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MODERN WOMAN 46 Holiday Ideas




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Jordin Sparks is whipping up love, music and happiness

Put an eco-friendly spin on the holidays

Caring champions emerge during COVID-19 pandemic





#moregood | @childlifeessentials








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DIY floral creations add a custom touch


GIFTS Perfect picks for those on your list


20 22 24 Jordin Sparks

PHOTOGRAPHER: Justin Jerrod Hair: Taria Groce Makeup: Romiah Puertollano Wardrobe/styling: Parrish Dove and LaQueita Jones Creative direction: Jamal Josef

Collectible ornaments create traditions and memories




DÉCOR Festive frills set a merry mood

HEALTH + BEAUTY Dress up or down for the season’s celebrations Self-care ideas to try at home Be seen by your doctor on-screen Stay fit without going to the gym


HOME Spread cheer, not COVID among holiday guests


Choose the right tools for your home office


CAREERS Chef Tanya Holland dishes up success


NASTASIA YAKOUB Escape artist encourages embracing solo travel


MELISSA URBAN Whole30 founder stresses eating and living healthier


SLOANE DAVIDSON Hello Neighbor pairs refugees with U.S. mentors


JASMINE MARIE Breathwork expert aims to help women de-stress



TRAVEL Road trips see a resurgence


FOOD Bringing back breakfast amid pandemic


SERVICE Reap the rewards of volunteering


SELF-CARE Grant yourself grace during trying times


Finding clarity during quarantine


LAST WORD Treat the bookworms on your gift list

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DIRECTOR Jeanette Barrett-Stokes CREATIVE DIRECTOR Jerald Council MANAGING EDITOR Michelle Washington

SHAMEIKA RHYMES is a freelance writer based in Charlotte, N.C., who has written for Entertainment Tonight, Ebony and Shondaland. In this issue, she spoke with singer and actress Jordin Sparks about rediscovering her love of music (page 38), and with Jasmine Marie of Black Girls Breathing about self-care (page 78). “Jordin really showed your happy place can open up the doors to love when you least expect it, and that gives me hope.”

LISA A. BEACH is a freelance writer in Orlando, Fla., who covers health and wellness, travel, food and family for publications such as The New York Times, Conde Nast Traveler and Good Housekeeping. She notes that, while the 2020 holiday season will likely look different, it might be the perfect opportunity to celebrate more mindfully and start a new tradition — protecting our planet with more sustainable choices (page 44).

ISSUE DESIGNER Debra Moore EDITORS Amy Sinatra Ayres Tracy Scott Forson Harry Lister Deirdre van Dyk Debbie Williams DESIGNERS Hayleigh Corkey David Hyde Gina Toole Saunders Lisa M. Zilka CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Lisa A. Beach, Mary Helen Berg, Valerie Finholm, Jennifer Bradley Franklin, Margaret Buranen, Camilla Johnson Perry, Jessica Kasparian, Zoe King, Jacqueline Klecak, Cindy Kuzma, Lia Picard, Shameika Rhymes, Sarah Sekula, Kristen Seymour


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CAMILLA JOHNSON PERRY is a wife, mother, former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran who lives in Maryland. She has always been passionate about up-cycling antique furniture, but the COVID-19 quarantine prompted her to look inward and work on herself. So, she called it quits with her nail technician and hairstylist. She shares the pain of the breakup and the self-fulfillment of her breakthrough (page 76).

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MARY HELEN BERG is a Los Angeles-based journalist whose work has appeared in publications including USA TODAY, The Los Angeles Times, Newsweek and AARP The Magazine. The “essential heroines” she interviewed about their efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic (page 48) reminded her that “every one of us can think of something, no matter how small, to lift others up and help ease this difficult time.”

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Make your home as merry as your holiday mood with festive decorations. PAGE 10



Festive Frills Adorn your space with seasonal dĂŠcor BY JACQUELINE KLECAK


et in the holiday spirit by decking the halls, mantel, doorway and dining room table. Put on a jolly playlist, pop some cookies into the oven and make your home merry.

Serve homemade treats on the Orli Hanukkah platter with blue dreidels. u$19.95; salad plates are $5.95 each,

Save space or decorate a confined area with this Christmas tree wall hanging. u$99.50,

Welcome guests to your winter wonderland with the Treetops Glisten coir door mat. u$79.50 to $89.50,

The ornate Snowy Christmas sparkling crystal stocking features

metallic threads and beads.



Keep a bottle of vino chilled in this festive wine holder. u$59.50,

Count down to Christmas with the

Nordic winter LED light-up Advent calendar. u$39.99,

Celebrate the festival of lights with the sleek Illume alloy menorah. u$160,



Merry Mementos Holiday keepsakes create traditions and memories BY MARGARET BURANEN





Ornaments, from top: Rocking Horse Memories, Hallmark Santa Saves The Date, Christopher Radko; A Bird In The Hand, Christopher Radko

he coronavirus pandemic might keep many families from gathering this holiday season, but keeping connections strong doesn’t have to be a struggle. Collectible Christmas ornaments can play a central role. Whether you’re planning a socially distant celebration or opening your home to those closest to you, ornaments are a tangible way to create lasting memories and begin new traditions. Gifting multiple families’ households the same collectible ornament is one way to feel united from afar. Hallmark is a brand that is often synonymous with the holidays. “As families come together and decorate their Christmas trees, our keepsake ornaments encourage them to reflect on their relationships and relive their favorite memories,” says Nicole Reid, vice president of Hallmark Ornaments & Gifts. “It is such as privilege for us to to be part of people’s traditions and memories. We hear from so many of our consumers who constantly share stories with us of how ornaments represent important people or moments in their lives: new babies, new home, graduation.” “People want to make their homes inviting and warm, filled with memories for family and friends who come (to visit),” says Joe Walden, senior designer at Chris-

topher Radko, another ornament collections retailer. “Our ornaments remind them of happy events — vacations or the birth of a child.” Walden says customers often tell him they are buying two identical ornaments. “They’ll say, ‘One is for me and I’m buying one for my son (or daughter) to have when they grow up.’“ Collectible Christmas ornaments come in a wide range of styles, from traditional to whimsical. They feature movie, TV and comic characters, religious figures, animals and familiar seasonal characters. Hallmark offers more than 450 new ornaments each year. Christopher Radko introduces 400 to 450. Many companies produce new ornaments each season for several collections or lines. Every year some lines are retired and new ones are introduced. How long a line or series continues depends on how well ornaments sell. Other sources for collectible ornaments include Lenox, Old World Christmas, Art Studio Company, Kurt S. Adler, The Bradford Exchange and Swarovski. Many colleges and universities also sell annual Christmas ornaments, often featuring the official mascots. Check the websites of the schools’ alumni associations. Collectors who want to buy ornaments from past years might find them on the companies’ websites, eBay, Etsy and Amazon.



Deck the Halls Faux florals can make your home festive for the holidays


beautiful floral arrangement can add that special touch to your home, and making your own can showcase your holiday spirit and skill, but constantly replacing and maintaining fresh flowers can be expensive. Stevie Storck, author of Modern Faux Flower Projects: Fresh, Stylish Arrangements and Home Décor With Silk Florals and Faux Greenery, says even a novice DIYer can create lovely, affordable and longer-lasting holiday designs that will retain their festive flair throughout the season. Crafting a custom floral design allows you to inject your own inspira-



tion like a favorite memory or object, Storck says. “When you make something yourself, you can personalize it to something you love. That’s what makes a house feel like a home ... those personal and meaningful details,” she explains. The cost, which can run about $40 for a basic wreath, will depend on how many flowers you use. Storck recommends using the highest-quality flowers that you can afford to maximize the look and longevity. “They will look realistic and last longer so that you can reuse them,” she says. Storck offers this money-saving tip: “Craft stores tend

to have faux flowers for 50 percent off every other week. Most craft stores have a huge section of faux florals; you just have to know when to shop.” No prior crafting experience? No problem. Storck says she had beginners in mind with her book, so making a floral masterpiece doesn’t have to be intimidating. “Anybody, if you’re willing to learn, can do any of these projects,” she says. “The idea is that you take the general techniques and make it your own.” Add your special touch to your holiday home décor with this wreath from Modern Faux Flower Projects:



Frosty Thistle and Juniper Wreath SUPPLIES: uJuniper branches with berries uPine branches uBroadleaf eucalyptus spray u2 blue thistle sprays uGrapevine wreath uWhite spray paint in chalky finish u2 silver jingle bells uRibbon of your choice uHot glue gun INSTRUCTIONS: 1. First, I prepped my grapevine wreath, which is the frame of this design. I removed the tag (mine had a metal clamp that I had to cut to remove), tucked in any majorly loose branches, and secured with glue or wire where necessary. 2. To give the grapevine branches a wintry touch, I sprayed the wreath form with two very light coats of white chalk paint. Once it was fully dry, I attached a length of medium-gauge, all-purpose floral wire to the back of my wreath that I could use to hang it from. 3. Before placing my foundation of

greenery, I chose the central point on the wreath where my branches would emanate from. Starting with the pine, I placed one branch on either side of this center point in opposite directions with the ends pointing out. I dipped the bottom of the stems in hot glue before pushing them in between the vines to secure. 4. I placed a third, shorter pine branch pointing up at an angle from my central point, and then continued placing pine branches until I was happy with the look. I wanted the juniper branches to be more visible, which is why I placed them on top of the pine. 5. I followed the same steps, alternating branches toward the outside edge and the inside edge of the wreath to get the fullness I wanted. 6. Next, I started on the focal point of my wreath. First, I cut my thistle sprays down into individual stems, and then placed three on

either side of the central point. 7. I used all-purpose floral wire to string my silver jingle bells together and attach them to the wreath. I pulled the ends of the wire through the grapevine branches and to the back of the wreath, twisting to secure. I tied a bow out of simple, green cotton ribbon and used a dab of hot glue to attach it just above the bells. 8. To finish off this design, I added a few sprigs of broadleaf eucalyptus as a filler. I really liked the way the shape of the leaves contrasted the evergreen branches and how the blue-green color aligns with the blue of the thistle blossoms. SPECIAL TOUCH: You can customize this wreath to whatever wintry color scheme you like best. For an earthy, traditional look, simply swap the thistle for red berries, the silver bells for flocked pinecones and the green bow for white ribbon.










Great Gifts Perfect picks for everyone on your list BY AMY SINATRA AYRES


t hasn’t been an easy year, so help your friends and family relax and smile with these fabulous finds under the tree:


Gift them their own mixologist with the Bartesian 55300 premium cocktail machine. u$349.99,


Dinner is set-it-andforget-it with the All-Clad 6.5-quart slow cooker. u$179.99, crateand

The family can work together on this K’NEX Architecture Golden Gate Bridge set. u$49.99,

UGG’s Classic sherpa poof tablet pillow props up electronics for comfortable viewing. u$19.99, Bed Bath & Beyond




The world’s first PC with 5G connectivity, the Lenovo Flex 5G allows lag-free streaming and browsing. u$1,399.99,



The Godiva limited-edition holiday truffles collection is delicious and beautifully packaged. u$29.95,



Coffee lovers can keep their drink warm as they sip with the Muggo heated travel mug. u$129.99,


No need to go to the salon with the HoMedics Shiatsu Footbath with heat boost. u$129.99,


This festive box is filled with Vahdam’s single-origin looseleaf tea. u$29.99,

The Echelon Smart Connect EX3 fitness bike offers live and on-demand classes. u$999.99,

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Dress Up or Down Celebrate your way by mixing comfort and style BY ZOE KING


hether gathering with friends in person or virtually celebrating the holidays, a festive look helps get you in the spirit. We’ve got you covered with chic and comfortable options.

A festive accessory like this genuine diamond sterling silver pendant necklace adds sparkle to your look. u$57.13,

Add some subtle sparkle to your look with the five-ruby orbit ring by Sophie Ratner. u$280,

Not feeling the heels? Celebrate in comfy style with the luxe yet cozy Cloud slippers. u$130,




Store your necessities in the Saint Laurent Uptown calfskin leather envelope clutch. u$545, saksfifthavenue. com

Layer this cozy plaid Barefoot Dreams wrap with your favorite longsleeve tee. u$198, bloomingdales. com

Pair the pretty A New Day slip skirt with a chunky sweater. u$22.99,

These pleated Chelsea28 pants have a sophisticated look with a comfortable elastic waist band. u$79,

The chic Cassandra high-neck stripe jumpsuit is a perfect fit for any occasion. u$48,

The oversized String Lights pullover adds cozy style to a casual occasion. u$228,

The flattering Clara three-quartersleeve faux wrap dress will be your go-to staple this holiday season. u$148,



Beauty By You DIY ideas to rejuvenate your home regimen BY JESSICA KASPARIAN


CREATE A CUSTOM FACE MASK There are plenty of recipes for easy DIY facials online. Whether they do what they claim or not, there’s no harm in zoning out with a blend of honey, oats and avocado on your face. Search for recipes using whatever ingredients you have on hand and you’re bound to find some hits. Not much for experimentation? You can always buy a sheet mask to hydrate



your skin or a clay mask to detoxify it.

or creamy base like oil or avocado. Use the scrub in the shower to slough dead skin from your lips, face and body, and follow up with a moisturizer to replenish the skin barrier.

OIL TRAIN YOUR HAIR MAKE A SCRUB FOR YOUR FACE AND BODY While you’re in the kitchen making a face mask, why not whip up a scrub, too? The key to this spaworthy treatment is creating one that’s gentle, lest you damage your skin. It’s as simple as adding ingredients you likely have in the pantry, like granulated sugar or coffee grounds, to a liquid

The more you wash your hair and remove the oil from it, the more your scalp produces oil to overcompensate for the loss, just like your facial skin. If you’re shampooing every day yet notice scalp greasiness before your next shower, you’re among the many people who overwash their hair. There’s no better time than right now, when you don’t have to go out

in public as often, to get yourself down to the one to two washes per week for healthy hair from root to tip. Not sure how to start? Boston-based hairstylist Graziella Meola says to gradually space out your washes over the course of a couple of weeks — from every day to every other day, to every third day. Substitute with dry shampoo on the off days, or by rinsing with water and putting conditioner on the ends of your hair if you simply must wash your hair every day.

DEEP CONDITION YOUR TRESSES Maybe your hair is feeling dry and snarly from


n light of health and safety protocols regarding COVID-19, many of us are at home and adjusting to our new routine, which includes social distancing, selfquarantining and possibly working from home. We’re all looking for distractions or projects to occupy our time and mind, and to pump up our spirits. One great way to do that is through a little beauty self-care. To help enhance your routine, recommends these beauty products and projects, many of which don’t require much money, if any at all:

throwing it up in buns every day in lieu of your usual styling routine. Or perhaps you’ve had to postpone a long-overdue haircut. A hair mask can’t repair your dead ends, but it can give your hair a needed boost of hydration. You can make your own using combinations like eggs and mayonnaise, banana and avocado, or yogurt and honey. There is no shortage of online DIY recipes to try.

GIVE YOURSELF A MANICURE OR PEDICURE You don’t have to be a professional to groom your fingers and toes — you just need some basic tools that you may already have at

home, like a nail file and clippers. To keep it simple, clip the tips of your nails and file down any sharp edges to avoid snags in your clothes or scratches on your skin. Then, paint a clear coat on your nails to make them look shiny and healthy. Repeat this process on your toes. If you want to try to replicate a spa nail treatment, place your fingertips in a warm bowl of water to soften the skin, then clean up your cuticles using a cuticle pusher. From there, trim your tips, shape the edges and buff out the surface of the nails with a nail buffer or an old, worn-down file

that’s not too rough. Once you’ve completed these steps, wash your hands and proceed with a clear coat or a colorful polish that highlights your work. For your feet, you can do the same process but use a foot spa or, in a pinch, a bucket filled with warm water.

GROOM YOUR EYEBROWS WITH CARE If your wax or threading appointment is canceled for the foreseeable future, you may want to clean up the stray hairs around your brows and trim any

lengthy strands. The key to plucking is to pull in the direction that the hairs grow out from the skin, says Benefit Cosmetics’ global brow expert Jared Bailey. You also want to only pluck in a well-lit area or use a lighted makeup mirror. Keep away from magnifying mirrors because you want to see your entire face, and focusing on a small section often leads to overplucking. The safest bet is to pull outliers and not remove any hairs in the main area of your brow. To trim long hairs, brush your brow up toward your hairline using a brow brush or spoolie and snip with small cosmetic scissors.



Be Prepared Dr. Eric Singman of Johns Hopkins Hospital and Dr. Sarvam TerKonda of Mayo Clinic offer these tips to help ensure a successful virtual appointment:

Have your questions ready before the appointment.

Dr. Sarvam TerKonda, Mayo Clinic Center for Connected Care

Screen Time

Take notes and consider having a loved one join the session to provide an additional set of ears.

Virtual doctor visits break new ground


n 2019, Mayo Clinic’s campus in Jacksonville, Fla., was ramping up its virtual options for patients, and providers conducted about 100 appointments by video throughout the year. This spring, with people staying home as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the clinic performed about 600 virtual patient visits per day. “I think that’s been a real advantage of the pandemic — it’s really allowed us to utilize telemedicine to benefit both patients and clinicians,” says Dr. Sarvam TerKonda, a plastic surgeon and a medical director for Mayo Clinic Center for Connected Care. Mayo Clinic patients have embraced the change and are pleased with the process: According to surveys, 95 percent to 98 percent of patients rate the video appointments as a positive experience, TerKonda says.



During the pandemic, doctors in many parts of the country have connected with their patients online instead of in person for everyone’s safety. Patients who had adapted to connecting to family and friends via video smoothly transitioned to seeing their physicians that way too, minimizing a lot of potential technical difficulties. And this situational advance of telemedicine has left many doctors and patients hoping it will continue to be an option even when life returns to “normal.” While some diagnoses require a physical exam, such as listening to the heart or touching a mass, TerKonda says there are many appointments where virtual visits work just as well. For TerKonda, those include pre-op and post-op appointments with his patients. The technology has also helped

Dress comfortably and set yourself up in a private area of your home without distractions.

Make sure you have a strong internet connection.

Don’t be intimidated by the technology.



minimize physical contact with patients who have COVID-like symptoms. Dr. Eric Singman, a neuro-ophthalmologist and medical director for clinical operations at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, agrees that with a good camera and internet connection, real-time

someone who knew his patients and the patients knew him. Telemedicine allows that relationship,” Singman says. “This is your real golden opportunity to ask your doctor questions. Your doctor is hopefully not going to be distracted with looking at and checking your blood



videoconferencing is a great option for some routine consultations, dermatology and radiology appointments and other practices. He’s also excited that telemedicine may provide the opportunity for patients to have more quality time with physicians. “In a sense, it’s turned the clock backwards, in that it starts to develop the physician-patient relationship that we were taught were the ‘good old days,’ when a doctor was

pressure or checking your pulse or listening to your lungs … which means you have his ears probably better than you’ve ever had his ears before.” With some restrictions temporarily loosened to allow doctors to bill for online appointments in more cases as well as to practice across state lines, patients have been able to safely get the information they need while quickly receiving answers to questions that may have taken more time

if they had to go into the doctor’s office, Singman says. If virtual appointments are still widely available postpandemic, Singman thinks it might free up doctors’ schedules as well as rooms that are needed for more in-depth or physical exams. The time saved from traveling to the office and sitting in the waiting room has been convenient for patients, too. “I really liked how easy it was to connect and speak with the doctor, and I can actually make … sameday appointments with my own doctor,” says Kathia Kortanek of Reston, Va. “I really didn’t need to be at the doctor’s office, and it saved me lots of time. Even if the doctor was running late, I was home and could do other things while waiting.” Based on her positive experiences, Kortanek says she would love to have the chance to continue with virtual appointments in the future. “Telemedicine has gotten a tremendous boost because of the COVID situation. And it’d be a real shame to go backwards,” Singman says. “If the main goal is good patient care and good patient access to care, then I think that telemedicine is an answer to that.”

Handy Health Care Find fast and safe access to services

Some of your health care questions and important preventative care, like keeping up with routine vaccinations, can be handled with speed and safety at your local drugstore. CVS Pharmacy and MinuteClinic locations have new procedures for handling vaccinations safely, says Christine Cramer, senior director of corporate communications for CVS Health. Patients are given a COVID-19 screening questionnaire and have their temperature taken prior to all immunizations, she says. Patients are required to wear a face covering, and one will be provided if they do not have one. Staff will wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE). MinuteClinic also is a convenient and accessible option for patients seeking routine care for acute and chronic health needs. In addition to the screening and PPE guidelines, waiting rooms have been eliminated, and patients are being asked to wait in their cars until the provider calls them in. Steps to further clean and disinfect the kiosk and the clinic between visits have also been added, Cramer says. MinuteClinic also offers virtual e-Clinic visits via Webex for matters that can be handled by videoconference. Walgreens has also implemented new safety measures for important immunizations at its pharmacies, including enhanced cleaning, social distancing requirements and plexiglass shields at registers. Team members are required to wear face masks and face shields, and patients are encouraged to wear face coverings. Keeping up with your vaccines is especially important during the pandemic. “Immunizations are critical to ensuring the health of our communities from vaccine-preventable illness and reducing the strain on our health care system, which is even more important during the pandemic,” Dr. Kevin Ban, chief medical officer of Walgreens, said in a June statement. — Amy Sinatra Ayres



The Work(in) Revolution New options can help you keep fit at home BY KRISTEN SEYMOUR


f the term “home workout” conjures up images of VHS tapes, leotards and the same exercises day after day, hold on to your leg warmers. Things have changed drastically, especially this year as the COVID-19 pandemic forced many fitness centers to close their doors. Today, it’s easy to access fresh, new



workouts with a subscription to one of the many fitness apps available. Some apps connect with equipment (such as the Peloton bike) and allow users to attend live or on-demand classes; others, like Centr, provide workouts in a planner based on specific goals, along with multiweek challenges. Most of these apps include a

variety of workouts and a selection of world-class instructors to lead them, like Kristin McGee, a Peloton yoga and meditation instructor who has appeared in more than 100 yoga and Pilates videos. Often, the trainers encourage members to connect with them on social media, offering a level of access that participants who don’t live near a New York or Los Angeles studio might otherwise never experience. “I’ve been holding 10-minute Instagram Live ‘pre-shows’ before my pre-recorded classes,” says McGee. “I can tell them a little bit about my class and see if anyone has a question on alignment or breathing.” While the home fitness industry has seen an upward trend in recent years, there has been a huge surge during the pandemic. But are those home workouts truly taking the place of gym classes? And will those users continue to stay home once social distancing restrictions are lifted? If Jen Exoo, 55, of Cleveland, is any


The TRX suspension trainer provides an effective resistance workout without cumbersome equipment.

The Tonal system combines technology with at-home convenience.


Peloton instructors lead online classes that participants can follow with minimal space and equipment.

indication, the answer is a resounding yes. Exoo, a passionate cyclist, was already dedicated to her workouts before the pandemic, working with a personal trainer, taking weekly classes at her gym and playing tennis several times a week. Exoo purchased a Peloton bike in late January, and by the time her area went on lockdown in March, she was a convert. “Not to sound religious about it, but having that Peloton bike and being involved in the community has completely changed my attitude about home workouts,” she says. “I mean, I’d been using the app already for two or three years and thought, ‘How different could having the bike and touch screen be?’” Completely, as it turns out. She continued to work out weekly with her trainer via FaceTime, but began getting in a workout on her bike almost every day. And that wasn’t all. “Being at home also made me explore ‘not spinning’ activities on the Peloton app, like core work, stretching, yoga, meditation,” she

says. “I don’t see myself going back to group classes again.” Exoo isn’t alone. Centr surveyed the members in its private Facebook group, and 57 percent of respondents say that they aren’t planning to go back to the gym, while 35 percent responded that they are likely to incorporate home workouts with trips to the gym when they feel it is safe to do so. Centr member Gabriela Tobal, 51, of San Diego was surprised by how easily she adjusted from working out at a local boxing gym to following an online program. “I never thought I would like doing home workouts as my sole method of working out because I love going to a gym with good classes, but it’s been great,” she says. Tobal has tried a lot of other home workout programs and finds that Centr’s online community is a key factor in her commitment. “I do miss being with people in a real class,” she says, and notes that when the gym is open again, she’ll likely do a mix of

Actor Chris Hemsworth founded the Centr fitness platform to share with users the expertise of trainers to whom he attributes his own physical success.

those boxing classes and her Centr workouts, “but it turns out this program really does work for me.” As you develop your home workout habit, McGee suggests starting slowly and setting realistic goals. “Don’t be too hard on yourself, and don’t push yourself too hard, too fast,” she says. “Soon, it’ll become a lifestyle. You’ll crave it — and you’ll love it in your home.”



Swapping Struggles for Success

LACK OF SPACE, EQUIPMENT OR BUDGET Small space? No gear? No problem, says fitness instructor Kristin McGee. “Yoga, Pilates and meditation are all awesome in small spaces — they’re portable, and you need minimal equipment.

And so is strength training,” she says, adding that many streaming dance workouts are designed to be done without a huge amount of floor space. Barre work, McGee points out, can be done while standing at your kitchen counter. Don’t assume that you need fancy toys or heavy weights to raise your heart rate and build serious muscle; most apps offer a way to filter strength workouts, allowing you to find those that use body weight alone. High-tech options like Mirror and Tonal require surprisingly little space, and equipment like a TRX suspension trainer or a set of resistance bands can open up a whole new world of workout options.

LACK OF TIME Being busy is one of the most common excuses for skipping a workout, but with the right attitude, it’s an easy one to overcome. “A lot of times, less is more,” says McGee. “If you try to do hourlong workouts, you might set yourself up for failure because you don’t actually have that kind of time, so then you’re frustrated that you’re not getting it in every day.” McGee suggests starting with shorter workouts done consistently. “Just a 10- or 20-minute strength workout, or a 20-minute full-body yoga flow can give you so many benefits — you move your body, you get your heart rate up, you feel better mentally,” she says.



LACK OF MOTIVATION Part of the appeal of hitting the gym or attending a class is the fact that it forces you to leave home and work behind. When you’re working out in your living room, it can be distracting to see dirty dishes or be interrupted by a family member or pet. And that’s assuming you actually get yourself started on your home workout. If you find yourself having a difficult time getting going, try these tips: Schedule it. Pick a time for your workout and put it in your planner as you would an important meeting. Arrange your day around it and consider it non-negotiable. Find your people. Many fitness apps offer access to online communities, so if you’re looking for people who share your goals — or your struggles — that may be a great place to start. Choosing a live class can also provide an added sense of community. Clear your space. If you need to rearrange some furniture to do your workout or grab a bottle of water, get it all out of the way before you warm up. Having to stop to move a coffee table or find a towel will sap your motivation in a heartbeat. Set an intention. When you walk through the door at a gym, you probably have a plan, a goal and a set amount of time to be there. Treat your home workout the same way, leaving the rest of the day behind for the 30 minutes or so you’re dedicating to your health. Think about what you want out of your sweat session and commit to not looking at your phone — or doing anything but exercise — for the duration of your class.


Even the best fitness app will only take you so far. If you’re interested in creating a successful home workout routine — and sticking to it — you might have to overcome some of the following challenges:




Healthy Hospitality Spread cheer, not germs, at your holiday gatherings BY CINDY KUZMA


uch has changed in 2020 — including the definition of a good host or hostess. As you plan holiday soirées, aim to minimize the risk of spreading COVID-19 while preserving the seasonal spirit of connection, says Shanina Knighton, an infection prevention specialist at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. It all starts by defining naughty and nice. In other words, plan your safety measures ahead of time, then clearly inform guests of your preventative protocols. Here, experts offer advice on preventing disease while maintaining social graces:


MAKE A LIST AND CHECK IT TWICE Consult state and local guidelines on the size of gatherings and don’t exceed limits, says Angela Clendenin, assistant professor at the Texas A&M University School of Public Health. Think carefully about inviting people at high risk of developing serious complications from COVID-19, including older adults and those with pre-existing health conditions; include them virtually instead. Check in with guests a few days ahead of time to see how they’re feeling and politely restate safety measures.

KEEP PEACE ON EARTH Your guests may not all be practicing the same strategies at home, but at your gathering, your rules apply. To avoid feeling like you’re policing partygoers, communicate your principles graciously, with a touch of humor. Emphasize that you’re taking these steps to celebrate safely. Hovik Harutyunyan, an events planner and etiquette specialist in Los Angeles, suggests spelling out your wishes on your invites: “Let’s party like it’s 2020! We ask that guests please wear a mask; we will provide one if you don’t have one.”

PUT PPE UNDER THE TREE Protective gear can double as gifts or party favors, says Harutyunyan. Hand out holiday-themed hand sanitizer, festive face masks and alcohol wipes in pretty packages. Stock the bathroom with a decorated spray bottle filled with a solution of one part hydrogen peroxide or rubbing alcohol and equal parts water. A spritz in the air will neutralize any lingering virus droplets, Knighton says.

APPOINT SOME SANTA’S HELPERS Charge family members or trusted guests with important safety-related tasks. One can periodically

wipe down doorknobs with alcohol wipes, Knighton suggests. Another could put on gloves and masks, then pre-plate individual servings of food. That’s safer than open buffets, where guests might linger and deposit droplets on the dishes. (If you’re ordering in or catering, request individually wrapped servings.)

REIN IN THOSE HOLIDAY SPIRITS ... Avoid open bars where guests can pour their own beverages, recommends Harutyunyan. Instead, offer premade, low-proof signature cocktails in recyclable, single-serve bottles. You’ll reduce the odds of guests lingering together while choosing a mixer — and also reduce the chances they’ll overserve themselves and get sloppy with safety measures, Knighton says. Also, have bottled sodas and water available.

... BUT KEEP THE MOOD MERRY AND BRIGHT Holidays often exacerbate mental health issues, and many have spent months focused on what they’ve lost, Clendenin says. By providing creative ways to spread cheer — from outdoor holiday movies to socially distanced games — you can go a long way toward truly making this the most wonderful time of a very strange year.





SAFE AND SANITIZED While new data suggests that catching coronaviruses from surfaces is unlikely, here are some environmentally friendly products that will help make your home clean and inviting for your holiday guests:


Angry Orange is an all-natural odor neutralizer that removes pet smells from carpets and other surfaces. Made from orange peels, it’s nontoxic and pet-safe. u$22.97,



Humble Suds is a line of mineral- and plantbased products with five or fewer ingredients and no synthetic fragrances. u$14.95 to 21.95,


The nontoxic Pure Clean Bath Stone cleaning block, made with recycled materials, removes buildup from hard water, soap scum, rust and mold. u$4.99, bedbathand


Veo ActiveProbiotics Surface Cleaner busts up dirt and grime — even embedded in surface cracks — and it’s 99 percent biodegradable. u$8.99,



— Pam George





Instead of buying new bottles, slip a refill into the Casabella’s Infuse spray mop, a nontoxic hardwood cleaning system. u$29.99 for the mop kit,






Visit or call 800-547-3033 and save 15% with code HOLIDAY2020 Share with us online using #ShareMore

*Save 15% on your Harry & David product purchase when you place your order either online at or by phone at 800-547-3033 and enter or mention coupon code HOLIDAY2020. Product purchase is exclusive of taxes and shipping and processing charges, and excludes sale, discounted, and clearance-priced items as well as the purchase of gift cards and wine products. Shipping and processing charges are based on the regular price of merchandise. Not valid with other offers or coupons, and cannot be applied to previous purchases or in-store purchases. Not valid on orders of $2,500 or more; for orders of $2,500 or more, contact the Corporate Sales division at 800-248-5567 for applicable discounts or promotions. Void where prohibited by law. Not valid if transferred, copied, purchased, sold, or bartered. No cash value. Offer valid through January 15, 2021. Harry & David is a registered trademark and DBA of Harry and David, LLC. Š 2020 Harry and David, LLC All rights reserved.


Work Wise Hot picks to perk up your home office BY KRISTEN SEYMOUR


ake working from home work for you with striking touches and the right tech tools for your office away from the office.

1 2

Have a seat without sacrificing an ounce of style with the Flynn task chair, available in several eye-catching colors. u$215,


Keeping your workstation clean is one super-cute duty with the Allydrew portable mini vacuum cleaner. u$10.99,



3 4

Give your office a burst of color with this bright, bold and beautiful pink Bajo desk. u$699, 4





Upgrade your coffee break with the Hamilton Beach 2-Way Flex Brew single-serve coffee maker. u$99,


Do anything, anywhere.

High performance in a thin and light package These days, you never know where you ll be working. t a mere . 5 pounds and only . inches thin, bringing the wift anywhere is a bree e and with up to 1 hours of battery life you can work, play, or stream without reaching for your charger. The virtually borderless, 1 D P display engulfs your senses, while the new ntel ore i Processor delivers all the power and performance you need. ntel ore i Processor ntel ris e raphics Windows 1 ome

Ultrathin, ll etal Design 1 D P Display Up to 1 ours of Battery ife*

cer merica orporation. ll rights reserved. cer and the cer logo are registered trademarks of cer nc. ther trademarks, registered trademarks, and or service marks, indicated or otherwise, are the property of their respective owners. dvanced icro Devices, nc. ll rights reserved. D, the D rrow logo, y en, adeon, and combinations thereof are trademarks of dvanced icro Devices, nc. ther names are for informational purposes only and may be trademarks of their respective owners. *Battery life varies depending on power settings and usage. Based on Ultrathin laptop processors, defined as 15W typical TDP.



Keep notes, reminders and your favorite pictures close at hand with this adorable rainbow corkboard. u$30.99,



Display your favorite odds and ends with this Split Stump shelf. u$48 to $58,


You’ll never need a virtual Zoom background with the Brewster Home Fashions Amazonia wall mural. u$199.99, 10



This Belkin wireless charger makes it simple to keep your devices and accessories ready at all times. u$29.99,

9 9


The mySun desk lamp mixes six colors to automatically provide the perfect light based on the season and time of day. u$249 to $289,






Go from sitting to standing in seconds with the Vari electric standing desk. u$550,


Inspired Chef Tanya Holland’s ingredients for success BY MICHELLE WASHINGTON


hen it comes to ambition, Tanya Holland is a triple threat: She’s an accomplished chef, author and entrepreneur. She’s the owner and executive chef of Brown Sugar Kitchen in Oakland, Calif., and penned Brown Sugar Kitchen: New-Style, Down-Home Recipes From Sweet West Oakland and New Soul Cooking: Updating a Cuisine Rich in Flavor and Tradition. Holland has competed on Bravo’s Top Chef, was the host and soul food expert on Food Network’s Melting Pot and appears on the new HBO Max show Selena + Chef featuring singer and actress Selena Gomez. On her weekly Tanya’s Table podcast, Holland and guests engage listeners with a variety



of food and culture topics. Holland holds a Bachelor of Arts in Russian language and literature from the University of Virginia, and a Grande Diplôme from École de Cuisine La Varenne in Burgundy, France. As a chef, she trained with Michel Sarran at Le Mas Du Langoustier and Jean-Michel Bouvier at Restaurant L’Essentiel in France and worked for two years with celebrity chef Bobby Flay at Mesa Grill in Las Vegas. Here, she discusses her career and inspirations and offers some tips for success:

DO YOU HAVE A PERSONAL MANTRA THAT GUIDES YOU? Yes! Make things happen with grace and ease.

WHAT MOTIVATED YOU TO PURSUE BECOMING A CHEF? I’ve always liked to take care of people and bring them together. Being a chef is one of the ways I’m able to achieve both of those at the same time. Cooking is also one of the few artistic expressions with immediate gratification.

WHAT ARE THREE HIGHLIGHTS OF YOUR LIFE SO FAR? 1. Going to cooking school in France was life-changing. 2. The opening of my first restaurant in 2008. 3. When the city of Oakland (Calif.) named June 5, 2012, Tanya Holland Day.



It means that I am independent, resourceful and always make time for sisterhood and self-care.

WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR WOMEN TO PURSUE THEIR DREAMS? Stay focused, write down goals and intentions and talk to as many successful people as you can about your journey.

Blackened catfish

I believe it’s important to keep learning new things and growing. I love being busy and connecting with people, always.”

Oyster po’boy


Sounds Like



By Shameika Rhymes



Jordin Sparks whips up new music, love and gratitude


O BE SURE, 2020 HAS delivered unprecedented challenges: a global pandemic, heightened tensions around issues of social justice and off-the-charts political discord across the U.S., just to name a few. This trifecta alone has affected people in immeasurable ways — good and bad. But for Grammy-nominated singer and songwriter Jordin Sparks, the last several months have been a positive period of self-reflection and grounding. “For me personally, I’ve been traveling for the last 13 years, so it’s been nice to have a home life and really invest in this time with my family,” says Sparks. “So I’m in a very happy place. It’s not lost on me that it’s not like that for everybody during a global pandemic, but I’m content.” Amid swirling uncertainty in the entertainment industry as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the American Idol winner and actress has returned to her musical roots with a new album, her first in five years. >



husband and DJ, and my team.” 40



FINDING HER HAPPY PLACE HEN IT COMES TO HER SINGing career, Sparks is intentional about the moves she makes, and that includes not forcing things and letting the music come when it’s supposed to. “The company I was working for went bankrupt ... so after that I took a break. I wanted to work because I wanted to, not

because I had to,” Sparks says. Taking time off and relishing family life and self-care has been her priority, but it was her husband who encouraged her to get back in the studio. “Dana really helped me pick up the pieces when I just didn’t feel like doing music,” Sparks says. “He basically opened me up again to help me love music again because I always wanted to sing, but the process got really muddled along the way.” After a five-year hiatus, Sparks released a new EP, Sounds Like Me, in June. This time around, however, she had to juggle mommy duties. “I’m tired, but it’s so worth it, and I do it like the other women around the world,” she explains. “We’re super women; we just do it. We figure out how to be a wife, a mom, and still try to achieve our goals.” She would often take her son to the studio while she was working. “DJ would come with me, and we just stayed in a family dynamic. It’s been interesting, but I honestly can’t remember how I did it before, like what was life before DJ or my husband? My life completely shifted in a new space, and I love it,” Sparks adds. That shift started before she met her husband and included finding her happy place. “I’ve always been a person that sees the bright side of every situation, and I have a really optimistic attitude, and I’ve been happy before. I’ve also had dark times too (Sparks grieved publicly when she lost two close friends to a car accident and two family members to illness in one week in January 2018, and her stepfather died last May after suffering a stroke). But I feel like you don’t need a significant other to make you happy. You should have so much love for yourself,


“I’m grateful for my health, and my

In 2007, Sparks earned household name status at the age of 17 when she became the youngest winner in American Idol history in the show’s sixth season. Her subsequent self-titled debut album went platinum, selling more than 2 million copies worldwide, and in 2008 she was nominated for a Grammy for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals for No Air, making the single the third-highest-selling single by an American Idol contestant. She has sold more than 10 million digital tracks and earned songwriting credits and a BMI (Broadcast Music Inc.) award for co-writing Ariana Grande’s The Way. In 2015, she released her third full-length studio album titled Right Here Right Now. Sparks has also appeared on Broadway, first in 2010 in the musical In the Heights and Waitress, in 2019. For her film debut, she starred opposite Whitney Houston in Sparkle in 2012 and was featured on the film’s soundtrack. The 30-year-old Arizona native has added personal credits to her résumé, including marrying Dana Isaiah Thomas and giving birth to her son Dana Junior (DJ), 2. She’s also staying busy whipping up new baking recipes on her show Heart of the Batter on CLEO TV.

and the people in your life fill you up in addition to all the good things you have going on for yourself already. So that’s where I found my happiness. Then, Dana appeared in my life, and it was like seeing in HD. I was already in a happy place working on myself and in therapy for different things ... and then DJ was born, and it was like seeing even more colors in my life,” Sparks gushes. The couple met through their mothers. Sparks was knocked off her feet the moment she opened the door and saw the fitness model. “We started out as platonic friends, but I knew that second day that he was going to be my husband, but I didn’t tell him that,” she laughs. They eloped in Hawaii in 2017 among friends.


In an appearance on Fox’s I Can See Your Voice, Jordin Sparks performed her 2007 hit song No Air along with one of the show’s performers.

Sparks showcases her culinary chops and bakes up her favorite sweet treats on Heart of the Batter.



EING ON STAGE PERFORMING night after night is one thing, but being the star of the kitchen is something else Sparks has discovered is right up her alley. Her love for baking was inspired by her upbringing and prompted Heart of the Batter, produced by diverse women-focused media and entertainment company Kin Community. It initially aired on YouTube before heading to CLEO TV. On the show, Sparks shares her favorite recipes inspired by her childhood experiences. “My mom and nana (grandmother) were always baking. I really love Christmas because there are baked goods everywhere in any home that you go to,” Sparks says. “I still don’t know how my nana does it, but every year she ends up with a whole kitchen island covered in fudge, candies, cakes, caramel popcorn, pies and cookies.” >

Sparks made her film debut in the 2012 remake of Sparkle, which also featured the late Whitney Houston, who played her mother.



“I’m in a very happy place ... I’m content.”


For Sparks, baking is peaceful and it centers her. “I take forever to bake something because I like to take my time, but at the heart of it, it’s family. The feeling I get when I bake and someone takes a bite and they say they love it ... it’s the same feeling I get when I give someone a song and they tell me that they love it. It’s that feeling of doing something for somebody else and it just makes you happy,” says Sparks. Creating interesting combinations of baked goods is something that drew her attention to baking, like making strawberry moscato cupcakes or single-serve mug cakes. She has learned that her son doesn’t share her affinity for sweet treats. “He doesn’t like baked goods,” she groans. “I have to restrain myself from baking sometimes, because there’s nobody to eat it.”




PARKS’ DEC. 22 BIRTHDAY makes the holidays extra special, but the reason for the season goes beyond her turning another year older. “I love the kindness, cheer and the willingness to go all out for other people during the holidays. I love spending time with family because in a career such as mine where I’m traveling so much, I always say after Dec. 20, I’m off; don’t call me until next year, I’m with my family and that’s how I have always been,” she says. Now that she has her own family, she plans to start holiday traditions that her toddler will remember. “I want to bring in something from my family and that’s the white elephant gift exchange when DJ gets older and (he) can swap gifts because

it’s a lot of fun.” The holidays wouldn’t be the holidays without music, Sparks says. “I also want to keep in the Christmas carols tradition. My grandpa did it the modern way ... he had a convertible so he would put me in the back, put the top down and we drove around blasting music and singing.” Introducing her son to her favorite holiday movies is another thing Sparks is looking forward to. “On Thanksgiving eve, we’ll be watching Elf since the holiday season officially starts. I also love watching The Grinch during the holidays,” the singer says. As far as presents, Sparks loves gifting experiences throughout the year. “The best gift I have ever given is to my nana. I went to Australia one year and she came with me. She had a pen pal there that she had never met, so she was able to meet her, and that was really special.” Looking ahead to 2021, Sparks isn’t one to write down a list of resolutions, but working on her inner self is a goal. “I give myself a key word for the year. One year it was ‘shift’ ... being able to shift when I need to shift or move when I need to,” she says. “I really just try to find a word that I can take with me throughout the whole year.” Gratitude is a sentiment that becomes prevalent during the holiday season, but it is something that Sparks reflects on year-round. “I’m grateful that my family is healthy and happy. I’m grateful for a place to call home, and it may be messy,” Sparks says with a laugh as she is perched on a pile of laundry that needs to be folded. “But it’s a safe space that’s full of love. I’m grateful for my health, and my husband and DJ, and my team.” l

Giving Back Sparks considers philanthropy an integral part of her life and uses her platform as a celebrity to support many charities, including Partnership for a Healthier America, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, VH1 Save The Music Foundation and The M.A.D. (Making A Difference) Girls, a nonprofit created in 2009 by her mother, Jodi Sparks, and Nichet Smith.


Dreaming Christmas Infuse your holidays with eco-friendly strategies






ne of the lessons the COVID-19 pandemic has driven home is that the Earth truly is fragile, and our impact — big and small, positive and negative — makes a difference. This holiday season, strive to reduce your environmental footprint with an eco-friendly approach. How? It starts with the right mindset — and going back to the basics. “When you’re thinking about greener holidays, go back to reduce, reuse and recycle,” says Darby Hoover, senior resource specialist at Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). While the upcoming holidays might indeed look different this year, this might be the perfect time to celebrate in more mindful ways and start eco-friendly traditions to help protect our planet.

RETHINK YOUR HOLIDAY MEALS Keep the three R’s of sustainability in mind when planning the holiday meals you’ll be making. According to the NRDC, Americans waste about 40 percent of our food supply. “We throw away about 80 billion pounds of food every year in the U.S. alone,” says

Stephanie Wear, senior scientist and strategy adviser at The Nature Conservancy (TNC). Food waste is a problem year-round, but the holidays can present special challenges. Wear suggests thinking more about sustainability, knowing the choices you make really do affect the environment. Her advice? Choose foods that don’t create a lot of greenhouse gas emissions in their production, common in the meat industry, and a big issue regarding climate change. “Tradition is really important at the holidays, so don’t give them up,” says Wear. “But make meat less of an item on the menu.” For instance, beef or pork might show up on the menu as the centerpiece of your holiday feast, but don’t make it the mainstay at every meal. Perhaps make ham the focal point of your Christmas Day meal but choose pasta or another meatless dish for Christmas Eve dinner. Worried about wasting food but not sure how much to purchase for your holiday crowd? Hoover suggests using NRDC’s free Guest-imator tool ( “We have tools that help us produce, consume, shop and store food in ways that wastes less,” explains Hoover. This free tool walks you through what you’re

planning to serve, whether you want leftovers, whether your guests are light or heavy eaters, and then helps you figure out how much food to purchase. Regardless of what’s on the menu, shop local for your holiday meals and festivities. Buying local supports area farmers, bakers and artisan food makers (think cheese, jams, honey). Plus, because local food doesn’t travel thousands of miles to get to your home, it reduces greenhouse gasproducing fossil fuels used in transportation.

GET SMART WITH YOUR DECORATIONS If you love the twinkling of festive lights adorning your tree and home during the holidays, consider using LED lights. According to the Department of Energy, LED lights consume roughly 75 percent less energy and last 25 times longer than traditional incandescent lighting. Plus, they’re safe (less heat emitted equals reduced risk of fire) and sturdy (made of epoxy lenses, not glass so they’re less likely to break). The greenest choice, says Wear, is to stick with the lights you already have if they still work. “It’s not environmentally friendly to buy new lights if your old ones still work,” she says. “But make a better >


BUY (OR RENT) A REAL CHRISTMAS TREE If you’re deciding between a live tree or an artificial tree, what’s the greener choice? You might be surprised. According to TNC, real Christmas trees are better for the environment than artificial ones. While chemical-laden plastic trees might last longer, they require intensive carbon emissions to manufacture and ship, with most of them (nearly 90 percent) coming



from China. (If you’ve already got an artificial tree, keep using it as long as possible to keep it out of the landfill.) “People should feel really good about getting a live tree,” says Wear. “But it’s not intuitive because people think they’re killing a tree.” In reality, the tree is usually cut when it’s about 7 years old. During that time, the tree helps purify the air we breathe, protect the land and provide habitats for animals. Also, for every tree purchased, farmers plant one to three seedlings in its place, says the National Christmas Tree Association, making it a renewable resource. If you’re going to buy a real tree (think Douglas fir or Scotch pine), buy local, which reduces the carbon footprint of transporting the tree from afar. After the holidays, recycle your tree. (Check whether your local municipality offers a holiday tree recycling program. Some even offer curbside pickup.) You can also adopt or rent a living potted Christmas tree from companies such as Rent a Christmas Tree, The Living Christmas Company and Social Greenery’s Green Tree Project. This allows you to savor the unmistakable scent of a real tree with less fuss and care. After Christmas, simply return the tree for repotting and, eventually, replanting in a permanent location. Although these rental companies currently deliver to limited geographic areas, you might find a local Christmas tree farm that also offers rental options.

REIMAGINE YOUR GIFTING Instead of giving packaged goods, which will need to be wrapped

and possibly shipped, give recipients experiences such as memberships (to museums or zoos), tickets (to movies or plays), classes (to yoga or cooking sessions) or entrance fees (to national parks or tourist attractions). “We gave a friend tickets to an online performance for a theater that had to pivot and figure out how to make money virtually,” says Hoover, noting it’s a great way to support businesses trying to stay viable when gathering in large groups is difficult because of the pandemic. “This is an interesting, fun way to look at what’s happening right now and still give something meaningful.” Fordham celebrates the holidays with her husband and daughter as well as their extended families. About 10 years ago, she persuaded relatives to forego traditional holiday gift-giving for the adults in favor of a white elephant gift-trading game. They imposed a $15 limit on purchasing a gift and drew numbers to determine the order of people selecting gifts. “The person going first gets to pick a gift, and the next person can steal that gift or choose another and so on,” explains Fordham. “There’s a real point (of pride for choosing a gift that everyone wants.”


choice when you have the option.” Besides energy-efficient lights, consider DIY decorations. That’s what Sari Fordham of Riverside, Calif., does. “The more environmentally friendly ornaments are made from what we already have in the house,” notes Fordham, who often uses felt, old maps or damaged books. She also creates lovely keepsake ornaments by taking a small toy a child has outgrown (such as a dinosaur), gluing a little Santa hat and ribbon to it, and giving it to the child. “The toys belonged to my nephews,” says Fordham. “They’re teens now and were pretty taken with seeing their old toys as Christmas ornaments.”

Get creative with gift giving — even when you’re on the receiving end. Instead of relatives showering her then 2-year-old son with lots of toys, Wear encouraged them to write a letter about their lives, sharing memories and wisdom along the way.



If all decorative light strings sold in the United States were ENERGY STAR certified, the energy cost savings would amount to about

$850 MILLION each year and

9.9 BILLION POUNDS of annual greenhouse gas emissions would be prevented, equivalent to the emissions from


While gatherings with family and friends might be smaller this year, you might still be hosting a holiday dinner or Christmas party. Tempted to use Styrofoam plates and plastic cutlery to make cleanup easier? Just say no when it comes to single-use items. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the United States generated more than 35 million tons of plastic in 2017 and only 8.4 percent of it was recycled. The bulk of plastics ends up in landfills or as pollution on land and in our waterways. If you’re wary about bringing out the good china and silver for your festivities, stock up on an extra set of cutlery, glassware and dishes. You can grab an inexpensive set at a thrift shop or look for sales at a discount department store. And ditch the disposable plastic table covering, too. Just keep an inexpensive fabric tablecloth on hand to be used for parties and toss it in the wash afterward. With an eco-conscious shift in your thinking and by utilizing some of these sustainable tips, you’ll be well on your way to making this a truly green Christmas for your family — and the Earth. l

Environmental Charities to Support this Holiday Season You might have a holiday tradition of giving to nonprofits. Or, as an alternative to giving family and friends more “stuff,” you might donate to charities in their name. Take a green approach to your giving this year. Consider donating to one of the many local nonprofits that support your own community environment or a charitable organization with a broader mission to protect our planet. CENTER FOR BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY Works to secure a future for all species hovering on the brink of extinction. • GREEN AMERICA Aims to harness economic power — the strength of consumers, investors, businesses and the marketplace — to create a just and environmentally sustainable society. • NATURAL RESOURCES DEFENSE COUNCIL Works to ensure the rights of all people to clean air, clean water and healthy communities. • THE NATURE CONSERVANCY Develops policies to protect land and water, provides food and water sustainability, and builds healthy cities. • WATER FOR PEOPLE Helps people bring clean water and sanitation solutions to their communities for generations to come. • — Lisa A. Beach



Nora Herwick




after the COVID-19 pandemic reached crisis levels and quarantines were in full force

across the country, a phrase began to circulate referring to frontline workers such as medical and emergency professionals: Not all superheroes wear capes. People like doctors, nurses, EMTs and other first responders have worked tirelessly to battle the coronavirus epidemic, but less visible and unheralded heroes also have emerged, doing what they could to ease friends. These are the stories of four women who stepped up and brought a bright light to otherwise challenging circumstances: >




the crisis for their neighbors, co-workers and


Caring champions emerge to help others

Nora Herwick


during the COVID-19 pandemic



TAMILIKIA “T.T.” FOSTER is the type of labor and delivery nurse who doesn’t stop caring when her shift ends. She says she’s “auntie’’ to many of the babies she’s helped deliver, stays in touch with their families and attends their birthday parties. She’s also auntie to her co-workers at McLaren Greater Lansing Hospital in Lansing, Mich., and she was troubled to see morale plummet when the pandemic struck. “People were really depressed,” recalls Foster, 49. “They were scared, crying, wanting to quit, and they were angry that nobody was taking this seriously.” Foster noticed that while doctors and nurses were hailed as heroes for their efforts during the crisis, housekeepers, lab and X-ray technicians, security guards, and maintenance and shipping and receiving workers — all essential staff who kept the hospital humming — were overlooked. So, Auntie T.T. picked up a pen. “I can pull people in with my words,” says Foster, who is also a poet and activist. During off hours and work breaks, she wrote scores of letters to corporations and organizations requesting donations to honor the “silent frontline” workers at McLaren. Within weeks, nonprofit charitable organization

Operation Gratitude coordinated shipment of two freight trucks full of materials — $22,000 in hygiene items, Starbucks coffee, Girl Scout cookies, Liquid I.V. hydration supplements and more. Luxury lockable bag maker Cartwright and telecommunications company Figgers Communications donated masks. High Brew sent coffee drinks and brownies arrived from the Vermont Brownie Company. Foster gathered enough donations to create 1,500 gift bags — twice as many as she hoped for — allowing her to deliver gifts throughout the hospital and to five local homeless shelters. Her co-workers’ grateful tears and hugs were her reward, she says. “I did it to see them smile,” Foster says. “I did it to build morale and let them know that we are in this together.” Foster has no plans to make more gift bags, but she does whatever she can to have a positive impact on her world, she says. For example, during summer protests against racism, she organized a sit-in with performers and speakers. “I don’t know how long I have on this Earth,” Foster explains. “I need my (time) to mean something so that when I’m gone, I meant something at every moment (and) that I could mean something to someone.”




Tamilikia Foster



Nora Herwick

WHEN NORA HERWICK was about 8 years old, her mom worked a second job as a seamstress and tried to teach her daughter to sew. “She made me learn,” recalls Herwick, 45, a Navy veteran and Air Force spouse living in Dayton, Ohio. “When I was little, I hated everything about it.” She eventually became an avid quilter, and those early lessons came in handy when the pandemic hit. Herwick put aside quilting projects to sew face masks for whoever needed them. First, she sewed for her husband and his coworkers. Her prototype, using fabric from one of her husband’s old Air Force uniforms, was too difficult to breathe through. Fortunately, quilters always have a stack of fabric stashed away, she says. After Herwick modeled one of her creations on Facebook, requests began to pour in. She sewed for friends, relatives, local merchants, a cancer center and college kids returning to school. She made them free of charge, but when people insisted, she’d accept a donation to cover materials or an item of barter in exchange. After sewing 500 masks, she stopped counting. The spread of the coronavirus upended Herwick’s family life. Her 21-year-old daughter returned from

college in March; her 17-year-old special needs son was learning online at home; and relocation for her husband’s new job was indefinitely postponed. “I was feeling so out of control and so helpless,” she recalls. Making masks for others gave her a productive focus. A marathon runner, Herwick often rises at 5 a.m. to squeeze in a run, handle household duties and assist her son before cutting, piecing and sewing masks for three to four hours. Colorful fabrics help break the routine. Lightning bolts decorated masks for an electrician and his crew. Spider webs and candy corn fabric celebrate Halloween. Fabric with trains delights her son, and for friends with a sense of humor, she used material with images of toilet paper, viruses and microbes. The masks feature two layers of cotton fabric and a pocket to add a filter. Instead of ear loops, elastic ties run behind the head and neck, a design bonus for her son, who was born with only one ear. She doesn’t consider what she’s doing to be heroic, or even unusual. As long as there’s a demand, she’ll keep sewing, she says. “I’m glad I have the chance to do it,” Herwick says. “I’m grateful to my mom for giving me the skills. I did not know I would use them in this way, but I’m grateful.”



Alice DiBiase Deakins

Especially for those older than 65 or with underlying health conditions, prescription deliveries were critical, DiBiase Deakins says. About 20 officers have participated in deliveries, including the police chief, but DiBiase Deakins runs the program and makes most deliveries, she says. She dons a mask and gloves and spends up to 10 hours of her off-duty time each week visiting pharmacies and dropping prescriptions safely outside front doors. While she strives for contact-free service, seniors often want to invite her in for tea or give a grateful hug. DiBiase Deakins finds it difficult not to hug back. “When they’re in tears and thanking us up and down and thanking God that we were sent to them today, it’s very touching,” she says. Requests to the department have declined recently, but the department will keep delivering as long as seniors continue to call, DiBiase Deakins adds. “I know it did a lot of good for them, but in turn it did a lot of good for us also,” she says.




IN AN ERA WHEN “defund the police” is a rallying cry, Officer Alice DiBiase Deakins of the Rockledge, Fla., police department, is moved to tears when senior citizens thank her for personally delivering their medications during the coronavirus pandemic. “It blows my mind how such a small task has such a great reward,” says DiBiase Deakins, 52, a 17-year veteran of the department who created its prescription delivery program in early April to help housebound seniors. Rockledge is a throwback to simpler times, a town where the police department believes that “no call is too small,” DiBiase Deakins says. So, when many seniors called the department saying they were too nervous to leave home to go to the pharmacy during the pandemic, DiBiase Deakins devised a volunteer effort to help. DiBiase Deakins’ mother is 87 and lives on her property, so she empathizes with the nearly 22 percent of Rockledge residents who are senior citizens, according to the 2010 census. Many are from out of state and have no relatives nearby to rely on.


AT 5:20 A.M., CRYSTAL Perry-Grant opens the door of her family child care center in Perris, Calif., to welcome the morning’s first client, a 3-month-old boy whose dad serves in the Air Force. It’s a punctual start to her 12-hour day. While a survey by the Bipartisan Policy Center and Morning Consult found that more than half of U.S. child care centers closed their doors at some point during the pandemic, Perry-Grant kept her 17-year-old business open. Most of the children she serves are elementary or middle school students whose parents are essential workers — firefighters, nurses and UPS workers. They’ve worked throughout the pandemic, and when school started in the fall, they weren’t home to oversee online lessons. So, instead of caring for most children before and after school hours as she normally would, PerryGrant transformed her playroom into a one-room schoolhouse to accommodate remote learning for 11 students at seven grade levels. She set up a dozen desks and invested in headphones for everyone so that a student who is rehearsing a play won’t be too distracted by one doing push-ups for gym class.

“They’re doing jumping jacks with headphones on. It’s a madhouse,” she says. Perry-Grant keeps everyone on task while watching the baby and a few toddlers. Even on hot California days, she sometimes feeds the children lunch of homemade soup spiced with cilantro, mint and garlic to help build their immune systems. As months passed and the virus persisted, Perry-Grant tried to take care of parents, as well as their children, she says. She shared her stock of toilet paper and cleaning supplies that became scarce during the pandemic and texted parents extra photos of their kids throughout the day to lift their spirits. “I’m just trying to encourage everyone, because you can tell, people are down right now — even working people,” she says. Perry-Grant says she has never worried about contracting the coronavirus herself, and so far, she believes healthy soups and lots of prayer — not to mention masks and sanitizing — have helped all her families stay healthy. “I was praying a lot,” she says. “We pray in the morning, at night, we just pray, pray, pray.” l




Crystal Nora Perry-Grant Herwick


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’ Tis the Season


At this time of year, family ties, charitable service and gratitude come into focus. Read on for inspiration.



Return of the Road Trip Escape the pandemic and discover the freedom of the open highways BY JENNIFER BRADLEY FRANKLIN

Though driving for a vacation never interested her before, Los Angeles-based mom of two and podcast host Jennifer Cohen took an 11-day road trip in summer 2020. “I wanted my kids to have a life experience that they could remember outside of the fact that there was this pandemic going on,” she says. The family took a luxury recreational vehicle to Las Vegas; the Grand Canyon; Moab, Utah; and Telluride, Colo. While they planned their overnight stops, she and her husband gave



themselves the flexibility to find treasures along the way. They ran along the “Forrest Gump hill” near Monument Valley in Utah, went whitewater rafting, zip lining and visited an alpaca farm. “There was a lot of spontaneity,” she says. Since some travelers have concerns about staying in hotels, camping or bringing lodging with you is an attractive solution. In a study released in June, the RV Industry Association found that 46 million Americans plan to take an RV trip in the next 12 months,

up from 25 million in 2019. As of Sept. 1, RVshare, a peer-to-peer RV rental service, has booked 1 million days in the last year, doubling the company’s seven-year booking total in 13 months. Even though Keryn Means is a self-described “flier versus driver” when it comes to vacations, she embraced driving as a more sensible way to travel in 2020. “Driving allows you to have a bit more control over the people you come into contact with, as well as what you will see and do,” says the


ALLISON ANDREWS HAD BIG plans for 2020. “I was supposed to visit 50 places I’d never been the same year I turned 50,” says the Mooresville, N.C.-based television producer. “(The pandemic) hit and trip number eight was cut short as I rushed back from Paris and Geneva.” Instead, she adjusted her plans to discover closer, drivable destinations. She’s not alone: According to a travel trends survey by Skift, 41 percent of respondents say their first post-COVID-19 trip will be by car to a destination less than 100 miles from home. Another 26 percent say they would travel more than 100 miles from home by car; only 16 percent say they would travel on a plane. As a result, the “Great American Road Trip” is primed for a resurgence.

TRIP TOOLKIT Set yourself up for on-the-go success

Allison Andrews

Jennifer Cohen

Don’t worry, get appy. Use mobile apps to make reservations and navigate unfamiliar roads. Google Maps lets you chart routes to multiple destinations. PayTollo calculates toll amounts and initiates no-contact payment, and HotelTonight finds available rooms on the fly.

Health and hygiene. Stock your car with hand sanitizer — just as with soap and water, sanitizer should be used for 20 seconds — and anti-bacterial wipes for those moments when soap and water aren’t available.


Keryn Means

Silver Spring, Md.-based mom of two, who writes about her adventures on her blog, Walking on Travels. She’s driven her SUV on a 10-day trip to North Dakota and to New Hampshire for two weeks, and the family has plans to drive to Florida and possibly cross-country to California before the end of the year. “One of the challenges of road tripping is time. If it takes you two or three days to drive somewhere you really want to explore, that’s four to six days of driving round trip that you will have to factor into your planning,” Means says. However, she notes, the advantages include last-minute hotel deals, no baggage limits and the ability to take a detour to anything that piques your curiosity along the route.

For Andrews, though she was disappointed she had to cancel her far-flung journeys to Italy, Iceland and Athens, Greece (though she and a friend plan to visit Athens, Ga., instead), the shift to road trips has yielded some unexpected joys. “North Carolina has some beautiful places I can’t believe I have never visited before, especially after living here for over 20 years,” she says. She’s embraced the chance to explore and has discovered experiences including a sunset sail at Wrightsville Beach and a stay in a renovated train caboose in Clyde. “The experience has reminded me that so often we take for granted some of the places that are closer to home,” she says.

Snack well. Packing favorite snacks and drinks can help minimize the need to stop. When you do need a break and a meal, look for outdoor dining spots and try to eat at off-peak times when restaurants are less crowded.

Entertainment center. Download podcasts, music and audiobooks ahead of time, so a poor cellular signal or lack of Wi-Fi on the road won’t keep you (or your children) from staying engaged. Or, go old school with printed I Spy and bingo sheets. — Jennifer Bradley Franklin


| M E E T A M O D E R N WO M A N



What is your personal travel motto? Travel, but travel mindfully.

Best gift you’ve ever received? My mother gave me a gold Jerusalem cross from Bethlehem in the Holy Land that I wear every single day.

What do the holidays mean to you? A time to learn, a time to get out of your comfort zone and a time to observe and reflect on your surroundings. A time for gratitude. Where’s home for the holidays? Christmas in Michigan is always a favorite for me. What’s your favorite holiday film? Miracle on 34th Street

Favorite memorable excursion? Seeing my mother’s eyes light up when she first saw the fjords in Norway; it was almost as if she was a little child again. She doesn’t get a chance to travel much, so whenever I can bring her on a trip with me, I do. There is no better gift than the gift of experience.



Dame Traveler

ravel writer and photographer Nastasia Yakoub launched the Dame Traveler blog in 2014 to chronicle her adventures and empower women to pursue solo travel. She now has nearly 600,000 Instagram followers who track her worldwide pursuits. Yakoub’s book Dame Traveler: Live the Spirit of Adventure features safety tips and photos with insights from more than 200 female travelers. Yakoub says women should feel empowered to not only experience travel, but to do it alone if necessary. “Society has fueled us with fear into thinking that we’re not capable of traveling the world alone and that we should wait for others,” she says. “I’ve traveled to over 67 countries, many of which were solo trips (and I’m 5-foot-1 and 101 pounds!) and I did so safely, while acquiring street smarts along the way.” — Michelle Washington



What advice would you give a woman contemplating solo travel? Don’t travel impulsively. Be prepared, research the country, be aware of your surroundings while still enjoying the journey and the destination. Solo travel as a woman isn’t impossible, but it’s also important to be safe. If you could only ever venture to one place, where would it be and why? Italy. It’s my soul country. I’ve been going back every year since 2011, and I still haven’t seen it all.




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Bringing Back Breakfast Families reconnect over morning meals during the pandemic

I DISTINCTLY REMEMBER WAKING up one morning in the beginning of the pandemic feeling lost. Unsure of what day it was, I rolled over to say good morning to my husband, only to discover that he had left the bed and found his way to the kitchen to make pancakes. I brought my 1-year-old to the kitchen table, and the three of us shared laughs in between bites. It was a stressful time, but we found a silver lining, and bonding over breakfast quickly became the new normal. Monica Sunny, the founder of Atlanta-based tea company The Chai Box, can relate. She has sons in three different high schools. “Our morning routine was very chaotic pretty much every day, except Sundays when we didn’t have games,” she explains. Most days, Sunny would make her sons’ breakfast, but they would rotate in and out of the kitchen throughout the morning. Sundays, though, were for family breakfasts. “I guess what changed is every day became like a Sunday breakfast almost for us, which was really, really nice,” says Sunny.



Registered dietitian Lauren Manaker calls Charleston, S.C., home and juggles a nutrition consulting business with raising her young daughter. Before March, they would rush out of the door with granola bars and eat them in the car. While the pandemic hasn’t allowed them to have long, leisurely breakfasts, it has given Manaker a chance to make complete meals for her family in the morning. “We also took advantage of using cooking as an opportunity to bring my >



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food progressing to chopping and eventually cooking on the stove. Getting them involved has the ancillary benefit of building their confidence, too. “We were always like, ‘No, you can do it. You can stir that; you can serve yourself. You can cut that. You can help out,’ ” says Sunny. In Manaker’s kitchen, a delicious yet healthy breakfast doesn’t come at the expense of a lot of effort. Pancake mixes are her friend and allow her to save time and energy. “I like to pick pancake mixes that are rich with whole grains, so getting away from the white flour options and having options that have more fiber and nutrients in them,” says Manaker. She’ll also add things like milled flaxseed to her pancake batter to give it a nutrient boost. Most importantly, don’t get too hung up trying to plan a fabulous breakfast. A nutritious meal is great, but the thing you and your kids will remember most years from now is the time spent conversing over those morning meals. “Breakfast could take over two hours sometimes because we’d just sit there and talk,” says Sunny. “And we never did that before. That was an added bonus.” l

SUNDAY CHAI WAFFLES Makes 4-6 waffles Ingredients: 1 cup Chai Box chai concentrate (or, substitute 2/³ cup of milk and a spice blend of 1 tablespoon cardamom powder, ½ tablespoon cinnamon, ½ tablespoon ginger, 1 teaspoon fennel powder or nutmeg, 1 teaspoon ground cloves) ¹/³ cup milk ¹/³ cup oil 2 eggs 1 teaspoon vanilla extract Instructions: Heat waffle iron. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix until lumps disappear. Allow batter to rest 5-7 minutes. Pour desired amount of batter into lightly greased waffle iron; cook until steaming stops and waffles are golden brown. — Monica Sunny




daughter into the kitchen more,” says Manaker. There’s no doubt about it: The pandemic is bringing back family breakfasts. When Americans went on lockdown in mid-March, fast-food breakfast sales plummeted. According to Forbes, a drop in McDonald’s breakfast sales contributed to more than half of the company’s sales decline. Starbucks also took a hit. It’s no wonder when you consider that more people are staying home and cooking. Many parents no longer have to stop for a drive-thru sausage-andcheese sandwich on their way to drop the kids off at school. Meanwhile, sales of breakfast appliances like waffle makers and coffee pots are up, as are the stock market indexes for pork and waffles. Of course, having more time for family breakfast doesn’t mean it will be a harmonious experience. And, it’s still important to strike a balance between delicious and nutritious. Getting the kids involved in everything from meal planning to cooking is a great first step. There’s something for everyone to do. When Sunny’s kids were little, she had them start by washing vegetables before

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| M E E T A M O D E R N WO M A N


Q&A Best gift you’ve ever received? Anything my son makes for me. Last year, it was a paper plate Santa, complete with gobs of sticky Elmer’s glue, googly eyes and glitter I’d still be finding all over the house a month later.

Where’s home for the holidays? Anywhere and everywhere. I’ve done Christmas in Mexico by myself ... spent time with our families in southern Utah and everything in between. I’m far from a holiday traditionalist, and I like the idea of discovering the joys of the season wherever you are, and whoever you’re with. Favorite holiday dish? I make roasted rainbow carrots with honey lavender butter every year for the holidays. They’re so simple to make but add such unexpected color and flavor to a traditional turkey dinner.






hen Melissa Urban, co-founder and CEO of the Whole30 program, began blogging about her dietary experiment in 2009, she never expected it to blossom into a worldwide phenomenon. Fast forward to today, and that foodelimination diet helps millions of people discover lasting food freedom. The goal of the Whole30 program is to empower people to make conscious food choices that benefit their bodies. The 30-day self-exploration focuses on eating whole, nutrient-dense food rather than counting calories or constantly stepping on the scale. Urban is now a six-time New York Times bestselling author and podcast host. She recently launched a line of salad dressings with no added sugar, gluten, soy, dairy, gums or fillers. — Sarah Sekula

What was your life like before Whole30? I spent my early 20s addicted to drugs, bouncing between households, struggling to hold a job and destroying nearly all of my relationships. After five years, I entered rehab and solidified my recovery in 2000. I knew I had to change everything about my life in order to maintain my recovery, so I got a new job, a new apartment, started exercising and eating healthy, and made a group of new girlfriends at the gym. Creating the Whole30 (program) in 2009 was a huge part of my recovery journey. What motivates you to empower women to live healthier? The foods and drinks being marketed to us and the stories about our worth being inextricably linked to our size have led to massive disconnection and disempowerment, particularly in women. I love reminding women of their own agency, and empowering them to both create their own definition of healthy, then use the tools ... through Whole30 to create that life for themselves.




Marilyn Dill

Side Effects of Service Volunteer work can benefit the giver as much as the recipient BY SARAH SEKULA




ON ANY GIVEN MONDAY and Tuesday morning in Jacksonville, Fla., you’ll find Marilyn Dill perched over a sewing machine teaching other women the fine art of making a scarf or a face mask. When she retired from her retail management position, Dill knew that she wanted to devote some time to volunteer work. However, she had no idea how she’d contribute. Soon enough, the answer came in the form of a request from Rethreaded, a nonprofit organization that provides life and career development opportunities for survivors of human trafficking.

“I was asked to teach sewing to women, which happened to be the perfect fit for me,” Dill says. “To spend a few days a week in the presence of these incredible women feeds my soul and gives me an incredible appreciation for the gift of my own life.”

A WIN-WIN A growing amount of research suggests that those who volunteer experience greater health benefits than those who receive the support. In fact, volunteers often find significant healing and purpose as a result of helping others. >


Flexing altruistic muscles by volunteering to help others can be both physically and mentally beneficial.”

Volunteers at the nonprofit Rethreaded organization in Jacksonville, Fla., sew articles of clothing.


“Studies support that altruism — unselfish concern for others — is good for your health,” says Dr. Heidi H. Wu, an internal medicine specialist based on Maui, Hawaii. “Flexing altruistic muscles by volunteering to help others can be both physically and mentally beneficial.” Wu, who says she thrives on helping others, considers the personal benefits a sweet bonus. Each week, she volunteers at Hope Chapel, a nondenominational church that provides groceries to more than 800 families in need — a major undertaking. To pull this off each



week, dedicated volunteers are a necessity — everything from greeters to food sorters to phone callers. Wu serves as a greeter, welcoming and registering families. On Thursdays, a caravan of cars comes through the church parking lot for the drive-thru food giveaway. The recipients include unemployed hospitality workers and retirees. The common thread: They have all been drastically affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

HELPER’S HIGH Packing and delivering

supplies gets volunteers moving, Hope Chapel’s but some studies offer additional weekly food reasons volunteers enjoy better distribution, physical health. “The work of above, helps volunteering can replace bad local families. sedentary habits like watching A Rethreaded too much TV or overeating due volunteer, top to boredom,” says Wu. right, makes a Being around others can help cotton mask. people feel socially connected and help prevent depression or loneliness. “Working alongside a group of like-minded individuals can help a person set aside their own problems,” says Wu. “Doing this even momentarily invites fresh information that can bring new perspective and solutions to personal troubles. Being grouped together with others for a common purpose can often invigorate our own personal purpose. It also provides empowerment and the satisfaction of seeing forward movement in a situation too great for one person to change alone.” Anne Steel, a retired Air Force nurse who volunteers alongside Dill at Rethreaded, wholeheartedly agrees. “My perspective has broadened,” Steel says. “Not only in terms of what happens in our community, but also what can help our community. It’s taken the focus off of my own problems and focused my thoughts on reaching out to others.” “I would never have met these women in any other capacity were it not for Rethreaded,” Dill adds. “I would have missed out on witnessing some incredible miracles.” l



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Favorite holiday song or film? Elf. It makes me laugh, and it’s off the charts for showing the value of empathy, and I love that about this movie.

What do the holidays mean to you? I know everyone gets so stressed around the holidays. I do too, but I really try to look at the season as a chance to show people how much I care in small and big ways. I love to send holiday cards by mail, send little gifts, bake a lot and drop it off to family and friends.





Hello Neighbor

fter giving birth to her second child and hosting Thanksgiving dinner in 2017 with a Syrian refugee family and discovering their experiences, Sloane Davidson found that the life of a digital marketer was no longer fulfilling. This led her to create Hello Neighbor, a Pittsburgh-based mentorship program that matches recently resettled refugees with local families to help them acclimate to U.S. culture. The nonprofit assists refugees with many aspects of Americana, from understanding national holidays and navigating the health care system to showing them local resources such as parks and libraries. Since launching in 2018, the company has connected 95 refugees from 13 countries with American families. Davidson says helping others can start with simple steps. “Hello Neighbor is about supporting refugees and immigrants, but it’s more than that. It’s about creating stronger communities where we look out for each other. Creating meaningful relationships is hard work, but that’s where the real change and deep impact is ... it really has to start from the very simple place of saying hello.” — Michelle Washington

What was your biggest motivation for starting Hello Neighbor? Becoming a mother. Being a working professional, I valued family and have a support network, but when I became a mom I was like, ‘Whoa, this is really hard.’ It was insane to think about refugees and immigrants and what they face, against all odds, to rebuild a new life for their families. I couldn’t shake that feeling of connection. How has volunteer work enriched your life? In so many ways! I believe in something called cause-filled living. It means that giving back, it’s part of my DNA. I hold doors for people. I help moms with strollers up the stairs. I donate my time, money and resources to nonprofits and places I care about. I give and give, and I never feel empty or like it’s a chore. It makes me so happy — it gives me energy.


Best gift you’ve ever received? My first child was born on Dec. 26. I went into labor on Christmas. He’s the best gift I’ve ever received.

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Alyssa DeRose and family

Grace Period A gentler approach could be the key to thriving under challenging conditions BY JENNIFER BRADLEY FRANKLIN



going to have to be very gracious this season because we’re going to fail a lot and keep learning together,” explains Rachael Clinton Chen, a trauma specialist, pastor and therapeutic practitioner with The Allender Center at The Seattle School in Seattle. She is also a newly married stepmom to two boys. “Grace is something you can’t earn. I think about it as a spacious invitation to a new possibility,” says Clinton Chen.

Though grace has roots in religious faith, it’s often defined more broadly as a temporary exemption or an act of kindness or courtesy. While extending grace to others is valuable, treating oneself with it can also pay dividends. Here’s how:

ADJUST EXPECTATIONS Like many parents, when the COVID-19 pandemic forced school


THIS YEAR HAS THROWN its share of unexpected curveballs, making selfimposed perfection nearly impossible. Because so many things have been in a less-than-ideal state — the sudden switch to virtual schooling, working from home, having less face-to-face contact with loved ones — women everywhere have had to pivot and make the best of things. “Our motto has been that we’re

YOU’RE NOT ALONE A June 2020 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 40 percent of people say they have struggled with mental health, anxiety and substance abuse during the pandemic. Warning signs of emotional distress include: uPulling away from people or

activities uEating or sleeping too much or

too little uHaving low or no energy uHaving unexplained aches

and pains

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uFeeling helpless or hopeless uExcessive smoking, drinking or

drug use, including prescription medications uWorrying a lot of the time uFeeling guilty but not sure why


If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s 24-hour helpline at 800-662-HELP (4357) for a local treatment or support group referral.

closures, Chicago-based Alyssa DeRose, author of Momoir: A New Mom’s Journey to Embracing Her Not-So-Perfect Motherhood, recalls participating in video meetings with unwashed hair and a toddler on her lap, struggling to find time to exercise or eat well. “We had to evaluate our parenting choices from the vantage point of our new COVIDera reality,” she says. “That includes leaning on more help than usual while doing my best to shed any guilt about it.” DeRose and her husband shuffled their finances to cover child care, and she began seeing a therapist virtually. Simply acknowledging that they couldn’t do it all alone and making a plan helped her overall outlook. Rather than giving yourself a pass

indefinitely, Clinton Chen suggests you can give yourself permission for more failure than you’re used to, with the commitment to keep trying.

SET HEALTHY BOUNDARIES Being clear about what you need and your capacity can be a lifeline. “I have set clear boundaries regarding when and how long I work, since working from home and for myself can become consuming,” says Los Angeles-based author and educator Kimberly A. Morrow, who sets one full day a week aside to focus on self-care. If you’re confused about where to start drawing boundaries, self-reflection can help bring clarity. Identify areas where you feel like you don’t have a choice to say no because of phantom expectations, not because everyone actually expects you to do it all, says Clinton Chen.

TAKE CARE Taking a walk or spending time meditating can feel like a selfish indulgence we can’t afford when other obligations seem more pressing. It’s not about having your every desire, Clinton Chen says, but prioritizing the ones that will give you the most mileage — whether

that’s taking a soothing bath, reading or going to work out.

GET HELP There’s no shame in asking for help when you need it. This can include therapy, spiritual support and tutors or caregivers for little ones. “We chose to bring a full-time professional caregiver into our home, and we are all better for the choice,” says DeRose, who acknowledges that it’s more expensive than the Montessori school her children attended pre-COVID. “I’m viewing this increased cost as an investment in giving ourselves grace.”

GRACE PAYS ITSELF FORWARD In his book Get Your Life Back: Everyday Practices for a World Gone Mad, author John Eldredge says, “You’ll end up treating everyone else’s heart the way you treat your own.” It’s a phenomenon DeRose has experienced firsthand. She realized that, by placing unrealistic expectations on herself, she was building resentment toward her husband. By being honest about her own needs and working together for a solution, their relationship is stronger. “Grace has helped my marriage 100 percent,” she says.



Quarantine Clarity Pandemic shutdown inspires self-discovery and acceptance BY CAMILLA JOHNSON PERRY

YOU DON’T HAVE TO go far to find a woman ready to tell you how COVID-19 has interrupted and significantly affected her beauty regimen. For months, many of us suspended regularly scheduled visits to nail and hair salons. For those of us who were used to getting our eyebrows waxed or threaded, we enjoyed the temporary reprieve. However, it didn’t take long before we began looking like Bert from Sesame Street with that unforgiving unibrow. I have missed making that catwalk from the nail technician’s chair to the cash register, admiring my perfectly manicured nails and toes. Just three weeks into sheltering in place, I saw chipped polish, dry cuticles and feet that looked like I had accompanied Moses on that 40-year desert trek. While I have saved money, forgoing these services hasn’t moved me into a new tax bracket. However, the prolonged self-quarantine period caused me to rethink how I spend my time. Yes, we all sacrifice our time to look our best — but that was before COVID-19. Now, we’ve realized when wearing a mask and social distancing, no one even notices your hair or your nails, and if they do, COVID has put the kibosh on small talk and superficial observations. Bottom line, the quarantine gave me a valid reason to break up with my stylist and nail tech, but it wasn’t easy. Our relationships with these providers



Our relationships with these providers are comfortable and authentic, and as I look back, that’s what I miss the most.”




are comfortable and authentic, and as I look back, that’s what I miss the most. The decision to break up came after many frank conversations in front of my mirror, affirming I am more than my hair and painted nails. When the country began to reopen, I contemplated whether or not I should go back to these treatments; whether I just needed some space, or if this was a permanent split. I finally decided I could live without these services. So, I bought a pair of clippers, and I’m living that buzz-cut life. I dug out that nail kit that I’ve been meaning to regift and gave myself a DIY mani-pedi. While I have a little polish on my skin and some

unevenly cut curls, I am proud handwritten thank-you card. I of my work. I feel liberated and will express how meaningful am embracing another form of these relationships have been self-love — acceptance. to me over the years, how I have I’m now uncuffed appreciated and how I from the self-imposed miss them. I may not Johnson rituals of chemical write the exact painful Perry went processes and nail words “I am breaking from donning an expertly drills. My hubby’s up,” but I will be clear: crafted, highrenewed fervor as COVID-19 is here and maintenance my self-confidence it requires us to live hairstyle to a blossoms — it had differently. carefree DIY diminished when I This protracted look, a move couldn’t maintain that quarantine caused she describes manufactured look — is me to look inward. I as freeing. another unforeseen rediscovered within benefit. myself the beauty But to make my new act of these services inspired, and I self-love and confidence official, realize my greatest attribute is I’m thinking of sending each the confidence that comes from of these special individuals a loving me as I naturally am.


| M E E T A M O D E R N WO M A N


Q&A Favorite holiday tradition? One of my favorite things to make is a spin on banana pudding that my cousin made last Thanksgiving, and now people (ask) me to make it. The recipe uses lady finger cookies instead of vanilla wafers, and now I love making it as a special treat. My mom also makes the best dressing that is one of my favorite things for her to make for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. Favorite holiday song? Nat King Cole’s entire Christmas album. My grandfather loved Nat King Cole, so that is a top choice. It’s a classic, and you can’t go wrong with it. What is the best gift you’ve ever given? I would say my time. I’m making the time to make sure I’m around family, and I think that’s the biggest thing that is always appreciated. They don’t really care about what I physically brought them, but it’s more like, ‘We’re so glad you are here.’





How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected Black Girls Breathing? When COVID-19 hit, we had to shift our business model to make it more accessible to other people. I needed to make space and figure out a way for people to join breathwork circles and do it for free, because now is when people really need it.

Black Girls Breathing

tress and a hectic work schedule motivated Jasmine Marie to search for therapeutic coping techniques. She was living in New York City when a visit to the First Corinthian Baptist Church in Harlem led her to a community center where she attended free breathwork classes. The course was life-changing. She became a breathwork and mindfulness practitioner and, in 2018, she founded Atlanta-based Black Girls Breathing, which helps women heal from trauma that affects their everyday lives. The wellness platform provides meditational breathwork classes in major cities nationwide, including Boston, Houston, Dallas, Los Angeles, New York and Washington, D.C. “Breathwork is an active meditation that helps relieve the body of stagnant energy and helps reframe the nervous system’s response to triggers in the body. It reduces chronic stress, anxiety and depression,” Jasmine Marie explains. “The body stores trauma and traumatic memories. So breathwork is a systematic tool that is a type of healing.” — Shameika Rhymes

How have you adapted your breathwork classes to help women manage difficult times? During our sessions, we are having a communal grieving time. Because of COVID-19, we are making more space for there to be organic conversation and communal discussions at the beginning. Sometimes we have a therapist join us during the session. After we have the discussion, we get into the breathwork that lasts for 45 minutes.



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Tome Time Just the right reads for the holidays BY VALERIE FINHOLM




1 For the travel lover: Travels With Myself and Another: A Memoir, by Martha Gellhorn. First published in 1979, it’s a hilarious no-holds-barred travelogue of misadventures by a glamorous war correspondent. u$13.99, 4 For she who passes on politics: Becoming, by Michelle Obama. The former first lady reflects on the childhood that shaped her and the life she led in the White House under the unrelenting glare of the media. u$26.99,




or help them through a difficult time. The ones I choose are not necessarily new, and some even come from my own bookshelves. Here are a few you can consider gifting to the bookworms on your list:



2 For someone in need of stress relief: Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers, by Anne Lamott. Prayer 101, whether you believe or not. u$17.95, 5 For the home décor enthusiast: Novogratz Design Fix: Chic and Stylish Tips for Every Decorating Scenario, by Robert and Cortney Novogratz. This coffee-table book offers in-depth advice and guidelines for design and decorating, including how to use bold color to transform your home, how to decorate small spaces and how best to incorporate art. u$45,

3 For a first-time homebuyer: Home Comforts: The Art & Science of Keeping House, by Cheryl Mendelson. This perennial bestseller is more than a how-to manual; it is about the joys of creating and maintaining a home. u$19.99, 6 For fans of everything historical: Lady Clementine: A Novel, by Marie Benedict. This is a fictionalized account of Winston Churchill’s wife, Clementine, who historians credit with quietly advising Britain’s prime minister throughout World War II. u$13.58,


YEARS AGO, I STARTED a holiday tradition of giving books as Christmas gifts to the women in my life. I look for books specifically tailored to each person’s life at that moment — something to inspire, entertain

Three classic fables, retold with wit and wisdom by acclaimed actor and activist

“A powerful twist on classic children’s tales . . . her stories teach the same time-honored morals while allowing children to see themselves—and all others—reflected.” —ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY

Available wherever books are sold.

Feiwel & Friends • An imprint of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group •

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