performed worldwide, this talented
January 14, 7:30pm
The GEM Theatre, Calhoun Designed to be visually and audibly astounding, this event promises a setlist with dazzling deep cuts and top hits from one of history’s most legendary rock bands. calhoungemtheatre.org
Royal Tea on the Hill
January 14, 3-4:30pm
Shorter University, Rome Characters inspired by beloved fairytales will delight youngsters with meet-and-greets, impressive performances, and more at this regal afternoon presented by the Shorter University Theatre Department. shorteruniversity-productions. ticketleap.com/royaltea
Legion of Comedy Improv: New Year, New Laughs January 27, 8pm Historic Legion Theatre, Cartersville Wrap up the first month
beverage to enjoy during the show. pumphouseplayers.com
Atlanta Wedding Extravaganza
January 29, 1-5pm
Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta
Get inspiration for every aspect of your big day at this fête featuring nearly 100 wedding vendors, food samples, giveaways, and live entertainment. atlantaweddingconnection. com
Georgia’s Rome Tennis Open: A USTA Pro Circuit event
January 29-February 5
Rome Tennis Center at Berry College
Watch some of the best female tennis players in the country compete at the first event of the year for the women’s pro tennis circuit. rometenniscenter.com
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EvrenKalinbacak / Shutterstock.com 6 | NW GEORGIA LIVING JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2023
River Arts District Playhouse, Rome
Explore the mysteries of love through two one-act musicals. The first follows a pair of 19th-century socialites seeing how the other half lives, and the second is a modern tale of two unhappily married couples spending the summer together. romeshakespearefestival. com/ourseason
Funny Little Thing Called Love
February 10-12, 17-19 Historic DeSoto Theatre, Rome
Romantic mayhem and
antics ensue as characters in Dallas, Waikiki, London, and Manhattan attempt to navigate love and life throughout one evening during this play with four stories. romelittletheatre.com
Opera World Premier: For Whom the Bell Tolls
February 11, 7-9pm
Rome City Auditorium
Be among the first to hear Ernest Hemingway’s war novel reimagined by American composer Brian Wilbur Grundstrom and librettist David Dorsen as a musical experience. Attendees can also enjoy a lecture with Dorsen before the performance by Rome Symphony Orchestra musicians and professional opera singers. romesymphony.org
The Etowah Jazz Society
Big Band Valentine Concert
February 12 Clarence Brown Conference Center, Cartersville
Treat your ears (and your sweetie) to the sounds of big band favorites and vocals from local singer Tish Holley at this 90-minute show. brownconferencecenter.com, eventbrite.com
NOEoutdoors Fishing Expo
Clarence Brown Conference Center, Cartersville
Fishing enthusiasts are invited to shop lures, tackle, rods, reels, boats, and beyond at Georgia’s biggest fishing show. noeoutdoors.com
nwgeorgialiving.com | 7
BY ELIN WOODS
Happy New Year! Have you decided on a resolution yet? If not, might I suggest clearing off some books from your to-be-read (aka TBR) pile or finally getting to those books you’re “supposed” to read?
Each year, I pick a specific number of books to read, and I go through and set some reading goals. Sometimes it’s to read more authors of color or try and read a book or two in Welsh. (It’s the language I’m learning on Duolingo.) However, as new books keep being published, my TBR list keeps growing, and this, I’ve promised myself, will be the year I tackle some of the books that have been living there for ages to make room for more.
Here are a few of the books I’m looking forward to finally reading and checking off my list, as well as some that might be on your lists and are worth moving up on your nightstand or e-reader queue. I didn’t pick the same old books you may be used to. I mainly sought more contemporary selections that have slipped through the cracks and those by people outside the standard lists we’ve all seen repeatedly. Here’s to a new year full of good books!
One Hundred Years of Solitude
By Gabriel García Márquez
When asked and pressed to answer, “What’s your favorite book, Elin?” one of my responses has been this book. However, it’s been forever since I read it, and sometimes my tastes change, so I plan on revisiting this one. Looking up this book, you’ll likely learn it’s one of the most significant examples of magical realism and one of the best books to come from South America, so it’s no surprise that it ends up on so many must-read lists. Set in the fictional town of Macondo, this tale follows the multi-generational Buendiá family and features some of the most stunning uses of language I’ve ever come upon. It’s a complicated tale, to sum up without giving too much away, so you’ll have to trust me on this and give it a go. Hopefully, you’ll also fall in love with it as I did many years ago.
Wonderful Adventures of Mrs. Seacole in Many Lands
By Mary Seacole
For this one, we’re going way back in time to discover the personal account of a genuinely fascinating and almost forgotten woman. Published in 1857, this autobiography penned by Mary Seacole is about her many adventures, most of which came from her time and role as a nurse during the Crimean War. Born as a free black woman in Kingston, Jamaica, she learned how to care for people using herbs from her mother, eventually leaving home to explore the world. At the age of 50, with an already exciting life to look back on, she attempted to become a nurse under Florence Nightingale and was turned down, but that didn’t stop Seacole from helping the wounded and those in recovery. In time, she’d “settle” in London and write her story, which I’ve only heard about, but look forward to reading. It’s only been in recent years that she’s received credit for what she did during the war; she was indeed a pioneer ahead of her time.
By Barbara Pym
If only we lived in a world where we had just as many novels as we do adaptations of Jane Austen’s works, I believe I’d never run out of things to read. In my quest to find authors like Austen, who weren’t the usual suspects like the Brontë sisters or Elizabeth Gaskell, I came upon a woman much more modern
Literary marvels from authors near and far to read in 2023.
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but who writes in a similar witty tone. Much like when I started working through Austen, by reading Sense and Sensibility first, I began with Pym’s initial novel, Some Tame Gazelle, first. This year, I’m adding many of her other novels to my list because she was a delight to read. (She has a fascinating story of her own, and I highly recommend Paula Byrne’s recent biography.) Most of Pym’s novels and this one is no different, include spinsters in the 1950s, and their work, sometimes near obsession, with their local vicarage, and often the vicar. Her stories are rarely plot-driven but more like vignettes of local village life in the same manner that Austen could often be read. As a further Austen tie, Pym gathered inspiration from Sanditon, using the term “excellent women” for this book’s title, found within Austen’s text.
A Suitable Boy
By Vikram Seth
Coming in at over 1,300 pages, A Suitable Boy is the story of four families living in post-partition India while focusing on Mrs. Rupa Mehra’s quest to find her daughter, Lata, a suitable husband. But, as the nation of India changes and becomes independent, so do the daughters who aren’t interested in doing what their mothers have always done and seek different lives. The novel has held interest for me because of the historical aspect and having been written by someone who grew up in this world and experience; I find those stories to be the most intriguing. There’s also been a miniseries adaptation, which is streaming on Acorn TV, and that’s additional motivation for me to finish this book, so that I can delight in the lush direction of Mira Nair. (She’s made some fantastic films, and I can’t recommend her work enough.)
By James Baldwin
I could’ve chosen any of Baldwin’s books to add to this list because he’s such a good writer, but I’ll visit Another Country this year with a book club I run at the library where I work. Also, the setting, New York City, focusing on Harlem and Greenwich Village in the 1950s, surrounded by the sounds of jazz music, hooked me, line and sinker. Much like all of Baldwin’s work, this book covers some intense topics, like love, race, and jealousy, to name a few. The main character of sorts, Rufus Scott, a jazz drummer, and all of the intertwined relationships within his life make up this book. Often challenged, as were many of Baldwin’s works, the book was initially met with poor reviews; however, that didn’t stop it from becoming a bestseller. I know the attraction to this book is how closely it gets to Baldwin’s own life, and as someone who spends most of their time in nonfiction, I can’t wait to read this one.
The Secret History
By Donna Tartt
Tartt is one of those writers that everyone is so sure I’ll love, but the first book I read by her, The Goldfinch, I didn’t like at all. However, based on everything I know about her and her style, she’s often labeled as a neoromantic, and as a massive fan of romantic poetry of the 19th century, it makes sense that I should adore her.
After putting off reading this book again and again, I’m finally going to give it a go this year. If this book were a simple cocktail recipe, it would be equal parts Dead Poets Society and The Talented Mr. Ripley, with additions of the dark academia style. As it’s set in the 1980s, someone will listen to alternative new wave music somewhere in the mix. (Or, at least, they will in my mind.) All of this should be perfect, and due to my own feelings of imposter syndrome, I should understand the protagonist Richard all the better. The general plot is Richard sets off to study at an elite private school in Vermont, but not all is as it seems for Richard, and Richard himself has a few secrets up his sleeves. Insert the eventual detective story, and we’ve got a massive novel that I hope proves worthy of
Elin Woods is a librarian from the mountains of western Pennsylvania. When she’s not reading, she enjoys spending her time baking, being the coolest of the cool aunts, and exploring all corners of the East Coast. Her favorite books include Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf and Animal Farm by George Orwell plus too many cookbooks to name.
nwgeorgialiving.com | 9
The True Cost of Inflation
We’ve all been hit hard by inflation these last few months, with rates increasing more than they have in four decades. Regardless of why we saw a sudden increase in inflation, with it being here and lasting longer than anticipated, we must start looking at the long-term effects.
BY ANDE FRAZIER
The cost of everyday spending is increasing and chipping away at our paychecks, savings, and sense of security. What does that mean for us going forward? Is there a greater cost of inflation that could impact us for years to come? Perhaps, as the longer inflation lasts, prices will become more “sticky.” When prices rise due to demand, it’s harder for them to come down as quickly as they rose. Meaning that when a business can get more for an item than it could before, it’s harder to decrease those prices rapidly, even when demand starts to slow. So, while we may begin to see the inflation numbers fall, the spike in inflation this last year can ripple through the markets for many months thereafter.
There’s also a psychological aspect of inflation. Inflation psychology happens when the expectations of high inflation drive higher inflation. Many start to panic when they see prices go up. The everyday items they previously could afford are now becoming cost prohibitive. Tough choices must be made, savings may get depleted, and many may start to wonder if they should stock up on things to ensure they have what they need in the event prices go even higher. This overbuying can produce a rippling effect. By stocking up on items with the anticipation that prices will go up, demand can go higher. As demand goes up, the prices are likely to climb as well.
The demand for businesses to increase wages to account for those higher prices is also something to consider. This can be especially hard on
companies already struggling to find quality help. Businesses that are forced to increase wages have to make up for that cash flow difference somehow, which can mean keeping prices higher to offset the higher salaries. This only keeps the inflationary impacts in play. And let’s be honest, even when the demand and supply relationship starts to change, it can be difficult for businesses to go back to those same workers and adjust pay to be more in line with the market. There aren’t many who want to be told they’ll be paid less for the same job. All of this can mean layoffs or more competitive hiring.
Lastly, a stealth cost to inflation exists, too. Even if inflation returns to more normal levels, the additional money that had to be spent this year is gone from our own personal economies. It’s no longer in those savings accounts or emergency funds. Some people had to cut back on paying down debt to accommodate price increases. Some decided to spend regardless of the long-term impacts because they couldn’t do so for the two years of covid restrictions. When you couple all this with a volatile stock market, where investments and retirement plans have taken a hit, many may find themselves in a precarious spot.
What to Do as Inflation Takes Hold
To combat all this, what are some things you can do to better prepare for the months ahead? First, make sure you take all unnecessary risks off the table when possible. This doesn’t mean bailing on your investments or retirement goals. It does mean making sure you’re appropriately invested based on your risk tolerance. Nothing like a market adjustment can put risk into perspective. It also means sticking to good financial habits.
This is a good time to keep cash on hand as well. Perhaps, put off buying that pricey item for a few months to keep
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What to expect with rising prices and ways to protect your pockets.
10 | NW GEORGIA LIVING JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2023
“Keep your financial
some extra money handy. Also, consider not prepaying off low-interest debt like home mortgages or low-interest student or car loans. However, you should strive to stay current with paying on highinterest-rate debt like credit cards. I see many people with no debt because they paid off their homes and now live on fixed incomes. While this might seem like a goal, when you have no access to liquid assets, it’s harder to adjust when tough economic times hit. Control over your money is as important as being debt free.
Keep your financial plan flexible. Make sure you don’t have all your eggs in one basket. Diversification is one
place to start. Are you diversifying your money across asset classes, sectors, size of business, and geography? Are you simultaneously protecting your wealth as you grow it? Have you accounted for risks like job loss, illness, death, lawsuit, or divorce? Do you have a plan of action for emergencies or changes in life? If not, then this is an excellent time to consider what you can do to create this flexibility.
Finally, make sure you’re not getting caught up in the emotional ups and downs of the daily news cycle. Overall, the economy is still strong. People are still going to their favorite stores and shopping online. Many workers remain
in the driver’s seat regarding jobs and wages. Despite the market woes of the last year, it’s not uncommon to have ups and downs. When you base your decisions on your values and goals, you allow yourself to be more intentional with your choices.
Ande Frazier, CFP®, CLU, ChFC, RICP, BFA™, ChSNC, CDFA®, is an expert in behavioral finance and the author of Fin(anci)ally Free: 11 Conversations To Have With Yourself About Life, Money, and Worth In addition to being a recognized thought leader, author, and speaker, she also serves as a partner at Clocktower Wealth Management, LLC. To learn more, visit andefrazier.com.
nwgeorgialiving.com | 11
Getting to Know …
Trey Benham Black Bartow Events | Co-Founder
BY ALEXANDRA McCRAY
On February 25, a celebration of African Americans’ rich history and achievements, especially in education and the arts, will take place in downtown Cartersville. Organized by Black Bartow Events, a company co-founded by Trey Benham in 2020, the Black History Parade is another example of how Benham’s organization recognizes the successes of past and current local black community members. In June 2022, the group held its first Black Excellence Awards and Gala and honored individuals such as entrepreneur John Gassett; Dr. W. R. Moore, Cartersville’s first black doctor with their own practice; and influential Summer Hill High School English teacher and librarian Nancy Beasley, through namesake awards. Benham says, “ …it meant so much to us to be able to provide a detailed history of their accomplishments. Many of the attendees were unaware of much of the history we shared.”
A desire to positively impact the black community and Bartow County, like the leaders Benham grew up around did, drives his work with Black Bartow Events. The group hosts education-, entertainment-, and economicfocused gatherings that are open to all and are designed to give black northwest Georgia residents a voice. Another goal is to unite the entire region further. Born and raised in Cartersville, Benham says, “Increasing the black community’s presence shouldn’t lead to more division. I want to see us all love and support each other in all that we do.”
The 37-year-old also aids area residents through his day job as the Technical Assistance Manager of the statewide SNAP Employment & Training Program at Goodwill of North Georgia. Outside of being a champion for change, Benham is equally passionate about traveling internationally with his 15-year-old son and quality time with family and friends. My favorite place in Cartersville is … Summer Hill. The history, culture, and spirit of the Summer Hill community are unmatched. It’s the only place in Cartersville where you can listen to the stories of the Summer Hill High School alumni and what they overcame and then walk down the street and see successful black business owners who have their own powerful stories to tell. There are so many events that take place
throughout the year there, and every single one of those events is an amazing time.
When I was a kid, I wanted to grow up to be … A DJ. My love for music started at an early age, and I always had a lot of respect for a DJ’s ability to control the atmosphere.
Through my faith, I’ve learned … patience and that if you’re doing things with a pure heart and good intentions, God will work it out. It’s also taught me to be forever thankful for all the small victories.
One of my goals is to … become financially free so that I can do more for my family and community.
A quote I love is … ‘I never knew where I was going; I just knew I had to be me when I got there’ by Deon Cole.
The best thing I can cook is … mac and cheese. My dad always made the best mac and cheese, and I never even attempted to make it until he passed. Surprisingly, it was a hit.
An album I always have on repeat is … 2Pac’s All Eyez on Me. That album came out when I was in the sixth grade, and I still listen to it like it’s brand new.
I laugh when … I shouldn’t. I laugh easily, and it can be hard to hold it in at times.
The last show I binge-watched was … Outer Banks on Netflix. I cannot live without … my son. There’s truly no one else in this world that motivates me more. Everything I do is to help him have a better future. facebook.com/blackbartowevents, instagram.com/blackbartowevents
“Increasing the black community’s presence shouldn’t lead to more division. I want to see us all love and support each other in all that we do.”
12 | NW GEORGIA LIVING JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2023
Photo by Tressa Cash, Memories are Created Photography & Imaging (MACPI)
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An Out-of-this-World Destination
BY JILL BECKER
Gone are the days when Huntsville, Alabama’s claim to fame was being the Watercress Capital of the World. Today, it’s more famously known as Rocket City, a nickname acquired in the 1950s after it became the birthplace of the Saturn V rocket that sent the Apollo 8 astronauts into orbit around the moon in 1968, an event that spawned the city’s transformation into a major hub of aeronautical research.
Located about two-and-a-half hours west of Cartersville, Huntsville is ideal for a fun-filled weekend excursion. Given its nickname, it makes sense you’d want to start your visit with a trip to the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, an expansive state-run museum housing an impressive collection of spacerelated artifacts and interactive exhibits simulating everything from gravitational forces to live rocket launches. For the full experience, sign up for the three-day, two-night Adult Space Academy and train like an actual astronaut.
Don’t let the fact that Huntsville employs one of the highest concentrations of scientists and engineers in the country fool you into thinking the city is one-dimensional, though. There are plenty of places where you can check out its cultural side, its foodie scene, its outdoor spaces, and more. Take, for example, the Lowe Mill ARTS & Entertainment complex, the South’s largest privately owned arts center. Housed in a converted cotton mill dating back to 1900, it features more than 150 working artist studios featuring everything from oil paintings to pottery
to photography. There’s even an on-site vending machine, called the Art-o-mat®, stocked with miniature masterpieces you can snap up for just five bucks apiece. It’s operated by the adjacent Happy Tummy, a great place to fuel up on personal pizzas with names like Later, Tater and Jamaican Me Crazy, especially since you’ll need several hours to check out everything Lowe Mill has to offer.
If you’re more into exploring nature than art, take a scenic hike along any of the 20-plus trails at Monte Sano State Park. Venture to the observatory at the top of Monte Sano Mountain, named for famed aerospace engineer Wernher von Braun, and take in a planetarium show or gaze through its giant telescopes, weather permitting. If golf is your game, hit the links at Hampton Cove, which has three courses and is a part of the acclaimed Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail that traverses the state. The popular Huntsville Botanical Garden features more than 100 beautifully maintained
acres, as well as a butterfly house, children’s garden, and more.
From there, you’re just minutes away from the bustling downtown area, where you’ll find Big Spring International Park, an attractive green space that gets its name from the natural spring around which the city was first built. If, about that time, your tummy starts to rumble, there are plentiful dining options within walking distance, including The Moon Bakeshop, which serves up delicious bites like the cruffin, a somewhat messy cross between a croissant and a muffin, and MELT, which specializes in funky
off for a weekend in Huntsville, the Alabama destination dubbed Rocket City.
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U.S. Space & Rocket Center | Photo: Chris Granger, Alabama Tourism Department
stacked with fried chicken, jalapeño slaw, bacon, and habanero and cheddar cheese on Texas toast. Revivalist is a somewhat fancier spot located within the 106 Jefferson, the city’s first lifestyle boutique hotel. The restaurant is open all day, but the European-inspired evening menu features appetizers like crayfish hushpuppies, main dishes like herb-roasted Cornish hen with a Guinness stout demi-glace, and desserts like the flourless chocolate espresso cake with raspberry coulis. Upstairs is the convivial Baker & Able rooftop bar, named, fittingly, after the first primates to survive space travel.
places to lay your head at night while you’re in town. Opened in the summer of 2021, the hotel has a history dating back to the early 1800s, when it was called the Bell Tavern and then later became the iconic Huntsville Hotel. Playful nods to the city’s aeronautic credentials are located throughout the property, such as the door signs reading “On a Mission” rather than “Do Not Disturb.”
Seeking a souvenir from your out-ofthis-world trip to Rocket City? Take the short stroll from there to Harrison Brothers Hardware. Originally opened in 1897, it’s since swapped its selection of shovels, sledgehammers, and screwdrivers for a curated collection of unique local goods, gifts, gourmet foods, and space-themed paraphernalia. Houston, we don’t have a problem.
For more information on everything Huntsville has to offer, visit huntsville.org.
Jill Becker’s travel writing has appeared in dozens of magazines and websites, including more than 25 stories for CNN.com.
Big Spring International Park | Photo: Huntsville/Madison County Convention & Visitors Bureau
Downtown restaurants | Photo: Huntsville/Madison County Convention & Visitors Bureau
Akaushi ribeye at Revivalist | Photo: 106 Jefferson
Big Spring International Park | Photo: Huntsville/ Madison County Convention & Visitors Bureau
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Harrison Brothers Hardware | Photo: Chris Granger, Alabama Tourism Department
It’s a Date!
15 fun and romantic activities for couples.
BY KARLA MOORE AND ALEXANDRA M
Lbattle. But if you don’t take care of it, your relationship could wither on the vine. Trying something new with your significant other is one of the best ways to maintain the
View Outdoor Art
Relish in the fresh air together and stroll through downtown Cartersville to see some of its growing public art collection. One route option is to start by visiting Friendship Plaza to see sculptures and five newly installed murals. Next, peruse three more sculptures outside the courthouse while heading to the library to enjoy 15 exterior pieces, including multiple
Go Hang Gliding
For an adrenaline-filled outing, enroll in Lookout Mountain Flight Park’s Hang Gliding Introductory Experience and take in the scenery from 1,500 or 3,000 feet above. Once you’ve practiced the ins and outs of flying on hills near the base of Cloudland Canyon, you’ll each go on a tandem flight with an instructor. The date is sure to be one for the books!
Feel Like Kids Again
Unleash your inner child and take your special someone to the Marietta location of Andretti Indoor Karting & Games. You’ll find cutting-edge electric karts, upscale bowling, and an arcade. They even have virtual reality technologies for your entertainment. Top off your visit with fantastic cocktails and food from the Andretti Sky Bar.
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Sign up for Sports Lessons
How about strengthening your relationship while breaking a sweat once the weather warms? Beginner or advanced tennis and golf lessons could be so much fun with your significant
Make a Luxe Dinner and Dessert
Food always tastes better when cooked with love. Try preparing a restaurantquality dinner together with the help of a meal kit delivered to your doorstep. Among everyday dishes,
Do Some Stargazing
Winter’s weather conditions make it an ideal time for stargazing, and basking in the wonder of the cosmos with your loved one by your side is just as romantic as it sounds. Though options abound throughout the state for stargazing, the West Overlook in Fort Mountain State Park and the Cohutta Overlook on Georgia Highway 52 are two great close-to-home destinations. In addition to warm clothing and binoculars, consider bringing music, food, or other items that can enhance the ambiance.
Mix Up Cocktails
Incredible drinks are simpler to make than you would imagine. Consider the whiskey sour, for example. Simple syrup, fresh lemons, and whiskey or bourbon are all you need to make this popular beverage. Find a few exciting cocktail or mocktail recipes you and your beloved want to try. You can each make one or two and have a taste test between yourselves to determine who
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Become closer by having a two-person game night. You can stick with the classics, such as rummy and UNO, or try modern amusements specifically for lovers, like the couples edition of We’re Not Really Strangers, an insightful question-and-answer game. Or, download the Couple Game: Relationship Quiz app on your phone.
Help Each Other De-Stress
Breathe in, breathe out, and bond over self-care. Set the mood with candles and music, then get comfy and alternate giving each other super relaxing shoulder and back massages with scented lotion or oils. You can chat about the highs and lows of your days and everything in between.
Dance It Up
Turn on YouTube or register for in-person dance classes to learn new moves. Lessons in everything from salsa and bachata to line dancing and
waltzing are sure to be found. Even if you both have two left feet, what’s important is that you’re in it together.
When it comes to maintaining a healthy and loving relationship, it’s important to count our blessings and show gratitude for what we have. Volunteering can put things in perspective and allow you to appreciate one another truly. You can volunteer together at a local animal shelter, food pantry, hospice center, or other organization for a cause you’re equally passionate about.
Whether an international trip is in the cards or not anytime soon, the two of you can enjoy getting prepared by learning the language of a country you’ve always wanted to visit. Apps like Babbel and LingoDeer offer quick lessons in French, Italian, and more. Snuggle up on the couch and say bonjour to connection.
Try Bird Watching
Immersing in the sounds and sights of nature with your partner is truly a breathtaking experience. An activity perfect for nature lovers is bird watching, allowing you to observe live birds in their natural habitat. Research a few bird species to look out for in Georgia, then visit the Arrowhead Wildlife Management Area, a locale known for bird sightings.
No matter which date idea you choose, remember that the goal is always for you and your partner to make beautiful memories together.
Karla Moore is a seasoned matchmaker, plus a dating and relationship coach. In 2006, she started NineGPS, a dating service to help people date more deliberately. She’s appeared on The Huffington Post, CNN, and PBS. When not operating NineGPS, she assists students with impairments. Moore lives in Atlanta with her husband and four sons.
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2076 Rockmart Hwy | Cedartown, GA PEA H STATE “Small Town Feel...Great BIG Deals” 770-748-FORD • peachstatefordcedartown.com nwgeorgialiving.com | 19
Downtown Gallery Centered in Historic Downtown Cartersville Winter Exhibition Opening Reception Saturday, January 21, 2023 4:00 - 7:00 pm. www.DowntownGallery.org DowntownGalleryCartersville Looking for that perfect piece of art for your space? 13 N Wall Street Cartersville, GA 30120 770-387-4330 Unforgettable Moments www.coosacountryclub.com 706.234.7131 Jay Barr Photography State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company State Farm Indemnity Company • Bloomington, IL • statefarm.com® LIKE A GOOD NEIGHBOR, STATE FARM IS THERE.® Providing Insurance and Financial Services Terry Simmons, Agent 5 N. Fourth Street, Lindale, GA 30147 706-235-3276 20 | NW GEORGIA LIVING JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2023
2023 Wedding Guide
Our annual special section to get you ready to tie the knot.
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A Wedding with Personality
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weddings had Korean barbecue on the menu paired with Moroccan chicken served over Mediterranean couscous. The kimchi recipe came from the mother of the groom, which added an extra special touch.
Another way to make your menu more creative is to feature an action station. While the mashed potato bar has always been a hit, I’m talking about new ideas, such as a food truck specializing in personal pizzas, a pretzel cart with various kinds of beer cheese, or a biscuit bar with jams and jellies. Now, these may not necessarily make the most sense for your dinner menu, but they can be a fun surprise for cocktail hour or even a late-night snack. If you can’t splurge on another vendor coming in, see if your caterer can make one of your favorite foods in mini form. Think beyond pigs in a blanket, although who doesn’t love those? Think mini tacos or burgers, or soup shooters or charcuterie cups. Even the pretzels or pizzas I mentioned previously can be done in a mini size.
The tradition says, “Let them eat cake,” and while the traditional wedding cake will always be a wedding staple, don’t feel limited to just this option. Doughnut walls, gelato carts, miniature cakes, or many sweet treats gathered together are some options that have become popular lately. Seasonal desserts are also something you may consider — for example, ice cream sandwiches and popsicles for spring/ summer and mini apple or pumpkin pies for fall/winter. This is another opportunity to offer something in a
petite size if you want different options, such as mini milkshakes or milk and cookie shooters.
Your menu doesn’t stop there! The drink options at your wedding can also be unique to you. A signature drink is by far the easiest way to incorporate something special into your traditional bar menu. Want to take it up a notch? What about having a Champagne wall as your guests enter the reception, or passed apple cider for fall weddings, or a hot chocolate bar for winter weddings?
We’ve seen seating charts featuring drinks with each guest’s name or themed shooters based on the location served to guests. For a nonalcoholic option, I suggest a coffee truck serving up espresso or fruit-infused waters for something tropical. Remember, you can also customize your drink’s appearance and what it’s served in. From custom monograms in ice to edible flowers or glitter, it’s not just about the flavor anymore. To keep your specialty drink budget-friendly, only serve it for a short time, such as during cocktail hour or after dinner.
As you can see, the sky is the limit regarding the different ways to make your day special. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter how much or what you personalize, as long as your wedding day has meaning to you.
Karen Adams is a wedding planner who owns and operates Winey Blonde Events Co., which has an office in Atlanta, Georgia. Since the company’s inception in 2014, Adams and her team have planned more than 300 weddings across Georgia and in destinations
Brett & Jessica November 2, 2022
Photo: Morning Light by Michelle Landreau
Photo: Morning Light by Michelle Landreau
Photo: Joy + Everette
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Photo: Joy + Everette
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5 Wedding Registry Etiquette Mistakes to Avoid
Be wary of these blunders.
The wedding registry experience has changed a lot over the last 20 years, with online services and honeymoon or other adventure-based registries becoming part of the norm. Yet, even as technology changes, good manners never do.
The rules of etiquette still apply. And, not to make you nervous, but there are some serious wedding registry etiquette mistakes you don’t want to make. As you embark on this important part of wedding planning, here are five of the biggest faux pas to avoid.
Mentioning the Wedding Registry on Your Invitations
We all know that a wedding invitation brings an unspoken obligation to give a gift. But the important thing is that it’s just that: unspoken. In fact, mentioning the registry on your invites is probably the biggest wedding registry etiquette no-no. But how do guests know where to find it? The traditional answer is to spread this information by word of mouth through your family and bridal party. However, a more modern solution is to add your registry info to your wedding website. Not only is this socially acceptable, but it’s also very convenient. Just remember to include the website address on your invitations or save the dates.
Only Registering for Pricier Items
Good wedding registry etiquette is about keeping your guests’ comfort in mind. Not all of them will have the same gift budget, so choosing a range of items at various price levels is essential. That way, everyone can find something that you’ll adore and that they can afford. Of course, that’s not to say you can’t add big-ticket items to your list. Especially as some friendship or family groups may choose to band together to buy something you absolutely love, but be sure to balance out those luxury picks with some more moderately priced options as well.
Asking for Cash
While giving cash as a wedding gift has always been acceptable, asking for it isn’t a good idea. There’s really no polite way to put “cash only” under your registry information. However, modern registries do provide a great alternative. You can sign up for contribution-based items like a honeymoon or first house fund, or even stocks. If you go down this route, be sure to register for some physical items at your favorite retailer as well. That way, guests can choose if they feel comfortable with a cash contribution.
Registering for Personal Items
The general rule of registries is that the items you choose should be ones that can be shared by the couple in their lives together. So, you should stay clear of personal items like designer shoes or sunglasses, books (apart from recipe books and coffee table ones), and hair styling tools or electric razors. Save these items for your birthday list.
Neglecting Your Thank-You Cards
Sending thank-you notes is vital in wedding registry etiquette, but it’s also about when you send them. Ideally, you should acknowledge gifts sent before the wedding within two weeks of their arrival. Of course, it’s easy to fall behind at a busy time, but the final deadline for all thank-you notes should be three months after your wedding. Don’t put it off! Set aside a bit of time each week, and you’ll have the job done in no time. Most importantly, your guests will know how much you appreciate their generosity.
Stick to the advice above, and registry shopping can be an excellent experience for you and your guests.
This article first appeared on mindyweiss.com. You can learn more about Mindy Weiss and her new MasterClass course, Plan Your Dream Wedding, by visiting her website and masterclass.com/mindy.
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“The rules of etiquette still apply. And, not to make you nervous, but there are some serious wedding registry etiquette mistakes you don’t want to make.”
To Have and to Hold, and To Not Break the Bank
BY BECKY KIMMONS
Awedding is a beautiful day of celebrating with friends and family, but the price tag can add up quickly! As quotes start coming in for flowers, catering, music, the venue, and more, they can easily distract you from the true focus of the day — marrying the love of your life. Here are expert tips to help you manage your budget and keep your focus on your future spouse.
A couple of big items drive the total wedding budget, and your guest count is one of them. A wedding with 50 guests will have a vastly different budget than a wedding with 250 guests.
OK. Got it — fewer guests equal budgetfriendliness, but how do you make that happen?
Several groups often have input on the guest list — you, your fiancé, your parents, and your fiancé’s parents. Start by speaking with all the groups and developing a target guest count. Do you want something small and intimate with around 75 guests? Do you have large families, and your guest count will probably be closer to 200? It’s OK to split the count between everyone, so no one person shows up, and 90% of the attendees were chosen for them.
As you talk to everyone, set some guidelines for who to put on the list. Is it someone that you and/or your fiancé know? Is it someone that your parents talk to and spend time with regularly? What about someone who has been part of your or your fiance’s life for 10 years or more? Is it someone who will continue to be part of your life for more than 3 years after the wedding? The goal of the guidelines is to ensure everyone focuses on guests who have a meaningful impact on your life and are there to see you get married — not just take advantage of the open bar. You want to invite the people who mean the most to you.
How to plan a wedding you can love and afford.
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You can also create A and B lists (don’t worry, your guests won’t know about it!). Send your invites to the A list early and ask for RSVPs 6 to 8 weeks before the wedding. If several invitees are unable to make it, you can send out additional invitations to the B list to fill in the open spots.
One last tip on the guest list, it’s OK to have an adults-only wedding. There are plenty of ways to indicate that on the invitation kindly, and your guests may enjoy the excuse for a kid-free evening.
Do you know the most popular month for weddings right now? October. Cooler weather, changing leaves, and, typically, less rain — it’s gorgeous weather to be outdoors in north Georgia. A wedding date in October can easily cost you more. Wedding venues often base their costs on what seasons are most popular — fall and spring. Saturday dates all come at a premium price.
One of the easiest ways to save on your date is to look at a Friday or Sunday. Venues often provide discounts for those dates, which gives you flexibility on the time of year.
If you’re set on a Saturday, consider a date in winter or summer. For many venues, especially if you love an outdoor setting, these seasons are less popular and can provide some savings.
Use Pinterest for inspiration on
how you can make a winter or summer wedding gorgeous and unique. Another bonus to choosing a less busy wedding time is that you won’t be working around the wedding dates of friends or family who are also getting married.
These can get costly! And do-it-yourself décor is not always the answer.
Start by looking for a wedding venue that fits your wedding vision. If you love modern and industrial, look at lofts or converted mills with exposed beams, brick walls, or other unique décor. If you’re looking for a farm or barn setting, choose a venue with drapes, string lights, and landscaping. This will save you the expense and time of adding those elements.
Ask your venue if they include décor. Some venues have décor available and part of the rental fee. It’s often neutral candle votives, lanterns, etc., but that can save you hundreds.
Don’t get too stuck on Pinterest. The gorgeous pictures on Pinterest and Instagram are often of weddings with a budget way above the standard. Instead, talk with your florist about your style and color preferences and let them know your budget range. Then, have them design a wedding just for you.
And, yes, you should use professional vendors and not just DIY. They will save you money and a ton of stress in the
long run. Websites that advertise flowers at “wholesale” prices don’t actually offer wholesale prices. A professional florist knows which flowers are in season, so the flowers will be priced better and look stunning. They also know how to make the most out of each flower to create a gorgeous bouquet without buying boxes and boxes of flowers. Plus, florists often have décor items to add to your centerpieces to complete the look.
Tables and Table Layout
This tip goes along with décor but has a significant impact on its own. Be open to different types of tables and table layouts. Round tables aren’t the only option.
Somewhere along the way, round tables became the standard for weddings. However, they aren’t always the most cost-effective for layouts or your décor budget. Round tables have a large area in the center to be decorated. If you’re looking for large, elaborate floral centerpieces — they have the space for it. But those large centerpieces will add to your budget quickly.
If you have an option, think about long estate tables. These tables are perfect for a greenery garland, votive candles, bud vases, and other smaller options that make a bigger impact on the long tables. Ask your caterer to preset the tables with plates, napkins, and glasses (instead of placing them at
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the buffet), and your tables will sparkle with a smaller budget.
Estate tables don’t mean you can’t have the large centerpieces. Feel free to place a few throughout the room for impact, but you won’t be committed to quite so many individual tables.
Top 3 Items
You don’t have to choose exactly 3 but know what’s most important to you so you can adjust the budget as needed.
If flowers are your love language, know you’ll spend a good portion of the budget on them and consider adjusting other items. Maybe you book your photographer for 6 hours instead of 8. The last couple hours of the reception are filled with dancing, and there are only so many dancing photos you really want to see. Consider doing a fake send-off early for pictures or spending more time with your photographer getting some great pictures of you and your new spouse instead of waiting for a few photos of the send-off.
Maybe food is your focus. Splurge on an amazing caterer and menu, and keep the bar simple. You don’t have to provide a full bar so people can choose their favorite drink. A few beer and
wine options will allow everyone to find something they enjoy.
You don’t need to give favors to your guests, either. You’re providing them with food, drinks, and a night out. Unless it’s something that has a lot of meaning or you really love, you can save hundreds by skipping favors. Your guests won’t even miss them.
Lastly, don’t get caught up in all the options. Cold sparklers for the first dance, 360-degree photo booths, fog machines for the dance floor, floral draped chandeliers — the options are endless, but they aren’t necessary. Go back to the first tip. If you fill your wedding with guests who are there for you — to celebrate with you and love on you, everyone will enjoy the evening without all the extras.
Becky Kimmons and her husband, Cale Kimmons, own and operate Pleasant Union Farm. Pleasant Union Farm offers all-inclusive packages for gorgeous weddings with less stress. As a working farm, the venue provides unique options, such as a farm-to-table theme with a local menu and flowers. Couples love using blueberries grown on the farm in blueberry lemonade and cocktails! Visit Pleasant Union Farm online at pleasantunionfarm.com.
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Photo: Capture Thirteen Photography
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The Digital Dance
BY BISI MacGREGOR
Never before have we been able to connect with humankind as fast as we do and from anywhere. We can transcend time, space, economy, and hierarchy to communicate with people and share ideas. TVs, computers, mobile phones, digital games, tablets — technology and digital devices are part of our way of life today.
If all of this is so good, what’s the problem?
The way sugar is essential for the body and brain, technology has become necessary for our current existence. As over-consumption or misuse of sugar can lead to health issues, so can the over-consumption and abuse of all the screens around us. With limits and boundaries, though, technology can remain a positive part of our lives.
Social media is one of, if not the biggest, pieces of screen time, and I’d be remiss not to start there.
Unfolding the Paradox of Social Media
Like the sugar paradox, where the more you consume, the more your body wants it; the same can be said for social media. Think about the days you decide to spend 20 minutes in quiet, and you go on Facebook or Instagram, and suddenly it’s been two hours. Or the nights you “quickly” look up a video on YouTube, and suddenly, you are seven videos in, and it’s 2 a.m. Yikes!
What’s happening is your brain receives good feedback (dopamine) as you scroll and, simply put, wants more. So, unconsciously, you keep scrolling.
In a life audit with my clients, they found 10 hours a week that they thought they didn’t have by realizing they mindlessly spend considerable time on social media.
Technology and social media enrich our lives in countless ways, but they can quickly go from friends to foes. Here’s how to keep things positive.
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A Warped Reality
It’s essential also to note that what you see on social media is merely a snapshot of a moment. You only have part of the picture. Consequently, your self-esteem can take a blow if you compare your life to a glimpse of someone else’s. Inadvertently, you may criticize and discount your progress and work.
For example, the last picture you saw that you loved also made you sad. The photo of a young woman with a beautiful body, her 10-month-old in her arms, her 3-year-old holding up cotton candy, and her husband kissing her forehead. You can’t understand why your body still looks like it does after having a baby four years ago and blame your husband for not being romantic.
You missed that the family spent only a half hour on the beach, which was intended to be three hours. Their 3-year-old kept throwing tantrums, and cotton candy was the only thing that appeased her. They took silly photos to entertain the 10-month-old, who was on his way to a meltdown. One of the 15 shots looked terrific, and mom posted it.
Most people show only the best moments on social media, so be kind to yourself.
Cultivating a Healthy Relationship with Social Media
It can be done. Here are some practical steps for balance.
Ground yourself before you begin the day.
Upon waking, spend 10 to 15 minutes in silence to meditate, visualize, or journal. Consider going for a walk as well. Then, engage with social media.
Craft and honor your social media time. Use time blocking and scroll with purpose. Set a timer for 15 to 20 minutes to spend on social media and hold yourself accountable.
Uplevel your communication standards. Commit to actively listening to whoever is in front of you. Implement a “no phone” policy when engaging with people at dinner, in casual conversations, and beyond.
You can take this further and gently ask for what you need when someone takes their phone out while speaking with you. E.g., “Would it be OK if you put your phone away while we complete this conversation, please?” And thank them.
Make social media an ally.
In 2018, I left the corporate world to build my six-figure coaching business to help women go after what they want without fear ever holding them back again. The following year, I nurtured a group of 40 women over a social media platform for 12 months. We had women from the U.S. and around the world. The diversity of cultures, backgrounds, and experiences made for a rich, powerful, and extraordinary year. Without social media, it would have been impossible. Try looking at and using social media as a tool for your innermost desires.
Do a periodic social media detox. Like I know when it’s time to switch from coffee to tea, I sense when a social media detox is in order, and I believe you do too.
When it’s time, think big and start small. If you spend four hours daily on social media, cut it to two-and-a-half hours for two days, then one-and-a-half hours for the next day, an hour for the next, and zero time for the following day and for as long as you need.
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Screen Time and Other Areas of Life
It’s easy for families, parenting, relationships, professional meetings, and more also to be adversely affected by screens.
“It takes a village to raise a child” has taken on a whole new meaning for parents today. In the past, that adage provided comfort for parents, knowing neighbors, friends, and other relatives kept an eye out for their child, but now, the whole world can raise children through phone or game screens whether their parents like it or even want it.
Parents may want to prioritize scheduled screen time for their children — for example, limiting it to select hours only on the weekend. Assess where your child is and experiment with time slots. You’ll also want to put an activity in place of former screen time. Make it something creative like playing outside, singing, painting, drawing, or even creating a movie script of their own. Allow children to use their imagination.
Regarding the newest technology, parents should also learn alongside their children and install security features to ensure their children’s safety from people with bad intentions.
In business, employees and managers in meetings can easily find themselves lost in their screens, be it their cellphones to check the latest
either. Many people veg out watching one show or movie after another and quickly seek recommendations for what to binge next. Yet, many complain and are disappointed about not achieving their ambitions when part of their waking hours could have been dedicated to taking necessary action.
One way to manage this is to plan a movie day and time. Allocate four hours every two weeks or once a month to a movie day. Make it a social event and gather family or friends to join you.
with technology and social media can provide inspiration, motivation, additional revenue streams, and new friendships. When used correctly, digital devices can add to our lives.
Bisi MacGregor is an expert in mastering and transcending internal fears, an award-winning international speaker, TEDx speaker, and a life coach. She’s also the founder of Fear2Freedom, whose focus audience is high-level professionals, business owners, and companies. MacGregor is committed to connection and transformation so women can fully express themselves.
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Menu and ingredient readying tips your future self will thank you for using.
ating at home more often is a great but tough goal without proper planning. And cooking lots of chicken Sunday night and forcing yourself to eat that same chicken day after day is not easy. Making additional meals at home entails advanced food preparation that yields variety. You just need a bit of time and forethought.
First things first, how many meals do you want to have ready? I like to plan five meals at a time, mainly because that’s roughly the duration fresh items will hold up after a single grocery store trip. Another consideration is meal categories. For me, eating breakfast foods for dinner or dinner foods for lunch are all fine, but know yourself as you plan. Think about how you like to eat. Are you a meat-and-three type, or does a bowl containing various delectable items get you salivating? Are sandwiches a go-to or ho-hum in your book? Finally, how can you utilize a few prepped ingredients to create multiple dishes?
Here are basics to make ahead of time, along with suggestions to combine them into great meals:
Rice: Make a pot of brown rice or a wild rice blend (not prepackaged). Add a coarsely chopped onion, plus maybe some mushrooms, with the rice, and use a combo of broth and water to ramp up the flavor.
Potatoes: Bake, boil, or pan-fry them. Potatoes are great additions to many dishes, so go ahead and make a lot. Use red, russet, fingerling, and/or sweet potatoes. Be sure to add finely chopped rosemary.
Salad Dressing/Marinade: Homemade salad dressing helps control calories, but you can certainly use your favorite bottled dressing for salads and marinades.
Rotisserie Chicken: Buy one or more large rotisserie chicken(s) and take the meat off the bones while still hot. Package the meat and make soup with the carcass.
Fresh Foods: Purchase avocado, sour cream, green and other onions, cilantro, carrots, celery, garlic, limes, salad greens, and/or other produce and toppings you like or need for recipes.
d GET COOKIN’
Meal Plan Like a Pro 34 | NW GEORGIA LIVING JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2023
No-Oil Salad Dressing/Marinade
Serves 4-6 salads | Light on calories but heavy on flavor!
4 teaspoons honey
4 tablespoons red wine vinegar or raspberry vinegar
6 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons water
Rotisserie Chicken Soup
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
Combine all ingredients and whisk thoroughly. Stir again before using.
Serves 6 | Add fresh herbs or other fresh/frozen vegetables. Serve with a side salad, homemade dressing, and crusty bread.
1 rotisserie chicken carcass
Water to cover carcass
½ cup chopped yellow onions
3 garlic cloves, minced
½ cup thinly sliced celery
½ cup thinly sliced carrots
½ bell pepper (any color), sliced and chopped
One 15-ounce can white or kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup precooked rice
1 cup (or more) rotisserie chicken meat
Optional: One 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
Place carcass in deep pot and barely cover with water. Add onions, garlic, celery, carrots, and bell pepper, then simmer the carcass for 30 minutes.
Remove bones, and add canned beans and/or canned tomatoes. Simmer another 20 minutes, then add precooked rice and chicken meat to soup. Heat through for about 5 minutes but don’t allow to boil.
Optional: Top with fresh parsley, sliced green onions or cilantro, sour cream, grated cheese, and/or
Great for mixing and matching items you’ve prepped.
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup cooked sweet potatoes, cubed
4 cups chopped fresh kale, tough stems removed
One 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup (or more) cooked chicken
2 to 3 tablespoons sweet chili sauce
¾ cup precooked rice
Optional: lime wedges, avocado, pickled jalapeños
In large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons oil. Add onion and cook till softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and sweet potato and cook 4 to 5 minutes.
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1 small red onion, sliced
1 medium red bell pepper, sliced
1 medium orange bell pepper, sliced
1 medium yellow bell pepper, sliced
1 cup fennel bulb, sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
¼ teaspoon black pepper
⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
12 ounces Italian-style sausage, sliced
4 medium garlic cloves, crushed
¼ ounce Parmesan cheese, shaved
2 tablespoons torn fresh basil
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
Place rimmed baking sheet in oven; preheat to 425°. Toss onion, bell peppers, fennel, oil, black pepper, and salt in large bowl.
Arrange vegetables in single layer on preheated baking sheet. Bake until vegetables soften, about 10 minutes. Remove baking sheet from oven and toss vegetables. Add sausage and garlic. Return to oven and bake until sausage is cooked through and vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven; sprinkle with cheese, basil, and crushed red pepper.
Serves 4 | Make for dinner, then put leftovers in a hoagie bun or add to pasta.
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Is there anything so ripe with possibility as the beginning of a new year? It feels so fresh and brimming with potential. We see what we’d like to accomplish and begin the year with big dreams and lofty plans. Yet, just one or two months in, those aspirations feel overly ambitious and unsustainable. Though we still want very much to reach our goals, we lose our way in the challenges of everyday life.
However, there’s another way. Even if this scenario has played itself out over years and decades, it’s possible to shift that dynamic and create a way forward that is sustainable and will enable you to reach your goals in 2023.
Often, people make resolutions thinking only of what they want to accomplish in the coming year, and while that makes sense on one level, it’s like an archer releasing an arrow without first pulling it back.
How do we pull back the arrow? How do we summon the power and wisdom to create the desired experience? Before plunging ahead with plans, pause. Stop and reflect on the prior year: What worked? What didn’t? There’s wisdom and insight to be gained from taking the time to pause and reflect before jumping into action.
When I returned to college in my late 30s to earn a teaching certificate, I was astounded at how reflection was part of nearly every assignment we did. Whether creating a lesson plan, leading a hands-on activity,
Win with Reflection
BY DIANE MARTINEZ
or devising assessments, we had to reflect on how it went. The reflection was part of our assignment and part of our grade.
In the beginning, it seemed excessive. So much reflection on every little thing, was it necessary? My initial resistance gave way to appreciation as I began my teaching career. It became easy to see that, yes, reflection was essential and very beneficial. It informed future planning and teaching. Was that assignment too hard? Did the students learn from the out-of-the-box activity, or was it too unstructured or unclear? Those reflections helped me fine-tune my approach and enabled me to continue to evolve as a teacher throughout my career.
In the same way, we can use reflection to bring a deep understanding of ourselves; what works for us, what doesn’t, where we excel, and where we need help. Please understand that reflecting is not about figuring out what we did wrong or focusing on our supposed flaws but understanding our motivations, patterns, triggers, and strengths to create our plans for the new year with those insights on board. That’s pulling the arrow way back.
A journal is like the archer’s bow in this exercise. Through writing, we can access thoughts and beliefs that aren’t apparent in our thinking alone. In my coaching, I often explain to clients that our thinking mind is like a high school track: a quarter-mile loop where our thoughts go around and around but don’t
38 | NW GEORGIA LIVING JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2023
Achieve your goals in the year ahead by first thinking back on the year that’s passed.
get us anywhere. We get stuck in cyclical thinking that prevents us from going deeper or making real progress. Journaling serves as an offramp for those repetitive thoughts. As we journal, we’re able to access feelings and beliefs that shed light on why we are where we are.
A word of caution here; the goal of journaling is to observe with the intention of understanding, not judging. It’s human nature to beat up on ourselves when we see our triggers or vulnerable points. However, judgment does not support our progress. It’s only a block on our way forward. As you write and explore how the prior year(s) played out, please refrain from being critical of yourself. Seek to understand. That understanding is what will fuel your success in the coming year.
The following are journaling prompts that, if explored, will lead you to clarity. You’ll realize why things unfolded as they did, and with that understanding, you’ll be equipped with the knowledge necessary to consciously create the year (and life) you desire. I suggest you set aside a block of time to do this reflection. Grab a beverage, your favorite pen, and your journal. Make sure you have good light and get cozy because this practice will enable you to create what you envision for yourself in 2023.
Reflections on the Prior Year:
What were my resolutions for 2022?
Which, if any, of those goals did I achieve?
For the goals that weren’t accomplished, were they truly my goals, or something family, friends, or a doctor urged me to do?
Was the lack of success due to: No clear plan to achieve it? Was that goal too much of a stretch for one year? Did I really want it? Did I need help or support I didn’t seek?
What/when is my danger zone? When is it hardest for me to make good choices? Is it when I’m tired, frustrated, down, angry, or overwhelmed? Is there a time of day that’s more challenging than others, like a mid-afternoon slump, when I just get home from work, or when I’ve stayed up too late at night?
Are there people in my life who tend to pull me off track and criticize or belittle my efforts? If so, what would remedy that? Can I limit the time spent with that person or people, or if not, how can I explain I would appreciate their support and what that might look like?
For the goals I did achieve, to what can I attribute my success? What did I learn from this success? How did it feel to succeed in something important to me?
Was there a magic formula that made all the difference? Did it involve: Getting my things organized for the next day the night before? Getting better sleep? Surrounding myself with like-minded people?
As you wind through these reflections, take in the clarity and insight they bring and use that to fuel your new year in fresh and incredible ways. You’ll be pulling the arrow far back and hitting the bullseye of a satisfying and rewarding 2023.
Diane Martinez is a certified holistic life coach whose passion is to empower people to create the lives they desire. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with her husband and fur menagerie. She enjoys reading and gardening.
To learn more about her story and coaching program, visit her website consciouscreatinglifecoaching.com.
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Home by 10
BY ROBERT SMYTH
One of the ways they (“they” being experts who, I’m pretty sure, don’t have kids) say to keep a marriage exciting is to plan special date nights with your spouse. In principle, this is a fantastic idea. Have a nice meal, then go to a show and get drinks and dessert afterward. Cap the night with a romantic jaunt down the riverwalk. You get the picture. Aside from this costing part of your child’s college tuition these days, the logistics of date night when you have kids is a Herculean task.
My wife is the keeper of the family calendar and a logistics expert. She really should be landing planes at HartsfieldJackson. We have four kids out of the house and one still at home. Mrs. Becky uses some kind of witchcraft to ensure we don’t forget practices, banquets, birthdays, or special occasions. Add to that helping my parents keep up with our schedule and work events, and our week is rarely not jam-packed. Trying to fit a date night into the schedule is like trying to shove me into skinny jeans; it rarely works and can only last so long.
Don’t get me wrong. I love hanging out with my wife. She’s a lot of fun and is willing to try new foods and experiences. We’ve had some great adventures together, but as we get older, we seem to really enjoy adventures that wrap up before 10 p.m., so we can still get a good night’s sleep.
The other kink in our date nights is our 12-year-old. She has her own phone and wants to know when we’ll be home every hour on the hour. When I was a kid, you couldn’t just call your parents when they were out. First, you had to know where they were and then look up the number in a phone book and ask whoever answered to look for your parents. You better have lost an arm or burned the
house down if you made that call.
Like our marriage, our date nights (and expectations) have matured over time. We used to try just about any food someone suggested. Now, we must decide how many Tums it’ll take to lay flat and sleep without satanic-level acid reflux. We used to not worry too much about our adult beverage intake. Now, we must gauge it with what’s on the schedule for the next day. For your information, a fun night of indulgence followed by a 5-year-old’s birthday party at an indoor inflatable jump park the next day will make you seriously question your life choices. A movie time is now based on if we’ll have time afterward to run by the grocery store because we’re out of dog food and milk, and if we plan an overnight trip, I’m not sure how my wife does it. I believe there’s a manual with wavers and charts. Our most recent date night was actually a lunch date to the doctor, where we were both tested for flu type A. Who says romance is dead?
I think where many couples go wrong with date night is trying to put too much into one evening. One of my favorite date nights with Mrs. Becky is simply rendezvousing after work for a glass of wine and an appetizer before we head home or to an event. We always have plenty to talk about and a chance to unwind before we’re off to the next practice or meeting. When we get a chance to go out,
love including friends so we can catch up and have adult conversations that don’t include words like uniform, homework, bills, or practice.
I’m sure there’ll come a time soon when we’ll have more time for date nights, and I’m looking forward to it. I just hope I still have some spring in my step, so we don’t have to back up to a 9 p.m. curfew to give the Tums more time to work.
d ROBERT’S WORLD
“Trying to fit a date night into the schedule is like trying to shove me into skinny jeans.”
Time together looks different these days.
40 | NW GEORGIA LIVING JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2023
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