Ocala Style April 2021

Page 1

APR ‘21


SOLUTIONS ocalastyle.com



Just Listed Pending

Just Listed

High Cotton Farms - 10+/- Acres

75 +/- Acres - Hwy 27

Gorgeous home on 10 gated acres. Mahogany front door, 12’ ceilings, tumbled marble counters, hardwood and tile floors. A 3-stall barn with office, bath, wash rack, tack and feed room. 3 large paddocks and covered riding arena. $867,000

Location! Location! Location! Gated 10 +/-acres close to town yet private and peaceful. Open floor has great room with stone fireplace, dining area, kitchen with stainless appliances and granite countertops. 6-Stall barn $799,000 and lush green pastures. Detached workshop & storage.

Close to WEC - 14.43 +/- Acres

Westbury Estate - 1.71 +/- Acres

Spectacular country estate located in NW Ocala’s prime area known as Millionaires Row. The craftsmanship is evident throughout the home. 7-Stall center aisle stable with office. Tack/ feed room. Art studio and apartment. $1,299,873

Recently updated home with open floor plan, expansive family room, formal dining room, kitchen with center island, casual dining overlooking pool. Office, 4 bedrooms, 4.5 baths. Screen enclosed pool with lounging areas, 4-car garage. Many extras. $799,500

Let Joan Pletcher, Realtor list and/or sell your property Sold in 2020 - $36,612,498 Sold in 2021 - $19,580,300 Pending Sales - $14,478,000

For these and other properties, visit JoanPletcher.com for information, videos and more choices. Call or Text: 352.266.9100 | 352.804.8989 | joan@joanpletcher.com | joanpletcher.com Due to the privacy and at the discretion of my clients, there are additional training centers, estates and land available that are not advertised.


Signature Stallions - 9.82 +/- Acres

Personal Paradise - 23.82 +/- Acres

Strategically located close to WEC & HITS. Show stable with 8-stalls, office, feed & tack room. Separate 4-stall barn with hay storage above. Office features reception area, 1.5 baths and spacious full kitchen. Mature landscaping. $1,149,000

Gated elegant estate with lit drive on 23 +/- acres. Main residence over 5,100 ft grand interior spaces including 5 bedrooms, 5 baths, formal living with fireplace. Gourmet kitchen. Covered summer kitchen with $2,500,000 heated pool and spa. Two guest homes.



Country Club of Ocala

Tuxedo Farm - 42 Acres

Exquisite estate home with magnificent views overlooking the golf course. The estate sits on over 2 acres of beautifully manicured landscaped grounds. 5 Bedroom/ 4 full and 2 half baths. Covered lanai, outdoor cooking and fire pit areas. $1,495,000

Turn-key equine facility located close to HITS is an ideal fit for the avid horse lover or full-time horse trainer. The farm is currently income producing. 5 barns with a total of 44 stalls, 28 paddocks, 150 x 250 arena, round pen & 9 RV hook ups. $1,293,450

If you’re considering buying or selling, give us a call today! List your property with Joan Pletcher... Our results speak for themselves.

For these and other properties, visit JoanPletcher.com for information, videos and more choices. Call or Text: 352.266.9100 | 352.804.8989 | joan@joanpletcher.com | joanpletcher.com Due to the privacy and at the discretion of my clients, there are additional training centers, estates and land available that are not advertised.

There is a difference. Service matters!

Not all funeral homes are equal, at Roberts of Ocala, Funerals & Cremations, we strive to be the very best. Don’t just take our word for it, search for us on Google and see what so many others have to say. Mention how many ratings we have when you talk to one of our Advisors and receive a free urn or merchandise credit ($100 value) on any prearranged package.

Actual screen shot of Google rating on 3/09/21

Our knowledgeable and compassionate advisors at our downtown chapel are available for in-person, over the phone or virtual appointments.

Call now (352) 537-8111 606 SW 2nd Ave • Ocala, FL 34471 SALES CAREER OPPORTUNITIES AVAILABLE *Offer above is based on pre selected arrangement packages. Beneficiary must be present at time of purchase. Expires 4/30/21

Hunt Murty Publisher | Jennifer jennifer@magnoliamediaco.com

Magnolia Media Company, LLC (352) 732-0073

1515 NE 22nd Avenue, Ocala, FL 34470

Art Editorial

GRAPHIC DESIGNER Brooke Pace brooke@magnoliamediaco.com PHOTOGRAPHERS Bruce Ackerman Brittany Bishop Becky Collazo Meagan Gumpert John Jernigan Lyn Larson Maudie Lucas Dave Miller Crisandra Richardson Alan Youngblood ILLUSTRATOR David Vallejo


ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES Evelyn Anderson evelyn@magnoliamediaco.com

of Ocala


Sarah Belyeu sarah@magnoliamediaco.com Ralph Grandizio ralph@magnoliamediaco.com Lee Kerr lee@magnoliamediaco.com


EDITOR IN CHIEF Nick Steele nick@magnoliamediaco.com SENIOR EDITOR Susan Smiley-Height susan@magnoliamediaco.com CONTRIBUTING EDITOR Lisa McGinnes lisa@magnoliamediaco.com CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Richard Anguiano JoAnn Guidry Tom McNiff Scott Mitchell David Moore Jill Paglia Marian Rizzo Dave Schlenker Leah Taylor


MARKETING MANAGER Kylie Swope kylie@magnoliamediaco.com MARKETING COORDINATOR Sabrina Fissell sabrina@magnoliamediaco.com CLIENT SERVICES GURU Cheryl Specht

Dave Adams Rick Shaw

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Publisher’s Note

’m introducing this wellness issue with a little admission. I have a tug of war on the self-care front too. My challenge is that I am epileptic. Thankfully, the seizures are controlled with medication, but stress or lack of sleep can make me more susceptible. Because I love what I do, I don’t like to slow down. When I do slow down, it’s to a screeching halt—similar to those cars that have to visit the pit for new tires and gas— and I’m doing it very intentionally. In my case, at least eight hours of sleep are mandatory to work at the level I want the next day and I rarely let anything get in the way of me not getting them. We hope you take to heart how much sleep impacts your health after reading Sleep Saboteurs on page 48 and take intentional steps to make sure you are getting enough good sleep in terms of quantity and quality. And if health reasons aren’t enough of a motivation to sleep, then maybe reaching your goals can be. After all, your best brain function and your ability to handle stress are significantly impacted by this one thing. This issue also provides stories about people living their lives intentionally, whether it be in their operation of a family business, taking on a renovation project or charting a new phase of life following a successful career. Their stories required them finding solutions and changing plans to meet their goals and, sometimes, like in the case of former State Attorney Brad King, changing the goal line altogether. Flexibility is crucial not only for the sake of keeping our sanity while we chart our course, but also for having a healthy body. While life experiences may teach us we can bend more than we think we can, how much easier will those moments be if we train for them?

Jennifer Hunt Murty Publisher

contents 55



insid e r




Before modern doctors, homemade remedies were used by both native people and pioneers.

vo w s


livin g





Our former State Attorney reflects on his past and what the future holds. Smoothies offer a quick and delicious way to get more fruits and vegetables into your diet.

Get a glimpse into the most special days of our local brides and grooms.

f e a tu r e s


A reminder of a humorous incident from his past has Dave feeling a little bit nostalgic.




The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes, is offering Curated Experiences to complement its legendary spa offerings.












A challenging skin condition led Rachel and Jermaine Pearson to create a thriving business. Online workout sessions and programs like dog yoga are helping us through the pandemic. Visiting a day spa for a bit of self-care can enhance mind and body wellness.


Olivia Ortiz has turned a vintage travel trailer into a unique beauty bar on wheels. A good night’s sleep can have both short- and long-term effects on your health and wellness. While masks protect us from spreading the coronavirus, they may not be helping our face.

Clockwise from top: Photo from Florida Memory; Photo by John Jernigan; Photo by Becky Collazo; Photo by Lyn Larson of Mahal Imagery


We invite you to be a part of our annual Women’s Issue Our May issue celebrates the strength, perseverance, leadership, and achievements of Ocala’s most noteworthy women, highlights how they have impacted the community and the part they play in leading it into the future. A custom advertorial is one of the most effective ways to promote your business to our local market. Contact us to tell your story and reach potential new clients. info@magnoliamediaco.com | 352.732.0073 Deadline: April 9th




Social Guests of all ages, many of whom donned colorful costumes, enjoyed the Gnome and Fairy Festival at Sholom Park. Pictured: Amelia Griffer Photo by Meagan Gumpert


Shirley Metz

Henley Sizemore, Susan Noell, Hadley Sizemore

Gnome and Fairy Festival SHOLOM PARK Photography by Meagan Gumpert


he second annual festival, held February 21st as part of the Fun at the Park series, featured a Whimsical World of Fantasy with unicorns, Skippy the Dragon, a magical marketplace and a Fairytale Lane.

Performers from Irish Echoes music and dance group

Fairies “Goldenfeather” and “Raquel”



Valena Techera, Mariel Colon


Ribbon cutting

Special Ceremony KIMBERLY’S CENTER FOR CHILD PROTECTION Photography by Bruce Ackerman


ribbon cutting and unveiling ceremony for the center’s new outdoor therapeutic play area and tribute to former Ocala Police Chief Greg Graham on February 25th was “a beautiful celebration of the donors who delivered for this community’s abused and neglected children.”

Christie Casey, Lina Piedrahita

Dawn Balken, Police Chief Mike Balken, Niki Tripodi

Dr. J.D. Steed

Deputy Police Chief Lou Biondi, Capt. Dustin Keuntjes

Dawn Westgate, Angie Clifton, Victoria Smith

April ‘21


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here were plenty of shouts of excitement as guests took thrill rides, competed in games of luck and chowed down on traditional fair foods during the family-friendly fundraising event that ran from February 25th-28th at the school.


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April ‘21


On the Scene A guide to our favorite monthly happenings and can’t-miss events



The Villages Polo


First Friday Art Walk


WEC Dressage III


Crimes of the Heart


PacWest Barrel Race

The Villages Polo Club April 2-30 | 3pm Fridays, 1pm Sundays Watch competitive matches from the club’s elevated two-level stadium, with optional tailgating. Visit thevillagespoloclub.com for tickets and more information.

Downtown Ocala 6-9pm Watch artists working live, participate in handson art activities and enjoy music by The Mudds Jazz & Blues Duo. Visit ocalafl.org/artwalk for more information.

World Equestrian Center April 15-18 | 8am Spectators are welcome at these free events. Parking is free, restaurants are open and leashed dogs are permitted. Visit wec.net for more information.

Ocala Civic Theatre April 8 – May 2 | 2 & 7:30pm Three sisters reunite amid scandal at their Mississippi childhood home in this Southern Gothic comedy. Visit ocalacivictheatre.com for showtimes and tickets.

Southeastern Livestock Pavilion April 9-11 | 5pm Friday, Noon Saturday, 10am Sunday Barrel racing is a fast-paced equine sport with winners determined by fractions of inches and thousandths of a second. Visit pacwestbarrelracing.com for more information.



Levitt AMP Ocala Concert Series


Marion County Farmland Preservation Festival

Doggie DoggieDaycare DaycareOcala Ocala

Webb Field April 16-June 25 | 7pm Fridays The free concert series returns to the MLK Recreation Complex with live music, public art and cultural arts intermissions. Visit ocalafl.org for more information.

Rock Star Arena 10am The 13th annual event includes a tractor and horse parade, live music, a farmers market, farm animals, crafts, agricultural exhibits, blacksmith and bee keeping demonstrations, and food vendors. Visit farmlandfestival.org for more information.

Family-ownedand andoperated operated Family-owned 8300sq sqftftfully fullyair-conditioned air-conditionedfacility facility 8300 Wade-inwade-out wade-outswimming swimmingpool pool Wade-in 3/4acreas acreasofofoutdoor outdoorpaddocks paddocks 223/4 Small,medium, medium,&& Small, largebreed breedplay playgroups groups large DaycareOffered: Offered: Daycare Mon-Sat7am-6pm 7am-6pm Mon-Sat Otherservices: services: Other Lodging,Grooming Grooming Lodging, Training &&Training

Photo courtesy of Farmland Preservation Festival

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Twelfth Night

Fort King National Historic Landmark 4pm The Ocala Civic Theatre student troupe production is inspired by the legend of a Shakespearean troupe that performed at the fort in the 1830s. Visit fb.com/octeducationdept for more information.

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Entertainment Calendar




24 16

Spring 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale

Ocala Breeders’ Sales, 1701 SW 60th Ave. April 20-23 | 8am Both online and in-person bidding on thoroughbred horses will be available. Visit obssales.com for more information.

Sudden Impulse NSBA Show and Futurity

World Equestrian Center April 23-May 1 | 8am The National Snaffle Bit Association show will include Western riding, hunter, showmanship, pleasure driving and youth ranch equine competitions. Visit wec.net for more information.


Tuscawilla Park 9am-2pm Celebrate Arbor Day with family fun including youth fishing, live butterflies, a rock climbing wall, music, food trucks and crafts. For more information visit ocalafl.org/recpark




2:30 & 7:00pm John Denver Tribute

Orange Blossom Opry


7:00 pm

7 Bridges: The Ultimate Eagles Experience

Circle Square Cultural Center


8:00 pm

The Big Bad

Bank Street Patio Bar


7:00 pm

Tracy Byrd

Circle Square Cultural Center


2:30 & James Carothers 7:00pm

Orange Blossom Opry


7:00 pm

Turn the Page Bob Seger Tribute

Circle Square Cultural Center


7:30 pm

Ocala Symphony String Orchestra

Reilly Arts Center


2:30 & Dailey & Vincent 7:00pm

Orange Blossom Opry


6:30 pm

Gilly & the Girl

La Cuisine French Restaurant


7:00 pm

The Big Bad

The Crazy Cucumber Eatery & Bar


2:30 & George Trullinger 7:00pm

Orange Blossom Opry


5:00 pm

Houston Keen

Bank Street Patio Bar


5:00 pm

The Mudds

La Cuisine French Restaurant


8:00 pm

Jam Night with Adam Rountree

The Keep Downtown


7:00 pm


Circle Square Cultural Center


7:00 pm

The Big Bad

Infinite Ale Works


11:00 am

Cap Smith & the Hogtown Slayers

War Horse Harley-Davidson


2:00 & 7:00pm

Jake and Elwood Blues Revue

Orange Blossom Opry


9:00 pm

Side Piece

Pi on Broadway


6:00 pm

Jeff Jarrett

Charlie Horse

Marion County Father-Daughter Dance

World Equestrian Center April 23-24 | 6-8pm Friday, 4-6pm and 7-9pm Saturday The 15th annual community father-daughter dance hosted by Ambleside School of Ocala includes crafts, snacks and a photo booth. Visit father-daughterdance.com for more information.


Photo by Bruce Ackerman

Date Time

Luminous Worlds: Paintings by Kristin Herzog Through June 27 Appleton Museum and Store Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sunday, noon-5 p.m. 4333 E. Silver Springs Blvd. | 352-291-4455 | AppletonMuseum.org


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Folk Medicine of the Florida Pioneers By Scott Mitchell Scott Mitchell has served as the director of the Silver River Museum since 2004. He has worked as a field

archaeologist, scientific illustrator and museum professional for the last 25 years.



and Miccosukee healers usually consist of mixtures of plants and include many of the same varieties used by pioneers. A typical Seminole concoction might include portions of bay, willow, strangler fig, Carolina ash, red maple and slash pine. The medicine would have to be prepared in a very specific manner and the patient would have to use it in a certain way. Often, there were both experts who gathered the plants and healers who would then prepare it into medicine. Other folk cures popular with settlers were less appealing and even harmful. Medicinal plants were sometimes mixed with substances like turpentine, moonshine whiskey, wood ash or even kerosene and given to the patient to drink (not recommended). Some “cures” were simply superstitions and included practices like turning your shoes upside down before going to sleep (said to help with cramps) or tying a sack over a hand that had warts. The first person who removed the bag would get the warts and the patient would be cured! While we learn from science with each passing year, some of the old folk cures surely still have merit while others, such as those that involve sacked hands, may be better left alone. For more information, visit silverrivermuseum.com or call (352) 236-5401.

Photos courtesy of Florida Memory


ong before Floridians had access to modern doctors and drugs, they had to rely on homemade folk medicines. Some remedies were no doubt effective while others were certainly placebos. Some fell within the realm of the superstitious. Still others would cause a modern patient to run away and were almost certainly harmful. All of the above raises an important point—the reader is advised that experimenting with medicinal plants should not be done and is dangerous for anyone but an expert. Many have strong effects on people and others are poisonous. Worse, some harmless plants mimic deadly varieties, which can cause fatal mistakes. Wonderful examples of lifesaving plant compounds include quinine (an anti-malarial) from the cinchona tree, aspirin from the family of shrubs known as spiraea and painkillers (think morphine) from the opium poppy. While none of these grow locally, they are great examples of what Mother Nature can provide to modern science. Closer to home, we are surrounded with plants that have curative qualities which were known to Native Americans and pioneers alike. Some of these can still be found in the natural supplement aisle of any good drugstore. The bark of the willow tree also contains salicin (used in producing aspirin) and was employed as a pain reliever and vomit-inducing emetic. The passionflower is not only beautiful, it was a known sedative and calming agent. Button snakeroot yields a diuretic tincture that was used for blood disorders and fevers. Traditional Native American medicines used by Seminole


Growing Pains By Dave Schlenker | Illustration by David Vallejo


work as a public engagement manager for Duke Energy and, in February, a customer told me, “I remember when you drove the mower into the swing set.” The comment was a nod to my former life as a columnist at the Ocala Star-Banner, where I worked for 28 years and—to be sure—it was the first time my old career and new career overlapped. The customer was referring to a column I wrote detailing a legendary chapter in our family’s history in which—during my riding mower’s maiden voyage—a swing caught the mower’s clutch, pulling its front end higher and higher into the air. I flapped wildly and bailed off into a patch of freshly mowed grass. I turned to see the mower still hooked to the swing, stuck at a 60-degree angle like an art installation. In a touching display of concern, my wife and daughters declared it the “funniest thing they had ever seen.” Now, nearly 15 years later, a Duke Energy customer recognized my name and—to my surprise—reminisced with me over that and other dumb things I wrote about. “How old are your daughters now?” she asked. The question caught me at a vulnerable time. The answer is 21 and 17—as in my wife and I will be empty nesters in two years. I have been struggling with that lately. Not long ago, a friend stopped by our house to drop something off. He then texted me a photo of our basketball hoop and suggested it was time to take it down. Its backboard is stained by time, its decaying net

buried in moss. Take it down? We just played on it… well, OK. It’s been six years. I started noticing other relics in the house. A Cinderella plate. A plastic whale dish. A sign proclaiming “Welcome Home, #1 Dad.” A sketch in colored pencil depicting a grinning mouth with a missing tooth and the caption: “Sup, Dude?” One kitchen drawer still contains spoons decorated with hearts. Katie is now a university junior and Caroline is a high school junior who gets mail from colleges almost every day, I explained to the customer. Even as I write these words, I tremble a bit, and if I dwell too long on this paragraph I will surely cry. I find myself standing in our backyard thinking about the water balloon fights, piggyback rides and swings used for swinging and not mower mishaps. And yet I think about that mower accident with fondness. Sure, it was scary. The mower nearly fell on top of me, but I also remember the sounds of squealing girl laughter erupting from the porch. That is a key element in the legend. I’m not sure what the point of this column is. It boils down to obvious axioms, I guess—kids grow up fast, cherish the time, play more, work less, don’t crash mowers. But here is my takeaway: No matter where our brilliant and beautiful daughters are, no matter what worlds they are conquering, this #1 Dad will always be ready for basketball and snacks on Cinderella plates. And when those wonderful women come home for visits, I will greet them with a sincere “Sup, Dude?” April ‘21


High-quality H2O The City of Ocala ensures residents receive award-winning water to their homes every single day through 24-hour monitoring and the efforts of a talented team of more than 30 employees. Photography by Dave Miller


hen you step into a soothing hot shower at the end of a long day, do you think about where the water comes from? When you pour a refreshing glass of ice water, do you wonder whether it’s safe to drink? No? That’s OK—the City of Ocala has an entire team of water professionals working around the clock to ensure you have a steady supply of safe, clean water.

Award-winning water

The water that flows from faucets in the City of Ocala is pumped directly from the upper Floridan Aquifer at Water Treatment Plant No. 1 (WTP#1), where it is softened, disinfected, filtered and repeatedly tested before it is piped out to homes and businesses. For reference, this aquifer is the same source as the crystal-clear water that flows into Silver Springs. And it’s not just good water— it’s award-winning water. The City of Ocala has won the past two Florida Section of the American Water Works Association’s Region XI Best Tasting Drinking Water Contest. “The water we draw from is pristine, housed in the aquifer,” explains Ryan Tassa, the water plant’s Lead Operator. “We soften the water because calcium and magnesium will cause your pipes to eventually clog up due to lime scale. We also disinfect the water and keep a constant pressure in the system.” Our staff maintain a fine balance, Tassa says, between ensuring our city water meets all safety standards and making sure it smells and tastes pure, without discernable chlorine, for example. Tassa is one of seven operators who monitor the water plant every minute of every day throughout the year. “Ever since 1972 there has been someone on duty 24 hours a day, testing, treating and monitoring the water,” he points out. Operators are constantly monitoring the flow from the five wells, pressure throughout the system and the levels of lime, chlorine and fluoride in the water. Every two hours, water samples are tested for alkalinity,


hardness, calcium and chlorine so operators can continually adjust. Maintenance experts like Systems Equipment Technician III, Tim Maynard, who has more than 27 years of experience, focus on preventative maintenance, cleaning and sustaining all the water plant’s equipment. He keeps a watchful eye over five wells, two ground storage tanks and multiple treatment basins, as well as lime slaker machines and fluoride, chlorine and lime supplies and delivery systems, ensuring optimal working conditions at all times. Maynard, who is on call 24 hours a day to respond to any problems, sees his job as that of a mechanic and is proud to contribute to “getting your glass of water.” Across the Water Resources Department, 31 Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) certified employees service around 1,400 miles of pipes that distribute drinking water into buildings and

carry wastewater away. Under the leadership of Richard Knight, Jr., Chief of Central Lines Maintenance, together they work on the 10,000 valves that make up the system whenever there’s a leak or issue and that almost always means getting soaking wet, no matter the weather. Because positive pressure is important to keep contaminants out of the system, they must make repairs while the water continues to flow. “Unfortunately, they’re getting wet, but it is to make better service for the customers,” Knight explains. “We go above and beyond to make sure the water’s there when you turn on the faucet. We get out there and make sure we do whatever we can do to make the customers as happy as possible.” Although they don’t miss an opportunity to quote The Waterboy— “Now that’s what I call high-quality H2O!”—the City of Ocala Water Resources Department workers take

supplying more than 59,000 residents with clean, safe, good-tasting water seriously. That’s why they want people to understand water is a resource that needs to be protected and conserved.

Saving Water

Do you leave the water running while you brush your teeth? You might be wasting 9 gallons of water every day and not realize it. Do you water your lawn during the heat of the day? More than half of that water is probably evaporating and not even reaching your grass. The City of Ocala’s Water Resources Conservation Coordinator Rachel Slocumb provides the public with educational facts on how much water we can conserve by implementing some easy changes into our daily routines. “Water is a finite resource,” Slocumb states. She explains that city water

customers use about 12 million gallons of water a day, but that small changes by individuals can make a big impact. “If you reduce your daily shower by one minute, you’re saving almost 1,000 gallons of water a year,” she reveals. “Shut the water off while you’re washing your face,” she suggests. “That’s 4 gallons of water a day if you wash your face twice.” Since half the water used in Ocala is for irrigation, that means people are using 6 million gallons of water every day not for drinking or bathing, but in the pursuit of a greener lawn. Slocumb urges residents to consider whether irrigation is necessary and to be mindful of automatic irrigation systems, which might be timed to water the lawn even after it rains, and to consider Florida-friendly landscaping. “So often, people think their actions don’t matter,” she shares. “Making small steps and small shifts in your behavior make a huge environmental impact over time.” Slocumb partnered with Amanda Marek, the UF/IFAS Marion County Florida-friendly Landscaping Coordinator, to

create a demonstration garden at WTP#1, which showcases more than two dozen plant varieties, including crowngrass, pentas, holly, anise, liriope, juniper, firegrass and magnolias, all of which are flourishing despite not being watered since they were planted 3 1/2 years ago. “Homeowners can save a considerable amount of water and money by implementing just a few simple Florida-friendly landscaping practices,” Marek explains. “These can include selecting plants that are hardy in our zone, that are drought tolerant and that won’t outgrow the space they’re given.” And homeowners don’t necessarily have to make massive changes to their landscape to make it Florida-friendly, she notes. “It can be as simple as shutting off some irrigation zones to plants that no longer need it,” she says, “or making sure they’re only fertilizing their lawns when the grass is actively growing.” Residents and landscape professionals who learn Floridafriendly landscaping techniques through UF/IFAS Marion County’s classes save approximately 5 million

gallons of water every year, Marek reveals.

Sharing the Science

Due to current conditions, tours are not available at the Water Treatment Plant, but if you would like to know more about water conservation and aquifer protection, please visit the Ocala Wetland Recharge Park at 2105 NW 21st Street. “In previous years we would give around 30 to 50 tours annually,” says Slocumb, who especially enjoys leading young people onto the catwalks above the water tanks to show them all the interesting scientific processes, such as how the liquid carbon dioxide used to maintain pH makes the water bubble and how the lime used to soften the water creates heat. “There’s a lot of exciting stuff !” declares Slocumb, who admits she gets passionate about water and water conservation. “It’s a labor of water love,” she says with a smile. To schedule a water education presentation, call Rachel Slocumb at (352) 351-6774.

Sponsored Easy Water Conservation Tips April is Water Conservation Month in Florida. Here are some easy ways you can reduce your use. 1. Turn off the water while you brush your teeth. You can save 3,212 gallons per year. 2. Shorten your daily shower by just one minute to save more than 900 gallons a year. 3. Choose showers over baths. Taking a five-minute shower rather than a bath can save more than 16,000 gallons per year. 4. Use your dishwasher. This can save 50 gallons over handwashing every time you do dishes. 5. Fix leaky toilets. A leaky flapper can waste up to 200 gallons per day. 6. Fix leaky faucets. A slow but steady drip can waste more than 24,000 gallons in a month. 7. Use your outdoor hose only when needed. Turn it off while washing your car and use a broom to clean walkways rather than your hose—it uses 17 gallons per minute. 8. Consider replacing older appliances. A new, efficient washing machine uses about a third as much water as older models. Replacing an older toilet can save 900 gallons of water per person, per year and installing a more efficient showerhead can save nearly 3,300 gallons per year. 9. Water your lawn only when needed and follow the irrigation ordinance, watering no more than twice per week according to your address number. Don’t irrigate between 10am-4pm or on hot days.

For more information about the City of Ocala Water Resources, visit ocalafl.org/government/city-departments/ water-resources. For more information about Florida-friendly landscaping, visit https://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/lawn-and-garden/ florida-friendly-landscaping

The City of Ocala Water Resources is sponsoring a series of conservation-themed films this month at the historic Marion Theatre. Conservation Coordinator Rachel Slocumb will introduce the films at some showings to tell you how the city is marking Water Conservation Month.

Chasing Coral (Free admission)

This Netflix documentary explores the threats to our quickly disappearing coral reefs. Thursday, April 1 at 5:30 PM Saturday, April 10 at 5:15 PM*

10. Waiting for the water to get hot? Collect that water in a bucket to water plants and pets.

Soylent Green

11. Drink tap water instead of bottled water. Keep a pitcher in the refrigerator for a cold, refreshing drink—every 20-ounce bottle of water takes 1.5 gallons to produce.

A 1973 cult classic featuring Charlton Heston in a dystopian thriller about an America in ecological disaster. Thursday, April 8 at 5:30 PM* Friday, April 16 at 2:30 PM

(tickets $5 at the door or mariontheatre.org)

Tarzan the Ape Man

(tickets $5 at the door or mariontheatre.org)

This 1932 film starring Johnny Weissmuller grossed over $1 million and was filmed in part at Silver Springs. Saturday, April 17 at 2 PM Friday, April 23 at 2:30 PM Saturday, April 24 at 2:00 PM Thursday, April 29 at 5:30 PM* *Rachel Slocumb will introduce the indicated screenings and free popcorn will be provided courtesy of Water Resources.


You are cordially invited

Abby and Mike Holsomback were the lucky first couple to say “I do” at the amazing new World Equestrian Center Ocala. After a beautiful ceremony in the chapel, they danced with their guests in the Grand Plaza. Pictured: Abby Holsomback Photographed by Brittany Bishop


ABBY & MIKE HOLSOMBACK February 27th, 2021 Photography by Brittany Bishop Venue: World Equestrian Center Her favorite memory: Seeing Mike for the first time once the chapel doors opened and I walked down the aisle. Deciding to go the more traditional route and forfeiting a “first look” was so worth it in the end—locking eyes with him down the aisle while I walked down with my Dad was a memory I’ll never forget.


MORGAN & DEVIN LANDRY November 28th, 2020 Photography by Maudie Lucas Venue: The Cattle Barn at Triple J Ranch Their favorite memory: Getting to spend time with all of our favorite people in one place.

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Festivals of Speed Roars into Ocala Nothing brings people together like cars and this is the ultimate motorsports gathering, featuring a display of the world’s most exotic, classic and American muscle cars.


tart your engines and head to the World Equestrian Center Ocala for the Festivals of Speed celebration from April 30th through May 1st. Among the dream machines on view will be models from Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Aston Martin, Porsche and many others. In fact, some 250+ exotic, classic and American muscle cars will be participating in this amazing event. The state-of-the-art new facility will play host to this worldclass show that highlights luxury, performance and innovative automotive design. The show connects novice car enthusiasts with connoisseurs and outright gearheads. Even if you don’t know the difference between torque and turbocharged, you’ll revel in the beauty and wow-factor of these prestige cars. Headquartered in Eustis, Festivals of Speed was founded in

2004 by Joe Sabatini as the ultimate luxury showcase for discerning enthusiasts with a passion for all forms of transportation and has grown to be known as the premier exhibitor in the industry through their shows at luxury resorts throughout Florida and Georgia. Sabatini is proud to have the distinction of his car show being the first selected to take place at World Equestrian Center Ocala and is thrilled to have the exhibition occur over the weekend of the 147th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. “It is super exciting to see this facility come to fruition. We have waited a long time for this and we are ready to have an exciting and festive event. The World Equestrian Center provides for the ultimate experience in equestrian luxury and now we have joined two great American passions, the equestrian sport and automobiles,”

Sabatini asserts. “Add to that the ultimate horse race and you have a celebration that has never been seen before.” The festivities kick off on Friday, April 30th, with an exclusive Derbythemed luxury lifestyle cocktail event from 7-10pm, with great food, fine cocktails from the open bar and festive entertainment. Tickets for the party can be purchased on the Festivals of Speed website, in addition to general admission and VIP tickets. “The cars are the stars as we like to say,” Sabatini offers. “But the parties, music and, of course, the Kentucky Derby race itself, will give everyone all the action they can handle.” The motorsports gathering will commence at 10am on Saturday, May 1st, at the exhibition ring on the Grand Plaza, directly in front of the hotel, and run until 4pm. Attendees will have a rare opportunity to

World Equestrian Center photo by Maven Photo + Film

Sponsored appreciate automotive masterpieces of design and engineering in a setting that is both festive and elegant. In addition to all the high-end exotic cars, American classics and American muscle cars that will be on display, Sabatini explains there will be horses competing throughout the property and that attendees can avail themselves of all the World Equestrian Center Ocala has to offer, including fine wines and refreshing cocktails, as well as exciting culinary offerings from the many noteworthy eateries, from Viola & Dot’s Italian Kitchen & Pizzeria, Filo’s Mexican Cantina and Ralph’s Burger & Sandwich Shop to Miss Tilly’s Lollipops, a unique candy shop boasting artisan treats and one-of-a-kind confections. Guests may also tour the facility and dine al fresco as they enjoy live entertainment on the Grand Plaza during the evening. Sabatini also suggests attendees take some time to explore the region during their visit. “I love the scenic beauty of Ocala, as well as the peace and tranquility,” he shares. “The people, culture and beauty of the region are simply intoxicating.” Tickets should be purchased in advance at www.festivalsofspeed.com to allow for social distancing. General admission tickets may be purchased online for $20 per person (Children 12 and under are admitted free of charge.) Following your purchase, tickets will be emailed to you. The Ultimate Kentucky Derby Party Luxury Lifestyle Reception on Friday evening will feature brand ambassadors offering boutique spirits, including rare bourbon, aged scotch and more. Culinary offerings include a variety of chef-attended stations. While enjoying the evening, guests can admire exotic cars, displays of fine timepieces, jewels, art and more. VIP tickets on Saturday allow admittance to the exclusive VIP only section, which will feature a fine culinary display and festive cocktails. Each VIP guest will receive a VIP gift bag with an engraved whiskey glass. For more information and tickets, visit festivalsofspeed.com

Skin Deep Simple solutions are often the best solutions. This problem-solving principle is at the heart of a creative collaboration between enterprising husband and wife Jermaine and Rachel Pearson and the basis of their burgeoning business venture Oneness Essentials. By JoAnn Guidry Photography by Crisandra Richardson Shot on location at O’Steen’s Produce Market


ecessity is the mother of invention, apparently even when it comes to soap. “Eczema runs in my family but until I was 28, I had never experienced it myself. Then one day my eyelids started to itch,” reveals Jermaine Pearson, now 43 and a fraud investigator with Hartford Insurance Group’s Ocala office. “My doctor told me I had developed adult-onset dermatitis, a form of eczema. I was recommended all kinds of over-the-counter soaps, body washes and lotions. I would smell good after a shower, but my skin was still always dry and itchy.” For the next seven years, Jermaine dealt with his eczema, which developed on other areas on his body, the best he could. But relief was elusive. By the time he

and Rachel married in 2013, the eczema discomfort was worse, not better. “I started thinking that there had to be something better than the products I was using. All of them were made of chemical ingredients that I couldn’t even pronounce. And other things, like slathering on coconut or baby oil after a shower, didn’t work either,” notes Jermaine. “Then I remembered learning as a kid that people used to make their own soap with simple ingredients. I went to YouTube and watched a few videos about soapmaking. Then I ordered everything I needed and by that weekend had already made my first batch in our kitchen.” Then came the waiting.

“The soap has to cure for four weeks before you can use it,” says Jermaine, who made that very first batch in 2014. “When the soap was ready to use, Rachel and I showered with it. Within a few days, I noticed that my itchy eczema skin felt better.” And Rachel liked the way the soap made her skin feel too. So much so that she soon sensed its business potential. “While I don’t have eczema, I’ve always had dry skin. And the more I showered with the soap, the better my skin felt,” says Rachel, 36, who has an associate applied science degree in paralegal law and worked in a corporate staffing agency’s legal department. When Jermaine made that initial batch of soap, the couple had just become parents to Hannah. Less than a year later, another baby was on the way. “I had been thinking about needing and wanting to stay home with Hannah, who was 1 at the time. And with a new baby on the way, paying for childcare so I could go back to work just didn’t seem like a feasible financial decision,” recalls Rachel, who adds with a soft laugh, “And like they say, all good ideas come in the shower. I asked Jermaine if he’d be willing to sell the soap and he said no. So I told him to teach me how to make the soap and I would sell it. And that was the beginning of Oneness Essentials.”

A Natural Path

The Pearsons were still living in Rachel’s hometown of Richmond, Virginia when she set her plan in motion in 2016. “Our son Aiden had been born by the time I started seriously making the soap. I really fell in love with the whole process,” says Rachel. “Our motto from the beginning is that simple ingredients like coconut oil,

olive oil, palm oil and beeswax are the foundation of our soap. For scents, we use all-natural essential oils. And we also make an unscented soap for those sensitive to any scents.” Those initial soap batches were sold to friends, family members and others by word of mouth. Etsy was soon added as a sales outlet. And then Jermaine, a selfdescribed mad scientist, went back to the kitchen and created their beeswax-based body butter. “Once you open the door with making soap, you can use the same ingredients in varying percentages for other products, like body butter,” says Jermaine, quickly adding, “And we always know when a product is good when my skin doesn’t break out.” Following that stage, Jermaine explains that Rachel takes over and refines each product, adding her own signature. “She’s the true entrepreneur in the family,” he asserts. “I am very proud of her and what she’s done since that first batch of soap.”

A Fresh Start

In 2017, thanks to a job change for Jermaine, the Pearsons moved from Richmond to Ocala, growing both their family and Oneness Essentials. Jermaine and Rachel are now parents to Hannah (6), Aiden (4) and Amie (2), who have all inherited their father’s eczema. Oneness Essentials LLC, a fully licensed homebased business, has expanded to a dozen products and counting. While still primarily an online business, Oneness Essentials products have been sold at area farmers markets, including the Ocala Downtown Market and O’Steen’s Produce Market in neighboring Summerfield. Ocala-based CP Fredricks Hair Designs & Wellness

Center also carries Oneness Essentials products. Levi and Corissa O’Steen explain that at one time they carried several local soap brands at the market, but once they saw how popular the Oneness Essentials products were with their customers, they decided to exclusively carry the Pearson’s products. “The others just didn’t sell,” Corissa recalls. “But their products developed a following right away. We have customers who drive from the north end of the county in the Citra area and purchase around 10 bars a trip. People love them!”

A Promising Future

“The sunroom of our house has become my office and our inventory room for products. I have cubbyhole cabinets there and in the kitchen for the ingredients we use,” notes Rachel. “While we have expanded our product line, our soap remains the foundation of our business. And because of the four-week curing time, I’m always making soap in the kitchen, usually early mornings while the kids are still asleep and it’s quiet. Other times, if I get busy, I’ll get a babysitter.” The soap is made in loaves, up to eight every other day, which are then hand cut into 19 pounds of soap bars. Each bar is stamped and individually wrapped. Rachel then rotates in the making of the other products, from whipped body butter to lotions to salt scrubs, in

between the soapmaking, depending on demand. And Jermaine continues to mix up new concoctions. “I’ll let you in on a secret,” says Jermaine, who claims the soaps and whipped body butter are his favorites. “If you were to go to our shower stall, you would see soap slivers all over the place. We’re always testing and trying out new combinations.” Rachel interjects, “Jermaine is very creative and experimental. I’m very creative and practical. And, yes, we do test and use everything we make on ourselves and the kids before we add it to our product line.” When she looks ahead to the future of Oneness Essentials, continuing to expand and maybe even a brick-and-mortar store, Rachel also looks back. “I was raised by a single mother in an inner city, so I’m not sure where my entrepreneur nature comes from,” she says. “But I remember when I was about 9, I drew a picture of me in a business suit and carrying a briefcase. While running a business now looks a little different than I imagined as a 9-year-old, I am doing exactly what I envisioned while providing something of value to people.” And it’s all thanks to something as simple and essential as soap. For more information, visit onenesssoapbiz.com April ‘21


Thinking Outside the Gym Over the past year, people looked for creative ways to get in their daily workouts, with many opting to stay fit through at-home exercise regimens or outdoor options that offer more fresh air and social distance. By Lisa McGinnes

NamaSitStay is a class that invites people and their best furry friends to take part in guided poses, stretches and massage techniques for fun, fitness and relaxation. To be honest, the dogs are probably there for the plentiful treats. But there is a lot of tail wagging that shows they enjoy the bonding experience with their owners, and many seem to appreciate the passive stretches that loosen up their legs and joints, and the massages that follow. And, as you can imagine, a yoga class for dogs and their people has plenty of benefits for everyone involved. “My class is really geared toward developing a deeper bond with your pet,” says Darian Mosley, founder of the K9 Fit Club of Ocala/The Villages. She developed the workout to provide the benefits of yoga, including strength, balance, flexibility and stress reduction, for both the people and pups who participate. Mosley came up with the idea for the cleverly named class a couple of years ago. As a certified veterinary technician and a Silver Sneakerscertified fitness instructor, she was hearing from more and more active people who “wanted to do more with their dogs than just go for walks.” She discovered the K9 Fit Club, which has a motto of “Don’t sit. Get fit!” and started the local chapter. The third series of NamaSitStay sessions, held in partnership with the City of Ocala Recreation and Parks, took place on Saturday mornings from February 27th through April 3rd at Tuscawilla Park. The people who participate, Mosley says, Darian Mosley and Domino



Dog Yoga photos by Becky Collazo

Fitness Facing Dog

benefit from increased mobility and increased flexibility as well as “all the calming effects that come with being around a dog and practicing yoga, combined into one experience.” “A lot of people get a very calm sense when they’re around their pet,” Mosley says. “Dogs are known to lower your blood pressure and to help soothe your emotions and all of your stresses. So, incorporating dogs into the yoga class, it ups the level of relaxation that you get in a normal yoga class because now you’ve got your dog involved.” So how does dog yoga work? “A lot of the poses are us posing in a way that allows us to maintain contact with our dog,” Mosley explains. “Some of the poses are for the dogs. So I do actually have my students pose in ways that will involve the dogs and allow them to also engage so that they are also getting a nice stretch and getting a little bit of range of motion different to what they get in their everyday life. I walk my students through a series of passive range of motion stretches with their dog—things they can follow up with at home and do daily to help their dog maintain good mobility and good joint lubrication.” Mosley’s three dogs enjoy yoga, she says. So does Jenny, a basset hound who attends NamaSitStay with Carla Chindamo. “She’s learned different stretches she didn’t know before,” Chindamo explains. “She loves it. Jenny’s my granddog,” she adds proudly. Any dogs who have leash manners are welcome to attend, and Mosley says the class is suitable for people and pets of all shapes and sizes, including yoga beginners. Even if you don’t have a dog (or a granddog you can borrow) but you would love to participate, Mosley has a partnership with the Marion County Animal Center which allows for well-behaved adoptable dogs to partner with people who fill out the Animal Services volunteer

Lisa McGinnes and Eli

application in advance. Her most important tip for attendees is to not forget the dog treats. “I encourage students to bring a nice, high-value treat,” she notes. “This is something totally new to almost every dog. We want to make sure it’s a positive experience for them, so we definitely do use treat rewards. And a lot of times, even if the dog’s not super familiar with you, getting that ‘I’m the person with the treat’ relationship established right away really does help.” Ocala Recreation and Parks is planning to hold the next NamaSitStay session at Tuscawilla Park starting in late September and continuing through mid-November. Visit ocalafl.org/recpark or call (352) 401-3918 for more information. For more information about the K9 Fit Club of Ocala/ The Villages, visit fb.com/k9fitclubcfl

Bringing it Home When gyms shut down last spring during the early days of the pandemic, The Ranch Fitness Center & Spa quickly figured out that keeping their members healthy meant helping them stay active but out of the gym for a while. That’s when they launched their virtual fitness classes named with the hashtag #TooFitToQuit. Their mindset, says Cammy Dennis, The Ranch’s fitness director, was “we know you can’t be here but we’re not going to let you down.” “Early on in COVID there was a complete shutdown, as was the case for many businesses,” she recalls. “Immediately we needed to stay in contact and connection with our members. So right away we started virtual fitness.” Dennis and two other fitness instructors began offering live classes twice a week through The Ranch’s website and

April ‘21


Facebook page—cardio on Tuesdays and strength training on Thursdays. “It was so exciting,” Dennis remembers. “We had so many comments coming up on our Facebook page as we were filming…so it was like we still had a genuine connection even though it was a trainer and an iPad in a room,” she adds with a laugh. “That was really nice.” In addition to being offered live, the videos remain online and can be accessed by anyone, anytime, free of charge. There is a full range of options, from low impact aerobics, dance cardio, core and balance to strength training with dumbbells to stretch and recovery. “It was very important for us that we did this for free, not only for members but for the greater

community,” Dennis explains. “We really wanted to step up and do something positive for the community when everything got shut down so quickly.” Dennis, who has nearly 30 years of experience in the fitness industry, says she recognized that exercise would help people manage the stress brought on by a global pandemic. “Exercise is like the cornerstone for physical and emotional health,” she explains. “As stress goes up you can think about exercise as the steam valve to help release some of that stress. Stress is the number one thing that undermines our health. So, if you’re exercising to make your muscles and your heart and lungs stronger, that’s great. And at the same time you are also releasing all the stressors that could potentially make you unhealthy. So you’ve got a two for one special



there: Not only is your body physically going to be able to combat illness and disease because exercise heightens your immune system, it’s also going to help reset a positive perspective, make you feel better, put your brain in a good place and relieve stress during this very challenging time.” Linda Titcomb, who has been a member at The Ranch for several years, started doing virtual fitness classes during the COVID-19 shutdown and says they’ve become an important option to help her stay active. “I call up the virtual videos and I can do them live on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I would do that a lot when The Ranch was closed down,” she says. “But I also have the option now that I’m back at classes at The Ranch—I can do them on my own time.” She loves the cardio classes, especially the Warrior class, and says her husband offered up his “man cave” for her to use as a home gym. “I move the chairs out and I’ve got the whole floor to do my thing,” she explains, adding, “I love the classes. I do it five days a week.” Jim Swift also appreciates the option to take a variety of classes online. “Pre-COVID I was going over and doing the classes,” he says. “Then when COVID set in they came up with an innovative way to do these online classes.” Like Titcomb, his favorites are the virtual cardio workout sessions. “It’s so convenient to be able to do it at home on your time,” Swift says. Even though in-person group fitness classes have resumed with social distancing, Dennis says they plan to continue to offer virtual sessions. “The feedback we have gotten is amazing,” she notes. “We’re definitely touching people who, for whatever reason, can’t get to the gym, don’t want to come into the gym right now or don’t feel that it’s right for them. Virtual fitness is here to stay.” For more information, visit theranchfitnessspa.com and fb.com/theranchfitnessspa

Om Online For thousands of years, people have practiced yoga for its many wellness benefits. When COVID-19 made it unsafe for people to gather in the studio for yoga class, Blissful Life Corporation Executive Director Kelsie Ruff Smith took the practice online, believing Ocalans needed yoga more than ever. “As a donation-based nonprofit, I just want people to do yoga,” she declares. “That’s what we’re here for. People are doing this to destress and find peace as much as it’s a fitness class.” The studio already had a presence on Facebook and Ruff Smith decided that platform would be the quickest way to take classes online. For two months last spring, instructors live streamed their yoga and meditation classes with no in-person option. In June they developed the hybrid model they’re still using today. A full schedule of classes, including lunchtime flow yoga, evening yin and vinyasa yoga sessions, Sunday’s mantra and meditation, and the popular Friday evening destress and stretch class, are live streamed on Facebook and videos remain online for students who want to participate at another time. Socially distanced in-person classes are limited to five participants

in a sanitized studio, with mandatory temperature checks and masks. A donation of $10 to $15 per class is suggested and is easy to make online with PayPal. However, all classes are donation-based and are offered on a pay-as-you-can basis. Teaching yoga is a passion for Ruff Smith and the other instructors, she explains. She adds that while it was important to her to continue to make yoga available to the community, she also felt a responsibility to allow the instructors to continue to earn income. “I have some teachers that teaching yoga is their only job,” she says. “In the beginning that was one of the reasons I wouldn’t close. I was like I can’t take everything from them.” Ruff Smith says one helpful takeaway from the expansion to online classes is their new preregistration system. In addition to reserving their space, students are asked to fill out a perceived stress scale survey, which has helped her learn a lot about how yoga is benefiting them. “There’s a huge correlation with the people who have done yoga 10 times in the past 30 days versus the people who have done yoga once or zero times when it comes to how stressed they feel,” she explains. “They are looking to have a reprieve from COVID. It’s more meditative yoga that we’re teaching, it’s more reflective, how to be more mindful.” Blissful Life plans to continue offering both online and socially distanced in-person classes for the foreseeable future. They have several spaces available for businesses to join their Happy People program, in which companies pay a small monthly fee that allows their employees access to the full class schedule at no charge to them. “Yoga helps with stress and being more mindful helps with worker performance,” Ruff Smith says. “We just love yoga and want people to do it. We heal together, whether in person or virtually.” For more information, visit blissocala.com and fb.com/ blissyogacenter

April ‘21


The Full Treatment Visiting a day spa can enhance both mind and body wellness. By Susan Smiley-Height


hhh… the pleasing waft of aromatherapy, the warmth of a comfortably heated table, the gentle caress of a massage therapist, the soothing softness and glow of a facial… just breathe and relax. In what for many is a chaotic world, especially since the onset of the pandemic, the gift of self-care can oftentimes be elusive. But it also can be critical to wellness. While there are numerous forms of being kind to oneself, self-care can sometimes have a more serious implication, such as seeking help for an aching back or neck, or as a way to address really dry skin or those dark circles beneath your eyes. The good news is, there are plenty of day spas in the area that specialize in helping clients look and feel their best. Rachel Wilkerson, an esthetician and massage therapist, and owner of the Brick City Spa in southeast Ocala, says healthy skin is wellness. “We have to have healthy skin to protect our bodies and avoid sun cancers,” she explains. “We go to the gym to work out our bodies; a facial is a workout for the

face. Like we eat a heart healthy diet, this is basically like food for our face.” She says the starting point to great skin care in Florida is wearing some kind of sun protection factor (SPF) agent every day. “Even if it’s a little cloudy, the sun is so, so strong,” she notes. “Our skin is the largest organ, it’s our protective coating, so it’s so important to maintain its healthy, happy place. Sunscreen is super important, and an antioxidant is important and a good moisturizer—on the home care side.” Brick City Spa offers skin care and various forms of therapeutic or relaxing massage, with three therapists, one of whom is Donna Wilkerson, a 28year veteran of the therapy and Rachel’s mother. For take-home skin care, they offer Shoogie Company natural products made in Ocala and a peptide-based line of formulas made in Brooksville. “Coming in late spring will be an all-new premier menu of skin care,” notes Rachel. “We will be debuting a new technology to the Ocala area that speaks to our passion to provide healthy, non-invasive, results-driven skin care; needle-free transdermal infusion is your solution for healthy skin.” No matter the therapy, “We add individual hospitality,” Rachel says of herself and the other therapists. “So, each session is very geared to the individual. We take the time to get to know our clients and figure out what your goals are and customize a treatment plan for you.”

Photo by Meagan Gumpert

Rachel Wilkerson gives a client a facial

Easing The Tracks of Time

Rachel lowers the lights and adjusts the heat level of the bed on which her facial clients’ repose. She softly goes over one of her signature services, the “cryo algae glow facial.” “I do dermaplaning as the first step of exfoliation and then a lot of lymph drainage and mechanical massage to wake up your facial muscles,” she begins, “and then we end with an algae peel-off face mask. It covers the whole face, even the eyes to help with puffiness.” She begins the facial with a gentle cream cleanser to “remove any oil, dirt, residue that’s on the face from the environment, us just being out in the world,” she notes. “That’s why it’s important in the evening to do a nice cleanse, makeup or no makeup, so that way we can get a day’s work off of us before we sleep. Sleep is also extremely important for your skin. It’s when your body rejuvenates.” After applying a soothing hot towel, she wipes the face with witch hazel to balance the pH of the skin and adds a few drops of nourishing facial oil. This oil is used to prepare the skin before dermaplaning, a non-invasive method of skin rejuvenation that provides a deep exfoliation using a very fine, medical-grade scalpel to gently remove the top layer of dead skin cells and fine vellus hair (peach fuzz). This is a great alternative to a chemical peel or microdermabrasion treatment. This process is extremely effective for the reduction of fine lines, wrinkles and sun damage (hyperpigmentation), helps

aid new collagen production and creates a healthy glow through a smoother, brighter complexion. The addition of oil to this process is called oilplaning and creates a smooth barrier to the skin, which helps to prevent overdrying and sensitizing your face. “Some say it feels like a cat’s tongue,” Rachel says with a laugh. “By removing the vellus hair, which is like peach fuzz, products penetrate better and your makeup or sunscreen will go on more smoothly. It just gives a nice glow.” Then comes the mask. “This mask is a peel-off. It has a little weight and is cool and tingly. You look, literally, like the guy from The Mask; it’s bright green,” she offers with a giggle. “It’s cryogenically frozen algae that is rehydrated with B5 and aloe; B5 is a hydrating complex. As far as being an esthetician, it’s the fun part of skin care. It’s kind of like chemistry class.” She says a client could have such a facial treatment on a “maintenance” basis once a month, but some choose to do so more often, adding that anyone who wants to have healthy skin should have a home regimen “including exfoliation so your epidermal and dermal (the outer and middle skin layers) barriers are at a healthy level.” She says everyone’s needs are “a little bit different just inherently, like a teenager going through acne and hormonal changes.” “Your skin is often a sign of what’s happening internally,” she further explains. “Oftentimes, we’ll use enzymes and other modalities. We really don’t treat based on age per se, but more on condition. You want to feel and look your best for your age. I bring in conscious healthy skin options with results where you can look the absolute best and still be you.”

Going Deeper

Across town, in southwest Ocala, the Celeste & Co. Salon and Spa also offers facials and massage services, along with manicures, pedicures and a full menu of hair salon services. Owner Stephanie Celeste, a master specialist in waxing, skin and nails, says she opened the spa because she “wanted to build something where everyone was actually happy to come to work. It’s my happy place and I wanted to bring that sense of peace and caring to our staff and our clientele as well.” Celeste says that, in the era of COVID-19, the spa practices social distancing and that every staff member has achieved a special certification related to the coronavirus. “Barbicide is a disinfectant company and they came up with a certification to make sure everyone understood COVID-19,” she shares. “We don’t ever have two people in chairs next to each other unless you came in together and were already exposed to each other. We only have one service provider per room, per person. We’ve always been hospital-grade (in terms of disinfection) because I’m allergic to bleach. We didn’t really have to change a lot besides wearing our masks and we already had the 15 minutes of cleanup time built into every appointment anyway. Our lives did not change probably as drastically as a lot of spas did.” Celeste notes that spa services include micro40


dermabrasions, intense pulse light facials and hair removal, “plasma fibro blasting, the newest anti-wrinkle technique,” and body sculpting, with she describes as “laser lipo, with agitation of the fat cell into the lymphatic system to get rid of it as waste. So, we’re taking your fat cells from the size of grapes down to the size of raisins.”

Now About That Aching Back

Iris Nunez’s therapy room at Celeste & Co. is serene and pleasant. Nunez, an Ocala native, is soft-spoken and assured. She attended local

Right: Photo by Meagan Gumpert

schools including the College of Central Florida and Rasmussen University, then obtained her massage therapy license through the Florida School of Massage in Gainesville. “I’ve been doing this almost two years. Prior to that, I worked in the health care field: neurology, general surgery, orthopedics, so I used to see a lot people in different kinds of pain, long term or short term,” she shares. “I worked with a physician who was a neurologist and opened my eyes to a different form of therapy, and that was massage.” Nunez says she bases her therapy on each person’s needs. “Everybody is different when I see them, all their pains and injuries, so I assess the person, the pain and how long it’s been. Then, depending on which areas they want me to work on, I work those with different modalities,” she outlines. “Depending on what’s going on in your lifestyle—physically or mentally—it definitely helps all of those aspects.” As the spa is located near On Top of the World and other neighboring active adult communities, Nunez says she often has clients who want help for tennis elbow, golfer’s elbow and also “pickleball; it’s one of those sports with rotator cuff issues.” She also treats many people for low back, neck and shoulder pain. “A lot of people work on cellphones or computers, or sit and read or watch TV. Those habits end up affecting people long term,” she comments. “We should treat ourselves to massage at least once a month to help alleviate muscle tension and stresses. What I can do is help you get from one day to another with no pain—or try to.” Nunez says there also are more intrinsic benefits to massage therapy. “Massage is a great opportunity to not only help you physically but mentally as well,” she expresses. “A lot of people who are not used to touch, and for a lot of people that have grief—losing a spouse or loved one—it is very therapeutic. The goal is to provide them a service that helps their quality of life.” “We don’t do walk-ins,” Celeste cautions. “We’re always by appointment only, because your time is yours and that’s important.” Whatever your choice of self-care, book your visit with Brick City by going online to brickcityspa. com or by calling (239) 216-7807. For Celeste & Co., go to celesteco.com or call (352) 622-1354.

Driveable Destinations: The Ritz-Carlton, Grande Lakes

Within a short span of time, it’s easy to reach some of Florida’s most historic and vibrant communities. In this ongoing series, we highlight some great destinations that will make you want to hit the road. As travelers embark on new adventures, we encourage taking appropriate health precautions. By Jennifer Hunt Murty


fter weathering a pandemic, a weekend full of perfect spa services, the opportunity to meet new people, experience new tastes and learn new subjects feels all the sweeter. Located only an hour and forty minutes from Ocala, the Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes offers hospitality and a wide range of experiences that would cater to just about anyone—without the hustle and bustle of the city. In fact, from your balcony looking out over the lake, trees and golf course, you’ll easily forget where you are. When the property had to close at the onset of the pandemic, the management team used that time to renovate guest rooms and make over the pool and luxury cabanas. Being forward thinking during the crisis paid off. Now open to guests at reduced capacity, the refreshed hotel is offering a new weekend program called Curated Experiences on a quarterly basis. These weekend programs are thoughtfully balanced for relaxation and inspiration. The experiences allow for small group time with expert chefs, winemakers, jewelers and auto enthusiasts, as well as unique recreational activities such as fly fishing and falconry instruction. Every weekend the Ritz gives guests opportunities to enjoy the outdoors. From doing nothing while lounging in hammocks scattered throughout the property to taking advantage of bike and kayak rentals, bocce ball, tennis courts, the 18hole championship golf course and swimming—there is something for everyone in the family.

Child’s Play

Although the hotel is perfect for a grownups’ getaway, it also gives families good reasons for a fun Orlando weekend that does not include theme parks. Kid-friendly activities include storytelling,

lessons on recycling, arts and crafts, physical activities and table games. It is also possible to arrange a tour of the on-property working farm through the resort concierge, which is a great opportunity for kids to learn about farming and the food we eat. The hotel offers an in-room kids’ camping experience: they deliver and set up a tent in the hotel suite and provide bedding for each child, a battery-operated lantern, children’s book, stuffed animal and s’more-themed pastry. When combined with the hotel’s concierge nanny services, parents could even take advantage of the opportunity for a date night at Knife & Spoon, a new signature steak and seafood restaurant that will not disappoint.

Spoiled for Choice

What makes the dining options so

special is the high concentration of culinary talent under one roof. For example, World Champion Ice Carver and Chocolate Sculptor Victor Dagatan, a 2014 silver medalist in the Cultural Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, creates large chocolate showpieces, fruit and vegetable carvings and ice carvings for the on-site eateries at Grande Lakes, as well as for special events. For those who are fans of Top Chef, you might smile hearing the banter between Chef Gerald Sombright, chef de cuisine for the aforementioned Knife & Spoon and award-winning restaurateur chef John Tesar. Tesar beat Sombright in the tenth season of the TV competition. Sombright goodnaturedly maintains Tesar cheated. But where they do agree is on sourcing and aging beef and they are happy to share the differences

Highball & Harvest

between the beef they serve to guests at Knife & Spoon and what they find at other steakhouses. Tesar says, “To have a palate for something, you have to understand what you are eating.” While there are many onsite dining options between The Ritz-Carlton and the adjoining JW Marriott, here are a few of the standouts:


Highball & Harvest

The Lap of Luxury

This farm-to-table restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner with a menu created using ingredients sourced from local farms and the resort’s own organic garden. Southern-inspired dishes such as The Southern Spread with pimento cheese, smoked crab and pickled vegetables, and Florida grouper with beans and greens, tomato gravy and fried okra, are popular with diners.

Whisper Creek Farm: The Kitchen

Located in JW Marriott, this charming eatery utilizes ingredients sourced from the hotel’s working farm with its 7,000-square-foot fruit and vegetable garden plus ducks, chickens, quail and bees, located between the sixth tee box of the resort’s golf course and a quiet creek. The casual but creative menu varies from small bites like gourmet flatbreads to salads and burgers as well as meat and cheese platters. 44


This poolside café and bar is the perfect spot to enjoy a frozen cocktail, a healthy salad, a classic burger or the much buzzed about fish tacos. More than just dining al fresco, the casual dress code is so broad it allows for you to slip right out of the pool or off your lounge chair and enjoy a bite in your swim gear. What the Ritz-Carlton destination is best known for is its spa—for good reason. At 40,000 square feet, standing three stories high, with more than 40 treatment rooms, a full salon and barber shop, a private pool and Vitale, the spa café, guests could easily make a day of it. Like the hotel, the spa is operating at reduced capacity to ensure safe social distancing and requires masks be worn by spa guests and workers so services can be provided with safety in mind for all. What hasn’t changed is the high quality and care that has long distinguished the spa. Signature spa therapies include massages and body treatments, incorporating CBD oil and homegrown ingredients like herbs from the resort’s organic garden, honey from its resident bees and citrus from local orchards. After enjoying their 110-minute Grande Indulgence

Whisper Creek Farm: The Kitchen

massage, which includes full body massage, scalp treatment and keratin gloves for hands and feet, I felt like a new person. As with all destinations, almost equally important is whom you are with. The superlative hospitality that travelers have come to expect from the hotel brand is in special abundance at the Grande Lakes property and, if you are anything like me, it will bring you back time and again to this special destination. For more information, visit grandelakes.com

Enchanting Experiences urated Experiences is an exclusive program hosted by The RitzCarlton and JW Marriott Orlando, Grande Lakes. They were created to give guests the rare opportunity of engaging in master classes, guided workshops, immersive demonstrations and other such happenings in a luxurious setting. Among the many varied offerings are experiences in mixology, fly casting, putting, cooking and wine pairings. Led by an array of award-winning chefs, winemakers, jewelers, artists, athletes and wellness experts, Grande Lakes will host a series of these weekendlong, experience-based programs throughout 2021. The next Curated Experiences weekend takes place from April 23rd through the 25th. Guests can explore, learn and celebrate with an array of stimulating activities. For more information, visit grandelakes.com/events/

curated-experiences-atgrande-lakes Although I engaged in several sessions, here are highlights from some of my favorite experiences that I participated in during my visit: Dry Aging: Perfume and Process with John Tesar According to Chef Tesar, the average steakhouse serves beef aged 21 days. At this personal session with Tesar, guests were able to taste the difference between steak that was aged 45 days, and others aged 140 days and 240 days, showing how the aging process impacts steak’s flavor. This was the most informative tasting experience I’ve had in a long time. Falconry Seeing the large “working falcons” up close and personal was a first for me. Learning about how the hotel uses the falcons as a natural deterrent for keeping other animals or

Chef John Tesar


pests at bay so hotel and special event guests are not disrupted with unwelcome intruders was fascinating. I now look at the owls that hoot at my house in a whole new light. Master Sous Vide Cooking with Gerald Sombright Chef Sombright took the mystery out of this cooking method and shared frank insights on when and when not

to use the sous vide method (a cooking method that uses precise temperature control to cook with consistency and precision, which is utilized in many commercial kitchens and adapted for the gourmet home cook who strives to create restaurantquality dishes in the comfort of their home), including how to keep food in its best state until ready to serve.

After bringing new life to a vintage classic, the owner of a local natural skin care product line is ready to hit the road with her newly refurbished beauty bar on wheels. By Lisa McGinnes | Photography by Dave Miller


hen she spotted the 1974 Avion vintage travel trailer on Facebook Marketplace, Olivia Ortiz knew it was perfect. “I was like, what is this gem?” she remembers thinking. “I was looking for something like this, this shape, because it’s noticeable. It really catches your attention. It was such a good deal. The bones were really good. There wasn’t anything structurally wrong with it.” It was July 2019. Ortiz figured it would take six to eight months to refurbish the 31-foot trailer into her “Shoogie Shack”—a mobile spa in which clients could experience her handcrafted Shoogie Company natural skin care products and receive relaxing treatments from esthetician/massage therapist Rachel Wilkerson. Ortiz’s brother towed the trailer to an RV park in her neighborhood, where she could get to work. But, like most construction projects, it would take twice as much money, time and effort to finish. And there were a few unpleasant surprises along the way. “It was so gross,” Ortiz admits. She discovered rotted wood, undoubtedly from years of water leaking in around the ceiling vents. There was evidence of mice throughout, including “a family of little mice that had made a home in the oven and eaten everything.” Then there was the potentially hazardous materials scare. “I wonder if this is asbestos?” Ortiz muses in a video her friend took while she was tearing out the coverings over the wheel wells. “I had to stop because I wasn’t sure if it was or not,” she recalls. “I had to call a specialist out to test and I had to wait for like two weeks to get the results back—no asbestos.” Although she was willing to do the hard work herself, Ortiz quickly figured out she would need some expert help. Because local RV dealers don’t work on 47-year-old trailers, she found 82-yearold Mr. Nelson, retired from a local RV shop, to rewire the electricity. Finally, she convinced her two brothers, who both work in the construction industry, to let her hire them for their expertise. Together they learned that installation on the

curved surfaces of the “silver bullet” isn’t quite like anything residential construction had prepared them for. In the end, all that remained of the original interior was the surprisingly large, uniquely curved bathtub. “We took it down to the beams. It was a shell,” Ortiz says. But that allowed her to select just the right materials to create the natural, relaxing interior she envisioned, including the simulated white brick walls, her homage to Ocala’s nickname of “Brick City,” as well as lots of wood. “I wanted to feature natural wood,” she explains. “Wood is living and it breathes. It absorbs light, it absorbs smells and it smells good when it heats up. It’s beautiful.” Ortiz repurposed the bottom section of a vintage hutch she found at a resale shop to make the trailer’s kitchen counter and added a custom magnolia wood

top she crafted with her brother’s help. The beams are cedar, the framing and custom-built, barn-style bathroom door are pine, and oak and aspen are incorporated in the trim. They used magnolia scraps from the countertop, together with a strip of walnut, to create a one-of-a-kind cutting board. Finishing the wood with tung oil allowed it to dry to a naturally glossy, nontoxic finish. Once the Shoogie Mobile Spa was finished, complete with comfortable day beds, a sofa, and plenty of cozy accessories, Ortiz couldn’t wait to hit the road. Clients can book the mobile beauty bar for bridal showers, weddings, a girls’ day in or any private event. She also will be offering group scent making classes and plans to partner with a local RV rental company to create unique outdoor living experiences. “I’m so excited,” Ortiz enthuses. “It’s amazing!” April ‘21


Sleep Saboteurs A good night’s sleep is a joy to experience—and could have short- or long-term effects on your health and wellness. By Susan Smiley-Height


he red LED display reads 3:30am. You went to sleep at 10pm, so what is keeping you wide awake now? Or maybe you can’t get to sleep before 1 or 2 o’clock in the morning and then have trouble being alert for that important Zoom meeting at 9am. Perhaps what is keeping you awake is insomnia, sleep apnea or some other form of sleep disorder. Sleep—and sleeplessness—play a significant role in our overall health and wellness. Figuring out how to get the maximum amount of good sleep is key to optimizing the beneficial effects on our brains and bodies. The good news is, experts such as Dr. Michael Jaffee, an associate professor and vice chair in the department of neurology at the University of Florida and who is affiliated with the UF Health Sleep Center, can offer support to help you slumber.



“Sleep is very important for all of our body’s functions and for our brain to work optimally,” states Jaffee, who is board certified in neurology, psychiatry, sleep medicine and brain injury medicine. “We know that people who are not getting enough sleep have some increased risk of developing heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. It can affect metabolism, muscle mass and the way our brain is functioning optimally.” Jaffee says one of the more interesting findings in the past several years is that, especially in older individuals, sleep plays a very important role in getting rid of abnormal proteins in the brain, such as amyloid. “The build-up of amyloid can be implicated in Alzheimer’s disease,” he explains. “So, as part of brain health, sleep plays a very important role. Sleep basically washes out abnormal proteins and also improves the way our brain cells communicate with

He also advocates for keeping a regular schedule each other by cleaning out and re-setting synapses, of bed and wake time, even on weekends when you the connections between brain cells. This helps the might be tempted to stay up late to catch that new next day for our brains to work more efficiently. movie. And speaking of movies and TV shows, try to If you’re not getting enough sleep, it can affect avoid “watching something that is emotionally going cognition, mood and performance. Getting enough to push your buttons or something exciting right quality sleep is a very important part of wellness and before bedtime.” brain health.” “Along those lines, there is a biological reason Jaffee says studies show that more than a third why we should be avoiding things like computers of people in the United States may not be getting an and smart phones one to two hours before bedtime,” optimal amount of sleep. he adds. “Those kinds of electronics emanate a blue “That recommendation for adults is at least seven light, which is very specific in suppressing the body’s hours of sleep a night,” he says. “Reviews have shown natural release of melatonin.” that consistently getting less than six hours a night is Light comes in different visible and nonvisible incompatible to sustain health.” wavelengths and energies. Blue light has a shorter One of the most common sleep disorders is wavelength and more energy. Increased usage of insomnia, which Jaffee describes as having trouble digital media (smart phones, laptops, etc.) elevates getting to sleep, trouble staying asleep, or both. exposure to blue light and that can impact the “The population that is sleep deprived has circadian rhythms that control your sleep cycle and changed a lot. In the 1940s, well over 80 percent of increase the time it takes to fall asleep. people were getting enough sleep, but in our modern Another common disorder is sleep apnea. Central era we have over a third of people who are not,” Jaffee sleep apnea is when the brain temporarily stops offers. “Part of what’s happening is the demands of sending signals to the muscles that control breathing; modern society sort of take control over our lives. obstructive sleep Turning off personal apnea is when electronics at night breathing stops and would help. One starts because the survey showed that airway is narrowed a third of people or blocked. Someone kept their phone can have both with them, beeping conditions, but and doing whatever obstructive sleep it does through the apnea is the most night. I recommend - Dr. Michael Jaffee common type. putting it in another One treatment for room so even if you obstructive sleep wake up, you’re not apnea involves tempted to look at it.” continuous positive Jaffee also airway pressure recommends keeping (CPAP) therapy, your bedroom cool in which a CPAP and taking a hot machine uses a shower or bath nosepiece or a hose before bedtime as and mask to deliver “our body responds constant air pressure. to decreasing “There are some temperature as a medical reasons to signal for sleep.” be treated for sleep And, he advises, apnea,” Jaffee states. create a “sleep “I think it’s important sanctuary for to be diagnosed—and yourself so light can’t be diagnosed early. sneak in or sounds We know that people can’t sneak in. If that who have untreated means having to use sleep apnea have a sleep mask or ear higher risks of plugs, so be it.”

Sleep is very important for most all of our body’s functions and for our brain to work optimally.

developing heart arrhythmias, higher risks of blood pressure being unable to be managed with medication, and a higher risk of heart disease and strokes down the line. There is a lot of objective and good medical evidence to get sleep apnea treated as this is a controllable risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Most of the people who are treated say they feel better and more rested. We now have better technology for treatments and we’re hoping that treatment of sleep apnea can do a lot more for preventive health. We know that is going to not only make you feel better in the short term, but help prevent longer term medical complications. I will add that success with using a CPAP depends on close adjustments and follow up. That is something the UF center for sleep disorders does take seriously in wanting to keep monitoring closely until we know the person is comfortable and able to sustain the treatment.” Whatever it is that is keeping you from achieving good sleep, Jaffee says his number one recommendation is to identify the disorder, if there is one. “That would be with the aid of a physician,” he offers. “The way I think about different sleep disorders is those disorders that can affect quantity, like not getting enough sleep, and those that can affect quality, meaning that even if you’re getting enough sleep, it’s not quality kind of sleep. And what a sleep doctor can also help with is to identify other medical conditions or medications that can be playing a role in affecting sleep and trying to find a way to better address these.” He says that, in the long run, most physicians don’t recommend certain sleep medicines beyond a couple of weeks. “The current number one recommended treatment for chronic insomnia are some behavioral sleep techniques that have been shown to be quite effective to help retrain the brain and the body to sleep better,” he notes. “A number of evidence-based techniques are referred to as cognitive behavioral therapy of insomnia (CBTI). For people with insomnia, these techniques have been shown to be

more effective than just being given instructions in sleep hygiene or healthy sleep habits. Most clinical guidelines recommend CBTI for people suffering from chronic insomnia. We have a number of specialists who have done extra training in some of these techniques.” CBTI, which could include such techniques as sleep restriction and stimulus control, seeks to address the underlying causes of insomnia through cognitive, behavioral and psychoeducational approaches. “The UF Sleep Center is a comprehensive, multidisciplinary center where we can fully assess anyone who is having difficulty with sleep, either in quantity or quality, or sleep timing,” Jaffee says. “Some people have sleep timing or circadian issues, where they might fall asleep earlier in the evening, say 7 or 8 o’clock, and wake up in the early hours. They may have slept seven or eight hours and feel just fine, it’s just that their timing is a little off. That is called advanced sleep phase disorder. It tends to appear more in older individuals, whereas teenagers are biologically prone to have a delayed sleep phase disorder where they may not be able to fall asleep until after midnight. If they are able to sleep in, they’ll sleep the full amount of time they need. It’s just that, oftentimes, the demands of school and society get in the way and they have to get up.” Jaffee says the most common way to get a sleep study done is to be referred by a primary care physician. At the UF Sleep Center, most clients spend one night in rooms similar to a hotel room. “The study does involve a number of electrodes being hooked up to your scalp to study your brain waves, and monitors for your breathing,” Jaffee shares. “Most people think they would never sleep that way, but you’d be surprised that almost all of them do and this allows us to develop an individualized understanding and tailored plan for each patient.” Visit ufhealth.org/uf-health-sleep-center for more information.




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The Facts About “Maskne” While masks are protecting us from spreading the coronavirus, they’re not helping our quest for clear, beautiful skin. By Lisa McGinnes


f a year of wearing masks has taken a toll on your skin, you may be wondering if you will even be able to show your face when the pandemic is over. We got some expert tips for practical ways to manage the annoying breakouts that go along with wearing personal protective equipment. “Maskne is not a new thing; it has actually been around for ages,” explains Dr. Puja Kathrotiya, a board-certified dermatologist at Midstate Skin Institute’s Jasmine Park office in Ocala. While we’ve heard the word maskne more during the COVID-19 pandemic, she says, it’s just a more specific term for acne mechanica, or breakouts caused by localized pressure, friction, trauma, heat or excessive moisture. And that’s something dermatologists have been



treating for a long time. “In the past, soldiers with head gear, especially those in hot and humid areas, were afflicted by this same condition,” the doctor reveals. “Athletes tend to be prone to this affliction from helmets and chin straps that tend to be worn for prolonged periods of time.” So what can we do about it? Kathrotiya offers several solutions:

Wear fabric masks when possible.

“Moisture-wicking fabrics and breathable fabrics help keep the skin drier.”

Wear a clean or new mask.

“Fabric masks should be washed often. Masks get

buildup of oil, makeup and dead skin cells that can contribute to clogged pores and acne formation.”

Look for skin care products labeled “oil-free” and “non-comedogenic.” “These products help keep skin clearer.”

Avoid exfoliating, using facial brushes, washcloths or scrubs.

“Use gentle cleansers and hands to wash your face, then pat your skin dry.”

Simplify skin care.

“Keep the number of skin care products to a minimum. For example: moisturizer and sunscreen followed by a light application of makeup, if any. Added layers of skin care products under the mask can contribute to trapped oil and dirt, leading to clogged pores and breakouts.”

Treat blemishes with over-thecounter spot treatment creams containing benzoyl peroxide.

“That will help fade the redness and shrink pimples. The recommended strength is 2 to 6 percent. Acne masks containing sulfur as the active ingredient also make good overnight spot treatments for relief from pesky blemishes while you sleep.”

For those with darker skin tones, use acne drying lotions with glycolic acid or resorcinol. “Acne can be accompanied by hyperpigmentation. As the redness fades, the skin turns a darker color. These types of products will help keep the skin tone even while combating acne at the same time.”

Visit a board-certified dermatologist.

If over-the-counter remedies don’t seem to be helping enough, dermatologists have next-level treatments. “Prescription-strength topics and oral medicines can help give the extra boost needed for those with moderate to severe maskne or other mask-related skin conditions,” Kathrotiya offers. Like you, we can’t wait to leave masks— and maskne—behind when the pandemic is over. We look forward to seeing your smiling face again!

Harry’s Seafood Bar & Grille 24 SE 1st Avenue, Ocala

(352) 840-0900 › hookedonharrys.com Mon-Thu 11a-10p › Fri & Sat 11a-11p › Sun 11a-9p Open for dine in, carryout and delivery through Doordash and Bite Squad Located in the heart of downtown Ocala, Harry’s offers traditional

Happy Hour Specials: 2-7p every day $3 Draft Beer $4 House Wine & Premium Cocktails $5 Super Premium & $6 Harry’s Signature Cocktails $7 off bottles of wine

Louisiana favorites like Shrimp and Scallop Orleans, Crawfish Etouffée, Jambalaya, Shrimp Creole, Blackened Red Fish, Louisiana Gumbo and Marinated Salmon Salad. Other favorites, like French Baked Scallops and Bourbon Street Salmon, are complemented with grilled steaks, chicken, burgers, po’ boy sandwiches and salads. Their full bar features Harry’s Signature Cocktails, such as the Harry’s Hurricane, Bayou Bloody Mary or the Cool Goose Martini. They also feature wines by the glass and a wide selection of imported, domestic and craft beer.

El Toreo

3790 E Silver Springs Boulevard, Ocala

(352) 694-1401 › 7 days 11a-10p SR 200, Ocala › (352) 291-2121 › 7 days 11a-11p New lunch specials include Taco Salad on Mondays, $5.45; Speedy Gonzalez on Tuesdays, $5.45; Quesadillas on Wednesdays, $7.95; Chimichangas on Thursdays, $6.95; and Burrito Supreme on Fridays, $5.95. New dinner options include Fajita Mondays, $10.95; Chimichanga Tuesdays, $8.95; Alambre Wednesdays, $9.95; and Tacos de Bistec Thursdays, $9.95. Plus $1.95 margaritas on Mondays. On Sunday, kids 12 and under can enjoy $1.95 children’s meals (take-out not included). Wednesday is Special Margarita Day, 99¢ all day. Saturday is 2-for-1 margaritas all day. Happy Hour daily, 3-7pm. Wine, draft & call brands are 2-for-1 (excludes Margaritas).

REAL PEOPLE REAL STORIES REAL OCALA Subscribe to our digital issue of Ocala Style Magazine to have it delivered monthly to your inbox. OCALASTYLE.COM/ SUBSCRIBE

Wednesday: 99¢ House Margaritas All Day Thursday: Trivia Night, 7-9pm (Blvd. location) Thursday: Mariachi band at the 200 location, 6-9pm Dine-in now available


A Case for Change Former State Attorney Brad King opens a new chapter inspired by his family.

By Tom McNiff Photography by John Jernigan

April ‘21



he sun is beginning to dip below the treetops in Brad King’s southeast Ocala neighborhood, bathing the area in a gentle light on a mild spring-like evening. Down the long driveway that leads to the ranch home, a boy zips back and forth across the yard in a little red Jeep under the watchful eye of Brad’s wife, Tammy. The Jeep whirs from grass to concrete and back to grass while Tammy takes a few deliberate steps to stay within mom-reach of the zigzagging tyke. Brad is standing in the garage watching. Just a few months after retiring as State Attorney for the five-county 5th Judicial Circuit, he’s smiling and looks relaxed, in stark contrast with the stone-faced prosecutor who for 32 years stared down remorseless killers, rapists and child molesters. You would think those brushes with such brutal men and women would have taken their toll. They didn’t. Brad relished each fight, he says. And budget cuts, an increasingly routine fact of life, were no fun, but those didn’t drive him from office earlier than he wanted either. In the end, Brad wasn’t pushed into retirement by the pressures of the job or the wearying avalanche of villains and reprobates with whom he was forced to contend. He was tugged ever so gently by the little boy playing in his yard. Brad and Tammy’s new son, Oliver.



In a wide-ranging interview at his home, one of the very few he has granted during more than three decades in public life, Brad reflected on his reasons for his unexpected retirement, his plans for the future and his views on his legal career and the law in general. He eases into a chair at one end of a dark dining room table that is scarred from two decades of family dinners, homework assignments, celebrations and class projects. He could afford a new table, of course. He was making more than $170,000 a year as State Attorney when he retired late last year, and his retirement income will keep his family comfortable well into the future. He probably could build a new table, for that matter. He built the family home with his own hands more than 30 years ago, and two additions. But the table has meaning for him, like the 1997 five-speed pickup truck that he refuses to part with because it was the vehicle his boys drove as teenagers and that he hopes Oliver will drive when he comes of age in a dozen years or so. Ah, yes, Oliver. Brad says he planned to work until 70 or so, following in the footsteps of his mentors like Willie Meggs, who was well into his 70s when he stepped away as State Attorney for the 2nd Judicial Circuit five years ago. But last year, at 62 and with two more four-year terms in his sights, Brad decided to hang it up and let

his executive director, Bill Gladson, succeed him. “Every four years I would reevaluate, say, OK, do I really believe I’m supposed to be here,” he says. “And this past time was the first time I really sat down and prayed about it and thought about it and talked to Tammy about it. I just didn’t feel the same calling to it that I always have. I just didn’t.” “I think I could tell that he was not having as much fun, because he really enjoyed what he did for years,” Tammy says. “So, it wasn’t totally a surprise.” Oliver played a major part in their decision. But to understand where Oliver fits in, you have to go back more than 20 years to when Brad and Tammy adopted a little girl named Caydee. The couple already had three children–Andrew, Brooke and Chase–when they decided to adopt Caydee, a 3-year-old girl with some severe emotional problems. It was rough going from the beginning. Caydee suffered from what Brad describes as reactive attachment disorder, likely a result of having little valuable human contact in her critical infant and toddler years, according to a psychiatrist who evaluated her during the adoption process. Brad and Tammy couldn’t hold her. They couldn’t sit and read books to her. She didn’t want to be touched. The couple worked with her patiently, treated her as one of their biological children and loved her unconditionally. But as she grew, she became subtly defiant. She didn’t act out in big ways. It was just that she refused to do what she was told. Eventually, she left home at 18. The psychiatrist who evaluated Caydee many years ago had warned them at the time that they were in for “rough sledding,” Tammy says. “Little did I know, that psychiatrist knew what she was talking about,” Tammy says. “It’s almost devastating to see your child self-destruct. When we talk to her, she will tell you she is living the life she chose and she would do it again. It’s almost impossible to fathom how someone could not want a loving home.”

Four years ago, Caydee gave birth to Oliver. Brad and Tammy brought her and the baby home from an abusive situation in Tennessee, helped her get a driver’s license and a job. Three weeks later, she was running away and using drugs, Brad says. Caydee did stick around long enough to attend church service on Father’s Day four years ago. The sermon was about what it means to be a father. On the way home, she asked, “Who’s going to be that for Oliver,” Brad says. “And I said, ‘As long as you’ll let me, I’ll be that for Oliver because he really needs that. You’ve got to have a strong father figure and mother figure in your life.’” Not long after that, Brad was wrapping up a first-degree murder trial in Kissimmee when he got a call from a friend that Caydee had dropped off Oliver, then just several months old, at her home. She left no food for him and didn’t say where she was going, when she’d be back, or even if she’d be back. The baby was clothed in only a sock for a diaper. The Florida Department of Children and Families allowed Oliver to be sheltered with Brad and Tammy while they started the adoption process. That involved the heartbreaking step of asking the courts to terminate Caydee’s parental rights. In 2019, the courts awarded full custody of Oliver to Brad and Tammy. Caydee didn’t contest the request. The baby’s father didn’t show up for the hearing. Brad and Tammy still see Caydee from time to time. She came home this past Thanksgiving, but “she caused a ruckus,” Brad says, and stormed out of the house. “We still give her every chance to right her life and make something of herself,” he says. “But we also tell her that with the mindset that she has, we cannot allow her to affect Oliver. It’s just saying if you choose to live your life a certain way, we cannot let it affect everyone else.” With Oliver approaching preschool age, Brad and Tammy began to think about how best to raise this young boy. Tammy had quit work to help raise Caydee, but she loves her job at the couple’s church. She would April ‘21


quit it for Oliver in an instant, but Brad says he doesn’t want her to make that sacrifice. “I said, I can retire and make nearly what I make working, and that way there’s somebody there to take him to school, to pick him up from school if he’s sick … and I really wanted to be with him,” Brad offers. “I’m going to be there to just really pour into his life, to do things with him, to make sure he knows we’re always there, that we care about him, and make sure he knows he’s loved and there’s always going to be somebody there for him.” Brad mulled becoming a school resource officer. He had been a Marion County sheriff ’s deputy many years ago, before law school, so the work was familiar and interesting to him. And being a resource officer would allow him to keep the same schedule as Oliver. So, at 62, he returned to the police academy, where most of his classmates were 30 or 40 years his junior. Most of them didn’t know him, didn’t know he had been the region’s chief law enforcement officer for 30 years. Some of his instructors weren’t sure what to make of him either, a recruit old enough to collect Social Security. And he had fun with that. He smiles as he recalls that, during physical training, one instructor asked him almost apologetically if he could run a mile with the rest of the class. “I said, ‘Well, I’ll give it a try.’” He did not divulge that he routinely runs four miles a day. And, during weapons training, another trainer asked if he’d ever fired a gun. He said he’d do his best. He finished fourth in his class in marksmanship. Brad graduated near the top of his class in February but is having second thoughts about becoming a resource 58


officer as it might not afford him quite the flexibility he wants for Oliver. He is now eyeing a part-time role teaching law at the College of Central Florida and perhaps a day a week as an auxiliary officer for the Ocala Police Department. He’s keeping his options open. That Brad left a job he loved–and that by all measures was very successful at–for his adopted son surprises no one who knows him well. “Not at all,” says longtime friend and colleague David Ellspermann, who was Marion County Clerk of Court for much of the time King was State Attorney. “Brad focused his life on three things–his faith, his family and his profession.” Ellspermann is aware his friend’s public persona is that of a stiff, buttoned-up, emotionless lawman. He chuckles at the notion because it is so at odds with the man he knows–the man of quiet faith, who cares so deeply for his family. The man with the biting sense of humor and a “mischievous” streak. But he is effusive in his praise of King as a prosecutor. “I hold him up as probably one of the best public servants, not only that I know, but that I know of,” he says. “There is no self-gratification. He didn’t do things for recognition and good press. He does what’s best for the community and victims and the law enforcement community.” King’s primary opponent on many cases, 5th Judicial Circuit Public Defender Mike Graves, agrees. He recalls an instance many years ago when they were on opposite sides in a murder trial. The judge came into possession of a letter from the defendant that Brad believed was a crucial piece of evidence. But the

judge said he wasn’t going to release it to prosecutors. “Brad told him he had signed search warrants and was prepared to search the judge’s chambers if necessary,” Graves states. “There was a long hush in the courtroom. It was the one time in my life I had the sense to keep my butt in the chair and my mouth shut,” he adds with a laugh. The judge turned over the document. “Brad wasn’t doing it to grandstand,” Graves says. “That’s the thing you have to know. He just felt so strongly that he was legally entitled to it and needed it for his case that he was willing to take on the judge.” Brad recalls one case in which he had to contemplate applying justice versus mercy. “You always consider, you know, tempering justice,” he muses. “Is there a real reason to temper justice with mercy? And there were times when I would say, yes, that was the right thing to do.” He spoke of the case in which a 13-year-old boy walked up behind his sister, who was doing dishes before school, and shot her dead. “He said he heard voices telling him to do it, but he had had no mental health issues before, his parents said, no, there’s no history of him hallucinating, hearing voices, anything like that. But he otherwise was a good kid, did good in school, you know. Did all the things a good kid does. Wasn’t any trouble. There was just like this, why did it happen? Nobody knew. So, we tried to figure for that family, you know, what’s right for them. They’ve lost one child by being murdered by the other child, and they were adamant that they thought that other child could be saved, could be salvaged.”

He says his office worked out a plea, indicted the teen as an adult for first-degree murder, and gave him a long term of probation with the understanding that he would go to prison if he violated. He also got an 18-month sentence on a separate charge as a juvenile that allowed him to get treatment. “There’s no science to it,” Brad states. “You consider what the victim or the victim’s family wants, you consider their prior record if they have any. You consider what kind of person they are as far as are they constantly in trouble at school, getting suspended, getting in fights. But if they’re a decent person who’s done something stupid, it’s a little bit different than being a real criminal.” Brad says he won’t miss being State Attorney. He was happy to hand the reins to Gladson. “Actually I don’t,” he says. “I was surprised at that. My wife was surprised that I could just walk away from it. But 39 years doing it. I wouldn’t say it’s really difficult, but you’re always dealing with problems.” And heartache. Not just watching the sorrow of the victims, he says, but the heartbreak of losing friends in the office. He watched good friends and colleagues Reggie Black and Fred Ohlinger succumb to brain cancer. Prosecutor Fred Hurst died of a heart attack. Staffers lost family members in increasing numbers in recent years, and he grieved along with them. “That was the hard part,” he recalls. “I think it was the toll that it took over the years,” he says. That made his decision to be a full-time dad easier. “I feel like I’m doing more service with Oliver than I could as State Attorney,” he says. “Someone else can do that job, but no one can do this job better than me.”



Drink Up Smoothies and green juices are a nutritious, on-the-go option to get more fruits and vegetables into your diet. By Jill Paglia Photography by Lyn Larson of Mahal Imagery


moothies are super powered and a great time saver for those of us who are constantly on the go. I like to pack my smoothies with antioxidant rich berries and toss in some muscle building protein, which can stave off hunger. I also add in chia or flax seeds, which I believe can help with blood sugar level control and heart health, as well as collagen to increase my body’s production of this anti-aging agent. All of this goodness can be blended in less than 10 minutes and packed in 8 to 12 ounces to enjoy before your next workout or anytime you need to fuel your system. If you are serious about juicing and smoothies, you might want to invest in a Vitamix or high-powered blender. I personally use an Omega vertical juicer. Some of my “go-to” smoothie ingredients include grass-fed whey protein powder, PB2 (a brand of powdered peanut butter), collagen powder and cocoa. Other things I like to always have on hand are bananas, coconut flakes and flax seeds. The flax seeds and protein powder keep me feeling full for hours. In my experimenting with smoothies, I have chosen to avoid anything with a high sugar count, which can spike blood sugar, and fruits with high water content, such as watermelon, mangoes and pears, because these can make the drink too runny. Because strawberries are number one on the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen guide to pesticides in produce, I only buy organic strawberries.

Because of their consistency, I think frozen strawberries work better than fresh for smoothies. Green smoothies can take a bit of getting used to. I find that a touch of freshly juiced apple will satisfy me with enough sweetness. For others, this can be a challenge because if you use too much sweet fruit it defeats the purpose of all those healthy greens. A great trick is to add pineapple or mango. Tossing in an avocado will give you a fantastic, rich green color. And I always add in the juice of one or two lemons or limes, which add vitamin C and helps balance the flavor of some of the more bitter greens. I also like to make my Yummy Green Juice for a bit of a lighter drink. For the younger crowd, like my grandchildren, I add more fruit to a green smoothie at the beginning and then decrease the amount as time goes by. I serve them the smoothies in opaque cups with lids and stainlesssteel straws. Then I tell them it’s going to give them big muscles like the Incredible Hulk! If you are new to the smoothie game, experiment until you find your sweet spot. I hope you enjoy my favorite recipes and let me know if you have your own creations to share. Cheers to your good health! Follow Jill on Facebook at Festively Southern Recipes and Instagram at @FestivelySouthernJill April ‘21



Strawberry Smoothie

1 cup whole frozen organic strawberries (about 10 to 12) 3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk 1/4 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt 1 tablespoon almond or peanut butter 2 teaspoons raw honey 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract Place all ingredients in a high-powered blender, beginning with the liquids. › Blend until smooth. › Drink immediately. Notes: If you do not have a high-powered blender, blend the strawberries in a few at a time and sliced strawberries instead of whole. You may need to add more almond milk and stop and stir the blender periodically to help the smoothie combine. If you use fresh strawberries, you can use a frozen banana or other frozen fruit to help achieve a thicker consistency.

Fat Burning Smoothie

1 cup fresh baby spinach 1 cup pineapple frozen chunks 1 stalk celery, chopped 1/2 cup brewed green tea, cooled 1/2 large grapefruit, peeled and seeded 1/4 large avocado, peeled and chunked 2 tablespoons fresh mint leaves Optional - dash of ground cayenne pepper Place spinach, mint, celery, and green tea into blender. › Puree until smooth. › Add remaining ingredients. › Blend again. › Best if served chilled. Note: In my research, I have learned that these foods can help burn fat naturally: nuts, eggs, berries, grapefruit, green and white tea, chili peppers, spinach and other leafy greens, whole grains, coconut oil and avocado oil, flax seeds, avocados, cinnamon, pears and apples, grapes, celery and 70 percent cocoa. 62



Yummy Green Juice 4 whole celery stalks 2 large Granny Smith apples, cored and sliced 1 bunch curly kale, roughly chopped 1 large lemon, peeled and quartered 1 large cucumber, cut into long strips 1 inch of ginger, peeled

Wash and prep all the veggies. › Juice them in this order: kale, lemon, ginger, cucumber, apples and celery. › If you don’t care for pulp, strain through a sieve before drinking.

Keto Peanut Butter Smoothie

1 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk 1 cup organic heavy cream 1/4 cup creamy natural peanut butter 6 tablespoons organic stevia 3 tablespoons cocoa powder 1/8 teaspoon sea salt Optional: 2 scoops of Vital Proteins Unflavored Collagen Peptides Put liquids in blender first, then add remaining ingredients. › Blend until smooth. › Drink immediately.

Day in the Life By Crisandra Richardson

In observing the beauty that exists in the here and now, we can find the extraordinary revealed within the ordinary. We invite you to see our community with fresh eyes through the lens of one of our talented photographers.

“I was driving around and saw the wildflowers and immediately thought of my friend Debra Beltran—she has really pretty eyes and I like using her as a model. I was going to give her a blanket and make her comfortable, but then I was like ‘I want you all in there, as close to the flowers as possible.’ She’s one of my best friends and we had a lot of fun with it.”


In matters of the heart, it’s ladies first. Learn how to stay in front of heart attacks. A woman’s heart beats faster than a man’s by almost eight beats a minute. And that’s not the only difference. Women are more likely to experience “atypical” symptoms when their hearts are in distress. Signs of heart attack in women could include: • Nausea or vomiting

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• Cold sweats When you learn more about your health, you’re learning how to take better care of your incredible self. Take the AdventHealth Heart Risk Assessment today to find out more about your heart and how to keep it healthy at every stage of life. Take the Heart Risk Assessment at


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