Pensacola Bella Magazine June 2024

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Sizzling fashion, bold living and bright advice light up summer; Juneteenth and United Way’s 100th birthday

PLUS: Pizzaz, Pensacola Picnic Company, The Burrow and Jo’s, as always


from the editor

I love how Bella focuses on uplifting and inspiring women. There’s nothing more powerful than the light we can shine on each other. Women are unstoppable when given the support and space to grow and thrive. The more light, the better! And once one woman starts shining, she casts her light on everyone around her. We can’t help but bask in the glow ourselves. In fact, thinking about “burning bright” led me to do a little research, and I want to share.

Fire has colors and shades of intensity. It’s what makes a campfire or a fireplace so mesmerizing. Those shades are all about temperature, and they equate quite nicely to what I’ve learned about the difference between uplifting those around you or trying to dampen their fire.

Take the darkest red — almost black — part of the fire. That’s like the darkest feelings we have. Rage, jealousy and fear all live in the dark. They can burn, let me tell you. They burn those we aim them toward for sure, but they burn us even more. The good news is that, even at just under 1,000 degrees, the dark part of the flame is actually the weakest.

As the flame gets brighter and lighter, it gets more powerful. Once we see the burning yellow and white parts of the flame, it’s truly alive, reaching temperatures of over 2,700 degrees! And that dazzling part of the flame, that’s our positive side shining bright. When it’s there, we don’t even see the dark because we are entranced by the dancing light. When we share in our friends’ joy, when we encourage, cheer and recognize success, we are fanning those brightest flames in them and in ourselves.

When someone is living in the dark and can’t seem to stoke the energy to grow into a brighter flame, we should encourage her to move a little closer to the ones who shine. Maybe she can catch their spark. Recent research suggests that just being in the proximity of a positive attitude can raise performance and outcomes drastically.

So burn bright, my friends. Share the warmth of your glow. Grow someone else’s light.

PUBLISHER / Kelly MacLeod

EDITOR / Lisa Player

ART DIRECTOR / Elizabeth Meyer



Toni Sparks, Kate Treick


Jennifer Harrison, Magi Thomley Williams

4 • Bella Magazine • June 2024
Liz Biggs, Alice Crann Good, Sharla Gorder, Allison McCrory, Chelsea Owens, Leslie Peck, Lisa Player, Sonshine, Magi Thomley Williams
Bella is published the last week of each month and distributed free throughout Escambia and Santa Rosa counties in Florida. No portion of this magazine may be reproduced in any form without written permission from the editor. EMAIL SALES @BELLAMAGAZINE.COM OR CALL (833) 358-4486 To Advertise SEND EDITORIAL INQUIRIES AND STORY IDEAS TO KELLY@BELLAMAGAZINE.COM
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bella staff

Liz Biggs, writer/columnist

Liz Biggs is a Pensacola native and mother of four. Once upon a time, she had a high-pressure career, but now she has a pension and is a freelance writer for Bella Magazine. Liz enjoys music, dancing, tennis and travel and tries to find humor in everything.

Alice Crann Good, writer

Award-winning writer Alice Crann Good spent 20 years with USA Today and Pensacola News Journal; accolades include the Scripps Howard Foundation National Journalism Award. She was also a state college PR specialist and is author of Betsy the Bookworm children’s book series.

Sharla Gorder, writer/columnist

Sharla Dawn Gorder is a Pensacola Beach resident and columnist for the Island Times newspaper. She is the author of “My Vices Collide; a Celebration of Being a Little Messed Up,” and is currently working on her next book, entitled “Crayon Dawn,” due out in October 2024.

Jennifer Harrison, advertising

Jennifer Harrison is a Pensacola native (via the Navy). She is very involved in the Pensacola community through IMPACT 100, Pensacola Navy Days, Food Distributions for Representative Salzman, Leadership Pensacola, ECPS Foundation, Achieve Escambia, ECCPTA and more. Making an impact is what drives her to do more.

Allison McCrory, writer/fashion stylist

Allison McCrory is almost a Pensacola native who has worked in writing and editing since 1984 when she started with The News, an afternoon newspaper that later merged with the morning Journal. The mom of two adult kids, Allison suffers from a tennis addiction, practices yoga and loves to cook.

Magi Thomley Williams, advertising/writer

Magi Thomley Williams, ACB, ALB is a business and nonprofit consultant, writer, trainer and speaker. Dedicated to improving her community by helping nonprofits build their boards, improve their media presence and attract donor funding,Magi enjoys writing about impactful nonprofits, thriving businesses and the women who lead them.

Chelsea Owens, writer

Chelsea Owens grew up in Gulf Breeze and received degrees in communications and art from the University of West Florida. She has a lifelong passion for style and art, and over 10 years of social media and marketing experience. She is also a pilates instructor who enjoys both staying busy and relaxing at the beach.

Leslie Peck, writer/beauty expert

Leslie Peck is a local aesthetician, makeup artist, lash artist and brow specialist. She has experience in TV, film, print and celebrity makeup in Los Angeles and 11 seasons of NYC Fashion week. Leslie was featured on the front page of the Wall Street Journal in 2007 for her work at Fashion Week.

Leah Seacrest, writer/fitness expert

Leah Seacrest, a seasoned fitness industry veteran with over 30 years, experience in group fitness and personal training, coowns REGYMEN Fitness Pensacola and is the SVP of REGYMEN Fitness overseeing operations and franchise growth. She is a mother of three and loves spending time outdoors.

Sonshine, writer

Sonshine is a Northwest Florida media personality, currenting hosting “Sonshine’s Corner” on BLAB TV. She is a business consultant, author, motivational speaker, and fitness consultant.

Toni Sparks, photographer

Toni Sparks is a proud Pensacola native. As the visionary behind Short Story Studios. Toni is dedicated to creating magazine-quality images with unparalleled elegance and style. Her experiences, infuse her photography with a unique perspective that celebrates and elevates every moment.

Kate Treick, photographer

Kate Treick is a professional photographer, writer, speaker and publisher who has called Pensacola home since 2012. She and her husband Joel have two teenaged kids and two funny little dogs. Kate loves spending time with friends, leading music at her church, reading and traveling.

Teresa Torres Zwierzchowski, social media

Teresa Zwierzchowski has more than 20 years’ experience in communications, including more than 15 years working for the Pensacola News Journal. She is a lover of all things communication including brand, culture and social media as well as community and public relations.

Elizabeth Meyer, art director

Elizabeth Meyer spent her early career as a designer and design director at newspapers across the country. She is currently an adjunct instructor and director of The McKinley Avenue Agency at Ball State University. Betsy was born in Pensacola while her father was in the U.S. Navy.

6 • Bella Magazine • June 2024
June 2024 • Bella Magazine • 7 8 5 0 4 4 9 4 2 4 2 8 5 0 6 8 6 6 5 8 8 8 5 0 7 3 6 1 1 8 1 S H E R L Y N W A G H A L T E R T E A M 4 B D | 4 B A | 4 , 0 7 8 S F 4 B D | 3 5 B A | 4 , 8 9 8 5 0 . 4 4 9 . 4 2 4 2 8 5 0 4 8 5 2 6 6 5 8 5 0 . 6 3 7 . 5 7 2 8 3 B D | 2 5 B A | 2 , 2 1 5 S F $ 3 4 9 9 9 0 0 T H E A T E A M $ 1 , 2 5 0 , 0 0 0 $ 3 , 9 5 0 , 0 0 0 $ 1 , 8 9 0 , 0 0 0 8 5 0 5 7 2 0 5 9 7 3 B D | 2 . 5 B A | 1 , 9 9 5 4 B D | 2 B A | 1 , 7 3 6 S F 3 B D | 2 B A | 1 , 6 2 5 S F 8 5 0 4 8 5 2 6 6 5 9 2 0 5 4 0 3 9 5 6 $ 4 7 5 , 0 0 0 C A R R I E C A R V E R 2 0 5 4 1 2 8 4 3 8 $ 3 2 9 , 0 0 0 $ 3 5 9 , 0 0 0 $ 6 9 8 , 0 0 0 8 5 0 4 4 9 4 2 4 2 S H E R L Y N W A G H A L T E R T E A M $ 5 5 9 , 5 0 0 8 5 0 . 7 1 2 . 6 1 7 3 M I C H E L L E C A R L S O N T H E A T E A M 4 B D | 3 B A | 2 , 8 1 4 S F $ 6 7 5 , 0 0 0 $ 7 7 5 , 0 0 0 3 B D | 3 . 5 B A | 2 , 4 7 6 S F 4 B D | 4 . 5 B A | 5 , 5 6 8 S F S H E R L Y N W A G H A L T E R T E A M $ 3 , 2 0 0 , 0 0 0 B H H S P e n F e d . c o m E X P E R I E N C E D A G E N T S Y O U C A N T R U S T 8 5 0 7 7 6 2 9 5 9 5 PORT ROYAL WAY, PENSACOLA 7 COLLEY COVE, GULF BREEZE 1 PORT ROYAL WAY, PENSACOLA 8 5 0 . 7 7 6 . 2 9 5 9 J E N N Y R U S H I N G 3 B D | 2 5 B A | 2 , 2 5 0 S F F R A S I E R P H E L P S JENNY RUSHING 4 B D | 4 . 5 B A | 3 , 1 5 3 S F L O R R A I N E B R A C K I N 8 5 0 7 3 6 1 1 8 1 $ 3 , 9 0 0 , 0 0 0 $ 1 , 2 9 9 , 0 0 0 $ 3 , 9 9 9 , 9 9 9 8 5 0 6 8 6 6 5 8 8 F R A S I E R P H E L P S M I C H E L L E C A R L S O N 6 B D | 3 . 5 B A | 3 , 1 1 9 S F D A R C Y M E R E D E T H 2 B D | 2 5 B A | 1 , 5 3 6 S F P E G G Y B R A U N 4 B D | 2 . 5 B A | 2 , 2 9 0 S F $ 9 4 9 , 0 0 0 1100 ARIOLA DR PENSACOLA BEACH 6 B D | 4 B A | 4 7 9 5 S F 5 B D | 3 B A | 3 5 5 2 S F 836 Gulf Breeze Pwky. Gulf Breeze Fl. 32561 850.932.6278 17 W Cedar St. Pensacola Fl. 32502 850.434.2244 4003 BAY POINTE DR , GULF BREEZE 3310 BAYOU DR., PENSACOLA 7797 GULF BLVD , NAVARRE 1697 OAK DR , GULF BREEZE 800 S PALAFOX ST 779 , PENSACOLA L O R R A I N E B R A C K I N 3231 EDINBURGH CASTLE DR , MILTON 9202 GULF BEACH HWY , PENSACOLA 1212 E GONZALEZ. PENSACOLA 18 PORT ROYAL WAY, PENSACOLA 616 BAY CLIFFS RD , GULF BREEZE 1516 E STRONG ST PENSACOLA 1110 TIGER TRACE BLVD., GULF BREEZE

inside this issue

CAUSES United Way Page 22

LOCAL FARE Jo’s, as always Page 44


12 FASHION: Smart sizzling style!

20 BEAUTY: Color me bright


Public Speaking Page 52

24 COVER STORY: Live a brave, bright life; color outside the lines

30 LOCAL FARE: A passion for Pizzaz

36 LOCAL FARE: Pensacola Picnic Company

40 LOCAL FARE: The Burrow, East Hill’s fab neighborhood restaurant

48 PROFILE: Kimberly Watson, a force behind Pensacola’s Juneteenth celebration

50 LOCAL FARE: Bright advice

54 OUT & ABOUT: Gulf Coast Kid’s House turns 20

56 OUT & ABOUT: Covenant Care Art of Fashion

60 OUT & ABOUT: Operazzi

64 HER PERSPECTIVE: Everything in moderation — including moderation

66 HER PERSPECTIVE: What was I made for?

On the cover: Model Elizabeth Royappa fires up some bold colors in clothes from S & K Boutique. Story on Page 10.

8 • Bella Magazine • June 2024
Photo by Kate Treick Photography


• Raffia cowboy hat, $159,

• Cinq A Sept Amber belted poplin midi pinafore dress, $445,

• Carretto-print balconette swimsuit, $725,

where to shop

Target: Multiple area locations;

• Vince Camuto paper cowgirl hat, $24.99,

• A New Day belted midi bandeau dress, $40,

• Panel underwire swimsuit, $125,

10 • Bella Magazine • June 2024

Smart sizzling style!

Allison McCrory / Photos by Kate Treick Photography

Wise fashionistas have a secret to striking a chic, classic look year after year: Invest in beautiful, timeless pieces that stand the test of time and forsake fickle trends.

“You can create elegant and chic looks with even the most classic and timeless pieces. Consumers are being mindful to invest in pieces that they can see in their closet for years to come,” noted Shannon Evans of S & K Boutique in Pace.

Not only does that approach create a closet full of enduring options, but it is also easy on the pocketbook and the environment.

Evans’ customers are gravitating away from seasonal pieces that are only worn once or twice and toward looks that will be wardrobe workhorses.

Preppy looks are “in” but also ageless. Midi and maxi skirts as well as wide-leg crops and straight leg denim are on point, recycling bygone fashion eras. Classic blues, yellows and Pantone’s citrusy color of the year, peach fuzz, are favorite summer hues that will look fresh for years to come. Monochromatic is a winning option this summer and likely for many more.

New accessories are a great way to reinvent classic pieces. Look for dainty layered charm necklaces, colorful earrings, wedge sandals, tennis shoes and tiny bags.

“Nobody wants to lug around a large bag when it’s already warm,” Evans said.

Lighten up with a simple clutch, crossbody — or choose one of the jewelry-like chains featuring clips for phone and small accessories.

Shopping list: “Warm and welcoming” are the adjectives Pantone used to describe peach fuzz, their 2024 color of the year. This versatile knit tank by E & M, $32.99, embraces those jovial summer vibes, especially when teamed with these super hip five-button Judy Blue charcoal shorts, $49.99. Add an 850 hat by Codeword, and 10% of net profits will go to Florida Feeding America Network food banks.

June 2024 • Bella Magazine • 13

Elizabeth Royappa

Pensacola native Elizabeth Royappa’s local roots run deep.

“My parents homeschooled me all the way through 12th grade. In 9th grade, I started dual enrollment at University of West Florida, so that was sort of like my high school.”

Royappa graduated from the UWF honors program this spring with a major in communications and minors in sociology and anthropology, She participated in speech and debate, placing first at the March Pi Kappa Delta national speech and debate tournament in both impromptu and persuasive speaking. She was a member of Alpha Chi Omega sorority, which supported local domestic violence prevention. Royappa was so inspired by the cause that she organized a punk/ grunge fundraiser benefiting FavorHouse for her senior honors project.

“Domestic violence prevention is a cause I care a great deal about, so I think FavorHouse is definitely one of Pensacola’s brightest lights. I really look up to the people who work there, especially Tracie Hodson and Jennifer Hill.”

Enthusiastic for a new chapter, Royappa will take a breath to consider her next step while working for the Institute for Human and Machine Cognition and editing for Inweekly.

In addition, this summer she will be working as a political campaign intern. And on the urging of friends, Royappa is dipping her toe into modeling.

When it’s time to relax, Royappa takes in Pensacola highlights.

“I love to walk, hammock and read a good novel in Bayview park; visit Palafox Market on the weekends; and catch shows at Subculture, Vinyl and the Handlebar.”

14 • Bella Magazine • June 2024
Shopping list: Airy! Fluid! Comfy! S & K Boutique owner Shannon Evans recommends opting for breathable fabrics and cuts to dress for Florida’s summer temps. These air flow palazzo pants by Some, $54, are a stunning choice. Team with blue and green print top by Entro, $52.99.

Shopping list: Make a statement with a pop of bold, classic color that just so happens to also be a nod to our own Blue Angels. Navy sheer top by Blu Pepper, $42.99; braided waist wide-leg crop denim by Judy Blue, $76.99. Add a touch of femininity with a jeweled headband, and go hands-free with a clip-and-go phone case.

June 2024 • Bella Magazine • 15

Shopping list: Embrace a bold summer vibe in the office or after hours in this festive ruched floral dress by Entrol, $52.99.

About the Location Rainey’s Closet, 520 N. Alcaniz St., Pensacola; Rainey’s Closet offers special occasion clothing rental for kids and moms-to-be. Local pickup and shipping to shoots throughout the United States available. Studio space is available for rent.

Hair & Makeup

Compliments of Nikki Hounshell, Adore You Salon

2750 E. Olive Rd., Pensacola; 850-261-9595;

Clothes Compliments of S & K Boutique, 4273 Woodbine Rd., Pace; 850910-3308; shopsandk@

Model Compliments of Izon Models & Talent LLC

301 N. Barcelona St., Suite E, Pensacola; 850-4332099;

June 2024 • Bella Magazine • 17
Shopping list: This kelly green pleated dress by Entro, $44.99, is a true chameleon. Wear it with a straw hat and casual wedges for happy hour at the beach. Team with sparkling jewelry and pretty heels for a wedding or evening out. Or add a lightweight blazer and simple hoops for a professional vibe.

stylingthe shoot

18 • Bella Magazine • June 2024
Codeword coral hat, $35 Teleties Counting Karats hairties, $9.99 Urbanista golden hoops, $12 S.T.G. Clip & Go convertible phone case, $42.99 Kaydee bejeweled headband, $19.99 Joia coral hoops, $12 Judson bracelet stack, $21 Judson diamond and pearl earrings, $18 Judson beaded necklace, $16 Photography: Kate Treick / Fashion styling: Allison McCrory Where to shop: S & K Boutique
June 2024 • Bella Magazine • 19 FRIDAY LUNCH EVERY FRIDAY FROM 11:00 AM TO 2:00 PM JACKSONSRESTAURANT.COM RESERVATIONS ENCOURAGED 850-469-9898 start your weekend at jackson's!
Joia jeweled bangles, $22 Joia charmed necklace, $24 Joia jeweled hoops, $20 G. Stella knotted cuff, $22 Judson three-way purse, $34.99

MAC lip pencils, Cherry and Redd, $24, Dillard’s

BRIGHT Color me

The makeup trends of summer 2024 bring the heat with fiery reds, vivid oranges and popping pinks. Fresh dewy skin with muted eyes allows cheeks and lips to reign center stage this season. Blush is all the rage and the brighter the better. Don’t shy away from bold color but instead think of it as an accessory. To lift the cheek, apply a glowing blush to the outer cheek blending it up toward the temple. For a statement pop of color, place it on the apple of the cheek in a doll-like fashion. If you really want stay power with blush, apply a cream blush first and blend a powder blush on top to set and hold the color all day.

Holding strong is the trend of a fearless, intense lip. Go big or go home when applying a red, orange or pink hue to stand out among slightly tinted, glowing skin. Line the lips with a perfected matte or shine away with a colorful gloss. Any way you apply it, color is making an appearance this summer.


• Dillard’s, Cordova Mall, 5100 N. Ninth Ave., Pensacola; 850-477-9565

• Sephora, Cordova Mall, 5100 N. Ninth Ave., Pensacola; 850-473-0083

• Result Medical Aesthetics and Permanent Makeup, 400 E. Jackson St., Pensacola; 850-361-4024

NARS Powermatte

Patrick TA Major Headlines

Double-Take creme & powder blush, She’s Vibrant (orange) and She’s Giving (pink), $68, Sephora

20 • Bella Magazine • June 2024
lipstick, Dragon Girl (left), Too Hot to Hold (middle) and Warm Leatherette (right), $34, Sephora Story and photos by Leslie Peck MAC blush, Frankly Scarlett (left) and Full Fuchsia (right), $29, Dillard’s Rare Beauty Soft Pinch liquid blush, Joy (left) and Grateful (right), $23, Sephora MAC lipstick, Ruby Woo (left), Lady Danger (center) and Coral-ation (right), $25, Dillard’s Jane Iredale Purepressed blush, Flourish (left) and Queen Bee (right), $32, Result Medical Aesthetics Jane Iredale Colorluxe hydrating cream lipstick, Peony (left) and Sorbet (right), $34, Result Medical Aesthetics Glossier lip gloss with cushiony, glassy shine, $16, Sephora Dior Lip Maximizer, Cherry (left) and Raspberry (right), $40, Sephora


United Way of West Florida celebrates a century of service


• What: United Way of West Florida

• How: Volunteer, donate or attend a 100th anniversary event

In 2024, we find ourselves celebrating a remarkable milestone — the 100th anniversary of United Way in Pensacola. The commemoration honors a century of service, collaboration and transition. To mark this occasion, we had the pleasure of hearing from Laura Gilliam, President/ CEO of United Way of West Florida. United Way has been a community

• Info: 850-434-3157 or

advocate in Pensacola since 1924, when Agnes Weis started the organization. It was known then as the Community Chest, raising funds and support for the health, education and financial stability of every citizen in the community. Gilliam emphasized the importance of this history by sharing

that she is inspired by the decades of impact and energized to shape an even brighter future for our communities.

“We collaborate on community events such as Stuff the Bus and Day of Caring with key partners Achieve Escambia, Achieve Healthy EscaRosa, Northwest Florida Mental Health Task Force and others,” Gilliam, with her radiant, humble spirit, shared.

The recent opening of new headquarters is evidence of the collaborative spirit that defines

22 • Bella Magazine • June 2024
Laura Gilliam, president/CEO of UWWF, understands the challenges our community faces and works tirelessly to meet them. By Magi Thomley Williams Photos by Kate Treick Photography

UWWF. The space serves as a centralized hub from which UWWF continues the mission of supporting nonprofits and improving lives.

The organization’s commitment to addressing the most pressing needs in the region by empowering individuals and organizations to reach their full potential is strong.

“As we have done over the past 100 years, UWWF works to best serve our community, which means we make sure we understand the challenges our community faces and how we can best create solutions to those challenges,” Gilliam said.

The centennial celebration is not just about looking back at the past 100 years, but also about looking forward to the future.

“Our community faces complex problems that require complex solutions and the engagement of multiple partners,” she explained.

As part of the centennial celebrations, UWWF is hosting a series of events throughout the year. These include the Glitz & Gallop Gala, Stamp Out Hunger and the Day of Caring. Gilliam encourages everyone to participate in the 100 Acts of Kindness initiative and to share their amazing Acts of Kindness on social media. A list of suggested 100 Acts of Kindness and more details about the 100th anniversary can be found at

“As individuals we must get involved in our communities. We [women] are a powerful group and create positive change in the community,” Gilliam said.

She quoted Debra Mesch, professor of philanthropy at Indiana University, “Men and women engage in philanthropy differently. One is not better than the other. They’re just different.”

As we mark this centennial, we are reminded of the power of unity, the strength of community, the enduring impact of organizations like United Way and our individual responsibility to that impact. Here’s to another century of service, collaboration and philanthropy in Pensacola.


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June 2024 • Bella Magazine • 23
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cover story

Live a brave, bright life color outside the lines

24 • Bella Magazine • June 2024
By Alice Crann Good / Photos by Kate Treick Photography

It’s high time to keep your kidhood coloring book recollections of trying to color inside thick black lines right where they belong, in the past, say countless mental health professionals nationwide. Go ahead and color outside the lines. You are big girls and boys now. You don’t need permission. And you won’t be alone. People have been coloring outside the lines for centuries — from Plato to Emerson to Einstein to Picasso to many contemporaries.

The Emerson quote “Whoso would be a man must be a nonconformist” is a favorite of Pensacola psychotherapist Stacey C. Steele-Taylor, MSW/LCSW.

Emerson believed that for people to reach their highest potential, they must not comply with tradition, or someone else’s specific, conventional plan for their lives, said Steele-Taylor, owner of Redefine Your Story LLC and Redefining: Stories LLC.

June 2024 • Bella Magazine • 25


“When I was in the fifth grade, I had to write a paper on this Emerson quote, and it stuck with me my entire life,” Steele-Taylor said. “It speaks to me, saying don’t go with the flow, be different, be your authentic self.”

Another favorite Steele-Taylor quote is from Dr. Seuss: “Why fit in when you were born to stand out?”

“It’s all about thriving by not conforming,” SteeleTaylor said. “Stepping outside of the expectations of others around you, whether that’s your age group, family, friends or co-workers, is about stepping outside the expectations of society on you. It’s about coloring outside the lines.”

In her professional life, this approach to living falls in line with a mindfully oriented behavioral therapy she uses, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).

In part, ACT encourages taking positive actions and making positive choices in life.

“If we are living our lives without articulating and taking into consideration the sacred elements in our lives, what some call priorities or values, we are drifting in life,” Steele-Taylor said.

Coloring outside the lines is about manifestation, turning an “idea” of how you want to live your life to “reality,” and achieving this has bona fide benefits, she said.

“In my research, every study shows that as we get older, we get happier because we recognize the value and fragility of time, and we shed expectations of others,” Steele-Taylor said.


Redefine Your Story owner Stacey C. Steele-Taylor, “a post graduate researcher, psychotherapist and aspiring superhero,” offers ways to escape coloring-inside-the-lines syndrome.

Embrace imperfection: Try the new thing, the skill, the sport, the hobby or dancing classes! Don’t avoid things for fear of being imperfect or not as good as others.

Don’t be afraid to look silly: Play in the rain, chase the ice cream truck, lay in the grass, bay at the moon. Just stop worrying about what others think!

Rebel against hustle-culture: Be the one who prioritizes rest, balance and having fun in life. Make peace with being a bum and binging an entire series one weekend. Your body and mind need rest. Let other people run in circles, bragging about their busyness. Life isn’t meant to be a race.

“We say, ‘I don’t want to live my life according to how you say I must live.’ We become more genuine as we get older with each generation. We acknowledge that we have one life to live, and we want to thrive and no longer sacrifice what is sacred to us.”

Reaching this eye-opening point in life is extremely “liberating,” Steele-Taylor said.

June 2024 • Bella Magazine • 27

Right on, said Marlee Bruno, owner of Mind Body & Soul Medical in Pensacola.

Bruno wears several hats as a life coach, a boardcertified physician assistant with vast experience in aesthetic and medical procedures, an associate professor at Florida State University and the University of South Alabama.

“Owning a medical practice catered toward women has really shown me how afraid women, in particular, are to color outside the lines,” she said. “It’s almost as though, even into adulthood, they’re still worried that they’re going to get in trouble for going against the grain or getting a little messy.

“While humans are community creatures, it is clear that we all have very unique personalities and ideas,” Bruno said. “Those differences should be appreciated. As a mother of a 3- and 7-year-old, I try to nurture my children’s creativity and individual characteristics. I want to give them the freedom to do what they were born to do in the world.”

The feeling of having to fit inside the box often comes from deep childhood wounds of not being accepted or loved unless you thought and behaved a certain way, she said.

Experiencing the same fact-based findings as SteeleTaylor’s research, Bruno said, “After 10 years of working in emergency medicine and seeing lots of people at the end of their lives, I learned that those who colored outside the lines seemed to experience pure bliss at the end. Those who didn’t were often full of guilt and regret.”

Bruno added that while the majority of her coaching clients are powerful, successful female business owners, nearly all of them “feel they have to ask permission to think outside the box.”

Bruno’s approach is to teach these women that their brilliance comes from making choices that feel good.

“I encourage them to make choices based on fun, excitement, and love, rather than based on fear, guilt, and regret,” she said, “When we do so, we end up with a life built around those things. Decision-making should feel expansive, not restrictive.

“Intuition and creativity are a woman’s birthright,” Bruno stressed. “We already know what to do. That part is easy. The hard part is shedding the layers of who we were told we should be, but it is something we all must do.”

No, it’s not easy, Steele-Taylor added.

“It takes courage to swim upstream, to live a genuine life,” she said. “And do not be hard on yourself. Do not beat yourself up. The truth is we are humans and cannot always sustain without reminders.”

Laughing, Steele-Taylor said, “I am a huge proponent of sticky notes. I put them everywhere.”

One of her favorites: “You have permission to have fun today!”

28 • Bella Magazine • June 2024


“After 10 years of working in emergency medicine and seeing lots of people at the end of their lives, I learned that those who colored outside the lines seemed to experience pure bliss at the end. Those who didn’t were often full of guilt and regret.”

local fare

A passion for


“We grew pretty fast, so there were lots of long days and nights. We’ve been very lucky over the years to have such a great team to help us and our customers.”
— Courtney Henderson

What happens when a mom and daughter duo have vision, style and drive? A small business grows quickly and becomes a staple in the Pensacola and Gulf Breeze communities.

Courtney Henderson and Viki (a.k.a. Sugar) Weir started with a dream 16 years ago and turned a small retail store into a bustling, local treasure, Pizzaz Home. Three years later, Sugarbabies joined the team. Together, the two storefronts make up a boutique gift shop and go-to among locals to find everything from decor, gifts, jewelry, PJs, toys, children’s clothes and much more.

Weir and her husband, Bob, have been married for 42 years. They raised their daughters Courtney and Katie in Gulf Breeze and currently live on Pensacola Beach.

When you meet Weir, you are drawn to her twinkling eyes and trendy, polished appearance. She is put together head to toe, and you immediately want to know where she got her outfit and accessories. (Most likely some of it is from Pizzaz!) If you spend any time at all with Weir, she will tell you the latest story about something her granddaughters said or accomplished, and you know right

away her family is her first priority.

Daughter Courtney Henderson is a Gulf Breeze native and graduate of the University of Florida. She and her husband, Luke, have two beautiful girls, Henley (7) and Hadley (4). There is no doubt Henderson also inherited her mom’s beauty, style and a brain for business. She truly adores their little dream that has turned into a local treasure and the tight-knit community she and her family get to work, play and live in.

Pizzaz began in 2008 out of a shared

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LEFT: Courtney Henderson and Viki Weir are the mother-daughter team at the heart of Pizzaz. INSET: The boutique is truly a family affair, with Weir’s granddaughters lending a hand, too.

passion that Weir and Henderson have for retail, gifts and a drive for owning their own business. Many years of traveling and seeing other boutiques inspired the idea to create their own. When an opportunity presented itself to open a small shop on a month-tomonth lease they jumped on it and Pizzaz was born.

“Getting started, it’s always: How do you let people know you’re open?” Henderson said. “Plus, I was still working my sales job. We grew pretty fast, so there were lots of long days and nights. We’ve been very lucky over the years to have such a great team to help us and our customers.”

Henderson began learning how to use an embroidery machine, bringing an added dimension to the business, while Weir worked to source and order unique products to bring into the store. Opening a new business in the middle of a recession was risky, but they put

every ounce of energy they had into making it work.

“Eleven months after we opened, the Moulton family invited us to their Seashell shopping center in Gulf Breeze where we doubled in size. Eleven months after that, we expanded into the space next door thanks to our community’s support,” said Courtney.

When you walk in the doors of Pizzaz, there is always something new to see. Every season of life is celebrated within the walls of this exquisite boutique. It is a go-to stop for anyone on your list and there are several things you can have engraved and personalized. Even though all the seasonal decor is magnificent, when you walk in and see the many trees decorated during the holidays there is nothing quite like it.

Weir adores the connection that is created with the friendly faces that frequent the shop.

“Years ago, one of our younger customers encouraged her mother’s out of town quests to shop at Pizzaz. When they asked her why Pizzaz was so special, she said, ‘Because they know my name.’ At Pizzaz, it really is all about our relationships with our customers and being here for them in happy and sad times. You can always get a smile and hug or a shoulder to lean on,” Weir said.

Weir’s other daughter, Katie Miller, recently moved back to Pensacola with her husband, Mike, and daughter Clara, (4).

“Katie is always available to fill in on the sales floor, especially during the holidays,” said Weir.

Her three granddaughters are quickly following in her footprints as well.

“The girls love to help but mainly shop! Henley has started helping us do some buying in our Sugarbabies section,” Henderson said.

Where Inspired Days Begin

32 • Bella Magazine • June 2024 • 3603 N. PALAFOX, PENSACOLA (850) 860-6119 • Open 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Thursday

“Henley loves to help decorate the Christmas trees and Hadley and Clara can quickly point you in the direction of every toy and trinket in the store. All three are our adorable children’s apparel models. And don’t forget Pop (Bob), head of maintenance and heavy lifting. We couldn’t do without him,” said Weir.

Weir is forever grateful that she has had the opportunity to work beside Henderson all these years.

“She is not only my daughter and business partner, but also my friend. We are a formidable force when we put our hearts and minds into a project,” said Weir.

“Some of my favorite things about the business are the connections we get to make. Being a generational business, we love watching our customers become friends and watching their families grow. We get to give back to the community

that gave so much to me when I was younger,” Henderson explained.

There is always something new and fun to do at the store. A cooking class with a local chef, drop-in Mahjong classes, Tip Tuesday and more. If you are ever looking for just the right gift for someone special or maybe a treat for yourself, Pizzaz not only has amazing treasures but also familiar, friendly faces that truly love what they do.

When Weir has finished with the holiday rush and has a little down time, you will find her having slumber parties with her granddaughters or with Bob playing golf, tennis or traveling the world. Henderson stays busy with her family and enjoys continuing a tradition of raising her girls right here on the Gulf Coast in the city that helped raise her.

“We could never have had the success that we have without the support of our community,” Weir said.

“At Pizzaz, it really is all about our relationships with our customers and being here for them in happy and sad times. You can always get a smile and hug or a shoulder to lean on.”
— Viki Weir
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36 • Bella Magazine • June 2024
As owner of the boutique picnic service Pensacola Picnic Co., Mariann Greene specializes in crafting luxury picnics and offering custom, one-of-a-kind dining experiences.

local fare

Happy picnics, HAPPY LIVES

As soon as Mariann Greene parks her white Jeep Wrangler at a beach parking lot just west of Portofino on Pensacola Beach, she jumps out and carefully unloads her goods into a beach cart with wheels — items unlike anything coming from another car nearby with a boatload of kids, shovels and pails, faded beach chairs and bruised ice chest.

Greene’s inventory: White rose flower arrangement. White cotton blanket. Blue velvety pillows for seating. Blue linen napkins. Stoneware plates. Silverware. Glassware. Blue taper candles. While pillar candles. Blue and clear twinkle lights. Large table crafted with rustic pallets. White loop table runner. White fringed umbrella. Cooler full of fresh bread, charcuterie, and drinks.

It’s just another day on the job for Greene, owner of boutique picnic service Pensacola Picnic Co.

A typical custom picnic is set up early mornings or at sunset and lasts about two hours, Greene explained. Clients choose their colors and some personal preferences, while Greene curates and orchestrates events by selecting from her ever-growing inventory and working with local businesses.

Some of her favorite vendors: Kate’s Cakes Pensacola, Boards by Jas, Olive to Nosh, The Hippie’s Greenhouse, Hemstitch Rentals, Events Styled by LUXE, Glow Paddle and Navarre Beach Paddle.

And she can design spectacular picnics “anywhere you like,” including the beach, parks, and even your home garden, for any occasion. She’s mastered kids’ parties, birthdays, date nights, engagements, bridal

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Pensacola Picnic Co. offers boutique picnic services

showers, bachelorette parties, wedding rehearsals, weddings, anniversaries, family reunions, company retreats and celebrations for special days such as Valentine’s Day.

“From Spring Break until November, I do five to six picnics a week,” Greene said. “It’s a lot of work, but it doesn’t feel like I am working. I just love doing picnics for people because it’s always so special, and everyone seems to love it.”

She gets to put other talents to work, too.

“It’s also great because I get to use my skills as a professional event planner and photographer — jobs I did in Pinehurst, North Carolina, while my husband was in the Army.”

When Greene, her husband, Jon, 13-year-old daughter, Makenzie, and 16-year-old son, MJ, moved to Pensacola in 2020 after Jon retired from the military, it was all hands on the picnic basket. All three help Greene when needed. Since what started out

as just a picnic service progressed to offering multiple services, Greene often needs more helping hands.

“I truly love spending time with my kids,” Greene said. “This allows me to bring them along and enjoy them and work at the same time. I think they’ve learned a lot from watching me build this business to what it is today, and that is invaluable.”

All of Greene’s hard work is admirable, said Pensacolian Annie Williams, a Pensacola Picnic Co. customer and fan.

“I cannot say enough about Mariann’s character or mention enough how much I appreciate her kindness,” Williams said. “She did our engagement photos/ picnic, our save-the-dates and I even managed to snag her to decorate our wedding this fall. I trust her talent and intuition implicitly. She makes communicating with her easy with multiple platforms, depending on what you are comfortable with and has always been quick to respond.”

Williams has precious memories from one special picnic.

“Our engagement picnic on the beach was so romantic and well put together,” she said. “All of the little details and extras made the moment for us, and we genuinely could have sat there for the rest of the evening. I absolutely loved that she snapped those first moments of the proposal, and then gave us time to enjoy the moment, the ambiance … a moment we wish we could relive over and over.”

Williams is not the only one impressed with Greene and her company. Pensacola Picnic Co. has received rave reviews and PR from Visit Pensacola, various Northwest Florida visitor centers, on Facebook and Instagram, and has been highlighted in several publications.

“Visit Florida has reached out to me to do a video for them,” Greene said. “I am so blessed. This business of making memories is bringing me and my family so much joy.”

INVITING Beautifully

38 • Bella Magazine • June 2024

• What: Pensacola Picnic Co. (owner Mariann Greene)

• Info: Call 443980-2080, visit pensacolapicnicco. com, Facebook and Instagram, or email pensacolapicnicco@

June 2024 • Bella Magazine • 39 (850) 855-0597 500 N. 9th Ave. Pensacola n e s t i n t e r i o r s i n c b y k r i s t i n b o u c h a r d WANT TO KNOW MORE?

East Hill’s fab neighborhood restaurant

40 • Bella Magazine • June 2024
Liz Biggs / Photos by Kate Treick Photography At right, Blake Foster, Amy Potmesil and Brett Schweigert welcome you to The Burrow.

dd Colony, the hip downtown farmhouse-inspired brewery, joined Pensacola’s diverse craft beer scene in 2019.

Known for its creative and distinctive brews as well as its inviting and eclectic taproom, Odd Colony has become a popular Palafox Street favorite. Lucky for us locals, she now has a sister!

The Burrow, an Odd Colony Biergarten and Kitchen located on 12th Avenue in East Hill, opened to rave reviews in February. Longtime friends and co-founders Blake and Chelsey Foster and Brett and Beth Schweigert describe The Burrow as the springtime version of Odd Colony, when everything is in bloom. It has the feel of a cozy mountain lodge — a dwelling place that has been lived in.

Stepping downstairs into the lower level of the historic Sacred Heart Hospital building inspired the team to think of burrowing creatures; hence, the adorable armadillo logo.

“Communal nature around a campfire — the idea of gathering a bunch of diverse creatures to share a beverage and stories, a welcoming place to gather after work,” responded Brett Schweigert when asked to explain the logo and concept. “Riffing off of downtown — Odd Colony’s collection of creatures — all future locations will be creature dwellings,” Schweigert said.


When approached about executing a culinary program for the The Burrow, chef Amy Potmesil was ecstatic about leaning into their brand and bringing something as unique as Odd Colony through food.

“They are known for being a group of forward-thinking creatives, so I knew from the start I needed to match that same approach. I drew inspiration from their downtown brewery, with the mysterious and vintage aesthetic, and intentional bold flavor profiles,” Potmesil said.

With touches of the unexpected, such as the smoked mussels and the use of wild game, the attention to detail makes the menu really pop.

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• What: The Burrow

• When: Tuesday-Sunday, closed Monday

• Where: 1010 N. 12th Ave., Pensacola

• Info: 850-512-7095;; Facebook/The Burrow

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“It evokes curiosity while satisfying a range of clientele. The use of local and seasonal ingredients is a core part of the Odd Colony ethos as well as my own. The tying together of those elements makes the culinary program at The Burrow really click with the overall brand,” Potmesil added.

Small plates include Elk Tartare, Fried Brie Stix, Venison and Wild Boar Meatballs and BBQ Shrimp on Toast. Mains include Truffle Mushroom Pot Pie, Pan Roasted Scottish Salmon, Steak Frites Fondue, Shrimp and Grits, as well as amazing sandwiches, burgers, salads and desserts. However, the menu, as well as beer brews, will change seasonally — with a lighter menu in the spring and summer months.


The Burrow opened in February with a smaller service footprint, but when a tenant moved out of the building, the team jumped at the chance to add square footage to their kitchen in April. “The goal is to be able to feed the entire 12th Avenue side of the garden,” Blake Foster explained. The outside/garden menu will include sandwiches and appetizers. Craft beer, wine and fun signature cocktails like the Blushing Badger are available at the vintage bar inside or the festive outside bar in the garden.


With a stage already standing in the garden, The Burrow team decided to add music to the magical mix.

“Music is a huge component of who we are as a brand,” Foster said. “We started with First Fridays but plan to delve deeper into it.”

The inaugural First Friday/Live Music in the Garden was April 5 featuring Tanya Gallagher & The Coveralls. John Hart & the Prince Brothers rocked the May stage. Music starts at 7 p.m. on the first Friday of each month. The schedule can be found on The Burrow’s Facebook page.

Good vibes, great food, locally brewed beer, creative cocktails, live music … what are you waiting for? Go hang out with your favorite creatures at The Burrow.

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“This business is the heart and soul of who I am and what I believe in — good food, good friends and good service. After working in this industry for 25 years, I am blessed to have the opportunity to serve the Pensacola area.” — Jo Heckler, owner of Jo’s, as always

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local fare

Embracing a legacy Jo’s, as always

Pulling off Ninth Avenue into the Duh for Garden and Home Tuscan-style compound of white, arched, stucco buildings with terracotta roofs, towering Italian cypress trees and leviathan pottery, you are greeted by the entrance of the restaurant — Jo’s, as always.

Embraced by potted ferns, boxwood, hibiscus and hanging baskets of bright petunias, grand dark mahogany double doors with windows beckon you inside while tables outside with green umbrellas invite you to dine al fresco and listen to the trickling fountains.

Patrons have choices at Jo’s, as always. As the menu states: “Some Tried and True & Some Blessed and New.”

Jo Heckler’s restaurant is a vibrant testament to her immense respect and undefinable love for her late friend, Pensacola restaurateur Norma Fleming Murray who passed away in September 2017. Heckler reopened Norma’s at Duh restaurant under her name the following November.

“This has been quite an accomplishment, and I try to honor Norma in everything I do,” Heckler said. “Some of the staff members that worked with Norma throughout the years are still here. Norma wasn’t just a friend or someone we worked for; we were and are family.

“We cook a lot out of Norma’s cookbook, ‘As Always, Recipes and Remembrances from Norma’s,’” Heckler said.

Today, part of the menu is Norma’s, and part is Jo’s. Patrons can still order Norma’s signature chicken salad created with chicken base, lemon juice, mayonnaise,

June 2024 • Bella Magazine • 45

celery, field greens and toasted almonds. And her poppy seed bread and bread pudding remain favorites.

But diners can also enjoy Heckler’s culinary creations, including Jo’s Board, a charcuterie offering a variety of meats, cheeses, and Jo’s “famous white cheddar with raspberry and pimento cheese” garnished with fruit and nuts. Oh, and patrons can also delve into the sandwich created by Heckler’s daughter: Maggie’s Favorite, a unique combo of roast beef and turkey topped with slaw, Swiss cheese and Thousand Island dressing on French bread.

While today’s menu is deliciously enticing and easy to talk about, it’s near impossible not to travel decades back to the restaurant’s early days. Sometimes, the vestiges that linger in our minds and hearts swell, bringing tears. For Heckler, emotion surfaces as she recalls the past to explain the present and future.


• What: Jo’s, as always

• When: Indoor and al fresco dining 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday

• Where: 501 N. Ninth Ave., Pensacola

• Info: Call 850-466-5136 or email josasalways@ for more information about catering, booking private events, etc. Check out Jo’s, as always on Facebook and at

“I first met Norma in 1988,” Heckler said. “I came home from college in Franklin Springs, Georgia, because my dad was sick. My mom said it was time for me to get a job, so I applied at D.H. Holmes, hoping to work at the cosmetics counter. It was the ’80s, I was about 21, and we liked to wear a lot of makeup. But it turned out that Norma retrieved my application because I had waiting tables experience. She hired me to work with her at the Potpourri Cafe inside D.H. Holmes (which later became Dillard’s) as the head waitress. About three

weeks later, Norma went on vacation and left me in charge.”

During this time, Murray was in the process of taking over the restaurant and making it her own, Heckler said. By August of 1988, the department store eatery became Norma’s Potpourri Cafe. Then, in a sense, it was off to the races for everyone associated with Murray. Over the years, Pensacola’s exceptionally successful female restaurateur opened business after business across the city, including Norma’s at the Pensacola Cultural Center, Norma’s on the Run on Palafox Street, Norma’s by the Bay on Bayfront Parkway, Lee House Bed & Breakfast and Norma’s at Duh on Ninth Avenue.

“In one way or another, I helped her with each and every one,” Heckler reminisced. “I had my foot in everything until 2007 when I stopped to stay home because I had a child.”

After delving into a variety of

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part-time jobs spanning several years and occasionally helping Murray, including at Lee House, Heckler landed at Norma’s at Duh on Ninth Avenue two years after it opened in 2014. The manager at the time decided to retire around the time Murray announced that she was going on a long trip with her family.

“When Norma came back, I stayed to help,” Heckler said. “That is when she got sick and passed away.”

After many considerations and conversations with her husband and daughter, Dickie and Maggie Heckler, the Murray family, and Duh owners Quinn Stinson and Jim Rigsbee, it was decided that Norma’s at Duh would live on under a new name — Jo’s, as always.

And living it is. It’s a popular spot on Pensacola’s restaurant scene for breakfast, lunch, private parties, bridal and baby showers, birthday celebrations, weddings and much


Despite the singular name, Heckler clearly states her business is not a one-woman show. In addition to her immediate family and Duh’s owners, she thanks a long list of people who have helped and supported her along the way, including mother-in-law

Cathy “Bobbie” Heckler, friends and colleagues Kathie Sutton, Karen Stewart, Caroline Carithers and many others.

And she never forgets her employees.

“I could not have done this without my staff,” Heckler said.

And stay tuned.

“I love Duh, and the owners of Duh have been a huge part of my success, but I bought a 100-year-old house in East Hill at 12th Avenue and Brainerd,” Heckler said. “A new place for Jo’s is coming.”

No worries. The menus and recipes will be making the move, too!

“I love Duh, and the owners of Duh have been a huge part of my success, but I bought a 100-year-old house in East Hill at 12th Avenue and Brainerd. A new place for Jo’s is coming.”
— Jo Heckler
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Kimberly Watson, a force behind Pensacola’s

Juneteenth Celebration

Kimberly Watson, representing the Watson Firm alongside the Watson Family Foundation, has played a pivotal role in organizing Pensacola’s Juneteenth festivities, driven by a genuine love for the community.

When asked about the genesis of this event and its inspiration, Watson shared that the idea emerged during a firm meeting while brainstorming ways to give back to their community. As June approached a few years ago, she noticed an absence in Pensacola’s event calendar, particularly in commemorating Juneteenth. Recognizing the historical significance of this event, Watson proposed the idea of hosting a Juneteenth festival to honor its cultural importance and fill the void in the community.

This year will be the third annual event.

The initiative taken to honor Juneteenth has been truly remarkable, eliciting overwhelmingly positive responses both from the foundation’s standpoint and within the community. Watson highlighted the heartwarming sight of people from all walks of life coming together in a spirit of celebration and unity during the inaugural event and subsequent festivities. She emphasized the inclusive nature of the event, catering to individuals of all ages, backgrounds, and walks of life, fostering an atmosphere akin to a joyous family reunion where lasting memories are made. Furthermore, the unwavering commitment of the Watson Family Foundation to give back to the community is evident in their channeling all proceeds from events like the Juneteenth festival toward initiatives such as scholarships, hardship relief and community outreach programs. Watson expressed gratification in witnessing the tangible impact of these efforts on the lives of those in


• What: Pensacola’s Juneteenth celebration

• When: 12-6:30 p.m., Sat., June 15

• Where: Museum Plaza, 300 S. Jefferson Street, Pensacola

• Info:

need, further fueling their dedication to serving the community.

Despite challenges such as inclement weather, Watson shared that the resilience and enthusiasm of attendees have remained steadfast.

The Juneteenth festival has been fortunate to host esteemed performers and attractions, including comedians and bands, elevating the overall experience for guests. From the interactive kids’ zone to the diverse array of vendors, including many black-owned businesses, the festival epitomizes a sense of unity and celebration, resonating deeply with attendees.

Pensacola’s Juneteenth festival has become a cherished community event, fostering camaraderie and celebrating diversity. Watson’s insights into the inspiring journey behind its creation and the enduring positive impact it continues to have on the community serve as a testament to the power of community-driven initiatives in fostering meaningful change and unity.

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local fare

What counsel burns bright in your memory?

Bella readers were asked: What advice was seared into your brain that you use often, or you have repeated to others? Maybe the recommendation was a total bust! Or maybe wise counsel was transformative. Here are responses from the brilliant minds of Bella readers.

The parable about feeding the wolves is one that plays in my mind regularly. It is a story that illustrates the internal struggle between good and evil, light and darkness, or positive and negative aspects within us. In this parable, there are two wolves representing these opposing forces, and the one that grows stronger is the one we feed.

This message reminds us that the choices we make and the thoughts we nurture have a direct impact on our wellbeing. By focusing on positive thoughts, actions and behaviors, we can cultivate a healthier and more balanced mental state.

I frequently find myself encouraging the people I love by reminding them not to “feed that wolf” when they find themselves struggling with unhelpful thoughts or actions.  As with most things that are good for us, it is easier said than done, but that mindset shift can be truly transformative when taken to heart.

— Jennifer Elzweig, program manager, Valerie’s House Pensacola

“You are replaceable... and you want to be.” This takes nothing away from how special you are or how well or important the work you do is, but understanding this will give you the freedom to be absent.

After spending my entire adult life in the military and transferring duty stations every three to four years, I could easily come to terms with this idea of being replaceable. Whether I was prepared or not — I had to quickly fill in for someone else because of short-notice transfers, deployments, illnesses, promotions and even death.

Whatever may cause your absence, planned or unplanned, it’s important that your replacement is ready and well prepared. Be replaceable ... trust your replacement, turn your cell phone off, and enjoy your well-deserved time off. There is nothing selfish in that.

— Jody King, retired navy nurse and IMPACT 100 Pensacola Bay Area volunteer

My first job out of college was with the Studer Group. As newlyweds, Craig and I had a front row seat to watch and learn from Quint Studer who always says, “The only legacy we leave behind is to those we teach.” Craig and I are called to serve this community. When we leave this world, we won’t leave behind any buildings with our names on them. That’s an amazing gift but it’s not OUR purpose.

Instead, we will leave behind the people that we invested in and the knowledge and skills we shared with our children, our family, our church, our friends, our non-profit boards and our broader community. So, I always ask myself… where will you invest your energy and time today?

— Amanda Hindsman, PMO director, Intelligent Retinal Imaging Systems

What advice flickers, shines, smolders or ignites in your memory? Hop on our Facebook page and let us hear from you:

50 • Bella Magazine • June 2024
June 2024 • Bella Magazine • 51
Compiled by Magi Thomley Williams Photo by Getty Images

The eye of the tiger Focused, determined and ready to face the fear of public speaking

Speaking comfortably and effectively to a group is a critical skill for successful career advancement. Yet, researchers say that 70% of the population is frozen in fear by the prospect of presenting to a group.

Neuroscientist and Toastmasters International member Anwesha Banerjee, Ph.D., reports that the body’s reaction to stage fright is the same response triggered when being stared down by a tiger.

TMI clubs offer tools and support to

overcome the fear.

Kathleen Logan, author and speaker said, “I’ve been a member of Toastmasters of Cordova for 22 or 23 years. It has been valuable to me, or I wouldn’t have stayed so long. I was never a ‘natural born’ speaker. I taught elementary school and did fine with the kids. But adults? I would panic at the very thought of having to get up in front of them, yet I ended up doing just that for most of my adult life.”

Even speakers who are comfortable speaking to a group are usually unaware of how their verbiage or body language distracts from the

effectiveness of their own message. They may use too many distracting crutch words - um, ah, I mean, you know, so, or use ‘and’ to string together sentence after sentence. They may not make good eye contact with the audience or might make bewildering, unnecessary hand gestures.

“Practice and constructive feedback are essential to maintain any skill,” Logan said. “Practicing my talk ‘Conflict Resolution’ at my club enabled me to present the topic confidently at a national convention earlier this year.”

52 • Bella Magazine • June 2024
Photos by Getty Images & Kate Treick Photography
pro tips

TMI clubs provide a supportive environment to develop public speaking and leadership skills. Impromptu speaking, evaluating others’ speeches, board service, leading a meeting and improved listening skills are essential professional skills that are learned and polished through Toastmasters participation.

Leah V. Gibbs, a newcomer to TMOC, recently won Club and Area Speech Competitions and will be competing at the district level soon. She joined so she could be better for herself and for her community.

“As the owner and CEO of Royal Reflections Events and a participant in various leadership roles, I felt compelled to elevate my presence and impact in the world. My audience, customers, clients and community deserved nothing less than the best

version of myself,” Gibbs explained.

Both Gibbs and Logan shared that they enjoyed the support and community developed as part of their experience at TMOC. Beyond the development of technical skills, engaging with others of different religions, races, backgrounds, experiences, skills and ages has been enriching.

“The support and camaraderie within this community are unmatched; it fosters an environment conducive to personal and professional flourishing,” Gibbs said.

Greater Pensacola is home to several Toastmasters Clubs which meet at various times and locations. Some offer the option of attending through virtual access. Contact a local club to practice staring into the eye of a tiger, face the fear and share your message powerfully.


• What: Toastmasters of Cordova

• When: 7:30 - 8:30 a.m. Fridays

• Where: Trinity Presbyterian Church; 3400 Bayou Blvd., Pensacola

• Info:, or Toastmasters of Cordova on Facebook

June 2024 • Bella Magazine • 53 May
Leah V. Gibbs joined Toastmasters of Cordova to be better for herself and her community. Kathleen Logan, professional author, speaker and longtime Toastmasters of Cordova member.


Gulf Coast Kid’s House Turns 20

Gulf Coast Kid’s House celebrated their 20th birthday at the Marilyn Kapner Levin Center for Children’s Advocacy and Child Abuse Prevention and the Allen R. Levin Family Advocacy and Education Wing on April 3. They toasted the occasion with champagne and cake just in time to kick off National Child Abuse Prevention Month.

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Krew of Blues on a Mission
June 2024 • Bella Magazine • 55
Ginger Madden, Sherree Giberson, Vickie Scott, Carrie Gilmer. Donna Gilmer, Frederick Longmire Aayana McCreary, Sandra Wood, Pat Franklin, Jennifer Lynn Brittney Anderson, Jessica Jenson, Brenda Carraway Brenda Cantrell, Ellen Kent Judy Lacy, Laura Stearns Grace Rolfe, Grace Kinsaul


Covenant Care Art of Fashion

Covenant Care’s Art of Fashion on April ?? was truly a Parisian Escape. It was a beautiful evening to raise funds to grant wishes for seriously ill families and adults as well as help families and children struggling with grief and provide charity hospice care for those in need.

56 • Bella Magazine • June 2024
Photos Heidi Rowell, Jessica Strayham, Sarah Peer, Nicole Gilchrest, Kim Gibbons, Christy Smith, Tanaisha Tookes, Hollee Thornton
June 2024 • Bella Magazine • 57
Allison McCrory, Lisa Player, Liz Biggs Amanda DeLillo, Kelsey Protos, Judy Decker, Jenna McMillen, Stevie Decker Melissa Harrelson, Stephanie Mickler, Krista Silverman, Amber Green, Karen Brantley, Erin Hinze Aislinn Rehwinkel, Avian Noble Ashlee & Grant Hofberger, Dawn Grace Becky Paris, Lin Lirette
58 • Bella Magazine • June 2024
Brendan Heath, Janice Holmes, McKinley Tilley, Stephanie Tilley Rachelle Fisher, Lauren Gund, Kylie Campbell, Donna Dickey, Alicia McLellan, Marlee Bruno Cari Keigley, Lisa Aylstock, Traci Pitre, Dina St. Clair Delayna Blankenship, Pamela Bolado Chae Chon Kyle, Elizabeth Walker Weakly Melissa Freeman
June 2024 • Bella Magazine • 59
Genevieve Kurpuis, Kimberly Watson, Christina Hawkins Julie Duvall Keyunna Pulliam, Valerie Weber, Shannon Evans


Pensacola Opera’s Operazzi

60 • Bella Magazine • June 2024
Photos by Toni Sparks/Short Story Studios Joseph Decker, Hannah Mills, Abigail Mallory, Ashley Decker, Gabirielle Carley, Kalani Yen Operazzi was an elegant, but not stuffy, event with live music, food, dancing and a live auction. All funds raised went to the Pensacola Opera’s Jan Miller Studio Artist Program and education initiative.
June 2024 • Bella Magazine • 61
Malcolm Ballinger, Cari Wilson, Chandra McKern, Emily Echevarria Ruth Harper, Emily Vickery Lauren & David Earle Stuart & Mary Bugg Elise Gordon, Sooz Cobb Alex & Allison McCrory
62 • Bella Magazine • June 2024
Kathy Dunagan, Sheila Dunn Suzanne Pope, Adina Preston
June 2024 • Bella Magazine • 63 2025 SEASON SUBSCRIPTIONS ARE ON SALE NOW! The best way to experience great opera is through a season subscription. Pick your own seats, enjoy a 25% savings over single ticket prices, and exclusive other perks! Join us next season for the ultimate opera experience with a classic Mozart comedy and a famous theatrical drama. Subscriptions are available for purchase online at or 850.433.6737. THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO JANUARY 24 + 26, 2025 PAGLIACCI MARCH 14 + 16, 2025
Katie Garrett, Fallon Brown, Meighan Hobbs Juliet De Campos, Keith Kundahl

Everything in moderation — including moderation her perspective

Maybe Nietzsche was onto something — or was it Kelly Clarkson who finally convinced me? The aphorism “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” had always intimidated me, even when set to a chirpy little melody on the radio.

But lately, I’ve come to appreciate the wisdom — even the science — of this oft-quoted cliché. Stress, I have learned, comes in many flavors, and not all are bitter. In fact, there is a “sweet spot” inherent in many of life’s stressors, and that’s where the magic happens.

Still, the word itself is enough to stress me out. It fairly hisses. Its etymology, in part, is a shortening of the word “distress,” a state of being we all want to avoid. But that’s only part of the story. There’s an evolving chapter in the stress saga, and it is entitled “hormesis.” It’s one we should all read and heed.

Hormesis, while by no means a new concept — is all the rage these days. It goes by many monikers: fasting, cryotherapy, HIIT, sauna, breathwork, and others. It’s trending across all social media platforms, and while, until recently, I had never heard the term, I have long practiced many of the protocols associated with the hypothesis.

unpleasant practice of “shower-cryo.” When I need a boost in motivation and focus, usually in the afternoons, I’ll take a shower and end it with a blast of uncomfortably cold water for a couple of minutes. As much as I hate to admit it, this simple, miserable little practice really does improve my mood and ability to concentrate for two or three hours after I towel off.

Hormesis theory posits that intermittent bursts of specific stressors in specific dosages are not only beneficial but crucial to the growth and vitality of an organism. It is a hot topic in longevity research, and I unwittingly became a proponent of the theory in my own attempts to find ways to delay or prevent the cognitive and emotional decline so rampant in my bloodline. I began intermittent fasting — consuming calories only within a six to eight-hour window each day — in an effort to prolong “autophagy” — the brain’s cellular recycling process.

I have also practiced, and taught in my exercise classes, short bursts of all-out aerobic effort paired with steady-state cardio, an adaptation of HIIT (high-intensity-intervaltraining). We intentionally “go for the burn” during class, but only briefly — 30 seconds or less.

And most recently, I’ve begun the excruciatingly

Yes, it is stressful to shiver naked in the shower. It is stressful to go without food. It is stressful to be at the highest end of my cardio zone. And while it is true that a pathological prolonging of these practices could lead to hypothermia, starvation, or cardiac overload, it also appears to be true that the moderate dosing of extreme protocols can have beneficial effects across the board — improved cognitive, emotional, physical and perhaps even spiritual functioning. Stress has gotten a bad rap in most societies for good reason. When stressors are chronic, long-lasting and overwhelming, our health suffers. But a life devoid of all stressors is equally, if not more, damaging. We need “eustress” or positive stress to thrive. Our bones need stress to stay strong, our brains need stress to stay vital, our hearts need stress to grow stronger — both biologically and metaphorically.

Likewise, intermittent hormetic stressors — that killer set of burpees, that shocking cold plunge, that missed meal — can also be of great benefit, improving your resilience and adaptability right down to the cellular level.

If all of this seems far too effortful to consider actually doing, maybe you should just eat your vegetables — specifically the “stressed-out” ones. Some plants, notably cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and kale, produce chemicals to defend themselves from threats. Those compounds activate cellular protective mechanisms in humans too.

So, eat your broccoli, take a brisk shower, get some vigorous exercise, skip a meal or two. I promise it won’t kill you.

It just might make you stronger.

64 • Bella Magazine • June 2024
June 2024 • Bella Magazine • 65 EMAIL SALES @BELLAMAGAZINE.COM OR CALL (833) 358-4486 Beautiful Women. Sassy Attitude. Smart Magazine.

What was I made for? her perspective

Billie Eilish’s “What Was I Made For?” won the 2024 Oscar for Best Original Song. Although I’m no Barbie, I find this ethereal song quite relatable. “I used to know, but I’m not sure now,” she sings. If you’ve ever changed your college major, changed careers or just plain failed at something, then this song resonates.

Author James Clear included this quote in his March newsletter: “The writer Isabel offers a formula for succeeding in life — ‘Figure out what you’re good at without trying, then try.’” Easier said than done, yes, but still great advice.

In college, I thought I was made for accounting. Nope, I’m way too chatty and can’t sit still. Fresh out of college, I thought I was made for a sales career. Turns out, I hate asking people to buy stuff. I had my first success after my promotion to sales management. I guess I like people better than numbers.

video. It’s been decades, but I’ll never forget hearing that song for the first time and can still recite the lyrics, “I’m out on a limb where the fun begins” and “Don’t throw that moment away.”

I’m pretty good at having babies but I may have had a few too many. That’s okay, I learned to like them once they could talk. Being a mom was fun. But now that they are grown and flown, I’m stuck with that Oscar-winning song again.

A sense of purpose is what motivates us to get out of bed every morning. It is said that lack of purpose is a leading cause of depression. So it’s kind of important to figure out what you are made for, no matter what stage of life you are in.

Back in the ’80s, I saw a great band called The Raisins at a beach bar — Kevin’s En la Playa, I think. Their super psychedelic video of my favorite song, “Fear Is Never Boring,” can still be viewed on YouTube. Those dudes are older than me, but they are forever young in that amazing

I blame The Raisins for making me take this job as a writer. I think it might be what I was made for. Although I am so horribly unassertive that it pains me to call, email or text someone to set up an interview and then show up for that interview. (That’s why I do travel stories. I can interview myself, lol.) I fear rejection, being old and stupid, and messing things up, but fear is never boring, right? It wakes me up in the morning.

Today, I told the young, hip restaurant owner I was interviewing that I hate hearing my voice on the recorder (so cringey) so I whispered my questions and made sure the recorder was near him/far from me. He asked if I hate reading my words (A great question. Also, way to dodge my question!) and without thinking I replied no. I kind of like reading my words, once I’ve had the chance to morph them into a story. I can write this column without trying, Isabel, but I will have to try really hard to write the restaurant story. I will probably re-write it several times and doubt my abilities along the way, just as I do in life.

I’m kind of sad it took 60 years (and a lot of failure) to figure out what I was made for. Dang, if I knew I’d be a writer, I would have written a book instead of doing all those taxes! Words of Lizdom to all of you: No matter where you are in life, listen to The Raisins — go out on a limb where the fun begins; fear is never boring. Keep looking and maybe someday you’ll find out what you are made for.

66 • Bella Magazine • June 2024

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