Southern Maryland Woman March/April 2022

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IMAGINARY Disability Rights Activist & Professional Model

Syanne Centeno-Bloom






See life clearly. Specialized care in Charlotte Hall for a full spectrum of eye conditions. MedStar Eye Physicians welcomes patients with a wide variety of eye and eyelid care needs. Expert services include: •

Refractive cataract surgery

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Medical management of retina conditions, such as diabetic retinopathy or macular degeneration

Welcome Dr. Jorawer Singh! MedStar Eye Physicians at Charlotte Hall 30065 Business Center Dr., #1 Charlotte Hall, MD

New patient appointments are available. Call 301-290-5915 to schedule your visit today.

Dr. Singh is a board-certified cataract, cornea, and refractive surgeon. A graduate of Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Dr. Singh is a contributing member of the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

Have You Or Someone You Know Been Diagnosed With Mild Alzheimer ’s Disease? A study researching a different approach for mild Alzheimer’s Disease using a neurosurgical procedure called Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) is seeking participants who:

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Now open! MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center’s new front entrance and emergency department.

For more information or to view a video tour of our new emergency department and front entrance, visit

Our hospital recently completed its exciting expansion and renovation project—the largest in our more-than-40year history. MedStar Southern Maryland has a state-of-the-art emergency department (ED) that provides our community with the best care, as well as a beautiful, new front entrance. Our new ED now offers:

• A total of 40 ED treatment rooms—almost 50 percent more than before • 18,000 more square feet of space in the ED, for a total of 70,000 square feet • Designated space for behavioral health patients • On-site imaging technology for faster, more convenient testing • An enhanced, spacious waiting room • Easier access for EMS personnel • A separate area for patients who may have been exposed to pathogens We also have a new front entrance with a café and brand new gift shop for patients and visitors.

ON THE COVER Local disability rights activist and professional model, Syanne CentenoBloom, shares her experience with life-long health symptoms and medical misdiagnosis, and her perspective on the impacts of biases in healthcare. Through her writing and social media platform, Syanne works to challenge damaging and outdated ideas surrounding mental illness, disability, race and gender. Meet this incredible force on page 21.


2022 MAR/APR



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Syanneloom -B Centeno

y Rights Disabilit t & Activis Model ional Profess






A Community Publication Proudly Inspiring, Educating & Connecting Southern Maryland Women Since 2007.

Publisher Oda Solms

IN THIS ISSUE 8 9 10 11 17 26 30

Editor Rachel Lytle

Impacts of the Pandemic on Breast Cancer Screening

Graphic Design Dave Schindler Dana Foody

How to Floss Like a Boss Injectable Facial Fillers Without Bruising

Photography Beth Graeme Photography

The Ten Rules That Strengthen Us Protecting Your Child’s Inheritance from a Divorce

Distribution Christian Solms Carlisa Kent John Cook

6 Off-the-Beaten-Trail Favorites The Short Years

Every issue produced in loving memory of Melissa Solms-Baruth



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INVISIBLE. - Joyce Brothers

Florals by Michaela Moran, Photography by Melissa Barrick, Instagram @melissabarrickcreativeco

health&wellness By Dr. Christina Marks, 2014 Brem Fellow

Impacts of the Pandemic on Breast Cancer Screening The fictional Ms. Smith has gotten her annual screening mammogram every April. Given that her mother, grandmother, and two sisters were diagnosed with breast cancer before 50, she was vigilant about her breast health and never missed an appointment…until 2020. As the COVID-19 pandemic intensified in March 2020, Ms. Smith was furloughed from her job and lost her mother, who was a nursing home resident. At the end of March, she received a letter in the mail stating that her annual screening mammogram would need to be rescheduled due to the pandemic. Throughout the country, screening mammograms were rescheduled during the initial COVID-19 surge as hospitals shifted from providing elective services (including screening breast services such as mammograms, automated whole breast ultrasounds, and MRIs) to focus on emergencies to shift resources towards care for patients battling for their lives with coronavirus. When her new appointment card arrived in the mail, she marked her calendar for June 20th, 2020. She didn’t plan on being

hospitalized for three weeks in June with COVID-19. Although she had a lengthy recovery from COVID-19 due to complications related to other underlying health issues, she finally arrived for her screening mammogram in December 2020. It had been 20 months since her last screening mammogram. So, when she got a letter in the mail recommending that she return for a diagnostic mammogram, she was rightfully concerned. And, when she received the results of the diagnostic mammogram and that a biopsy would be necessary to confirm her breast cancer diagnosis, there wasn’t a dry eye in the room. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported that in April 2020, as compared to the previous 5-year averages for that month, the CDC’s National Breast Cancer Early Detection Program declined by 87%. Whether these women who missed their annual screening mammogram in April 2020 immediately returned to screening in the late summer/fall of 2020 remains undetermined. However, I would suspect based on what I have heard other

Brem Foundation to Defeat Breast Cancer Please reach out to or 202-505-1104 if you need additional information. 8720 Georgia Avenue, Suite 302, Silver Spring, MD 20910

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breast imagers report, that many of these women delayed their mammogram resulting in nearly two years between screening mammograms. Studies have shown that yearly screening mammograms detect breast cancers that are smaller and less advanced than screening mammograms every two years. What does this mean for this group of women who missed a screening mammogram due to the pandemic? One can speculate that in the post pandemic screening years we will likely see more advanced breast cancers at the time of diagnosis which in some women will likely result in more aggressive surgical treatment and possibly need for additional chemotherapy. As a breast imager, the months of March, April, and June of 2020 were unlike any I have seen in my career. The robes and gowns were all folded in the corner, the lockers were empty, the automated whole breast ultrasound machine was powered off, and the overwhelming silence and lack of patients in the halls was eerie. Fast forward to January 2021

and the pandemic is sadly not over, but at least we have learned how to safely resume screening women for breast cancer. I can only hope that women who have missed their annual screening mammogram, breast ultrasound, or breast MRI due to pandemic related issues have returned to their annual screening schedule. If you are overdue for your mammogram, please call to schedule your screening mammogram today. It could save your life. For more information visit

Dr. Christina Marks graduated from the University of Mississippi Medical Center, where she subsequently completed an internship in internal medicine and residency in diagnostic radiology. She went on to complete a fellowship in breast imaging and intervention at the George Washington University led by Dr. Rachel Brem, Chief Medical Officer at the Brem Foundation. She then completed a fellowship in interventional radiology at the Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.

health&wellness By Karl A. Smith, DDS, MS

How to Floss Like a Boss We often say to our patients that flossing is just as important as brushing. Believe it or not, we don’t say this to trick you. We say it because it’s true. When you forget, or worse, ignore your flossing routine you are avoiding cleaning about 35% of your tooth surface. If you’re not flossing because you find it difficult, or because you think you simply don’t have the time, we have a few helpful hints that we’ve picked up over the years to help you floss perfectly every time you pick up a string of dental floss. We also offer a variety of systems to help older patients or those with dexterity issues.

The Thicker the Better: When it comes to the type of dental floss you use, there

are plenty of options. While everyone has different needs, a thicker, ribbon style of floss can help clean teeth more effectively due to its larger and thicker size. While thinner floss will work just as well, thicker varieties will make cleaning easier for those who find it difficult to have the patience to spend a long time flossing.

A Backstage Helper: Another common complaint we receive about flossing is that it’s too difficult to reach the back of the mouth. The hygienists at our office have a solution. Creatively called a “floss holder”, these plastic devices hold a small piece of floss in place, allowing you to reach the back of your mouth without needing room for your

fingers. These disposable tools make flossing faster and easier for even the most “anti-flossing” people. They’re also relatively affordable. Special Christmastree or cylindrical shaped brushes called proxabrushes are also a great tool for reaching between the teeth and cleaning out a lot of extra food and debris that may be left behind to wreak havoc on your tooth health and your gums.

The Proper Length: 18 inches. That’s the magic number for how much floss you should be using at one time. This gives you enough length to always use a clean section of floss and have control over the floss. Any shorter or longer, and you may have a difficult time holding the floss in place or ensuring that the section of floss you are using is clean.

Take Your Time:


Rushing your flossing can actually end up doing more harm than good. When people rush to get their flossing done, they can use too much pressure and cause damage to their gums, or miss important spots entirely. If you find yourself rushing when you floss, it’s important to remember that what you are doing is helping prevent periodontal bacteria from settling under your gums and leading to much bigger and more expensive dental problems. Flossing is so important to reducing the chances of periodontal disease and also excess tooth decay. Work slowly, but effectively and make sure flossing is a comfortable experience. Think about these tips the next time you floss. Chances are you will be working smarter and better for a cleaner,

healthier smile. If you have any questions about your oral health, are considering very advanced cosmetic dental treatments or dental implants, or just want to avoid toothaches and gum disease, schedule an appointment with a periodontist to rule out any periodontal issues. A screening by a periodontist is an important step to ensuring a foundation of dental health and overall body wellness. Dr. Karl Smith Karl Smith has been in dental practice for more than 34 years. He received his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1981. He retired from the US Air Force as a Lt. Col, in 1996. Dr. Smith has advanced education in the specialty of Periodontics with additional training in Sedation and Dental Implants. He is consistently voted TOP DENTIST by his peers and listed in several publications including Washingtonian Magazine.

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health&wellness By D. Dennis Faludi, MD

The Microcannula Technique Injectable Facial Fillers Without Bruising As a natural part of the aging process, we lose bone and soft tissues throughout the face and body. This process, combined with the effects of gravity, commonly leads to deepening wrinkles, sagging skin, and an increasingly gaunt countenance. Injectable dermal fillers offer an excellent non-surgical treatment to reverse these effects and restore a fresh, youthful appearance, and they are one of our most requested services. To ensure that our patients receive gentle dermal filler treatments and natural-looking results, we use the advanced microcannula technique, a delicate procedure that is customized for each patient. Here are some of the most


frequent subjects we discuss when considering treatment: What are dermal fillers? The most commonly used dermal fillers are made of hyaluronic acid, a gel-like substance that is naturally found throughout the human body. The hyaluronic acid molecule is too large to penetrate the surface of the skin, but when injected under the skin it can be used to lift, plump, and restore the smooth contours of the face and hands. Hyaluronic gels are available in various consistencies, each used for a specific purpose. For example, a robust filler is needed to sculpt the midface, whereas a softer, creamier filler is needed for the lip and eye areas.

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Which areas do you treat with dermal fillers? We use dermal fillers primarily for restoration of midface volume, eye rejuvenation, softening of smile and marionette lines, sculpting of the nose, chin, and jaw, lip augmentation, treatment of wrinkles, and hand rejuvenation. In all of these treatment areas, the experience and technique of the injector are paramount. Product selection, the amount used, placement, and injection technique all affect the final result. Good work produces a rejuvenation that is natural and refreshed without looking artificial. Why do you prefer the microcannula technique? The microcannula technique involves the use of a thin, flexible tube that gently pushes blood vessels and nerves to the side as it travels through the treatment area. This technique involves only one insertion site per area, and it allows the injector to follow the natural architecture of the face with precision. Prior to the procedure, the insertion site is numbed with anesthetic, and most patients feel little to no discomfort during the treatment. Tissues are lifted evenly without lumps, and with skillful cannula use the bruising rate drops to nearly zero, in contrast to a rate of nearly 60 percent when the injections are done with needles. Mastering this technique requires training and experience, but the benefits to the patient are well worth the extra effort.

How long will the results last? The effects of hyaluronic acid fillers generally last between 12 – 18 months, depending on several factors: the type of filler, the amount used, the treatment area, and how the body processes the filler over time. Most of our patients prefer hyaluronic acid fillers because of the natural looking effects they provide, as well as the fact that the amount and placement of the fillers can be adjusted to match the treatment areas as one ages. If you are considering dermal filler treatments and would like to learn more, we encourage you to visit our office for a complimentary consultation. To schedule your appointment, please call us at 703-992-7979. We see patients from Monday through Saturday of most weeks, and we look forward to meeting you. Dr. Dennis Faludi is a Diplomate of the American Board of Orthopedic Surgery with the Certificate of Added Qualifications in Hand Surgery. A native of Northern New Jersey, Dr. Faludi graduated Albany Medical College in Albany, New York, with an M.D., followed by an orthopedic surgery residency at Johns Hopkins University, where he trained further in reconstructive arthritis, hand, plastic, and microsurgery. After finishing the San Francisco Hand Surgery Fellowship, he settled in Northern Virginia to practice reconstructive, hand, and microsurgery. He pioneered the intraoperative use of lasers in orthopedic surgery. Dr. Faludi is a member of the American Society for Surgery of the Hand and the American Society of Laser Medicine and Surgery.

health&wellness By Kyle Webber

The Ten Rules That Strengthen Us Every day of the week, except Sunday, for the last 20 years I have yelled the 10 rules of Taekwondo (out loud… indoors…often in front of total strangers). It’s kind of a silly tradition. I own and operate a Taekwondo Academy. Every class starts out with an opening ceremony that includes a bow, meditation, and the 10 rules of Taekwondo. Sometimes while reciting the 10 rules, I have questioned whether or not the ritual is still necessary, or even relevant? Well, it is.

Here are the 10 rules: 1. Strong Spirit Determination; to never give up on achieving your goals. 2. Effort - Trying hard using physical or mental energy. 3. Patience - The ability to bear pain or difficulty without complaint. 4. Attitude - Maintaining a positive approach to any task. 5. Self-confidence - Believing in yourself and having a good attitude toward yourself. 6. Respect - Treating others the way you wish to be treated.

8. Honesty - Telling the truth, even if you know you’ll get in trouble.

7. Mind Control - Controlling your thoughts in spite of emotional or physical influences.

9. Loyalty - Having trust in someone or something in spite of adverse conditions.

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10. Victory – A positive outcome to a given task or job. When I contemplated whether or not we should continue yelling the 10 rules of Taekwondo at the top of our lungs each class, I considered what it would mean for the youth at my academy if we stopped. The majority of my students are between 8-15 years old. Kids need exercise and discipline. They have natural curiosity, and their growing bodies require movement. Moreover, they need guidance and positive role models.


Students who receive training in Taekwondo memorize the meaning of the rules as they progress through lower belts. So, as the student first memorizes what the ten rules are, they later progress to achieve a depth of understanding for what those rules mean.

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Perhaps the most profound idea found in the 10 rules is Respect.

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Our society has a warped notion of what respect is, and how it should be practiced. The popular idiom ‘respect is earned’ often comes to mind when one hears the term. We tend to treat people the way we feel they deserve to be treated. But the rules governing a Taekwondo student dictate that we must treat people how we ourselves wish to be treated. This is a radical perspective, but imagine if everyone behaved in such a way? Showing respect does not simply mean being nice to people all the time or telling them what they want to hear. While there is never a bad time for good manners, that’s not what we’re talking about. In practice, respect demands that we sincerely honor each other regardless of our feelings. This is a hard thing to do. The point that I wish to convey is this: Human beings are really quite marvelous - each with inestimable value and potential. Now, more than ever, I think we ought to make every effort to engender the good within the next generation. Thus, the 10 rules will continue to be shouted at my academy every day.

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For the poor will never cease from the land; therefore I command you, saying, You shall open your hand wide to your brother, to your poor and your needy, in your land. DEUTERONOMY 15:11

finances By Sean Scriber, Communications Specialist, CPFCU

Get to Where You Want to Be In late January, I had the pleasure of speaking with Colleen Blundell, the Vice President of Business & Investment Services at Cedar Point Federal Credit Union and its wholly owned subsidiary Cedar Point Financial Services. Blundell has been with Cedar Point for 23 years, specializing in financial planning and management. She filled me in on the Credit Union’s best kept secret. “I am a huge advocate of financial well-being,” Blundell told me, “Educating those in the community—especially the

young people—is a top priority for Cedar Point. They might not have the dollars to invest with us, but to educate them on what they have in their plans and helping them to determine what their goals are is what we strive to do.” Blundell’s mission at Cedar Point is to educate members and clients on the products we offer, and determine how the credit union can leverage those to help an individual meet specific goals. “Credit unions are not hard-core salespeople, we are educators. Ultimately, the choice is yours.” Empowering our community is one of the credit union’s core values. Everyone can benefit from growing in financial literacy.

As your life changes so should your financial plan. Give us a call at 301-863-7071 ext. 8427, so that we can set up a no-cost meeting to ensure your financial future is keeping up with your goals. | 301-863-7071 Federally insured by NCUA

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As we continued, Blundell explained more about her department and its goals. “We do financial management as well as financial planning. By ’management’ we mean setting budget goals, purchase goals, savings goals that eventually lead them to be able to plan for retirement, college costs, and estate needs.” Then she took me through the process for establishing people just starting out. “We give them the tools to learn how to do it themselves and we walk them through that. We start with a needs analysis. We look at what you have, why you have it, and what you’re going to need.” In the analysis, budgeting helps members to think critically about their money. “You have to pay yourself first. Otherwise, you just never get ahead.” By getting to know our members, we help turn goals into reality.

“Oh, by the way, Cedar Point doesn’t charge for these services,” Blundell went on to tell young people and those young at heart, “Put beneficiaries on everything you have. No matter how old you are, estate planning documents are always important. If you are 18 years or older, you need a power of attorney.” She also placed heavy emphasis on life insurance, taxable income, and the use of other financial tools to address each individual’s unique needs. “’If something happens to me, what are my options?’ You’re having that conversation ahead of time, so you know what your

path is and you’re not trying to determine that path when you’re devastated.” “We discussed the importance of a retirement plan and the importance of decreasing taxable income. We talked about the importance of knowing why and what kind of credit card you need to meet your goals. We even talked about the difference between federal and private loans when it comes to funding a college education. The best news of all? “Oh, by the way, Cedar Point doesn’t charge for these services”, Blundell reminded me. “I don’t know why everyone in the community isn’t taking advantage of this!” Additionally, you never have to set a foot in the building if you don’t want to. Almost everything can be done virtually. Finances can be intimidating, but Colleen Blundell and the Cedar Point team are here to educate, illuminate, and help you make life improvements.

To learn more and make an appointment, visit or call 301-863-7071, extension 8427. Sean Scriber is the newest addition to the Cedar Point marketing team. Hailing from right here in Hollywood, Sean is ecstatic to be supporting his hometown. As the new head of community outreach, he hopes to make a difference in the place he loves so dearly.

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finances By Carlisa Kent

Is Your Debt Keeping You Up at Night? Use the Simple Snowball Method to Manage Debt Most of our country is drowning in debt. You, me, our neighbors, and even our church family. But this should not be our norm. Debt consists of credit cards, car loans, student loans, mortgages, the list goes on. Are you staying up at night thinking about this? Most people with consumer debt (nonmortgage debt) lose twice as much sleep over their finances compared to people who are debt free (with only a mortgage debt). You may have heard of a debt management plan. While this may help in the short term, this is not a long-term solution for most people.

What Is a Debt Management Plan? A debt management plan is the process of handing your debt to a third-party negotiator (credit counselor). This person or company works with your lenders to negotiation lower interest rates and combine all your debt payments into one monthly payment. Typically, these programs are structured to last three to five years with the goal of paying off your debt. Specific debts may not be eligible under many of these programs. If you have an outstanding secured loan like a home mortgage, auto loan or any other

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loan that’s tied to actual physical property (otherwise know as collateral), it won’t qualify for a debt management plan. Why? Because debt management plans only work with unsecured loans – loans without collateral attached to them, such as: credit card debt, personal loans, payday loans, income tax debt, or medical bills to name a few.

Debt consists of credit cards, car loans, student loans, mortgages, the list goes on. Debit management plans are listed as a notation on your credit report. They can also impact your credit score depending on how high or low your score is. Since payment history is a big chunk of your overall score, using a debt management plan might help your score improve if you’ve had a history of missed payments. But if you have a higher credit score to begin with, you could see your score drop as you pay off your bills, close out your credit cards and use less credit. Using a debt management plan means giving someone else control over your finances. Most companies charge an upfront fee just for them to start working with you. And then a monthly fee for their time and service. Although you may be paying your creditors less each month, once you add in their fee your total monthly payments could be higher. And if you miss a payment, they could terminate service.

Using the Snowball Method to Manage Debt Instead of handing over control of your finances to a third person, YOU can manage your debt with the SNOWBALL METHOD. 1. List your debt smallest to largest. Pay the minimum on everything but the smallest one. 2. Attack the smallest debt, paying it off as quickly as possible. 3. Once that debt is gone, go on to the next smallest debt. Repeat this process as you SNOWBALL through your debt! If you feel overwhelmed with debt, you don’t have to take this journey alone. Remember your budget does not need to be stressful. It is a habit that alleviates financial surprises. Contact me today and set up a time to go over your plan and how to best execute it. The best plans are the ones we put into motion. My calendar link can be found at Carlisacares. Carlisa Kent is a Ramsey financial coach, helping individuals to conquer their finances in a smart and sustainable way. She is a graduate of Trinity College, Washington D.C., and a proud mother of four. Having lived through a financial crisis of her own, Carlisa learned to save for her future before the emergency hit. This impactful experience inspired her to help others prepare for the unknown and share her successes.

law By Attorney Laura T. Curry

Protecting Your Child’s Inheritance from Divorce Many clients worry about their son-in-law or daughterin-law divorcing their child and walking away with a big chunk of their estate. And why shouldn’t they worry? With a divorce rate in America topping every other country, the chances of your kids having a long and happy marriage are not good. The question for today is, can you do anything to protect those assets by proper estate planning? When you give the inheritance outright to your children after you’re gone, there is nothing you can do to protect those assets or your children.

They’re fair game once control passes from the parents into the hands of your children. Yet almost every estate plan drafted the traditional way delivers the assets straight into the hands of the children, regardless of whether the child is ready for that wealth or not. Let me give you an example. Susan is the daughter of Bill and Mary Jones and is married to Jason. Bill and Mary never liked Jason, and despite the fact that they love their daughter, they felt like Jason was bad news. Bill and Mary’s estate plan called for an equal division of the assets between

their two children once Bill and Mary pass away. After the assets were divided, each share was handed to the kids, Susan and John, in one lump sum. Once Susan received the money from her parent’s estate, she deposited all the money she inherited in a joint account with her husband, Jason. About a year after Bill and Mary’s death, Susan files for a divorce. How much of Susan’s inheritance will Jason walk away with? For those of you that guessed about half, you’re right. So in one quick move, one half of Susan’s inheritance is gone, and into the hands of a guy Bill and Mary never liked.

How much of Susan’s inheritance will Jason walk away with? For those of you that guessed about half, you’re right. How many of you know a situation like this? Believe me, it happens all the time. Can we keep Susan’s inheritance in the family, even in the face of a divorce? Yes. Let’s look at what I call the Family Access Trust that holds Susan’s share. Susan is named as the Trustee. That means she has the power to manage all of her assets. Of course, she’s also the sole beneficiary, which gives her the right to spend the money or use the assets

any time she wants. Well, you might be saying, “why keep it in Trust if she can do anything she wants with it?” The reason is very simple. All the assets in the Family Access Trust are clearly defined as Susan’s inheritance. They are not commingled with any other assets belonging to Susan and her husband. In the event of a divorce, Susan’s inheritance is not part of the marital estate that the court gets to divide. A complete estate plan will consider not only how assets get passed to the next generation but also how to protect those assets so they remain with the people you intended to receive them. Laura T. Curry first became interested in estates and trusts when practicing as a family law attorney at the start of her career. It was quickly apparent to Laura that each family had their own dynamics which shaped their goals and desired outcome. She focuses her practice on estate planning, incapacity planning, and elder law issues. Laura was admitted to the Maryland Bar in 2009, and is a member of the Maryland State Bar Association. She is also a member of the Women’s Bar Association and a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys. Laura is dedicated to educating the public on the estate planning choices they can make to provide both financial and emotional security for their families and loved ones. She is currently offering a popular Wills and Trusts seminar online so you can watch from the safety of your own home. To view the details and register for an upcoming webinar, please visit:

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Dear Community Members, As a child, I was bullied. I had multiple medical diagnoses and unfortunate situations that were out of my control. At the time, I convinced myself each of these circumstances were there to thwart me and to keep me in my place – the place fate had chosen for my life. It wasn’t until I was 36 years old I discovered what happens to me doesn’t define me, but my reactions to what happens are what make me who I am. Around this same time is when I discovered the Dream Queen Association, a networking group for women. I arrived at the first meeting and it was unlike anything I had experienced before. I met a group of women led by Erin Lewis, the founder, who were positive, purpose-filled, and passionate. Erin was a light I didn’t know I needed to see who led with empathy and courage. I was welcomed into the tribe with open arms, and I learned to focus on community over competition, to give more than I expect to receive, and to be proud of who I am as a business owner. The women’s group changed my perspective and earned me the friendships of those who are still integral to my life today. I was happy, I was positive, I believed in myself, and I was supported. The Dream Queen leadership team then applied the same lessons we were learning and created the Gals Lead Teen Mentorship Program.

I was happy, I was positive, I believed in myself, and I was supported. It started with weekend experiences and a club program at Great Mills High School. The clubs were able to measure the girls’ progress through confidence assessments, open questions, and feedback from the schools, such as improved grades and a reduction of referrals and absences. A curriculum and training program was then created to teach other women how to mentor more girls in the community. I was in the first training class ready to share all I had discovered in hopes they don’t have to wait until age 36 to find clarity as I did. In return, I discovered so much about myself, my confidence soared, and I became even more in touch with the power I want to give to my community. I grew to honor who I am as a person and embrace each stage – that girl, that teen, and that adult, all of which are me. Fast forward to March 2020 when the world shut down, and my father had a stroke. My business was suffering, and my newfound peace and clarity began to struggle once again. As I was driving home from taking care of my father one day, I received a call from Beth, the new Chair of the board for the Dream Queen Foundation after Erin’s departure. Beth suggested I take over the role of Executive Director. I was shocked at the universe’s timing of it all. I felt honored, scared, unsure, and so many other emotions.


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I thought back to meeting Erin and couldn’t imagine myself in that role of influence. But the board believed in me, my passion for the organization, and I made the decision to believe them – to believe in myself. Today, I am dedicated to the cause for the younger me, for the adult me, for our sisters, our daughters, and for all girls, trans or non-binary, and anyone who else needs to listen. I have three priorities right now: Paying for new clubs, recruiting mentors to lead new clubs, and obtaining buy-in to make sure this program is accessible to all teen girls (she/her they/them). Most of all, I am looking for others who have the vision, the time, and the courage to work with me to make this happen. This is my story and my ask. I feel sharing is the best way to connect us and see how much we truly have in common. My goal is to bring us together, reduce loneliness, and quiet those little voices in the back of our minds that tell us we can’t. I know we can. I have lived the can. And so can all of you. I am so excited for the future and hope you will join me in continuing the dream. Sincerely, Maryanna Lanham, Executive Director – Dream Queen Foundation

Sign Up for Gals Lead Today! Gals Lead Teen Mentorship Program is growing, and the organization is seeking mentors. If you are interested email Maryanna@ Kudos to all the women in Gals Lead and to every mentor in the community. You are truly making a difference in the lives of those you serve. @GalsLead



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C A LV E RT C O U N T Y WEDNESDAY, MARCH 9:Women to Women (W2W)

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with Mark Frisco & Mark Willis (Virtual) WEDNESDAY, APRIL 13: W2W

of Calvert, SpringHill Suites, Prince Frederick THURSDAY, APRIL 21: Chamber Connect

hosted by Caliber Home Loans, Dunkirk

16th Annual

All Saints Episcopal Church Corner of Rt. 2 & Rt.4 Sunderland, MD

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$15 for Beer/Wine Tasting and Souvenir Glass and tasting wristbands. $ave money & reserve your gla$$ early at Calvert-Arts-Festival-2022-tickets. Sponsored by All Saints Episcopal Church (410-257-6306) and The Studio at Huntingtown (410-610-1738).

For most of my life, I was misdiagnosed as being mentally ill. But that wasn’t entirely true. I was physically sick… because I was born ill. I just didn’t know.




Our Views on Illness and Disability Must Change


ive years ago, I had the privilege of gracing the cover of Southern Maryland Woman Magazine for my activism with mental health awareness. In that photo, I was wearing a black dress and was standing on my own two feet. There was no wheelchair, central line in my chest, or nasal cannula helping me breathe. So, what happened? In a wild turn of events, everything I thought I knew about my body and mind changed.

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I was misdiagnosed. How could this happen? How could doctors miss my genetic illness and several other comorbidities? I don’t doubt for a second that medical bias was to blame. My former doctors frequently parroted out phrases commonly heard by young women: “You’re too young to be sick,” “You look fine to me,” and “You’re just anxious.” Despite the range of strange symptoms, doctors told me that my problems were likely psychosomatic even with abnormal test results. For most of my life, I was misdiagnosed as being mentally ill. But that wasn’t entirely true. I was physically sick…because I was born ill. I just didn’t know. For as long as I can remember, I’ve had pain—pains in my stomach, back, and head…everywhere. The thing is, I thought the discomforts I felt in my body were normal. I cried inconsolably every day in my first month of life because my stomach was not absorbing my mother’s breast milk. As a result, I was not gaining weight. As a 5-year-old, I had such dramatic nosebleeds that my clothes would look like evidence from a crime scene. At around 8 or 9 years old, I developed an aversion to food. The stomach pains I would get when eating further exacerbated the “perfect storm” in developing anorexia at such a young age. I moved from the US Virgin Islands to Southern California, which was a significant culture shock—being the new, brown girl who looked different and even spoke differently made me the target of bullying. I now know that the trauma I experienced in adjusting to a new culture and being bullied was not the only thing that contributed to my eating disorder as a child. As I went into puberty, I started having recurrent bladder infections and strep throat several times a year and quickly caught common viruses. And even though I had the flu vaccine, I would still get the flu almost every year. Always being sick was such a regular thing for me, but when I did bring it up to medical professionals as a teenager, it was dismissed. As I entered adulthood, my health issues worsened. I spent several years visiting neurologists who would perform one or two tests, give up, or diagnose me with migraines. I had some luck when

one found that I was having partial, Jacksonian seizures and had an 8mm brain lesion—but my doctors didn’t know why. They thought I had MS, but the results were inconclusive, and they gave up after that. I had a gynecologist who performed exploratory surgery and found that I had endometriosis. However, her inexperience with endometriosis caused it to spread to my bowels, bladder, and appendix. Endocrinologists even discovered a small tumor on my pituitary gland. And with all that information and my symptoms, no medical professional thought to check for systemic conditions. Instead, they told me that even with

“Within weeks, I became a wheelchair and oxygen user and got my first central venous catheter (also known as a chest port). Although it seemed sudden to people outside of my immediate circle, this decline had been going on for years— and the months prior were particularly hectic.” those things, I still looked healthy. It wasn’t until I ended up in the ICU following life-threatening complications from a second endometriosis surgery that doctors realized that my body wasn’t like everyone else’s. Within weeks, I became a wheelchair and oxygen user and got my first central venous catheter (also known as a chest port). Although it seemed sudden to people outside of my immediate circle, this decline had been going on for years—and the months prior were particularly hectic. I had lost more than 30 pounds in 6 months and would sometimes sit on the floor at work because I would feel faint. Suddenly, everything I had been experiencing for more than two decades made sense. At 29 years old, I was finally diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and Autoimmune Autonomic Ganglionopathy/Dysautonomia. Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS) is a

genetic connective tissue disease. Since everything in our body is constructed of connective tissue, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome is a recipe for bodily disaster. Simply put, my body is like a house made with poor materials. Even though the floor was creaking, and the roof was leaking, it looked great on the outside. However, over time, the house made with faulty materials will eventually fall apart—the floor will give out, the electrical lines and plumbing will fail, and it will no longer function. In essence, my body is a poorly built house—many of the comorbidities that I have directly result from having defective DNA. The Autoimmune Autonomic Ganglionopathy (AAG) is likely related to my genetic illness. AAG is an extremely rare form of dysautonomia. It causes my immune system to attack my autonomic nervous system, affecting functions like digestion, respiration, heart rhythm, and dozens of other things we don’t consciously think about. As you can imagine, it is relatively common for neurological conditions to affect behavior and mental health. Sadly, mental illness misdiagnosis in physically ill women is not uncommon. Implicit medical bias about a person’s age, race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, identity, and even mental health status leads to prolonged suffering, post-traumatic stress, and even death. An alarming 30-50% of women diagnosed with mental health issues really had a physical health condition. The psychological diagnosis delayed an accurate diagnosis up to 14 times more than if they had been misdiagnosed with a physical illness. These statistics are even higher among women with an underlying neurological condition. Once a mental health diagnosis is on your chart, the likeliness of being dismissed massively increases. Mental health stigma prevents medical professionals from seeing the patient as a whole person and minimizes any physical distress as a plea for attention or a complication of an unhealthy mind. Frankly, mental health stigma is dangerous to everyone, even if we don’t suffer from a mental illness ourselves. Being a young woman of color, I understand the helplessness that arises when you’re begging doctors to listen. It is a fight for your life of epic proportions. (continued next page)


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YOU’RE PROBABLY RIGHT.” The medical professionals I see now (many from top research hospitals) do not believe that I ever had an anxiety disorder, borderline personality disorder, or even major depression. The licensed psychologist I have now been seeing for nearly three years disagrees with the labels I was given. I was diagnosed with those conditions after only 1 or 2 visits with a psychiatrist and then was pumped full of pills that never worked. Mental health conditions typically take months to diagnose. Still, I was diagnosed immediately— after talking about disassociation, mood swings, irritation, feelings of doom, and severe anxiety, which are common in neurological conditions. Instead, my psychologist believes that I am experiencing post-traumatic stress and grief from years of medical gaslighting and mistreatment. Ironically, implicit medical bias can create mental health issues that weren’t present before. So, what do we do about this silent epidemic of implicit medical bias? The most critical thing medical professionals can do is practice empathetic and active listening. Part of the problem is that medical students have learned that when they “hear hoofbeats to think of horses, not zebras.” This phrase means that when a patient comes in with symptoms, to look for the most common cause. Medical students become doctors who believe it is unlikely that “zebras” (those with rare conditions) will ever come into their offices. Unfortunately, rare, and chronic diseases are grossly underdiagnosed because of this. Many rare conditions may not be rare; they’re just rarely

diagnosed. The most important thing a doctor can do is listen to their patients, and if they don’t know the answer, it is their responsibility to help them find it—even if that means referring them to someone else. It is doubtful that someone is lying or exaggerating their symptoms and making that unsubstantiated claim can have deadly results. Secondly, medical professionals must understand that illness does not have a minimum age requirement. If that were the case, children and young adults would never face illness. For perspective, 43% of children and teens have a chronic disease, so the idea that one can be “too young” to be sick is not rooted in fact. Third, appearance has very little to do with what is going on inside someone’s body. Most people with chronic illness have an invisible disease—but invisible does not mean imaginary. American healthcare and societal views on illness and disability must change quickly. Socioeconomic status, for-profit medical systems, prejudice, mental health stigma, and ignorance make access to healthcare difficult. Substantial change only occurs when compassion and education replace stigma and bias. We also need to remember that medical professionals make mistakes. They are practicing medicine. It is okay to seek a second opinion outside of your local medical system and advocate for yourself. Keep all your records, take notes, ask questions, and request the tests you

think you need. If they refuse, make sure you document that and have them write it in their records. No one knows your body better than you, and if something seems off, you’re probably right. It shouldn’t take nearly dying to finally be believed. I am very fortunate to now have an incredible team of doctors consisting of more than 14 specialists, who not only empathetically listen to me, but also do everything in their power to assist me through my conditions. I also have an amazing, home nurse who goes above and beyond each week that she sees me. There are excellent, compassionate medical professionals out there and they are worth looking for. (continued next page)

“Most people with chronic illness have an invisible disease— but invisible does not mean imaginary.”

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Syanne, featured on the May/June 2017 Cover of Southern Maryland Woman, before her diagnoses.

“The most important thing a doctor can do is listen to their patients, and if they don’t know the answer, it is their responsibility to help them find it—even if that means referring them to someone else.”



Educate yourself on their condition(s).


Offer to help.

28 

Syanne Centeno-Bloom is a disability rights activist, political science major, social media influencer, writer, and professional model. In her modeling and social media career, Syanne has worked with brands such as Dove, The Pretty Dress Company and Adore Me. Most recently, she appeared in the high fashion editorial magazine, Hunger Magazine, in Christian Siriano. In disability rights activism, Syanne has spoken at events such as Diversify Our Narrative’s DON Conference and advocated for causes to increase accessibility and disability rights. She has also worked directly with brands to create adaptive products and spoken to many podcasts on ableism and disability rights. Syanne is currently in college working towards a political science degree. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family, drawing and playing the piano. Follow Syanne on Instagram @SyanneBloom


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We really love and appreciate when our loved ones take the time to learn about illnesses. Just taking the initiative to learn about what we are going through makes us feel supported.

But when you offer to help, take it a step further by offering something specific. For example, you can offer to make them a meal, laundry, or do their grocery shopping. We so appreciate when family and friends say, “Let me know if you need anything”, however, that puts the burden on the person who is already struggling. They may have a hard time delegating tasks or even with simply asking for help. Asking for help is hard. Many wellintentioned people offer to help, but when help is offered without a specific goal in mind many of those offers don’t go through. Intentionally putting something on the calendar with a goal sets time aside to meet their need.


Invite them out.


This is probably one of the most important tips on this list, and it is very simple: Believe them.

This one may seem like a given, but since many people with chronic illnesses struggle with unpredictable symptoms, it is common to have to back out of get-togethers. Because of this, sometimes loved ones stop inviting them to activities. Remember, most people who are sick want nothing more than to be able to go to events and spend time with friends/ family. We still want to feel included, even if we can’t make it—so invite us anyway!

It took me over two decades to be diagnosed with the illnesses I was born with. A lot of people didn’t believe the symptoms I was having until I had the diagnoses to prove it. Considering good, affordable healthcare can be difficult to access for many demographics, it is crucial to understand that the undiagnosed are not any less valid than those of us with diagnoses. Most people do not lie about what they’re experiencing with their health. Simply believing them is one of the most compassionate things you can do.

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6 Off-the-Beaten-Trail Favorites of One Local Nature-Lover By Rosa Hance

Getting ready for Earth Day can lead to some stagnation… How many reusable bags can one acquire until it becomes wasteful again? Planting trees, native plants and picking up trash is definitely something a person can’t overdo. But simply getting outdoors to explore and enjoy is something that shouldn’t be overlooked. It gives us the inspiration and appreciation to be reminded of the beauty and diversity of our mother earth so that we act in her best interest year-round. Here are my off-thebeaten-trail favorites: Views along Hogaboom Nature trail at Historic St Mary’s


1. American Chestnut Land Trust (ACLT)

2. Battle Creek Cypress Swamp Sanctuary

You may be familiar with the Double Oak Farm, community garden and extensive trail network from Prince Frederick to the Bay on the north side of the 3,400 acre ACLT preserve, but did you ever explore the south side entrance in St. Leonard? These are easy and moderate trails that form a wide, interesting loop going up and down forest, meadow and wetlands.

Under the shade of the enormous and looming cypress trees and on a boardwalk that winds between the knobby knees of the giants, you will have a distinct experience each season of the year you visit. Take a stroll through the meadow and learn about each of the types of labeled trees. Educational for learners of all ages. CalvertParks. Org/BCCSS

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to the ballot where it canPoint become part of 4. Myrtle Park our constitution if approved by voters in Saltwater ponds and beachfront, both deep woods and wide trails, November 2022. But it can be done. New this 192 acre park is a special gem. Myrtle Point is a peninsula on the York voters recently adopted their version Patuxent River, Mill Creek and Sam Abel Cove that was preserved of this Amendment with 68.9% of voters in the 1990s and has both historic value and wildlife habitat. Good approving. signage throughout the park and picnic tables in several locations Help us declare the value of clean make it a fun place to wander through. MyrtlePoint.Org air, water, and a healthy environment for all, from the5.first peoples to the most River National Marine Sanctuary Mallows BayPotomac recent immigrant communities. Thanks to the advocacy ofLet myriad historic, environmental and us guarantee that stewardship of ourthis heritage site was recently made a preservation organizations, earth is fundamental to who we are as national sanctuary. Walk along the shore, or even better, paddle out Marylanders. 1. Sign petition: to get a close view of birds, wildlife, and history. Worth a trek during low tide to view the wrecks of the famous “Ghost Fleet.” Sanctuaries.NOAA.Gov


Ways to


The Maryland Sierra Club is proud to be working alongside diverse partners to amend the State Constitution to guarantee the right to a healthful sustainable environment and to View Chapman Parkas trustee and steward directof the stateState to act of our natural resources for current and future 3. Historic St Mary’s City generations. Walking paved paths of HSMC, there’s much to enjoy: archeology, As the simple as this principle is, the reenactment and historical interpretation. wander past the status quo is very strong. Enactment If ofyou this visitor center on Rosecroft Road,scale you also will find over 3 miles worth Amendment will take large organizing, of rugged trails that wind through the support forest down coalition building, and public toto St. Mary’s River and behind Brome Inn. views across multiple ensure passage by 3/5 Howard majority in Scenic the General Assembly session Nature that runs from points of thelegislative river on Hogaboom Trail and accessible quiet January through April. If successful, it will head beachfront. HSMCDigsHistory.Org

6. Chapman State Park

2. Register for lobby night:

From the dramatic Potomac River view off theaporch ofor thecall Mt. 3. Send letter Aventine mansion to the nature trails that wind through mature your elected officials in woodlands, this park is one you’ll enjoy visiting multiple times. the Maryland General Beachfront wanders will be quiet and there are many good viewing Assembly spots to see birds. DNR.Maryland.Gov

4. Check out sierraclub. org/maryland/calendar more events Rosa Hance is a mamafor bear for her two cubs, avid hiker

of the great backyard, and superhero after bedtime for the Maryland Sierra Club. She enjoys exploring, hiking and planting trees in Southern Maryland’s beautiful parks with friends, family & strangers. Follow on instagram at @sierraclubmd


TO EXPLORE, ENJOY, AND PROTECT THE PLANET The Maryland Chapter of Sierra Club has more than 70,000 members and supporters and our local group in Southern Maryland always needs volunteers! Our organization is unique in that much of the work is done by volunteers, supported by a small number of paid staff for the whole state. We work together to protect the environment in Maryland, and we cannot do it without you. Please consider a gift of any size today.

“The Sierra Club Maryland Chapter is an inclusive and diverse organization that prioritizes both people and the planet. They have created a resilient community that is always looking for new ways to learn and grow, even during a pandemic. I will continue to support the Chapter; it is an honor to volunteer surrounded by so many powerful women.” - Ashley Cobaugh, volunteer social media coordinator



Earth day 4


tips ps TRY ALTERNATIVES FOR MANAGING PERIODS Most tampons and pads are filled with harmful chemicals and even those that are organic are still disposable and wasteful. Instead, a favorite eco-friendly option is period underwear that are highly absorbent and comfortable. You may have to pack an extra pair if you’re out all day, but it’s no larger than a pad in your purse. They just get washed separately. For overnight or postpartum, reusable pads are the best, never sticky, just soft. For those who prefer tampons, consider switching to a menstrual cup.

ADVOCATE Personal change is most effective if accompanied by institutional change. So, don’t forget to get out there as an individual or as part of a group, and help advocate for environmentally friendly business and governmental policies. Make your voice heard, and help make the world a better, healthier, and greener place.


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to a More Responsible, Sustainable Lifestyle CHANGE UP YOUR LAWN CARE ROUTINE

Think for a minute about how much time, energy and money a person can spend on lawn care – mowing, leaf blowing, pesticides; the hours and dollars add up fast. Cut down on lawn acreage by expanding garden beds, planting native shade trees, or consider a no-mow zone that you can sprinkle with native wildflower seeds. If you must mow or remove leaves, go electric. Running a leaf blower or lawn mower motor for one hour releases more pollution than an 8-hour car ride. And definitely skip the pesticides and herbicides, even with those weeds between the cracks of the driveway. Vinegar and a spray bottle will do the trick for those spots!

In the old “reduce, reuse, recycle” adage, we tend to take for granted the first two. Meanwhile, the river of disposable items that flow through our lives piles up (literally) in our household waste. Opting for things like reusable cloth napkins and towels instead of paper, or tempered glass food containers instead of throwaway plastic containers, can seriously reduce your landfill footprint and will save money in the long run. For food and yard waste, try composting at home or asking your HOA, condo association or apartment management to institute community composting. This reduces landfill impact and allows nutrients to cycle back into healthy soil.

“Instead of worrying about or judging others for being ‘green enough,’ we should focus on helping in a way that is personal, meaningful, and part of daily life.”

community By Rhonda M. Crawley and Tanya Gott

Rescue is Our Favorite Breed! The Humane Society of Calvert County (HSCC) is a no-kill dog rescue, established in 1999 and located in Sunderland, Md. Our mission is to rescue dogs, provide shelter for them and protect them from harm. We strive to place them into caring, responsible homes and give them a second chance at life. All our pups are given a chance to thrive and entitled to the Five Freedoms for Animal Welfare: 1. Freedom from Hunger and Thirst by ready access to fresh water and a diet to maintain full health and vigor. 2. Freedom from Discomfort by providing an appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area. 3. Freedom from Pain, Injury or Disease by prevention or rapid diagnosis and treatment. 4. Freedom to Express Normal Behavior by providing sufficient space, proper facilities, and company of the animal’s own kind. 5. Freedom from Fear and Distress by ensuring conditions and treatment which avoid mental suffering. Our current facility serves a wide cross-section of the community in Southern Maryland and beyond. We do not receive any government funding and rely on donations from our generous supporters and sponsors, adoption fees, fundraisers and grants tosustain our rescue. We can

house up to 30 dogs (more if puppies can be in one kennel together), and have a small foster base who assists with our dogs that have more extensive needs. We work with several local government-funded shelters to rescue dogs and at-risk dogs. These dogs can be put on the at-risk list due to a lack of space or a medical condition that the shelter cannot take on. We also work with other rescues up and down the east coast who may have space issues and need our help to keep a dog from being euthanized. HSCC receives about 280 – 300 puppies and dogs each year. Each dog we rescue gets fully vetted, to include spay/ neuter, microchip, and all the necessary vaccines. We do take on quite a few medical cases throughout the year to include dogs with mange, cancer, cherry eye, partial blindness and the list goes on. On several occasions, we have worked with the Humane Society International to rescue dogs from areas where the dog meat trade is still thriving. These pups come to us afraid and need time to decompress and learn to trust humans, which they eventually do and get adopted into loving homes. We also give back to our community by donating food and other essential items to local food banks to help facilitate keeping dogs in the home with their owners.

Rescue is demanding work!

For anyone who dedicates their life or a substantial portion of their life to rescuing and rehabilitating animals, it is no easy task! This takes perseverance, dedication and, most of all, lots of love. “None of this would be possible without the dedication and hard-work of the staff, volunteers, fosters, board members, our veterinary partners, sponsors and supporters!” commented Tanya Gott, the President of the Humane Society of Calvert County. Ms. Gott has been with HSCC since 2011 as a volunteer and board member.

Interested in joining us by volunteering, fostering, sponsoring or donating to our rescue?

Tanya Gott, President, HSCC and Angel Chambers, Kennel Manager, HSCC

Visit: Email: Call: 410-257-4908

Physical address: 2210 Dalrymple Road, Sunderland MD 20689 (by appointment only) Mailing Address: P.O. Box 3505 Sunderland MD 20689 IRS 501(C)3 # 52-1736501

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short years the


Fierceness written all over her face The directness with which she expresses herself—“I’m mad at you!” “My whole body is frustrated!” “I’m so excited!”—is something I greatly admire about her. My face has always long before To my grandma, thisspoken was known my mouth forms a word. unilaterally as “the Meggie face.” To my grandma, this was known Don’t like the flavor of Popsicle unilaterally as “the Meggie face.”

you’re offering? Need me to Don’t like the flavor of Popsicle hand over the TV remote? Want you’re offering? Need me to my discarded sneakers placed hand over the TV remote? Want neatly by the door instead? All my discarded sneakers placed occasions to break out the Meggie face. neatly by the door instead? All occasions to break out the Meggie face.

In elementary school, this frankness brought on detention slips. By high school, however, it landed me in the International Thespian Society with a lead in the fall play. A set of the lips, widening of the eyes, the head tilt—it’s all part of having a very open thought process. (That’s what I tell myself, at least.)


As an adult, I’ve learned to channel this emotional transparency in a way that won’t send me to Human Resources. I believe in professionalism and diplomacy, and abhor rude and unkind behavior. But if you expect me to act perky when I oppose your plan completely, well—that’s unlikely. Even masks, a friend to those of us with Resting [Witch] Face, do nothing to stop that raised eyebrow. The funny thing is that, until recently, I had little concept of my physical expressions. I knew how I was feeling, but—being the Meggie of the “Meggie face” in question—I had no idea how I actually looked. Then I met my daughter. I once read a quote that jokingly stated having a child is creating a miniature version of yourself with whom to argue. My girl Hadley, newly 5 years old, knows exactly who she is, what she’s about, and what she’s willing to tolerate from others—parents and brother included. She isn’t afraid of kicking behinds and taking names, and routinely stands up for herself in a way that is startling and impressive. Hadley is quick to anger yet fast to forgive, rapidly cycling through many emotions. The directness with which she expresses herself—“I’m mad at you!” “My whole body is frustrated!” “I’m so

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excited!”—is something I greatly admire about her. Our daughter seems to have inherited much of her dad’s personality: determination, a penchant for handson learning, an eagerness for harmony . . . and then her mother’s expressive face. The furrowed brow, curved lips, eyes closing in joy—I watch her features rearrange with almost clinical interest, a kaleidoscope revealing surprising and beautiful patterns. My husband once dubbed her “Little Anger,” for her tiny body burns so hot and bright. We channel it, help her work through it, but I will never chase that fierceness out of her. Every woman needs to be able to look another human in the eye and say, without fear or apology, “No.” I don’t agree. I’m not interested. I’m unhappy. I’m unwilling. I don’t accept that. Actually, you know what? I won’t accept that. Fierce girls grow up to be warrior women. And for all my parenting flaws, well—I’m proud to be raising one of those. Minus the detention slips, maybe. But, hey—we’ll see how it goes. Megan Johnson is a lifelong Marylander who was writing bad poetry before mastering her alphabet. Author of the former “Right, Meg?” column in Southern Maryland Newspapers, she now writes for pleasure once again while working in healthcare communications. Meg lives with her husband, son and daughter near Waldorf. Reach her on Instagram at @writemeg.

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