Thrive Magazine - January 2022 Issue

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Hats for Every Occassion

Cool Jobs :


first person

Melinda Tilley, owner Ritz Salon Academy


Rehabilitation Hospital

of Jennings


• Brain Injury

• Hip Fractures

• Strokes

• Osteoarthritis/DJD

• Amputations

• Neurological Disorders

• Burns

• Spinal Cord Injury

• Major Multiple Trauma

• Congenital Deformities

• Rheumatoid Arthritis

• Systemic Vasculidities

• Joint Replacements

Others who can benefit from inpatient rehabilitation are postoperative patients, accident victims and cancer patients. 24 Hour Nursing Care • Physical Therapy • Occupational Therapy Speech Therapy • Nutritional Counseling and Monitoring Case Management Call for a free assessment today. One Hospital Drive, Ste. 101 • Jennings, LA 70546 • Phone: (337) 821-5353 • Fax: (337) 821-5355 or 5366 • 2

Thrive Magazine for Better Living • January 2022


Contents In This Issue

Regular Features

Mind & Body 8-22 SPECIAL SECTION:

35 Who’s News 67 Solutions for Life



Places & Faces



2022 Travel PLANNER

36 Veteran Helps Other Vets through Business

Wining & Dining

38 APEX Meal Prep 40 Catering to Canines

Money & Career


Cool Jobs

Home & Family



Style & Beauty





for Every Occassion

64 first person Melinda Tilley, owner Ritz Salon & Academy

@thriveswla | Thrive is designed for people focused on living a happy, healthy life, one that is balanced, full of energy and contentment. Thrive readers want to make the most of every day and to be successful in all areas of their lives – family, health, home and career. Submitted articles and photos are welcome. Thrive assumes no responsibility for unsolicited materials and does not guarantee any submissions. 4

Thrive Magazine for Better Living • January 2022

60 Managing Editor Angie Kay Dilmore Editors and Publishers Kristy Como Armand Christine Fisher Creative Director Barbara VanGossen Design and Layout Sarah Bercier Business Manager Katie McDaniel Stevenson Advertising Sales 337.310.2099 Submissions

Exceptionally networked. Part of Louisiana’s largest pediatric network — designed for busy parents and super active kids! PATIENT PERKS From Oncology, to Neurology, to Orthopedics to General Pediatrics, Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Health is Louisiana’s largest and most comprehensive pediatric network with over 180 pediatrics specialists from Acadiana, Baton Rouge and Monroe committed to serving all your child's healthcare needs.



right us

we’re you

where need

Our team of caring professionals is committed to providing exceptional healthcare to our community every moment, every day. Breast Health • Cancer Care • Cardiology • Community Health Center Ear, Nose & Throat Care • Emergency Care • Endocrinology • Family Medicine Home Health Care • Laboratory • Nutrition & Wellness • Obstetrics & Gynecology Orthopaedics • Pediatric Care • Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation Pulmonary & Respiratory Care • Radiology & Diagnostic Imaging Rural Health Centers • Sleep Medicine • Surgical Services • Wound Care


Thrive Magazine for Better Living • January 2022

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Mind & Body

HEALTHCARE INNOVATIONS Medical science is an exciting industry, ever evolving and striving to learn, improve, and create new and better technology, techniques, and programs to better serve healthcare consumers. In this special section on Healthcare Innovations, we spotlight what’s new at healthcare facilities across Southwest Louisiana. You’ll find stories on surgical robotics, imaging technology, medical cannabis, mobility issues, an update on COVID-19, and more. Stay well!


Thrive Magazine for Better Living • January 2022

Testing. Treatment. Trust. Avail Hospital is your best choice for care. Primary care to emergencies to PCR testing and COVID treatment, we're here 24/7 to help you feel better fast. Feeling symptomatic? Our PCR test is the gold standard, able to detect multiple conditions including the flu, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and COVID variants. We also offer the latest treatment options.

• PCR test results ready in a few hours • No wait times • All walk-ins welcome • Latest Treatment Options • COVID-19 Vaccine | 337.656.7700 | 3730 Nelson Road


Mind & Body |


PHYSICAL THERAPISTS Help Patients Recover from COVID-19

by Ashley Fontenot Hornsby

The research of the lasting effects COVID-19 can have on individuals who have been ravaged by the virus is still in the early stages of medical understanding. It will be years before the world truly comprehends the far-reaching effects that this virus has contributed to the physical and emotional impairments of those who have suffered from it. What the scientific community does know is that for many, the symptoms of the virus persist long after their diagnosis was initially made. When an individual has ongoing or new symptoms, or symptoms that persist for more than four weeks from their initial onset, it is known as long or chronic COVID-19. It’s estimated that at least 10% of those infected will suffer long-term symptoms from the virus. Long COVID-19 means that an individual has not returned to his/her prior state of health. Some of the known longterm effects of COVID-19 include:

• • • • • • • • • 10

Fatigue or weakness Body aches Shortness of breath Difficulty concentrating Poor endurance Difficulty sleeping Rapid heartbeat or palpitations Anxiety, depression, or mood changes Muscle or joint pain

Thrive Magazine for Better Living • January 2022

Physical recovery from the effects of the virus is a crucial step for an individual to return to his/her prior level of health. To begin any rehabilitation program, one must get clearance from the medical team. If the medical team deems it safe to begin a rehabilitation program, it’s time to begin improving respiratory function, including strength of the breathing muscles, along with general muscle strength and endurance. If the respiratory system has been affected from the illness, likely a patient has already been given an incentive spirometer – a device that encourages deep breathing to strengthen the diaphragm and respiratory muscles and open up airspaces in the lungs. This is something a patient can do at home, typically 15 minutes a day broken down into three to five minutes sessions throughout the day. One of the biggest issues that individuals experience during their illness is the decreased ability to maintain oxygen saturation levels, especially with activity. Using a pulse oximeter to detect any decreases in oxygen saturation levels or changes in heart rate, will allow for safe participation in a rehabilitation program. Normal oxygen levels are 96-100%. It is important that it never goes below 88% during exercise. If it does get to 88%, the

patient should stop and rest. Logging levels in a chart before, during, and after exercise helps track progress and alerts the medical provider to any abnormalities. Physical recovery can begin with a few simple exercises that can be implemented to develop an effective strengthening and endurance program. Some of the activities that can be performed safely at home include: walking, sitting and standing from a chair, marching in place, wall push-ups, and walking sideways at a counter. As these activities become easier, a doctor can recommend physical therapy.

An important component in recovery from any illness is mental health. Communicating and participating in activities with family and friends, even if through phone calls and video chats, can help in a patient’s recovery. It’s common to go through bouts of depression or loneliness when going through an illness. Having a positive support system can lift spirits and brighten days, aiding in recovery. The road to recovery can seem daunting, but with persistence and the right medical team managing your progress, patients can make strides each day to reach their goals. Ashley Fontenot Hornsby is a physical therapist and co-owner at Thrive Physical Therapy. She is a graduate of McNeese State University and Texas Woman’s University. She specializes in the treatment of headaches, neck pain, and TMJ disorder, as well as orthopedics and sports rehabilitation.

We pride ourselves on providing the most effective, evidence-based therapies available to obtain optimal treatment outcomes for our patients. We promote an inviting and relaxing atmosphere to put our patients at ease throughout their treatment. Therapists are manual therapy skilled to treat orthopedic conditions of the neck, back, and peripheral joints, as well as soft tissue and overuse injuries. We also specialize in unique Women’s Health services for a variety of conditions, providing treatment options to women of Southwest Louisiana that were not readily available to them before.

Call us today to find out more!

Co-Owner: Katherine Stewart, PT

Co-Owners: Ashley Hornsby, PT

We Help People in Southwest Louisiana Stay Active, Perform Better, and Live a Life Free From Pain, So They Can Do the Things That They Love Temporary Lake Charles Location – 1490 Market Street Lake Charles, LA 70601 • (337) 990-5621

When considering cosmetic surgery, two things are essential. An experienced, highly skilled surgeon who understands the structure of the face both inside and out is, of course, a requirement. But, making skin smooth and tight again is only a part of the process. A keen understanding of the balance and proportions of your particular face—how the chin, nose, eyes and neck work in harmony to enhance your appearance is critical. Adjusting this balance, delicately and gently, requires the experienced eye of an artist. Uncovering the beauty beneath demands a special touch.

1000 W. Pinhook Road • Lafayette 337-237-0650 •

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board-certified & fellowship-trained facial plastic surgeon jeffrey j. joseph, md, facs


Mind & Body |



by Allie Livingston, Community Outreach Specialist at LCMH

Whether you have a day surgery procedure or a severe illness which led you to Lake Charles Memorial Hospital, you may have been seen by one of the expert physical therapists whose main goal is to get you up and moving as early as a couple of hours after surgery or the first day of hospitalization. The multifaceted care team supporting you during your hospital stay, no matter the circumstances, is dedicated to embracing a collaborative and integrated approach to therapy with their Early Mobility Program. By encouraging every patient to move as much as possible, as soon as possible, patients get back to their everyday life faster and with better outcomes. Imagine having the freedom to walk down the hallway, even while ventilated, surrounded by your care team. This whole-body approach addresses more than physical mobility; it helps promote a better state of mind and leads to a faster recovery. From sitting on the edge of the bed to taking your first steps after a total 12

Thrive Magazine for Better Living • January 2022

knee replacement, your mobility is of utmost importance to increase functionality and to reduce the risk of decline. A collaborative effort between the nursing staff, therapists, and physicians brings this approach to life as soon as a patient is ready. For each patient, this may look different, but the physical therapy team at Lake Charles Memorial Hospital is ready to see patients and provide an individualized plan for each circumstance. The physicians treating patients everyday play an essential role in sending orders in as they see fit to physical therapy. Ben Thompson, III, MD, pulmonologist and member of the medical staff at Lake Charles Memorial Health System, was instrumental in orchestrating this program across several departments and bringing it to life. Dr. Thompson says he’s proud of the way many areas of the hospital cooperate to accomplish this program for the patients. “If you never let a patient get down, you don’t let their muscles get weak, they get better quicker,” he says. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, physical therapists made it a priority to see patients in the COVID units, despite their own fears and facing unusual parameters. With limited space and isolation, it was essential for the patients’ mental and physical health to move around as their conditions allowed.

Dedicated physical therapists would set aside time to see these patients. Although the approach was different, the goal remained the same: keep moving. Depending on the circumstances, special equipment may be used to assist with walking or moving around. For example, a portable ventilator may be used to accompany the patient as they walk any length of space. This requires several staff members, including respiratory therapists, working together to monitor the patient and help move equipment. Lifts, canes, walkers, and special chairs may be used, as well. As patients continue to recover, they may still require intensive inpatient rehab, or outpatient physical therapy. But the sooner patients get moving, the need for additional services decreases. Early mobility promotes independence, improves overall outcomes, and speeds up recovery. Implementing an early mobility program requires extensive staff training and planning. It takes excellent communication across several departments to guarantee patient safety. Thanks to the experienced and skillful care team at Lake Charles Memorial, the program is expected to continue to grow and improve with new equipment and procedures. Early mobility is one of the top priorities and top of mind at Lake Charles Memorial Hospital.

Providing Big City Quality Care, Providing Big City Quality Care, Without the Commute

Without the Commute Michael Bergeron, MD

Michael Broussard, MD

Leroy Fredericks, MD

Mohammad Khan MD

James Maze, MD





Radiation Oncologist

Every Journey is Personal. No one wants to hear the words… “You have cancer.” If it happens though, you and your cancer are in the best of hands at the Cancer Center at Lake Charles Memorial. While your cancer treatment plan may come from a local physician or from out-of-state, the Cancer Center

Michael Bergeron, MD

Michael Broussard, MD

Leroy Fredericks, MD

Mohammad Khan MD

James Maze, MD

team at Memorial delivers these cutting edge treatments daily, along with best of care service. Commuting to Oncologist/Hematologist Oncologist/Hematologist Oncologist/Hematologist Radiation Oncologist Oncologist/Hematologist a big city for ongoing treatments can be a thing of the past, now that identical treatments are available right

here, and close to home.

Every Journey is Personal. Memorial’s cancer specialists focus on three areas:

Initial diagnosis and treatment planning No one wants to hear the words…••“You have cancer.” If it happens though, you and Treatment of the cancer itself • Survivorship, follow-up care,at support your cancer are in the best of hands at the Cancer Center Lake Charles Memorial. groups and emotional care of the patient

While your cancerMemorial’s treatment plan may come from a local physician or from out-of-state, the Cancer Center Survivorship Lacey Vasilakis-Stickell, AOCNP Program Coordinator


team at Memorial delivers these cutting edge treatments daily, along with best of care service. Commuting to Since 1993 Memorial’s Cancer Center has held national accreditation from the American College of Surgeons

a big city for on ongoing can be a thing of the past,awards now that right Commission Cancer,treatments and in 2021 received two CareChex as aidentical top 10% treatments hospital in are the available nation and #1 hospital in the market for medical excellence in cancer care.

here, and close to home.

Memorial’s cancer specialists focus on three areas: • Initial diagnosis and treatment planning • Treatment of the cancer itself


Mind & Body |



Available at West Calcasieu Cameron Hospital by Christine Fisher

Bringing new technologies to life is the function of the new GE Nuclear Medicine SPECT/CT machine now at West Calcasieu Cameron Hospital, the only one of its kind in Southwest Louisiana. “Most people probably wouldn’t expect to see this level of medical technology available at a smaller community hospital, but it highlights our commitment to providing advanced quality care to our community,” says Jake Richey, radiology director with West Calcasieu Cameron Hospital. “We’re able to now offer this to patients in our community, giving them a more accurate diagnosis, right here at home.” This new technology combines traditional nuclear medicine with the clarity of a CT scan, giving physicians more accurate information of the patient’s anatomy which helps them give a more precise diagnosis. “We can apply this technology to many applications including imaging of the bones, lymph nodes, lungs, gastrointestinal system, and heart,” says Adam Olsan, MD, diagnostic radiologist with West Calcasieu Cameron Hospital.


Thrive Magazine for Better Living • January 2022

The SPECT part of the SPECT/CT procedure is performed by a dual-head gamma camera and the CT imaging is done by the integrated multi-slice CT. This combined approach allows for an improved patient imaging experience. Nuclear imaging is based on the biodistribution of a radiotracer over time and space, revealing functional characteristics of diseases. However, it lacks accurate anatomic localization and characterization of findings, essentially some of the fine details that would give physicians additional information to provide a more accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. CT provides information on organ size and tissue density as well as its localization. However, the structural data does not necessarily correlate with the status of the disease. “Bringing CT technology to nuclear medicine allows physicians to clearly identify pathology, which is an advancement in traditional nuclear imaging,” says Richey. The technology required to create a digital image is lighter, and more compact, with reduced scan times, which provides improvements in lesion detection, image quality and patient comfort. WCCH obtained the machine in October 2021. To learn more or schedule an appointment, call (337) 527-4256. A physician order is required.

Fees for Individual Plans:

Ages 18-35 $50 per Month Ages 36-50 $75 per month Ages 51-older $125/per month Family Plans also available: Additional adult members $100/Monthly Children $50/monthly L to R, Melissa LeBrun, DNP, Jessica Sonnier, MD, Mary Dahlen, FNP-C


Offers an Innovative Membership-Based Primary Care Program and they make house calls, too

Executive Medical Clinic started a membershipbased Primary Care Program. In addition to accepting most major medical insurance plans, they now offer patient care services for both adult and pediatric patients. “Our clinic is the only hybrid clinic in Lake Charles that offers family practice in-clinic, accepts insurance, and offers direct primary care services," says Dr. Melissa LeBrun, President and CEO, Executive Medical Clinic of Lake Charles. Monthly membership services include one house call and one in-clinic visit per month, 24/7 access to a provider, an annual health exam, lab draws both in-clinic and at home, injections, EKG in-clinic, and discounts on aesthetic treatments.

“With so many people with high deductibles, this option gives the community a sense of health care that can be affordable for any age,” adds Dr. Le Brun. Located at 2002 W Walnut St #1a, Lake Charles, LA. Clinic hours: Mon. – Fri. 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., Sat. and Sun. on call for VIP members. Call 337210-1260 or see their website, for more information.

Quality care, close to home SERVICES OFFERED:

Primary Care IV Hydration

Medication Management VIP Memberships

Aesthetics: VI Chemical Peel Botox and Fillers

C L I N I C H O U R S : Monday - Friday: 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. We accept all major insurances and Medicare • 337-210-1260 • 2002 W. Walnut St., Suite 1A, Lake Charles, LA 70601


Mind & Body |


CHRISTUS Oschner Offers a Full Range of Robotics Surgery Options by Kerry Andersen

Surgeons are known for their precision, dexterity, coordination, and ability to perform at the highest level while under pressure. A new generation of specialized surgical robots offers up the very same attributes. Put the robot in the hands of those highly skilled surgeons, and the outcome is enhanced dexterity, greater precision, and better range of motion in areas of the body otherwise too tight to access without a long incision and open surgery. Once merely a futuristic idea, robotics procedures are now becoming the norm in many health care institutions. The surgical robotics market is expected to top $10 billion by 2030. The dramatic growth is driven by rapid technological improvements and an increasingly elderly patient population with chronic conditions and a preference for minimally invasive surgical treatment options. CHRISTUS Ochsner Health Southwestern Louisiana is laser focused on offering innovative technology in the market. Its surgeons are already utilizing the da Vinci and MAKO robots and recently unveiled a new neurological robotic guidance system – the ExcelsiusGPS. Its revolutionary robotic navigation combines a surgeon’s understanding of anatomy with x-ray imaging to treat spinal conditions using small incisions. The minimally invasive technique permits the surgeon to separate the muscles surrounding the spine rather 16

Thrive Magazine for Better Living • January 2022

than cut through them. Much like the GPS in your car, the ExcelsiusGPS guides surgeons to the best route in your body to accurately place implants and perform procedures – all while watching live feedback on a monitor. “With our da Vinci, MAKO and now the Neuro Robot, we have partnered the expertise and experience of our amazing surgeons with the precision of the robot,” said CHRISTUS Ochsner Health Southwestern Louisiana CEO Paul Trevino. “This means better outcomes for our patients, and, in many cases, shorter hospital stays and faster recovery.” In addition to shorter stays and faster recovery, robotic surgery also results in less tissue damage and smaller incisions, which lead to smaller scars. It’s a focus on positive patient outcomes delivered by superior engineering that enables surgeons to promote better healing in those suffering with musculoskeletal disorders. “We are focused on a comprehensive robotic program that offers robotic surgery in all areas . . . General, Women’s, Urological and Neurosurgery,” Trevino adds. Neuro-Robots offer benefits to the surgeons who use them, as well. “This technology gives us an increased level of confidence that we are able to precisely place screws and other devices into the body in critical areas," said Dr. Erich Wolf, founder of the Center for Neurosurgical and Spinal Disorders in Lake Charles. “Neuro-Robots make our minimally-invasive spine surgery

safer and more comfortable with potentially a shorter time in the operating room. It also allows us to perform more complex surgeries than we were previously able to perform.” This rise in robotics means that patients can resume their lives as quickly as possible following surgery. If you are experiencing chronic back pain that has been unresponsive to non-surgical treatments, ask your doctor if you are a candidate for robotic spine surgery. “At CHRISTUS Ochsner, our mission is to extend the healing ministry of Jesus Christ and to do this means making sure that residents of Southwest Louisiana have access to the highest standards in care,” Trevino said. Ultimately, we want to make sure that patients get the best care here, at home.” The ExcelsiusGPS was developed by Globus Medical, now the fastest growing company in the history of orthopedics. Learn more about the technology at

Surgery doesn't have to slow you down. Find out how robotic surgery can get you back to living life as quickly as possible. CHRISTUS Ochsner Health Southwestern Louisiana brought the first surgical robot to Southwest Louisiana with the goal of offering cutting-edge technology here at home. In the 15 years and more than 3000 robotic surgeries since, we’ve seen better outcomes that include: -

Faster recovery time Fewer complications Greater precision Less blood loss Shorter hospital stays Significantly less pain Smaller incisions

If you need general surgery, urologic surgery, bariatric surgery or gynecological surgery, you owe it to yourself to see if you can be on the road to recovery faster.

For more information on Robotic Surgery, visit or call 800.831.1796.



Mind & Body |


COVID-19 UPDATE In January 2020, COVID-19 had recently been identified in Wuhan, China. We watched their plight on the news with horrified fascination, and an underlying fear that it might spread to the United States. Indeed, by mid-March 2020, the virus was surging across the country, catching us completely off guard despite the warnings that it would make its way here. At that time, we could not have imagined that, in 2022, we’d still be battling what quickly became a global pandemic, killing over five million people across the world by the end of 2021. The good news is, after studying COVID-19 for two years, scientists and healthcare workers are no longer scratching their heads and scrambling for answers. We have the vaccines; we have treatments; and we continue to learn how to mitigate the virus and its variants. “We are prepared for whatever COVID-19 brings our way,” says Dr. Dharmesh Patel, CEO at Avail Hospital in Lake Charles. Healthcare providers, including Avail Hospital, are armed with vaccines, testing options, and treatment in the form of monoclonal antibody infusion.


The Omicron variant originated in southern African countries and quickly spread to Israel, Germany, and other European nations. Mutations or changes to the virus’ spike protein are leading to increased transmissibility and virulence, which means it can spread faster. It arrived in the United States in early December 2021. The first Louisiana case appeared in the New Orleans area from a cruise ship passenger. “Omicron will spread, and it will come to Southwest Louisiana,” predicts Dr. Patel. “We’re not sure what that will mean for individuals. Will people get sicker?” 18

Thrive Magazine for Better Living • January 2022

At the time of this writing, Dr. Patel says it’s too early to know for sure, but early reports seem to indicate that infected individuals are experiencing milder cases. But only time will tell. “With omicron, the number of cases will rise, and we will see a surge similar to the surge we saw with Delta last July and August.”


Will our current vaccines be effective against this new Omicron variant to prevent or lessen case symptoms? Dr. Patel says the short answer is yes. “The complicated answer is, we’re not sure, due to Omicron’s mutated spikes. We believe the effectiveness of the vaccines is decreased, but not completely ineffective. Studies have been done that show Omicron does respond to our current vaccines. So it is still beneficial for individuals to be vaccinated, because it is still showing some level of protection.” The vaccine is free and the administration fees of the vaccine and testing are covered by most insurance.


While the COVID-19 rapid tests – either through a healthcare provider or at home – are convenient and give results quickly with a reasonable degree of accuracy, most healthcare professionals agree that the PCR test is more accurate. The CDC recommends getting a multipathogen PCR test that includes COVID-19 because most of the respiratory pathogens cause the same symptoms – cough, shortness of breath, congestion, fever, muscle aches. “Our PCR test helps us quickly identify what respiratory pathogen a patient has contracted so we are able to treat them correctly,” says Dr. Patel. “We have seen an increase in the flu and other respiratory pathogens in our area over the last few weeks.”


Monoclonal antibody therapy can prevent severe illness and up to a 70% decrease in hospitalization and death in high-risk patients who have contracted or been exposed to COVID-19. An antibody is a protein that the body’s immune system makes to fight off viruses and other foreign substances. Monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) are man-made antibodies produced in a laboratory that can mimic the human immune system response to infection by blocking viral attachment and entry into human cells, thus neutralizing the virus that causes COVID-19. MAbs provide a highly effective rate of treatment, says Dr. Patel. “People who test positive for COVID-19 and get the monoclonal antibody IV infusion get better faster and with milder symptoms. Will it work with Omicron? Thus far, it would seem so.” If you are 12 years and older and are at high risk for severe illness due to COVID-19, you are eligible for this treatment. Dr. Patel says the key to prevent future virus surges is to continue vaccination efforts. “Even children ages five and older are eligible to receive the vaccine. If you are age 18 or older and it has been six months since your second Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or two months since your J&J vaccine, get a booster shot. There is no cost for anyone for a vaccine. We are trying to decrease the number of cases by making sure the community is vaccinated.”


Changes Lives Through Tissue Transplant and Research Kip Hanks, a 1997 biological sciences graduate of McNeese State University, planned to attend professional school after graduation, but his McNeese degree led him to a career involving human tissue for transplant and research. “I entered McNeese with the idea that I would go on to dentistry school,” says Hanks. “One of my professors had a friend at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) who said the organization was hiring. My professor encouraged me to apply and that was the start of my 24-year tenure.” His first job was an FDA investigator, visiting several seafood locations along the coast to survey adherence to national food law, policies and procedures. As he gained experience, Hanks eventually moved into the biologics division of the FDA. “For the FDA, biologics includes human tissue, eligible organs for transplant, as well as blood and blood products and vaccines,” Hanks explains. His last 12 years with the FDA as the Agency’s biologics national expert were focused on site investigations of organizations that are engaged in human tissue collection, processing and distribution. In July 2021, Hanks left the FDA to become the director of regulatory and governmental affairs for the American Association of Tissue Banks (AATB), a non-profit organization that sets standards and accredits organization for the human tissue for transplant and research industry. “In this new role I serve as a liaison to the FDA for the AATB,” Hanks says. “I help determine how changes in regulatory requirements and guidance may impact our accredited establishments.” Hanks credits his success to the education and experience he received both inside and outside of the classroom at McNeese. “The faculty at McNeese are experts in their respective fields and bring their experiences to the classroom. It is an incredible opportunity to attend a university where classes are just the right size for students to work one-on-one with their professors. Being involved in campus life is also an important part of the college experience. My time in the Student Government Association and fraternity life gave me leadership skills I could translate into working with others and managing a team.”


Mind & Body |


Breaking the Stigma of


AND A NEW BREAKTHROUGH IN TREATMENT OPTIONS by Angie Kay Dilmore When it comes to medical marijuana, also known as medical cannabis, each state in the U.S. has their own laws regarding the types of marijuana and methods of dispensing. In Louisiana, medical cannabis became legal in 2016 through Senate Bill 261 and House Bill 286. The official name for this law is the Therapeutic Use of Marijuana La. R.S. 40:1046. This law allows cannabis to be distributed to qualified patients via tincture, topical creams, edible forms, and metered-dose inhalers. As of January 1, 2022, a new law will allow the dispensing of medical cannabis in “flower” form – also known as “raw” or “crude.” This is huge news, as it will give patients access to the full spectrum of compounds in the plant, potentially giving better results. Medical cannabis can be beneficial for a laundry list of diseases and disorders such as cancer, seizure disorders, PTSD, arthritis, and basically any disease that causes a patient to suffer from chronic pain or debilitation. “It’s surprising how many people medical cannabis can help,” says James Thibodeaux, pharmacist at Medicis Pharmacy. “So many different conditions.” The facility in Lake Charles didn’t open until 2019, and it took some time to catch on. But over the past couple years, word has spread, and doctors and patients alike are becoming more comfortable with cannabis as a beneficial treatment. Medicis Pharmacy currently treats thousands of residents throughout the five20

Thrive Magazine for Better Living • January 2022

parish region. Thibodeaux expects patient numbers to increase even more in this new year with the legalization of the raw form. Patients who qualify for medical cannabis are recommended by their physician to licensed pharmacies that specialize in medical cannabis. At the pharmacy, patients receive education, counseling, and work one-on-one with the pharmacist to find the best treatment options for their condition. Dosages can be tweaked as needed. There are currently nine licensed cannabis pharmacies in regions across Louisiana, with a tenth opening soon. Medicis Pharmacy in South Lake Charles is the only authorized cannabis dispenser in Southwest Louisiana. They hope to roll out a delivery service in the next few weeks. Though legalized in 2016, medical cannabis was slow to take off as a treatment modality, says Thibodeaux. “There’s been a stigma attached to medical marijuana. But our patients come from all walks of life. They don’t come here to get high; they come here to get relief from pain and other chronic, debilitating conditions, and to get off the more serious pain medications. You don’t have to get high for it to work.” Thibodeaux adds that, in all his years working as a retail pharmacist, he never heard the positive feedback like he hears now helping people with medical cannabis. “It’s very rewarding to be able to help my patients and work one-on-one with them.”

Louisiana allows medical cannabis for distribution to grow in only two locations – LSU and Southern University. This ensures a high level of quality control. It is important to make the distinction between THC and CBD. Though these two compounds are derived from the same plant, they are not the same. CBD is legal and over the counter but is not subject to the same regulations as THC. “You don’t always know what you are getting,” Thibodeaux says. CBD does not cause euphoria or a “high” sensation. It can help with inflammation, anxiety, seizures, but requires fairly high doses for it to be beneficial. It is not the answer for most people’s chronic conditions. THC results in euphoria at higher levels, but works well at lower levels for pain, stress, and sleep issues. Some products available at Medicis have both compounds and they can work well together. What if a qualifying patient works for a company that does routine drug testing? According to (Vic, where did this info come from? Who do I credit?), that is a concern to be addressed between the patient and their employer. Policies and procedures will differ depending on the company. If concerned about corporate rules, a patient should let their employer know that they are receiving legitimate medical marijuana and ask what the policy is for their respective job. Medicis Pharmacy is located at 1727 Imperial Blvd Building 4, Lake Charles. For more information, call 337-420-8420.



Did you know that cannabis flower will be available on January 1, 2022? Some ways it can be consumed: • Smoking in a pipe or joint • Vaporizing in a vaporizer • Incorporating into edibles

Scan code to visit our website:

To find a recommending physician and more information about Medical Cannabis, visit our website.

Flower is the trichome-covered part of a female cannabis plant. Also known as bud, cannabis flower is the most popular form of medication due to its versatility.

(337) 420-8420

1727 Imperial Boulevard Lake Charles, LA 21

Mind & Body |


Dr. Jason Morris Now Offering

EvexiPEL Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy for Men and Women Dr. Jason Morris, family medicine physician with Imperial Health, is now providing EvexiPEL Subcutaneous Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT) for men and women. Hormone levels decline naturally with age for both men and women. According to Dr. Morris, this decline typically begins after age 40, and can result in a wide range of symptoms as hormones become imbalanced, including:


• • • • • • • •

mental fatigue and reduced focus lack of energy and motivation increased fat around the mid-section depression, anxiety and mood swings feeling irritated and on edge reduced sexual desire and performance muscle loss or inability to gain muscle muscle and/or joint pain

Thrive Magazine for Better Living • January 2022

by Kristy Como Armand

“Unfortunately, these symptoms are often accepted as an unavoidable part of aging, or even worse, attributed to causes other than hormonal imbalance,” says Dr. Morris. “Our goal is to recognize the symptoms, identify the real underlying cause, and provide a natural, wellness-focused approach to address the imbalance. After working with different options and conducting exhaustive research, we are very confident and excited about offering EvexiPEL to our patients.” EvixiPEL is a natural alternative to synthetic hormone replacement therapies. This therapy utilizes bioidentical hormones derived from all natural, plant-based substances. “Unlike synthetic hormones, the structure of the bioidentical hormone – testosterone, estrogen or both – most closely matches each patient’s individual needs,”

explains Dr. Morris. “And since they are derived from nature, plant-based hormones metabolize in the body, just the way nature intended.” Traditional BHRT treatments such as creams, patches, pills, and injections, typically need to be taken or applied daily to achieve symptom relief. However, EvexiPEL therapy delivers a steady stream of hormones, mimicking the way the body naturally releases hormones. This is made possible with the subcutaneous placement of pellet implants, which can better fit individual needs. “Instead of daily treatments, most patients only need to visit us two or three times a year for pellet implants,” says Dr. Morris. “The placement is painless and the pellets become something patients don’t even have to think about.”

Dr. Morris says his patients have been very happy with the results they are experiencing with EvexiPEL. “They report having more energy, feeling younger and more like themselves again. Overall, they just feel better, which is our ultimate goal, because the more energy and vitality a person has, the more active they are going to be, which is so much better for their health and wellness.” To learn more or to schedule a consultation to discuss EvixiPEL, call Dr. Morris’ office at (337) 312-0030.



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Places & Faces

2022 Travel


Compared to other first world countries, Americans – both employers and employees – don’t put enough priority on vacation and leisure time. According to research released by the U.S. Travel Association, Americans left 768 million days of paid time off in 2018, The study found that 55 percent of Americans did not use all their paid vacation time.

January 25 is National Plan for Vacation Day!

To recognize this important designation, we’ve put together a special section on travel with a myriad of topics to encourage you to plan your vacation time, take your time off, and don’t take your work with you! You’ll find a feature story on fun things to see and do in and around Phoenix, tips to save you money when you travel, how to safely travel with your pet, the benefits of hiring a travel advisor, and top reasons to fly out of our own Lake Charles Regional Airport. Our monthly column, Recovery Spotlight, features the Lake Charles/SWLA Convention and Visitors Bureau (in case you might be interested in a staycation). And just in case you DO need to take work with you on a vacation, we included a piece on finding that work/leisure balance.

Bon voyage! 24

Thrive Magazine for Better Living • January 2022



CONSULTING Travel Advisor


Sure, you’re tech savvy and know all the best websites to book hotels and cruises, but here are some words of advice your parents forgot to tell you: the internet is for looking; a travel agent is for booking. Using a travel advisor means knowing that you’ll have a personal advocate supporting you with expert advice and experiences as they make sure you get the best deal and help sort out the details of a missed connection. And consider the ever-changing rules and restrictions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. If you have a trip booked through a travel advisor, you simply need to call that agent and they will advise you of your options and handle any cancellations or rebooking that is required. On the other hand, if you booked with an online agent, good luck getting in touch with them immediately! In honor of National Plan for Vacation Day on January 25, here are the top six reasons why a travel advisor is your best resource to score big with an awesome vacation:


They’re experts. Travel advisors have industry knowledge and experience to help match you with your perfect vacation.


Save time. Don’t spend four weeks planning your one-week vacation. Using a travel agent lets you skip the hassle of searching dozens of websites for the best prices or piecing together all the different legs of your itinerary.


Your trip, your way. Whether you’re someone who wants everything planned down to the minute or you’re happy with just a hotel reservation and a flight to get there, your travel advisor will customize your trip to your preferences, interests, and budget.


They know the scoop. Travel advisors are a part of the in-crowd when it comes to getting the best deals and special offers. Their connections throughout the travel industry mean you’ll have access to deals that others won’t.


Groups made easy. Whether it’s a bachelorette party, reunion, “buddymoon” or simply a friends and family getaway, travel agents take the stress out of planning group vacations. They can handle multiple reservations, arrange transportation from various home bases and ports, book accommodations, and offer exclusive group add-ons. Planning a destination wedding? You’ll definitely want to say “I do” to using a travel advisor!


Trust a Professional. Make the most of your vacation investment by working with a travel advisor. You’ll receive a personal touch that cannot be matched by online retailers as well as have an advocate to help you out if any issues may arise.

Ready to go? Contact your Tina Higgins @ 337-405-7650 to start planning your next vacation.


Places & Faces | 2022 Travel Planner



A State Filled with Stunning Scenery, Serene Spas, World Class Culture and Cuisine by Andrea Guthmann

Valley of the Sun Arizona vacations often start in the Greater Phoenix area, made up of more than 20 towns and cities each with their own personality. Called the Valley of the Sun because of the warm temperatures and average 300 sunny days per year, Phoenix is also home to world-class cultural institutions like the Heard Museum, an expansive collection of Native American artifacts and contemporary art and the Musical Instrument Museum, where 12,000 instruments are displayed alongside Eric Clapton and Paul Simon’s guitars, John Lennon’s piano and other priceless rock ‘n’ roll memorabilia. Neighboring Tempe, home to Arizona State University’s Sun Devils, has a young, hip downtown walking area. Culture vultures will love the tony town of Scottsdale’s art scene, with more than 100 galleries and one of the country’s oldest art walks, held every Thursday night throughout the year. Architecture buffs will enjoy Scottsdale’s legendary Taliesin West, Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter home 26

Thrive Magazine for Better Living • January 2022

and architectural school. Or plant yourself at Phoenix’s Desert Botanical Garden for a few hours. Over 50,000 plants bloom on 145 acres, including many threatened and endangered species from around the Southwest. An on-site vegetable and herb farm supplies much of the produce for Gertrude’s, the deliciously unique farm-to-table restaurant located inside the Desert Botanical Gardens. When it’s time to unwind from sightseeing, enjoy one of Scottsdale’s more than 50 relaxing spas. Agave Spa at the Westin Kierland Resort is a great choice. Besides being pampered with a luxurious treatment, spa guests can enjoy the resort’s adult pool. Guests of the spa at the Phoenician also have access to high-end resort amenities. Enjoy the spa’s rooftop pool with views of the red rocks of Scottsdale’s Camelback Mountain, then wander the beautiful grounds, including the resort’s botanic-garden calibre cactus garden. Mountain Shadows Resort in the town of Paradise Valley is a great lodging choice.

Mid-century modern architecture and decor give it a hip vibe. Two 75-foot pools with views of the surrounding mountains are perfect for exercising or lounging. Want more exercise? The hotel has a full schedule of free fitness classes or head over to the massive granite rock formations of Camelback Mountain to get your exercise out in nature. The Echo Canyon trailhead is a scenic one mile walk away through the surrounding upscale neighborhood. The hotel also has a shuttle van that can drive you to the trailhead. Looking for a restaurant to celebrate a special occasion or just a romantic night out? You can’t go wrong with elements at Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort. Right down the street from Mountain Shadows, it’s where Food Network celebrity chef Beau MacMillan combines Asian infused American cuisine with breathtaking mountain views and cozy outdoor fires in the winter. Warm up with a craft cocktail, like the spicy Marrakech.

Sedona Halfway between Phoenix and the Grand Canyon, Sedona’s known for its red rock mountains, mystical spirituality, and highend hippie vibe. Depending on who you ask, Sedona’s as close as you’ll come to Nirvana, one of the most beautiful places on earth and not to be missed. For others, it’s an example of over-tourism with vortex t-shirts and crystal shops littering the landscape. Spend the day hiking and enjoying nature. The Sedona Visitor’s Center will point you in the right direction. Flagstaff and Grand Canyon Flagstaff is the gateway to the Grand Canyon. Stay in the recently renovated rooms at Little America, with direct access to hiking trails or at the Residence Inn Downtown, centrally located and budgetfriendly. Hungry? Head to kid-friendly Diablo Burger in the historic downtown. For a romantic evening, dine at Brix, a higherend restaurant serving locally sourced ingredients. Navajo Nation The Navajo tribe is the largest Indian tribe and reservation in the U.S., stretching from northeast Arizona to southern Utah and western New Mexico. To experience the Navajo way of life, visit Monument Valley in Arizona’s Four Corners region. Stay at the Navajo owned hotel inside Monument Valley. Every room in The View Hotel faces the towering red rocks featured in old Hollywood westerns. Directly outside the hotel is the only trail in Monument Valley you can hike without a Navajo guide. You might also visit the Navajo Council Chambers in Window Rock, where you can see the Navajo Nation government in action. Call ahead to make sure the council is in session when you’re planning to visit. Arizona’s wide-open spaces, great spas and restaurants, world class museums and Native American culture, offer something for every type of traveler. Happy trails and travels!


Places & Faces | 2022 Travel Planner


WorkingVacation Makes a Comeback H E R E ’ S H OW T O D O I T R I G H T

If there is one thing the COVID-19 pandemic taught us is that, depending on the position, many employees can work just as efficiently, maybe even moreso, from not only home, but just about anywhere. So, where would you like to go? The key is to find balance when work goes along with you. If you find yourself confused about how best to navigate this strange hybrid of business and pleasure, you’re not alone, says workplace trends expert Rick Grimaldi. “Working vacations, as they used to be called, have always been the norm for successful people,” notes Grimaldi, author of the new book FLEX: A Leader’s Guide to Staying Nimble and Mastering Transformative Change in the American Workplace. “But moving forward, this arrangement will apply to more and more of the workforce. And learning how to manage it can be tricky.” Part of the reason for so many working vacations is the pace and intensity of business: very few of us can totally unplug for two weeks at a time anymore. To a degree, work responsibilities will creep in. But it’s also a natural outcome of a larger trend toward work/life integration. “This trend isn’t a bad thing because it enables flexibility,” says Grimaldi. “Yes, work is spilling into personal lives, but also the reverse is true. It’s great that employees are feeling more and more empowered to set their own hours, work from home offices at least part of the time, and better accommodate their family’s needs.” That said, people do need real down time. Burnout is a huge issue right now. You need to make the “vacation” part of the work/vacation hybrid really count or you’ll come back to work frustrated, tired, and resentful. “Vacation is a state of mind,” says Grimaldi. “Switching from one world to the other can be challenging. For example, you might get bad news on a work call, and then have trouble moving back into the vacation mindset. It can be tough to be present with your family when your mind is at the office.” 28

Thrive Magazine for Better Living • January 2022


Rather than straddling both worlds all day, plan to work in big chunks of time. For example, block off mornings from 7:00 to 10:00 to work. Then, when that time block ends, shut down the computer and put the phone away. “What typically happens is that people spend the day looking at email on their phones and they never really disengage,” says Grimaldi. “Tech has been a double-edged sword for that.”

Draw some hard lines. “Having ill-defined boundaries is where people go wrong,” says Grimaldi. “They try to do both things at once and end up doing neither of them well.”

But also know when to break the boundary. There are exceptions to every rule, and there will always be work emergencies or client calls that can’t wait. This is when you may need to get creative to meet the needs of both work and family.

Leaders, establish cultural rules inside your company that respect employees’ time. “There should be an unwritten rule that you reach out to someone on vacation only if there’s no other option,” says Grimaldi. When everyone respects everyone else’s time and space, you’ve gone a long way toward creating a culture that attracts and retains the best talent.

When you learn to manage this process well, it can be an incredible experience, says Grimaldi. On the other hand, if you don’t, it can be a disaster both professionally and personally. “Being able to flex and work around a family schedule can be quite useful. It takes the right mindset, a little advance planning, and some clear communication to mix business and leisure time—but it can be done and done well.”


To Keep Pets Safe WHILE TRAVELING For millions of Americans (around 94 of American pet owners), furry friends are considered members of the family who go on the same trips as everyone else in the household. As families start to make their travel plans, they may not realize that their pets need more than their kennel and pet food on the trip. Whether they’re riding in the car or flying on a plane, keeping pets safe while traveling takes some extra preparation. Here are a few tips to help keep furry friends safe while traveling:

Update their ID tags.

Most pet owners keep their contact or address information on the backside of their pet’s name tag in case their pet gets lost. But some of them likely haven’t updated this information every time their address or even phone number gets

changed. Ensuring this information is current can be crucial to a lost pet’s return. Include any medical information on the tag so if they’re lost, shelters or someone who finds them can be aware.

Keep the vet in mind.

Whether visiting your hometown or going to an unfamiliar area, make a list of the animal hospitals nearby. Keep in mind which animal hospitals are 24 hours and which are limited so in case of emergency, you know exactly where to go to get help for your pet.

Invest in pet insurance.

While owners may have their travel insurance in place, pet insurance is a smart investment that can keep pet owners from worrying about unexpected medical bills for four-legged friends. Especially in unfamiliar environments, pets are prone to injuries, accidents and allergic reactions. Some insurance companies, such as app-based Goose Insurance, offers pet insurance that covers things such as X-rays, ultrasounds, CT scans, lab tests, medical

supplies, hospitalization and more to get pets the help they need without owners worrying about the cost. You also have the option to buy an accident only plan, if budget is a concern.

Prepare pets for the trip.

Animals are creatures of habit and breaking daily routines can be stressful. Anxious pets may try to escape and become injured, etc. Preparing pets for a trip can ease their anxiety and keep them safe. If they’re traveling in a carrier/crate, have them spend time in it before the trip so it feels like a safe space for them. For those traveling in a car, be sure pets stay in the back seat with toys and other distractions to keep them busy.

Take a first aid kit.

Especially in the outdoors, traveling with a first aid kit is not only necessary for humans, but also pets. Bring items such as gauze, medical tape, hydrogen peroxide, antibiotic spray, etc. For pets with health conditions that require medication, be sure to re-fill those ahead of time so you don’t run out.


Places & Faces | 2022 Travel Planner



& Visitors Bureau/Visit Lake Charles by Angie Kay Dilmore

How does a tourism organization navigate a global pandemic along with two major hurricanes thrown into the mix? Two words – creativity and determination. 2020 was teed up to be a banner year for local tourism with a myriad of events planned – sports tournaments, the PGA Korn Ferry Lake Charles Championships, and international groups coming to the Lake Area. But midMarch of that year, COVID-19 forced the closure of the two visitor’s centers run by the Lake Charles Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) – their Lakeshore Dr. Welcome Center and Creole Nature Trail Adventure Point in Sulphur – and the staff shifted to work-fromhome. “It was challenging to see events cancel because of COVID-19 along with the substantial stumbling blocks for tourism from travel restrictions and lockdown measures,” said Angie Manning, Communications Director at the CVB. Late May 2020, they re-opened both facilities, but all was not back to normal due to pandemic restrictions. So, the sales department focused on future plans by extending contracts and accommodating alternate plans for booked business. The communications department collaborated 30

Thrive Magazine for Better Living • January 2022

with other community creatives to promote talk shows, live-streamed events, and virtual exhibits. Tourist information departments dove into the restaurant side of things and promoted businesses that offered takeout, curbside pickup, or delivery options. “Visit Lake Charles staff is passionate about supporting the community. We continued to promote Southwest Louisiana and strengthen relationships with clients who bring business to Southwest Louisiana,” Manning said. Then, of course, Hurricane Laura added catastrophe to the chaos in August 2020. The Welcome Center’s roof was compromised, allowing wind and rain to wreak havoc on the structure. Six weeks later, Hurricane Delta added insult to injury. To rebuild, the facility was stripped down to concrete and studs. Remarkably, Adventure Point withheld the ravages of the storms and was left basically unscathed. The biggest hurdles to recovery were supply and demand of materials and supply chain issues – common themes that continue to plague Southwest Louisiana. In the interim, staff members relocated to Adventure Point. “Patience, persistence, and great leadership from our board of directors and President/CEO, Kyle Edmiston, were key in the CVB getting back into working condition from a brick-and-mortar standpoint,” Manning said.

The Welcome Center officially reopened in July 2021. Visitors will notice a few changes, both indoors and outside. The interior color scheme was changed from warm red and gold hues to cooler tones of white and gray, and additional office space was added. The Gumbeaux Gator Store was transformed into an additional meeting room. “Our staff is highly involved with an array of groups and organizations, and this space is ideal for helping the CVB become a hub of activity, idea-generation, and synergy for the community,” Manning added.

The once-prominent gator topiary in the parking area did not survive the storms’ wind and saltwater intrusion, and has been replaced by a unique landscape feature, complete with newly planted trees and inviting benches, called the President’s Circle. This space was dedicated last October to the three executive directors who shaped the CVB since its inception – Bernadette Monlezun Ponton (1975-1976); the late Marion “Butch” Fox (1976-1988); and Shelley Johnson-Hurley (1988-2019).

“These past leaders have all contributed to the growth and success of the tourism industry in our area,” said Edmiston. “They have celebrated the rich culture, food, music, attractions, natural wonders and landscape of Southwest Louisiana over the past 50 years. It seemed fitting to create a place of honor and reflection on the grounds to recognize their contributions to Southwest Louisiana.” For more information on Visit Lake Charles and the Southwest Louisiana area, log onto www. or follow #VisitLakeCharles and #LouisianasPlayground on social channels.

Travel is back! Time to go, go, go! The world is turning and waiting for your arrival, with brand new itineraries and ships, upgraded resorts, and all the exploration you’ve been missing. There’s no better time to book your big travel comeback!

Tina P. Higgins

F R A N C H I S E O W N E R / T R AV E L A D V I S O R

337-405-7650 | 855-203-7924 @destinationsbytina


Places & Faces | 2022 Travel Planner

The Perks of Departing from


by Angie Kay Dilmore

When booking a plane flight, it might be tempting to opt for the least expensive ticket, which is sometimes out of the larger cities like Houston and New Orleans. But for Southwest Louisiana residents, there is much more to consider than that baseline fare. “When it comes to air service, we sell convenience!” says Heath Allen, C.M., Executive Director at Lake Charles Regional Airport. While flying out of Lake Charles (LCH) is generally (but not always!) a bit more expensive than departures from international airports, the many perks of our regional airport can more than make up the difference. As they say, time is money; and flying from Lake Charles saves gallons of gasoline and several hours of driving time to get to and from the larger airports and avoids the big city traffic jams. Once at the Lake Charles airport, more time is saved by significantly shorter lines at the check-in counter and at security. For this reason, it is only necessary to arrive at the airport one hour prior to departure, rather than the two hours suggested at larger airports. If a hotel room is required due to an early morning departure or a late-night arrival from or to a larger airport, that is yet another expense to take into consideration. Another huge benefit – FREE PARKING! This is especially important to consider if you will be out of town for an extended period of time. “Collectively, LCH saves SWLA passengers several hundred thousand dollars each year in fees they would have paid for parking had they flown from other airports,” Allen says. Serving passengers since 1961, LCH is partnered with two major airlines – United and American. As two of the top three largest airlines in the world, they can connect passengers to virtually anywhere in the world: United serves 330 destinations; American serves 350 destination – not counting their Star and Oneworld Global Alliance partners. The airport is equipped with two runways including a crosswind secondary runway to serve commercial operations safely and efficiently. LCH is home to over 30 businesses, including medical and offshore oil and gas helicopter industries, producing an annual economic impact of over $311 million. 32

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“Situated on nearly 2,000 acres, LCH has room to grow and make Southwest Louisiana even better,” Allen says.

Driveway to

Runway in No Ti me



Places & Faces | 2022 Travel Planner

Money Saving Tips for Planning a

DREAM VACATION Being homebound during the pandemic gave many of us a newfound appreciation for travel. Ready to make up for lost time by planning that dream vacation? If you’re doing your research, maybe you’ve noticed that just like everything else in our economy, travel prices are on the rise too. The U.S. is now experiencing its highest rate of inflation in 40 years. Price increases have been widespread, with gas, groceries, rent, and vehicles all costing more. How to plan that bucket list post-pandemic vacation without breaking the bank? Here are tips from Eric Bowman, Executive Editor of the website and podcast Travel Pulse, which covers travel industry news.


Thrive Magazine for Better Living • January 2022

by Andrea Guthmann

1. Use a travel advisor to book your vacations. Not only can they save you money by finding great deals, advisors know the ins and outs of the industry, work with the top suppliers and are up to date on the latest travel restrictions. They can guide you to the best possible destination and hotels that fit what you like most as a traveler. You can’t get that by booking online. 2. Use a credit card with travel perks. If you like to travel and want to save money, build points or miles to help offset the cost of a hotel or flight by making your most used credit card one that includes travel perks. 3. Sign up for Scott’s Cheap Flights alerts. If you are open to spontaneous travel and booking on a whim, Scott’s Cheap Flights sends out cheap flight alerts with great deals. Typically, those deals don’t last long. So you have to be open to booking quickly. However, you can save hundreds of dollars on flights to bucket list destinations if you act fast.

In addition to Eric Bowman’s suggestions, here are a few other ideas for traveling on a budget. One of the easiest ways to save money is to be flexible about when you travel. Opt to fly midweek and visit off season. If you enjoy culture and long to see the bright lights of a big city like Chicago, consider visiting in February for Theatre Week, where you’ll get deep discounts on big budget touring Broadway productions as well as tickets to Tony award winning local theaters, like Chicago’s Steppenwolf. Or come in March for Chicago Restaurant Week, where hundreds of top restaurants offer prix fixe meal deals. Certain hotel chains are also known for their budget-friendly perks. Embassy Suites is an all-suites brand, meaning there are separate living and sleeping areas, giving you a little more space . . . perfect for families. The recently opened oceanfront Embassy Suites in St. Augustine, Florida, even has designated family suites with bunk buds. Plus, all Embassy Suites offer made-to-order breakfasts and happy hours with complimentary cocktails and snacks. Being budget conscious doesn’t mean you can’t have a great vacation! These tips and digital tools will help score you the best deals. You don’t have to be one of the 1%, to travel like one.

Movers and Shakers in Southwest Louisiana... Who’s News? You tell us! Send press releases to

West Calcasieu Chamber of Commerce Recognizes Colleen Desselle The West Calcasieu Chamber of Commerce presented one of several 2021 Award of Excellence to CSE Federal Credit Union’s (CSE) Director of Colleen Desselle Marketing and Business Development, Colleen Desselle at its 71st Annual Banquet. Desselle serves as a Board Member on the West Calcasieu Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. Her three-year service and leadership helped the organization achieve fundraising goals, host its first inaugural event Chamber Fest and so much more. The West Calcasieu Chamber of Commerce aims to provide a voice for economic, educational, social and public growth in our region. For additional information visit Taylor Beard Stanley Accepted into the Inaugural U.S. Travel Emerging Travel Leaders Program Taylor Beard Stanley, Senior Sales Manager at Visit Lake Charles, was accepted into the inaugural year of the U.S. Travel Emerging Taylor Beard Stanley Travel Leaders program for 2022. The program intends to create an opportunity for participants to expand their exposure, knowledge, and capabilities while networking with members of the U.S. Travel Board. U.S. Travel Association is the national, non-profit organization representing all components of the travel industry. The program includes in-person advocacy efforts on Capitol Hill, participation in U.S. Travel Board Meetings, a private networking reception with the U.S. Travel Executive Committee, and opportunities to meet with key staff and discuss the association’s program of work.

A graduate of Grand Lake High School and McNeese State University, Taylor began her career at Visit Lake Charles in October 2016 as Sales Manager. After being promoted to Senior Sales Manager in March 2018, she aligned her vision on how Visit Lake Charles could provide added value and educational opportunities to hotel partners. Taylor has developed and launched Destination SWLA to educate hotel partners’ front-line and management on the role of Visit Lake Charles and how to strengthen our relationship and create a better experience for visitors. Among her many accomplishments, Taylor worked to secure the 18th CWC World LNG & Gas Series: Americas Summit & Exhibition for the Lake Charles area, which was the first-ever international conference hosted in Southwest Louisiana. Additionally, she has developed the Meeting Incentive Program to increase association and corporate meetings, which has had an economic impact of nearly $7 million dollars. She currently serves on the board of the Louisiana Society of Association Executives and is a graduate of the Louisiana Tourism Leadership Academy and Leadership SWLA. Taylor was also awarded the Louisiana Travel Association’s Rising Star Award and named one of Destinations International’s 2020 30 Under 30 recipients. Todd Clemons Law Firm Welcomes New Associate Tasina Gary has joined the Todd Clemons and Associates law firm. A native of Virginia, Tasina graduated from Old Dominion University with a Bachelor of Science in criminal Tasina Gary justice and sociology and a minor in psychology. She earned her law degree from Southern University Law Center. While in law school, Tasina served as a judicial clerk for the Baton Rouge City Court and as a legislative law clerk for the United States House of Representatives in Washington, D.C. She is a member of the Baton Rouge Bar Association and the Southwest Louisiana Bar Association.

Todd Clemons and Associates is located at 1740 Ryan Street in Lake Charles. The firm’s primary areas of practice are criminal defense, civil litigation, personal injury and family law. For more information, visit or call (337) 477-0000. Todd Clemons is Appointed to the Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board Todd Clemons, Lake Charles attorney and founder of Todd Clemons Law Firm, has been appointed by the Supreme Court of Louisiana to the Todd Clemons Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board. The statewide 14-member Board serves a role similar to a court of appeal. The Board, in 3 member panels, reviews the reports involving lawyer complaints and discipline from hearing committees from throughout the state. The Board then makes recommendations to the Louisiana Supreme Court when discipline is warranted. Clemons’ term begins in January 2022 and continues through the end of 2024. He is also serving with the Judicial Council of the Louisiana Supreme Court, is a member of the SOWELA Foundation Board of Directors and the Louisiana Supreme Court Committee on Board Admissions/Bar Examiner. He has served as a federal prosecutor with the U.S. Department of Justice as well as a Judge Pro Tem on the 14th Judicial District Court. Clemons received his undergraduate degree from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and graduated magna cum laude from Southern University Law Center. He founded Todd Clemons and Associates in 2007, located at 1740 Ryan Street in Lake Charles. The firm’s primary areas of practice are criminal defense, civil litigation, personal injury and family law. For more information, visit or call (337) 477-0000.


Places & Faces

Army Veteran

Helps Other Veterans through his Fence Company by Angie Kay Dilmore

Benjamin Wild served in the U.S. Army from 1999 – 2012 in Iraq and Afghanistan. During that time, he navigated through a wide variety of military experiences. Armed with a background in nursing, he served as a combat medic. “I’d gone in as an E1 private and worked my way through the ranks,” says Wild. “I served with numerous different units, everything from armor and tanks to infantry. I’d gone to 10th Mountain, which is a light infantry air assault unit. I was stationed in Germany for a while and was there when 911 happened. As a result, I participated in the initial fight on the ground, Kuwait to Bagdad. I was involved with the first major battle for Fallujah and several other infamous battles. And then we just kept going back, and back, and back . . .” 36

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Wild left the Army with full retirement as an E6 Staff Sergeant earlier than he expected to due to several combat injuries. “I hit a roadside bomb in 2003, then later I was hit by a mortar. Both caused traumatic brain injuries. I spent eight weeks in a rehabilitation hospital. My memory was affected. And I was no longer able to effectively lead troops in combat situations.” Physical wounds are only one side of a soldier’s injuries. The psychological damages can be even more devastating and long term. “The Army does a great job of teaching you how to engage the enemy,” Wild says. “They don’t do such a great job at helping you know what to do when you get out of the military. And there was a long-standing stigma discouraging mental health care.” Consequently, PTSD is pervasive for veterans. They deal with nightmares and flashbacks. They struggle with employment, relationships, drug and alcohol addictions, gambling. After laying their lives on the line for their country, they sometimes come home and ultimately find themselves unemployed or on the wrong side of the law. Since Sept. 11, 2001, over 30,000 veterans have died by suicide — four times

more than the number of U.S. military personnel killed in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. Approximately 22 American veterans commit suicide each day. Wild, too, found civilian life difficult. He felt like he didn’t fit in. “I didn’t know how to talk to civilians. I had to learn that it is okay to smile at people and relax. I worked some jobs, had plenty of job offers, but the PTSD was debilitating. I was having a hard time with life. I had the skills and talent, but I didn’t know how to . . . function.” Wild is one of the fortunate ones. With the help of an employment manager who became a mentor, Wild got his life together. “I had the opportunity to have someone look out for me. He gave me a new job and I rose through the company quickly. I so easily could have become a statistic.” Six years ago, Wild and his wife, Terry Wild, had a new thought. “We think we should start our own company.” Wild and his wife started a fence company they named Bravo Company, LLC. In an effort to be like that mentor who rescued him and help fellow vets, Wild exclusively hires veterans.

To find employees initially, Wild reached out to places like sober-living houses and eventually found the Veteran’s Drug Corp and the 14th Judicial District Veterans Treatment Court Program in Lake Charles. Now these places refer job-seeking veterans to Wild, and there are more veterans who need employment than Wild has availability to hire. Wild offers these veterans more than a job. He provides them a safe, judgement-free environment, no questions asked, where they can freely share with other veterans who understand and care about them. “It’s like group therapy while they are working. It’s a fresh start.” Bravo Company Fencing builds a wide variety of custom fences, gates, porches, and pergolas. For more information, call 337-488-8449, visit their website,, or find them on Facebook.


Wining & Dining

Reaching the


of Meal Prepping Success

by Katelynn Mouton

For many, the beginning of the New Year brings renewed focus to a healthier lifestyle and one key to diet success lies in having a plan in place for meals throughout the week. Work, family and other commitments can make the idea of cooking healthy, balanced meals throughout the week seem overwhelming.

Vegan Quesadillas

Brisket Power Bowl


Thrive Magazine for Better Living • January 2022

Meal prepping can help as it takes the guesswork out of the nutrition side of a healthy, balanced lifestyle, but the idea of counting macros and cooking a week’s worth of meals at a time can be daunting for some. One locally owned business offers a solution to cut down on the time it takes to prepare savory, nutritionally balanced meals that you can also feel good about eating. Lake Charles native and owner of Apex Meal Prep, David Simon, has his sights set on being a premier meal prep service that provides convenience to their customers, but more importantly, flavorful meals. “Meal prepping does not have to be boring and repetitive,” says Simon. “It should not be confined to weekly set menus either. Our meals are fully customizable, with more than 330 possible meal combinations. We take care of the macro counting and we help customers have satisfying, heat-and-eat meals on hand.”

No matter what your diet plan may include, Simon says Apex Meal Prep has an option to fit. “We are able to accommodate any lifestyle or nutritional needs our customers may have, be it keto, vegan, low carb, no carb and more.” Living in an area known for the quality and tastiness of its food might make the idea of purchasing pre-prepared meals a little uncertain, but the meals at Apex Meal Prep are designed to satisfy local taste buds, keeping customers feeling guilt-free while enjoying them. Meals are available in store and ready to heat and eat right out of the store’s fully stocked coolers. Online ordering also adds to the convenience, giving customers options for lunches and dinners on the go. “We offer an Apex Membership for only $10 a month that provides members with exclusive pricing on all meals in store and online, discounted prices on merchandise and access to silver, gold and platinum meal plans,” adds Simon. “We also offer free macro consultations for members. This is a one-on-one consultation that helps our customers determine their individual needs based on their information and nutritional goals.” Although Simon has been providing meal prepping services to the area since 2017, his storefront opened in mid-December with coolers stocked full of a variety of meal options. Customers can either take their meals to go, or they can take a few moments to heat up their meal in store before getting back on the road.

Apex Meal Prep also carries BPN (Bare Performance Nutrition) supplements, preworkout solutions and Whey protein powders in a variety of flavors. As 2022 begins, Simon offers this advice to anyone looking to make a healthier lifestyle a reality in the New Year. “Stay consistent. Consistency compounds over time and if you just keep your eye on your goal and stick with it, you will absolutely be successful. Consistency requires preparedness and goals of bettering health, getting in shape or simply accelerating fitness, start in the kitchen. Apex Meal Prep can help by providing the tools necessary to take the guess work and time out of being prepared nutritionally to crush individual goals.” Visit Apex Meal Prep in person at 3830 Nelson Road, Suite 400, online at www.apexmealprep. com or at By phone, call 337-263-2906 to learn more.

Pre-K3 – 8th Grade Excellent Student/Teacher Ratio Participant in Education in Virtues Program

“Nurturing All Children and Achieving Academic Success in the Spirit of Christ”

Open House Thursday February 3rd 9 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 5:00 p.m., & 6:00 p.m. You must R.S.V.P. to attend.

New Family Registration Opens February 7th To R.S.V.P. for Open House and for more registration information please visit

2510 Enterprise Boulevard | Lake Charles, La. 70601 | (337) 436-7959 |

Diverse Student Body Morning, Noon, Afternoon Prayer & Weekly Liturgy Special Education Services After School Care Available for PK3-8th Grade Spanish Enrichment Offered to All Students

St. Margaret Catholic School welcomes all children regardless of race, creed, or nationality.


Wining & Dining

Catering to Canines It’s impossible not to smile when you pull in behind a car in the Starbuck’s drive-thru and see an excited dog hanging their anxious snout out the rear window, filled with anticipation for one of the coffee chain’s famous Puppuccino canine treats. The small cups of whipped cream have been creating happy memories and goofy social media posts for years. Many Southwest Louisiana retailers have figured out that catering to canines makes for loyal customers – of the two and four-legged kind! Here’s a round-up of some local businesses that welcome canine visitors or offer treats guaranteed to set tails a-waggin’!


Thrive Magazine for Better Living • January 2022

by Kerry Andersen



Multiple Locations

3435 Nelson Road, 6a-9p daily (closed Sundays)

The coffee chain that started it all! Their Puppuccino’s are legendary and a favorite of pet owners everywhere. You won’t find this delicious treat on the menu, but just ask for it when you order, and your coffee order will be delivered with a complimentary small cup of whipped dairy heaven for your pooch to enjoy. Don’t forget to capture video of the messy lickfest because did it even happen if you don’t post it to social media?

It’s not listed on the menu, but at Chick-fil-A, ask and you shall receive! The popular chicken restaurant doesn’t make dog treats, but it does hand them out. There’s a limited quantity of Milk Bone treats bagged up for each day so grab them while you can. Or you can order a Pup Cup off the secret menu, and it will be their pleasure to hand you a small cup of (pup safe) whipped cream when you pull up to the window.



2735 Country Club Road, Tuesday through Sunday 1-6p (breakfast 6-9a) This is no ordinary snocone shop. Known for their over-the-top icy confections, Lulu’s delivers wow moments for their pet customers too. The special doggie menu features pup snocones made with chicken or beef broth and whipped cream. Instead of a cherry, a dog treat is perched on top. Pup Cones are $1.25 (or you can ask for a cup with just whipped cream and a treat). Happy eating, Fido!

3921 Nelson Road, 10a-9p weekdays and 10a-11p on Friday and Saturday If your favorite pet has a hankering for icecream, just chill and head over to DQ. The secret menu features a canine treat like no other. After you place your own order, just ask for a Pup Cup. That will get you a small (2 ounce) cup of safe-for-dogs vanilla ice cream topped with a dog biscuit in addition to DQ’s signature curl. The treat – and the brain freeze – are free with any purchase!


3716 Ryan Street, 11a-2p daily

Now that we’ve hit the sweet spot of not too hot, not too cold weather in Southwest Louisiana, grabbing a cocktail or a meal outside is super appealing. Rikenjaks features the largest patio in town and invites customers and their dogs to sit and stay awhile! The popular brew pub takes dog-friendly to a whole new level. They always make available water dishes for thirsty pups. Rikenjaks recently hosted Santa Paws offering free pet photos with Santa plus toys and treats for the visiting pooches. Check their company Facebook page for quarterly events like Dogtoberfest – a pet friendly brunch with giveaways.

GREAT HARVEST BREAD COMPANY 4112 Lake Street, Monday through Friday 7a-5p, Saturday 8a-4p' It’s no secret how delicious the fresh breads and baked goods are at Great Harvest Bread Company. What you may not know, is the bakery also cooks up house-made dog treats on a regular basis. Made from wholesome ingredients like freshly milled wheat flour, cheddar cheese and peanut butter, the treats are good enough for humans to munch but save them for your pooch! Grab one for just 50-cents or pick up a bag of bones for $5. They are guaranteed to get you extra licks and kisses!

CRYING EAGLE BREWERY 1165 E. McNeese Street, Tuesday through Thursday 11a-10p, Fri/Sat 11a-11p, Sunday 2-11p (closed Monday) The owners at Crying Eagle Brewery have made it part of their mission to support dog welfare in Southwest Louisiana. The brewery and restaurant frequently partner up with Lake Charles Pitbull Rescue for fundraisers and events promoting positive dog welfare. Last year they hosted their first ever Barktoberfest. Dogs are always welcome on the shady outdoor patio. If your pup gets thirsty, just ask your bartender for a dog bowl – they keep them on hand behind the bar. Check out the gift shop for seasonal offerings of dog treats, collars, scarves, and other accessories so your pup can look stylish for a night out at the brew pub!



2825 Country Club Road, 6a – 7p Founded in Louisiana, you’ll find CC’s Coffee House just about anywhere you travel in the southern part of the state. Pull into the drive-thru and order a cup of delicious coffee for you, and a Pup Cup for your canine pal. The barista will whip up a small cup of whipped cream as a treat for your furriest family member. Remember to ask for extra napkins!






Multiple Locations

Chase Bank has earned the title of America’s dog friendliest bank. Tellers at the bank’s numerous branches keep dog treats on hand to send out through the chute to visiting pups, and wellbehaved canines are welcome in the lobby too! While many banks and businesses don’t advertise their pet friendly offerings, they know dog parents love spoiling their pups. Ask around and you may receive a delicious treat for the fur babies we all love to please. Bone Appetit!

We are now available on Eats 2 Go, Gubers & Waitr!

119 West College Street, Lake Charles | (337) 474-3651 | Monday – Thursday: 11am–10pm | Friday & Saturday: 11am-11pm Closed Sunday | Happy Hour 4–7pm


Money & Career

l o o C s b Jo

A butcher, a baker, a candlestick maker . . . doesn’t it seem that other people always have the Cool Jobs? Their careers are exciting, stimulating, challenging but in gratifying ways. They’re thrilled to get up in the morning and no two days are alike so they never get bored or burned out. These lucky individuals often have interesting anecdotes to go along with their fascinating jobs. In this special section, we share the stories of six local individuals and what they enjoy doing for a living. You just might be inspired to reinvent yourself!


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Locally owned and operated for over 30 years

600 W McNeese Street, Lake Charles | (337) 474-9913 42

Thrive Magazine for Better Living • January 2022

Butch Ferdinandsen

CFP®, CLU®, ChFC®, CRPS, CRPC Investment Advisor Representative Securities offered through Woodbury Financial Services, Inc. (WFS) member FINRA/ SIPC. WFS is separately owned and other entities and/or marketing names, products or services referenced here are independent of WFS.

a d n a Am y e s u C Executive Chef at Villa Harlequin

Amanda Cusey says she’s been in the restaurant business

since the age of 14, when she worked the front of house at a steak restaurant in North Carolina. After a few years, she asked the manager if she could switch over to the kitchen. “And that is where my cooking career started. I soon realized I was pretty good at it. So, I decided to travel and attend culinary school in England.”

Cusey received her Le Cordon Bleu training at the Tanté Marie Culinary Academy. After stints in British pubs and an Irish American diner, she found her way to Italian cooking in the heart of Dublin. She worked at Eatily, an Italian-inspired pop up by Michelin Star chef Oliver Dunne; and served as head chef at an Italian restaurant called Fiorentina. In 2016, Cusey came to Lake Charles and accepted the role of executive chef at Villa Harlequin. Not long after, she was featured on the cover of Acadiana Profile magazine’s Best Chef issue. Despite her experience with transitions, Cusey says moving to Southwest Louisiana was “a culture shock” but with her background in French cuisine, it was an easy shift to Louisianastyle cooking. Cusey describes her culinary style as a mix between traditional and Italian/ French. “I was trained in French cooking, so that has a lot of influence in how I cook. Then I got thrown into Italian cooking. So, it’s a mash-up of those two styles. And since I’ve been living in Louisiana, I try to throw some southern flair into it.” At the Villa, she tries to keep it traditional Italian cooking, but she uses different cooking LUNCH: WED - FRI 11AM-2PM | DINNER: TUES - THURS 5-9:30PM & FRI - SAT 5-10PM | SUNDAY BRUNCH: 10AM-2PM | MONDAY: CLOSED techniques and often creates an Italian/ Louisiana fusion. When Cusey thinks about food and menu planning, she considers flavor, freshness, and the response of her customers. She loves seeing the joy her food brings to people. “Sometimes you can catch me peeking out the kitchen window looking at someone eating at the bar, and I watch their face as they take that first bite. Seeing their eyes light up because something 324 Pujo Street, Downtown Lake Charles | (337) 436-6251 was better than they expected is pretty rad!”

Join us!


Money & Career | Cool Jobs

Muralist Southwest Louisiana

y m e r e J

e c i Pr

Jeremy Price

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Thrive Magazine for Better Living • January 2022

started creating wall-sized paintings around 2009 while studying fine art and criminal justice at McNeese State University. He was asked to do a few graffiti and mural jobs for local businesses and residents in and around Lake Charles, and soon garnered a reputation as a skilled muralist. You can find examples of Price’s work all over the City of Lake Charles. “My most memorable project is “Breathe”, a mural to cover the “Before I Die” wall (formerly on the SE corner of Ryan and Broad Streets) that had been vandalized. That project really set everything in motion for me to be a successful professional artist. I later donated that mural to The Grand Church. Of course, all the work Dave Evans has me create at Luna Bar & Grill in Lake Charles and Lafayette are my most enjoyable because of the freedom and love involved. The Crying Eagle murals are another favorite, and for the same reasons. Eric Avery shows love, and like Dave, he has a creative spirit, and those projects just flow like good craft beers. The pelican mural at L’Auberge was awesome for the same reasons – so much love and freedom. The “Grapes” mural (on the side of Cotton’s Downtown on Broad St.) was super cool and a great time with some artist friends who helped. I love working with Chris Shearman, and Kate Cotten made sure we were fueled with hot breakfasts and great burgers.” Price also collaborated with artist Candice Alexander on a giant “Tree of Life” mural on the side of the Charleston Building. Price adds, “The Walgreens/Elmers mural restoration (corner of Ryan and Broad Streets) was important to my partner on that job and me and everyone downtown.” While artistically gratifying, mural painting comes with its share of hazards, including exposure to chemicals and a risk of falling. When asked if he has a favorite mural, Price says, “There are so many, and every new project is my favorite. I love meeting new people and keeping old friends – it’s life. God has blessed me with the ability to chase my dreams and the courage to never give up. He is good!”

Head Brewer Crying Eagle Brewing

n a y R l l e n n o D O’

Ryan O’Donnell assumed the role of Head

Brewer at Crying Eagle Brewing in June 2021, though he had been working toward such a position for many years. What began as a hobby in 1995 eventually became an obsession. He began making plans to open his own brewery one day. In 2018, after a successful career as a marketing consultant, he decided to leave corporate America and pursue his dreams of working in the brewing industry. O’Donnell became involved in the Louisiana Craft Brewers Guild, where he met Eric Avery, Founder and CEO of Crying Eagle Brewing. The pair became fast friends. “Eric and I had an immediate connection, and over time we realized how significantly our visions and goals aligned. We realized we could accomplish great things together and I was graciously asked to join the team.”

As a brewer in today’s craft beer industry, O’Donnell says his job requires a high level of scientific expertise, creative artistry, and obsessive-compulsive organization. “My days can be filled with any number of the many processes involved in beer recipe development, beer brewing, fermentation, packaging, lab testing, experimentation, working with suppliers, etc. Also cleaning. Lots and lots and lots of cleaning. Every day is unique, exciting and full of challenges.” When O’Donnell first began brewing, there were few formal education options available. “I learned everything I could from reading, experimenting, and making lots of mediocre beer . . . but always measuring and improving. After over 25 years, I still find that there is so much to learn and improve upon. And that’s what I love most about being a brewer.” Since arriving at Crying Eagle, O’Donnell has developed and brewed 26 new beers, with more debuting nearly every week; but don’t ask him which is his favorite. “That’s like asking a parent to tell you which is their favorite child.

I like some more than others, but they all have a special place in my heart.” O’Donnell says he feels lucky to have made a career out of something for which he has endless passion and energy. “I love my coworkers who share in that passion and constantly strive for excellence. What we do is incredibly hard work . . . but it’s also incredibly rewarding.”

Ryan ellolest Jobs O’Donern , 2021 Co ew Head Br

We are so proud of you and all of your accomplishments! CRAFT BEER + HANDCRAFTED FOOD SERVING LUNCH + DINNER WEDNESDAY - SUNDAY 1165 E. McNeese St. • Lake Charles


Money & Career | Cool Jobs

Drone Photographer

y d o C

é h c r o P Cody Porché

spent five years in manned aviation where he managed an international fleet of helicopters in India, Mexico, Thailand and Brazil. During those earlier years, he recognized a need for affordable aerial imagery and jumped on the opportunity. “What started out as a side hustle quickly evolved into much more. Only a few years later, I allocated 100% of my time to create Porché Aerial Imagery." In addition to managing a small business, Porché’s role consists of operating unmanned aircraft to produce a myriad of deliverables for clients. He says the benefits are widespread and vary depending on the specific industry to which he conducts flight missions. “One major benefit is the lower risk factor by the use of drones vs. manned aircraft. Simply not having a “soul” on board is by far the most significant benefit. Secondly, the reduction of overhead allows for my company to provide affordable aerial services compared to historical means, such as planes or helicopters.” Porché earned a master’s degree in business which has been a catalyst for his entrepreneurial mindset. But his skills as an aerial photographer have evolved with experience. “While my profession does require industry proficiency and a completed examination at an FAA testing center, most of my training has come from handson experience. In nearly eight years, I’ve logged over 6,500 hours behind the sticks. My confidence with controllers and joysticks stemmed greatly from playing video games throughout my life." No two days are the same for Porché and he has filled hundreds of requests for a wide variety of clients. Some of his most memorable projects include post-hurricane and flooding assignments, including documentation of hurricane recovery efforts and seeking out debris obstructing drainage laterals. “I am proud to be an integral part of situations where deliverables can be used immediately. There is no greater feeling than helping the community and seeing infrastructure improvements directly from the data obtained while in the air.” Porché says he loves flying drones for a living. “My responsibilities are challenging and exciting at the same time, enough to keep me on my toes. I look forward to future technologies and continuing to provide SWLA with the highest level of aerial imagery possible.” 46

Thrive Magazine for Better Living • January 2022

Landscape Design Consultant and Build Manager, Landscape Management Services

e i h c R i age r e v E

Richie Everage’s interest in working with plants

began when he worked for a florist/nursery in college. “I got to see a world of excess and fashion I had never experienced before – everything from over-the-top weddings and Christmas decorations to beautiful landscape jobs. I had no idea you could have things like koi ponds and flagstone patios and walkways and plant hundreds of flats of flowers at one house. It was truly eyeopening and started me on my 26-year career path.”

Everage earned a Landscape Horticulture License and ran his own business, Everage Exterior Aspects, for several years. “We specialized in pond and landscape construction. I only employed three to four people and had two trucks.” In 2003 Everage moved on and started working at Magnolia Nursery, where their specialty was pond construction, landscape design and do-it-yourself services, as well a full service nursery. “Everything changed after Hurricane Rita. That business closed and I started working with Doyle Pennick at Landscape Management Services, which held a big market share. This job pushed me and my skills to a much higher level. I get to work with landscape architects from all over the country.” As the Design Build Manager, Everage designs and approves all the plans Landscape Management Services puts out for construction or do-it-yourself services. He also manages all construction for the company, which requires juggling a lot of moving pieces, from crews to materials and deliveries, as well as designs. “We always have different projects in different stages of development. I love pushing the design envelope and trying new things that have not been done in our area,” says Everage. “I realize this comes with the risk of failure, but that forces me to keep my skills sharp. Any failure along the way has only made me better. I learn something from every project.” Lifelong learning is a passion for Everage. He studied fire science in college and has had very little formal training in landscape design; but he attends Louisiana Agriculture classes at state nursery shows to learn as much as he can to best serve his clients. “I feel the working knowledge and experience I have gained during my career is as important as anything else. Everything is about form and function.” Two of Everage’s favorite projects include Millennium Park and Prien Lake

Park. “For both of these, we started with a blank slate and I believe they are good examples of what we can do at Landscape Management.” Everage says he can’t imagine doing anything else. “This job is so rewarding. I love getting to know my clients, learning how they will live in the space I’m designing and executing a successful completed project that shows what is possible and exceeds their expectations. As an added bonus, I really enjoy making the world a prettier place.”

Now located at 519 Kirby Street in Lake Charles

Lake Charles • Sulphur 337-533-1808 • Federally Insured by NCUA


Money & Career | Cool Jobs

Sex Crimes Detective, Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office

Kara s m a d A

Even as a child, Kara Adams knew what she wanted to be when she grew up. She says she watched Rescue 911 and other police-related shows and movies. “They were always so exciting to me and I believe the reason I was so driven into this career.” Kara became a police officer in 2003 and has been a detective in the Sex Crimes Division at CPSO for four years. “I became interested in sex crimes when I was in the Police Academy and the Lieutenant of Sex Crimes at the time did a presentation. I knew then, this is where I wanted to be,” she says. Kara thrives on the challenges of her role. Her days might find her digging through a dumpster for evidence or talking to victims and listening to their stories. She says finding all the facts to secure a successful prosecution is the most challenging, but also the most important. Patience is another challenge she faces. “Our survivors get impatient because the process from reporting a crime all the way through prosecution often takes years. That is frustrating for me, even though I understand why it takes time. I have never been patient and I sometimes wonder if God put me in this position to teach me patience.” Kara began paying attention to Sex Crimes Detectives during her days on Patrol when she would be the initial officer on scene and detectives would be called out. Once assigned to the Sex Crimes Division, she received on-the-job training and spent a week just learning interview and interrogation techniques. “We learn new things all the time, especially with the advances in computer and DNA technology, and we work hard to stay up to speed.” Working in the Sex Crimes Division can be very emotional, but Kara has learned to “turn off work” when she goes home. “Otherwise, I would be a super angry person if I left work every day thinking about the horrible things other human beings do to children and other adults. That is not to say there are not days when I go home, draw a bath and cry. Those days are few and far between but are needed sometimes. I don’t think you can do this job and not have those days.” Kara encourages anyone to follow their occupational dreams, and never let anyone say you can’t do something. “You certainly can, and I am proof that with hard work, you truly can accomplish anything you set your mind to.”


Thrive Magazine for Better Living • January 2022

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Home & Family



Many of us start off the New Year with grand plans for selfimprovement. But where to start? So many factors play a role in overall wellbeing – nutrition, exercise, sleep, stress management and mental health, even our finances! In this special section, our goal is to get your New Year off on a great start, no matter where you are on your quest for your best you. Pro-tip: If you try to tackle every factor at once, you might undermine your efforts. Instead, choose one or two that resonate with you and work on slow, steady progress. One day at a time.


Thrive Magazine for Better Living • January 2022

Sometimes referred to as “encore careers,” these second acts can reinvigorate you and offer a reason to greet each day with anticipation, says author Oliver Harris, who wrote his first novel after working over four decades as an attorney in Chicago. “In my case, I was able to incorporate elements from my original career in law into my encore career as a writer,” says Harris, who put his knowledge of Chicago’s crime and corruption to use in his novel JoJo. But he didn’t completely shed his past self to take on this new identity. “I’m still working as a lawyer, and I work nights on my writing. So, I’ve pretty much added a second career into my life.” Harris suggests these tips for others who also feel the urge to reinvent themselves late in life:

Reinvent Yourself &

Restore Passion & Purpose to Your Life

Many Americans in the latter stage of a career – or even already in retirement – have discovered that it’s never too late to reinvent themselves. Folk artist Grandma Moses was in her late 70s before she began her painting career. Colonel Harland Sanders launched Kentucky Fried Chicken in his 60s. Arnold Schwarzenegger reinvented himself a several times, from professional body builder to actor to governor of California.

• Realize that purpose is important. After years in the same profession, it’s easy to become burned out and operate on auto pilot as you perform the tasks of your job. Essentially, people can lose their sense of purpose. When they reinvent themselves, that purpose can be reignited. “You’re much more likely to be successful when you’re driven by a sense of purpose,” Harris says.

• Discover what excites you. Harris says he

always wanted to write, so it was not surprising that pounding out a novel became a passion for him. If you’re reinventing yourself, the reinvention might as well center on something you’re passionate about. That could mean returning to college to earn a degree, learning a musical instrument, or embarking on the career you dreamed of as a child but put aside for more practical pursuits.

• Don’t convince yourself that it’s too

late. Many years ago, the newspaper advice columnist Dear Abby received a letter from a 36-year-old college dropout who wanted to return to school to become a doctor. But this would-be physician worried that it would take at least seven years to finish all the schooling. “In seven years I’ll be 43,” the letter writer lamented. Abby responded with a question. “How old will you be in seven years if you don’t go back to college?” Harris spent seven years working on JoJo, setting aside writing time between 11:00 p.m. and 1:30 a.m. Burning the midnight oil paid off, so it definitely wasn’t too late to get started.

Harris believes it’s important to put your mind to its full use. “With law I was only using part of my brain,” he says. “I wanted to use more of my brain and what I am capable of, which is why I began writing my novel.”


Home & Family | Your Best You in 2022

MOVEMENT AS MEDICINE by Suzy Trahan LDN, RDN, director of Dynamic Fitness Centers in Sulphur and Moss Bluff

a Mindset for Lifelong Fitness People exercise for a variety of reasons, but their motives are often related to appearance, a number on the scale, a certain clothing size, or a culturally dictated but false ideal of what a person should look like. Exercise is often a means to an end. Unfortunately, the marketing for fitness is exactly that – lose weight, get in shape . . . but this mindset has not helped Americans become healthier! In fact, the health of our nation is suffering and the fitness industry often continues to do the same thing, expecting different results. Many people actually hinder their progress because they focus only on the scale. Yes, a healthy weight is a component of wellness, but not the main focus. Identifying muscular and joint imbalances provides a blueprint for a training regimen that will not only improve someone’s movement in the gym setting, but in life activities. Call it training for life! Fitness experts who work with clients have discovered that the clients whose gym membership goals are to feel better, keep up with kids and grandkids, work in their yard, etc. are the ones who achieve the greatest success, especially for the long term. They emphasize movement and focus on training


Thrive Magazine for Better Living • January 2022

rather than exercising. When trainers can improve someone’s ability to move and counteract the effects of too much sitting or muscular and joint imbalances, the quality of a client’s life improves considerably. With training, aesthetic changes will happen, but the focus is on improvements in energy and the ability to perform life skills better and with less pain and stiffness. A shift away from all the guidelines and “rules” about exercise allows people to find joy in movement – bodies are designed to move! When they start to move more and challenge their bodies, they begin to experience the benefits of better sleep, improved mood, less joint pain and stiffness, decreased body fat, increased muscle mass and strength and more. HOW CAN YOU ATTAIN THIS? Work with a fitness professional, not a fitness enthusiast. While getting a workout from social media may be easy, it’s not the safest option. Everyone is designed differently and has different concerns and limitations. A fitness professional can customize a training plan so that you can achieve what you want to achieve, be healthy, and keep moving throughout your lifetime. A functional movement screen can help

you identify any areas of concern and if any corrective exercises are necessary to lay down the foundation for great workouts, whether you are a new exerciser or an elite athlete. Do what you can do and start to challenge yourself in small increments. Most new exercisers start with too much too soon and drop out within the first two weeks. Avoid this by first establishing exactly what it is you want to achieve and setting small goals to help you get there. Think of movements you do in everyday life that may be challenging and start to do them more often and in a more controlled manner. The trainers at Dynamic Fitness believe in the value of training for life. A training plan is included with each membership. For more information, visit Dynamic Fitness in either Moss Bluff or Sulphur. Suzy Trahan LDN, RDN, serves as the director of Dynamic Fitness. She is a registered dietitian and specializes in health and wellness. As an American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) certified Exercise Physiologist, American Council on Exercise (ACE) personal trainer, dietitian/nutritionist, and certified group fitness instructor, Suzy has over 30 years of experience in her profession and thrives on creating an atmosphere that promotes all aspects of health and wellness in the communities she serves.

How to Maintain a

Healthy Walking Habit

Add purpose to your walk. Combine your walk with another activity you need or want to do, such as go to the store, the post office, or favorite bookstore. Choose to walk instead of drive. Or make phone calls while walking. Keep a list of your reasons to walk, such as better health and fitness, increased energy, improved mood. Knowing the “why” of your walk increases motivation. Mix up your routine. Try walking in different locations with a variety of terrains and routes. This keeps your walk more interesting. Avoid making too many changes all at once. If you say you will immediately start eating healthy, lose weight, and start exercising all on the same day, you may feel overwhelmed and ultimately not achieve any of those goals. Tackle one positive change at a time. Make your walk non-negotiable. Don’t allow yourself the option to change your mind. Track your progress. Seeing small improvements can motivate you to continue on the path.

We all know a daily walking habit is wellworth keeping up with for its physical and mental health benefits. But despite our best intentions, getting out the door for a walk can sometimes feel next to impossible. To increase your odds of getting out there and making a walk happen, try these shifts in mindset. Incorporate your walk into your daily routine. If you pair your walk with something you already do, for example, walk before or after eating breakfast each day, it is more likely to become a habit. Give it ten minutes. Tell yourself you only need to walk for 10 minutes, as getting started is generally the hardest part. If after that time, you don’t want to keep going, it’s okay. But most often, you’ll opt to continue. Movement is your greatest reward. Don’t think of your walk as something you must do, but rather as a reward or gift to yourself. Small challenges lead to achieved goals. Add a competitive component, either with yourself or with others. Aim to walk a bit further or faster than the day before. Walking apps help you keep track. Find a walking buddy. It could be a friend, family member, or your dog. Being accountable to another makes a walk more likely to happen.


Home & Family | Your Best You in 2022


REBOOT: Tips for Eating Well

Good news: now is a great time to reset your nutrition path. Now that the holiday hustle and bustle is behind you, there’s a clear path ahead for learning better habits. Nutrition affects many areas of your life. “Healthy eating and choosing nutrient-dense foods go beyond achieving and maintaining a healthy weight,” explains Cynthia Chantlin, RD, clinical dietitian and certified diabetes educator at West Calcasieu Cameron Hospital. “By providing your body with healthy foods, you’re also equipping it to help fight off viruses and diseases by boosting your immune system thanks to vitamins and minerals, as well as increasing your energy level, reducing your risk for heart disease and cancer, improving your mood and mental health, reducing risk for diabetes, and improving your digestive system. The benefits are numerous.” If you overindulged during the holidays, Chantlin says let it go. “Forget your habits in the past, or what happened over the holidays. We’re resetting, it’s a fresh start.”


Thrive Magazine for Better Living • January 2022

by Christine Fisher

One of the best ways to begin something new is to start small. “If you are snacking on a candy bar in the afternoon, replace it with a handful of nuts. If you are accustomed to skipping breakfast, try eating a protein bar or shake. Don’t try to overhaul everything all at once. Take it slowly and make one or two things a new routine and then move on to something else,” she advised. Consistency is key. When you take on one or two new habits, focus on them until you’re comfortable. Don’t skip around from idea to idea; you’ll likely end up discouraged and overwhelmed. Arm yourself with healthy choices. Keep a supply of healthy foods at hand so that when you’re stressed or hungry, you have something healthy within reach. Chantlin suggests these items:

• Hard boiled eggs • Nuts such as pistachios, almonds or walnuts • Low sugar yogurt • Veggie slices • Fruit • Air-popped popcorn

Drink plenty of water. “Many of us don’t drink enough water. Just by drinking more water, we can boost our metabolism by up to 30% to help burn more calories. Adding waterdense foods such as fruits and vegetables is a good way to increase your hydration,” explains Chantlin. Eat a variety of natural foods. “Foods with only a few ingredients are usually a better choice than chips, cookies or frozen meals,” she says. Practice mindful eating. “Instead of eating in front of the TV or hunched over the kitchen counter, sit at the table, even if you’re eating alone. Think about your meal and eat slowly,” Chantlin suggests. “It takes up to 20 minutes for your brain to register that you are full. Slowing down helps your brain catch up to how full you’re feeling.” Good habits take time, but you’ll be rewarded with so many health benefits. If you indulge in a high-calorie snack, then regroup and try to avoid that next time. Be patient with yourself. Take it one day at a time!


Get Financially

in 2022

by Kristy Como Armand

When all the shopping is done and the decorations are packed away, many people emerge from the holiday spending frenzy shocked at the state of their finances. Rather than dwell on your shortcomings, financial experts say the end of the year is the perfect time to take a closer look at your finances and chart a course for improvement in the new year. Financial resolutions such as getting out of debt, developing a personal budget and saving more money are all very common New Year’s resolutions, usually falling right behind losing weight and exercising, but don’t always come with staying power, according to Aimee Gilmore, Lakeside Bank Vice President, Manager Moss Bluff Financial Center. “It’s easy to fall back into bad habits if you don’t develop a plan.” SHE RECOMMENDS A FEW BASIC STRATEGIES FOR GETTING STARTED.

• LOOK AT YOUR BUDGET. “Make reviewing your budget regularly

a priority this year,” says Gilmore. “It’s easy to fall into your regular routines without even realizing how much you’re spending or where. You might be surprised to discover how much you spend on restaurants, entertainment, and other miscellaneous items. While it’s important to include these things in your life—you need to have fun, after all—these are also areas that can easily be budgeted and scaled back. This will leave you with more money to save.”

• GET SERIOUS ABOUT SAVING. Budgeting will help. Other things

will, too—like assessing your priorities and establishing goals. “What do you want your life to look like at this time next year? Are there specific luxury items you want, like a new car? Do you want to buy a house soon? Would you like to take a big trip? Save for a child’s college? These are questions you need to ask yourself so you can adequately plan to save,” Gilmore says. “These big-ticket items require both planning and saving.”

• CHECK YOUR CREDIT. When was the last time you checked

your credit? Credit scores determine far more about our lives than we realize, according to Gilmore. “Not only do these threedigit measurements of credit-worthiness influence how much you’ll pay for a credit card or a house or car loan, today many non-lenders, including future employers, like to check that information as well. Get a current copy of your credit report to review it, correct any errors and develop a plan to improve it if it’s not where you want it to be. Knowing your credit score gives you the perfect framework to create goals. Let’s say you have a credit score of 600, but your goal is to get it up to 700. That’s a tangible goal you can work toward.” A free copy of your credit report is available at This particular site accesses all three major credit bureaus.

• ELIMINATE MULTIPLE CREDIT CARDS. “The more credit cards you have, the more interest rates and bills you have to keep track of,” says Gilmore. She recommends having only one or two cards. “The other goal is to change your habits and not charge more than you can pay off each month to eliminate interest rate charges.”

• PAY BILLS AUTOMATICALLY. This can save time and eliminate

late fees. This can be done with online-bill payment that you manage through your bank, authorized debit payments by the biller, or credit card charges. Online bill payment systems through your bank typically offer the most flexibility. Gilmore says if you use a credit card, be sure to pay the balance off every month. “You don’t want to pay added interest on a bill you’ve already paid.”

• CONSOLIDATE YOUR ACCOUNTS. The more scattered your

money is, the more work you have to do to keep track of it. Having numerous savings accounts, checking accounts, and different types of investments at several financial institutions, for example, creates more paperwork and increases the risk of mistakes. Instead, Gilmore recommends moving different accounts to one financial location and combining any accounts you can.

• GET OVERDRAFT PROTECTION. Bounced checks are expensive and embarrassing. Protect yourself and your checking account by setting up overdraft protection at your bank. Most overdraft protection comes in the form of a line of credit that kicks in when you write a check for more than the balance in your account. You’ll pay a small annual fee for the service, plus interest charges on whatever amount is charged to the line of credit. Gilmore says if you avoid even one bounced check each year, the account will probably pay for itself.

• INVEST. If you have investments, the beginning of the year is an

ideal time to review your portfolio and make any adjustments, if needed. If you aren’t investing, there’s no time like the present to get started. “While you should keep your emergency and shortterm savings in an easily accessible account you know won’t lose value,” says Gilmore “it is a good idea to have some long-term savings in vehicles that have the potential for a higher return, such as stocks and bonds.”

Although it may take time to get your finances in better shape, Gilmore says spending a few hours now can save you time, money and hassles in the months ahead, and, more importantly, position you for greater financial success.


Home & Family | Your Best You in 2022

Sleep Disorders

101 by Phillip Conner, MD, Medical Director at The Sleep Disorder Center, Board Certified Sleep Specialist

More than 100 million Americans of all ages are not getting an adequate amount of sleep. Yet sleep is essential. Not getting enough sleep can have untoward consequences on school and work performance, interpersonal relationships, health, and safety. Here are some facts and figures that might help you better understand sleep and sleep disorders: How much sleep is necessary? Experts generally recommend that adults sleep at least seven to nine hours per night, although some require more and others need less. A recent National Sleep Foundation Sleep in America poll found that adults (ages 18-54) sleep on average 6.4 hours per night on weekdays and 7.7 hours on weekends. What are sleep disorders? Sleep disorders are conditions that impair your sleep or prevent you from getting restful sleep and, as a result, can cause daytime sleepiness and other symptoms. Everyone can experience problems with sleep from time to time. However, you might have a sleep disorder if:

• You regularly experience difficulty sleeping. • You are often tired during the day even though you slept for at least seven hours the night before.

• You have a reduced or impaired ability to perform

regular daytime activities. How common are sleep disorders? About 70 million people in the United States suffer from sleep disorders.

How many types of sleep disorders are there? There are approximately 80 different types of sleep disorders. The following descriptions of common sleep disorders may help you determine whether or not you need to consult further with sleep specialists at The Sleep Disorder Center of Louisiana. SLEEP APNEA Sleep apnea occurs when a person doesn’t breathe normally during sleep. Warning signs are loud snoring and long pauses between breaths. The person may be sleepy enough to fall asleep at work during the day. Sleep apnea can trigger high blood pressure, heart failure, or a stroke. It can affect men and women of any age. 56

Thrive Magazine for Better Living • January 2022

INSOMNIA Insomnia, or trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, can be caused by stress, changing work schedule, lack of activity, or caffeine. Noise, light, and illness can also disrupt sleep. Treatment of insomnia requires an informed doctor. Effective treatments are available. Sleeping pills can be addictive and are not recommended as a long-term solution. NARCOLEPSY Narcolepsy is defined as “undesirable sleepiness at inappropriate times.” The four most common symptoms of narcolepsy are excessive daytime sleepiness, sudden loss of strength in the muscles (cataplexy), a brief loss of muscle control that occurs when a person is falling asleep or waking up (sleep paralysis) and hallucinations that occur just before falling asleep, during naps and/or upon waking up.

Thanks to the Sleep Disorder Center of Louisiana, SWLA’s only Nationally Accredited Sleep Lab, a good night’s sleep can be more than just a dream. Phillip Conner, MD Medical Director, Board Certified Sleep Specialist Dr. Phillip Conner received his undergraduate degree at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, LA. He received his medical degree at Louisiana State University in New Orleans, LA, and completed his internship and residency at Louisiana State University in Shreveport, LA. Dr. Conner is board certified in both family medicine and sleep medicine. He is a member of Calcasieu Parish Medical Society, Louisiana State Medical Society, American Academy of Sleep Medicine, and American Academy of Family Practice.

RESTLESS LEGS SYNDROME AND PERIODIC LIMB MOVEMENT DISORDER People with Restless Leg Syndrome cannot fall asleep because of an irresistible urge to move their legs. Periodic Limb Movement Disorder is the involuntary movement of the limbs during sleep. These disorders prevent a person from sleeping soundly, making them sleepy and less productive during waking hours. SHIFT WORKERS’ SLEEP DISORDER Shift workers often face problems getting enough sleep during the day and staying alert at night. This can affect social and family relationships and lead to more illness and accidents. PARASOMNIAS The most common are “disorders of arousal,” including confusional arousals, sleepwalking (somnambulism), and night terrors. These occur when a person is in a mixed state, both asleep and awake, and often emerging from the deepest stage of non-dreaming sleep. The sleeper is awake enough to act out complex behaviors but is still asleep and not aware of these activities and cannot remember them. OTHER SLEEP DISORDERS There are more than 80 classified sleep disorders that can affect sleep quality. These include tooth grinding and violent acting out during dreams. If any sleep time behavior affects a person’s safety or ability to get a good night’s rest, it’s best to seek consultation with a sleep specialist.


Home & Family | Your Best You in 2022

Resolve to


by Kristy Como Armand

In Southwest Louisiana, stress has become a way of life. This was true even before the pandemic and a string of natural disasters our region has faced. “We’ve become desensitized to how stress impacts our quality of life,” says Marissa De La Paz, MD, family medicine specialist with Imperial Health. “And even if you do recognize the mental impact of stress on your coping abilities, you may not be aware that stress can also literally make you sick.” The actual feeling of stress arises from a response to danger. When the mind perceives a threat or emergency, it creates a fightor-flight response by altering the body’s chemistry. Increased levels of adrenaline, norepinephrine and cortisol cause your heart to race. Your blood pressure increases the oxygen moving into the muscles. “Stress was an asset for our ancestors that helped them survive life in the wild,” says De La Paz. “But today, this response is being triggered by life’s daily, mundane aggravations, with no down time for the relaxation response which would allow the mind and body to recover. This is referred to as chronic stress and can lead to mental and physical health problems.” 58

Thrive Magazine for Better Living • January 2022

Rezearch has shown that chronic stress affects every part of the body. It advances the aging process and can cause sleeplessness, headaches and lower back pain. If ignored, it can lead to, or worsen, serious medical conditions such as heart disease, depression, anxiety and diabetes. It has also been known to advance the spread of certain cancers. It’s easy – and common – to blow off stressors as minor inconveniences, such as a bad day at work or a contractor who didn’t show up as scheduled. Maybe you’re in the middle of a crisis and accept high levels of stress as part of the process. However, Dr. De La Paz says stress works like a savings account. “Each experience— big or small—deposits tension into your body and over time it grows. Prolonged episodes can cause frequent rushes of cortisol that throw the body into overdrive, weakening the immune system. This is why it’s common to catch a cold or feel dizzy or distracted when you’re experiencing high stress, whether it’s a buildup of daily aggravations or acute stress caused by a lifechanging event such as death, divorce, loss of a job, or dealing with the impact of a natural disaster.”

According to Dr. De La Paz, feeling physical symptoms of stress, like a tension headache, is your body’s way of sending a warning. It’s telling you to take better care of yourself. She says the way we naturally approach stress is through a combination of nature and nurture. “Most people tend to model their parents’ reaction to stress – it’s a learned behavior. The other side of stress is genetic predisposition. Scientists have found that we inherit varying levels of a chemical called neuropeptide Y, a natural anxiety reducer that is released during times of stress.” Although stress is an inevitable part of life, she says you can learn coping mechanisms to help protect your body from its negative side effects. “Most people know they need to manage their stress levels, but the thought of working relaxation into their already hectic schedules just stresses them out even more. Ideally, they would cut back on their workload, schedule a weekly massage, hire a housekeeper, or take a two-week vacation every three months, but that’s not realistic for most people. What you can do is stop thinking about stress management in such big terms. There are many simple things you can do to make a huge difference in your stress levels and how it affects your quality of life.”

Turn back the clock and kick off the New Year with DR. DE LA PAZ OFFERS THESE SUGGESTIONS: Breathe. Stop what you’re doing and take a deep breath. Count backwards from five to one before slowly exhaling. Repeat. After a few deep breaths you will feel a release.

healthy, radiant skin!

Exercise. This doesn’t have to be time consuming or complicated. Walk down the street, around the office, or up and down the stairs a few times. Even just 10 – 20 minutes releases endorphins in the brain that improve mood and boost mental energy. Stretch. You can stretch at your desk, while watching TV or even when brushing your teeth. Stretching eases tired muscles, increases flexibility, improves range of motion and circulation, and soothes away stress. Take it slow and hold each pose for ten seconds to maximize benefits. Sleep. This is the most important natural stress reducer of them all. Too little leaves us irritable and too much leaves us sluggish. Find the right balance. Build up and maintain a strong immune system. Eat well and take your vitamins; A, C and E, B-complex vitamins, magnesium and zinc are natural immunity boosters. Keep your doctor’s appointments. It’s important to know where you stand health wise, especially when it comes to your weight, blood pressure and cholesterol. Sooth your senses. Many people release stress with aromatherapy. Many scents can be helpful. Lavender has been proven to boost levels of dopamine and serotonin. Disconnect. A huge contributor to increased stress levels is that we are never truly able to disconnect. Turn off the Internet and shut off the cell phone for a while.

At the Skin Studios, we offer a comprehensive range of advanced treatment options for a variety of aesthetic conditions including lines, wrinkles, pigmentation issues, acne, redness, volume loss, body contouring, permanent hair removal and broken capillaries. We treat these skin issues with the most cutting-edge techniques and the highest-quality products available. Call us today to get the Care of a Physician, the Comfort of a Spa.

Get support. Talking to a supportive friend can help but connect with a counselor if it’s a chronic issue to find stress-management tools that work for you. “Many of these suggestions may seem simple. The good news is, they are,” says Dr. De La Paz. “The way we respond to stress has been ingrained in us for a long time, so don’t be hard on yourself as you hit hurdles while working to embrace these new habits. Change takes time, but it’s worth it.”

2640 Country Club Rd. | Lake Charles 337.474.1220 |


Style & Beauty

for every occasion

Hats have become the hottest new fashion accessories, and for great reasons. They’re fun, flirty, and functional! In this special section, you’ll find stories that feature a wide variety of Southwest Louisiana businesses that sell an array of hat styles – fashionable boleros and berets; custom formal, frilly glamor hats; casual caps and Stetsons – there’s a hat for every occasion!

Louisiana Fur & Wildlife Festival Schedule 2022 SATURDAY, DECEMBER 18, 2021 6:00 p.m. Louisiana Fur & Wildlife Queen Contest Teen Miss Fur Queen Contest Crowning of King Fur Grand Lake High School - 1039 Highway 384, Lake Charles LA (Grand Lake) Admission $5.00 THURSDAY, JANUARY 6, 2022 6:00 p.m. Little Miss and Mister Cameron Parish & Miss Cameron Parish Pageants South Cameron High School - 753 Oak Grove Highway, Grand Chenier, LA (Creole) Admission $5.00

Due to hurricane damages the 2022 Louisiana Fur and Wildlife Festival will be held at the Burton Complex in Lake Charles, LA. We hope to see everyone there!

FRIDAY, JANUARY 7, 2022 9:00 a.m. Dog Trials (Registration BeginsSweetlake Area , Corner Hwy 27 and Hacketts Road) 10:00 a.m. Dog Trials Begin - Junior Pups with Seasoned Dogs to Follow 5:00 p.m. Gates Open - Carnival, Craft & Food Booths Open No Admission Fee 10:00 p.m. Gates Close - Carnival, Craft & Food Booths Close

SATURDAY, JANUARY 8, 2022 6:30 a.m. Cooks Allowed into Burton Livestock/Exhibit Barn Area (Gumbo Cook-Off Only) 7:00 a.m. Fur Festival 5k Run and 1 Mile Fun Walk (Late Registration) 8:00 a.m. 5K Run/1Mile Race and Walk Begin at Lake Charles Airport Area 9:00-4:00 Antique Vehicles Showcase Free Admission 9:00 a.m. Gates Open - Burton Complex Admission $15.00 per person/Children 12 & Under Free • Gumbo Cook Off

- Burton Livestock/Exhibit Barn Arena

• Craft/Vendor Booths

- Burton Livestock/Exhibit Barn Arena

• Carnival Opens

- Burton Complex

9:30 a.m.

L A F U R A N D W I L D L I F E F E S T I VA L . C O M 60

Thrive Magazine for Better Living • January 2022

Muskrat and Nutria Skinning - Burton Livestock/Exhibit Barn Trap Setting Competition - Burton Livestock/Exhibit Barn Oyster Shucking Competition - Burton Livestock/Exhibit Barn


10:00 a.m. 10:30 a.m.

10:30 a.m. 12:30 p.m. 1:00-3:00 3:00 p.m. 3:00-5:00 5:00-5:30 5:30-7:30 7:30-9:30 9:30-11:30

Registration for Kids Master Races – Exhibitor Barn Kids Master Oyster Race and Master Shrimping Race – Exhibitor Barn Group 1 (Ages 6-8 years old) Group 2 (Ages 9-11 years old) Gumbo Cook-Off Judging Burton Livestock/ Exhibit Barn Gumbo Cook-Off Awards - Burton Coliseum Junior Lacrosse (Entertainment- Coliseum) Duck and Goose Calling Competition - LSU AgCenter Office (Next to Burton) Steel Shot (Entertainment- Coliseum) Presentation of Festival Royalty, Maryland Delegation Festival Officials Geno Delafose & the French Rockin’ Boogie (Entertainment- Coliseum) Beau Young Band (Entertainment- Coliseum) Wayne Toups (Entertainment- Coliseum)


BespokeHat Company Offers Hats & Accessories in Downtown Lake Charles

by Stefanie Powers

If you’re in the market for a new hat and accessories, look no further than Bespoke Hat Company in downtown Lake Charles. Kashia Spears opened her business in February of 2017, starting with just one hat brand. That soon changed. “We now carry reputable brands such as Stetson, Charlie 1 Horse, Bailey, Dobbs, Gigi Pip, and many more,” she says. “We’re always searching for new brands to bring to Southwest Louisiana.” Styles include felts, straws, wide brims, fedoras, and flat caps, also known as newsboy caps. “Three years ago, we decided to branch out and carry men’s and women's accessories as well,” Spears continues. “These include genuine leather handbags and travel bags by BEDSTU and STS Ranchwear. This year, we decided to add men’s and women's jackets, vintage tees, wild rags and footwear.” Spears was motivated to get into the business by her love of western-style hats, starting with her first one when she was just a little girl. “I have the dream job!” she

says. “Working with my customers to find the perfect hat makes me so incredibly happy. The confidence they have when they walk out of the store is unbelievable.” Spears’s sister started working with her this past year. “Christin Dowers is in charge of our social media and does such an amazing job,” she says. “I am so blessed to have her by my side each day. My whole family enjoys being involved in the business.” It's been a great four-plus years for Spears. “I owe it all to my family, friends and the new friends that I’ve had the honor to meet in my shop,” she explains. “We’ve had many obstacles like everyone in our area over the past couple of years. However, the downtown area is alive and strong, and business has been great over the past few months. The events are back, which are so important to our area. It gives all of us a boost.” Spears has big plans to expand and add more hat services and new brands for her customers. “I can't wait to share the many new things to come in 2022!” Bespoke Hat Co, 725 Ryan St., Lake Charles, 70601, (337) 842-1527, www. and on Facebook.

Kashia Spears (L), Christin Dowers (R)


Style & Beauty | Hats Off!

Sassy Royals Hats

Opens in a New Location Many local businesses took hits between COVID-19 and the hurricanes of 2020. Luckily, Sassy Royals Hats has survived, and owner Anne Monlezun has made some big changes. “I’ve been in business since 1987,” Monlezun says. “My hat business is a division of both Lords and Ladies and my wholesale company, which has been selling hats all over the country since about 2007.” The original office was on Bayou Pines Drive. “I was only able to wholesale out of that location,” she explains. “When we lost our office and relocated, I knew immediately I wanted to open a retail operation selling hats and handbags and accessories. So now I have Sassy Royals Boutique.” Monlezun says that not only has she added to her hat line, but she now has Mary Frances designer handbags out of California and Lorren Belle Jewelry out of Dallas. “Both complement my line of hats beautifully,” she says. “I also have a line of fedora hats that’s popular, along with some Southwest handbags and jewelry that go great with the fedoras!” 62

A lot of Sassy Royals’ business is done at trade shows. “I truly enjoy doing them because I meet so many interesting people!” Monlezun says. “I do several boutique shows in New Orleans and I just finished the Christmas Market in Grand Coteau. In January, I will be in Las Vegas at the National Halloween and Costume Show. My hats are not just current fashion hats; I also do costumers and have a nice clientele of costume stores that I have sold to for several years. I just visited one in New York City on Madison Ave. and it’s exciting to know that they enjoy handling my line!” Sassy Royals has different types of hats that Monlezun sells throughout the year. “Currently I’m selling winter felt fedoras and fashion hats. They’re very popular right now. Next, I’ll go to a show in January and sell and take orders for costumers that I will deliver as requested throughout the year until Halloween.” By March, Monlezun will have her spring line of straw hats out in her retail division. “I’ll not only have Easter on the burner, but I’ll also be working on the Derby for May. In summer, things calm down some, but it gives me time to finalize the orders that need to

Thrive Magazine for Better Living • January 2022

by Stefanie Powers be shipped by August to the costume shops for Halloween!” Monlezun says that one of the most enjoyable aspects of her business is when someone walks into her shop or booth and tells her, “I can’t wear hats, they just don’t look good on me!” And before they leave, they’ve bought a hat. “It’s simply because they don’t know how to wear one!” Monlezun laughs. “You can’t just plop a hat on your head! You look in the mirror and you slightly tilt it over to the side and you’ve created a character to the hat. I still think that when a lady wears a hat, she turns heads, and she’s almost always complimented. There’s something about a lady with a hat that people find intriguing!” In the near future, be on the lookout for style shows and possibly tea parties at Monlezun’s new location. Sassy Royals Hats, Courtyard Park, 3505 5th Ave. Ste. A, Lake Charles, 70607. (337) 540-3098,, and find them on Facebook.

Anne Monlezun in her Sassy Royal Hat Shop

Hat’s Off! by Kerry Andersen

Hat’s off to one of the top fashion trends of the season! Bucket and baseball

styles found a nostalgic niche on the runways; wide-brimmed Panama and cowboy hats found favor with social media influencers and fashionistas alike; and berets, fedoras and knit caps kept our heads warm during chilly winter days. Here’s a roundup of super-flattering options guaranteed to make you look good. And remember – the best part about a hat is that it always fits – no matter how much you indulged over the holidays! Mia’s Downtown If you think you’re not a ‘hat person’, pop on one of the wide-brimmed Panama styles carried by this cute downtown boutique and prepare to be amazed. The fit is flattering and, as a bonus, will protect your face from the sun. Mia’s also has a full line of wide and short brim fedoras in a variety of colors to match any outfit. Owner Mia Mouton-Rene’ says bands are an easy way to customize your hat for a look all your own. 318 Pujo Street, Lake Charles Julep Boutique Bucket hats are one throwback to the 90’s that returned with a vengeance this season. They are both stylish and practical in cooler weather. At Julep Boutique, you’ll find bucket hats in fun (and warm) materials like faux fur with a leopard print. Wide-brimmed Highway and Panama style hats flatter everyone and come accentuated with braided

leather belt accents. Or grab a Boujie Bee felt fedora in shades of sherbet trimmed in ribbons to match. The Nelson Road boutique also carries baseball caps and beanies for a more casual look. 4720 Nelson Road, Lake Charles Patton’s Lake Charles Cowboy hats are officially trending for the 2021/2022 fashion season. Perhaps it’s a nod to the nation’s obsession with the hit show Yellowstone, but Western-inspired gear is having a moment. Whether wide-brimmed or highcrowned, you’ll find cowboy hats of all kinds at Patton’s. Choose a neutral shade like black or tan so you can wear it with anything. Straw cowboy hats from Twister are available year-round here along with iconic seasonal styles from Stetson and Resistol. Felt fashion hats by Charlie One Horse are made in the USA and are topping trendy heads everywhere. For men, check out Ariat Hats, Carhartt caps and leather patch caps from Field & Fowl. 3620 Ryan Street, Lake Charles

Iron Shop Provisions This hip Broad Street retailer lists the Toquilla Straw Hat, handwoven by artisans in Ecuador, as their most popular head topper. The style has been around for centuries and is designed to help beat the heat. It is lightweight and stylishly trimmed in full grain leather. Also in the shop and online (ironshopprovisions. com), trendier options like the 3Sixteen 6 Panel Cap, twill

bucket hat and a full selection of knit waffle caps for men and women. 625 Broad Street, Lake Charles Mimosa Boutique Proud of being a mom? Having a bad hair day or just feeling sleepy? Now you can share your status or mood with the world by wearing a ballcap that gives off a relaxed weekend vibe embroidered with fun sayings that announce your current state of mind. Felt Panama hats are on-trend, and Mimosa has them in a rainbow of colors to complete your winter outfits. The boutique also carries a wide selection of straw rancher hats with colorful bands to add a fun customized fashion touch. 3101 Ernest Street, Lake Charles Cajun Cap Company Classic baseball trucker hats are just as bold as you may remember from the early 2000’s and they’re making a comeback! You’ll find them on the heads of celebrities and fashionistas alike. If you see them for sale in Southwest Louisiana, there’s a good chance they were designed by the Cajun Cap Company. Owner Kevin Mattingly says, ‘every cap has a story’, like the popular Crystal Beach style he created to remind him how much he loves the secluded beach community. For now, Cajun Caps works with local companies to design and supply custom headwear, but Mattingly has plans for a website or retail distribution in the near future. 337-532-3839 or


Style & Beauty

first person with


Thrive Magazine for Better Living • January 2022

Melinda Tilley, by Angie Kay Dilmore

Melinda Tilley was born and raised in Moss Bluff, the youngest of five children and the only girl. After high school graduation in 1984, she went to Louisiana College in Pineville, La. on a full scholarship and planned to major in social work, but after one day on campus, she returned home. Ultimately, she became an unexpected type of “social” worker – a hairstylist and businesswoman. After a few years of experience, she opened her own salon, and in January 2020, she opened The Ritz Academy, an Aveda Concept School. Thrive magazine recently caught up with Tilley, where she shared her thoughts on caring for her employees, changes in the beauty industry over the years, and making the transition from hairstylist to businesswoman.

me through so much. We’d been renting on Lake Street for years when the opportunity arose in 2013 to purchase the property on Lake Street where we’re currently located. I promised myself I would do everything in my power to give these four stylists the best future I could. This promise significantly changed my business model. I started attending business classes and making small but powerful changes in our daily operations. I began cutting back from behind the chair and focusing on the growth of the stylists. I realized I cannot be all things to all people. Having a salon manager and a creative director on board means all staff has support whom they can reach out to for any issue. We now have eight stylists, one esthetician, one guest service coordinator and a salon manager, as well as inegratIV Hydration nurses in the salon a few days a week.

I understand The Ritz has won some awards?

Yes, we’ve won Best of SWLA for the last five years, Salon Today magazine’s Top 200 Salons in 2020, and named a VoMor Champion Salon for hair extensions in 2020. Our next goal is to be named a Seven Figure salon 2022.

What exactly happened after that one day at college that prompted you to become a stylist?

I went to work for my dad, and one day he fussed about something, so to make myself feel better I called my hairstylist. Debra always made me feel good. In her salon, I saw an ad for a cosmetology school, and I thought, “I could just be Debra!” I signed up at a local cosmetology school and immediately knew this was where I was supposed to be. After graduation, I moved to New Orleans to do an internship as an assistant to a prominent hairstylist. While there, I went back to school for my cosmetology instructor’s license. Shortly after my apprenticeship in 1987, I knew I wanted to be close to family, so I moved back to Lake Charles to start building my own clientele. A friend of my family owned The Ritz at the time, and she offered me a job.

What prompted you to open a cosmetology school?

In 2017, while touring potential cosmetology schools for my daughter, from the Woodlands to Lafayette, I realized how much more was available. I returned to the salon and talked to my stylists there and the dream to open a cosmetology school was born. In January 2020, The Ritz Academy, an Aveda Concept school was opened. We are a full-service salon and spa open to the public for luxury services at school prices. I originally planned to split my time between the salon and academy, but COVID-19 changed that. With the CDC guidelines, hair salon chairs had to be eight feet apart. That cut our work staff in half. We had two teams and they alternated days. I would have had to let someone go in order to add myself to the schedule. However, the academy is growing much faster than our business plan originally forecasted. We started with two instructors, myself, and one support person. We currently have six instructors, two support people, and myself. At the beginning of 2021 we added on two more classrooms and a lab for our esthetics department. We have had 20 estheticians and 10 cosmetologists graduate already. We currently have 10 estheticians and 31 cosmetologists enrolled.

How have you managed the shift from hairstylist to cosmetology school owner?

When I was behind the chair, I can honestly say it never felt like work. My clients were never just clients – we grew up together, raised our kids together, and enjoyed our grandchildren together. I miss my clients. Most had been with me for 2030 years! Being at the school full time is different than the salon, you can’t have the same relationship with students that you have with guests, but it is so rewarding. I love teaching the students that it's not just about hair and skin but about building lasting relationships with guests, which is the greatest reward of this career choice!

Describe the course of your career from that point.

In 1995, the opportunity arose for me to purchase The Ritz. At that point, I started building my team. Of course, I had stylists come and go, but I was blessed to have what I call my core four, who stayed with Melinda (center) with a client and staff member


Style & Beauty | First Person continued

What changes have you witnessed in the beauty industry over the decades?

When I first started, we had a paper appointment book and four phones on the wall. We took turns answering the phone while doing hair and fought over walkins. Today’s world is completely different. My salon manager, Sara Martin, and our creative director, Mary Camille King, and myself have committed to change the industry standards in Lake Charles. We provide our stylists a career where they can have a work/family balance and live abundantly. We promote them on social media and have upgraded our booking system to better support them. We now close every other Saturday to allow them more family time. We offer apprenticeships to all new hires and share our knowledge with them. We offer our stylists a healthy environment to work in, continuing education, paid short term disability, 401K, and paid vacation.


Thrive Magazine for Better Living • January 2022

What do you do in your free time, when you can find it?

I love to spend time with my grandchildren. They are the BEST!! Melinda with grandkids

List three things you most want your clients and Thrive readers to know. Blondes do not

always have more fun, long hair is not pretty if it’s not healthy, and you should wash your hair once a week whether you need it or not.

What’s next for Melinda Tilley?

My personal goal is to be able to start cutting back from the academy to spend more time with family, especially my grands. They are growing up so fast.


for life


from Solutions Counseling & EAP by Keri Forbess-McCorquodale, MS, LPC, LMFT, CEAP

New Year’s Resolution: A New Street Aah, January . . . land of the New Year’s Resolutions. Over the years, I have written many times about resolutions for the January issue of Thrive. I’ve given you my general thoughts on resolutions, made suggestions about how to formulate good resolutions, and given you my argument for not having any resolutions at all. This year feels different. I very much feel like we need a fresh start for 2022. And resolutions are a good way to evaluate our current situations and decide what we want different for ourselves. Recently I had a client ask me if something is wrong with them. “Why can’t I stop doing the things I know I shouldn’t do?” “Why can’t I be stronger and stick to my decisions?” Our discussion made me immediately think of one of my favorite poems to address why it is so difficult for us to make and stick with positive change.

There’s a Hole in My Sidewalk by: Portia Nelson Chapter I I walk down the street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I fall in. I am lost . . . I am helpless. It isn’t my fault. It takes forever to find a way out. Chapter II I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I pretend I don’t see it. I fall in again. I can’t believe I am in the same place. But it isn’t my fault. It still takes a long time to get out. Chapter III I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I see it is there.

I still fall in… it’s a habit. My eyes are open. I know where I am. It is my fault . . . I get out immediately. Chapter IV I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I walk around it. Chapter V I walk down another street. As we make our way into 2022, which street – or streets – is it time for you to stop going down? Which streets would be healthier for you to start taking instead? As you can see by the poem, it is normal for us to have to fall into that darn hole several times before we decide to love ourselves enough to choose a different street. You deserve this, and you can do it!




ALZHEIMER S PREVENTION TRAILBLAZER-ALZ 3 The TRAILBLAZER-All 3 study, a new research study sponsored by Eli Lilly and Company, is testing whether a study drug can potentially prevent or slow down the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease.

Can I be part of this trial? ••••••••••• Yes, you may be able to join the research study if you: 0 Are aged 55-80 years old 0 Have normal memory and thinking 0 Have a reliable study partner 0 Pass study screening activities A study partner O is a person who is familiar with your day-to-day life and would notice any changes in your memory, thinking, mood and behavior. This could be your spouse, partner, friend, relative or caregiver. Your study partner would also consent to the trial.


Monday - Friday 9AM - 4 PM

Location: 600 Bayou Pines East Dr. Suite B Lake Charles, LA 70601


Thrive Magazine for Better Living • January 2022