OTK Issue 03

Page 1


Her Words. Her Journey. Her Story.


Our mission is to

support empower and

women of all ages and any race through traditional

journalism, storytelling, illustrations and photography.

supports diversity, inclusion and equality for women This magazine


Our hope is that the stories in the magazine illustrate this through the telling details of our everyday women’s inspiring lives.


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OneToKnowMagazine.com | ISSUE 03


FROM THE OWNER I am a sibling of three, the

middle child and the only daughter in my family. I remember going to both of my brothers’ baseball games and practices and can recall watching the Rangers games with my dad quizzing us on the plays. “There’s a runner at second, no outs, and if the ball is hit to you, what are you going to do?” is something he would say. He taught us how to slide using cardboard. He’d hit us high pop flies in the outfield. We practiced fielding, hitting and running the bases. It was only natural for me to want to be a part of this game I grew up watching and playing.

Women of Fort Worth Who Inspire


My dad was going to be one of the baseball coaches, and I was going to be on his team. However, I was never even given the opportunity to try out. I can’t remember if it was because of when my birthday fell or if I missed the cutoff to play for his team. Doesn’t really matter — my heart was broken, and I just remember crying. But I grabbed my glove, bat and cleats, and my introduction and love for softball began. I couldn’t believe all these girls shared the same passion as me. I honestly thought at the time, this sport was only for boys. My main position was shortstop, but I also remember playing wherever else they needed me. I think back to those days and wish I would have just kept practicing. High school came, things happened, and that hunger to be the best was gone. I was so proud to see these two young ladies, who love the sport of playing baseball as I did at their age, in our One to Watch section. One made it to the Little League World Series, and the other is well on her way. Don’t ever let anyone tell you, “Girls can’t play ball,” or anything else for that matter. We are always having to prove ourselves, and when we do, we should (in my wonderful singing voice) root root root for the home team. I can’t wait for you to read all about “Ella Bruning” by Jennifer Casseday-Blair and “Lucy Ridenour” by Jocelyn Tatum in this issue. We are all given talents, and it’s up to each of us to choose how we use them. Yes, I never made the girls softball Olympics team or played in any major championships, and that’s OK. I have so many great memories of playing the game I loved. Now that I have two little ones, maybe I am meant to pass on my knowledge of the game to them. And I hope to pass on to all of you through the stories on the pages of this magazine to never give up and keep reaching for your dreams.

With appreciation,



I hope Issue No. 3 brings you inspiration as we start a new year, and in the words of Dottie Hinson, “Lay off the high ones!” If you know, you know.

CONTRIBUTORS What would your bio be in three words?

Joc e ly n Tat u m


Dares to live.


J e n n ife r Cass e d ay-Bla ir

Amb er Davis

E lle Davis






Never say die!

Trusting her

Woman who

Ja de Em e rs o n

Agu st in G o n za lez

Conny Gonza lez

M yr ia m Gonza lez





An unfinished

Up close,

Living life

Being a beacon.

every minute.






Sa ra h Lan ge r

An g ie M ar t in ez

Amb er Shuma ke

Shilo Ur b a n





Mearcstapa at

Ready for nap.

Loves people

Student of life.



OneToKnowMagazine.com | ISSUE 03

Ce l e st i na B lo k


Women of Fort Worth Who Inspire


One to Watch

38 Ella Bruning 40 Lucy Ridenour Profile

42 Stagecoach Mary Short Story

48 ‘Raina and Roger Forever’

28 ALEXIS One to Know


How Sweet It Is

Photo by Amber Shumake

• ROSA Berdeja • LATONYA Berry • • JILL Black • MARIA Burke • KRIS Canfield • ALMA Castillo • • VICKI Cisneros • EVELYN Covington • DIONNA Deardorff • • ANGELA DeQuesada • MELONDY Doddy-Munoz • STEPHANIE Flores • • LINDA Foster • CONNY Gonzalez • ADRIENNE Grant • GLADYS Guevara • • MARIELL Guzman • KOBRIE Hodge • LYNNETTE Kile • KELLY Lancarte • • BENEDIKT Langer • MARCIA Mederos • MARIA Orand • JULIE Patrick • JENNA Pinder • • CIRO Sarmiento • RACHEAL Scanlan-Ruiz • JUDY Schell • CHRISTY Smith • SUSAN Smith • • MERARI Solito • RACHEL Taylor • JEAN Tocco • CRISTINA Toledo • CANDY Torres • • BAILLIE Troskot • JOSIE Trujillo • JODIE Utter • CRYSTAL Vastine • • •

AURELIA Albers • JULIE Alvarez • CALLIE Anderson • AMANDA Arizola • AMY Arriaga • CYNTHIA Ayala • JULIE Baker • MARIA R Balandran •

REBECCA Balcarcel • KYOKO Bass • ANDREA Bell • MARISA Bell • CHRISTINA Berger • JUANITA Bermejo • EVA Bermejo • MELINDA Bermejo •

• VALERIE Bigler • EVA Bonilla • LISA Botello • OLGA Buster • DONNA Campbell • KENYAIL Carr • VERA Casarez • TANISIA Castillo-Queppet • LAUREN castleberry • •

CONNIE Cervantez • BRIANNA Cervantez • SARAH Cohen • TONI Contreras • ALEJANDRA Contreras • LEILA Daniels • AMANDA Darden • LANESHA Davis •

FRANCES De Leon • DIONNA Deardorff • PATRICIA DeLeon • DORA DeLeon • VIRGINIA DiPierro • CORRIE Donovan • MICHAEL Edwards • MARY Helen Enriquez • •

DAYNA Epley • CARI Feehan • ROBIN Fielding • LAUREN Findley • ROSANNA Frias • REBECCA Galindo Castro • EDDYE Gallagher • STACEY Garcia •

JUANITA Garcia • ALLYSSA Garcia • AMY Garland • MARIA Isabel Garza • IANINE Glassman • NANCY Gonzales • MYRIAM GONZALEZ • EDWARD Guerra • •

LAUREN Guerrero • DENNISSE Guerrero • FIGEN Gundogdu • LINDA Hailey • JENNIFER Hamrick • NICOLE Hawkins • JADE Hebbert • LEE Henderson • •

VANESSA Hernandez • VICTORIA Herrera • SARA Herrera • LAURA High • ANNETTE Hill • FLO Hill • LEA Hobbs • MARIA Huizar • JACLYN Justice • •

HEATHER Kauffman • SAMANTHA Keaton • LINDSAY Kinzie • ANNE Kline • LOREE LaChance • BLAIZE LaFleur • KENDAL Lake • ELVA Lopez • • •

EMMA Lopez • LINDA Lopez • CYNTHIA M Lopez • GOOD THING Marketing • DONNA Martinez • ERIN Martinez • VERONICA Martinez •

ANGELA Martinez • NELLIE Martinez • LANETTE Martinez-Vidaurri • CONNOR Mccourt • MORIAH Mendez • MAGGIE Mercado • PEGGY Miller • • •

ANAKA Mittal • DANA Moody • LIZ Nelson • ANNA Noyce • VALERIE Ochoa • BOB Of DFW • RACHELLE Ohlhaber • DIANA Oliveros •

LUCINDA Ortega • ROSEMARY Ortez • ELSA Pais • EMMA Patino • CARLA Prieto • BEATRICE Ramirez • PAULINE Ramos • SKY Ramos • •

THERESA Ramos • LAUREN Reynolds • JAN Riggins • ROSIE Rios • CAROL Roark • KARINA Rodriguez • BETTY Rodriguez • • MARIA Rodriguez • DIANA Rodriquez • KAREN Rogers • DANIEL Rosales • SUSAN Russell • LATOYA Savala • MONICA Savino • •

ALICIA Servin • SANDRA Sharp • DEBRA Sherman • COLLEEN Shutt • NICOLE Sinclair • ERICKA Solis • •

LINDA Soto • CHRISTINE Stivers • TERRIE Talbert • DEVONNE Tatum • RUTH Tijerina • •

HERLINDA Tijerina • BECKY Tobin • TRISH Torres • ESTHER Turner • SHILO Urban • • SHARON Urban • LAURA Valdez • ELISA Valdez • ERIN Varnon • VANESSA Villasenor • •

LORENA Waits • NAYA Walker • ANDREW Walker • CAROLYN Watson • • SUSAN White • HAILEE Wood •




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u o k y n a Th





Women of Fort Worth Who Inspire


SPOTLIGHT 8 ARTIST Democratizing Art

WORTH 14 STAYING Desert Magic





Unique Mexican Glassware

Culture, representation and creation

24 BELENTY’S LOVE Vegan Voracity

16 EXPLORING Continuing Education



Walking: The New Happy Hour for Health Rising After the Fall


Identity Through My Knife and Fork


Fort Worth Love

Stories with QR codes

2 Owner’s Letter 3 Contributors 26 Craft 80 Ponder GET YOUR SMART PHONES READY. Scan the QR code at the end of the article for more video and audio content.

“This could very well be her hand, and she is taking back control of this stereotype the world may want to give her as a woman growing up in a brothel in a Third World country, but with sheer determination she is living the American Dream.” - Brenda Ciardiello, Recreate, by Jocelyn Tatum, P 26 “I play baseball because I wanted to, and because mostly everybody on the court is a boy and girls don’t play baseball, they play softball, and softballs are too big for my hand, and I don’t like throwing underhanded.” - Lucy Ridenour, One To Watch, by Jocelyn Tatum, P 40

Editorial Inquiries editorial@onetoknowmagazine.com Advertising sales@onetoknowmagazine.com Design Adrienne Martinez, art director Editorial Jocelyn F. Tatum, executive editor Contributors Editorial Celestina Blok, Jennifer Casseday-Blair, Amanda Myers Brotherton, Elle Davis, Jade Emerson, Myriam Gonzalez, Angie Martinez, Shilo Urban Photography Agustin Gonzalez, Amber Shumake Illustrators Amber Davis, Conny Gonzalez Digital Media Sarah Langer Have an idea or see a mistake? Tell us about it: editorial@onetoknowmagazine.com One To Know Magazine is a bimonthly, subscription-based publication. All rights reserved. Views and comments expressed by individuals do not necessarily represent those of the publishers, and no legal responsibility can be accepted for the result of the use by readers of information or advice of whatever kind given in this publication, either in editorial or advertisements. No part of this publication may be reprinted or duplicated without the prior permission of One To Know Magazine LLC. FOLLOW AND LIKE US

@onetoknowmagazine VISIT US ONLINE onetoknowmagazine.com

“Experts agree, walking is a wonder drug – no prescription needed.” - The New Happy Hour for Health, by Celestina Blok, P 62 “We

are not taught that life, more often than not, doesn’t stick to a plan. We are not taught what happens when we stare at a dead end, a goodbye or the end of the line. When we are left to rebuild after the smoke has cleared. When we learn a new word not written out in our pretty little planners — resilience.” - Rising After the Fall, by Jade Emerson, P 66 “For my family, wealth wasn’t achieved through the clothes we wore, the cars we drove or the amount of green paper we had in our wallets, but rather through our fridge. If the fridge was full, we were wealthy. To this day, a stocked fridge equates stability. All is well in our world if the fridge is full.” - Identity Through My Knife, by Angie Ruiz, P 70 “I’m always thinking. But when I’m baking, I’m focused on the buttercream,” she says. “And I love baking because it has a beginning, a middle and an end. I love to clean, too…I see something so messy and so dirty and then so clean right after. There’s an end to it.” - Alexis Ruddock, How Sweet It Is, by Shilo Urban, P 28

OneToKnowMagazine.com | ISSUE 03

Publisher & Owner Adrienne Martinez

“I’ve lived in cities that are known for their weather and coffee, their entertainment industry and horrible traffic, their romantic lights and joie de vivre. But now I live in a place that’s known for something even better: its people. There’s a true feeling of community and mutual support here, something that’s usually lost when cities reach a certain size.” - Fort Worth Love, by Shilo Urban, P 60



Democratizing Art By Jocelyn Tatum

S A R A H AYA L A walked into

Inspired by Eastern Philosophy


the interview wearing a black-and-white houndstooth suit with her long blonde hair draped over her shoulders. She had an antique gold chain with a Jesus charm resting on the sternum of her pale skin. It stood out. Her tattoos along her forearms beckon to her love of Eastern philosophies, her heritage and best friends who share matching tattoos. You may be wondering why any of this is relevant, but it is. These details all tell part of her story as an artist, a teacher, a white-presenting Hispanic, a history-loving philosopher and a descendant of Mexican goldsmiths.

Sarah doesn’t always dress that nice in a museum. If she is meeting people for work, then she may, like the day we met at the Amon Carter by the gift shop. On a regular day she dresses down, making the fine arts sanctuary less untouchable. Sarah’s mission is to bring art outside the ivory walls of museums and into the community — the democratization and decolonization of the fine arts. “I try to strike a balance between doing that, because I feel like if I dress up too much, other people will see the museum as inaccessible,” she says. Afterall, Sarah was a dancer, and it was this element of the fine arts that pulled her out of a dark period in high school when she thought one bad choice at 17 had ruined her whole life. She would soon attend TCU, join a sorority, and major in education to work with kindergarteners. Then there was a moment in college when Sarah realized her teaching degree at TCU may not be her path. “Maybe I don’t teach it, maybe I do it instead,” she says. When Sarah started out as an artist, she was creating work live back when Leon Bridges was a local sensation playing Mondays at Lola’s Trailer Park on West Fifth Street. But at some point, she couldn’t see her vocation as an artist much past just making pretty things. Up until then, most of her art had been inspired by Eastern philosophy and mythology where she created pretty meditative patterns like mandalas. This all started when she read The Tao of Pooh on a road trip across the American Southwest in college. Left: Amon Carter Museum of American Art Carter Community Artist announcement. Photo by Paul Leicht Right: Pencil and gold leaf on 1964 map, 18x26”. Private collection. Photo Courtesy of Sarah Ayala


OneToKnowMagazine.com | ISSUE 03


Inspired by Eastern Philosophy


What is Sarah Ayala currently working on? A mural for Sundance Square for January. It’s for a project called T.I.M.E. in collaboration with Artspace111, including a series of murals from several artists. “I have free range on the mural design, which is relatively rare, so I need to figure out what type of message I’d like to send with it,” Sarah says. She just finished her first installation piece for the Art Tooth’s micro-park in the SoMa District (https://www.arttooth.com/art-tooth-at-soma). That work is based on socio-economic topics from the past two years, including her cake-sculpture pieces that refer to stimulus check amounts and the topic of women’s reproductive health including SB8 and how those two topics intersect to create our current ecosystem and culture here financially for women. This was installed mid-December and will be up for a few weeks.


Above: Amon Carter at CAN Academy mural project.

Photos by Paul Leicht

Left: Detail of private residence mural in Monticello. Photo Courtesy of Sarah Ayala

OneToKnowMagazine.com | ISSUE 03

She has always loved history, too, and would soon get into antique and vintage maps. When Sarah looks at a map, she doesn’t just see geographic locations — a whole world past and present, all of its history and ideologies, and stories of borders, open up to her. She was fascinated by maps and how they reflect our dependence on time. “You can’t map the lines of longitude and latitude without keeping time and the distance between them,” she says. “That’s why really old maps are inaccurate, you know, because they had no grasp of time in relation to distance.” Also, she sees maps in relationship to ancient civilizations and mythologies, and more recently regarding land ownership, how borders are made. She is fascinated when she looks at maps and sees countries that do not exist anymore or states and cities that aren’t yet formed.

When she started working with the Amon Carter Museum of American Art in its community and education outreach department, her vocation as an art teacher came back to haunt her. She began working with youth at community centers around town. “And it really just came back to me,” she says giggling. “I guess [it’s] a secondhand high, an enjoyment from watching someone who thought that they couldn’t create.” Before that, she used to give mandala workshops because they are meditative, calming and do not require any prior training in art. Consistent with all of Sarah’s vocational art practices, they are not above anybody while still rooted in history and rich in meaning. Through her mandala workshops, she rediscovered her love of teaching and bringing healing through art to others. “I guess before I started working with the museum, that was my first taste of really savoring watching someone get something out of art,” Sarah says. The Amon Carter was the best community partner Sarah would say she has ever worked with. “It was a dream come true; it was meaningful, nothing about it was hollow; I worked with different age groups and community centers,” Sarah says.


She would go to after-school programs in communities with children who are not typically exposed to art museums. “So, we were kind of bringing the collection to them and basing an activity off of the program,” she says. Sarah also works with the youth to create murals with them using their ideas and helping them create them. “That’s when I loved working with alternative schools because I went to an alternative school in high school so I connected with that daunting feeling of, ‘Oh, I just ruined my entire life at 16, 17.’” She knows now that is not the case, but makes sure the youth she mentors knows that too. She also works with a nonprofit called Big Thought, working with adjudicated youth in a program called Creative Solutions. At the end of their summer program, she said the kids don’t want to leave. She has seen young men cry at the end of those programs, witnessing the direct impact it has. She loves the work and continues to do it. “Since I started working with the Amon Carter, I feel like I can’t stop doing it. Anytime I stop, I get burnt out with other stuff. Working with youth is an escape for me now because it is fun and so much more meaningful,” she says.

Inspired by Eastern Philosophy


SARAH AYALA’S TATTOOS: “I have tattoos of patterns and mandalas, but I associate that with my interest in Eastern studies. I have my last name tattooed on the back of my head, and I think that’s my favorite. As women, that’s the first thing that is on the chopping block if we marry, and I wanted to keep it with me forever. I have several matching tattoos with my best friend that are also my favorites.”

Above Top: Enamel on plate. Referencing the gender roles within the Latin communities and self sacrifice of women for others. Above Middle: Cake sculpture in response to the economic state during the pandemic. Photos Courtesy of Sarah Ayala

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The 29-year-old also collaborated with Artes De La Rosa for a fundraising event for her 30th birthday in December, which supports the advancement of Latin culture through the arts while also making the arts accessible. The dots of her life all started to connect — her teaching, her art, her conflicts as a youth — it all coalesced into her purpose, her quest as a community artist. A gold chain hangs around her neck. The charm is a gold Jesus with a crown. It was her grandfather’s, who wore it most of his life. She thinks it could be nearly 100 years old and heard that members of her family were goldsmiths in Mexico long ago. “I am kind of superstitious about this necklace; if I am not going to wear this necklace, then I may not have a good day,” she says. The necklace helps her to be brave when she enters the public sphere to serve the community in all the ways she does. It helps her erase the proverbial borders between her, her art and the children she lifts through that art, like the lack of sense of time did for ancient civilizations on early maps she studies. And if matches her outfit.

Private mural in Monticello.

Photo Courtesy of Sarah Ayala


Desert Magic Set on nearly 300 acres in the high desert of far West Texas, Willow House is a treasured Terlingua retreat with unobstructed views of the haunting Chisos Mountains.

In Tune With the Surrounding Beauty


By Jennifer Casseday-Blair


NEARBY DESERT DESTINATIONS Big Bend & Lajitas Stables 21321 FM 170 lajitasstables.com Desert Lotus Healing Arts Massage Study Butte at intersection of Hwy 170 and Hwy 118 terlinguadesertlotus.com

For all the toll the desert takes…it gives compensations, deep breaths, deep sleep, and the communion of the stars.” - MARY HUNTER AUSTIN

Completed in 2019, Willow House is not only environmentally conscious, but also ecoresourceful. Because water is scarce in the region, 12 single-story, stand-alone casitas utilize a water well powered by a solar pump filtered by two heavy-duty reverse osmosis systems. Walls and pathways throughout the grounds are constructed of rocks that were sourced and collected from various areas of the property, and dead ocotillo branches found nearby were used to create shady structures. Willow House’s proximity to Big Bend National Park provides guests easy access to the Rio Grande River and Chisos Basin hikes. From horseback riding and ATV adventures to river rafting and ziplining, the mountains, desert and rivers of this area are nature’s playground. At the end of a long day, Willow House provides guests what they desperately need…a remote place to clear their heads and a quiet respite away from the noise of the news.

Espresso Y Poco Mas 45 Milagro Way laposadamilagro.com

Starlight Theatre Restaurant 631 Ivey Road thestarlighttheatre.com

Far Flung Outdoor Center 23310 FM 170 bigbendfarflung.com

Taqueria El Milagro 210 Ivey Road facebook.com/taqueria. terlingua

Lajitas Golf Resort and Ziplining 21701 FM 170 lajitasgolfresort.com

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hat Lauren Werner has forged in the Willow House goes beyond a lavish desert oasis; it’s a wanderlust inspiration for off-the-beaten-path travelers on a private ranch offering never-before accessible views. Guests can enjoy a serene, solitary experience under the starriest of skies but also relax in community spaces featuring a fully equipped gourmet kitchen, living area and outdoor fire pit. It’s the ideal combination of privacy and community, isolation and accessibility, elegance and comfort. Lauren is the founder of Willow House, and as a firsttime hotelier, Lauren’s No. 1 goal was to create a design that was totally in tune with the surrounding beauty. Quite possibly one of America’s last frontiers, the closest town of Terlingua is a mining townturned-ghost town that was first inhabited by Comanches, Apaches and Tejanos. Less than two hours from Marfa, which in terms of desert distance is just a hop, skip and a jump, this region was descended upon by Texas ranchers about 100 years ago. Today the area draws a wild menagerie of Hollywood A-listers, art-world bigwigs, oil tycoons, cowboys and hipsters, all culminating to create a mysterious, alluring community.


Continuing Education By Jocelyn Tatum

Keeping Your Mind Alive


Illustration by Amber Davis

I have since gone on to sign up for beginner’s guitar lessons, memoir writing and more. One of my favorite things to do is ogle at the continuing education catalogs that come in each year. My brain gets hungry as if it were looking at a menu — oil painting, sewing, welding, WWII history. Where do I begin? So below is a list of courses offered recently for your brain to feast its folds on.


instein once wrote that when we stop learning, we start dying. The mind is such a valuable asset, and the world has endless beauty, so why not let the two tango in an ongoing pursuit of learning? Plus, I hear research shows it lends to better quality and quantity of life. One of the reasons I went into journalism is because I dive into research and learn something new with each story, whether it is about the urbanization of coyotes or how architects use their designs to make natural light their toy. But there are many ways to learn — continuing education. Fort Worth has a plethora of area colleges offering affordable ways to stop the decay of the mind. One of my past favorites was a drawing class at TCU. We would spend two hours every Saturday afternoon in a quiet room filled with natural light in the Moudy building. It was so calming as the teacher walked us through a new exercises and to hear a new comrade-in-learning’s pencil softly scratching into the paper next to me. It was humbling to see all of those people willing to be new at something. It’s almost childlike. And if they felt anything like me, it felt childlike, but not in the immature way — in the wondrous way.

TCU courses (a sample) • Art history and appreciation • Wine courses • Drawing • Painting • Sewing • Guitar lessons • Piano lessons • Intro to Interior Design • Designing Effective Websites • Travel Photography • Adobe Animate • Memoir Writing • Creative Writing • Grammar Refresher • Research Methods for Writers • Effective Editing Practices

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TCC courses (a sample) • Ceramics

• Watercolor

• Sculpture

• Life Drawing

• Beginning Pottery Wheel

• Automotive Repair

• Crafting

• Photography

• Pilot Certification

• Graphic Design

• Printmaking

• Welding


Unique Mexican Glassware Glassware With a Story


And the story behind the owner’s mission to give back. By Myriam Gonzalez Photos by Agustin Gonzalez


olorful, hand-etched glassware adorn the shelves of Amada Goods, a boutique within 76107 Collective and “community co-working space” located in Fort Worth’s Design District. Owner Jill Black has been importing and selling the artisan pieces since 2019, which all started after meeting an intriguing man with a handicap, the man also behind the designs. During a 2016 visit to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, Jill was introduced to Charles Hall, owner of Rose Ann Hall Designs, and says she was immediately inspired by him and the story behind the pieces she would sell one day. “I was amazed by Charlie. He had this handicap and had to overcome all this adversity, yet he was full of confidence, and it didn’t stop him,” Jill says.

Owner Jill Black holding a piece of hand-carved glass from Mexico, which she sells in her boutique Amada Goods.

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Born with Moebius syndrome, a rare neurological condition that causes paralysis of facial muscles and underdeveloped limbs, Charles was determined to prove others wrong. In 2004, he took over his mother’s company and continued her legacy of creating one-of-a-kind artisan pieces, while providing employment to others with disabilities — giving them the opportunity he struggled to get himself growing up. “When I was 5 years old, my family came to Mexico, and I could just be a normal little kid. When I had the opportunity to open the factory, it was just natural that I wanted to give back to Mexico because it had given so much to me,” Charles says. Since then, he has lived up to his mission, providing employment to people such as Susana, who approached him in 2012 because she heard that while working at his company “she would not be alone.” Despite having no arms, Susana learned to carve glass using only her feet and eventually became one of the top performers at the company. Due to medical reasons, Susana has had to leave and return to Rose Ann Hall several times, but to Charles, it’s only telling of what the company is — “a place where you learn to live life.” Nearly a year after that trip, Jill looked down at one of Charles’ glasses sitting on her desk and thought “if she can etch a glass holding it with her toes, I can figure this out, how to sell these glasses,” she says. Now through each glass sold, Jill is able to tell the story of Charlie, and all of the artisans behind them, helping “highlight the beauty of what they have.”


Culture, representation and creation: Jada Nicome came to Fort Worth to help start something new, and through that, better the community

Bringing Lobby Culture to the Locals


By Elle Davis Photos by Agustin Gonzalez

SHE IS WEARING TAN OVERALLS AND SNEAKERS. Her vibrant smile says welcome before her words invite a patchwork quilt of guests to have a seat at the lobby bar for a drink or to stay for a night in the 21-room, boutique-style Hotel Dryce. At a wooden table across from two large photos of Black cowboys, she trains an employee and does not miss a beat as other guests enter the lobby. Meet Jada Nicome, Hotel Dryce’s magnetic personality who pulls it all together as the general manager. That and her ability to be relatable yet professional is why Jonathan Morris, her cousin and owner of the hotel, says he chose her to be their general manager. But managing a hotel is not Jada’s first rodeo at running a business. This D.C. native’s quest began in high school when she discovered the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship. This educational nonprofit gave her the tools she needed at 16 to start her first business creating customizable hoodies for canines. “NFTE taught me that you could create your own job instead of waiting for something to happen,” Jada says.

Not only did Jada learn to create for herself, but she also learned to create new experiences for others. Before moving to Fort Worth, Jada was the assistant manager of Marketing and Events for Madewell and later the Community Lead Generalist for WeWork in Washington D.C. Creating for others through these roles helped Jada realize the power of community. Becoming the top event generator in the D.C. market did not stop Jada from believing that business was more than generating revenue.

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Bringing Lobby Culture to the Locals


“Business is about the people,” Jada says. She knows that collaboration with the right individuals can be what Jada calls an “ecosystem of entrepreneurship,” and that community is what makes a business thrive. The Chocolate City may have influenced the principles Jada uses to run the hotel, but she says the Fort Worth locals set the tone. The cowboy culture and Western traditions permeate this wooden and stucco structure. A mixture of indie pop and alternative hip-hop flows through the lobby and onto the spacious patio inviting guests from all over and up the street to stay awhile and enjoy the vibes. Between Byers and Linden avenues along Montgomery Street in the Cultural District of Fort Worth, Jada and the team at Hotel Dryce have converted a former dry ice factory into a hub for human connection. “I’m happy to be here. D.C. was rush, rush, rush. I was feeling burnt out and like I was losing myself,” Jada says. Fort Worth brings Jada a sense of calm and community. “I can wake up to birds chirping in the morning and not sirens and traffic. It’s the calmest I’ve ever felt.”

“I didn’t come here for myself. I didn’t come here for Jonathan. I came down here for the culture, for the representation. I came to create something new and help better the community of Fort Worth. When it comes to hospitality, bigger cities like D.C. have lobby culture in their hotels where locals can hang out and have a community spot to go to and not feel judged.” - JADA NICOME




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[S U PP ORT] B E L E N T Y ’ S L O V E

Vegan Voracity

Every dish comes with a side of love at Belenty’s Mexican Vegan Restaurant. By Jennifer Casseday-Blair Photos by Agustin Gonzalez

Vegan Doesn’t Have to Mean Bland


In a town that prides itself on great steak, establishing a customer base at a vegan Mexican food restaurant was a bit of a challenge, but not one that owner Bélen Hernández wasn’t up to. Coming to Texas from Tamaulipas, Mexico, in 2000, Bélen once ran popular taquerias such as Tacote in Glen Rose and Montes in Hillsboro. Her inspiration behind Belenty’s came when her son adopted a vegan lifestyle after he watched a documentary about how chicken meat is processed. Bélen set out to prove that vegan doesn’t have to mean bland, and in 2018 she opened Belenty’s in Granbury. “There were many people coming to eat at our restaurant in Granbury from Fort Worth. They kept asking us to open another location, so we did,” Bélen says. She launched another location on Fort Worth’s beloved Bluebonnet Circle, and the space is painted in bright, bold colors accented with a cozy patio. For breakfast, guests can order dishes such as the Cactus Plate ($9.75) with nopales, tofu, tomatoes, onions and jalapeños or a range of vegan taco and burrito options. A popular lunchtime dish is the Portabello Asada Tacos Plate ($13.75) with three tortillas liberally filled with grilled mushrooms, onions, avocado, cilantro and tofu cream. When asked which dish is her favorite on the menu, Bélen says, “I’m Mexican, so I love my tacos. Right now, the pastor tacos are my favorite.”

Bélen prepares nearly everything from scratch. “We will be adding a lot of new dishes and plan to create a special menu for customers with diabetes or high cholesterol. We are trying to teach people that food can heal you from the inside,” she says. Bélen and her husband and co-owner, Marcus Hicks, are already eyeing markets like Dallas, Waco and Austin for their next opening. Bélen promoted Belenty’s mainly through word-of-mouth and social media. “There really hasn’t been anything at all negative about working with my husband. We are together every day, and he is incredibly supportive.”

Belenty’s Green Smoothie 1 green apple 4 pieces of celery sticks 1 cup of pineapple ½ lime (only the juice) 1 cup of spinach

benefits. It lowers your cholesterol, helps with high blood pressure and to lose weight, as well as with digestion problems. It’s amazing with all natural, organic ingredients,” Hernandez says.

Belenty’s Love Mexican Vegan Restaurant 3516 Bluebonnet Circle


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This smoothie has great


[C RA F T] W A T E R C O L O R + O I L S


Mixed media and Brenda Ciardiello’s twofold meanings By Jocelyn Tatum

Women of Fort Worth Who Inspire


In the cover story, Alexis Ruddock spent a year learning how to recreate the perfect cake for her son. But in the midst of all the baking kits, pastry tools, spatulas, cookie sheets and thousands of cupcakes, she recreated her life. Cover artist Brenda Ciardiello named the cover artwork “Recreate,” and that is exactly what our story that writer Shilo Urban so beautifully captured is about — a Filipino immigrant raised in brothels who came to the U.S. to start over, finding healing and starting over through baking. “There are all of these contrasting images — like serious darkness then light, then bright pink and then black,” Brenda says. Brenda found Alexis’ story so interesting because she came out of such a dark storm to a place where her business and life revolve around the most lighthearted occupation in some ways, one cupcake at a time. Brenda wanted to create something that illustrated a self-made, selfcreated life. “Skies are the symbol of hope, the future or moving forward, so this painting with this ocean with a pink sunset and clouds behind it symbolized her moving into the future, and that pink, I just really associated with her,” Brenda says. The painting looks unfinished in the foreground where the hand rests. That’s on purpose. And the background is rockier and choppier, yet it moves into this sunset on the horizon. “This idea of reaching into your destiny and creating what you want it to be. No matter how it begins, you make it what you want it to be. So even though this landscape started as this rocky, choppy ocean, it turns into this warm promising horizon,” she says. The hand represents Alexis and her presence in life recreating it. The hand is also Brenda’s hand as the Hispanic woman creating this painting and her own destiny. Brenda paints hands a lot because, for her, they have a lot to do with self-determination. Brenda also loves nature, and another theme in her paintings explores people’s interactions with nature.

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“It is my brown Mexican hand in these natural settings, but it is also the artist’s hand creating, this assertion of identity, being proud of who I am, and I am demonstrating that Black and Brown people are just as natural as white people, which seems obvious, but the cannon of the art world doesn’t really depict that,” Brenda says. Hence, there is a twofold explanation in this painting. On a deeper level, this work T H E M E D I U M I S A WAT E R C O LO R also represents herself, her sons and people AND OIL, BUT JUST THE HAND of color in general in natural settings. “I do I S PA I N T E D I N O I L . “I did that with feel in a sense that Black and Brown bodies the piece in The Hotel Dryce because I like are never represented at leisure in nature. It that tension between oil and water, which is Mexicans or slaves working in a field but don’t mix,” Brenda says. She challenges those not at leisure appreciating nature,” she says. looking at her art to think about how we For artwork commissioned by Hotel Dryce, interact with nature. Is it in a harmonious way in light of climate change? “They are maybe Brenda painted this beautiful image of her perceived as incompatible, the medium and 8-year-old, Black adopted son dipping his our global discourse with climate change; are hands into a pond with lily pads. An unusual we doing all we can to mix with nature?” Again, image given Black and Brown people are the artwork’s medium has twofold meaning for usually depicted toiling away, she says. The Brenda. She challenges viewers to think about same concept. “We are not just headlines and how Black and Brown people are traditionally these tropes the media presents,” she says. perceived in nature in art, which is usually in Tying this back into the article, Brenda toil. “On another level, these brown hands are says Alexis is from a country that has a the oil and the water, which depicts how Brown lot of poverty and prostitution, not willful people are not mixed with nature in the fine prostitution, and she faces presumptions of arts world.” her capabilities as a Filipina woman, which - Brenda Ciardiello Brenda observes run deep internationally. Stereotypes. We all are familiar with those painful sweeping generalizations that erase identities in one stroke. “This could very well be her hand, and she is taking back control of this stereotype the world may want to give her as a woman growing up in a brothel in a Third World country, but with sheer determination she is living the American Dream,” Brenda says. The hand is also your hand, the woman who reads this magazine and has the power to recreate your journey moving away from whatever darkness you survived. Each issue we ask a local artist to design our cover, and we write about what inspired her design here in the Craft section of OTK Magazine. If you are interested in designing one of our covers, email art@onetoknowmagazine.com.

Gabby D’Anza Photo

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Her Journey to Now



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Sweet How It Is

From a Filipino brothel to the Food Network, one woman perseveres to savor pastry success By Shilo Urban Photos by Amber Shumake

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Alexis Ruddock

turns flour and sugar into

works of art, crafting flawless cupcakes and cookies with adorable decorations. Dainty pink flowers and teeny-tiny succulents bloom on her desserts. Swirls of frosting find new lives as snowy cabins and pretty springtime forests. It’s a world of happy unicorns and rainbows, of candy sprinkles and cake pops that are Her Journey to Now


(almost) too cute to eat. A self-taught chef and mother of two, Alexis runs the award-winning organic bakery Sweet Frosted Confections from her home in Aledo. She has appeared on Food Network multiple times. Her delicious treats attract an impressive clientele, from Pepsi and Microsoft to the Texas Rangers and Fort Worth Zoo. She teaches cookie decorating at corporate team-building events and has shipped her in-demand sweets around the planet. But her path to success has not all been strewn with fondant blossoms and roses. Raised in a brothel in the Philippines, she has survived abandonment and abuse on a roller-coaster journey that has swung from driving a Porsche to living in her car. She has picked herself up again and again to overcome challenges and create a better life for her family. As a child, Alexis thought her home was normal. Until she was 7 years old, she lived with her parents and sister in a windowless room under the stairs of a large “hotel” called Fountain of Youth. Many young women lived in the building as well. Alexis watched them style their hair and makeup, donning skimpy outfits and red hearts with numbers on them. She played hide-and-seek with her cousins in the bedrooms that lined the long hallways; there were dozens to choose from. But her favorite was the Cupid Room, whose heart-shaped decor and mirrors charmed the little girl. “I remember that room very well,” Alexis says. “It had a giant blue waterbed and a window overlooking the street.” There was also a hot tub. “It was big enough for a few people. But I never thought, oh, that’s gross. We didn’t have a swimming pool, so we’d go swimming in there.” Every evening, the women gathered on the blind side of the lobby’s two-way mirror to await their customers. A list of prices hung on the wall. Once the doors opened for business, Alexis and her sister were confined to the back of the building. Off-limits to everyone but family, this area belonged to their paternal grandmother — the Madame. Grandma never talked about what was happening on the other side of the hotel. “She just pretended it was normal” — even through pregnancies, police raids and extra-marital affairs. Alexis’ mother had entered the brothel-owning family through an arranged marriage and likely knew about their business from the beginning. “But when you’re a Filipino woman, you can’t say no,” Alexis says. Her mom wound up working as the brothel’s receptionist and witnessing her husband’s affairs, which were conducted freely in the open.

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“In [the] Philippines, it’s very acceptable to have mistresses,” she says. “It’s a patriarchal country, and it’s one of the poorest.” Prostitution is also widespread in the island nation, but the concept of paying for sex was virtually nonexistent before the Spanish appeared in 1565. They stayed for the next three centuries, leaving only after the Spanish-American War turned the Philippines, Guam and Puerto Rico into U.S. territories. The Philippines would later achieve independence, which arrived in 1946 after 50 years of U.S. rule, including the bloody PhilippineAmerican War and a brutal Japanese occupation during the Second World War. Few Americans today realize that the tropical archipelago was once U.S. property. But there’s nary a soul in the Philippines that hasn’t felt the effects of the U.S. military presence, a steady influence for more than a century. Over 125,000 American troops fought there in World War II to help oust the Japanese, and plenty more stuck around for decades at military bases. All these soldiers (combined with rapid modernization) fueled the Philippines’ thriving sex trade and global reputation for prostitution. Sex tourism is the third-highest contributor to the nation’s economy today, with most women (and children) pressured into the business by their families and financial desperation. Such was no doubt the case for many of the girls Alexis saw at the brothel, but she never viewed the situation as anything out of the ordinary. “It was like nothing,” she recalls. “I didn’t think about it until later.” But her mother certainly did. After a few years there, she was done. Alexis’ dad arranged for the family to move to a far-away city — without him. “He would never come and visit. We had no food; we had nothing. No milk for my sister, she was a toddler. We had a rich father, but we were living really poor.” Divorce was literally not an option; it has been outlawed in the Philippines since 1954. To provide for her daughters, Alexis’ mom moved away to work as a housemaid in Hong Kong, where wages were much higher. Young Alexis didn’t understand the economic distress they were facing. All she knew was that she felt abandoned by her mother. The children moved in with their aunt, who lived deep in the countryside with three teenage sons. “I was like their Cinderella,” she says, “I had to clean, I had to cook, I had to wax the wooden floors on my hands and knees.” She fetched food for the brothers late at night by herself and hauled tall buckets of water for their showers. “That is when I started to get physically abused, beat up by my mom’s sister’s kids.” On one of her mother’s rare visits, Alexis told her about the abuse. “I just saw her cry. She didn’t know what to do. She didn’t have anyone else to watch us.”

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By the time Alexis entered high school, she was living with a different aunt. But her reality was about to change even more. Her mother had been dating an American named Willard and was finally able to procure a divorce in Hong Kong. They married, and the new family moved to Las Vegas. “We were so, so happy. We went to the United States thinking that life would be better. And in the beginning, it was very nice. I had my own room and my own bed. But then it wasn’t as good as we thought it would be. [Willard] and my mom had issues. They would fight and they would fight and they would fight. It was just chaotic. He was not nice to her … then she stopped coming home.” So, Alexis left to forge her own way, obtaining her GED and enrolling in community college to study business. “I had to support myself … I was always working a few jobs.” A secretary by day and cocktail waitress by night, she met her first husband at a pool hall where she worked. Their relationship progressed quickly. “We started dating, we got married, we moved to Oregon — bam-bambam.” A baby boy named Parker came next. But just three months later, her husband announced that he was leaving. He’d found someone else. “I called my mom,” she says. “I didn’t know what else to do.” Blindsided, Alexis returned to Las Vegas with Parker and one suitcase, leaving everything else behind. “I started working three jobs. I was working at a bank, cocktailing at a rinkydink Filipino cocktail bar, and working for my aunt on weekends. I was getting really depressed … I was 24 with nothing.” But she did have a dream: to be a real estate agent. She wrote it down — I want to be a Realtor — along with a plan to get out of her current situation. A few years later, she achieved that goal and became a licensed real estate agent and loan officer. “I was making really good money,” she remembers. “From driving a Yugo, now I had a Porsche. I had five houses and was renting them.” It was 2007 and life was good — then the mortgage crisis hit. “I lost everything. No one was buying houses; no one was doing loans. I didn’t know what to do or how to financially support my son.” With nowhere to live except her car, Alexis made the excruciating decision to send Parker to stay with her sister in Arizona. Once again, she had to create a different path forward. She heard about the government’s new mortgage modification program and threw herself into learning how it worked. “I was like, I can do that. I know real estate, I know loans. I can do modifications. How hard can it be?” She made Starbucks her office and began calling her old clients, many of whom were now losing their homes. “I start saving houses and start to get my life together. I get Parker back.”

Childhood Photos Courtesy of Alexis Ruddock

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Alexis hadn’t just found a new livelihood, she’d also found Dan, whom she would later marry. But first — her future as a baker was about to begin. Parker was turning 13, and she wanted to make him a birthday cake, so she bought a chocolate mix and a plastic tub of icing. “I made a flat sheet cake, then I took a spoon and scooped all the frosting out of the container and slapped it on there.” She wrote “Happy Birthday, Parker” in blue lettering and then stepped back to admire her handiwork. “It was the ugliest cake I had ever seen,” she says. “It was like a 5-year-old made it. It made me cry.” Parker saw no problem with the cake and devoured it. “But I’m the kind of person that I know I can always do better with anything I do, and I told Parker, ‘Next year I will make you the best, most beautiful cake you’ve ever had.’”

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I love baking because it has a beginning, a middle and an end. I love to clean, too … I see something so messy and so dirty and then so clean right after. There’s an end to it.” But there’s no end to Alexis’ aspirations. “Why? We’re in a country where anything is possible. I came from a third-world country where when you’re a certain age, by the time you’re 30 or 40 — you’re done. We’re in a country where you could be 80 or 90 years old and still learning. I’m 47 and I just started learning how to play the violin. You can be anything.” Perched beside her cookbooks, a bright pink violin stands ready for her next lesson, a testament to her willingness to face new challenges — and to conquer them through hard work, tenacity and the sheer strength of spirit gained from decades of ups and downs. From the brothel to the bakery, Alexis is more than a pastry chef; she is an inspiration to face life’s many obstacles with a can-do attitude — and a cupcake or two.

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Dan bought her a thick pastry cookbook from Sur La Table and Alexis dove in. “From beginning to end, I baked everything. It showed you how to make croissants, cakes — everything. After I did that, I called myself a pastry chef.” By Parker’s 14th birthday, she was opening a gourmet bakery in the family’s new home of Orange County, California. Business boomed; Alexis was baking 500 cupcakes a day, and soon she had another kind of bun in the oven. Then tragedy struck. “Two weeks after we found out the baby was a girl, we lost her. I was five months pregnant,” she says, her voice trembling. “It was very hard.” The doctors called it “a fluke,” but Alexis couldn’t accept it. She and Dan were young and healthy. They didn’t smoke or drink. After stumbling on an article about toxins in our food, she started When the Food Network called in 2019 to ask researching the benefits of an organic lifestyle and Alexis to appear on “Christmas Cookie Challenge,” went all-in, from her cooking to her clothes. Her it had only been six months since she started son Aiden arrived shortly after and so did her new decorating cookies. She accepted. “I don’t have bakery, Sweet Frosted Confections. formal pastry schooling. Some people say you can’t Launched after her moving to Texas in 2017, call yourself a pastry chef unless you went to pastry Sweet Frosted Confections offers organic desserts school. But for me, it’s what you think you can do. along with gluten-free, egg-free, dairy-free and The way I saw it was: If she can do it, if he can do it vegan options. Alexis’ exquisite artistry ranges — I can do it.” from whimsical bouquet cakes to truffles with sleek Most recently appearing on Food Network’s corporate logos. She makes hot cocoa bombs, French “Gingerbread Championships” late last year, Alex macaroons and perky fondant farm animals — and bakes because it’s “beautiful” and it helps to calm she learned it all on her own, reading cookbooks from her mind. “I’m always thinking. But when I’m baking, the library and YouTubing “everything.” I’m focused on the buttercream,” she says. “And

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er wn H O

A League of Play Ball


Thirteen-year-old Ella Bruning is only the 20th girl to ever play in a Little League World Series, but gender isn’t really a factor. By Jennifer Casseday-Blair

Ella Bruning finished the 6-0 win with two hits and scored a run, becoming the third girl in Little League World Series history to have a multihit game. She is the starting catcher for the Wylie Little League team of Abilene. Jokingly referred to as “Ella and the Fellas,” the team competed in the LLWS in August. In the team’s first game of the tournament, Ella made history. For the Bruning family, baseball is in the blood. Bryan Bruning, Ella’s dad, is a coach for her team, and brother Dillon plays outfield and second base for Wylie. Ella’s older brother, Collin, played in the organization as well and was the inspiration for Ella joining the team. “My entire family is extremely competitive. You should see us on board game night. There is a lot of yelling. It gets loud,” Ella says. Ella has an ability to block pitches in the dirt and has extraordinary arm strength. While playing in the LLWS, Ella was struck by a foul ball on her knee. She was checked by the medical staff, and she begged to remain in the game. Ella went on to block the next three pitches into the dirt with her chest. Her stellar performance caught the attention of Major League Baseball. The organization posted a video on Instagram of Ella blocking a ball with her chest and then ripping off her mask while chasing it down and throwing the hitter out at first. They called Ella “a beast.”

On the field, Ella says the fact that she’s a girl isn’t a big deal. “My teammates are all really supportive. When we are playing, gender just doesn’t matter. Outside of the game, we are all friends. We all grew up together and live in the same town, so we’re really close,” she says. There are still naysayers who criticize girls playing baseball, pointing out that softball is a better fit. But Ella isn’t having any of that. “Sometimes I see comments in posts or people saying negative stuff about things I’ve posted, but I try not to let it affect me. It would be easy to let it bring you down and affect your self-esteem, but I believe I’m good enough. And that’s all that matters,” Ella says. She isn’t just a baseballer — she plays softball and volleyball. When she’s not at morning and evening practice or in school or snacking on Dilly Bites pickles during and after her games, she’s watching her brothers play sports. Her favorite team is the Houston Astros, and her favorite subject in school is math because, she says, “I find it really easy.”

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Play Ball


L U C Y By Jocelyn Tatum Photos by Gracie Ortiz

She isn’t the only little girl on her court tucked inside an historic Fort Worth neighborhood. There are a few others. But she would say the reason she plays with boys is because there are only boys on the court to play with. Or, only boys play sports as competitively as she does at her age. “The girls that are on my court do not play sports, and I am one of those girls that plays sports all the time,” Lucy Ridenour says. If Lucy were to play softball with all of the other girls, she would be separated from her closest friends and a sport she prefers. “For this reason, I play baseball.”

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SCAN THE QR CODE to WATCH an interview with Lucy Ridenour.

“I knew she could handle it, and I knew she would shine among the boys.” -LUCY’S MOTHER, K AT H E R I N E R I D E N O U R

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The 10-year-old has bright brown eyes, brown curls and freckles. She’s almost always smiling. The only time she isn’t smiling is when one of the six boys she plays baseball, basketball or football with on the court adjusts the rules to their advantage because she’s faster and often more agile. She’s got a strong arm and even stronger game. When it was time for her best friends on the court to sign up for baseball, undeterred by being the only girl on the team, she decided to join them. None of her friends were playing softball. “I play baseball because I wanted to — and because mostly everybody on the court is a boy and girls don’t play baseball—they play softball, and softballs are too big for my hand, and I don’t like throwing underhanded,” she says. Last year Lucy played basketball as the only girl on the team, so this isn’t her first adventure into sports on an all-boys team. When she asked her mom if she could do it, her mom didn’t flinch. “I knew she could handle it, and I knew she would shine among the boys,” Katherine Ridenour says. “I love her confidence, and I wish I had more of it.” Lucy has little hands and is smaller than most girls her age, but when she’s out there playing on a field full of boys, she doesn’t question her ability and skill. “I feel I am better than all of the boys because I have an advantage because I have been playing sports all of my life,” she says. She would rank herself as the second-best player on the team of about 10 boys. Other boys on her team agreed. “Definitely, she’s one of the top three on the team,” teammate James Boggess said. Lucy heard that when she goes to high school, she may have to switch to softball, but if given the choice, she would continue to play baseball with the boys. “If I am still this athletic, of course,” she says. But her friends on the court don’t doubt she will be, because she is one to watch.

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Feisty Frontierswoman


Mary Meet the feisty frontierswoman with a fighting spirit who refused to play by the rules By Shilo Urban Illustrations by Conny Gonzalez

Everyone knew not to mess with Stagecoach Mary in 1890s Montana, a largely unsettled wilderness with ferocious weather and unforgiving terrain. Here on the edge of civilization, Mary Fields drove her stagecoach beyond the boundaries of age, race and gender. A whiskey-drinking crack shot who smoked and cursed continuously, Mary made her home in a quiet mountain monastery. Fond of children and physical altercations, she was a beloved babysitter who also had a standing $10 bet that she could knock out any man with a single blow. She never lost. Heavily armed at all times, Mary fought off wolves and bandits as the first African American female star-route carrier for the United States Postal Service. Standing 6-foot-2 and over 200 pounds, she sat on top of her stagecoach wearing a men’s hat and jacket, with a cigar in her mouth and a rifle close at hand — and a .38 Smith & Wesson strapped beneath her apron. She crafted pretty boutonnieres from her garden for the local baseball players to wear at every game, and anyone who spoke ill of the team could expect a punch in the mouth.

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Feisty Frontierswoman


Mary was born a slave in Tennessee around 1832. Unlike many enslaved people, she learned to read and write. Freed after the Civil War, she worked on Mississippi River steamboats as a laundress and chambermaid. At some point, she became friends with an Ursuline nun named Mother Amadeus Dunne. Mary left the steamboats to join Mother Amadeus at a convent in Ohio, announcing upon

arrival that she needed “a good cigar and a drink.” Her ornery nature and habitual profanity ruffled plenty of nuns’ feathers. But she proved her worth as a groundskeeper, keeping the abbey in shipshape through hard physical labor and sheer force of personality. “God help anyone who walks on the lawn after Mary has cut it,” one sister remarked. But Mary’s destiny was farther west. Mother

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Amadeus had relocated to St. Peter’s Mission, an isolated outpost 15 miles west of Cascade, Montana. She fell deathly ill of pneumonia, and Mary traveled 1,700 miles to nurse her friend back to health. The West suited Mary. She settled in at St. Peter’s as a forewoman, handling “men’s work” — maintenance and repairs, hunting and chopping wood. She raised hundreds of chickens and tended the massive garden. She coordinated supply deliveries, a critical task in a land where survival was still precarious. Yet she accepted no pay, only room and board. With no contract, she could work on her own terms, coming and going as she pleased. Although Mary played an indispensable role at the mission, she was never really accepted as part of the community. Her skin was a different color. She was “difficult.” She bickered. She made people uncomfortable. She had the “temperament of a grizzly

bear” — not to mention a hearty appetite for hard liquor and homemade cigars. After 10 years, Mary’s ill-fitting disposition finally caught up with her when an argument with a co-worker escalated into gunplay. It was the final straw for the bishop, who kicked her out. Mary moved to Cascade and adopted a lifestyle that shocked 19th-century sensibilities. She was a single woman who did not depend on a man, a family, or the church for support — and for three decades, she was the only African American in the area. She worked odd jobs. She talked politics and sports. She socialized with men at saloons, enjoying a special exemption from the law banning women from such establishments. Always ready to fight, Mary became known as one of the quickest draws around. She twice tried her hand as a restaurateur, but both businesses failed because she fed the hungry whether they could pay or not.

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She settled in at St. Peter’s as a forewoman, handling “men’s work” — maintenance and repairs, hunting and chopping wood.

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Feisty Frontierswoman


But in 1895, Mary found her calling as a star-route mail carrier, an independent contractor for the U.S. Postal Office. She was 60 years old. For the next eight years, she delivered packages by stagecoach across the mountainous countryside — and she never missed a single day of work. She drove rocky backtrails on a 34-mile loop from Cascade, transporting vital supplies to remote settlements including St. Peter’s. She battled searing summer heat and wild winter blizzards with temperatures 45 degrees below zero. When the snow became too deep for driving, Mary strapped on her snowshoes and delivered the mail on foot. She earned a reputation for reliability and speed, and for gunfights and fisticuffs. According to the Great Falls Examiner newspaper, Mary had broken more noses in Central Montana than anybody else. Outlaws proliferated in the region, but she was never robbed; the would-be thieves were too intimidated. Wolves presented another constant threat. One night, a pack of the hungry animals spooked Mary’s horses and overturned her coach, which was loaded with precious food for the mission. She fended off the wolves for hours until daylight arrived.

But in 1895, Mary found her calling as a starroute mail carrier, an independent contractor for the U.S. Postal Office.

Mary retired in 1903 and ran a laundry service out of her home, her hearty temperament intact. Well into her 70s, she cold-cocked a man in the middle of the street — he had refused to pay his bill. She became the baseball team’s biggest booster and an in-demand babysitter who spoiled the children with candies and treats. A respected public figure and minor celebrity, Mary ate free meals for life at local restaurants. Schools closed on her birthday to celebrate. When her house burned down in 1912, the townspeople rallied around her, donating the

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books. In one early rendition, she wears buckskin and carries a live eagle on her arm. The largerthan-life frontierswoman has become a symbol of freedom and self-sufficiency, a rough-and-tumble individualist with the grit and the guts that made America. But Stagecoach Mary is much more than a myth. She is a human. A woman. An African American. We can hardly imagine how Mary felt out there on the rugged trails, living beyond the boundaries and leaving behind a legacy that inspires us still today.

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lumber and labor needed to rebuild. Mary died two years later, and her funeral was one of the biggest in Cascade’s history. A simple stone marks her grave, which is located at the foot of the path where she drove her stagecoach through the mountains — and right into Wild West legend. If Mary’s story seems tinged with the sparkle of a tall tale, it probably is. Most of what we know about her comes from anecdotes and oral histories. Over the decades she has developed into a folk hero, the subject of multiple plays, movies and

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Friendship Fiction


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’Raina and Roger Forever’ By Amanda Myers Brotherton Illustrations by Amber Davis


Once they met, Raina could never imagine life without Roger, and Roger was utterly loyal to Raina. One cold November morning, Raina was walking through the park near her house, and fate shined upon her. Roger came waltzing down the footpath with a broad grin stretched across his kind face. Raina was never one to initiate conversation or meetings with strangers, but Roger’s amiable and positive attitude was so evident, she couldn’t help herself. She stopped and said, “Hello,” and the rest was history. Back then, they were both young, free, and full of vigor. That is what drew Raina to him so quickly. He seemed to possess endless energy, and his happiness was contagious. His demeanor was always silly and fun-loving in those days. Roger quickly became Raina’s outlet for pure fun and friendship; they began spending every free moment together, becoming roommates in the process. They both loved the outdoors; they could spend hours hiking trails and observing the wildlife and plants they encountered. Raina preferred to bring her bird reference books along and attempt to identify the various species she came across. She moved slowly through wooded areas, hoping to witness the bright yellow flutter of a New World warbler or hear the melodic calls of the songbirds. Roger, on the other hand, was invigorated by open spaces and bounded down the trails with ease. His joy came from movement and speed, although he would often stop to smell the Indian paintbrushes and purple coneflowers that grew wild in the area. Despite Roger’s tendency to wander ahead, Raina knew he would always wait for her to finish her bird watching.

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Raina and Roger were the very best of friends.

[ S H O R T

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They had more than a love of the outdoors in common. Friendship Fiction


Roger liked every kind of food that Raina did. She never had to argue over where to order food or what they should cook. Roger was voracious and never turned down a snack or meal. Raina was not, let’s say, a perfect homemaker. Her kitchen skills were abysmal; it was truly shocking she had survived as long as she had. However, she still enjoyed attempting to create good dishes. Even when Raina knew she had burned the fish and overcooked the rice, Roger never complained or pointed out the obvious fact that she was not a very capable cook. She appreciated his willingness to go along with her ruse. She never felt selfconscious around him. She could burn a meal, wear her ratty comfortable clothes around him, or eat an entire pint of ice cream by herself while they watched a movie, and she never felt judged. He always accepted her for exactly who she was, and she did the same for him.

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Raina loved going out with Roger. He was the perfect kind of social being. He was a quiet presence, yet people gravitated toward him. His pleasant attitude put everyone at ease; he slid into Raina’s friend group easily and was accepted by all. Everyone knew Roger would always be there to provide a warm smile and friendly handshake.


who puff up their chests and attempt to dominate those around them. He was laid-back and calm. The few times he did exhibit aggression, it always revolved around safety. Once, he and Raina were deep in the woods hiking, and an enormous wild pig came rushing across their path. Roger’s first instinct was to get between the pig and Raina. He raised his voice, and the pig quickly disappeared into the thick brush beyond the trail. Raina was surprised at how intimidating Roger had been in that moment, but his quick thinking and effective response were no shock to her. Another time they had been watching a movie late at night, and Roger thought he heard someone outside the house. He pushed out his chest and broadened his shoulders, and when Raina opened the front door, he leaped off the porch and ran in the direction from which he heard the noise. Raina would never run into the night after a perceived threat, but Roger was confident in his abilities and seemed to consider himself Raina’s personal bodyguard, which she appreciated.

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Roger was not like some males

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Friendship Fiction


As their friendship grew and time passed, they both matured. Raina became the local go-to girl for bird-watching questions and locations, and Roger threw himself into volunteering at the local hospital in his downtime. They went on trips together, enjoyed great (and sometimes burned) food together, and supported each other in good times and bad. Roger never even cared about the rotating collection of men that Raina had in her life. While she had done an excellent job choosing Roger as her friend, she was sometimes a poor judge of character when it came to romantic interests. Most of the men she dated were too machismo, too focused on themselves to even notice her quirks and talents. She would give them a few chances, but eventually, it often ended with Raina and Roger on the couch together. Raina would cry over another unsuccessful relationship, and Roger would comfort her, knowing her sadness would pass just as it had before. He never tried to “fix” her or tell her to change. He let her make her own choices and was always there to celebrate or commiserate, depending on the outcomes.

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Roger was not perfect, of course.

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He had his flaws. Raina would often clean up after him, and she could never get him to wipe his feet before walking into their home. He seemed oblivious to his own appearance at times; she would often smooth his hair down with a motherly sweep of her hand and wipe sleep out of his eyes that he had somehow missed. Despite these minor infractions, their friendship was damn near perfect and one for the books. In fact, the only time in their long and mutual association that Raina was ever truly mad at Roger was when he chewed up her favorite pair of running shoes. However, her anger quickly faded away because he had been just a puppy then; he hadn’t known any better.

[L I F E] E N V I R O N M E N T A L

Upcycle Your Life By Jade Emerson


Mother Earth has a stomachache, so people all over the world are finding creative

Turning Waste Into Value

up·​c y·​c le | \ ˈəp-ˌsī-kəl \ solutions to slow the amount of trash we’ve shoved into the ground. One way to do that is upcycling, which is to repurpose old materials instead of buying new ones. Kate Middleton stunned when she wore a repurposed Alexander McQueen gown for an environmentally focused event in October 2021 as part of the dress code. Other celebrities like Angelina Jolie have done the same on red carpets. Hotel Dryce in Fort Worth furnished its stylish lobby and rooms with a few upcycled items. So we thought it was important to compile a little list of places where you can start to upcycle your life. This list is just a beginning. {Intro by the editor, Jocelyn Tatum.}


The Welman Project The Welman Project works to provide secondhand, surplus materials to classrooms for creative reuse. This Fort Worth-based nonprofit believes that breathing new life into materials not only helps fill classrooms, but also helps keep waste out of landfills. The project was founded by two Fort Worth women, Vanessa Barker and Taylor Willis, childhood friends who combined their unique skill sets and passion for innovation to create The Welman Project in 2015. With a school ID, educators can visit The Welman Project’s location at 390 W. Vickery Blvd. to pick out free materials for their classrooms. To donate arts and crafts supplies, office supplies, containers and other surplus materials, you can make an appointment online. Visit: thewelmanproject.org.

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Turning Waste Into Value


Berry Good Buys Berry Good Buys, located at 1701 W. Berry St., is a secondhand thrift store that’s been on the Fort Worth scene since 1988. The store is owned and operated by SafeHaven, which works to provide safety to survivors of domestic violence. Not only does 100% of the profits of Berry Good Buys go to SafeHaven, but SafeHaven clients can also shop at Berry Good Buys at no cost. You can find furniture, china, silver, shoes, lamps, clothes, home decor and more for your next upcycling project. It is also a good place to donate your closet clean-out.

Photos Courtesy of Berry Good Buys


Benbrook Antique Mall Benbrook Antique Mall is any antique hunter’s dream. Stop in at 9250 Benbrook Blvd. to find everything including vintage clothes, antique jewelry, furniture, and home goods from a variety of vendors. Whether you’re looking for practical pieces or a funky conversation starter, each item can work as either the starting point for an upcycle project or statement within itself. Benbrook Antique Mall’s vendors cater to a variety of tastes and styles from vintage oddities to uncommon treasures that will make it hard to ever leave.

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Facebook Marketplace Sometimes one-of-a-kind furniture pieces are not found but created. Furniture upcycling can be as simplistic or elaborate as you wish. Consider replacing the hardware to give a piece of furniture a modern update or retro spin. A coat of paint can transform a simple piece into a statement and help hide any damage from a previous life. Or opt for a classic, timeless look by sanding down the outer layer and adding a fresh coat of varnish. Upcycling furniture allows for the creation of a piece that can fit into any room, style or era or inspiration. For the best finds, check out local listings on Facebook Marketplace. Visit: facebook.com/marketplace.

Photos by Jade Emerson

[L I F E] E N V I R O N M E N T A L


Studio 74 Vintage – Laura Simmons Studio 74 just opened its first brick-and-mortar at 4908 Camp Bowie Blvd., right across the street from Kincaid’s. This store is a time capsule of lovingly and painstakingly curated vintage clothing and accessories, all sourced by Simmons herself. She specializes in unique, one-of-a-kind items from the 1950s to the 1980s for women, men and even children.

Turning Waste Into Value



Doc’s Records and Vintage Rather than focusing on a particular era or decade, Doc’s Record and Vintage focuses on finding unique pieces that transcend time. A variety of vendors at Doc’s means you can find anything from antique cameras, posters, pop-culture phenomena, clothes and — of course — vinyls. Try using vinyl covers to create a statement gallery wall or adding a vintage jacket to dress up a modern outfit. Doc’s Records and Vintage at 2628 Weisenberger St. is one of the best places for eclectic finds to add a unique pop to any room or wardrobe. Photos by Adrienne Martinez


Pro Tailor

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What’s better than buying a new outfit? Transforming something you already own into your new favorite. When it comes to curating the best closet for any occasion, fit is everything. Rather than discarding clothes that no longer fit, are in style, or need repairs, take them to Pro Tailor at 4942 Overton Ridge Blvd. for a refashion or alteration. In addition to updating items you already own, vintage or thrifted finds can also be tailored to the perfect fit or size, breathing new life into a garment.

Photos by Jade Emerson

[L I F E] S O C I E T Y

Fort Worth Love By Shilo Urban Illustrations by Conny Gonzalez

Top 5 Reasons To Love My City


I’ve fallen in love with many cities: Paris in the rain, Sydney in the sunshine, Moscow from the moment I stepped out of the Metro. But now I’m in a serious, long-term relationship with my new home: Fort Worth. Our romance wasn’t the irresistible coup de foudre of love at first sight. Rather it was like a friendship that slowly grows and deepens — until one day you wake up and realize that you’re in love with your best friend. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.


My favorite spot in the city is easy: under the giant trees at Trinity Park. Walking through the towering oaks, cedar elms and pecans, I imagine that I’m on a mythical quest through a fairy-tale land. The riverside path has the best scenery, but I prefer the unpaved trails that meander beneath the dense canopy above — even better in the autumn when shocks of crunchy leaves cover the ground. For my wiener dogs, this is Squirrel Land. Picnickers nibble, children play and bicyclists whiz along — but we’re in our own little world, a woodland realm dusted with a glimmer of leafy magic.


Safe, clean and beautiful — these words usually don’t describe a city’s downtown area. But they do in Fort Worth, even late at night. Sundance Square practically sparkles. I can walk around well after dark by myself and feel totally secure. I don’t have to dodge piles of human excrement or sidestep used syringes. Where are the tents? Where are the groups of shady characters to accost me? Have I spent too long on the West Coast? Our downtown is an absolute gem, from the palatial pink courthouse to the view down Main Street to the rushing energy of the Water Gardens.


I’ve lived in cities that are known for their weather and coffee, their entertainment industry and horrible traffic, their romantic lights and joie de vivre. But now I live in a place that’s known for something even better: its people. There’s a true feeling of community and mutual support here, something that’s usually lost when cities reach a certain size. People are genuinely friendly, with none of the pretentiousness commonly found in arts and culture hotspots. Bartenders are nice, not snarky. Baristas don’t snub you if you don’t specify your roast. And all of this legendary friendliness makes me a nicer person too.


Little things make a difference, especially in a big city with a small-town soul. Like the door being held open for you, a slow drive down the bricks of Camp Bowie, or an ice-cold pickle beer on an oak-shaded patio. Like the candied bacon at Doc B’s or the smoked trout dip at Pacific Table. Like the fierce bull riders, spring bluebonnets and fresh flour tortillas from Central Market. Tickets to a show at Bass Hall and the poolside cabana chandeliers at Hotel Drover. Big things matter, too, from affordable housing and Hot Box biscuit sandwiches to soul-rattling thunderstorms. And with every new restaurant, new friend and new taco — the Fort Worth love just grows. #FW4EVA

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Did someone say arts and culture? The Modern (and the Café at the Modern). The Kimball. The Amon Carter and the Museum of Science and History. Have you seen the Victorian dress collection in the Civil War Museum? Or the new John Wayne exhibit? Cowgirls! Cowboys! Log cabins! And of course, the marvelous Main Street Arts Festival and out-there Arts Goggle. Quite the impressive slew of artsy endeavors. Fort Worth’s Wild West history might seem like old news if you were born and raised here — but it is unlike anywhere else in the world. No other place tells the story of the cowboy quite like Cowtown itself.


Walking: The New Happy Hour for Health An Alternative Social Outing


By Celestina Blok Illustrations by Amber Davis

For most, it’s a means of simply getting from point A to point B. Walking is like breathing, taken for granted unless the ability to do it is taken away. We walk to-and-fro without much thought, but perhaps we should put more thought into walking itself. Experts agree, walking is a wonder drug — no prescription needed. Benefits are a boon to overall health and wellness. Walking can ease joint pain, strengthen muscles and bones, lower high blood pressure and cholesterol, tame a sweet tooth, and even reduce the risk of breast cancer in women. An American Cancer Society study found that women who walked seven or more hours per week had a 14% lower risk of breast cancer than those who walked three hours or less per week. Maggie Krenek, a local family nurse practitioner with a specialty in obstetrics and gynecology, recommends walking to all her patients, especially during pregnancy. “The health benefits include weight loss, endurance and stress reduction,” says Maggie, who’s also a fitness instructor and avid runner. “I highly recommend patients stay active at every phase of life and feel that walking specifically can benefit them physically and mentally.” Maggie is no stranger to the rewards of exercise. She’s been running for 15 years and trains for half-marathons, making it a habit to run around 20 miles per week. Cardio is her therapy, she says, adding that she lives for the stress-relieving, energy-boosting endorphin rush that follows a tough workout. She also cranks out around three 30-minute, high-intensity internal training workouts a week, focusing on leg, arm and abdominal work while keeping her heart rate up.

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An Alternative Social Outing


While intense sweat sessions are her kryptonite, Maggie calls walking her “happy hour.” “I love walking with friends or my dog as a healthy way to be social versus going to happy hour or dinner,” she says. “Walking or running outside is also a great way to get natural vitamin D production from the sun. Getting outdoors can help with stress and anxiety reduction.” Because walking is low impact, it’s a means of intentional movement most folks can execute. But before embarking on a walking plan for exercise, Dr. Amanda Herring, a Fort Worth-based physical therapist with Concierge Physical Therapists, has a few tips. “Be mindful of walking with a normalized gait. If you have a limp, fix the underlying issues to avoid compensations and other injuries along the kinetic chain,” she says. “Make sure to warm up and cool down. Wear appropriate shoes —

make sure they fit and wear orthotics if needed. Also, stay hydrated.” If new to walking for mindful exercise, Amanda recommends walking around the block for 10 minutes a day or every other day to start. “Once you can do that for a week, build up to 20 to 30 minutes a day,” she says. “Ideally, a 45-minute walk a day is very beneficial for overall health maintenance. While walking on a treadmill is far better than no movement at all, taking the steps outside drastically increases the benefit. “Walking outside helps build our immune system and boosts our energy and mood, which in return helps us sleep better at night,” Amanda says. Perhaps walking is indeed the new happy hour, a time that can be shared with friends for better health — and one that won’t result in a tab.

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Find Within Yourself


Rising After the Fall By Jade Emerson

Growing up, I savored the task of picking out a new and yet-to-be-filled planner at the beginning of every school year. With covers of deep blues, emerald greens, or soft pastels, patterns of bold prints, stars or florals, I felt the power within this one simple decision. On those clean, empty pages of my new planner, I would write my next year into existence by day, week, month and year. As simply as I penciled in my schedule, I penciled in my life. Between homework assignments and after-school rehearsal, I coordinated all of the grand things I thought I would see and do and become. Somewhere I still have all those out-of-date planners tucked away with half-filled journals and annotated schoolbooks. And sometimes I miss their simplicity and the surety I believed plans once held. Who would that girl have been if life unfolded the way she had written it out? Who found success and never doubted it. Who never had to worry if she was on track with everyone else. Who had her whole life planned out on dated pages. Instead, I became the girl who always lost track of her planner after the first few weeks.

Who had a to-do list scribbled on her hand and left Post-its everywhere. Who learned that no amount of planning can ever really prepare you for what’s still left unwritten. We are taught that life flows in a straight line. Alongside our peers, we pass our milestones. We take our first steps, we learn to read, we go to school, we go to college, we get married, and have kids and a house with a white picket fence. And we learn to constantly look around to make sure that we aren’t moving too fast or too slow, leading the way or trailing behind. We are not taught that life, more often than not, doesn’t stick to a plan. We are not taught what happens when we stare at a dead end, a goodbye or the end of the line. When we are left to rebuild after the smoke has cleared. When we learn a new word not written out in our pretty little planners — resilience. The beauty of resilience is that it is something you are forced to find within yourself. It’s a refusal to call the game before it’s over. And it can mean trying again, or it can mean walking away. It can mean holding on or deciding to let go.

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Amber Davis Illustration


Find Within Yourself


Resilience is rebellion. It’s a redefinition of what it means to be successful, happy or at peace. It’s a redefinition of what it means to be an artist, a mother, a survivor or a woman. There is no such thing as too late, too old, or too far gone. Abandon the notion that success must come before 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70 or 80. Refuse the idea that we are only given a fraction of our lives to live them fully. You can get a degree at any age. You can be successful at any age. You can start a family at any age. You can find love at any age. You can start over at any age. If you are unwilling to give up. If you are resilient. Yes, it’s brilliant to achieve in your 20s what you thought you wouldn’t achieve until your 40s. But it’s just as brilliant to achieve in your 40s what you thought you’d achieve in your 20s. Take a second act. And then a third, fourth and fifth. Strip away every expectation. Forgo the plans. Discard the schedule. No feeling, situation or experience is permanent. Everything changes. And you’ll change with it. Adapt. Fall. Evolve. Panic. Grow. Break down. Begin again. F. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote, “For what it’s worth: It’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit. Stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same. There are no rules to this thing...I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again.”

I started over with every reschedule and every fallen-through plan. I learned that my life is so much more than an itemized list in the calendar. I’ll never know who the girl with the plan would’ve been, who untouched strolled down her perfectly planned path. But the truth is, I hope I never know her. I’d rather know the girl I am now. Who has learned to find love within herself when she can’t find it from others. Who has learned to embrace the possibility within uncertainty. Who trusts the unknown and has found strength in insecurity. Who has learned that life is nothing more than an unending beginning. The girl who rose after she fell. No one can finish your story but you. What comes next? How will you rise?

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Rich With Memories


Identity Through My Knife and Fork By Angie Martinez

Illustrations by Conny Gonzalez


’ve been told I grew up poor. Perhaps my life would have been different if I’d known it. Privileged people around me, however, were poorer. I’ll decode the riddle: I was well-fed. Literally and figuratively. I was fed love and patience, and it was washed down with cultural pride and education. Sitting at Los Asadero’s Mexican Restaurant on a slow Saturday afternoon last November with a basket of tortilla chips for two, sipping on a Mason jar of iced tea, partially sweetened with Splenda, I stare at the corner tables. The corner tables where, as a child, I developed my lifelong addiction to iced tea. Where, as a child, I then, too, would finish off a basket of chips and hot salsa. Where I would cover my ears, as if annoyed with the sound of my aunt’s belting voice singing of her broken heart. She wasn’t really my aunt. Culturally, if we adore you and you’re around a lot, you become an honorary aunt. That sound — the sound of her voice — I yearn for today. As I sit, staring at my usual Mama’s Special, I’m reminded of my childhood, those Friday and Saturday evenings, my singing “Tia Lucita,” harmonizing to a single guitar. The employee, an older gentleman with salt-and-pepper hair, another familiar face but not related. The birthdays, which celebrated another year of life. The post-funeral dinners, reminiscing on the life lost but the life well-lived. All of these memories tucked into this 10-table restaurant. All of them are so well sewn into this plate of flautas.

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Rich With Memories


Monetarily poor I may have been. The meals that I indulged in as a small girl, however, were those palatable and sought after by a higher tax bracket. “La Comida no se pelea,” my dad would say to me and my two siblings. “Food, you don’t fight over.” For my family, wealth wasn’t achieved through the clothes we wore, the cars we drove or the amount of green paper we had in our wallets, but rather through our fridge. If the fridge was full, we were wealthy. To this day, a stocked fridge equates stability. All is well in our world if the fridge is full. A serving of green beans isn’t simply a daily serving of vegetables — it’s a lunchtime snapshot from when I was 2. My mother would often prepare a meal of Tacos de Papa, Mexican rice with peas and carrots and a spread of fresh toppings to add to the tacos, but 2-year-old me preferred a fresh can of green beans and a can of Libby’s Vienna sausages. A meal I’m not proud of as a self-proclaimed foodie, but nonetheless, a scrapbook moment that is flipped to every Thanksgiving or lunchtime at Luby’s. Green beans, a reminder of the eclectic palate that was developing at such a tender age. What 2-yearold willingly eats green beans straight from the can?

And I’ve eaten shrimp tails, by naïve choice. A choice that wasn’t deemed incorrect until my first date with my now husband. As taught, I didn’t fight over food, but I didn’t necessarily give up food either. As a child, it was instructed that you ate everything on your plate, no questions asked, because there were people even less fortunate than we who didn’t have the luxury of indulging in fried shrimp from The River Oaks Steak House.

My first postpartum meal, three crunchy tempura fish tacos from Fuzzy’s Taco Shop on Berry Street. The infamous, “UH HUH” (if you know, you know) resonating in the back of my brain coming from that greasy kitchen, flashing teenage memories of TCU postgames with my brother. Me, now enjoying my signature Fuzzy’s taco order, holding my newborn child. My life scrapbook isn’t stored away on a shelf, thick with photos and paper glued to it. It’s carefully stored in the sulci of my brain — layers of lasagna, tangles of pasta, pages of tacos all carefully adhered together by gallons of iced tea and slathers of salsa. A palate that is ever growing and continuously discovering. I’ve been told I grew up poor. Perhaps that is true, but I never knew it. Today, at 32, I’m rich. Rich with memories, prepared in loving kitchens, served at 140°F or warmer, ready to be captured, cut, pasted and stored. I’m creating a culinary reminisce to be passed along through generations and shared with those they love.

My life scrapbook isn’t stored away on a shelf, thick with photos and paper glued to it. It’s carefully stored in the sulci of my brain — layers of lasagna, tangles of pasta, pages of tacos all carefully adhered together by gallons of iced tea and slathers of salsa. A palate that is ever growing and continuously discovering.

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When asked, “Do I eat the whole thing?” The response was always, “You eat everything on your plate.” My first date came quick, with a fatty steak and flash-fried shrimp, from the ever-popular TGI Fridays. We were two broke college kids in love. The mortified look on my then date’s face is a look that will forever be ingrained because I popped that shrimp fully in my mouth, tail and all. Beautiful illustrations dance in my head with every meal. My first can of green beans and the sensory excitement that came with squishing them between my fingers. My first beer fizz — a monumental, carbonated moment signaling my adulthood. My half-eaten Don Juan Coco Von from Los Vaqueros served at our wedding. A juicy chicken breast marinated in a savory white wine sauce, topped with mushrooms. I ate a mushroom, perhaps.


Crossing the Finish Line


Stay the Pace

Fanning the fitness flame of visitors and residents of Fort Worth for more than 40 years, The Cowtown Marathon donates proceeds to the promotion of children’s physical wellness. Photos courtesy of The Cowtown Marathon

Every year more than 8,000 runners wake on a chilly February morning before sunrise, lace up their race shoes, and take to the streets of Fort Worth for The Cowtown Marathon. As the largest multi-event road race in North Texas, it makes a yearly $10.4 million economic impact. The 44th annual Cowtown Marathon is scheduled for Feb. 27, 2022, with additional races and a health and fitness expo in the days leading up to it. Proceeds from The Cowtown go directly to Children’s Activities for Life and Fitness (C.A.L.F.) Program. Heidi Swartz, executive director of the Cowtown Marathon, created the C.A.L.F. Program in 2009 to help tens of thousands of area children cross countless finish lines. Staff and volunteers visit approximately 400 schools across North Texas annually, training students in proper running techniques and educating them about resting heart rate, the importance of hydration, proper nutrition, and living an active lifestyle. “Our main goal is staying engaged with the community and keeping everybody active. Teaching this at a young age yields the greatest success,” Heidi says.

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By Jennifer Casseday-Blair



We also have partnerships with several local charities where running groups raise funds for various causes, such as the Alzheimer’s Association and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.” Crossing the Finish Line


- HEIDI SWARTZ, executive director of the Cowtown Marathon

Through its school grant program, the program identifies low-income children and fits them properly with a new pair of running shoes, as well as provides grants to make entry fees more affordable. Those children are then given tips and training to make running a 5K race a reality. “We also have partnerships with several local charities where running groups raise funds for various causes, such as the Alzheimer’s Association and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation,” Heidi says. While the C.A.L.F. Program wasn’t around when running enthusiast Elizabeth Northern attended school, she remembers participating in her first Cowtown Marathon race in 1996 when she was in the fourth grade. Northern holds the Guinness World Record for 10K while pushing a double stroller, and she placed sixth and second American at the 2019 International Association of Ultrarunners World 50K Championships. She has also won every Cowtown Marathon distance, 5K to 50K. “I can’t say enough about the encouragement I’ve received from Heidi and those working for the Cowtown. Fort Worth’s running community is incredible. I think about the friends I’ve made running along the Trinity River, pushing ourselves during those early morning hours,” Elizabeth says.


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Crossing the Finish Line


EXECUTIVE ENDURANCE For 17 years, Heidi Swartz has served as the executive director of The Cowtown Marathon. Prior to that, Heidi held the position of assistant executive director for nearly eight years. With Heidi’s direction, the event has nearly tripled in size since 2004, with more than 25,000 participants and seven races taking place the last weekend in February. In 2006, she created The Cowtown Marathon’s associated nonprofit organization, C.A.L.F. (Children’s Activities for Life and Fitness), which in the past 10 years has provided more than 30,000 pairs of running shoes to disadvantaged children along with greatly reduced entry fees for The Cowtown Kids 5K Run. By bringing fitness awareness and running enthusiasm to local schools, Heidi — a runner, herself — is invested in making the city of Fort Worth a healthier place to live. She serves as secretary on the board of “FitWorth,” the Mayor of Fort Worth’s healthy living initiative, is on the Marketing Advisory Board for Visit Fort Worth and acts as secretary for the National Trade Organization, Running USA.

For those considering running the marathon in the future, The Cowtown Trailblazer Program trains by incorporating current fitness levels and previous race times to calculate various training paces. The Trailblazer program offers in-person group activities with social distancing as well as virtual options. The Cowtown Full Marathon and Ultra Marathon presented by Miller Lite are qualifiers for the Boston Marathon. Elizabeth says the benefit she reaps from running is worth any pain she feels in training. “Running long distances allows you to get to really know yourself…in your head. There’s a mantra that I share with my daughter and goes through my head repeatedly when I’m running a race: ‘We can do hard things.’ I know it’s simple, but it’s effective,” she says. Elizabeth plans to compete again in the Cowtown Marathon in 2022. Who knows? Maybe she’ll set another record.

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This year’s marathon starts and finishes at the Will Rogers Memorial Center. The scenic route takes runners through the tree-lined streets of the Cultural District, via the historic Stockyards and past downtown Sundance Square, as well as passing through the Near Southside, W. Magnolia, Fairmount, Berkeley, Park Hill, and TCU neighborhoods and Colonial Country Club. An in-person Cowtown Health and Fitness Expo returns on Friday, Feb. 25, and Saturday, Feb. 26. A virtual expo will also be offered for runners participating remotely. Speakers will educate athletes on healthy race day and everyday habits, including how to prevent and heal running injuries. Visitors will be able to purchase marathon merchandise, snacks and shoes.


Poem and Photo by Brenda Ciardiello


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