All About the Details: Food & Beverage Director Raises Standards
Mix-Media: Local Artist Speaks Out About Her Struggle with Mental Health
Let’s Dive In: Graceful Confidence Podcast Host is Making an Impact on the World
Volume 01, Issue No. 07 • DECEMBER 2021
October 15 – December 7 YOUR PLACE INSURANCE • 2320 NE 2ND STREET, UNIT 5 • OCALA, FLORIDA 34470
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TA B L E O F C O N T E N T S LETTER FROM THE PUBLISHER
Dear Ocala Mental Health Awareness
BREAKING SOCIAL NORMS
Gratitude: One Woman Shares Her Vision of Living from the Heart
Musical Joy: The Conclusion of Joshua’s Story
Ocala’s Gem: Communication Specialist Treasures All Things To Do [In] Ocala
FROM THE EXPERTS
ON THE COVER
Holiday Stress: Tips for Managing Stress, Anxiety, & Depression this Season
What Makes Some People More Successful than Others
THE CHEWS LETTER
All About the Details: Food & Beverage Director Raises Standards
Adam Rountree: Artist Q&A
TEDx Ocala: A Chat with Three 2021 Speakers
M E N TA L H E A LT H A W A R E N E S S
Mix Media: Local Artist Speaks Out About Her Struggle with Mental Health
Finding Home: The Gathering of Beautiful Minds at The Ora Clubhouse
The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow …Maybe Living with Bipolar Disorder
F E AT U R E
Let’s Dive In: Graceful Confidence Podcast Host is Making an Impact on the World
Geeks, Bytes, & Automation: Ocala Business Owner Clicks Keys & Heels
Comforting Families Through Pregnancy Loss
REQUEST A FREE CARE PACKAGE www.ourheartsalign.org @ourheartsalign
LETTER FROM THE PUBLISHER
JODI ANDERSON & LISA ANDERSON DEAR OCALA,
lenn Close is quoted, “What mental health needs is more sunlight, more candor, and more unashamed conversation.” As a person who has found myself surrounded by people who struggle with mental health every day, I believe this statement to be profoundly true. I have gone through bouts of depression in my life, where getting out of bed was the most difficult decision for me to make. I considered suicide in my teens, and I self-harmed in my early twenties. To this day, I still struggle with the idea and the stigma that comes from the box checked “depression” on my medical records. Social media channels are full of people encouraging others to talk about their mental health—to have that unashamed conversation—and yet, it is still often met with negativity and stigma. This is one of the many reasons I created a magazine that would tackle these types of stories. I feel it is important to not see a person as one thing or another, but to see them as a whole human being. The holidays are not cheerful for everyone. Many people are alone. Many people are thinking about loved ones who have passed, or they are feeling stressed over upcoming family gatherings. While we jingle our holiday bells and decorate our porches with holly and lights, many people are forcing a smile. When I announced the theme for this issue, my editor, Jodi Anderson, requested to share her personal struggle with mental health, and author, artist, and musician Leah Oxendine reached out, asking to also be involved. I met Leda Pérez at a fundraiser, and when I heard about her position at The Ora Clubhouse, I knew her story needed to be a part of this issue, too. Of course, there must always be balance, and to that effect, I reached out to the host of the Graceful Confidence Podcast, Lauren Debick. Her positivity and message are truly inspiring. I also had the privilege to interview three of the speakers from TEDx Ocala, and their ideas are definitely worth spreading.
If you find yourself struggling with stress, anxiety, and/or depression over the holidays, you may want to read the tips from this month’s expert, Dr. Mary Driscoll. She offers some guidelines to help you manage your mental wellbeing during a time when you might feel too busy to take care of yourself. As you trim your trees, stuff your stockings, or spin a dreidel, please take a moment to check in on your loved ones, and don’t forget to care for your mental wellbeing. I truly hope you can spend the holidays in a way that fills your cup. Be Well and Be Safe,
Lisa Anderson Media
HELPING YOU SHARE YOUR STORY
GEEKS, BYTES, & AUTOMATION OCALA BUSINESS OWNER CLICKS KEYS & HEELS ayen Kamta is an East Coast native, who decided to take a chance on building a new business—two businesses, actually. “One is called Geeks Do Byte, and this is a mobile application service. I create websites and apps for iPhone and Android. I have another [business] called Red Script Kitty, and this is automation [related]. I go into a business as a consultant, and I will help automate their tasks,” Rayen explains. For example, he recently helped a business move their permitting department from pen and paper to a digitally-based process. Rayen created software the company’s clients could easily use to fill in a PDF with all necessary information—saving everyone time. Rayen believes in transparency and education. He will teach his clients how to maintain a blog and utilize the software they are purchasing, and once his clients have paid in full, he transfers the rights of the source code to them. This means if a client chooses to utilize another company, they don’t need to start from scratch, as Rayen often does, when he works with a new client.
He is into more than bits and bytes, though. Since moving to the area, Rayen has started taking dance lessons. “It’s really fun. The first day I didn’t know how to do [the steps]. The box step was so hard, and now I could do it in my sleep. It’s really fun to meet new people there, [too].” When he isn’t working or dancing, Rayen enjoys getting out into nature and spending time with his dog and two cats. Originally from New Jersey, Rayen moved down to Ocala in 2020 after reading an article that had ranked Ocala as Number One for small businesses back in 2008 or 2009. He is excited about the growth of the city over the next five to ten years and intends to give back through volunteering. Rayen wants to support and nurture the community he is now happy to call home. LEARN MORE Red Script Kitty: ocala.dev Geeks Do Byte: geeksdobyte.com
G IVE RTORIAL SPO NSO RED BY LISA ANDERSO N MEDIA , LLC
BREAKING SOCIAL NORMS
PATRICIA WAGNER 8
BREAKING SOCIAL NORMS
ONE WOMAN SHARES HER VISION OF LIVING FROM THE HEART Story & Photo by LISA ANDERSON
n 2019, Patricia Wagner stood up in front of the TEDx Ocala audience and gave a talk called Living in Heart-Centered Gratitude. Nerve-shaking as this might be for most people, it was a huge step in Patricia’s life and a dream fulfillment of delivering her message. As a child, she was terrified of speaking. “I was so fearful to speak to anyone outside my core family. That stayed with me my whole life. I’ve had to work so hard to speak.” Her sister would often need to answer for Patricia when someone spoke to her in public, but that didn’t stop her from being ambitious in her career. When she left the corporate workforce, in 1998, she was the Director of Public Space Management for the Tampa Downtown Partnership. The decision to leave was a spiritual one for her.
If I were to share with you a way to create heaven on earth, would you do it? — Patricia Wagner, TEDx Ocala, 2019
Patricia became a New Thought minister and teacher, a certified energy healing instructor, a lifelong meditator, and she opened her own company Grace Unlimited, Inc., in 2000. She had a message she wanted to bring to the world. “If I were to share with you a way to create heaven on earth, would you do it?” she asks at the opening of her TEDx talk. The focus of her message is living in gratitude and creating heaven on earth through the understanding that we are one with God. She conducts free workshops: “7-Day Heart Centered Gratitude Experiments” and “The Divine Two Step: SelfActualizing Practices for Awakening in Oneness.” On a flyer explaining a vision she had in 1999, Patricia writes, “There was an awareness that the purpose of every life experience—every thought, every relationship, every circumstance, every moment on earth—is for realizing our oneness with God.”
Through her talks and workshops, Patricia hopes to bring peace, unity, and above all, gratitude to her students and the world. “It’s not going to take all of us to embody them, but it is going to take a collective utilizing these self-regulating, selfactualizing practices to cause the paradigm shift on the planet into peace on earth—heaven on earth,” she states, referring to visions she had, which she now calls Two Doors Vision, Looking for Light, and The Christ Chalice.
TO LEARN MORE
TEDx Ocala: bit.ly/ PatriciaWagner-TEDxOcala Interview with Tim Noe: youtu.be/mnaVpFpDm3g Facebook Group: Living in Heart Centered Gratitude
MYTHS ABOUT TITLE INSURANCE Buying a new home is one of life’s most gratifying experiences. Making sure your right to own the property is protected can be just as rewarding. During the process of purchasing your dream home, you’ll hear two words you’ve probably never given much thought – title insurance. As with the rest of the home-buying process, title insurance can be difficult to comprehend. To complicate matters, the topic is often surrounded by misconceptions that keep home buyers from recognizing its importance. Let Your Place Insurance help dispel some of those myths and put you on the path to protection.
1. TITLE INSURANCE OFFERS ONLY MINIMAL PROTECTION
When you purchase a home, you receive “title” to the property. Title is your legal right to own it. Title defects can remain undiscovered for months or even years after you purchase the home, but Title Insurance can protect your home from unforeseen dangers.
2. THERE IS ONLY ONE TYPE OF TITLE INSURANCE
There are two types of title insurance policies: an owner’s policy and a loan policy. An owner’s policy protects you, the property owner, and a loan policy protects the lender’s interest in the property, until the mortgage loan is paid in full. The loan policy provides no coverage to the homeowner.
3. TITLE INSURANCE REQUIRES A MONTHLY OR ANNUAL PREMIUM
Unlike most insurance policies, there is no monthly or annual premium. Title insurance is a one-time cost you pay at closing when you purchase or refinance real property, and lasts until you sell it again.
4. HOMEOWNER’S INSURANCE AND TITLE INSURANCE OFFER THE SAME PROTECTION
Title insurance protects a buyer’s right to ownership and a lender’s investment. On the other hand, homeowner’s insurance is a policy that protects you against potential losses or damage you can experience to the structure of your home or its contents during an insurable incident.
5. HOME BUYERS DO NOT GET TO CHOOSE THE TITLE COMPANY
Under the terms of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA), the buyer generally has the right to choose the title company when the property is purchased with the assistance of a federally related mortgage loan. The property seller may not require the buyer to purchase title insurance from any specific title company, unless it has been instructed that the seller will pay for both the owner’s and loan policies associated with the real estate transaction.
Chad Taylor • Your Independent Insurance Agent
O: (352) 415-4589 • TF: (800) 317-1563 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
M E N TA L H E A LT H A W A R E N E S S
LOCAL ARTIST & AUTHOR SPEAKS OUT ABOUT HER STRUGGLE WITH MENTAL HEALTH
M E N TA L H E A LT H A W A R E N E S S
LEAH OXENDINE Story and Photo by LISA ANDERSON
M E N TA L H E A LT H A W A R E N E S S
ome of the most talented people deal with mental health problems (e.g. Robin Williams). If you are involved in the arts, it is never shocking to hear that the person who composed music, acted in a play, wrote a book, and played multiple instruments also has a mental illness. Leah Oxendine is no different. “I play nine different instruments. I’m a little bit scatterbrained and all over the place, but that’s me!” She also draws, paints, writes, composes music, and sings. “A lot of times when I am trying to communicate something, especially about mental health stuff, I feel like one medium is not enough. You need more than that, because to get the full
“A lot of times when I am trying to communicate something, especially about mental health stuff, I feel like one medium is not enough. — Leah Oxendine
picture–which no one can ever get unless they are in it themselves–you have to use all the mediums you can, just to give a small idea of what is going on up here.” She gestures at her head. “Of course, everyone is different in that, but for me, that’s how I see it.”
In 2018, Leah published an illustrative book of poetry speaking directly to mental health titled When My Soul Bleeds Words. “The book was my big step out to show people this is real for me. The environment that I grew up in was not the best environment for mental health. I was in my mid-teens when I started noticing I had some stuff going on that didn’t feel normal. At the time, unfortunately, people in my life just kind of pushed it off. They would say things like, ‘You’ll get through it. It’s a phase. It’s part of growing up. Don’t worry about it. You’re just moody. Maybe you need to just go to bed and get some sleep.’ They would diminish it. So, I didn’t think anything of it, but what I noticed was that I would have these terrible bouts of depression. I would have days where I just wanted to be in bed all day. I was not motivated to do anything.” As Leah grew older, she had the tendency for self-loathing and self-hatred, which ultimately turned to thoughts of suicide. “It was really scary, and I’m so glad that I didn’t [end it all], but at the time, I was very, very close. The only thing keeping me from doing it was thinking about all the people that still needed me for some reason. “My goal with the book was to shed light on things we experience but don’t want to talk about, because we’ve been shamed into thinking it’s taboo. The fact that we ignore it does not help. I just wanted to say, ‘It’s okay that you’re going through this. It’s okay that you’re feeling these things because you’re human.’ We’re all human. We have a lot of things in common, and we have to acknowledge and accept that about ourselves and not be so condemning of these things that are just a part of humanity.”
Leah began to see a pattern as she matured into adulthood. In one hand, she would have times where she felt invincible. She calls it the “god complex.” It is when she is the most productive—writing books, composing music, etc. On the other hand, she would have crippling depression and anxiety. “I’m actually seeking help for it, now, because I realized I let it go on too long without seeking [that] help. I diminished it for so long. I was in denial. Now, I’m in a place of full acceptance of who I am.” If you don’t struggle with mental health, it can be difficult to understand the thought process and the reasons why a person may do something. Leah believes the most important things you can do to support others is to be willing to listen, be understanding, and have an open mind. “The thing I think people have to remember is that anyone who’s on the spectrum for any type of mental illness, on any level, you can’t look at them and think, ‘How would I act?’ You must think about them in a whole different way. The way that our brains work is very different when you do have a mental illness. You have to be willing to be understanding. You need to be a little more patient, sometimes.”
M E N TA L H E A LT H A W A R E N E S S
LEDA PÉREZ Story by LISA ANDERSON
Photos by B ra n d on Ma r ro q u i n, s u b m it te d by Led a Pé rez
THE GATHERING OF BEAUTIFUL MINDS AT THE ORA CLUBHOUSE
M E N TA L H E A LT H A W A R E N E S S
“We’re all, at some level, dealing with a mental challenge,” says Leda Pérez, Director at The Ora Clubhouse. “Mental illness has a stigma, because it’s not like cancer or physical damage, like broken bones or cuts. Even though mental illness cannot be seen, it is most certainly felt.” The Ora Clubhouse is a local community center that provides its members with a place to build relationships, learn valuable life and employment skills, and gain knowledge about nutrition and fitness. In short, it’s a place where members can reintegrate themselves within the community. The Ora Clubhouse is under the auspice of NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Health) Marion County, a non-profit 501(c)(3), and follows the guidelines and model of Clubhouse International. Clubhouse International began when five individuals came together on the steps of a library in New York simply to offer support. “It’s the power of passion. I love that these people got together, because they wanted to help one another. They ended up helping the world!” Leda, a health and wellness coach, moved from Orlando to Ocala in 2012. She may be best known for starting the networking group Women On a Mission to Earn Commission (WOMTEC), but in 2019, she was offered the position at The Ora Clubhouse. “I had never even heard of it. If you said clubhouse to me, back then, I would have [thought] fitness or working out. “We’re really that next step. We’re not clinical or medical. We don’t do anything like that. All it is is just working side-by-side with someone else. That’s it! Having that communion with people, that interaction [or] conversation. Some days the members are completely silent. They’re just working. It’s that sense of belonging somewhere and fitting in, where the stigma doesn’t even exist.”
PASSION AND BELIEF
Members do not pay to be involved, but they do need a clinical diagnosis. They are involved in every aspect of the clubhouse—from meetings and interviews to the growth and business. The members recently helped name their monthly events and they are now called a Gathering of Beautiful Minds. “I love creating with [our members]. They have such a unique way of expressing themselves, living in this environment, and fitting into that space,” says Leda. “I’m a great believer that what you focus on, you will create. We are creators in this world. We get to dictate where we go and what we want and how we want it. Everybody in this world has the opportunity to create that extraordinary life.” It’s that belief that drives Leda in her role at the clubhouse and as a health and wellness coach. Her family has also struggled through the devastating effects mental health conditions can cause. It’s part of what makes Leda so empathetic to the members of the clubhouse and her community, but working there has helped improve her perspective. “It’s really made me aware we are all going through our own little thing. I’ve learned not to judge as harshly, when we see someone who is really having a difficult day. “In order to feel better about themselves, [our members] exclude themselves from society and close themselves off. And we [The Ora Clubhouse] open our doors and say, ‘You’ve got a place right here.’” The clubhouse is open 365 days a year. They do not currently have housing options available, but Leda says she plans to make that happen. “If we could get to that, you don’t know how wonderful it would be.” Part of the day-to-day activities include outreach to their 54 members. Some days, they are overwhelmed with emails, calls, and texts, but it’s the times you don’t hear from someone you begin to worry. “The most difficult time is during the holidays, when they have nowhere to go,” states Leda, but now, there is the clubhouse.
If you would like to get involved, you can call (352) 402–9001 to donate. All donations are made out to NAMI Marion County, indicating the donation is for The Ora Clubhouse. There are not opportunities to volunteer, as the members do all the work, but other types of donations are greatly appreciated. The clubhouse focuses on nutrition, so canned goods are preferred over snacks and pastas. Advisory Council Members: Dr. Manal Fakhoury Dr. Julie Stubrud Stephanie Judd Angie Rushing Robert Cooper Rev. Cindy Grimes Dottie Comeau Conway Judge Thomas Thompson Regina Lewis Amy Keel Paul Stentiford Kim Sabol Currently Needed: • Transportation Vehicle • Gift Cards to Walmart or Publix • Canned Goods • Monetary Donations For more information, call or email info@ TheOraClubhouse.org.
M E N TA L H E A LT H A W A R E N E S S
The Sun Will
COME OUT TOMORROW...MAYBE: LIVING WITH BIPOLAR DISORDER
Mental Health Awareness (themed stories)
JODI ANDERSON Story by JODI ANDERSON
Photo by LISA ANDERSON
M E N TA L H E A LT H A W A R E N E S S
never thought I would make it to 40, much less 42. In my early adulthood, I wanted to die. I welcomed the thought. At one point, I worked out how I might do it, though I didn’t think I would or could because of the devastation it would cause my family and friends. Depression is a heavy load, and for a long time, I wanted to set it down the only way I knew how: By ending it all, or at least, having it ended. There were many years before my diagnosis with bipolar II disorder when I thought I was a failure, that it was my fault I couldn’t keep a job or socialize or get out of bed. I saw everything through a black and white spiritual lens, then, and blamed a lack of faith in God for my myriad misadventures. Being diagnosed properly—I was misdiagnosed with mild depression, with disastrous consequences from the wrong medication—was a relief. I now had a medical problem, not a spiritual one. I was not disappointing God; I was sick. Surprisingly to me, I have a Christian counselor to thank for pointing me towards medical science. Managing a mental illness is not a linear process. After I was on the right medication, I still had to work with my doctor to find the right dosage. That is an ongoing journey. I’m actually quite lucky in that we hit on the right combination, initially, and I am still on one of the meds 15 years later. The dosage has changed over the years; I went down and then went back up, when the troughs of my depression became the norm. The medication is not the be-all-end-all, either: If I don’t sleep well, exercise regularly, and eat healthfully, I am unbalanced and subject to periods of depression. And even doing all that does not guarantee sunny skies.
WHAT IS BIPOLAR II DISORDER?
When most of us think of bipolar, we picture someone who goes through longer periods of euphoria—taking crazy risks, spending money—and periods of deep depression. That is bipolar I. In bipolar II, the depression is the main symptom, with short-term “highs” that may last anywhere from a few hours to a few days. I say “highs” in quotes, because I have dysphoric episodes, instead of euphoric. (I joke that I don’t even get the good side of bipolar.) In my hypomanic episodes, which last about four days, I get irritable and irrationally angry and am unable to concentrate. I can’t work. With medication, my episodes are fewer, usually one or two a year, and milder. Most of us have ups and downs in our lives, but living with a mental illness adds a layer of struggle. Think of it as a handicap: When others are running, I’m barely walking. I have moments of brilliance, like when I graduated summa cum laude from college, while also going through a divorce. And then I’d get fired from a job, because if I’m not fully satisfied in my position, I’m depressed and can’t function well. Daily, outsiders don’t see the difference, because I have learned to mask. I’m naturally rather good-natured, and smiling comes easily. I have used alcohol in the past to dampen my symptoms, to quiet the voices in my head. It often looked like I was just having fun on a night out. But it doesn’t have to be that serious. We are conditioned to answer, “How are you?” with “I’m good!” Some days, it’s true. Frequently, it is not. Smile anyway. The depression may not feel too heavy on the good days, but it is like an overcast sky, dimming joy and productivity. Very rarely, I’ll have a clear day, and it feels like I’m basking in the full glory of the sun. I feel...normal.
WHAT DOES SUCCESSFUL MANAGEMENT LOOK LIKE?
I believe that measuring success by accomplishments is unhealthy, anyway, but it is even more insidious when living with a mental disorder. Medical science does not know how to “fix” me. I can manage only from day to day. Setting long-term goals seems
like setting myself up for failure. My résumé is ridiculously spotty, but I have deep and long-lasting relationships. My house is usually dirtier than I’d like, but I am widely read and knowledgeable about current and historical events. When I can’t get off the couch to go to the gym, I can cuddle the cats that I’ve rescued. Maintaining balance becomes the goal. Success, to me, means that I am doing everything not to go backwards. Depression makes my brain a liar. In the dark days, I relive my faults and embarrassments, and depression tells me I will always be faulty and embarrassing. When the gloom has lifted, I can more easily love myself and have hope for a brighter tomorrow. I can focus on trying to make the world a better place for others. I can look outward instead of ever inward. Another measure of success is my friendships. I have so many people who love me and some that have seen me through the worst. In fact, I called my best friend of more than 20 years, before writing this, and she wanted me to know that while my progress hasn’t been a straight line, I have come a long way. I may lose my way from time to time and fumble along in the dark, but I always find my way back–back to the sun.
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TO CONTINUE THE STORIES
THE CONCLUSION OF JOSHUA’S STORY
JOSHUA L. MAZUR Story by LISA ANDERSON
oshua L. Mazur is a self-admitted over-thinker. Music is certainly his first love, but when life hands him bigger questions, he turns to other forms of art to help him work through the answers. He dabbles in photography, painting, and even dance. Music is his vocation, but the arts are his inspiration. “My mother and father were avid at-home musicians. My mom sang at church all of the time. Lately, I’ve realized that experience had been a huge one for me.” His family attended the First Baptist Church, and to Joshua, the hymns they would sing now sound similar to the Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi’s music. What may seem like cheating to him now, it was the big, loud singing through large numbers that made it sound like an opera. “I think that musical experience was formative.” His journey has always been a musical one, but how it would shape his future wasn’t crystal clear, as a child. Joshua wanted to be a professional flutist, but a hand injury made that dream impossible. In college, the
Photo by JOSHUA L . MAZUR
composition department closed, so he decided to tackle the piano. Eventually, he switched to voice, which led to studying opera. Joshua wasn’t prepared for the cost of singing. No, not the cost of time or sacrifice, but the actual financial cost. “There are some particular things about the business that [are] unseemly and inequitable.” He’s referring to massive audition fees: “Paying $200 for the pleasure of auditioning for someone and only singing halfway through your aria before someone calls next.”
While he has chosen not to pursue a professional singing career for those reasons, Joshua is at peace with leading his communities through music and helping them to find comfort, joy, and peace. Whether that is with the praise and worship team at Abiding Savior Lutheran Church, conducting his Gainesville community choir Capella Nova, or being a servant to the Ocala Symphony Orchestra through its standing chorus, Joshua is held by the inspiration of music.
COMMUNICATION SPECIALIST TREASURES ALL THINGS TO DO [IN] OCALA
KELLY MCATEE Story & Photo by LISA ANDERSON
elly McAtee is one of the rare Ocala born–and– raised girls. Her look is timeless, her love for the community endless, and her dedication to the betterment of that community is boundless. She is one of Ocala’s gems. Perhaps, surprising to some is that this Ocala Metro Chamber and Economic Partnership (CEP) communication specialist and the mastermind behind the social media sensation Things To Do Ocala, started her adulthood with an AA in biological sciences, specializing in biotechnology and a bachelor’s in health services administration. What she wound up doing is living life as it unfolded. After college, Kelly became a stay-at-home mom for six years. She has two boys, Kyle and Caleb, now in first and third grade. “After I started getting a little stir crazy at the house, and the kids were getting a little bit older, I wanted to start getting back into the workforce. I started [by] attending non-profit, opento-the-public business meetings.”
I wanted to start getting back into the workforce. I started [by] attending non-profit, open-to-thepublic business meetings. — Kelly McAtee
The first meeting she attended on a regular basis was the Tobacco Free Partnership of Marion County. She chose to start there because her friend was the Marion County Liaison. “It was held at our local Habitat for Humanity building. So, I got to start meeting all of these non-profit entities.” Prior to venturing out to these meetings, Kelly had started a hobby that had grown into a rather large Facebook sensation. “I had Ocala Yard Sale for Kids, and it was the largest yard sale group for only kids’ items in Ocala.” Her group became a big asset to non-profits that attended the community meetings. The non-profits would often pass out flyers for upcoming events, and they started to request that Kelly share them with her yard sale group. “One day, at the meeting, we were talking about these upcoming events, and some of them weren’t necessarily just for kids’ events. There were related more towards adults. I said, ‘Well that’s not really going to do well on my yard sale site pertaining to the moms.”
FOLLOW KELLY’S STORY
This story continues through our social media channels on Instagram and Facebook every Wednesday in December. Be sure to follow us @localamag to hear more about Kelly’s smart solution. #localafollowme
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FROM THE EXPERTS
Holiday Stress TIPS FOR MANAGING STRESS, ANXIETY, & DEPRESSION THIS SEASON
FROM THE EXPERTS
Story by LISA ANDERSON
MAKE A PLAN AND SET REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS
“Stress, anxiety, and depression can be moderated through some planning and having reasonable expectations of the outcome,” Mary explains. There’s a massive build-up to the holidays and unrealistic expectations of how good one should feel. This can cause a big letdown when the expectations aren’t
Learning to say no when you don’t have time to add another project to your list is all part of the self-care process. “Take care of yourself. We need to do that all year round, but during the holidays it’s easy to let those things go,” and it’s the exact time of year you shouldn’t let it all slide.
Reading, meditation, exercise, and eating right are all forms of stress management. Mary points out even mindless TV watching, for a short period of time, can be beneficial, if it helps you clear your mind. You just need to find something that works for you. Bottom line, understand that things are rarely, or never, perfect. Set realistic expectations and boundaries. Don’t let the busy-ness of the season overwhelm you.
Photo by Joshua Jacobs
It is especially important this year to agree to disagree at holiday gatherings. “Because of COVID and the fact that people probably didn’t have as many get-togethers over the holidays last year, there’s a lot of expectation to do more of that this year. As a country, we’ve gotten more divided on a lot of things; families have gotten divided to the point that they can’t sit down together, because they argue over things. Ground rule: Just set family differences aside during that time.”
KNOW YOUR LIMITS
FIND YOUR STRESS MANAGEMENT TOOL
AGREE TO DISAGREE
met, and the letdown can be worse for someone with depression. It’s best to avoid the perfectionism. “Things are rarely, or never, perfect,” declares Mary.
ABOUT MARY DRISCOLL PH.D
Mary has a master’s in guidance and counseling and a doctorate in counseling psychology. Dr. Mary Driscoll, Dr. Brent Mruz, & Associates Visit: ocalarecovery.com
Photo by Karolina Grabowska/Pexels.com
r. Mary Driscoll is a licensed psychologist and has had a private practice in the Ocala and Gainesville area for 35 years. An internship at the University of Florida prompted her to move to the state in 1984, and she never left. “I had a daughter that was into horses [at] 10 years old. I finally bought a farm that was on the boundary of the two counties, [Marion and Alachua].” Mary sold the farm and moved to Ocala after her daughter graduated. She has been practicing exclusively in Ocala since 1992. She specializes in treating depression and anxiety, marital and family issues, trauma recovery, gender identity, substance abuse, and aging issues.
FROM THE EXPERTS
EQ THE TOP TRAIT OF SUCCESSFUL PEOPLE Story by DR. MANAL FAKHOURY
Photo by Min An/Pexels
Photo submitted by Manal Fakhoury
hen people are asked what makes some people more successful than others, they say IQ or work ethic as the top two things that contribute to success. IQ and work ethic do not tell the whole story. Emotional intelligence (EQ)–the way we manage our emotions and the emotions of others–plays a vital role in our overall happiness and success. EQ helps you navigate life effectively. “What having emotional intelligence looks like is that you’re confident, good at working towards your goals, adaptable and flexible. You recover quickly from stress and you’re resilient,” says Daniel Goleman, psychologist and author of Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence. “Life goes much more smoothly if you have good emotional intelligence.” The great thing about EQ is that you can improve the components of it at any time. Your emotional intelligence is made up of your self-awareness, selfregulation, motivation, social skills and empathy for yourself and others. There are signs to watch for to see if someone has high EQ or not. Successful leaders are often curious about others they do not know. They know where they excel and where they struggle. Often, they delegate work to others in their areas of weakness. Successful people know how to focus. They are self-aware of their emotions and feelings and why they might be feeling them. They have fulfilling and effective relationships. They are generally ethical and caring people. Almost always, they take time to pay attention to others. They are determined and resilient, as well as a good judge of character. Almost all successful leaders know how to
trust their intuition. They are not afraid to say no, when things are not a fit for them. What you can’t see about the successful person is how they deal with themselves. You can’t see their positive self-talk, their self-care routines (unless you know them well), their day-to-day habits, and the things they do without thinking–their natural talent and abilities. Most super successful people are working within their strengths, so what might seem hard to you
is something they do without thought. It is most often an imbalance of the inner work that keeps people from being more successful than others. Be intentional about building your emotional intelligence and watch your success happen naturally. People will be drawn to you. That is how success works: The more successful you are, the more likely new things, ideas, and people will be drawn to you, as well. You deserve excellence in everything you do.
ABOUT DR. MANAL FAKHOURY For the past 35 years, Manal has been making a difference in Ocala with hard work, generosity, and outstanding leadership. Visit: myfli.com or vestechpartners.com
GRACEFUL CONFIDENCE PODCAST HOST IS MAKING AN IMPACT ON THE WORLD Story by LISA ANDERSON
“Welcome to the Graceful Confidence podcast,” the bright and cheery voice says at the push of the play button. “I’m your host, Lauren Debick. The founder of Life Coaching with Lauren, a female empowerment coach, an entrepreneur, empath, and a lover of the ecofriendly lifestyle…now, let’s dive in.” Lauren grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, but she always knew she was destined to live in a warm environment and near the ocean. She interviewed with The Villages Media during her senior year of college; the week after graduation, she was headed to sunny Florida. Fast forward eleven years and she is now a podcaster and the Community Engagement Director for Marion County Public Schools.
THE LONG JOURNEY
The journey wasn’t so simple for Lauren. She didn’t get to fast forward to her life now, and she didn’t
Photos by JOSHUA JACOBS
wake up one day, decide to start a podcast, and become a successful influencer. “It was a process—an eleven-year process.” That first year in Florida was particularly difficult, and Lauren spent a lot of time traveling to and from Ohio, which meant a lot of time in airports. “If you’ve spent time in airports, you know that they have those books about how to change your life if you’re unhappy. One of the books I picked up initially was The Magic, by Rhonda Byrne. It was all about the power of gratitude, and how [it] can really change your life for the better.” Lauren put what she read into practice, and she saw the change. It inspired her to start a blog about living your best life called “You Got This.” She kept it up until roughly three years ago: Life happened, and the blog fell away. Lauren filled the voice with another blog called “Mermaids and Mana.” The new blog was meant to be about filling your cup and having a positive
impact, but it skewed towards environmental concerns, which is what filled Lauren’s cup.
DISCOVERING GRACEFUL CONFIDENCE
“From a very young age, I’ve been very involved in wanting to do the right thing for people. My mom likes to tell a story of when I was in ballet at two-yearsold. There was a mom who was yelling [at her kid], and I went home and told my parents. I asked, ‘Why do people treat each other like that?’ So, from a very young age, I had that awareness about being kind to others and living things. I tried to save the trees, and even now I’m passionate about ocean conservation. I just want to help everything, but I have also learned that you can’t do everything. So, I transitioned more so into trying to help people become the best version of themselves. Then, in turn, they can positively impact the world in whatever way is important to them.”
Lauren saw the possibility to also make an impact through the sway of marketing and communication and chose her career path accordingly. “There’s a very ugly side to it as well, but it’s powerful, and I saw the influence there.” She first saw radio as a chance to bring little moments of joy to people, but it wasn’t enough. As she moved forward in her professional career, she kept trying to find more
of those moments. “The problem was, I was waiting for something to happen. It was like I was waiting for someone to hand something to me and be like, ‘Okay, here’s this token. Now you can make this positive impact on the world.’ When in reality, I have all the tools that I need.” As COVID made its mark upon the world, Lauren took the time for self-reflection. “I need[ed] to go back and take all of this knowledge
and experience I’ve had from college, from growing up, from writing, from communications and put it together. And that’s how the Graceful Confidence podcast was born! “It started out so I could help other women realize that you can be successful, you can be ambitious, and you can be kind and graceful doing it,” she emphasizes. The podcast is the opposite of the idea that nice girls can’t get a corner office. “Everybody goes through [life’s frustrations]. However, I think it’s how you handle that, and how you treat others when you’re going through those things is what matters.”
NO SUCH THING AS WORK-LIFE BALANCE
“For a long time, I really struggled with trying to compartmentalize myself.” Lauren would be one version of herself at work, one version of herself at home, and one version of herself with friends. Most of us do it. We have personas for varying parts of our lives, but Lauren realized she didn’t need to do that. “Now, I can be myself all the time. So, I can be a professional and have my mermaid mug on my desk. I can be a podcaster and still be able to help with different things.” One of her most recent podcasts covers this topic. Episode 17, Gracefully Accepting There is no Such Thing as Work-Life Balance, talks about her struggle with integrating work and home, and she shares tips on what she will be doing to reduce stress levels in both environments. Lauren will often use her current situations as subjects for the podcast, but she happily takes suggestions from her listeners, too. When she is not well-versed in a topic, she invites a guest to talk about it. A new episode airs once per month, but Patreon members get an additional episode every month.
Lauren gives off the vibe of a realistically positive person. As she says, it’s not about being positive in the frustrating moments of life, but it’s about how you handle them. You can approach them with kindness, understanding, and compassion, or you cannot. We have all seen the situations when someone does not bring those tools to the table. Self-care is a big part of being able to tackle hard situations and living life with graceful confidence. “This is a time we need to take the time for ourselves,” Lauren says. “If the bubble bath and a manicure are your thing, that’s cool, but it’s not always about that. Sometimes, it’s finding that passion project and just going for it. Sometimes, it’s talking to a friend. Sometimes, it’s finding new ways to look at the world and showing appreciation. Sometimes it's finding ways to generate a little more compassion in whatever situation you’re in. You don’t have to wait for something to happen to you.” When Lauren stopped waiting and took the reins, she created a passion project that now has over 1,000 downloads. She is making the impact on the world she was always seeking.
To learn more about Lauren and listen to her podcast, visit laurendebick.com, or download the podcast through your favorite platform.
Inner Peace Massage & Yoga A BAL ANCED LIFE IS A HE ALTHY LIFE
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THE CHEWS LETTER
All About the Details FOOD & BEVERAGE DIRECTOR RAISES STANDARDS
THE CHEWS LETTER
JEREMY GOW Story by CYNTHIA MCFARL AND
Photos by JOSHUA JACOBS
career in hospitality is virtually custom-made for a people-loving extrovert who thrives in social settings. As hotel’s Director of Food and Beverage, Jeremy Gow is in charge of all four restaurant concepts at the stunning new Equestrian Hotel at World Equestrian Center Ocala (WEC). The 248-room hotel also features a luxury spa and almost 13,000 square feet of retail space. A California native who was raised in Titusville, Florida, Jeremy attended the University of Central Florida in Orlando and was determined to take his business degree and work with people. After starting his career with the world’s largest Marriott, located in Orlando, he then moved to Clearwater Beach to work with Hilton. His next step was also with Hilton as general manager of a steak house in Salt Lake City, Utah, which is where he became a certified sommelier in 2016. He eventually became one of Hilton’s youngest food and beverage directors. “I started my training, and it just turned into a passion of really loving wine,” says Jeremy. What’s not to love about the world of wine when it allows you to travel and learn in some of the most beautiful places on earth? Now 32, Jeremy has already traveled extensively as part of his education as a sommelier. Next on the list? France and South America.
HITTING THE GROUND RUNNING
Upon being hired at WEC earlier this year, he was promptly tasked with buying wine, setting up menus, and training staff for The Equestrian Hotel eateries.
These include Stirrups Steakhouse, the Yellow Pony Pub & Garden, Horse to Water Pool & Bar, and Emma’s Patisserie. “We have phenomenal chefs and everybody eats, but not everybody drinks,” observes Jeremy. For those who do enjoy a good drink, his goal is to offer a diverse beverage menu that excites patrons and brings them back. Special events like wine dinners and whiskey dinners also help differentiate the hotel’s restaurants from other dining options in town.
THE CHEWS LETTER WINE, WINE, & MORE
“We have one of—if not the largest—wine menus in Ocala, but we want people to ask if there’s something they want us to bring in,” he says. Patrons certainly reap the benefits of WEC having three certified sommeliers on staff. “This standardizes the language and minimum for quality standards. I don’t think anywhere else in Ocala has as much wine knowledge, but we don’t just study wine,” says Jeremy.
I feel like it was just meant to be that I came here. — Jeremy Gow
Yes, a sommelier is able to blind taste wines and understand how to look for quality, but that’s just the beginning. “Our beverage menus and programming should be fun and engaging. We taste a lot of products, so we can share this knowledge with our guests. For example, finding a $16 bottle of wine that drinks like a $50 bottle,” explains Jeremy, adding that his team’s goal is not about selling the most expensive wine. “We ask what people want to spend and find something great within that budget.”
As the Christmas season approaches, Jeremy says WEC is pulling out all the stops, and the community
is invited to participate. “The whole property will be decorated for the holidays. We’ll be doing a Winter Wonderland, complete with ice skating rink. The ownership really wants to do as much as they can for the community. We will have a lot of holiday events, and you don’t have to be guests at the hotel to come,” says Jeremy, noting that their team is even creating a gingerbread model of the hotel. In a career that offers multiple challenges, Jeremy relishes the opportunity to rise to the occasion and work with others. “I really like building and leading a team, which you get in a hotel setting,” he notes. “It’s a unique setting because we have most aspects of business under one roof.” Jeremy is typically up at 5 and his work day
begins at 7:30. “It’s all about the details. I meet with the hotel team every morning. We look at which guests are arriving, and my day is about supporting the team,” says Jeremy. “We have a great ownership group. We’re very fortunate that they’ve focused on quality and class first, so we have to live up to this facility our ownership has been able to build,” he adds. When you work in hospitality, people are the focus, and Jeremy wouldn’t have it any other way. “The best part of my job is the relationships we create— the team, the chefs, the people I work with, day in and day out, and also the guests,” says Jeremy. “The equestrian community is a great group of people that embodies southern hospitality. There are more people I want to have dinner with and do things with than I have time to!”
Jeremy and his wife Meaghan have one daughter, Emma, 18 months old (no relation to the bakery). When he’s not working, Jeremy is happy to be outdoors. He loves fishing and plays golf at least once a week, but spending time with his family is most important. “The way to grow the fastest in our industry is to be relocatable,” says Jeremy, “but my longterm goal was to end up close to family, and my wife’s whole family is in this area. I feel like it was just meant to be that I came here.”
NOMA Gallery Presents:
A celebration of figurative art through storytelling
On View November December 2021
Little Red and the Wolf by Grace Netanya
Adam Rountree ARTIST Q&A What type of an artist are you/What is your medium? I'm a singer/songwriter. I play guitar, bass, piano, and drums/percussion. I play mostly rock music, though I'm not limited to that genre. What is your background, and how has it informed your art? My music education began in church, learning to follow the vocal arrangements in the hymnal and singing along with the choir. Most of my knowledge after that, was self-taught. Once I started playing guitar, I'd pick different artists and try to learn large amounts of their catalogues, trying to understand how to apply different concepts to how I wrote my own material. What types of art and culture do you like to consume? I love going to museums and shows to get inspired by the ways other artists see the world and how they try to impact culture in their own ways. Using art to try and make the world a better place and connect people to who they really are and what they want to see the world become is really cool.
Photo submitted by Adam Rountree
Is there a connection between your message and the way you make your art? My message is basically be true to yourself and be good to others. A lot of my songs lately have been intentionally pointed towards that message. I do like to use my music to connect to people and communicate different concepts and experiences that we might share or can learn from.
What are you besides an artist? How do you define your role in life? I'm a 35-year-old man, a father, a friend, a lover, a servant, a spiritual being, a performer, and a newly sober individual. I'm currently working toward creating an organization dedicated to charity through musical events, called The Will Perez Project, to honor my longtime friend and musical collaborator who has progressive M.S. How do you define success as an artist or person? What do you hope to accomplish? Finishing what you set out to do is a big deal, living out your potential. I'm healthy, happy, and at peace with myself. Professionally, personally, I have dreams and goals that I haven't lived out or accomplished yet. My first solo record is nearly done, and I hope to release it soon.
FIND ADAM AT: sinisterpop.com
WANT TO BE FEATURED IN OUR ARTIST Q&A? Send us your email to email@example.com.
Inclusion in the magazine is based on first come, first served. You must complete the questionnaire and submit a headshot to be considered for publication.
Stories by LISA ANDERSON
NOT ALL ENTREPRENEURS ARE HUMAN: WHY DOGS CAN BE POWERFUL INFLUENCERS, TOO Not only is Lisa Shawver a motivational speaker, author, and educator, but she is also a former Olympic athlete and, now, a TEDx speaker. She joined several other speakers on the TEDx Ocala stage on November 13, 2021. Lisa’s message is a positive one, and her dog Max—with over 130k social media followers of his own—is a big influence on her life. “I look at Max, and he’s always happy and moving forward. So, I just keep plugging along—one day at a time. I try to always have a smile, because sometimes, that’s all it takes to get things started.” After losing her business in the 2008 recession, Lisa found her way out by committing herself to positivity and excellence. “Small steps lead to big steps. I want to be able to create an impact to help people move forward with whatever they want
in life. Sometimes, you have to get out of your comfort zone. Change is sometimes difficult and uncomfortable, but it’s going to get you to your next step.” Find Lisa and Max at meetlisa360.com or meetmax360.com.
Photo by Share The Joy Photography (submitted by Lisa Shawver)
A CHAT WITH THREE 2021 SPEAKERS
THE HOPE OF DEMOCRACY Florida native Chasman Barnes is a criminal and social justice reformer and advocate for returning citizens. He spent 20 years behind bars, due to a felony conviction, and he has personally experienced the struggles of reintegration into society as a returning citizen. “There are many collateral consequences that returning citizens face in coming out of prison: Being faced with barriers not only in employment, but in housing, as well. You have no idea what it’s like for seven managers for seven different companies to say that I’m the perfect person for the job, only for seven different human resource departments to call me back and say, ‘We can’t offer you the job because of your felony conviction.’” Through his own experiences, Chasman knows there are many people who would like to make the road for returning citizens smoother. “In receiving the invitation to speak at TEDx Ocala, I pondered a little bit about what I would speak about,” Chasman stated. He wanted to ensure he shared an idea worth spreading on this impactful stage. His idea was “the hope of democracy. In short, the hope of democracy is the returning citizens, here, in the United States.” Find Chasman on Instagram or Twitter @chasmanbarnes.
Photo submitted by Chasman Barnes
Photo submitted by Cathlyn Melvin
THE BRAVE LEAP SIDEWAYS
Cathlyn Melvin began her career as a live theater actress, but after a decade on stage, she chose to pursue the second career she always thought she wanted, and she headed off to law school with a full ride to the University of Florida. A personal loss caused Cathlyn to reevaluate her values and her decision to become an attorney. “We
look at people who quit things, and we say, ‘Oh, that’s the easy way out. That’s the coward’s way.’ But it is so hard to quit when you have publicly said, ‘This is what I’m doing with my life.’ So, I think it’s really a courageous thing.” Her TEDx talk was about shifting the mindset, accepting that feeling stuck is a valid emotion, and understanding that, sometimes, there can be another option, if you just take that brave leap sideways. “I think we often find ourselves in a rut. We find ourselves on the same track that we started with gusto, and we find that things just
aren’t aligning, anymore, or maybe our values have changed. It can feel really difficult to get off that treadmill, because I don’t think there is an easy button. We feel if we slow down, we’re going to get sucked under, like they do in cartoons.” Cathlyn took her brave leap sideways and left law school during her second semester. She now has her own business as a copywriter and editor. Find Cathlyn on LinkedIn as Cathlyn Melvin or at rightcatcreative.com. Visit tedxocala.com to view this year and previous years’ speakers.
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