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belle fearless

beauty How to look and feel your best with every birthday.

Fashion forward What to wear no matter what your age Kitchen prowess Eight local chefs share strengths and secrets Women you should know Bailey Tarren, Denise Bennett, Thea and Geraldine Duskin and more August agenda Watermelons to whodunits focus on fun



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august 2012

belle Publisher: Lori

Collier Waran

lori.waran@styleweekly.com Editor in Chief:

Jason Roop

jason.roop@styleweekly.com Editor: Deveron Art Director:


Joel Smith Scott Elmquist

Photography Editor:

Style & Substance



Arts and Entertainment

Seashells come indoors … architecture student Bailey Tarren wins a toy design competition … storyteller Denise Bennett explains the nature of her craft … Lex’s of Carytown owner Lisa McSherry takes the pop quiz … watermelon brightens summer menus in Richmond … necklaces appeal to all ages. by Elizabeth Jewett Lush life: August offers the pleasures of Bollywood dance moves, Irish folk music, comedy and more, and it’s all in air-conditioned comfort. by Karen Newton 10

Fashion Cues


on their favorite jeans for an allages fashion show. by Lauren Healy and Jonye Cordova 12 fashion statement: Mother and daughter Geraldine and Thea Duskin of Ghostprint Gallery share their personal style strategies. by Ranee Kamens 14

Time’s not telling. Experts guide us toward fulfillment that lasts beyond the birthday party. by Karen Newton


health: Compounding pharmacies

offer an alternative to the usual prescriptions. by Julie Geen 18 private parts: A big birthday makes its way into my psyche. by Julie Geen 20


Ellie Basch Jonye Cordova Julie Geen Valley Haggard Elizabeth Jewett Ranee Kamens Hilary Langford Robey Martin Karen Newton Copy Editor: G.W.


Ed Harrington

Hannah Huber

hannah.huber@styleweekly.com publishing and new media development manager:

Dana Elmquist

An Educated Guest: Eight Richmond


food professionals tell us how they take the heat. by Ellie Basch and Robey Martin

First Person

Contributing Writers:

SALES manager:


Marketing, Sponsorships & Events:

Tonie Stevens


ON THE COVER: Mother of three Masumi Hyodo, who tends bar at Stella’s, rocks her tank top and jeans in a Stella & Dot necklace and other adornments. See more on page 12. Photo by Scott Elmquist


Body and Soul

Great Taste

Lauren Healy


Chinese acrobatics make this month a summer standout. by Julie Geen, Elizabeth Jewett and Hilary Langford


A volunteer trip to Malawi realigns my perspective on happiness. by Elizabeth Jewett 28 Lay claim to the good that comes with experience. by Valley Haggard 30

Details: Richmond women put



Agenda : Civil War spies, indie music and

Fashion Editor:



Gracie McGurn, Myra Watkins SALES ASSISTANT:

Kimberly Hall




Chris Kwiatkowski business assistant:

Jennifer Waldbauer

Belle is published monthly and is free. One copy per person. Belle may be distributed by authorized distributors only. Style Weekly subscriptions are available for $49 (third class mail) and $99 (first class mail). Style Weekly, 1313 E. Main St., Suite 103, Richmond, Va. 23219, 804-358-0825; General fax 804-358-1079; News fax 804-358-9089; Classified phone 804-3582100; Classified fax 804-358-2163. www.styleweekly.com E-mail: belle@styleweekly.com Copyright © by Style Weekly Inc. TM 2012 All rights reserved.


AUGUST 2012 | 3 |

StylE &SubstancE Hot products, new ventures and local discoveries.


Elizabeth Jewett

Surf by turf Everyone feels a little blue at the end of a beach trip. Lift your post-vacation mood and décor with these oversized, metallic shells from Tinker’s, 2409 Westwood Ave. The best part? They won’t track sand into the house.

photo by scott Elmquist


AUGUST 2012 | 5 |

Wooed by Watermelon

st y l e & s u b s ta n c e

The annual Carytown Watermelon Festival is Aug. 5, but why limit yourself to one day of celebration? Several Richmond restaurants offer creative spins on the summertime staple, including these five favorites: The Roosevelt 623 N. 25th St., rooseveltrva.com Roasted beet and watermelon salad with avocado mousse, goat cheese and lemon oil make such perfect partners you’ll wonder how you ever ate them without each other. Lemaire Jefferson Hotel 101 W. Franklin St., lemairerestaurant.com Ask for a Southern drawl cocktail made with Maker’s Mark bourbon, Canton ginger liqueur, watermelon juice, fruit and foam, and a hint of tarragon. It is cocktail brilliance. Bev’s Homemade Ice Cream 2911 W. Cary St. Watermelon gelato puts the taste of summer in the treat of summer. Ellwood Thompson’s Local Market 4 N. Thompson St., ellwoodthompsons.com Ellwood’s cool watermelon gazpacho is bright, refreshing and ideal for summer.

songs of the storyteller: Denise Bennett If you thought oral storytelling was a forgotten art, you haven’t met Denise Bennett. In addition to, and often in conjunction with, her job as a chaplain at the Hermitage, Bennett weaves traditional, Biblical and personal tales for listeners of all ages throughout the Richmond area. We asked her about storytelling in a modern age. Belle: What does it mean to you to be a storyteller?

I think there are different kinds of stories and different kinds of storytellers. When I first started telling stories I mostly told traditional stories, folk tales or fairytales or sacred stories either from the Bible or from other traditions. As I’ve become more experienced I also tell personal stories. I guess part of what I always hope to do as a storyteller is to bring some healing. As you’ve gotten older and changed in your life, has that affected the way you tell stories? In traditional society, elders were or are the storytellers of the community. That’s their primary role. I’m not quite at elder stage. I’m not 55 yet. But I guess it’s a matter of perspective for one thing. I knew I wanted to tell stories but I didn’t think I had stories to tell from my own life that would be interesting to tell to other people. But as I’ve gotten older and started doing it more, looking at my own life for stories, I’ve learned to trust that it’s a process. Do you think that aging changes the way people respond to stories? My experience has been that elderly people love stories. | 6 | AUGUST 2012


As [a chaplain], I use stories all the time, stories from the Bible and other kinds of stories, to get them to tell stories. I start getting stories back and I just love that. Storytelling helps us find meaning in our lives, to make sense of the things that have happened to us.

Boka Tako truck Locations vary, bokatruck.com The fish taco with agave-watermelon, lime and kecap manis, an Indonesian soy sauce, packs sweet, sour and savory flavors into one little tortilla.

Do you think older generations still pass on stories to future generations? I think a few years ago I might have said no. But I see a new resurgence of things like the Moth [a national nonprofit dedicated to the art of storytelling]. There are also a lot of projects and sites on the Internet where you can find a list of questions to ask your older relatives to help them tell their own stories. You lead a workshop called Storytelling 101. What basic tips or tools do you think someone needs to have to be a good storyteller? I think like the best writing, storytelling is grounded in detail. Whether you’re telling a personal story or whether you’re telling a traditional story, you as the storyteller need to see in your mind’s eye. If you imagine the story and the characters fully, your listeners will get it. Storytelling as its most elemental is the transfer of images from one person to another using oral language. And oral language is not just the words. It’s also your body language, your facial expression, your tone of voice, your gestures — all of that. For information visit storiesbydenise.com. Lemaire’s Southern drawl cocktail photos by scott Elmquist

Pop Quiz with lisa McSherry Owner, Lex’s of Carytown


arytown might seem to be in a constant state of flux, but some things are consistent. Lisa McSherry opened Lex’s of Carytown in 1996, and while many of the fashions and neighboring businesses have changed, Lex’s continues to grow. McSherry unveils the shop’s expanded footprint this month at 3020 W. Cary St., and takes a moment to reveal her secret self in our pop quiz. 1. Growing up I wanted to be an … airline pilot. 2. In one word I would describe myself as … compassionate. 3. I knew I had “made it” when … people were driving up to six hours to shop in my store. 4. My inspiration comes from … other entrepreneurs. 5. I can’t live without my … friends. 6. My favorite Richmond hangout is … C Street Cafe. 7. My obsession of the moment is … my iPad. 8. My last meal on earth would be … Edo’s eggplant Parm. 9. My guilty pleasure is … “Trueblood.”

photos by scott Elmquist

10. The one item I would never leave home without is … Burt’s Bees.

Designed to Win As an architecture student at Virginia Tech, Richmond native Bailey Tarren is taught about design on a scale the size of skyscrapers. But the toy design she and fellow firstyear student Chelsey Pon entered in the prestigious Naef Toy Design Competition was far more complex and intensive than its diminutive size would suggest. “We were in charge of and involved with every part of this process,” Tarren says. “We did the designing, the building, the sanding, the coating, the finishing. We did the graphic design for the posters. We were in control of every little bit of it. We did packaging for it. It was a huge undertaking.” That comprehensive effort paid off

when their wooden toy, named Labo (pictured left), won first place among approximately 200 entries this past spring, many submitted by older and more experienced students. Tarren describes the toy as “an egg shape that is pointed at the bottom, so you can knock it around and it will always right itself. But it is also a rattle and a top and a teething toy. You can buy it for an infant and it can entertain the child up until 5 or 6 years.” The two young designers received a cash award, but Tarren says the true prize is the prestige and distinction. “What really comes from wining a competition is recognition,” she says. “It was a huge shock. It was inconceivable. We had no idea it was going to happen but we were so proud of ourselves for making it work.”


AUGUST 2012 | 7 |

st y l e & s u b s ta n c e

50s and beyond Freshwater pearl necklace in peacock blue, $32 Historically Inspired Design (historicallyinspired.com)

30s Monkee’s signature necklace, $38 Monkee’s (11709 W. Broad St., monkeesofrichmond.com)

40s Pretty poppy silver pendant necklace, $52 Artistic Creations by Andrea Danner-Schultz (artworkbyandrea.com)

Neck & Neck Whether you’re 60-something or 20-something, a goes-with-anything statement necklace is a wardrobe necessity. We combed local stores and websites to find classic pieces for every generation.

20s Jan Michaels key necklace, $80 AlterNatives (3320 W. Cary St., alternativesonline.com)

| 8 | AUGUST 2012

belle photos by scott Elmquist

Time to Celebrate


Save the Date for the 9th Annual Saks’ Key to the Cure Shop benefiwith tinga women’ passion sand enjoy special savings at this kick off event and Saks Fifth18, Avenue cancer research at VCU Massey Cancer Center on October 2012.will donate a percentage of sales from Oct. 20 – 23.


Guest appearance

Shop with a passion and enjoy special savings at this kick off event and Saks Fifth Avenue will donate a percentage of sales from Oct. 20 – 23.

– born Spirited Artbyis Virginia more than a painting jewelry designer,

class. It’s a Temple night ofSt.fun with friends, Clair! sipping wineTemple while you discover your will be


Join us Richmond’s most fashionably fun night out features tastings by the area’s th amazing shopping incentives. Thursday, October 20and premier restaurants, creative cocktails, music 6 pm NEW THIS YEAR: An enticing silent auction experiences and fabulous fashion up for bid. Saks Avenue Join Fifth uswith exclusive

Mercedes-Benz Man Fashion Cave will have guys begging to stay later! Stony Point Thursday, October 20ththatPark MAKE IT A GIRLS’ NIGHT OR A DATE NIGHT, BUT DON’T MISS OUT ON THE FUN! 6 pm $100 per person Saks Fifth Avenue Reserve your tickets today! Stony Point Fashion Park To benefit Find$100 us onper Facebook as Team Massey and follow event updates at person women’s cancer research at:


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Print Media Cocktail Counter Sponsor Partner


Shop with a passion and enjoy special savings at this kick off event and Saks Fifth Avenue will donate a percentage of sales from Oct. 20 – 23.

Guest appearance by Virginia – born jewelry designer, Temple St. Clair!

Join us Thursday, October 20th 6 pm Saks Fifth Avenue

Temple will be sharing a very special selection of her latest designs.

$100 per person

To benefit women’s cancer research at:

Temple will be sharing a very special selection of her latest designs.

Print Media Partner 100% of this year’s Elie Tahari designed T-shirt sales (from Saks at Stony Point) will be donated to Massey!

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Guest appearance by Virginia – born jewelry designer, Temple St. Clair!

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AUGUST 2012 | 9 |

Lush Life

Bollywood dance moves and comic relief make August an inside job.



Karen Newton

on’t believe all that stuff about it being the humidity, not the heat. It’s both. And so what? Summer is supposed to be hot in the South. And it isn’t like there aren’t plenty of ways to wile away August in air-conditioned comfort.

The original midnight movie. Not in the mood for a serious theatrical performance this time of year? Good, because Firehouse Theater’s “The Rocky Horror Show” is about as frivolous as they come, running Aug. 2 -19. Think transvestites, corsets and stilettos — and that’s just the audience. OK, it’s the cast, too. For the uninitiated, Dr. Frank N. Furter is having a party while poor Brad and Janet just need to use his phone. Instead, they’re treated to an evening of singing, dancing and outright craziness. And this is a reimagined version of the play like you’ve never seen. Unlike when it plays as a midnight movie — it’s not OK to throw anything onstage. But you’ll still have a blast. Firehousethreatre.org. Yuck it up. If you’re a fan of stand-up comedy, here’s a must-see show. On Aug. 18 at 8 p.m., Gallery5 presents Neil Hamburger and Todd Barry’s Summer Value Tour. Barry, also known as Mr. Medium Energy, is a veteran of television, as wide-ranging as “Sex and the City,” “Sesame Street” and “Dr. Katz: Professional Therapist.” Hamburger (who is really Greg Turkington) has a distinctive comedic style, which features a barrage of questionand-answer jokes often aimed at celebrities, as well as cutting barbs aimed at his ex-wife. As part of his routine, his pacing is always off and he often clears his throat during his routine, usually to keep overzealous fans from shouting out his punch lines. These are two major comic talents playing the relatively small space of Gallery5, which should make for an uproarious evening of laughs. Sit in the front row, I dare you. Gallery5arts.org. Zip your lips. When it comes to stellar music at no cost, there’s no beating the monthly Listening Room, this month Aug. 21 at 8 p.m. at the Firehouse Theater. This show has a guest curator and will feature Charlottesville’s the Nettles, who forge Irish-inspired folk music that soothes the savage soul while employing complex musical compositions. Don’t try to understand it, just come listen, and no talking. Their distinctive sound can be described as reserved yet powerful. And with the addition of the flute, I’d call it downright beautiful. Opening will be Sweet Fern, a Richmond duo of ukulele and guitar, male and female voices and enough energy and musical talent to knock your socks off. The snacks will be from Dixie Donuts and free, but bring some bills to contribute to the bands. It’s only right. Therichmondscene.com.

photo illustration by joel smith

Everybody dance now. If you think it’s hot here, imagine what it feels like in India. Better yet, head to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts for the Bollywood Dance and Film party on Friday, Aug. 3, from 6-8 p.m. The evening celebrates the major exhibition, “Maharaja: the Splendors of India’s Great Kings,” but in a way that doesn’t require an interest in art history. DJ Carlito, also known as Carl Hamm, has been playing the music of India’s popular films in Richmond for years and it always makes for a fabulous time. His Bollywood Dance and Film Party celebrates the rhythms and melodies of Indian cinema and music, featuring the latest and classic Hindi and Punjabi (Bhangra) hits. As a unique way to start your weekend, it’s difficult to beat dancing in a museum to a pulsing rhythm while images from Bollywood films play on the big screen. Vmfa.state.va.us.

VMFA stages a Bollywood film and dance party.

Neil Hamburger brings summer comedy to Gallery 5.

And boom, August will be over and we’ll be looking at another incoming class of impossibly young college freshmen. And I can guarantee you that once they’re here, there will be so much to do even I couldn’t keep up. But I promise I’ll try. So should you. Karen Newton blogs about much of what she does at icouldgoonandon.blogspot.com.

|| 10 10 || AUGUST  AUGUST 2012 2012



The Nettles play Irish folk at The Listening Room.




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AUGUST 2012 | 11 |

fa s h i o n c u e s


for the


Denim and T-shirts are true blue fashion through the decades.


omething about jeans and T-shirts says timeless fashion, no matter how many birthdays are in your past and future. To prove it, four decades of fashionable Richmond women share their favorite denim with their

signature style, a reminder that comfort in your own skin and confidence in your being, make beauty much easier to achieve and project. Belle fashion editor Lauren Healy offers some specifics on the clothes and accessories, and makeup stylist Jonye Cordova suggests fresh and modern colors, techniques and products with this advice: “Makeup at any age should have the same results … to make us feel good. Trends come and go. The goal is to enhance our best features while minimizing what we don’t particularly care for. Age is a state of mind and the makeup we choose should be fresh and modern but always reflect who we are.”

20s: Sara Williamson

Spanish interpreter for Chesterfield County Public Schools, coowner of Pedal Pops RVA, a gourmet Popsicle bike cart. Follow her on Twitter @pedalpopsrva. Healy: Vintage optical frames, eBay $70; white sleeveless crop button up, American Apparel $40; brown leather belt, Salvation Army $2; floral print high-waist jean shorts, American Apparel $60; skull charm bracelets, Academy Jewelry $35. Cordova: This is the decade where there’s more freedom in the makeup we wear. You can experiment with color as well as intensity. For Sara we chose Chanel Rouge Coco Hydrating Creme lip color in paradis. This lightweight modern interpretation of the classic cream lipstick adds a splash of coral for a pop of rich color.

| 12 | AUGUST 2012


photo by scott Elmquist

30s: Suzanna Fields

40s: Masumi HyOdo

Healy: Dolly Parton T-shirt, custom-kingdom.com $25; leather belt, Anthropologie $29; blue denim by Adriano Goldschmied, Anthropologie $158; light brown leather heels by Miz Mooz, Nordstom $95; vintage mosaic ring, 17th Street Farmers’ Market $3; monogram spoon bracelet, gift; silver rectangle bracelet by Margaret Hobe $50; silver and gold wire and bead bracelet by Jane Sparger $20; braided silver and wooden bangles, gifts; silver cuff, yard sale find $1.

Healy: Classic white tank, Old Navy $8; straight leg Levis, Macy’s boys department $39; peacock feather earrings, World Market $10; brass phoenix necklace, Stella & Dot $200; black cuff bracelet $24 and silver ring, $14 at Target; gold chain bracelet, H&M promotional piece; black espadrilles, Banana Republic $60.

Artist. Her website is suzannafields.com.

Cordova: Time is important in your 30s. Most of us are juggling family, home and career, so take a less-is-more approach to makeup. On Savannah, I applied Lancôme’s Color Design Sensational Effects eye shadow quad in golden glitz. This collection of gold, bronze, beige and chocolate is super versatile to create many different looks and color combinations from simple and soft to powerful and intense.

photo by scott Elmquist

Mother of three by day, bartender at Stella’s by night; designer for Etsy shop Masumi-chan.

Cordova: In your 40s you start to become more aware of things like loss of radiance in your skin and the desire to brighten things up. One of my favorite must-have products is Yves Saint Laurent’s Touche Eclat Radiant Touch. By sweeping this pen around Masumi’s eyes and around the mouth, it brightens the complexion and brings luster and radiance to the skin by adding light and creating an instant lift. The skin immediately looks rested and refreshed.

50s: Kyle Roberts Grinnage

Director and national senior trainer, BeautiControl; executive director of Miss Chesterfield scholarship pageant. Follow her at kylegrinnage.com. Healy: White silk sleeveless blouse by Theory on outnet.com, $90; wide-leg denim by Elie Tahari, Saks Fifth Avenue $98; year of the dragon bracelet $395, earrings (anniversary gift) and silver rope bracelet with sapphire $295 by John Hardy at Schwarzschild; double-hook silver bracelet by David Yurman at Fink’s $295; leather belt by W. Kleinberg at Saks Fifth Avenue $125; watch by Skagen, T.J. Maxx $79; brown boots by DKNY at Saxon $109. Cordova: In your 50s, color and skin tone begin to fade. Lines of expression become more noticeable and the loss of elasticity is more visible. Kyle is wearing BeautiControl Tight Firm and Fill SPF 12 foundation to minimize fine lines and provide anti-aging benefits over time. A small amount evens out the skin tone for a soft, polished look.


AUGUST 2012 | 13 |

fa s h i o n c u e s


Out of the Ordinary Thea and Geraldine Duskin bring art and theater to their fashion aesthetic.


hea Duskin is the co-owner and curator of Ghostprint Gallery at 220 W. Broad St., as well as a mixed-media and tattoo artist. Her mother, Geraldine Duskin, shares ownership of the gallery and has been a decorative and fine arts dealer of 20th-century objects for the past three decades. She had a successful career in costume design in New York state theater and films and enjoys interior decorating. Belle: How do you define your style? Thea: I like to think of my style as an art project, like everything

else I do. It’s not always as theatrical, but my interest is wrapped up in costuming and theater, which both my mom and I have been involved in, so I do like to put thought into it. I enjoy trying things on and feel just as comfortable in vintage, couture or punk rock as much as anything else. How does that relate to your tattoos? Thea: Tattooing is the permanent side of body décor. Similarly with fashion, I am drawn aesthetically to body adornment, but with clothes I can literally try on different hats. With my tattoos and jewelry I can’t make changes in the same way. Why do you think so many people in Richmond have tattoos? Thea: In Richmond there’s a Southern eccentricity that is accepting and open-minded. Here there’s also weather that helps provide visibility, but in a laid-back, natural way. Here people are not trying to keep up with overt displays of status; they are just being themselves. How do you define your style? Geraldine: I am a minimalist. I pretty much only wear black except for the summer when I will wear natural colors like linen and white. Overall I like good design. From furniture to clothes to objects I am always trying to create a beautiful picture with everything I do. I don’t like froufrou anything or matching “outfits.” My winter uniform is slim black pants or skirts with a black sweater. I do like accessories, but will only wear one piece of jewelry at a time, albeit a very interesting piece, and I never wear brooches. How has your style changed, if any, with age?

Geraldine: It’s all about quality. I am interested in buying pieces that have lasting

value and I won’t wear anything trendy. Because I am slim I am lucky because I can wear just about anything, but I won’t wear anything too short like a skirt or too tight like a legging. I am attracted to Japanese and Italian design because of its simplicity and its sense of quirkiness. I like something different. What’s your favorite local store where you shop?

Geraldine: Halcyon is great for vintage pieces. I want garments that are not

tatty or too funky. I want to look elegant.

Learn about their business at ghostprintgallery.com. interviewed and styled by

| 14 | AUGUST 2012


Ranee Kamens

photo by scott elmquist










Add your y name to the list to attend a a special night off runway fashion featuriing cancer survivor moddels who have triumph hed over the disease. Jo oin our designers, Alex Garfield G of Piece of Cloth and Evelyn Bagala of Evvelyn’s Designs, and our retail partners, Buttons B and Bows, Eurottrash, Frances Kahn, Franco’s Fine Clothier, Heiddi’s Story, LaGrande Dame, Ledbury, Pink, Roan, Saxon Shoes, Ste ella & Dot and The Frencch Boutique, as we find a cure by design.


6:00 p.m m. – 10:00 p.m. John Marshall Ballrooms B | 101 North N 5th Street | Richmond, VA 23 219 Tickets are $125 per person and d benefit the American Cancer C Society. Fo or ticket and sponsor infformation, visit curebydeesign.org.



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AUGUST 2012 | 15 |

f e at u r e

Advice for the Ages

Be your best self across the decades, starting now.


he first rule of aging well is that there are no rules. But if you’re looking for some tips on how to be your best at 30, 50 or 70, the experts have a few suggestions. Laughter, friends, sleep and sex are magic bullets that will put you on the fast track for successful aging. “Inch by inch, it’s the individual choices you make every day,” gerontologist E. Ayn Welleford says. “The majority of everything people experience and label ‘aging’ is lifestyle-related. The older you get, the less genetics play a role in your health and well-being.”

| 16 | AUGUST 2012


by Karen Newton

It’s generally agreed that there are three components to successful aging: managing chronic disease, maintaining high physical and cognitive health and, perhaps most important, engagement in life. “And if you focus on engaging in life, you’ll have the motivation to do the other two things,” Welleford says. “If you’ve got all this stuff to do, celebrate it. It gives you a sense of belonging and purpose.” As a woman ages, she selects what’s important to her and tends to be more focused on her purpose and goals than she used to be. Often her goal direction will change so she’s more able to say and

do what she wants without fear of repercussions. “A lot of women compare themselves to how they were at 20 or 30, not with how much better they’re doing than five years ago,” says Maryann Cox, a licensed clinical social worker. “With age, we are so much more direct. We know how much we don’t know now and we’re much more curious. We’re willing to ask questions and express opinions. And we’re not afraid to change them.” In a youth-obsessed culture, both say it’s important to focus on what we can do to age as well as possible rather than dwelling on what we didn’t do in years past.

photo illustration by joel smith

f e at u r e

“There’s no room for life’s curveballs if every second of your life is scheduled.” E. Ayn Welleford

“Have as much sex as possible. That’s part of aging well, healthfully and gracefully.” MaryAnn Cox

Be comfortable with yourself. “Accept the neck. My mother told me that at around age 77 or 78, life got to be a little less fun,” Cox says. “Accept the inevitability that your body is not always going to do what it used to. It is a bit of a loss. Acknowledge it but then move on.” An hour of daily exercise is good for you mentally and physically. “It’s never too late to start exercising; every day you lift up something heavy, you are building muscle,” Welleford says. “Choose something you enjoy. If you dread it, you won’t do it, especially as you age. Focus on cardio, strength, flexibility and balance. Yoga is the number one thing for that and tai chi. They capitalize on those four things, especially for people who hate exercise.” Learn something new every day. “Keep yourself open,” Cox suggests. “Keep your brain going. Use it or lose it. Brain cells will prune themselves if not used. You only become less creative if you don’t use what you have. Maybe you can’t be productive in the same ways, so redefine ways that you can.” Eating right matters. “Food is medicine,” Welleford says. “We’re so food-centric in this country, but people focus on other things and ingest without thinking. We don’t want to separate food from the social but you have to be mindful about what you eat.”

photos by scott elmquist

Maintain friendships. On this Cox is adamant. “Keep your friends very close. It’s part of the happiness factor and we’re social creatures. There’s always space for more friends at any age. If you’re 30, become really good friends with a really cool 50-year-old.” Welleford puts the onus on older women: “It’s a responsibility for older women. There’s an absence of mentors in aging. We hear negative messages about aging from the media while academic literature tells us the opposite. And when you talk to older women, they say far more positive things about aging than negative. Women need to share this message about the positive aspects.” Sleep well. “To manage stress,” Welleford says, “you have to sleep enough every night. It’s very individual as to how much you need, but if you don’t get it, it affects your body’s ability to heal.” Regular sleep protects the heart, reduces stress and inflammation, bolsters memory and the ability to learn and reduces your risk for depression. Laugh often. “Laughing a lot is important,” Cox says. “That’ll keep you young.” Studies have shown that laughter is a powerful antidote to stress, pain and conflict and nothing works faster or more dependably to relax the body, boost the immune system, protect the heart and release feel-

good endorphins. Keep a flexible outlook. “There’s no room for life’s curveballs if every second of your life is scheduled,” Welleford maintains. “Having an inflexible personality means you’ll crack in half when a curveball hits you, as opposed to someone who thinks, ‘I can do this or I could do that.’ Coping is like a muscle and you only get coping skills because of using them.” Appreciate life. “I’m a big believer in gratitude lists, daily or weekly,” Cox says — “even for ordinary things. It doesn’t have to be ‘bucket-list’ big things. Enjoy the simple things. Develop an appreciation for everything in front of you right at this moment. Celebrate now. We need to eat whatever our last meal would be, but eat it now and often. Why wait? Drive down the road eating cherries and spitting the seeds out the window. If not now, when?” Have an active, but safe, sex life. “Have as much sex as possible,” Cox insists. “That’s part of aging well, healthfully and gracefully.” As prescriptions for aging go, a woman could do a lot worse than getting a daily dose of laughter, friends, sleep and sex. Take it from the experts: If not now, when?


AUGUST 2012 | 17 |

b o dy & s o u l

Supplements for a Lifespan


Recommendations for women from Baylor Rice. Before puberty • Omega fatty acids available in childfriendly forms like Coromega packets, Omega Fusion, a flavored liquid, and chewables. • Multi-vitamin and mineral in a nosugar, nonallergenic formula such as Animal Parade, Nordic Berries or Kirkman Labs.

Health Advocate A compounding pharmacy addresses women’s concerns at all ages. by Julie Geen


fter a few years as a pharmacist in a traditional retail store, Baylor Rice, founder of South River Compounding Pharmacy, noticed something. Namely, that the drugs he dispensed often didn’t lead to good health. “Women came in, originally not for themselves but for little Johnny’s antibiotics or their husband’s prescription, and the next thing you know, they were getting a synthetic hormone prescribed,” he says. “A month or two later they were getting a fluid pill because they were gaining weight and then an anti-anxiety pill, and then an antidepressant and then a sleeping pill. And it wasn’t necessarily in that order and it wasn’t necessarily all those drugs all the time, but it was enough of a pattern.” The women changed, he noticed. “Fast-forward six months and she looked like a different person, and not in a good way,” Rice says. “You went from no meds to a bunch of meds and you feel worse than you did before. Something is going on. You see that enough times, and it’s great for the pharmacy business, but it isn’t fixing or helping things. It’s perpetuating, and so I knew I needed to look at things differently.” A licensed pharmacist since 1994, Rice opened South River Compounding Pharmacy in 1998. Such a pharmacy intends to offer customized health care, whether through prescription medication or natural alternatives. A patient seeking help with menopause might coordinate lab tests with her doctor or get a test kit for at-home use. Next comes a six-page evaluation and consultation. “Options are we can do nothing, we can do over-the-counter, we can do synthetic hormones or we can do natural hormones,” Rice says. “Maybe they weren’t aware that there was some natural | 18 | AUGUST 2012


stuff they could do.” The recommendations, if they include synthetic or bio-identical hormone replacement therapy, are given to the doctor, who writes the prescription that then is compounded at the pharmacy. Most prescriptions are covered under insurance plans. Many people find their way to the compounding pharmacy as a last resort. They might have a disease, or autoimmune disorders such as fibromyalgia or rheumatoid arthritis, or they simply want to treat their high cholesterol without pharmaceutical drugs. “They’ve found their way to us and want to consult with us because I’m not treating the diagnosis,” Rice says. “I’m not diagnosing, because I can’t diagnose. I’m looking at the body as a functioning unit, looking at the labs and how it makes sense with their symptoms and their history. It’s like a puzzle. Let’s try to get to the root cause versus killing the messenger. You can treat the root or you can treat the symptom.” Sometimes the recommendation for treatment is a custom protocol for herbals or homeopathy. For some people it’s diet and exercise. South River offers educational seminars on many topics, including menopause, stress and weight loss. Consultations are available with a holistic nurse practitioner or a nutritionist. Rice says he’s received calls from doctors who want to know more about what he’s using, because the patient improved without taking a drug. “Sometimes it’s natural ingredients,” Rice says, “sometimes it’s a blend of both. We’re using the best of both worlds.” In the end it’s the patient who’s empowered. “I always tell the patient that they are the boss,” Rice explains. “They are in charge. We’re here to help guide you, educate you and be your voice and get you to where you want to be. And that’s working with their health care practitioner. We don’t try to circumvent the system. We try to work within the system.” For information, go to southriverrx.com or call 897-6447


Puberty • Omega fatty acids - increase dose for skin, hormone and mood concerns. • Multi-vitamin mineral: Clinical Nutrients for Teens meets their special needs with B-complex, calcium and antioxidants. • Consider using a probiotic such as Multi Flora Support and zinc piccolinate for acne. Teen • Omega fatty acids: increase dose for skin, hormone and mood concerns. • Multi-vitamin mineral formulated for teens (see above). • Consider using Vitex Extract for prementsural symptoms and menstruation troubles, such as PMS Vitex Plus. • Consider using a high-quality protein shake for the highly active, nonbreakfast eater such as Plant Fusion, Fit Food Lite whey or ultrameal rice, whey or soy. Adult  Pregnancy • Omega fatty acids. • Multi-vitamin mineral, such as Clinical Nutrients for Women or Clinical Nutrients prenatal formula. • Consider nutritional support for stress-filled times such as South River’s Stress Support, Adrenal Support and L-theanine. • Take additional calcium. With a good diet and proper supplementation women can increase bone density until around age 40. • Consider doing a metabolic detoxification twice a year such as Metagenics Clear Change program, or Xymogen’s Opticleanse program. Menopause  Senior • Omega fatty acids: Increase dose for memory, hormone imbalance and heart health. Pure Omega line comes in a variety of strengths. • Multi-vitamin mineral (consider whole foods options for sensitive stomachs, otherwise Clinical Nutrients for 45 plus Women). • Increase calcium or change form as appropriate for age and absorption. Bone Support is a great combination of calcium and magnesium and other minerals. • Consider adding additional hormonal support such as Menopause Complex or Prog Balance, which is progesterone cream. • Consider using a high-quality protein shake to improve protein intake without increasing saturated fats.

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AUGUST 2012 | 19 |

b o dy & s o u l

private parts

Dodging Bullets What makes a woman hot at 50?


will be 50 in the fall, and I’m not going to pretend it’s easy for me to watch my jaw line soften and my once proud rack go down like helium balloons after the birthday. “No one,” says my friend Carolan, 55, “prepares you for this.” Like childbirth, motherhood and death, I suppose you can’t gauge how you will handle aging until you get there. I’m shocked by my plastic surgery fantasies. I never, to my way of thinking, really, truly played the game. So why would getting out of it rattle me? I understand how things work by the time I’m in middle school. Pretty girls get boyfriends. And pretty girls wear makeup, dress in the right clothes and act seductive. I feel a vague contempt, wanting to be loved just because, yearning to meet a boy who wants to sort through the contents of my mind. But I am a tall girl, skinny, with large eyes and a mane of mermaid hair. In high school, I’m offered a contract with a local modeling agency, and do some small jobs. I am both disgusted and pleased at the same time. I try to benefit from the game without getting attached to it. I rebel completely in college and my modeling contract is

| 20 | AUGUST 2012


by julie geen

revoked when I go punk. Through the following years, my body and my clothing are more like a billboard for mild rebellion than anything else. In my early thirties, I get my waist-length hair sheared into a buzz cut, frequenting barbershops instead of salons for many years. After my first baby is born, I stop shaving or wearing any makeup at all. Years later, I love skirts and red lipstick. It is all something I don’t take very seriously. And yet, this year, at age 49 I find out a hard truth. No matter much I tried to inoculate myself, I still absorbed the cultural, perhaps even biological dictate that beauty, specifically sexual desirability, is currency. It fades, as it must, and it is a loss. “There is a natural, organic grief process that has to take place,” Carolan says. “I think you can apply it to the stages of grief.” I figure I’ve been through denial, and am somewhere between anger and bargaining, with depression and acceptance on the horizon. “There’s an interesting window between the ages of about 48 through 55,” Carolan says. “You’re not young, but you’re not old, either.” She

tells me how she panicked when she was my age. “I got down to my fighting weight. I got a big burst of male attention. And then I watched it wane into invisibility. Not that you never look good, or don’t get attention. It’s just different. You know how you have a picture of yourself in your mind? I have to take a new picture and get real and be OK with it.” While my estrogen wanes, I find myself in an interesting soup of being as randy as a 16-year-old boy, wanting to pay someone vast sums of money I don’t have for a new neck, and desperately needing a Dodge Challenger. So what if you don’t think I’m hot anymore? I’ll beat the hell out of you coming out of that stoplight. I joke that I am becoming a man. But who I am becoming is a woman free of a currency that feels like power and bondage simultaneously. I had my day wielding that double-edged sword. For my trip to the other side, I’ll hang on to the things I valued before my ovaries ripened, like books, music, writing, art, animals and the people who love me. I will have talismans: badass boots and a leather jacket. And, I hope, a Dodge Challenger.

photo illustration by kira jenkins

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AUGUST 2012 | 21 |

AGEnda C o mpil e d by

Pop Vox Gossip frontwoman Beth Ditto admits she listened to a lot of Abba during three years between albums, and the mark of the Swedes is apparent on the band’s fifth release. Flanked by soaring synths and bouncing bass grooves, the trio’s unbridled soul pop has never sounded more amped. Ditto’s incomparable, bowl-you-over vocals bob and dip on dance-floor stompers. “A Joyful Noise” (Columbia) excites and is worth spreading the good word about.

Flying Leap If you’re experiencing gymnastics withdrawal after the summer Olympics, head to the Richmond Coliseum at 601 E. Leigh St. for Cirque du Soleil’s Dralion show, which fuses 3,000-year-old Chinese acrobatic arts with Western traditions. Shows are Aug. 8-12, and tickets start at $61. richmondcoliseum. net.

| 22 | august 2012


J uli e G e e n, Eli z ab e th Je w e tt


H ilary L angf o rd

In a Trance Ten years ago, a raucous band named the Walkmen probably wouldn’t have imagined that its sixth record would be described as mature and hypnotic. That’s exactly what its latest, “Heaven” (Fat Possum), sounds like, embracing glorious melodies and introspective lyrics that are more dramatic than anything we’ve heard from the New York- and Philly-based quintet, which clearly is at its apex. Rind Time There’s likely just one event in the world that boasts more than 3,000 watermelons, and it’s here in Richmond. Carytown plays host to the 29th annual Watermelon Festival on Aug. 5 from 10 a.m.-6 p.m., featuring musicians, vendors, and of course, plenty of those mighty red melons. Admission is free, and you can expect a crowd. carytownrva.org/watermelon.php.

Brides with Heart Weddings are a billion-dollarplus industry. Shouldn’t some of that money do good? That’s the idea behind a two-day sale on designer wedding gowns, with proceeds benefiting cancer patients and their families. The sale promises steep discounts, Aug. 17 from noon-7 p.m. and Aug. 18, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. at the Omni Richmond Hotel at 100 S. 12th St. Admission is $5. bridesagainstbreastcancer.org.

Madge Material Love her or hate her, the Material Girl has influenced world culture for nearly 30 years. In “Madonna and Me: Women Writers on the Queen of Pop” (Soft Skull Press; $16.95), women of all backgrounds explore every facet of Madge’s impact. What emerges are sharp, feminist, sometimes fierce and often humorous personal perspectives on what it’s like to grow up in the maelstrom of conflicting views about female sexuality, beauty and power.

Spy in Town Follow a real-life, black Union spy through the streets of Richmond in the excellent historical fiction novel, “The Secrets of Mary Bowser,” by Lois Leveen (William Morrow, $15.99). Born into slavery, Mary spends her childhood in the Van Lew mansion in Church Hill and ends up working and spying in the Confederate White House in this epic portrayal of another side of the Civil War.

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AUGUST 2012 | 23 |

g r e at ta s t e

an educated guest Marissa Keesler, 26 Pastry chef, Buckhead’s The self-described daddy’s girl grew up in her father’s restaurant. Years after cooking at the Dominion Club’s pool bar and grill, Marissa embraced her passion of becoming a pastry chef and enrolled at Johnson & Wales University. Biggest influence: My father is the person I look up to the most. Thanks to him, I have always had the knowledge, along with very realistic expectations, of the industry. I’m also inspired by chef Frances Burnett of Johnson & Wales, one of a few certified female master bakers; she was always supportive and never let me forget how talented I was. Where she eats when she is not cooking: I eat a gluten-free diet. Chipotle, Mom’s Siam and Mekong are among the places I regularly dine. Advice to other women: When starting out, seek work in different segments of the industry to gain experience in its many branches, giving you a well-rounded understanding of the business as a whole. Cooking tip: Always start with the highest-quality ingredients. Don’t be afraid to experiment with new flavors and techniques. Cooking shoes: Birkenstocks. To stay in shape in this profession: I have a chronic lumbar strain, a result of a car accident, and scoliosis. Back exercises keep my back strong and healthy enough to work. I also find that massage helps in keeping me healthy, physically and mentally. As for skin care, I only use all-natural face and body products for my sensitive skin.

Labor with Love Kitchen pros tell us how they take the heat and stay in the game.

F by

Ellie Basch


Robey Martin

ar from the easy glamour associated with celebrity chefs, professional cooks and bakers work long hours in cramped kitchens. Scrapes, cuts and burn marks accumulate over the years, though they occur less often with experience. Twelve-hour workdays are normal; Monday-through-Friday schedules are rare. Often, new business owners work another full-time job to support their passion for creating delicious edibles. Cooks and bakers constantly subject their bodies to the extremes of a kitchen — from the dry heat of a grill to the boiling steam of water, from the blast of cold refrigerator air to the scorching heat of an oven. Chopping vegetables for six straight hours, lifting 50-pound sacks of flour, hunching for hours to decorate hundreds of cookies or canapés — all of it is pure physical labor. Yet these kitchen professionals speak of a rewarding career. We asked eight local food professionals where they find the inspiration, nourishment and commitment to work so intensely. | 24 | AUGUST 2012


Miki Guillot Pennington, 30 Atomic Bakery

For the past two years, Pennington has been the baker behind the delicious retro cupcakes at Atomic Bakery. She says she loves the moment she hands someone a cupcake and knows that she has created a small slice of happiness in someone’s day. Biggest influence: My mother and mother-in-law, who always have a pie or a cake waiting for my husband and me whenever we come to visit. Where she eats when she is not cooking:

We love trying new restaurants in town. Some [other] favorites are Mamma ‘Zu, the Roosevelt, Bottoms Up Pizza, and Sticky Rice’s sushi or sometimes you just need a bucket of tots. Advice to other women: Be patient and persistent. If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again. Cooking tip: Test and tweak recipes as many times as necessary until you end up with a product that you’d eat again and again. Cooking shoes: A comfortable pair of tennis shoes or Dansko or Sanita clogs. To stay in shape in this profession: Water, water, water! I make sure to drink a lot of water and try to eat a fairly healthy diet with lots of fruits and veggies. I’m a big fan of running. I get both physical exercise and me time when I run. I also try to use a good moisturizer before bed, especially on my hands and face.

photos by scott elmquist

g r e at ta s t e Bridgett Clark, 28 Selba Clark started cooking at a sandwich shop when she was 14 and moved through the ranks — sous chef at Chuck’s BBQ, a personal chef and now a line cook at Selba. She started developing her taste for good flavor sucking on crab and shrimp at the age of 2. Biggest influence: My grandfather, Dennis Lowes, was the owner of Fitzgerald’s at Hilton Head. I was inspired at a young age by his food and perseverance. Where she eats when she is not cooking: Comfort and Chopstix. I am an avid reader of the health-codeviolation list. Advice to other women: Be passionate about what you do. Take a deep breath and show the boys what you are made of. Cooking tip: Knives are sharp. Cooking shoes: Wal-Mart specials, $19. To stay in shape for this profession: Actually I have to work twice as hard as the boys, because I have these short legs. ... I’m always running around, climbing. Work really just keeps me in shape, and I work hard, but play harder, always a good motivator. Tammy Brawley, 51 Chef, owner of Green Kitchen It takes gumption to quit a steady job and go to culinary school to follow your dream. Tammy Brawley did that seven years ago and has been cooking, catering and teaching cooking classes ever since. Biggest influence: I look up to many chefs, but I admire female chefs who have held their own. My mentors include chef Eric Breckoff at J. Sargeant Reynolds, chef Ed Blase, my internship chef at Edible Garden, and chef Christine Wansleben of Mise en Place Culinary Center, who offered advice and assistance and has never hesitated to help. Where she eats when she is not cooking: Mamma ‘Zu and Peter Chang’s. But we have a “bucket list” of restaurants to try. We recently went to Addis Ethiopian — it was delicious and a great experience to eat with your fingers. Advice to other women: Believe in yourself and your dream, and keep persevering. There will be someone trying to shoot down your dream, but there are many more who will support you. Cooking tip: Read a recipe all the way through before starting to cook it. Cooking shoes: Birkenstock clogs. To stay in shape in this profession: I practice yoga and a little meditation; they quiet my mind and let me focus from within. For skin care, one of my favorite things is elderflower under-eye gel from the Body Shop. When I toss vegetables for roasting, I rub a little olive oil into my hands before washing them. It is a natural moisturizer. Of course, I drink lots of water all day long.

photos by Ash daniel

an educated guest

Maria Onsel, 42 Hispania Bakery Since her late 20s, Maria Onsel has shared her delectable pastries with her friends and family, who encouraged her to start a business. It wasn’t until last year, when she was laid off, that Maria took the plunge and Hispania Bakery was born. Biggest influence: I’m self-taught, so I learned from reading cookbooks and practicing. I also found inspirations in the pastries I ate during my travels or eating out. In the short time I’ve been in business, I’ve received a lot of support and advice from fellow [farmers’ markets] vendors Nicole Lang from Dollop Desserts, Evrim Dogu from Sub Rosa bread, and Mark McIntyre from Norwood Cottage Bakery. Their encouragement and honesty when I test new recipes on them has been invaluable. Where she eats when she is not cooking: Working at the farmers’ market, I get delicious, local food from other vendors such as Pizza Tonight and Sausagecraft, and fresh, organic produce from Victory Farms. I like ethnic places such as Mekong and Peter Chang’s and new Southern from the Roosevelt, Comfort and Pasture. Advice to other women: Stay true to yourself and vision. Take care of the regular customers first, and don’t let every advice from well-meaning customers overwhelm you. Cooking tip: As a baker, get an oven thermometer since every oven is different and may need calibration. When ingredients have to be at room temperature, speed up the process by immersing eggs in warm water for 10 minutes, or cutting up butter into little pieces. Cooking shoes: Lately, Keens. They’re comfortable and virtually indestructible. To stay in shape in this profession: I have a bad back made worse by a car accident in 2009. I get regular chiropractic adjustments and stretch out to stay limber. I wear Eucerin Sensitive Skin SPF 30 before I go outdoors. I like Mario Badescu products because they have products for every skin type.


AUGUST 2012 | 25 |

g r e at ta s t e

Lauren Jurk, 29 The Hard Shell Midlothian

an educated guest

Blue Clements, 26 Neighborhood Resource Center, Fulton Hill Blue Clements is teaching cooking classes to kids and making sure the meals for the center’s preschool and after-school program are underway. Cooking for 50 or 60 people a day has accelerated Blue’s culinary skills — she started cooking two-and-a-half years ago. Practice makes perfect and Blue gets a lot of practice in her kitchen. Biggest influence: Mary Lou Decossaux, the founder of the NRC, shaped my development as a chef, teacher and person. [Decossaux died last year.] She taught me not to take short cuts, to pay attention, to wash produce in vinegar and always keep the kitchen floor clean. I think of her a lot, but especially when I have a choice between doing something the right way, or doing it an easy way. Where she eats when she is not cooking: I frequent many of Richmond’s amazing restaurants, like 8 ½, Ipanema and Garnett’s Cafe. Recently, Burger Bach and Don’t Look Back. Advice to other women: Embrace practice. Every time I learn a new technique I’m reminded of how long it takes me to actually get good at it. Cooking tip: Pay attention, especially to things that are hot or sharp. Cooking shoes: I used to wear Vans, but I recently caved and started wearing sneakers. They are just so comfortable. To stay in shape in this profession: Lately I’ve been into running and kettle bell exercises, but I change things up with biking, playing sports or lifting at the gym. My day starts with a glass of plain kefir and I try to limit the coffee. I can’t say I have a beauty routine, but natural hand lotion is an absolute must.

As her mother’s 4-year-old sous chef, Jurk learned the creating process from scratch. Her family, acting as guinea pigs, encouraged her passion at a young age and allowed her to cultivate flavors at home. Biggest influence: Chef Jean Paul Labadie, who worked with Emeril Lagasse and currently at Garfield’s in Las Vegas, was my mentor and chef for a good portion of my career in Las Vegas. He inspired me and molded me into who I am in the kitchen today. Where she eats when she is not cooking: A few places I enjoy are Sticky Rice, Julep’s and Buz and Ned’s. I love the farmers’ markets in Richmond. We didn’t have anything similar in Las Vegas. Advice to other women: You have to be tough and keep learning. Cooking tip: Taste everything. Cooking shoes: Klogs. To stay in shape in this profession: It is a very physical job in a very hot environment. Work for me is a work out, and keeps me in shape. I also try to stay active and drink a lot of water.

Suguna Pai, 50 Malabar Cooking and creating tasty food has always been a priority for Pai. She grew up in India, where myriad festivals were celebrated, providing her opportunities to sample and get to know all types of Indian cuisines. Biggest influence: My mother and maternal grandmother. My mother was responsible for dishing out three meals daily from scratch with fresh ingredients. We visited my grandmother in Mangalore each summer. Her mackerel and lobster curries were to die for. Where she eats when she is not cooking: I like to frequent Millie’s, Pho [on Horsepen Road], California Pizza Kitchen and Baker’s Crust. Advice to other women: A basic training course is important. Experiment with new cuisine and always try new things. Cooking tip: Use real ingredients; do not substitute with the latest healthy product. Cooking shoes: Basic comfortable flats. To stay in shape in this profession: Working on my feet all day and being active keeps me fit. But a yoga session three times weekly really helps to maintain overall health. I am not able to keep up with the yoga in a disciplined manner but I do my best. Meditation and chanting Hindu scriptures is a huge part of my regimen. I am truly thankful for the guidance I received from my parents during my formative years.

| 26 | AUGUST 2012


photos by scott elmquist

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AUGUST 2012 | 27 |

f i r st p e r s o n

Less Is Enough What Malawi women can teach us about joy. by


he village in Malawi where I traveled to build a house through Habitat for Humanity in May was a world of women. They were everywhere. They carried impossibly large buckets of water on their heads down long dirt lanes. They sat outside of homes and ground maize into flour. They breast-fed infants, herded toddlers, tended to goats and chickens and cleaned clothes. By Western standards, the people of the village led lives of unimaginable hardship. They had no electricity, no indoor plumbing, and limited access to medicine and education. The majority of Malawians are subsistence farmers, which means if there’s a drought or a flood during the growing season, starvation looms as a very real possibility. My Habitat team worked on two houses, for two women named Marita and Bessie. They are single mothers who care for at least five children, and before Habitat, both lived in the style of house common throughout rural Malawi. The houses consisted of two tiny rooms with dirt floors, no windows and very little light. The structures had thatched roofs, which let in water when it rained, turning | 28 | AUGUST 2012


Elizabeth Jewett

the dirt floors into mud that harbored disease and stant threat of diseases such as malaria and HIV. But what was so striking to all of us throughout spoiled the precious bags of food in storage. Habitat for Humanity International has an in- our week in the village was how happy everyone country staff that locates candidates who have the was, and how it seemed to come from a place that most need. It works with villages to provide build- none of us could name or even understand. Our ing materials and skilled labor. My team, made up group of 13 had more things than everyone in of Americans, Canadians and Australians, was the the village combined, so many more gadgets and toys and material possessions. unskilled labor. And by the end of To celebrate the completion of But what I found in this colorful, the week we’d finished the walls of Bessie and Marita’s new homes. two Habitat for Humanity houses, gorgeous world populated by una group of Malawians performed breakable women, was a kind of They were simple, basic houses, a traditional dance in a village happiness that didn’t simply exbut they would be dry, safe and outside of Mulanje, Malawi. ist, but flourished in the absence clean. At the dedication ceremony, Bessie and Marita smiled widely, but it wasn’t of money and material wealth. It grew in darkness and in hardship, through sickness and hunger. It the first time we saw them happy. We saw them smile throughout the week, almost isn’t stunted by adversity but strengthened by it, constantly, along with the other women of the vil- until it’s as unyielding as steel. With their new homes, Bessie and Marita’s lage. They smiled at us and at each other and while they went about every task. We saw them sing and quality of life will greatly improve, but I know dance with such spontaneous, unbridled joy that a that those four walls, and their benefits, are group of uncoordinated Westerners couldn’t help purely physical. The joy inside those walls, that but join in to try to feel even a little of it. Malawians beautiful, unique breed of happiness I found in face tremendous challenges that we in the United Malawi, in the village, and in those women, was States can’t begin to fathom: hunger and the con- there all along. photo by elizabeth jewett

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AUGUST 2012 | 29 |

f i r st p e r s o n

30-Something There’s cake beneath the candles.


knew I was getting older when I had a come-toJesus moment with my dental hygienist: A few weeks shy of my 37th birthday I rededicated my life to flossing. Once upon a time my crucial decisions hinged upon song lyrics or lines from literature. Now they’re tempered by a desire to remain intact. Words and art and music still motivate me, but now living long enough to see what motivates my son plays a role, too. If you’d told me as a teenager that I’d be among the first of my friends to get married and have a baby I would have cut my own hair and eaten it, instead of just cutting, bleaching and dreading it. I wanted to grow up not only to be a writer, but also a bitter, detached, maybe alcoholic, perhaps starving writer with no strings attached and no obligations to anyone. Just prior to my Dorothy Parker years when I was still in the single digits, my friends and I played a game called Fresh Out of College in which we acted out glamorous lives involving high heels, convertibles, boyfriends and, most important, unchecked freedom. More often than “Eat your vegetables,” my mother said to me: “Don’t wish your life away,” encouraging me to slow down, breathe and enjoy

| 30 | AUGUST 2012



Valley Haggard

the perks of childhood. I, however, wanted to manage my own life, one in which, if the spirit moved me, I could stay up all night eating candy. When I finally reached the magical age of Old Enough to Move Out, I didn’t stay up all night eating candy, but I did stay up all night doing everything else. Naturally, there was a price to pay — a debt I owed well into my 20s. Those experiences both shaped me and gave me a deep well to draw from. I don’t regret any of the detours I’ve taken along my path — nor do I want to retrace them. While my 20s were about taking the world apart, putting it back together, marrying a man, having a son and finding myself as a writer, my 30s have been about the marriage of writing and reality. But I’m not only uncovering the occasional pearl of wisdom, I’m also unwinding sticky, tangled knots of red tape. A recent hallmark of maturity is my willingness to tackle tax returns, health insurance, a business license and the Department of Motor Vehicles — God forbid all on the same day. My current goal is to dot the i’s and cross the t’s — while still trying to write a sentence worth reading. I think it’s safe to say that integrating all of my selves will be a lifelong mission.

This week, my husband, excited that he remembered to take the trash to the curb on the right day, immediately was besieged with shame for feeling excited that he remembered to take the trash out on the right day. Personally, I feel like Super Woman if I manage to return my library books on time. To be fair, early on, neither of us had overwhelming expectations for ourselves. By 30, I thought I’d be divorced and homeless, and he thought he’d be dead. So we’re in unimagined territory, accepting responsibility for lives we never thought we’d have. And it’s a beautiful, albeit, messy life. I have younger friends who could run for president and older friends who could use babysitters. Me, I’m both. I have a house, a family, a career and a beautiful community of friends and acquaintances, but my husband didn’t give me the superhero name Fatal Leap for nothing. Ask me to balance my checkbook accurately or look at me funny and I need all the help I can get. In the midst of learning to balance the responsibility, the creativity, the beauty and the chaos, I still want to stay up all night eating candy. But before I go to bed, I’m going to brush — and floss — my teeth. photo illustration by ed harrington

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Belle Magazine August 2012  

Style Weekly's magazine for Richmond women. This month - Fearless Beauty: How to look and feel your best with every birthday.

Belle Magazine August 2012  

Style Weekly's magazine for Richmond women. This month - Fearless Beauty: How to look and feel your best with every birthday.