Bella Magazine November 2022

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BE BOLD Local leaders discuss bold community initiatives; negotiating advice; mobile gym brings the workout to you; nontraditional Thanksgiving •••••

ALSO IN THIS ISSUE: Bella's Out & About is back!


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November 2022 • Bella Magazine • 5


from the editor

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – the women of Pensacola rock! I have had the good fortune to meet and talk to many women in the Pensacola area and every time I walked away energized. One of the great blessings of purchasing Bella is that it has required me to be out in the community more talking to businesses and spreading the word about Bella’s mission to support women. I can nestle into my home office cave like a bear hibernating for winter – except it’s never fully winter here and, well, I’m not a bear. That can also feel isolating, and I really like engaging with people. My love for Bella’s mission helps, but it also helps that the Pensacola community is incredibly supportive and full of women doing amazing things. Like many women, I’ve been juggling a lot lately and I’ve had to remind myself to be intentional about practicing what I preach – finding balance and making time for my physical and mental health. There is a difference between pushing through a tough, busy time for a limited period versus maintaining an unsustainable level of busyness and focusing only on work. We can easily fall into the latter and justify it because we are passionate about what we are doing. This month we spoke with local leaders who have figured that balance out and who are working on bold community initiatives, as well as businesswomen who have taken the big leap into launching businesses such as Running Wild and Surf and Turf FITness. The first saw a need for an option that provides more personal service than the big box stores to help runners find the right shoe to prevent injuries. The second understood that busy women would be more apt to work out if the gym came to them, so she designed a mobile gym. Both women saw a need and figured out how to creatively meet it – that is one of our superpowers as women, we see something that needs to be done and figure out how to get it done. But we also like to have fun. This issue wraps up with Out & About photos at the Jukebox Gala held by the Pensacola Opera. It has been over two and a half years since Bella has had a photographer at a social event and we are excited to share the photos of the fun and the fundraising. Thank you for your continued support as we continue our journey of being an independent publisher – I hope you enjoy it as much as we do, because our team is energized and having fun! Don’t forget this November is time to vote! For more information, visit the League of Women Voter’s at lwvpba.org and find more election information at vote411.org.

— Kelly MacLeod

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VOLUME 17 / ISSUE 11

Bella Staff EDITOR / Kelly MacLeod ART DIRECTOR / Elizabeth Meyer CONTRIBUTING WRITERS:

Liz Biggs, Sloan Stephens Cox, Bradley "Beej" Davis, Kelly MacLeod, Allison McCrory, Leslie Peck, Jo Rich, Magi Thomley Williams

BELLAMAGAZINE.COM FIND BELLA MAGAZINE ON FACEBOOK

SEND EDITORIAL INQUIRIES AND STORY IDEAS TO KELLY@BELLAMAGAZINE.COM

To Advertise EMAIL SALES @BELLAMAGAZINE.COM OR CALL (833) 358-4486

Bella is published the fourth Monday 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.


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inside this issue

FASHION The '70s dictate fall style.

Page 12

FOOD & DRINK Plant-based recipe is beautiful & tasty.

Page 48

OUT & ABOUT Your favorite feature is back!

10 SPEND OR SAVE 20 STYLING THE SHOOT 22 BEAUTY: Does skin cycling work? 24 TRENDS: Fall style meets comfort 26 COVER STORY: Local leaders discuss bold community initiatives 33 PERSONAL STYLE: Jo Rich blends her own fashion style 38 LOCAL FARE: Cherie Epstein showcases Running Wild 42 BODY & SOUL: Surf & Turf FITness brings the workout to you 44 PRO TIPS: Negotiating advice for women 50 FOOD & DRINK: Locals share nontraditional Thanksgiving ideas 56 CAUSES: Habitat for Humanity’s gala 66 HER PERSPECTIVE

On the cover: Hannah Johnson models an orange cropped silk top. Find out more on Page 12. Photo by Kate Treick Photography

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Page 58


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si-bone.com November 2022 • Bella Magazine • 9


spendorsave BY SLOANE STEPHENS COX / BELLAMAGAZINE.COM / PHOTOS PROVIDED

Oscar de la Renta embroidered mini dress, $8,990, ModaOperandi.com.

Mac Duggal embroidered mini dress, $598, Dillard’s. B-Low the Belt “Vivie” leather belt, $156, B-lowthebelt.com.

Bottega Veneta leather belt, $320, Net-APorter.com.

Braided crossbody, $42, Blu Spero.

Hereu “Espiga” mini braided leather crossbody, $480, NeimanMarcus.com.

Over-the-knee metallic boots, $119, Zara.com.

Isabel Marant “Lomero” metallic boots, $1,770, ModaOperandi.com.

where to shop

Dillard's: Cordova Mall, 5100 N. 9th Ave., Pensacola; 850-476-3011; Dillards.com.

Blu Spero: 420 S. Palafox, Pensacola; 850-549-3894.

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GROUNDBREAKING CARE BAPTIST HEART & VASCULAR INSTITUTE Baptist Health Care offers groundbreaking heart and vascular care and is Northwest Florida’s largest and most experienced team of cardiovascular specialists. Collectively the group has pioneered virtually every new innovation in heart care in our region and continuously earns awards for quality and excellence. Our many convenient locations throughout the area offer easy access to the region’s top specialists. Deeply rooted in our mission of helping people throughout life’s journey to make us – our community – better, we are continuing our legacy of transforming for the future.

eB A PT I ST H E A LT H C A R E . O R G

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fashion

Far Out The ’70s dictate fall style “Sooner or later, everything old is new again.” — Stephen King

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Shopping list: This yummy fluid orange cropped silk top by Amanda Uprichard, $204, and Allison NY ruffle skirt, $160, are a perfect duo for fall on the Gulf Coast. Photo by Kate Treick Photography

l

By Allison McCrory

ooking for a fresh 2022 fall look? Time travel back to the 1970s! Ultra high-waisted jeans, corduroy and clogs are all having a moment. The earth tones that epitomized the ’70s, accompanied by rich jewel tones and shades of purple, are dominating runways. Look for oversized blazers and twopiece sets this season – iconic looks from the “Me Decade.” In addition to the high-waisted rage, wide legs and cropped boot cuts will drive the pants’ scene, said Katy Nagel of Gray Boutique in Palafox Place. In essence, “bold colors and prints with a fall twist and vintage vibe.” In footwear news, clogs will be joined by tire tread boots and booties. And our love affair with sneakers is still going strong. Meanwhile strong chunky jewelry seems to be edging out the dainty, delicate pieces for a bigger, bolder statement look.

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Shopping list: A big-shouldered cropped jacket in a bold print and high-waisted jeans say ’70s and also 2022! Jeans, $316, by AMO; Allison NY quilted jacket, $230; Perfect White Tee cropped tank, $52.

Photos by Kate Treick Photography

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Shopping list: Jewel tones and big prints rule this season. This Cleobella mini dress, $246, embodies both and will take you to countless occasions in style! Photos by Kate Treick Photography

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Shopping list: After surviving summer, wrapping up in a comfy, cozy sweater is a Northwest Florida girl’s fashion dream. Allison NY chunky cardigan, $224. Perfect White Tee pencil skirt, $88, is an understated accompaniment that lets the statement sweater take center stage.

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Hannah Johnson Hannah Johnson’s busy yet beautiful life includes raising two toddlers while working at Trident Home Loans as a set-up specialist. Johnson describes herself as a proud wife and mom who finds joy in helping others become homeowners. A Pensacola native who now resides in Gulf Breeze, Johnson and her family relish coastal life. “We basically live at the beach during the summer and love being outdoors,” she said. Running, lunch in downtown Pensacola and shopping are among Johnson’s favorite ways to spend coveted free time. Shopping list: Classy, classic and whimsical are just a few of the adjectives that describe this sassy pairing. Jumper 1234 cashmere sweater, $320; Elan faux leather pant, $110. Photos by Kate Treick Photography

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stylingtheshoot Photography: Kate Treick / Fashion styling: Allison McCrory Where to shop: Gray Boutique

Haute Shore Bucket Bag, $72.

G Stella Raffia Ball orange earrings, $24.

Taylor Shaye gold chain with baguettes, $46.

Taylor Shaye gold chain with baguettes, $46.

Rhinestone and velvet headband, $22.

G Stella Big Bead Bow earrings, $26.

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Cleobella leather clutch, $189.

Taylor Shaye neon star necklace, $44.

Kaanas Blok heel, $146.

Taylor Shaye neon star necklace, $44.

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beauty

Day 1

What is

SKINandCYCLING does it work? By Leslie Peck

S

kincare can be overwhelming – gone are the days of simply washing your face and applying some cold cream. Technology has not only helped develop new treatments, but it has also given us more skincare products than we know what to do with. Social media is constantly keeping us in the loop with the latest trend or product, and whether good or bad, skin care is a top priority these days. During the pandemic, as work from home became the norm, most people traded in a makeup routine for a more in-depth skincare routine. Self-care and beautiful skin made a big comeback during the COVID years. The influencers took this by storm and gave stepby-step demonstrations of what and what not to do to achieve the perfect skin. Although some of the online advice given was helpful, there is plenty we can all do without. One trend that dermatologists and aestheticians agree with is Skin Cycling. Anyone can create a Skin Cycling routine that will benefit their skin in just a few simple steps. If you have sensitive skin, rosacea, acne, psoriasis or any other skin irritation, always ask your dermatologist or aesthetician first before changing anything in your routine. It is always best to consult a professional before beginning Skin Cycling, especially if you

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are on medications. This basic Skin Cycle can be a guide but always tailor it to what your skin may need at the time. You may discover your skin works best with two recovery days instead of one. You may also adjust the type of products you are using. If anything is making you red and irritated, stop using it and find a different combination of products. It may take a few months to notice a big difference, but the texture and appearance of the skin will gradually begin to change. Night one you want to focus on exfoliation. Get all of the dead skin and buildup off your face for a clean start. Make sure whatever type of exfoliation you use is not irritating the skin. On day two, dry the skin after cleansing and before applying the retinol. Let it sit on the skin 10 to 20 minutes, mist it and then add your moisturizer. On the recovery day, really work the hydration into the skin. This day gives your skin a chance to repair and rest. Repeat these three cycles diligently for best results. It will take some time, but you will be able to see visible results.

Leslie Peck is a local makeup artist, aesthetician and lash artist with almost two decades of experience. She has worked 11 seasons of NYC Fashion Week as well as several beauty shoots while living in New York City. Leslie also has experience in TV, film, print and celebrity makeup in Los Angeles. She specializes in bridal makeup, skincare education and was featured on the front page of the Wall Street Journal in 2007.

EXFOLIATE • Cleanse • Exfoliate • Hydrate

Day 2 RETINOL • Cleanse • Retinol • Hydrate

Day 3 RECOVERY • Cleanse • Hyaluronic Acid • Hydrate

Day 4 EXFOLIATE • Cleanse • Exfoliate • Hydrate

Day 5 RETINOL • Cleanse • Hydrate • Retinol • Hydrate

Day 6 RECOVERY • Cleanse • Hyaluronic Acid • Hydrate

Day 7 EXFOLIATE • Cleanse • Exfoliate • Hydrate


Retinol: Retinols are the game changer in your routine. Just be sure not to overdo it. One to two times per week is usually plenty. Make sure your face is completely dry after you cleanse. Once it is dry, apply a small amount of retinol. • SkinCeuticals, Retinol 1.0, $88, Result Medical Aesthetics and Permanent Makeup • Drunk Elephant, A-Passioni Retinol Cream, $74, Ulta

WHERE TO SHOP

Result Medical Aesthetics and Permanent Makeup, 400 E. Jackson St., Pensacola; 850-466-5309; facebook.com/resultskin • Ulta Beauty, 1650 Airport Blvd., Pensacola; 850-476-6211; ulta.com

Exfoliate: Minimize pores, smooth the surface of the skin and deep clean by exfoliating. Apply a vitamin C serum before you hydrate to help reduce dark spots, reduce wrinkles and boost collagen. • Juice Beauty, Resurfacing Micro Exfoliant, $56, Ulta • Juice Beauty, Prebiotix 20% Vitamin C, $65, Ulta

Hyaluronic Acid: Hyaluronic Acid boosts elasticity and smooths fine lines and wrinkles. Apply onto damp skin after cleansing and finish with a moisturizer. For dry skin, add oil to moisturizer for extra hydration. • SkinCeuticals, H. A. Intensifier, $102, Result Medical Aesthetics and Permanent Makeup • Loli, Plum Elixir Rejuvinating Beauty Oil, $68, Ulta

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trends

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comfort Fall is when style meets

Story and photos by Jo Rich

Gigi Pip hats are a musthave this season. This accessory pairs well with dresses, jeans and everything in between – and they are so “Instagramable!” •

Gigi Pip Maude-W white hat, $124, Dillard’s.

Diversify your wardrobe this fall with satin joggers. They are comfortable, feel like butter and can be dressed up or down. That checks all my boxes! •

When I’m walking out of my house, I always grab one of my luxury scarves! It’s the most versatile accessory I own. Whether worn as a headscarf (bad hair days), a belt or classically hung around the neck, scarves are a great way to achieve an easy, chic look. •

Gianni Bini Shey satin high-rise jogger pants in chocolate, $119, Dillard’s.

Where to shop Dillard’s, Cordova Mall, 5100 N. Ninth Ave., Pensacola, 850-476-3011; dillards.com

Gucci Signature “GG” 60x190 scarf in periwinkle, $511, Dillard’s.

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cover story

me, being “boldTomeans not being afraid to stand up for yourself and go after things that you want in your life, whether that’s in your personal or professional life, because no one is ever going to be as strong an advocate as you.” — KC Gartman, chief development officer, Baptist Health Care

Photo by Kate Treick Photography

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BE BOLD

Local leaders discuss bold community initiatives

W

By Bradley “Beej” Davis

hat does it mean to be bold? Not the definition, but how we live our lives. Are we willing to make tough calls and sacrifices to achieve our goals? Do we feel comfortable setting boundaries so we can stay focused on the task at hand? After thoughtful conversations with several local leaders, a number of bold ideas emerged that surround one central theme: community.

CONNECTING TO COMMUNTIY Towards the end of 2020, Baptist Health Care broke ground for a new, $636 million, 57-acre campus at Brent Lane and Interstate 110. While capital improvements are nothing unusual with healthcare systems, this project is the largest in Baptist’s more than 70-year history and in the history of Pensacola. A lot has changed in 70 years; however, one thing remains the same – the organization’s approach to inclusion of the community every step of the way. What does that look like? Well, the answer is seven decades in the making. “When our founders first had the idea to create a better model of healthcare for our community, they came to the community and said, ‘We have a vision of how to transform healthcare, but we need your help,’” said KC Gartman, chief development officer for Baptist Health Care. Gartman further explained that when it comes to funding for the largest investment in healthcare in Pensacola’s history, community plays as much of a role in this bold project as it did during Baptist’s inception.

“I’m still blown away at the trust that our community has in our organization to make incredible gifts like those we’ve announced over the past few years,” Gartman said. Funding for the new campus comes from three sources: bonds, operational funds and philanthropy. However, because of the pandemic, most healthcare systems felt a downturn in operational margins, thus shifting fundraising efforts to focus more on community giving. “It really elevated the need for philanthropy to play a bigger role,” she said. And since philanthropy thrives on personal connections, the pandemic led to innovative ways to make those connections meaningful. “We had to get creative about how to stay connected with our donors, so we held regular virtual online sessions for them,” Gartman said. “In those sessions, we shared up-to-date information about the pandemic and its impact on our community. We also kept them informed of the construction progress on our new Baptist Hospital campus on Brent Lane.” She explained that the pandemic also fostered a renewal of the importance of health care. With every single member of this, and any other community, members will always need adequate health care. Even before the first shovel was thrust into the earth, a community advisory council was formed to keep that integral connection to the area. “The day after we announced that we were building the new hospital, we convened our first community advisory council to contribute to the future vision of the current campus at November 2022 • Bella Magazine • 27


West Moreno Street,” Gartman said. It’s hard to say how the founding members of Baptist would feel about Zoom calls, but they would arguably be touched that the mission of “helping people throughout life’s journey” is being carried on. What is Gartman’s personal definition of bold? “To me, being bold means not being afraid to stand up for yourself and go after things that you want in your life, whether that’s in your personal or professional life, because no one is ever going to be as strong an advocate for yourself as you.” For Gartman, boldness is inspired by being innovative and sticking to your mission. “You have to be willing to put yourself on the line and be vulnerable – be open and embrace opportunities, but it also means creating opportunities sometimes out of nowhere,” Gartman said. “Sometimes you have to create your own opportunities.” ENHANCING LIVES Sometimes, being bold means thinking of the well-being of others around you. Especially in extraordinary times, many often look to leaders for communication and calmness. But when times change, there’s a resiliency of those who can adapt and prevail. “When our community is healthy, we all benefit, right?” asked Pam Hatt, vice president of marketing at PenAir Federal Credit Union. “That means physically healthy, emotionally healthy, mentally healthy, but it also means financially healthy.” The pandemic had a big effect on the credit union’s operations, according to Hatt, but the institution leapt into action with their Essential Workers campaign by highlighting and supporting these individuals with meals and positively engaging the community on social media about these frontline workers. Back in the office, per se, Hatt and PenAir faced a sizable challenge. “We knew we needed to protect our staff, but we also struggled with the balance of serving our members and serving our community,” she said. 28 • Bella Magazine • November 2022

This is where PenAir’s core value of “Communerosity” drives home. “Communirosity is bold,” said Hatt. “It’s looking for like-minded partners so we can all be a force for good in the communities we serve and then standing by that.” She explained that by all the small impacts the team makes, it leads to much bigger impacts for members and for the community. With force comes flexibility. Hatt shared that her team even has a mascot devoted to that flexibility. “Everyone in my department, on their desk, has a Gumby,” she said, also mentioning that in addition to flexibility, forward thinking is also crucial. “That’s what bold leadership looks like, dealing with the here and now, but you also need to deal with and prepare for and start directing the traffic towards the future.” PenAir Federal Credit Union’s mission is “Enhancing lives through exceptional service, strength and financial solutions.” Boilerplate aside, Hatt sees the institution as having a remarkable ability to enhance lives, and sometimes it’s only a matter of asking “why?” This boils down to communication: a clear and concise understanding of the why. “You always have to tie everything back to our why. Why do we exist,” Hatt said. When it comes to asking that question, it goes back to implicitly enhancing the lives around you. “When we talk about enhancing lives, did I enhance the life of my coworker? Did I enhance the life of a member? Did I enhance the life of someone in I.T. by doing what they needed me to do?” While enhancing someone’s life one small impact at a time may seem easy to some, Hatt’s take on being bold doesn’t discount the call for bravery and ownership, even in making hard decisions. “For me, being bold means being courageous. It means sticking to your convictions, and it means being a risktaker and being unwavering when you make the decision, but humble if you

know you’ve made the wrong one. And owning it.” One conviction of PenAir is their bold commitment to education. The Credit Union recently donated $100,000 in support of the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation’s Northwest Florida STEM Center of Excellence. The funds will provide science, technology, engineering and math education for school-aged youth who may not have otherwise had the opportunity. Hatt said this can have a positive generational impact, especially for some students who may have overlooked potential. “It’s taking kids that literally live right outside that gate and throughout the two-county area and expose them to things that no one in their families have ever talked about and literally change the trajectory of their lives for generations to come,” she said. “Especially with girls, namely those who may think ‘Oh, I didn’t think I was good at math.’ They go through this program.” BOLDLY TAKING A PAUSE Sometimes a bold action is no action. As the pandemic took hold of organizations’ ability to function normally, especially if there was a public aspect to that function, some local groups used the opportunity to pause and evaluate where they could. “When everything stopped and shut down, essentially for a year we did not perform,” said Jessica Hyche, development director for Pensacola Symphony Orchestra. “It gave us a unique time to really do a lot of selfevaluation as an organization, and I’m proud that we took that time to say ‘what should we be doing,’ not just during COVID, but the next steps for us as an organization.” It’s no surprise that innovation and forward thinking remain top priority for this and other successful arts organizations. One notable addition to PSO’s repertoire was the option to livestream performances. “People can livestream six concerts a year now. That was something that came out of COVID, but then we


For me, being bold means being “courageous. It means sticking to your convictions, and it means being a risk-taker and being unwavering when you make the decision, but humble if you know you’ve made the wrong one. And owning it. ” — Pam Hatt, vice president of marketing, PenAir Federal Credit Union

Photo by Kate Treick Photography November 2022 • Bella Magazine • 29


It’s waking up every “ day and choosing to be positive and choosing to look on the bright side. It also means to look for solutions and find ways to bring that sunny outlook.” — Jessica Hyche, development director, Pensacola Symphony Orchestra

Photo by Kate Treick Photography

realized this is serving such a bigger need, not because people can’t come to the Saenger, but for people who can no longer drive at night and visitors who leave but want to stay connected,” said Hyche. She added that families of musicians are regular streamers, as a majority of performers do not live in the immediate area. “Many of our musicians have families who live internationally,” she said. In fact, if you were to put pins on a map of out-of-town viewers, you would pin 29 states and five countries. As it enters its 97th season (making it one of the longest, continually-running symphony programs in the Southeast), PSO began a laser beam focus on three strategic imperatives: improve access and enhance the concert experience at the Saenger Theatre to deepen authentic connections between music, musicians and the community; broaden the impact of Beyond the Stage 30 • Bella Magazine • November 2022

with relevant and recurrent musical experiences outside of concerts at the Saenger Theatre; and third, create a broader, more equitable, diverse and inclusive organization that reflects our community. Regardless of pandemic status in the United States, PSO’s staff, board and advisory council members, musicians, supporters and patrons came together and rolled out these imperatives as a way to keep the organization viable in these changing times. However, the community is always the focus of PSO and how it can continue to remain an asset of the Pensacola area. “Keeping our focus on the community, we ask what the community needs and how can we meet that need rather than asking ‘what do we need,’” said Hyche. Through a series of bold roundtable discussions with local leaders from many walks of life, PSO was able to collect meaningful feedback and

gauge what the community, in fact, does need. One of the tangible things to come out of this evaluation is “PSO in the Park,” a free, outdoor event at Museum Plaza downtown that offers a performance option to those who might not otherwise have one. What does it mean to Hyche to be bold? “Continuing to be an optimist, which sounds kind of funny,” Hyche said. “It’s waking up every day and choosing to be positive and choosing to look on the bright side. It also means to look for solutions and find ways to bring that sunny outlook.”

MORE INFORMATION • Pensacola Symphony Orchestra, pensacolasymphonyorchestra.com • Baptist Health Care, ebaptisthealthcare. org/About • PenAir Federal Credit Union, penair.org/ about-us/


November 2022 • Bella Magazine • 31


Shopping list: Good American shirt; bomber jacket, Target; Good American jeans; Balmain hat, Saks Fifth Ave; Nike sneakers, Footlocker. Photos by Kate Treick Photography

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personal style

JO RICH

By Kelly MacLeod

F

rom store manager positions in Cordova Mall and Armani in South Florida to owning her own beauty bar on Palafox Street, Jo Rich has dabbled in fashion and makeup and spent most of her adult life in retail management. Her retail life began at Wilsons Leather in Cordova Mall while she was in college. “I stopped going to college because I ended up becoming the store manager at Wilsons Leather and worked there for a couple of years,” Rich said. “Then I got a position at The Limited as a store manager and worked there for a couple years and then I got a job with Armani down in South Florida where I moved to be over a $5 million store.”

She ended up not really loving South Florida, though, so she returned to Pensacola, where she had lived since she was seven years old when her father got a job at Brownsville Assembly of God. In 2015, Rich went back to school and finished her business degree even though years of retail management had already taught her a lot about how to run a business. After having her second son, the hard worker struggled. “I had postpartum depression and so I got into makeup just to kind of make myself feel better,” Rich said. “And so, I woke up every day, and every day if I could just put red lipstick on – that was the one thing I could do. And so gradually I started to feel better and better and better.”

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Shopping list: Mac Duggal dress, Dillard’s. Photo by Kate Treick Photography

November 2022 • Bella Magazine • 35


That experienced led Rich to continue working with makeup, practicing on herself and other people. She opened a kiosk back in Cordova Mall and sold makeup and also got her esthetician license. After two years, though, she was ready for something bigger and was in the process of working on a lease for a full store in the mall, but it fell through. She was feeling disappointed but one day she and her husband were walking down Palafox Street and fate intervened. “We walked by and there was a For Lease sign in the window,” she said. “We immediately called the number and Deborah was standing two feet from us and answered the phone.” Property owner Deborah Dunlap eventually leased Rich the space and Jo Rich Beauty Bar opened on New Year’s Eve of 2019, and then quickly had to close due to COVID-19. “I did everything I could because we still had to pay the rent and I was so brand new. But I sold gift cards, and I sold the products that we had online. I kept our social media up. And then I think it was eight or nine weeks later we reopened and have been doing great ever since.” Rich has continued to love fashion and merchandising and has her own sense of style. She keeps an eye on current styles but picks and chooses what she likes. “I usually don’t buy things that are super fashionable. I buy it because it looks good on me and because I like it and the way that it looks and because I think it’s fashionable. I take multiple ideas from different places and I kind of turn them into what I like.”

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Shopping list: Revolve faux leather dress, Revolve.com. Photo by Kate Treick Photography

November 2022 • Bella Magazine • 37


RUNNING WILD WITH

local fare

Cherie Epstein By Liz Biggs

“Honestly, I don’t quite have the energy I had ten years ago,” Cherie Epstein lamented, but she still manages to run several mornings a week, work out at FIT (Fitness Impact Training), run local business Running Wild and mother three teenagers. Running Wild has been Pensacola’s go-to running and fitness store for 22 years and has expanded to two stores with over 30 team members. But its origin story is simply that two people who were passionate about running had a good idea. Paul Epstein, a former Army helicopter pilot, saw the need for a running and fitness store when Cherie was teaching and coaching cross country and soccer at Navarre High School. “Paul came to every single game and meet and we really connected with the kids and parents,” Epstein said. “Paul and I would take the cross country kids to a local big box store to help them find the right running shoes. We found that some of them were spending a lot of money and getting injured because they had the wrong shoe for their need.” Having no retail or business experience, creating Running Wild

required a huge learning curve for the couple. “What we did have going for us is that we love helping people and are incredibly passionate about running,” Epstein reflected. Today, Running Wild does a lot of different things in the community besides just selling shoes and shorts. “We are so fortunate to be able to give back to the community in the form of sponsorships for schools, running events, non-running events and several charities,” Epstein said. Several years ago, they started an event production business and co-own approximately twelve races. They also time many local races and cross country meets. The Epsteins have sought to make Running Wild the place to find the right fit for your fitness needs. “We strive to make a connection with every guest through a detailed consultation,” Epstein said. “With the information from that connection, we’re able to equip them with what they need to meet their own individual goals. When I say individual, I truly mean individual because we are all on our own personal journeys and we all need some encouragement and inspiration.”

Running has brought many different things to my life over the years. In “ my teens, it helped keep me out of trouble. In my twenties, it helped keep me focused on undergraduate and graduate school. In my thirties and beyond, it has been my social outlet, coping mechanism for daily stresses and outreach to share with others.”

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Shopping list: lululemon Align High Rise Pant, $98; lululemon Love Tank, $38; lululemon Energy Longline Bra, $58; Specter shoes in espresso/peach, $180. “I can hit a cross fit or yoga class and then meet my friends for coffee at Bagelheads in this outfit.” Photo by Kate Treick Photography November 2022 • Bella Magazine • 39


Shopping list: Rabbit 4-inch Hopper shorts in peacock blue, $58; Rabbit EZ Tee in Nantucket breeze, $48; Rabbit EZ Bra in peacock blue, $55; Provision 6 shoes in white/green, $140. “The trend for athleisure wear is to be functional enough to work out in, but suitable enough to wear around town. So cozy you never want to take them off – but you have to because you have to wash them.” Photo by Kate Treick Photography

40 • Bella Magazine • November 2022

Cherie Epstein Originally from El Paso, Texas, Cherie and her husband, Paul, have lived in Pensacola for 25 years. Paul worked a short time for a company that brought them here, but, the company did not feed his passion — the Gulf Coast did, so they stayed. Epstein started running competitively in a middle school PE class. They had to run one mile per week and she loved it. She set personal goals every week. “Running has brought many different things to my life over the years,” Epstein said. “In my teens, it helped keep me out of trouble. In my twenties, it helped keep me focused on undergraduate and graduate school. In my thirties and beyond, it has been my social outlet, coping mechanism for daily stresses and outreach to share with others.” In addition to running, her hobbies include alpine skiing, mountain biking and watching her daughters play volleyball.


Shopping list: Vuori Performance Jogger in navy/heather, $94; Vuori Elevation Plyo Tank in jade/ heather, $68; ON Cloudmonster shoes in black, $170. “My favorite thing to do when I go shopping is to touch the fabrics with my hands. I am going to stop on what feels good because I want to wrap my whole body in that soft, buttery fabric.”

WHERE TO SHOP Running Wild, 3012 E. Cervantes St., Pensacola; 850-4359222; 214 Fairhope Ave., Fairhope, Ala.; 251-990-4412; werunwild.com Physical therapist, Dr. Lynn Virant, and massage therapist, Karoline Brown, on staff at Pensacola location. Brands carried: lululemon, Vuori, Rabbit, ON, Glyder, Brooks, Mizuno, New Balance and many more. Photo by Kate Treick Photography

November 2022 • Bella Magazine • 41


body & soul

Surf & Turf FITness brings the workout to you

Photos by Kate Treick Photography

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By Kelly MacLeod

T

he excuses to avoid working out can get quite creative. But, if you’re favorite excuse is “the gym is too far,” Tiffany Bearden has taken that cop out off the table. In May of 2021, Bearden boldly launched her mobile gym business, Surf & Turf FITness. “It started with the idea of doing paddleboarding guided tours, and then when the virus hit that kind of shut that down,” Bearden said. “So, then I had time to kind of revamp and rethink it. And I said, ‘you know, I love being fit and doing activities like paddleboarding and skateboarding,’ and I had friends that started telling me I should look at doing a gym.” Not being one to keep it small or do what’s already been done, Bearden’s idea was something more unique. “My concept got bigger and then I brainstormed on how I could integrate it in a way that I could make it convenient for stay-at-home moms since I’ve been one for so long,” she said. “And I understood that the value of time, and so it kind of snowballed from there and I got really creative with it.” She decided a trailer with the gym equipment and with paddleboards that could go to people instead of them coming to her was the answer to the problems she was trying to solve for people. The gym comes to you. She began sketching out her idea for a trailer as well as what she was going to put in it and what she wanted to provide other than just personal training. “I just prefer working out outdoors so that’s what inspired the mobile gym,” Bearden said. “And I often say, ‘I think outside of the gym.’” From concept to design, it was all born out Bearden’s passion for fitness, the outdoors and getting the gym to people. She worked the “surf and turf” idea into the name since she loves surfing and paddleboarding on the water as well as working out on land. Bearden will bring the mobile gym to you for one-onone training, or you can put together a small group to train together. In addition to gym equipment, she has paddleboards and unique items such as lighted land paddling and Indo Board classes. “I’m loving what I do. I am definitely in my bliss.” Personal training classes are $35 for 30 minutes, packages are available. A 60-minute, guided paddleboarding tour is $50. For more information, call Tiffany at 850-207-9844 or search for “Surf & Turf FITness” on Facebook.

November 2022 • Bella Magazine • 43


pro tips

Attorney Sally Bussell Fox shares expert

negotiation advice

FOR WOMEN By Magi Thomley Williams

S

ally Bussell Fox has been making deals since she was six years old when she wrote her first contract in crayon. She and her parents agreed that if she earned certain grades for a specified amount of time, she would receive a vehicle. At age 16, she got the vehicle. Often, women don’t think they negotiate, or say they aren’t comfortable with the idea of negotiating. “Get a clue, you have been negotiating all your life,” Fox said, pointing out that we negotiate our relationships, for a car, a home purchase, for terms of employment and more. Fox is an attorney and shareholder with Emmanuel, Sheppard & Condon, P.A., where she works primarily with builders, lenders and developers in commercial real estate transactions. A certified mediator and certified arbitrator, Fox enjoys complicated real estate and business transactions. Her legal career has thrived since 1983 in these decidedly male-dominated arenas where negotiations are a large part of her daily work. Differing negotiation styles between men and women affect outcomes. Women and men tend to express emotions differently. When men feel at a disadvantage, they can get bullish or tough. Under the same circumstances, women typically get emotional or reserved. “Crying is not successful…save that for later,”

44 • Bella Magazine • November 2022

Fox cautioned. She also said that men will only focus on the win in negotiations. “Know that and use that to your advantage. Make them feel like they are winning when you are getting what you want.” Women may focus on one detail of an agreement and forget others – but lack of attention to detail is detrimental. “It’s not just money, its little terms that count and are important,” she said. “For example, if contracting for a commercial lease space, women often focus on the rent amount only, rather than also being aware of other provisions like repairs, signage, parking.” Women are often unclear on the outcome they want. Savvy negotiators start with the end they desire in mind while allowing for some flexibility in reaching that desired outcome. Prepare by determining what you want and what you need. “First, get what you need in the agreement, then go to what you want; compare that with what is fair. You will never get to an agreement if you ask for what is not fair. Fight for what is important and don’t sweat the small stuff. If it’s not important tomorrow or next year, don’t fight over it.” Women often blame themselves if they don’t get the outcomes they want while factors besides skill and preparation affect negotiation outcomes. Fox recalled an instance when she was representing clients from the Middle East in a conflict with another group from the same part of the world. Mediation failed and the issue went to trial. The


Photos by Kate Treick Photography November 2022 • Bella Magazine • 45


TOP NEGOTIATION TIPS •

Ask for council from other women. Women give advice to other women in business all the time and are happy to do so.

Avoid incorrect timing. Don’t ask for a raise after the budget is set and don’t ask for anything if your boss is tired or busy. The same advice holds true for negotiations with a significant other.

Meet in person. Emails and texts don’t convey emotions or can convey emotions that don’t exist. Face-to-face conversations are especially critical in these days of virtual meetings.

Sit if everyone is sitting; stand if everyone is standing.

Avoid posts on social media. This caution extends to vendors, competitors, significant others, bosses or anyone else with information or an opinion on an ongoing negotiation.

No blaming of others. If someone is being unfair, it doesn’t help to tell them.

Be creative. For example, in the workplace, compensation is not all about salaries, but also about, vacation, employer-paid education, travel, and other non-salary compensation.

Continue to learn. Two books Fox recommends are Getting to Yes by Roger Fisher and Getting More by Stuart Diamond.

Clothing | Jewelry | Accessories

850.432.1264 | @bluetique_pensacola 125 PALAFOX STREET | DOWNTOWN PENSACOLA

46 • Bella Magazine • November 2022


matter wasn’t progressing to resolution, so the judge called for a break and ordered opposing parties to talk in the hall. Talk quickly escalated to screaming and wild gestures attracting bailiffs who began running toward the group with guns drawn. Every one of the Middle Easterners turned to the bailiffs in surprise and explained “this is nothing.” They simply used a very different way to communicate. While the situation looked to some like violence was about to take place, the parties settled the issue in the hallway. Women can learn negotiation skills from men who use more direct speaking styles while women qualify their comments with words like “I think,” I could be wrong,” “this might work,” and “I’m not sure but.” When speakers qualify, listeners tend to lose confidence in what is being said. Women should practice positive attitudes and be more confident in speech delivery and verbiage. Almost every person is insecure in some part of their life – even the most successful. Get to know your opponent’s insecurities. Women don’t recognize that men have insecurities, but men don’t show them. Leverage that knowledge.

Women have some natural advantages when it comes to negotiations. Women are empathetic and they readily read nuances in speech and body language that men miss. One settlement Fox mediated involved a lot of money and involved people who hated each other. The tension was so bad, they could never put the parties in the same room. The disagreement was settled because one person said “I‘m sorry it has come to this and I am sorry you feel this way.” They never said, “I did something wrong.” The opposing party responded with “I’ve been waiting to hear that; It’s all I wanted.” Sensitivity to how others communicate and what they really want is an advantage. Finally, Fox reminds us that in negotiations and in life, “know where you are going, so that you can get there. If you don’t know where you are going, you may not get anywhere, even though you make great time.” Magi Thomley Williams is a corporate consultant, writer, speaker and trainer at Thomley Consulting. She can be reached at Magi@ ThomleyConsulting.com.

Find Out How We Are Making

HOMEOWNERSHIP AFFORDABLE for Everyone

Out of the Box Realty www.RealtyOutOfTheBox.com Email: Info@RealtyOutOfTheBox.com Phone: 888-687-9153 P.O. Box 1242 | Gulf Breeze, FL 32562 November 2022 • Bella Magazine • 47


food & drink

Roasted Beet & Butternut Squash Curry Provided by Chef Heather Flowers, Vibrant Chefs. Serves 6-8 people

Ingredients Soup • 1 small yellow, onion • 4 garlic cloves, minced • 1 inch of fresh ginger, grated • 1 small butternut squash • 3 beets • 1-2 tbsp. of red curry paste • 1 can of lite coconut milk • 2 1/4 cups vegetable broth (divided) • 1 tsp. of Apple Liquid Smoke Tahini Cream • 2 tbsp. of tahini • 3 tbsp. of plain non-dairy yogurt • 2 tsp. of lemon juice Garnish • Roasted pumpkins seeds • Daikon radish mcrogreens

Preparation Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Wash all vegetables. Cut butternut squash in half and remove seeds. Line the baking sheet with parchment paper. Place butternut squash cut side down on parchment paper. Place each beet onto a piece of aluminum foil and individually wrap, creating a pouch. Put all of the beets on a baking sheet. Cook butternut squash for 30-40 minutes until soft when piercing with a fork. After removing squash, increase oven temperature to 400 degrees and cook the beets for an additional 20-30 minutes until soft when piercing with a fork.

48 • Bella Magazine • November 2022

Allow squash and beets to cool. Once cooled, scoop out 2 cups of roasted butternut squash. Remove peels from beets using a paper towel and chop beets into large cubes. Dice 1 small onion, mince 4 cloves of garlic and

grate 1-inch of fresh ginger. Place a large pot on the stove, turn on medium heat. Add diced onions and stir frequently to avoid burning. When onions turn translucent, turn down heat to medium/low, add fresh garlic and ginger and stir for just a few seconds until fragrant. Add 1/4 cup of vegetable broth to deglaze the pan. Add 1-2 tablespoons of red curry, stir to mix with onions. Remove the pot from heat. Add squash, beets, coconut milk and 2 cups of vegetable broth. Stir all together. Pour soup mixture into a blender. Blend on lowest setting and gradually increase until smooth and creamy. TIP: do not fill blender more than 1⁄2 full. Pour soup back into the pot and place the pot on the stove. Add apple flavored liquid smoke, stir and turn heat on medium-high until near boiling. Turn down heat to low-medium to simmer. Stir occasionally for 15 minutes until hot. Add tahini, yogurt and lemon to a small bowl, whisk all together. To serve, drizzle each bowl of soup with tahini cream and sprinkle with a few roasted pepitas. Garnish with microgreens. Enjoy!


November 2022 • Bella Magazine • 49


food & drink

NONTRADITIONAL THANKSGIVING We asked local women what their favorite nontraditional dish is to shake things up at Thanksgiving. If you want to think outside the mashed potatoes and green bean casserole – even though we all love those favorites – here’s some fun ideas for you!

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Want a new dish for your holiday table? Get ideas with the recipes on the following pages.

"Prime rib!” — Deanie Sexton “Key lime pie.” — Clancy Bambrick “Crab fritters with red pepper mayo. Yum!!” — Maria Joy “I make my grandmother’s fruit salad recipe every year.” — Magi Thomley Williams “Every year we make chicken and dumplings from scratch.” — Lisa Sharp “Crab legs.” — Donna Gail Spencer “Indian food.” — Manisha Agrawal “Jambalaya.” — Christel Wood “Carrot soufflé. Delicious. You’d never know you’re eating carrots...swear. It’s my family’s favorite dish.” — Sherry Halford, who provided her family’s recipe – with handwritten notes that include every Thanksgiving and Christmas they have made the recipe. “It’s a piece of family history,” Halford said.

November 2022 • Bella Magazine • 51


52 • Bella Magazine • November 2022


Carrot Soufflé Provided by Sherry Halford • • • • • • • •

1 pound carrots, sliced 1/2 cup butter, melted 1 cup sugar 3 tbsp. flour 1 tsp. baking powder 1 tsp. vanilla 3 eggs Salt

Cook the carrots until tender in salted water. Drain. Add the butter and mash the mixture (it is easiest to mash in a blender or processor). Mix together the sugar, flour, baking powder, vanilla and eggs. Add to the carrots and blend well. Pour into a greased 1-quart casserole and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Serves 4 to 6. NOTE: This recipe may be doubled but cooking time must be increased.

November 2022 • Bella Magazine • 53


Grandma's Homemade Chicken and Dumplins

54 • Bella Magazine • November 2022


Provided by Lisa Sharp Lisa Sharp’s grandmother, Gwen, started the tradition of making chicken and dumplings for Thanksgiving in Bogalusa, Louisiana. They even have a dumpling pot that’s been handed down through the generations. Lisa’s mom made the dumplings and now Lisa has been making them for the last six years.

Ingredients • 1 whole chicken • 1 stick of butter • 1 egg • 2 cups of plain flour • 4 cans of chicken broth • Salt and pepper to taste • Pinch of baking powder Most important: take one can of chicken broth and put in the fridge and get it really cold. It helps set the dumplings in the flour. Put the chicken in a large pot and almost cover the chicken with water. Add salt, pepper and the stick of butter. Boil and cook chicken all the way through. When done, take chicken out to cool. Once cooled, pull the chicken meat off the bone and place the meat back in the pot. Low boil. Put the flour in a bowl, add a pinch of baking powder and pinch of salt and mix together. Then make a hole in the middle for the egg. Knead flour and egg with hands – adding small amount of chilled chicken broth as you go, you don’t want it to get too runny – until you get a consistent ball of dough (similar to bread dough). If it’s sticking to your fingers, add a little bit more flour. Then pour rest of chicken broth in the pot with the chicken. Lay out a sheet of wax paper. Pinch off 2-inch pieces of dough and roll them out (first put flour on the rolling pin – keep the flour handy!). Keep a little flour on the wax paper and rolling pin so that nothing sticks. Roll dough until it is paper thin. Use a butter knife to cut into strips (about one-inch wide, don’t worry about precision of size). Make sure to wear an apron! Gently place the individual dumpling strips into the boiling broth with chicken. Let cook until the dumpling strips are fluffy and tender. Do not stir, instead slowly roll. Pause to sip champagne. Continue to cut the dough and place all of the strips in the pot. Keep slowly rolling so that the dumplings do not stick to the bottom of the pot. Cook for about 30 minutes. Do a taste test to make sure the dumplings are cooked all the way through. Spoon into a bowl, top with sprigs of parsley and enjoy! NOTE: To make it easier you can use flour tortillas instead of making dumplings from scratch. November 2022 • Bella Magazine • 55


causes

Celebrating the

DREAM Habitat for Humanity gala raises spirits & funds

Pensacola Habitat for Humanity’s Soaring to New Heights When: 6-9 p.m., Nov. 4 Where: National Naval Aviation Museum, 1750 Radford Boulevard, Pensacola Tickets & more information: Tickets can be purchased through the Pensacola Habitat for Humanity website: pensacolahabitat.org/phfhgala. All ticket holders must complete a security form in order to gain access to NAS Pensacola, as it is currently closed to the general public. If you are a Military ID card holder or are carpooling to the event with a Military ID card holder, you do not need to complete the security form. You will receive the security form in your confirmation email after purchasing a ticket.

56 • Bella Magazine • November 2022

By Allison McCrory

I

n an era when people are hungry to celebrate good news, Pensacola Habitat for Humanity will do just that during an evening of hope, fundraising and festivities at their second annual gala, “Soaring to New Heights,” Nov. 4 at the Pensacola Naval Aviation Museum. “The evening will include an exquisite three-course meal by Classic City Catering, silent and live auctions, live entertainment and a cash bar,” said Quinn Luehring, communications manager for Pensacola Habitat for Humanity. Likely the most inspiring aspect of the evening will be testimonies from homeowners of a few of the 1,450 homes constructed and renovated by Pensacola Habitat since the organization launched 41 years ago. “Attendees will be inspired by life-altering stories from families impacted by Pensacola Habitat’s mission,” said Luehring, adding that eventgoers can mingle with like-minded community members during a cocktail hour while viewing historic aircraft to the tunes of a live jazz band. Of course, the goal of the evening is raising support for affordable home ownership for deserving area residents. Home ownership offers long-term benefits, including building generational wealth, higher civic engagement, stability and property improvements for neighborhoods. Yet knowing how to navigate what is likely someone’s largest lifetime purchase is challenging and fraught with potential mistakes. So, Pensacola Habitat for Humanity services include education on managing this monumental step. “The organization provides educational components, so the homeowners are set up for success in their homeownership journeys,” Luehring noted. In addition, the organization offers Community Development services to assist homeowners in maintaining deteriorating properties, another way the organization is preserving and promoting home ownership. The service Habitat provides is particularly crucial in 2022, Luehring said. “The need for affordable housing has never been greater. As interest rates and land costs skyrocket, while wages stay relatively the same, it creates a gap in which more and more families are unable to afford an owned home and ultimately get stuck in the cycle of renting,” she said. “Pensacola Habitat for Humanity’s programs are designed to reach those audiences who are often forgotten about and left behind to fend for themselves. Each home buyer that goes through Pensacola Habitat’s Home Buyer Program receives their own customized plan and mortgage that is determined by their individual situation.”


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November 2022 • Bella Magazine • 57


out&about Pensacola Opera's Jukebox Gala Pensacola Opera held its signature fall fundraising event on Sept. 23, at Sanders Beach-Corinne Jones Resource Center, in honor and memory of Drs. Jim and Nell Potter. Photos by Lakesha Davis

Allan Benton, Karen Burke, Mark Chastain, Robin Chastain, Anne Douglass Williams, Paula Turner

58 • Bella Magazine • November 2022


Above: Melissa Austin, Kelly Villhard, April Lackey, Payton Lackey Left: Kayla Nanto, Hayley Abramowitz November 2022 • Bella Magazine • 59


Top: Jacey Cosentino, Varna Reynoso, Amanda Brown Top: Shelia Dunn, Bobby Dunn Above: Ileana Blair, Mathew Blair

60 • Bella Magazine • November 2022

Left: Lyndi Kessler, Nan Einhart, Nan Harper


Above: Patrick Potter, Martha Potter, Cathy Potter, Doug Holsworth Right: Chandra Mckern, Sooz Cobb, Jenifer Knisbell

November 2022 • Bella Magazine • 61


Nathan Cicero (Pianist/Coach), Haley Abramowitz (Soprano), Randy Ho (Tenor), Kayla Manto (Mezzo-Soprano), Scott Lee

Compassionate, Comprehensive Family Law Representation PROTECTING YOU SO YOU CAN MOVE FORWARD

127 Palafox Place, Suite 100, Pensacola • (850) 466-3115 • Autumnobeck.com 62 • Bella Magazine • November 2022


Bob Kelly, Gail Husbands, CJ Lydon, Jill White, Caroline Kelly, Bette Hooton, Kristen Bonnell, Bob Husbands

Rich Events is a boutique special events venue and overnight bridal suite located in the heart of downtown Pensacola.

RICHEVENTSPENSACOLA.COM

|

850-418-7079 November 2022 • Bella Magazine • 63


Clockwise from top left: Jonathan Beyer, Sandra Piques Eddy; Leah Edwards, Dimitri Pittas; Nan Destafney, John Boivin, Trisha Woodburn, CJ Lydon; Kristen Tilghman,Tammy Chaney,Rene West, Jordyn Johnson; Sakina Groth, Kyle Groth.

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Robby Boothe, Lauren Boothe, Deborah Drozdowski

November 2022 • Bella Magazine • 65


her perspective

Trust your instincts My daughter got a cute, purple keychain pepper spray for her 17th birthday. Since her high school is in a rough neighborhood, it is a popular item for girls to carry, especially after late sports practices. I’m all for self-defense sprays, but the story I want to tell her is “trust your instincts.” Of course, she doesn’t want to listen to my old-fogey stories. Just as I didn’t want to listen to my mother’s “when I was your age” stories. I remember my mother telling me the most memorable day of her childhood was the day they replaced their ice box with a refrigerator. And the invention that made the biggest difference in her life was toothpaste – her parent’s generation all had rotten teeth and bad breath. As a teenager, I found her stories unrelatable, now I find them fascinating. I hope by telling my story, maybe someday my daughter will read it and find it useful (fascinating is an unrealistic goal). When I was 18 years old, I was walking back to my freshman dorm from the Spring Hill College Library and a large man jumped out from behind a tree, held a knife to my throat and said, “don’t move.” He had panty hose pulled over his face which made it more terrifying and signaled to me that his intentions were premeditated. My fight-or-flight instincts took over and I screamed an unimaginable scream, so loud that friends in every dorm told me they heard it. My scream startled him for a split second and I took off running. I ran the 100-meter hurdles for four years in high school, desperately training to make it to the state track meet. I never made it to state - third place in the district meet was the only ribbon I ever won. Maybe it was never my destiny to be a state champion. Maybe it was just practice to prepare for my fate – to outrun a man who held me at knifepoint.

Fast forward 40 years: I booked an Airbnb in a posh Jacksonville neighborhood to attend my sister’s retirement party. I don’t travel alone often, but my husband couldn’t go, and I really wanted to be there to surprise my sister. As soon as I pulled up to my Airbnb, something didn’t feel right. It felt like I was in Creepsville, not Avondale. A property owner had taken a ranch house, chopped it up into four Airbnb rentals with rickety lock boxes, window A/C units dripping condensation onto the dirt and no driveways – cars were parked all up and down the street. “Oh well,” I thought, “I’m only here for two nights, how bad can it be?” I should have trusted my instincts. The next day I walked outside to get something out of my car and when I returned, the front door was open slightly. “Hmmm, didn’t I close the door,” I thought as I walked in. SURPRISE, a large bearded man wearing a baseball cap was in my Airbnb with his hands in my purse! I screamed at the top of my lungs. It was a blood curdling scream. The man looked shocked. I screamed again, “Get out!” To be honest, my screams sounded like a crazed demon. I was terrified and didn’t know if he had a weapon. He pushed me aside and ran out the door. The moral of this story is when something doesn’t feel right, respect that feeling. Don’t try to talk yourself out of feeling it – our instincts help us survive. Don’t think you are invincible – you’re vincible. Yes, carry pepper spray on your keychain that is somewhere in your backpack because your car has a push button ignition. But know that predators are looking for someone who is alone, vulnerable and not paying attention. An assault will most likely happen when you least expect it. If your pepper spray is not handy, trust your instincts, scream as loud as you can and run.

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.

66 • Bella Magazine • November 2022



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