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December 2019


for Today’s Woman

Jennifer Bullman Jones President Bullman Heating & Air

Sparkle in Style | Elevate Your Hot Chocolate | It's a Family Affair

SELL for SOFIA Looking for a rewarding career in advertising sales? Send an email to asheppard@rewnc.com or call 828-279-5962

ADVERTISE with SOFIA! Our readers are your potential customers.



in the U.S. are made by women.

93% of FOOD PURCHASES are made by women.


of women identify themselves as the

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50% o f PRODUCTS typically marketed

to men are PURCHASED by women.

80% o f HEALTHCARE DECISIONS are made by women.

For additional advertising information contact one of our representatives below: Mike Demos 828.273.0098 mikedemos@aol.com Trish Luzzi 828.423.0248 wnccreations@gmail.com

68% o f NEW CAR purchase decisions are made by women.

66% of PCs are purchased by women. 92% of VACATION DECISIONS are made by women.


Happy Holidays from the staff of SOFIA! Wishing you peace, love, and joy this holiday season and throughout the new year.

"The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart. Wishing you happiness." Helen Keller All advertising published in SOFIA is believed to be truthful and accurate. However High Five Enterprises, Inc. assumes no responsibility and shall have no liability whatsoever for errors, including and without limitation, typographical errors or omissions in SOFIA. Any reference made to High Five Enterprises, Inc. is not to be construed as making any representation, warranty or guarantee concerning the information advertised in SOFIA. The content of all ads contained herein are solely the responsibility of the advertiser. The opinions and statements contained in advertising or elsewhere in this publication are those of the authors of such opinions and are not necessarily those of High Five Enterprises, Inc. High Five Enterprises, Inc. reserves the right to edit or refuse any advertising submitted to this publication.

Tammy Sheppard publisherofsofia@gmail.com

Contributing Editor

JeanAnn Taylor jeananntaylor@rewnc.com

Director of Business Operations Al Sheppard asheppard@rewnc.com

Art Director / Web Design Tina Gaafary

For Advertising Inquiries Mike Demos 828.273.0098 mikedemos@aol.com Trish Luzzi 828.423.0248 wnccreations@gmail.com

Contributing Writers: Natasha Kubis Lavinia Plonka Peggy Ratusz Laurie Richardone Betty Sharpless Sandi Tomlin-Sutker Cheri Torres

High Five Enterprises, Inc. PO Box 8683 Asheville, NC 28814 828.279.5962

December 2019 | thesofiamagazine.com


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Download your free conversation toolkit at www.conversationsworthhaving.today

May You be Blessed with Everything You Want in Life.


On the Cover

Jennifer Bullman Jones

Holiday Conversations Worth Having

One Big Family

Cheri Torres

Sandi Tomlin-Sutker Page 8

Page 20

11 Sofia Style Light Up the Night JeanAnn Taylor


Heeding the Call Lavinia Plonka

17 The Myth of Gluten Free Laurie Richardone 18 10 Delicious Ways to Elevate Your Hot Chocolate 19 Southern Gal Gardening It's Time to Winterize Your Garden Betty Sharpless 22 J eanAnn’s Journey Celebrating Tradition JeanAnn Taylor

23 The Pretty Poinsettia JeanAnn Taylor

24 Eco-Friendly Holiday Gift Ideas 25 Get in the Christmas Mood 26 Remedies SADness Natasha Kubis

28 Spotlight on Christina Chandler Peggy Ratusz


thesofiamagazine.com | December 2019

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Photos by Bren Photography

Jennifer Bullman Jones Bullman Heating & Air, Inc.

One Big Family! By Sandi Tomlin-Sutker


ince growing up in her parents’ business and living her youth in Asheville, Jennifer didn’t want or expect to move back here after college. But life, as it often does, arranged things in a different way. Her parents started Bullman Heating & Air in 1993; Dad worked at it full time, and Mom worked a regular job during the day and helped him at night. They started out in a tiny trailer with one truck. When Jennifer was only 12 years old, she began working in the business every day after school; her main job was typing—on an actual typewriter—job proposals her dad created. She also answered phones and made appointments. A focus on work and success was something she saw in her parents and something she emulated herself from that early age. In 1999 she graduated from North Buncombe High School and went off to college at UNC-Charlotte. “Back then Asheville wasn’t like it is now (I love it now) and it was not where I thought I’d get married and raise my family.” But in her first year in Charlotte, she met her future husband, Chris Jones, a first-round draft pick right out of high school who played for the Giants in the minor leagues.

“I was one of those who said I wasn’t getting married till I was 30 . . . I think my dad even had me sign a contract about that! Two months after we met, Chris proposed, and we married a year later.” They traveled together for a couple of years after college, living in several places—like Louisiana, Maryland— every few months until in 2003 he was traded to the Rockies which brought him to Asheville to play for the Tourists. Back home, Jennifer thought it was great to be near her family again. It had been hard for her to get a job since they moved about every six months, so she went back to work for her family business, which included her brother, Branson. At the end of that baseball season, she was pregnant and decided not to go back to Charlotte where they usually spent the off season. Her husband left for spring training, but she stayed behind in Asheville, not wanting to travel while pregnant. Then he decided to retire right before their first daughter, Mckenzie, was born; he got a job locally while she continued to work for Bullman, where she’s been ever since. During that time a lot of changes happened: her parents got divorced and her mom left the business. Jen-

nifer moved into the role of office manager with a lot more on her plate, including a second daughter, Madelyn. Dad was still in the role of owner/ president and her brother was in sales. But in 2012 their dad decided to retire and hand the business over to his daughter and son. From then until about two months ago, Jennifer was Vice President and Branson was President. “Then he decided to go a different route and pursue his music career. I am now owner/president and it’s been great. My biggest worry was that the employees might not like a woman boss. I was a woman running a heating and air business within the construction industry. I had been in a management role but not a full owner.” Partly because she has an “open door” policy with her 50 employees and partly because many of them had seen her grow up and grow with the business: “Everyone has been very receptive of me running things. They feel they can come in and talk with me about their lives. A lot of people who are managers now have been with the business for 20-25 years. We also have customers who have been with us for years and also watched me grow up. We are one big family!” November 2019 | thesofiamagazine.com


for college when the time comes. She’s always thinking about building her college credits.” Meanwhile Bullman Heating & Air continues to build and maintain its strong reputation for quality and service. “We’re very picky in our installation. Look at our duct work and it looks like art. I’ll only hire people who do it our way: right the first time. There are lots of ways to pass code, but that’s not our way, the Bullman way. It’s got to be perfect. My dad taught us that.”

And speaking of family, Jennifer and her husband have raised two daughters, now 15 and 12 who have also grown up seeing a successful mom and dad. “I want them to be proud of me. I tell them: You make your own money, make your own way. Don’t marry a doctor, BE a doctor!” When each of them was born Jennifer didn’t take them to daycare right away. “They came to work with me every day, and my 15-year-old now comes in after school when she is available to help out. When our 12-year-old needs money, I tell her to come to work and earn some.” Bringing babies to work, especially in a male-dominated business, might seem difficult to carry off. But, “Employees were happy to see the girls. 10

thesofiamagazine.com | December 2019

We had a huge office with a playpen. My service manager at the time actually helped me change diapers! I would sometimes put the babies in file cabinets while I was filing. I have videos and photos of them running around the office; everyone loved it.” And that contributed even more to the “One Big Family” feeling. And surely that has contributed to Jennifer’s full life: she’s been married 18 years this coming January; her girls are active in sports: travel volleyball and they play for Biltmore Volleyball Academy. Her oldest also plays softball and they both are straight A students. “We normally go to a game or practice after work. We’re very proud of them. Our oldest, now a sophomore, is preparing to go to Chapel Hill

Meanwhile, they have been voted best in WNC for the last six years. They have three departments: new construction, change outs, and service. They cover all of WNC and are also licensed in TN and SC. Jennifer says that while they could grow more, add more employees, she wants to keep the business about the size it is now to maintain that family feeling. “My dad was hard on me growing up; he pushed me and told me, one day you’re going to take over the business and I want you to be able to do it well. I had no plans to be here, but now I can’t imagine life anywhere else.” Jennifer Bullman Jones jjones@bullmanheating.com Bullman Heating & Air, Inc. bullmanheating.com 828-658-2468

Sandi Tomlin-Sutker is a freelance writer and editor. Contact her at sts@ madison.main. nc.us

Sofia Style

Light Up The Night By JeanAnn Taylor

is the season to sparkle and what better way to shine than to wear a dress adorned with sequins or sparkly threads sewn right into the fabric? A glittery top or dress will bring all the eyes to you, so when you wear this look, it’s best to get it right.


Uncomplicated silhouettes are most suitable for highly adorned gowns as the garment can stand on its own. The sparkle of the fabric is all that is needed to make a statement. Plunging, low-cut necklines or sky-high hemlines can distract from the flair and elegance of the dress. Streamlined strapless sheaths or long column dresses can look modern and stylish. Sequined fabric is often a bit stiff due to the glued-on crystals, or heavy from the sparkly threads. Only if the fabric is soft and flexible can it be gathered into the waist to create a twirl effect. The way a dress fits your body is always an important feature to consider, but when it comes to shiny, flashy fabric, it’s even more essential. Sparkly fabrics declare, “Look at me,” so make sure all eyes are going where you want them to look. You don’t have to wear sequins from head to toe to

make a twinkling point. You can choose a top with sequined highlights and wear it with a solid color skirt, or accessorize with a pair of sequined heels. Another option is to wear a sparkly bodice with a satin or chiffon skirt. This gives you a glittering essence and leaves the skirt free to twirl around the dance floor. Touches of bling here and there look elegant and they may lend themselves to more opportunities of wear than a full-sparkled dress. With all the bling coming from your dress, jewelry may be optional. Just take care that whatever jewelry you do choose won’t snag on your sparkly garment. Other accessories can be tastefully small, allowing your dress to be the main attraction. Be sure to brighten your eyes and wear lipgloss whenever you wear flashy garments. You don’t want to compete with your dress, but you also don’t want to fade behind it. Enjoy the sparkle and bright lights of the holidays in a dress that sparkles like a star! Style expert JeanAnn Taylor can be reached at jeananntaylor@rewnc.com December 2019 | thesofiamagazine.com



b m a r y ith









By Lavinia Plonka

Heeding THE Call


f ew days ago, a word popped into my head. Dithyramb. From nowhere. No NPR story. No romance novel. No scholarly treatise in recent memory had included that word. In fact, I had no idea what it meant, although at my age, that could simply mean I don’t remember. I shrugged and went on with my day. And then, every day, there it was, dithyramb. Like an earworm, you know, a song that goes on and on in your head and you can’t get rid of it. I recently battled Frank Sinatra’s anthem, “That’s Life” for a few days, thought I had conquered it, only to have my husband Ron sing it to me after the overloaded food processor spewed pureed


thesofiamagazine.com | December 2019

beets all over my white linen shirt.

“Dithyramb,” said my brain as I dug up my bumper crop of Jerusalem artichoke. (Did you know Jerusalem artichokes are good for your gut bacteria? What to do with ten pounds of inulin rich tubers?) “Dithyramb,” it whispered as I attempted parallel parking on Haywood Rd. during rush hour. The multiple folds of my gray matter vibrated and echoed. Of course, lots of other words and ideas pop into our heads on a regular basis, like old songs, names of people I went to high school with, lists of various types of heirloom string beans. But they are polite, perhaps arriving unbidden, but leaving gracefully.

I could have just looked it up. But you know how it is. Like the friend you keep remembering you were supposed to call, except it’s 11PM, or you’re in the shower, or you misplaced your cell phone. And then you forget. So I would muse as I drove, or piloted my shopping cart through Trader Joe’s. Was it some kind of ancient Greek musical instrument? Maybe a tool for divination? A mathematical term? Forget the why, at this point it was all about the what. Finally I looked it up, slightly apprehensive that it might not even be a word. Or that it might be some inappropriate type of sex toy. Perhaps it was a word from another reality, another dimension, and had no meaning here at all.

But there it was. Dithyramb. • A  wild choral hymn of ancient Greece, especially one dedicated to Dionysus. • A  passionate or inflated speech, poem, or other writing. While I’ve done some wild dancing in my time, often influenced by the gifts of Dionysus, I have definitely never sung a wild choral hymn. Passionate or inflated speech however is another story. I have spent a good deal of my life either being told to shut up, or telling myself to button it. I even spent 25 years as a mime, perhaps because while expressing my passion usually ended up with my foot firmly in my mouth, the crafting of a mime piece actually required reasoned thought, choreography, and practice.

I worried that heeding the call of Dithyramb was the first symptom of “voices in my head.” What was my brain going to tell me next? And would it be Dithyrambic? “Go, Lavinia, stand in Pack Place and declaim your passion for the construction of a monorail above Merrimon Avenue!” “You must now invent a new recipe combining lichen and wild persimmon!” “This is the time to pull out those fishnet stockings from your 80’s punk period! Seize the moment!” Can you shut off your brain? Do Zen practitioners have dithyrambic interventions?

Every day, scientists are finding more stuff out about how our brains work. There is the brain’s glymphatic system flushing our brains every night. Glial cells, originally thought to be just “stuff” in

our heads turn out to be key players in our neuronal health. They’ve even found the part of the brain responsible for earworms and that earworms can boost our mood, if they don’t drive us crazy. What if the call to Dithyramb was some higher force trying to communicate with me, that I need to tune into some yet unidentified passion? How can I lean in, listen more deeply for what the ether is trying to tell me? Or perhaps it’s simply that in my past life I was one of the mythical Eleusinian mimes (OK, a mime for all time!) who apparently were instrumental in these dithyrambic revels. For sure it’s a word that needs to re-enter our lexicon. We need more wild choral hymns, more passionate speeches. Dionysus is calling.

Body language expert, Lavinia Plonka has taught The Feldenkrais Method for over 25 years. For more information, visit her at laviniaplonka.com

December 2019 | thesofiamagazine.com


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Gingerbread Cookie Recipe Ingredients: 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon 1 tablespoon ground ginger 3/4 teaspoon baking soda 3/4 teaspoon ground cloves 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg 1/2 teaspoon salt 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature 1/2 cup packed brown sugar 1 large egg 1/2 cup unsulfured molasses 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Icing Recipe: 2 cups powdered sugar 2–3 tablespoons milk 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions: In a large bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, ginger, baking soda, cloves, salt and nutmeg. Set aside. In an electric mixer fitted, beat the butter and sugar together for 2 minutes on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Add in eggs, molasses and vanilla, and beat on medium speed until combined. Reduce mixer speed to low, and gradually add the flour mixture until just combined. Divide the dough into two equal portions, and form them each into a ball. Then gently use your hands to flatten each ball into a 1-inch thick disk, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight. When the dough is thoroughly chilled, you’re ready to bake the cookies. Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside. Unwrap the dough and place it

on a large, lightly-floured hard surface. Use a floured rolling pin to roll the dough evenly until it is approximately 1/8-inch thick. Use your favorite cookie cutters to cut out your desired shapes, re-rolling the dough as needed to cut out more. Transfer to parchment-covered baking sheets. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the cookies are crisp around the edges and on top. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling. Once their cooled, decorate them with the icing recipe below. You may store dough the dough for up to 4 days in sealed container.

To Make The Icing: Whisk all ingredients together in a bowl until smooth. If your icing is too thin, add in a little more powdered sugar. If your icing is too thick, add in a tiny bit of milk. Use a piping bag, or a ziplock bag (with the corner snipped off), or a plastic squeeze bottle to pipe the icing onto the cookies.

December 2019 | thesofiamagazine.com


The Myth of Gluten Free By Laurie Richardone


t ’s easy for us to make a decision about something, before we’ve had an opportunity to experience it. Gluten Free cooking is a case in point. Many restaurants offer gluten free alternatives that are not prepared with the same love or attention as their other dishes. This only supports the myth that gluten free food is a lesser cuisine. Gluten free is as ancient as the hills, a way of eating that is natural to the majority of world people. It’s not about taking something out, It’s about using different beneficial ingredients to create delicious food. There are so many flours utilized by experienced gluten free chefs to create flavors and textures that are scrumptious. I myself have experimented on countless recipes to transform many traditional gluten filled foods into dishes that are lower in carbs, easier to digest, and exquisitely flavorful. Whether gluten sensitive or not, eating a wheat free diet is beneficial. Be thankful to be forced into this gluten free world, your palate will be forever grateful. Let me share my personal journey. Several years ago, I was experiencing chronic stomach pain and headaches. It was suggested that I eliminate wheat from my diet. Having grown up in a large Italian family enjoying wonderful traditional foods, like pasta, pastries, and of course great bread from Brooklyn bakeries, the thought of a gluten free existence was depressing. Fortunately my travels to Italy have taken me to many wonderful local markets, and as such I began to realize that flours like chestnut, garbanzo and almond have always been staples of Italian cooking: wheat is only one possibility. My newfound discoveries have led to my chronic stomach aches fading away. With this, my purpose became clear: I now happily teach seasonal, gluten, and grain-free cooking classes in an intimate setting at my home in Asheville. Someone once asked me what I do, I simply said “I help people feel their personal best through food, joy, and mindfulness.” More people today are eager to live a healthy lifestyle. A big part of that is an awareness of the food we eat, where it comes from, and how it is grown. To have an understanding of the ingredients we consume is vitally important, as our health is directly related to the food we eat. Large conglomerates like Monsanto are no longer the only choice. I feel lucky to have found beautiful Asheville with its abundance of organic growers and ingredients. This boun-

ty is my foundation to create delicious, gourmet, healthy food. The reward is sitting down with friends and family sharing a good meal. Let’s raise our glasses to all the farmers, their labors of love, and the integrity to keep our land healthy. To that end . . . prepare with pure fresh ingredients, and let food be thy medicine.

LaurieRichardone.com info@LaurieRichardone.com 505.577.6088 cell

December 2019 | thesofiamagazine.com


10 Delicious Ways

to Elevate Your Hot Chocolate

Matcha Tea Matcha tea is a popular health food bursting with antibiotics. It also happens to be an excellent flavor in dessert. Add a little bit of matcha tea powder to your hot chocolate. You'll be pleasing your taste buds and your body.

Orange Chocolate covered oranges are a decadent dessert, and you can recreate this flavor in your hot chocolate. Use a tiny bit of orange extract for flavor and mix in some grated orange zest for an unexpected taste. Garnish with a candied orange slice.

Cinnamon Cinnamon smells like the holidays. It brings visions of baked goods and hot cider. All some cinnamon to your hot chocolate for a comfortable, cozy feeling. Use a cinnamon stick for stirring.

Ginger Ginger is a warm and inviting spice perfect for cold weather. Get inspired by cookies like gingersnaps when you add a pinch of ginger to your hot chocolate. In fact, this drink would be best enjoyed with gingerbread cookies on the side.

Cayenne Pepper It might seem unusual to add pepper to hot chocolate, but this has been a tradition in Mexico for years. A dash of cayenne brings just a little kick and balances the sweet chocolate.

Pumpkin Spice

njoying a cup of hot chocolate is a wonderful way to celebrate colder temperatures. Hot chocolate with an unexpected twist is even better. Whether you use a powdered instant mix or make your hot chocolate on the stove, you'll love these ten ways of getting creative with this wintertime drink.


Peanut Butter Peanut butter and chocolate is a winning combination. To create this tempting treat, just add a spoonful of peanut butter and stir. You might also drop in some peanut butter candies.

Peppermint Peppermint is a classic cold-weather spice that goes beautifully with chocolate. Add some peppermint extract to your drink and serve it with a candy cane for stirring. You could also crush some peppermint candy to sprinkle on top, which is especially good with whipped cream. 18

thesofiamagazine.com | December 2019

If you can't get enough pumpkin spice, this is the hot chocolate add-on for you. Create your own pumpkin spice chocolate drink by adding a few dashes of pumpkin pie spice. You could also use pumpkin butter for a richer texture and flavor. This hot chocolate definitely calls for whipped cream as well.

Chai Latte Combine two of your favorite winter drinks when you add a chai latte tea to regular hot chocolate. Half tea and half hot chocolate will do the drink, but you can adjust the amount any way you like.

Eggnog This final flavor to try in hot chocolate will result in a creamy masterpiece of a winter beverage. Using milk instead of water for the base of your hot chocolate, substitute some of the milk with eggnog according to taste. Sprinkle with a little bit of nutmeg to finish it off. Hot chocolate is a favorite of many in cold weather. You can bring a little extra to your hot chocolate with one of these ten elevating additions.

Southern Gal Gardening

It’s time to


your garden By Betty Sharpless f you are a gardener, you may think that wintertime is a good time to take up an indoor hobby. Nope! Take advantage of the next mild day to upgrade your garden. This will result in a much stronger, brighter garden for the year of 2020.


and debris. If you have a compost pile, add your leaves to decompose into amazingly rich soil to top dress your garden beds next spring. If you would like to have annual poppies and larkspur, now is the time to sprinkle the seeds over the surface of your clean beds.

First on the to do list: cut back old stalks and leaves that have turned brown in your flowerbed. A really easy way to know what to cut or prune is, “prune after it blooms.” In other words, don’t cut your azaleas in the fall or you will be cutting off all of the buds for next spring. In the fall, prune your crape myrtles, butterfly bushes and hydrangeas. Next spring, get into the habit of following each bloom season with a decisive trimming.

When people ask me why their garden is not blooming the way “it once did,” my first question is, “When was the last time you fertilized?” Generally speaking, you should fertilize with a balanced fertilizer such as Plantone, twice each year. I recommend feeding your garden and shrubs in October and March. The October feeding is for your spring blooms, the March feeding is for your fall blooms and general health. Give each shrub about one cup of fertilizer. Azaleas, rhododendrons and evergreens would like Hollytone fertilizer even more than the Plantone. If you have perennial beds, sprinkle them with Plantone instead of trying to feed each plant. These two fertilizers are organic, safe for pets and will not burn your plants if you overfeed.

Once the bushes are tidied up, snip back the remains of flowers and greenery that have gone dormant. As you go, deadhead (snip off the former blooms) flowers back into the garden to encourage more blooms in the following year. Conversely, if you already have too many Black Eyed Susans, cut those stalks with their seed heads on and remove them from your garden beds. This is also a good time to share seeds with friends so they can have blooms in their gardens. When you have cleared off the old stalks and leaves, use a rake to remove leaves

After a hard day in the winter garden, nothing tastes as good as a hearty soup. One of my favorite winter soups is made with winter greens or spinach, potatoes and onions. The attached recipe may become your favorite winter soup too!

Green Soup In a large soup pot, add 1/3 cup olive oil or butter, 1 large chopped onion, 3 cloves of garlic, chopped. Cook over medium heat until the onions are soft. Add 5-6 yellow potatoes, chopped into ½” cubes. Add chicken stock and water just to cover, and cook until the potatoes are tender. Add 4-5 cups chopped Swiss chard, kale and spinach. Cover tightly and turn off the heat. After the greens have wilted, use an immersion blender (or potato masher) to blend about half of the soup, leaving the other half as chunks to add texture. Serve soup topped with shredded sharp cheddar or tortilla strips.

Betty Sharpless is a professional free-lance gardener, writer, and quilter who loves firecracker alliums--magic wands in the making! Follow her on Instagram @sharplessbetty October 2019 | thesofiamagazine.com


By Cheri Torres

Holiday Conversations Worth Having oliday season brings joyful expectations. It is also often accompanied by stress and anxiety. Paying attention to your interactions and intentionally fostering a positive tone and direction can go a long way toward making sure your holidays stay fun and happy.


heavily influence what actually happens. Here’s how: Biologically, these conversations trigger the release of “stress hormones”: Cortisol, norepinephrine, and testosterone are the three major ones. This biochemical soup preps our fight or flight response. The bigger the dose, the bigger the response. This, in turn:

When we’re primed in this way, we often over-react, misjudge, misunderstand, respond aggressively, snap, and make bad decisions. Such stress leads to over-eating and drinking, which in turn, inhibits a good night’s sleep, adding to our stress. All our fears and anxieties become self-fulfilling prophecies.

Watch that Non-Stop Inner Dialogue

• Increases our heart rate

What to do?

• Increases our blood pressure

Pay attention to those internal conversations. Stop the inner critic and negative voice in three steps: Pause, breathe, and get curious.

This is a time of year to intentionally watch your conversations. Make sure they’re worth having. Begin with the conversations you’re having with yourself. Is your internal dialogue fueling stress and anxiety? If you’re fretting, worrying, imagining what might go wrong, the answer is yes. Those kinds of inner conversations 20

thesofiamagazine.com | December 2019

• Suppresses our immune system • D  ecreases access to the brain’s prefrontal lobe and neocortex, which means limited access to emotional intelligence, creativity, and higher order thinking. It influences perception, even affecting our ability to hear and see accurately.

Pause. When you pause, you step back for a moment. In stepping back, you have the opportunity to recognize you are not your thoughts and inner comments. You are simply having them, which means you can choose to have different thoughts. Breathe. Take a few deep belly breaths. This too gives you distance from the thoughts and it has a calming effect on the nervous system, giving you just enough space to ask a question. Get Curious. This is how you begin to shift your thinking. Ask yourself a few generative questions, one’s that help you shift your thinking: • A  m I tired? Hungry? Overwhelmed? What do I need right now? • What do I want to happen? • W  hat assumptions am I making?

dinner conversations that inspire and connect everyone.

Conversations at Family Gatherings Speaking of dinner conversations. Conflicting views on politics can turn an otherwise happy occasion into an acid stomach and a “Thank goodness that’s over for another year!” expe-

This year try something different. Instead of attempting to make sure touchy topics don’t arise, pause, breathe and get curious. While everyone else is still holding their breath, turn that controversial comment into a conversation worth having by asking questions. Ask generative


• W  hat can I do to influence what actually happens?

questions: questions that shift the

• A  re my beliefs about a situation true? Am I sure? Absolutely sure?

standing and connection, and shine

• W  hat’s really important right now? • W  ho might help? What might I ask for? • W  hat might be going on for the other person? What else might explain their behavior? Curiosity naturally shifts your brain chemistry. Just asking questions like these and sincerely entertaining them, will loosen the grip that stressful thinking has. Pay attention to the new thinking that emerges. Watch for opportunities to ask questions that create compelling positive images of what you would like to have happen, such as opportunities for real connection, a focus on love and care, or

way people think, deepen under-

• W  here do you get your information and how do you fact check? How can we know if our fact checker is legit? • U  nderneath all of this, what are we really most afraid of or concerned about? • I f you were in charge, what would you do? Each of these questions might be answered by multiple people leading to a discussion that just might turn into a conversation worth having. Alternatively, start your own conversations about what’s important at the local level. People might have controversial answers, but you can frame the conversations in ways that allow you to keep coming back to an outcome that works for everyone. When objections are raised, return to, “Yes, but what if we could . . .. Imagine that . . . How might we . . .” May your holidays be filled with joy and opportunities to continuous move towards connections and outcomes that work for all of us.

the light on the thinking and feeling behind the comment. Regardless of who says it or which side of the political arena they are on, you can invite them to go deeper. If someone offers a bold and profound statement about one party or the other, or some event, come from a place of genuine curiosity: • What makes you think that? • What do you think is really go on? • W  hat do you think is in the best interests of our country? • W  hat’s most important to you in all of this and why? • H  ow might we find a pathway forward that unites us?

Cheri Torres is Lead Catalyst for positive change and organization consultant with Collaborative by Design. Visit Conversations WorthHaving.today to download a free Conversation Toolkit, or visit cheritorres.com. December 2019 | thesofiamagazine.com


J eanAnn’sJ ourney

Celebrating TR ADITION raditions are actions we repeat yearly, monthly, or daily. They help to keep us grounded and connected to the past; they can be elaborate celebrations or simple endeavors. These customs enrich our lives and create lasting memories. They take an ordinary activity and turn it into something meaningful and special. Family traditions are especially important for children because they help to shape the child’s identity and belief system. When a tradition is connected to a family’s culture or history, the child grows up with a stronger image of who he or she is which leads to having higher confidence levels and feeling more secure.


Doing the same thing every night or every second Saturday of the month or every winter may at first glance seem monotonous or boring. However, if the action is intentional, meaningful, and dependable, the event can be comforting and reassuring. There are so many things in life you can’t count on; but something as simple as pizza every Friday night, or as special as a night out on your birthday or anniversary will give you something to look forward to. Traditions are also important because they impart and perpetuate family values. When children are read a bedtime story each night, they learn that reading is delightful entertainment 22

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and education is important. When younger generations learn how to cook meals from their grandmother, they learn more than how not to burn the biscuits. They learn family customs and heritage, as well as how to connect the past to the present. Even chores can become a tradition. When families have “work day” on Saturday mornings, children learn to pick up after themselves and to be accountable. I remember sweeping

the front porch with my grandmother every weekend. Now, when I sweep my porch, I remember our sweet time together. These seemingly small traditions strengthen family ties. Accidental events can also lead to beloved rituals. A young child may innocently change the words to a well-known song; adults may sing along until the “new words” become accepted as customary. Hardships can also lead to cherished memories and traditions.

As a young wife and mother, there was not much money to spare in our household—especially during the Christmas holiday. There was however, a mountain full of pine trees on our property. Each Thanksgiving Day we trekked out to find a Christmas tree to cut down, bring inside, and decorate. What began as a way to save money became a fun outing each year. Our “Charlie Brown” trees were not impressive to others, but to our family, they were magnificent. Christmas, Hanukkah, and the Winter Solstice are traditionally the perfect time to start and continue traditions. These cold-weather celebrations usually include some sort of fire (bonfires and candles), food (sugar cookies and turkey), songs (Jingle Bells and Greensleeves), and decorations (paper snowflakes and live poinsettias). Clothing is also used as a sign of celebration. My young children came up with their own scheme; each Christmas Eve they wore red and green pajamas. If one wore a red top and green bottoms, the other wore a green top with red bottoms. The sweet part of this tradition is that they came up with the idea on their own and kept it alive for many years. Another meaningful tradition is to have a “releasing ceremony.” This is

an intentional effort to release goals and dreams for the upcoming year, or to release regrets of the past year. It’s often accomplished by writing your intentions or regrets on a slip of paper or block of wood, and then burning it. The visual of watching the paper or wood burn as the smoke rises is a powerful image. It symbolically releases the dream—or the burden— allowing you to begin the new year with clarity and resolve.

Traditions that have a purpose and are personal to your family make wonderful memories—whether they are simple or extravagant. This busy time of gathering and feasting is balanced with simple traditions of quietly watching sunsets and sipping hot chocolate. Whatever your traditions are and whatever new traditions you begin, I hope your holiday is merry!

The Pretty Poinsettia By JeanAnn Taylor


s there any other flower that says “Christmas” more than a poinsettia? I grew up in Florida and remember our poinsettia plant; it was at least five feet tall! My siblings and I picked the blooms with little care of the “milk” that leaked from the stems and ran down our arms. I was later told that the leaves and liquid are poisonous, but according to the National Poison Center in Atlanta, Georgia, that folklore is fortunately false. While the sticky liquid may cause skin irritation, and eating an abundance of the leaves can cause stomach irritation, the plant is not poisonous for humans or animals.

Here are a few true facts about the pretty red-leafed plant ~ Dr. Joel Roberts Poinsett, an amateur botanist and first United States ambassador to Mexico, discovered the dazzling red-colored shrub and sent cuttings to his home in Greenville, South Carolina. December 12 is National Poinsettia Day in honor of Dr. Poinsett. He died on December 12, 1851. The red we see is actually not the flower, but the leaves. The flower is the yellow cluster of buds in the center. When purchasing a poinsettia plant, look for clusters of buds that have not yet opened. Red is the most popular color, but you can also find pink, white, apricot, salmon, yellow, variegated, speckled, or marbled varieties. Red is also considered to be a symbol of purity. In Mexico, the red poinsettia is called the “Flower of the Holy Night.” California is the top producer of the poinsettia plant, but North Carolina comes in at a close second. In tropical climates, the poinsettia can grow to over 12 feet high, and leaves can measure six to eight inches across. The red leaves can be used as a natural dye for fabric. Poinsettias can be a bit persnickety requiring proper light, water, and temperatures. Avoid hot or cold drafts; keep the soil moist, but not soggy; keep the temperature around 60 to 70 degrees; and place your plant where it will get sufficient natural light. Over 80% of poinsettias are purchased by women. Sounds like a good idea. I think I’ll go purchase a pretty pink poinsettia. :)

Please send your thoughts and ideas to me at jeananntaylor @rewnc.com

Eco-Friendly Holiday Gift Ideas


or holiday shoppers who like to plan a bit ahead of time and give a gift that could make the difference in someone’s life, here are ten holiday gift ideas that help others and the environment.

and using handmade paper products like stationery or holiday cards. Check out your neighborhood or the internet for stores that sell goods made from recycled materials.

Give the Gift of Your Time

Give Gifts that are Recycled

One of the nicest things a loved one can give is the gift of their time, whether that means as a babysitter, errand runner, shuttle driver or something else equally helpful. This is an especially wonderful gift for someone who is ill or older. Give the gift of time by reading to them or making a meal.

Not necessarily a gift made from recycled materials and definitely not Aunt Ellie’s fruit cake that just arrived by express mail yesterday, but something that was purchased at a flea market, yard sale, estate sale or second-hand store. Lots of people have collections to add to, so a special token found in some dusty corner of an antique store might be just the ticket.

Give the Gift of Service One of the easiest gifts to give is personal hand-crafted gift cards redeemable for things like a manicure or pedicure, back or foot massage, home-cooked meal, house cleaning or some other service a friend or loved one might appreciate.

Give an Activity Gift Certificate While the standard gift cards generally come from local department or grocery stores, this is the year to consider giving something a little different. A gift certificate to a special class at a local school, the movies or theater, or a sporting event is a nice change of pace.

Give Gifts from Recycled Materials One of the best ways to promote sustainability is by making or buying gifts made from recycled materials. Consider giving 24

thesofiamagazine.com | December 2019

Give Homemade/ Handmade Gifts Nothing says lovin’ like something from the oven! Homemade gifts for the holidays are the best. Bake, sew, paint, craft or whatever. Make up a batch of cookies and fudge or create a photo album, scrapbook, family DVD or memory box. Better yet, how about creating something from baker’s clay?

Give a Gift that is Living While it is not outlandish to give someone who is very close to a pet – rescue the little feller from the local pound -- a nice flower or potted plant might be a better choice. You might want to consider giving a selection of flower or vegetable seeds, bulbs to plant in the spring or a hummingbird feeder – just add sugar water.

Give a Donation in Someone’s Name If friends and family are particularly devoted to a certain charity, making a donation in their name might be the right idea. Otherwise there are a lot of worthy organizations to choose from environmental or otherwise.

Be Sure to Shop Locally There are so many local merchants that offer services that friends and family can utilize that it may be difficult to settle on just one. Shop locally and eliminate the middleman, reduce transportation costs and help the local economy, all of which helps shoppers and the environment. Plus local businesses typically return an average of 80 percent of each dollar spent back to the community.

Use and Give Eco-Bags or Shopping Want to give the gift that keeps on giving? Give canvas shopping bags available in small sizes at many grocery stores and help friends and family eliminate the use of plastic shopping bags. Or choose larger bags from the local craft store that can be used for lots of different occasions. The whole idea is to find new and different ways to make the holiday season people- and earth-friendly.

Get in the Christmas Mood!


ot in the mood for Christmas? No jingle in your bells? No jolly in your holly? No. . . . okay, okay . . . you get my (snow)drift. What you need is a Christmas mood enhancer. If it seems that you always get in the mood on the 24th of December, and then feel like you've missed out on the whole Christmas Spirit, start early this year. Here are a few tips to get into the spirit of the season.

juice and pour it into a big pot. Add cinnamon sticks and cloves. Peel and slice an orange or two and float the slices in the top of the juice. Cook on low until heated thoroughly. Strain the cloves before serving. Buy tangerines. Purchase the very small, easy-to-peel kind. There is something about that juicy little citrus fruit that just

Make apple cider. Get some plain apple

Watch Christmas movies. There are so many to choose from: Miracle on 34th Street, A Christmas Story, Winter Wonderland, It’s A Wonderful Life, Elf. Anything that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy will work. Just put on a pair of comfy, flannel pajamas, pop some popcorn, and settle in. Buy a holiday decorative item. Just some little something to cozy up a corner.

Play Christmas songs at home. You can pick up a Christmas CD at a department store, or visit your local library to find classical or modern Christmas music. Dancing to Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree, or swooning to Elvis' Blue Christmas will surely lift your spirits. Bake cookies. You can’t beat the smell of homemade cookies baking in the oven. Use those cookie cutters you have stuck in the back of the cupboard to make stars, trees, and gingerbread boys and girls. Use different colors of icing to decorate them, then sprinkle with edible glitter.

of the kitchen cabinets and the ceiling. It makes your kitchen look so cozy at night.

Read Little Women. You can't read about Jo cutting her hair and still feel Christmas-neutral.

makes you think "Christmas." They're also yummy and good for you. They look really nice in a bowl as a centerpiece, too. Put up lights. It's okay if you don't have your tree yet. Wrap the little white twinkle lights around a baker's rack or book stand. One of my favorite places for lights is the little space between the top

Buy a gift for someone you love, or make a donation to your favorite charity in the name of someone you love. If all this fails . . . get into your car and drive around. Other people have had their lights up since Halloween. Don't forget to take your Christmas music with you.

December 2019 | thesofiamagazine.com


Remedies SADness By Natasha Kubis


n the Northern Hemisphere, we experience the winter solstice at the end of December, marking the shortest day and longest night of the year. The origin of the word “solstice” is derived from the Latin word sõlstitium, which translates to “the standing still of the sun”. Cultures around the world have long held feasts and celebrated holidays around the winter solstice as the beginning of the return of the sun, and darkness turning into light. Most people do not realize that natural light is essential to our well-being just like water, air, and food. Our bodies use bright, full spectrum light to regulate our mood, sleep, and energy levels. When the temperature starts to cool and the sun's path drops lower in the sky, our bodies take notice. It is natural for our state of mind to wax and wane at the beginning or end of a season. This is especially true during the winter when the days get shorter and 26

thesofiamagazine.com | December 2019

our exposure to natural light is limited. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) symptoms typically appear during late fall or early winter and go away during the sunnier days of spring and summer. Some symptoms of SAD may include feeling depressed on a daily basis, losing interest in activities you once enjoyed, low energy, sleep problems (typically oversleeping), changes in appetite or weight (usually overeating and weight gain), difficulty concentrating, and feeling hopeless. Some factors that may contribute to SAD include:

1. Y  our biological clock (circadian rhythm) The reduced level of sunlight in fall and winter may disrupt your body’s internal clock and lead to changes in sleep patterns.

2. Serotonin levels A drop in serotonin, a brain chemical

(neurotransmitter) that affects mood, might play a role in SAD. Reduced sunlight can cause a drop in serotonin that may trigger depression.

3. Melatonin levels The change in season can disrupt the balance of the body's level of melatonin, which plays a role in sleep patterns and mood.

4. Family history People with SAD may be more likely to have blood relatives with SAD or another form of depression.

5. H  aving major depression or bipolar disorder Symptoms of depression may worsen seasonally if you have one of these conditions.

6. Living far from the equator SAD appears to be more common among people who live far north or south of the equator. This may be due to decreased sunlight during the winter.

It is normal to have some days when you feel down but if you feel down for days at a time and you can't get motivated to do activities you normally enjoy, see your doctor. This is especially important if your sleep patterns and appetite have changed, you turn to substances like alcohol for comfort, or you find yourself withdrawing from friends, loved ones, and social situations.

can help you watch your diet and not overeat. Maintain a regular sleep cycle by going to bed and waking up at the same time.

Some ways to combat SAD:

5. Reach out to friends and family

1. Get moving

Close relationships are vital in reducing isolation and helping you manage SAD. It may feel more comfortable to retreat into solitude, but being around other people will boost your mood. Make the effort to reconnect with family and friends.

Regular exercise can boost serotonin, endorphins, and other feel-good brain chemicals as a way to combat depression. Try and get 30-60 minutes of exercise three to five times a week. It is best if you are able to exercise outside in natural daylight. If not, choose a treadmill, stationary bike, or elliptical at home or at a gym. Consider yoga classes and other group classes or develop a daily routine on your own.

2. Let the sunshine in Get outside as much as you can during the day to take advantage of the sunlight. If you live where it's cold, be sure to bundle up, but take a stroll around the block at noon or soon after — that's when the sun is brightest. Sunlight, even in the small doses that winter allows, can help boost serotonin levels and improve your mood. When you are indoors keep your blinds open to let as much natural light in as you can. Try to sit near windows when eating meals or doing your daily tasks. Some people find that painting walls in lighter colors or using daylight simulation bulbs helps to combat winter SAD.

3. Stick to your schedule Keeping a regular schedule will also expose you to light at consistent and predictable times. Eating at regular intervals

4. Take a vacation Taking a winter vacation to warmer climates can help people who have seasonal affective disorder. Even a few days in a sunny place can be helpful with winter depression.

6. C  onnect with a counselor or join a support group Sometimes just talking about what you are going through can help you feel better. A support group allows you to connect with others who are facing the same problems. This can help reduce your sense of isolation and provide inspiration to make positive changes. Counseling, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), can be highly beneficial for people with seasonal depression. The right therapist can help you curb negative thoughts, attitudes, behaviors, and help you manage symptoms.

can make you crave sugary foods and simple carbohydrates, such as pasta and white bread, complex carbohydrates are a better choice. Foods such as oatmeal, whole grain bread, brown rice, and bananas can boost your feel-good serotonin levels without the subsequent sugar crash.

9. Take steps to deal with stress Stress can exacerbate or even trigger depression. This becomes obvious during the holiday season when there is heightened stress from family and an increase in financial pressures. Practicing daily relaxation techniques can help you manage stress, reduce negative emotions such as anger and fear, and boost feelings of joy and well-being. Try yoga, meditation, or progressive muscle relaxation.

10. Find your bliss Do something you enjoy every single day. Make time for leisure activities that bring you joy, whether it be painting, playing the piano, working on your car, having coffee with a friend, taking a class, joining a club, or enrolling in a special interest group that meets on a regular basis. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s something that’s fun for you.

7. F  ind your purpose by helping others Volunteering your time to help others can help shift your mindset and perspective to a more positive place.

8. Eat the right diet Eating small, well-balanced meals throughout the day, with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, will help you keep your energy up and minimize mood swings. While the symptoms of SAD

Natasha Kubis is a licensed acupuncturist and certified yoga teacher. For more information, visit essential-well.com

December 2019 | thesofiamagazine.com


Spotlight on

Christina Chandler By Peggy Ratusz

Michael Bowen Photography

ne soulful, assertive artist, this Memphis, Tennessee native has been writing songs since age six. A graduate of The University of Memphis, she performed with the school’s renowned band Sound Fuzion. Then she joined local Memphis band, Venus Mission, and made it her mission to build a fulfilling and honorable reputation on the local scene. Asheville welcomed Christina Chandler and her reputation to our local scene in 2009.


In every good way, this was the longest phone interview I have ever conducted. Chandler’s life has been longer than the years it represents. She knows what she wants to say. She has a lot figured out. I wish I could include 1000 more of her words because when she gets on a roll, it’s educational, inspirational, and mesmerizing. We traded remedies for sinus infections; we debated generation and gender gaps from our two perspectives; Christina being a 30-something and me being a . . . well, you know. We delved into challenges relating to being female artists and the pros and cons of “branding.” We delighted in the breadth of talent coming in and out of our city these days. It was indeed a wonderful way to spend an hour and a half together!


thesofiamagazine.com | December 2019

Photo by Lisa Mac

Tell me about the North Carolina Songsmiths and how you got involved. NC Songsmiths originated in Durham, founded by my business partner, Brian Hill and Bob Funck, the original NC Songsmith. It’s a showcase model that morphed into a weekly tour series for vetted songwriters residing in North Carolina. As a way to bring our area artists into the model I started ringing up contacts asking them questions to discover who could pull off a week-long, already curated tour. That started in June of 2018 and continues today. Venues that host our concerts include Whole Foods in Asheville, The Local in Boone, MadCo in Marshall, 185 King in Brevard, Brown Mountain Bottleworks in Morganton, Lookout Brewing in Black Mountain and Ginger’s Revenge here in Asheville. We’ve executed over 500 events and worked with over 54 original artists! (For more information, please visit their website: ncsongsmiths.org/) The duo, Free Wheelin’ Mamas; tell us more. The band started as an A-Capella trio and I was invited by one of the mamas, Shalene Hill, to sit in with them at a

house concert. That manifested into my organically taking the place of founding member Joy, who wanted to pursue other endeavors. In time, Shalene also decided to pursue other interests. So now it’s Sarah Easterling and I singing and playing guitar, banjo, ukulele, and percussion. We do a mix of original and cover music. Freewheelinmamas.com (Youtube live on Acoustic Asheville: https://www.youtube. com/watch?v=KSkBZ0nyDGA) What motivates you to pursue opportunities to work with others? I am all about integration in my own life and in the community. As artists we are conditioned to focus on our own projects and we forget that sharing the load can make things easier. I started working with NC Songsmiths, for example, because I wanted to create a cocoon where people feel safe to share and ask for help. I knew I needed to ask for help from people who have been touring longer than I have. Running our own tiny businesses can feel isolating, lonely and competitive; all these things don’t contribute to quality of life. If we share the load in a smart way, we all elevate the baseline of expectations.

What do you look for in partners? An ability to see the big picture; evidence that intention and action aligns. Here’s a line from one of my songs: “like that river wide, I’ll roll you over if you don’t do what you say and say what you’re gonna.” Obviously we don’t always accomplish what we say we’re going to do, but I think the sincere effort in putting my words into action for myself or someone else is an admirable trait and I look for it in potential partners. What drew you to learning the instruments you play? When I moved to Madison County, I didn’t

play an instrument. I soon realized that living on the outskirts with two little ones (daughter Shaelyn and son Jack), was going to be hard, especially after being a full time singer and booking agent in Memphis. I felt I didn’t have a way to pursue music, without learning to accompany myself. I started teaching myself how to play guitar. I played in the Junior Appalachian Musician Arts Council Program here in Madison County by volunteering when my daughter started taking lessons there. The guitar teacher at that time was the former guitar player for Rising Appalachia, David Brown and when I started helping him, he showed

Women Making Music Calendar for December: 12/1: P  aper Crowns featuring Nicole Nicholopoulous, Pisgah Brewing, 150 Eastside Dr, Black Mountain, NC 28711, 6pm 12/2: C  aro Mia and Friends, All female line up at 5 Walnut Wine bar every Monday, 5 Walnut Street, Asheville, NC, 8pm 12/3: P  eggy Ratusz & Ailene Pearlman’s Open Mic Night, Casual Pint, 1863 Hendersonville Rd, Asheville, NC 28803, 7:30pm 12/4: R  uby Mayfield’s Wednesday Night Jam, The Block off Biltmore, 39 S Market St, Asheville, NC 28801, 8pm 12/5: L  ate Night Music with DJ, Lil Meow Meow, AUX Bar, 68 North Lexington, Asheville NC 28801, 10pm 12/6: W  estsound Dance Band featuring Gina Duke, The Social 1078 Tunnel Rd, Asheville, NC 28805, 9pm 12/7: W  axing Gibbous featuring Amanda Gardner on drums, Ambrose West, 312 Haywood Road, Asheville NC 28806, 8:30pm 12/8: A  shley Heath’s Post Brunch Blues Jam, Archetype Brewing, 265 Haywood Road, Asheville, NC 28806, 4pm 12/8: Q  ueen Bee & the Honey Lovers: Holiday Swing, Isis Restaurant and Music Hall, 743 Haywood Rd, Asheville, NC 28806, 7:30pm 12/10: M  olly Rose Reed, Cedric’s Tavern Biltmore Estate, 1 Lodge St, Asheville, NC 28803, 6pm

me a few things! I like playing solo gigs, but I really love that I’ve gotten to the point on guitar now, where I can take solos. Explain your approach to song writing and if it differs from your approach say five years ago. Yes! Five years ago I was working exclusively with a song writing partner, Adam Jennings who lives in Tennessee. He’d send me instrumental recordings that I would then write lyrics over. That gave me the confidence to send him my song ideas and we started a true collaboration called “The states apart sessions.” A few years ago I started writing songs on my own again which brought me full circle from when I started writing songs at age six. My mom recognized my penchant and encouraged me by setting up voice lessons and lining up mentors to help me develop my compositions. These days I’m more about developing a signature sound, applying it over the genres I’m drawn to write within. I’m successfully conveying what I hear, to partner musicians on stage and in the studio. I came away from our conversation, realizing profoundly that Chandler is a unifier. She’s a mover and a shaker with a voice, soulful like Patty Griffin or Aretha Franklin, and melodic like Dolly Parton or Linda Ronstadt. A songwriter who is inspired by universal themes, she scribes struggle and joy with potent abandon, helping make life bearable for those hungry and savvy enough to listen. To discover when Christina Chandler will be playing next, visit her website christinachandlernc.com/bio

12/11: Peggy Ratusz, Ben’s Tune Up, 195 Hilliard Ave, Asheville, NC 28801, 6pm 12/14: T  he Maggie Valley Band, Pisgah Brewing Company Tap Room, 150 Eastside Dr, Black Mountain, NC 28711, 9pm 12/17: S  oul Tuesdays with Lyric, Ben’s Tune Up, 195 Hilliar Ave, Asheville, NC 28801, 7pm 12/18: P  eggy Ratusz & Ailene Pearlman’s Open Mic Night, Casual Pint, 1863 Hendersonville Rd, Asheville, NC 28803, 7:30pm 12/21: K  at Williams, Bells Will be Ringing show, Isis Restaurant and Music Hall 743 Haywood Rd, Asheville, NC 28806, 7:30pm 12/22: P  eggy Ratusz, Paula Hanke & Hank Bones – Feeling Groovy Holiday Harmonies show at The Grey Eagle, 8pm

Peggy Ratusz is a vocal coach, song interpreter, and songwriter. For vocal coaching email her at peggymarie43 @gmail.com

12/28: M  are Carmody with Michael Carver, The Purple Onion, 16 Main Street Saluda, NC 28773, 8pm December 2019 | thesofiamagazine.com


Biltmore Family Medicine PLLC Let Our Family Care for Your Family

Family members that are healthy are more likely to be happy and spend their time together. To help with this, you should have a medical practice that can see all of you in one location. From your children to your grandparents, make sure that everyone is taken care of. You will receive these services and more at Biltmore Family Medicine PLLC. Biltmore Family Medicine PLLC was established in March of 2004; since then, we have focused on giving our quality care to you and your loved ones. We pride ourselves on being friendly, courteous and professional – more than that, we are proud to give your family a new sense of well-being. Let our family care for your family. We are licensed and insured for your protection and ours. Call Biltmore Family Medicine PLLC to set up your next appointment.

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December Events CHRISTMAS AT BILTMORE Nov 1 – Jan 5 Biltmore House

The biggest event of the holiday season. See America’s largest home decked out in festive finery. New parking options & shuttles begin October 30, 2019

POLAR EXPRESS TRAIN Nov 8 – Dec 31 Departs from Bryson City Admission: From $42 for adults

Ride to the North Pole on the Polar Express Train at the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad to pick up Santa.


See the winning national gingerbread houses and creations on display elaborately decorated for the season. Public viewing Sunday-Thursday except Christmas & Thanksgiving week.

WINTER LIGHTS AT THE NC ARBORETUM Nov 22 – Jan 4 from 6-10pm NC Arboretum You must buy tickets in advance

Stroll through impressive light displays in the Arboretum gardens, especially designed to compliment the plants and trees in this beautiful setting.

24TH ANNUAL MONTFORD HOLIDAY TOUR OF HOMES Sat, Dec 7 from 1-5pm Bill Moore Community Park Admission: $25

Explore 10 lovingly restored homes and carefully crafted new houses in historic style in historic Montford — Asheville’s most historic neighborhood. For more information, visit MontfordTour.com

THE BIG CRAFTY Sat, Dec 7 from 12-7:30pm, Pack Square Park, Asheville Admission: Free

A lively celebration of handmade commerce, featuring local food, beer, music, and fine wares from a juried group of select indie artists and crafters.

TOWN OF FLETCHER CHRISTMAS IN THE PARK Sat, Dec 7 from 1-5pm Bill Moore Community Park Admission: Free

This event will include food trucks, live music, a vendor village, ice skating, inflatable snow globe for photos, and of course Santa!

CANDLELIGHT CHRISTMAS STROLL Fri, Dec 6 from 6-9pm Downtown Weaverville

Downtown Weaverville has luminaries along the streets, local choirs and bands will provide music. Horse and buggy rides will be available through town, 6-9pm. Local businesses will be open late and the official tree lighting at 7:30pm.

Happy Holidays!

Profile for WNC Homes & Real Estate

The Sofia Magazine December 2019  

For today's woman. Happy Holidays from the staff of SOFIA! Wishing you peace, love, and joy this holiday season and throughout the new year.

The Sofia Magazine December 2019  

For today's woman. Happy Holidays from the staff of SOFIA! Wishing you peace, love, and joy this holiday season and throughout the new year.