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Grand Rapids|Holland|Grand Haven








Grand Rapids Art Museum | 101 Monroe Center | Grand Rapids, MI 49503 | 616.831.2920

Colorful Gifts for the Young Artist The Museum Store

Product information (from left to right): Reptangles: Turtles That Snap, Fat Brain Toys Henri Matisse Pop-up Book by Patricia Geis Felt Tip Markers, Sargent Art Squigs, Fat Brain Toys Balloon Dog Eraser, NuOp Design Go Car, Kid-O Toys


Women’s LifeStyle Magazine • December 2019


December 2019 Edition #261


8 Her Legacy


FEATURES 12 Women Led Black and Brown Cannabis Guild Creates Equity in Marijuana Industry 14 Find the Perfect Unique Gift at Gallery 154


20 Creating Joy in the Workplace with Shannon Cohen

EDITOR Elyse Wild editor@womenslifestyle.com

22 From Intern to CEO: Kids’ Food Basket’s Bridget Clark Whitney



CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Anu Teodorescu Autumn Lau Devin DuMond Elyse Wild Kayla Sosa Megan Sarnaki Michelle Jokisch Polo COLUMNISTS Greater Grand Rapids Women’s History Council GROW Kate Sage, DO Kelsey Emmanuel Meredith Schickel

HEALTH AND BEAUTY 11 Bone Health for Women, Decade by Decade


18 Recipes: Black

24 Artist Profile: Jamari Taylor

Forest Cake



LEARN & DO 6 Spending with a Purpose

9 Reader’s Lounge

26 The Nutrcacker

14 Find the Perfect Unique Gift at Gallery 154

CALL (616) 458-2121

13 Director of Wealthy Theatre Sarah Nawrocki’s Must-Watch Holiday Movies 16 New Year’s Traditions Around the World 28 Eco-Friendly Gift Options


EMAIL info@womenslifestyle.com

24 Artist Profile: Jamari Taylor

MAIL 3500 3 Mile Rd NW, Ste A Grand Rapids, MI 49534 IN MEMORIAM Victoria Ann Upton Founder 1955 - 2018

18 Recipes: A Full Menu for Fun-Filled Holiday Festivities

8 Her Legacy: Marion Frances Blood

PHOTOGRAPHY Elyse Wild Two Eagles Marcus SENIOR ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE Terrie Lynema sales@womenslifestyle.com (616) 951-5422

26 The Grand Rapids Ballet Welcomes Audiences to the Magic of The Nutcracker

30 December Events

13 Black and Brown Cannabis Guild

To extend an uplifting, inclusive and vibrant invitation to enjoy life, every day, in our community.

32 Celebrate the Holidays with The Grand Rapids Symphony Wolverine Worldwide Holiday Pops and Old National Bank Cirque de Noël PHOTO BY ELYSE WILD


Shannon Cohen| photo by Elyse Wild Our cover features self-care super star Shannon Cohen. The inspiration speaker, podcaster, author and entrepreneur is on a mission to help women succeed in leadership without sacrificing emotional well-being. Turn to page 20 to read more.

Women’s LifeStyle Magazine • December 2019

34 Eastern Floral Design Class 35 Get into the Holiday Spirit with Elf The Music at Grand Rapids Civic Theatre 38 We’re Out There







From the Editor



Read about how Denavvia Mojet and Arianna Waller, founders of the Black and Brown Cannabis Guild, are advocating for equity in cannabis industries. This fall, they hosted an expungement fair at LINC Up, helping more than 400 people from across the Mid West seeking to clear drug offenses from their records (13).

We have too much great content to fit it in all in the print edition every month. Please visit womenslifestyle.com for exclusive online content featuring:


he radiant face gracing our cover is a woman who embodies our theme of creating joy: Shannon Cohen. Cohen epitomizes all of the things we strive to give others and often deny ourselves: patience, love, understanding and kindness. She is boundlessly gracious in sharing her internal struggles as she balances her desire to excel in motherhood, marriage and her career while nourishing her soul. With a book, a line of inspiring products, a podcast and speaking events, she has become of symbol of what it means to at once fulfill our most cherished roles and ourselves (20).

Holiday Shopping Events Around West Michigan

On page 22, learn about how Bridget Clark Whitney went from being an intern to CEO of Kids’ Food Basket, a nonprofit that provides nutritious evening meals to more than 7,500 children across West Michigan. Year after year, the Grand Rapids Ballet gives West Michigan one of the greatest joys of the season: The Nutcracker. The beloved story is synonymous with the holidays and an apex of the performing arts. Read our take on what has given this enchanting ballet a foothold on our collective imaginations on page 26. Meet Kate Lichtenstein of Gallery 154, one of the oldest businesses in Eastown. Lichtenstein and her family are enthusiastic purveyors of art and handmade goods; their store is unparalleled for finding an unforgettable gift, whether it is a precious pickle ornament or a clock made out of bike parts (14). Across West Michigan, holiday festivities are underway. Swing by Eastern Floral’s design class to make a boxwood Christmas tree (34); experience Elf The Musical at Grand Rapids Civic Theatre (35); and marvel at the spectacular performances of the Grand Rapid Symphony Holiday Pops and Old National Bank Cirque de Noël (32). As you celebrate the season with your family and friends, we implore you to consider giving your time, talents or treasures to those in need. Check out local volunteer opportunities on page 10, sponsored by the Grand Rapids Community Foundation. Happy Holidays, West Michigan!

Maintaining Mental Health by Giving

Decorating That Makes Scents


OVER IN GIFT CARD PRIZES! WomensLifeStyle.com/contests

Now through December 24th -Elyse Wild, Editor

’s still There r time fo ing! y fram holida

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Women’s LifeStyle is a dynamic multi-media platform designed to make beneficial connections in our community. The positive, upbeat, award winning and popular locally owned publication is supported by a dynamic mobile friendly online presence and an interactive website (including an events calendar, embedded video), as well as friendly, helpful and consistent social media interaction with the community. With 490+ distribution locations, Women’s LifeStyle is favored by an active, engaged and progressive audience. You are now looking at the 261st edition. All content ©Women’s LifeStyle, Inc. 2019.

Women’s LifeStyle Magazine • December 2019

*on frame of equal or lesser value *excludes consignment photo frames


Spending with Purpose Buying Local, Impacting Communities

Buying local is not a new concept, is not limited to the holidays, and consumers are aware of and supportive of the movement. American Express found 93% of Americans believe it’s important to support small businesses and 73% consciously shop them. However, what may not be as well-known is the impact small businesses have on their community. According to Local First, small businesses are an “undying engine” for their communities. Of every $100 spent at a local business, $68 is spent on other goods and services in the community (compared to $43 for chain businesses). Small businesses are well-positioned to benefit from consumers spending with purpose.

WHAT THIS MEANS FOR SMALL BUSINESSES A few ideas may help you build stronger ties to your customers who do more spending with purpose. 1. Make your local status more visible. A survey of over 2,700 businesses from the Institute for Local Self Reliance found that businesses using “buy local” campaigns grew revenue by 5.6% compared to 2.1% for other businesses. 2. Help your customers see the meaning of buying from you. While Americans are supportive of small businesses, they may not fully appreciate the impact of purchasing from you. Small Biz Daily states it well: “Each small business has a story to tell … The buy-local movement is about telling the story of small business.” What is your business’ story? How does the support of customers affect you and your community? Is this impact evident to your customers? Is your business involved in charitable giving as part of its story? Find ways to connect your own charitable passions with your business and share that with your customers. You may find a new community around something you already care about. 3. Be authentic. What gives movements like buying local or charitable gift giving their power is their origin in deeply held human desires — we want closer connection with family; we want to support causes we care about; and we want to help our community to become a better place. Small businesses can participate in these movements, but they must do so authentically. If adopting a buy local strategy or charitable affiliation is seen as just another marketing tactic, it’s likely to turn off your potential customers.

Charitable “Gifting”



n 2018, retail spending during the holidays surpassed $1 trillion for the first time. This works out to over $1500 per household. For some businesses, particularly small retailers, this period produces a big chunk of annual revenue. While this annual binge is unlikely to change anytime soon, it’s well known that the holidays can also be stressful. According to the American Psychological Association, nearly a quarter of Americans report feeling extreme stress during the holidays. • 69% feel stressed due to lack of time • 69% feel stressed due to lack of money • 51% feel stressed by having to give or receive gifts One survey by Think Finance and reported by NBC News found that 45% of consumers favored skipping Christmas altogether. There are subtle signs that consumers are taking steps to bring more meaning to the holidays and other life events by how they spend their money at these times. We call it “spending with purpose,” and it takes several forms. For a small business owner, two forms are particularly important: the buy local movement and charitable giving in lieu of gifts.

Charitable giving in lieu of gifts involves donating to a charity instead of giving a gift. Some have adopted this practice during the holidays, but it’s becoming more common in other situations, such as weddings and birthdays as well.   Not everyone embraces the change in long-standing tradition, though, and it’s important that the idea is OK with the recipient, not just the giver. If you give Aunt Betty a card saying you made a donation to a local food bank in her name, she may have preferred a gift (even though she’s a big supporter of the local food bank). Others find the gesture very meaningful, particularly if the donation is for a cause that is a passion for them. At first glance, this potential trend may hurt small businesses as fewer dollars are spent on tangible goods. But, like any change, some doors open as others close.   

Why are These Changes Happening? Spending with purpose appears driven by factors such as time pressure, “post-consumer” values that downplay accumulating material things, environmental concern and ironically, greater need for real connection as we struggle with our constantly connected digital lives.   GROW is a service focused on current and aspiring business owners. They are the local entrepreneurial resource to help owners the next steps, empowering and supporting them with professional expertise for a lifetime.

Holidays, weddings and birthdays bring great joy and a lot of stress. As consumers find new, more meaningful ways to celebrate and to cope, your small business can be their ally. Tell your small business’ story. It may help you and your customers connect in


Women’s LifeStyle Magazine • December 2019

Women’s LifeStyle Magazine • December 2019



FANNIE BOYLON AND MYRTLE LOUISE GILLEO Extraordinarily, during the 1920s and 1930s Grand Rapids had two other talented women architects, in addition to Marion Blood. From 1909 to 1930 the self-trained Fannie Boylon designed over 1,200 homes in partnership with her husband. After his death in 1930 Boylon retired, leaving a legacy of Dutch Colonial-, English-,and Four-Squarestyle homes in the central city, Eastown and East Grand Rapids. Then Myrtle Louise Gilleo, after college and working for Alexander McColl, became lead architect for Blakeslee Brothers about 1925. Gilleo’s designs, similar to her Colonial- and English-style homes in Ottawa Hills, Midtown, and East Grand Rapids, were published in the Ladies Home Journal in 1929 and 1932. Read more about these talented women architects at architecturegrandrapids.org.


ho would have guessed that a talented woman architect who was designing homes in 1925 Grand Rapids would be drafting plans for war munitions in 1942 and the Mackinac Bridge in 1952? After Marion Blood graduated from Grand Rapids Central High School in 1918, she went to work as a draftswoman for architect Kenneth Welch, who encouraged her to apply to the University of Michigan’s architecture program. She was one of three women and 25 men to graduate in 1924 with a B.S. in Architecture and became a member of the T-square Architecture Honor Society. Her talent and initiative won Blood the coveted University of Michigan Booth Graduate Fellowship for six months of European travel, during which she studied Paris buildings and English landscape architecture.

Blood moved to Muskegon in 1943. Completing a Michigan State University Time and Motion Studies certificate, she worked as a process engineer on glider contracts for the BrunswickBalke-Collender Company and also designed homes and building additions on the side. In 1947, Blood moved to Ohio where she and her sister had inherited a large family farm in historic Washington Township, Columbiana County. Blood worked in Youngstown for Glancy & Carle as a structural draftsman, and from 1949-1952 taught architectural, structural and mechanical drafting to veterans.

In 1952, Blood became an engineering detailer on the Mackinac Bridge project for the American Bridge Company Division of the U.S. Steel Company in Pittsburgh. Detailers ILLUSTRATION BY were required to complete over 89,000 LIBBY VANDERPLOEG blueprints and structural drawings. She The 1920s building boom provided continued to work on other important unprecedented opportunities for women in architecture. bridge contracts until her retirement, including the In 1925 when Blood returned from Europe, she Hudson River’s Tappan Zee Bridge (replaced in 2017). designed upscale homes for Grand Rapids architect Blood’s degree and experience made her eligible to join Alexander McColl who, following his University of the Society of Women Engineers, formed in 1950 to Michigan graduation, had trained as a young draftsman promote women in engineering. Based on employer in the Detroit office of Emily Butterfield, Michigan’s recommendations, the organization later granted her first registered woman architect. Blood also became a senior engineer status. registered architect by examination in 1932; but when the Depression caused McColl to close his downtown Blood did not slow down during retirement. She engaged office, she found various work projects, including in nonstop volunteer work, including serving as the teaching women home building skills at the YWCA’s Salem, Ohio Historical Society president. She died at Caroline Putnam School. age 89 in 1990 and is buried in the Ohio’s Highlandtown Cemetery. In 1942, the Wartime Procurement Act converted U.S. manufacturing into wartime industries creating more Marion Blood’s life and work of 47 years in West opportunities for women. Blood, who was working Michigan and 42 years in Ohio stand as a model of for General Motors, became a Civil Service assistant persistent professional courage and determination. architectural engineer designing defense guns and tools for the Grand Rapids office of the Chicago-based Air Force Central Technical Training Command. The Greater Grand Rapids Women’s History Council is dedicated to educating the community and celebrating the legacies of local women, preserving knowledge of their past and inspiring visions for their future. For more information or to get involved, visit ggrwhc.org.


Women’s LifeStyle Magazine • December 2019


Carla Hall’s Soul Food: Everyday and Celebration

Baking All Year Round: Holidays & Special Occasions

By Carla Hall

By Rosanna Pansino

Carla Hall, star of The Chew, says soul food is in her bones, with roots that go back generations. She takes her grandmother’s dishes and streamlines them for ease with ingredients and cleanup. This book ensures that the recipes that “make you want to get up and dance” are around for generations to come.

Celebrating holidays was always very important to YouTube star Rosanna Pansino’s family. Baking All Year Round is filled with creative and delicious recipes for celebrating with friends and family throughout the year. This book has everything you need to bake a lasting impression with any holiday celebration!

How to Celebrate Everything: Recipes and Rituals for Birthdays, Holidays, Family Dinners, and Every Day in Between

Cooking with Nonna: A Year of Italian Holidays

By Jenny Rosenstrach Blogger Jenny Rosenstrach believes in family rituals and celebrations. Celebrations bring comfort, connection and meaning to our lives, and food is at the heart of them. How to Celebrate Everything helps families slow down, capture the moments that matter, and eat well while doing it.

By Rossella Rago Eight Italian grandmothers share their favorite holiday dishes with Food Network star Rosella Rago. Whether you want to create a fabulous traditional Italian dish or make a modern take on a classic Italian dish, you’ll find a great recipe from Nonna. Meredith Schickel is an Adult Services Librarian at the Byron Township Branch of Kent District Library. She never passes up an opportunity to celebrate, especially when delicious food is involved.

Happy Holidays

From our Family to Yours See your Program Director to Enroll Today! Visit AppleTreeKids.cc

Women’s LifeStyle Magazine • December 2019


Spotlight on Community Initiatives

Join In

Sponsored by Grand Rapids Community Foundation

“The positive support systems we create with members is the most rewarding part to me. We inspire one another to live to our fullest potential.”

Mel Trotter Mel Trotter Ministries provides services to people facing homelessness in Grand Rapids. There are many opportunities to help in administration, facilities, food services, the Kidz Korner and at the clinic and with various programs. Other ways to help include life skills coaching, recovery support, putting on nightly chapel, joining the friendship ministry or hosting a game or movie night for the guests. Sign up at meltrotter.org/givehelp/volunteer. 

— Sarah Messer, Children’s Healing Center Volunteer

Women 4 Degage Women 4 Degage is a group of local women from all walks of life who support the ministry and its Open Door Women’s Center, which provides shelter for 40 women each night. They assist with developing services for housing, health and wellness, education and employment, fundraising or collecting needed items for the mission, building partnerships with local businesses and community organizations and standing alongside women who come into the center. To find out more about what you can do to help, visit degageministries.org/women4degage. 

Salvation Army Holiday Bell Ringer You know those people in red ringing bells every holiday season? Those are volunteers for the Salvation Army, working to raise money for the organization, which provides support and assistance to those facing hunger, poverty and homelessness. Sign up to ring a bell for a time slot this season to raise money for those in need. More information at sawmni.org/wmni/volunteer. 

HQ Runaway & Homeless Youth Drop-In Center At HQ, youth ages 14-24 facing homelessness are welcome to drop-in to access basic resources such as laundry, warm meals, showers as well as assistance with career and academic planning and connecting to resources for health and housing. Volunteers at HQ are needed to keep the space clean and stocked, organize donations, and more. Get started by filling out the online application at hqgr.org/volunteering-at-hq.

Children’s Healing Center

Children’s Healing Center is the nation’s first year-round recreational center for kids with weak immune systems and their families. Diagnoses range from cancer, autoimmune disorders, congenital heart defects and more, leaving them unable to play and socialize with their peers. The Center provides a sense of belonging and community through researchbased play focused on learning, art, fitness and social interaction. Embracing the entire family, its holistic approach ensures that every member of the family is a priority.

More than 500 scholarships are waiting for you. This year we’ll give more than $1 million in scholarships to Kent County students—students like Edgar, who graduated from East Kentwood High School. Scholarships are available for undergraduate and graduate students attending college or trade school. Apply by March 1 at grfoundation.org/scholarships. 10

Women’s LifeStyle Magazine • December 2019


Sticks and stones can break your bones, but how do you fix them? Bone health

is an important part of a strong body, and maintenance and prevention of bone loss is something every woman should be thinking about. Here is a quick overview of what to think about in each decade.

IN HER 20s: STRESS FRACTURES Stress fractures are an overuse injury, often found in young people who increase their training intensity or have repetitive stress on a bone. A stress fracture is a small crack in the bone, usually in the lower leg or foot. It starts as an ache, and then progresses to pain when putting weight on the bone. Stress fractures can worsen and become real fractures, and some do need surgery. Treatment includes offloading the bone with a boot or cast, making sure to eat a balanced diet, and being mindful when increasing training intensity or distance.

IN HER 30s: CHILDBEARING The 30s are a time when many women choose to start or grow a family. As the baby develops in utero, its skeleton is built using mom’s calcium supply, therefore lowering the maternal calcium in the bones. This can be partially corrected by taking a calcium supplement or pre-natal vitamin. The same is true for the breastfeeding mom, as the mom’s body pulls calcium from the bones and transfers it to the breast milk. The good news is that while pregnant, your body produces more estrogen, which overall is protective of bones. Some studies have shown that the more times a woman is pregnant, the greater her bone density and the lower her fracture risk in the long run. Evidence also shows that low levels of calcium while pregnant and/or breastfeeding are transient and that those levels return back to normal in the weeks to months after pregnancy and breastfeeding stop.

IN HER 40s: ARTHRITIS Arthritis isn’t so much in the bones themselves as it is in the joints between your bones. Although there are many types of arthritis (rheumatoid, infectious, gout and others) the most common culprit in an active person approaching middle age is degenerative, or osteoarthritis. Symptoms can come and go and vary in intensity. They can include swelling, pain, or loss of range of motion in the joint. Rest, ice, activity modification, and over the counter anti-inflammatories can help relieve the pain and maintain function of the joint. An X-Ray from your doctor can help determine the severity of the arthritis and can guide treatment options.

IN HER 50s: MENOPAUSE As menopause occurs, the body stops producing estrogen at the levels that it did during childbearing years. This affects the whole body, including the bones. Up to 20% of bone density can be lost in the 5-7 years after menopause. As the years go by, this bone loss can lead to osteoporosis and fragility fractures later in life. Ways to keep bones healthy include staying active by doing weight bearing activity such as walking, taking Vitamin D and calcium as directed, and discussing hormone replacement therapy or an osteoporosis medication with

Women’s LifeStyle Magazine • December 2019

IN ALL DECADES: THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF HEALTH RECOMMENDATIONS Calcium: Adult women should take 1000 mg/day. After menopause, this should increase to 1200/day. Discuss supplementation with a physician if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, as you may need to increase your intake. Vitamin D: Until age 70 take 600 IU daily, after age 70 take 800 IU daily. Since the main source of Vitamin D is through sunlight, many people in Michigan are deficient in Vitamin D. Check with your doctor about testing your Vitamin D level, as you may need to take higher doses. Pregnant and breastfeeding women may need to supplement Vitamin D as well, so discuss with your doctor.

a physician. This is a good time in life to take the FRAX assessment, which is a tool developed to help estimate the risk of fractures over the next ten years, and can help guide bone loss treatment and prevention options.

IN HER 60s: OSTEOPOROSIS As a woman ages, lower levels of estrogen cause the cells that build bone fall out of sync with the cells that break down bone, causing a decrease in bone mass. The danger is that when bone is weaker, it is more susceptible to fractures. The best way to be evaluated for bone strength is a DEXA test, which measures the thickness of the hip and spine bones, and compares that to women with strong bones. If the bone is more fragile, a doctor may recommend Calcium and Vitamin D supplements, hormones (including estrogen), or other medications that can stop bone from further destruction, or that can build new bone.

IN HER 70s: FRAGILITY FRACTURES When bone is osteoporotic, it is more likely to fracture from a low impact fall or trauma. This is common in the vertebrae of the spine, the hip and/or pelvis, and the wrist. When a person has had one fragility fracture, it automatically puts that person at risk for another fragility fracture. Minimizing the risk of falling can prevent fractures, so use a cane or walker as needed, work on balance, and move tripping hazards like rugs or lamp cords off the floor. Continuing osteoporosis supplements and medications can help keep up the bone strength that remains. Dr. Katherine Sage is an orthopaedic surgeon. She likes to write about medicine, science, and women’s place in the universe.


Women Led Black and Brown Cannabis Guild Creates Equity in Marijuana Industry BY MICHELLE JOKISCH POLO | PHOTOGRAPHY BY ELYSE WILD


s local governments across the state of Michigan prepare to decide the fate of recreational marijuana use in their municipalities, Grand Rapids resident Denavvia Mojet is leading the movement for more diversity in the marijuana industry. In the last year and a half, Mojet has been consulting for a cannabis company and found herself attending conferences and meetings where she was the only person of color. “I was just blown away by the fact that there were no people of color that I saw in the industry — especially at the level of ownership for licenses — I just thought that was a missed opportunity for the state of Michigan given that for so long we have had a War on Drugs that disproportionately impacted people of color,” Mojet said. The War on Drugs dates back to the early 1970s, when President Richard Nixon increased federal funding for drug control agencies and proposed strict measures, such as mandatory prison sentencing for drug crimes. Thanks to the Controlled Substance Act Nixon signed into law in 1970, marijuana became considered one of the most dangerous types of drugs. Today, the effects of Nixon’’s policies have produced unequal outcomes for people of color. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics from the 2016 U.S. Census Bureau, in the case for drug law violations, people of color are more likely to be stopped, arrested, and sentenced than white people; and nearly 80% of people in federal prison and almost 60% of people in state prisons for drug offenses are black or latinx people.

owned tech start-up that connects consumers with cannabis products. “Dalilah Cann is like Amazon in that it’s a platform where you can access all kinds of products like beauty or pet products but with Cannabis,” Waller said. According to Waller, the marijuana industry can help generate wealth for racial minorities, especially for those who have been traditionally marginalized by the War on Drugs “For me as a black woman, it’s really important that we employ a corporate social responsibility,” Waller added. “Dalilah Cann has agreed to donate a percentage of our proceeds directly to the Black and Brown Cannabis Guild.”

“We want a creative space where we can guide one another and create a network that supports each other as growers, cultivators, processors and provisioners.” — Denavvia Mojet

For Mojet, part of the answer to address these disparities lies in creating policy for expungement for black and latinx individuals. “It actually started with a conversation around doing something around expungement, and then the conversation grew into a desire related to the lack of representation of people of color in the industry,” Mojet explained. Today, Mojet is the co-founder of the Black and Brown Cannabis Guild, a nonprofit advocating for racial equity in the cannabis industry.


The expungement fair drew hundreds and gave the people the opportunity to connect with free legal support in hopes of beginning the process of removing past convictions from their criminal record. “We wanted to address the inequity people of color have faced when it comes to marijuana related convictions,” Mojet expressed. Between 2001 and 2010, there were more than 8 million pot-related arrests in the U.S. — that’s one arrest every 37 seconds. And although marijuana use is equal among white and black people, black people are more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession. In Michigan, African American men are ten times more likely to be arrested for a marijuana offense compared to their white counterparts, even though both groups use marijuana at the same rate. “Past convictions prohibit African Americans to access the marijuana industry, especially those folks who have had a prior record with a marijuana related crime,” Waller added. When it comes to policies around accessing the marijuana industry, the state of Michigan has made several changes. For the past two years, medical marijuana businesses had to show that they had between $200,000 to $500,000 in assets to be considered for a license. In an effort to provide more people the opportunity to access the industry, legislators removed capitalization requirements early this summer and launched a social equity program. The social equity program allows qualifying applicants to benefit from a reduction of up to 60% of the application fees, the initial license fee, and future renewal fees. The state’s nonrefundable application fee costs $6,000. In the city of Grand Rapids, those applying to open a medical marijuana business have to pay a $5,000 application fee and have an approved application from the state. To learn more, visit bbcannabis.com.

“We want a creative space where we can guide one another and create a network that supports each other as growers, cultivators, processors and provisioners,” Mojet expressed. And that mission is what drew Arianna Waller, Mojey’s co-founder and the chief technology officer of Dalilah Cann, a woman-

One of the ways Waller and Mojet teamed up together was through the hosting of Grand Rapids’ very first expungement fair held earlier this fall at LINC Up.

Denavvia Mojet and Arianna Waller

Michelle Jokisch Polo is a Grand Rapidian transplant from El Salvador & Ecuador. She is passionate about creating spaces where intersectionality is encouraged and marginalized voices are elevated.

Women’s LifeStyle Magazine • December 2019

Director of Wealthy Theatre Sarah Nawrocki’s

Must -Watch Holiday Movies

The holiday season means a lot of things: time with family, gift-giving, turkey eating — and some serious movie watching. We all have our personal rotation of Christmas-time favorites, and we asked Sarah Nawrocki, director of Wealthy Theatre, to divulge hers. BY SARAH NAWROCKI 1. THE MUPPET CHRISTMAS CAROL (Brian Henson, 1992) Michael Caine, Muppets, and a Charles Dickens story? Sounds like a movie trifecta to me! This film is so wonderfully nostalgic, having grown up with Sesame Street, The Muppets and Fraggle Rock. It also takes me back to a middle school play adaptation where I was Rizzo the Rat. Was it my inspiration for later getting a job as the pizza-loving mouse himself, Chuck E. Cheese? Plausible. 2. NATIONAL LAMPOON’S CHRISTMAS VACATION (Jeremiah S. Chechik, 1989) You better toss an extra splash of Amaretto in that eggnog, because here comes Cousin Eddie! Who can’t relate to the stress of spending too much time with the in-laws, or the American dream of having a Norman Rockwell, picture-perfect Christmas? This movie is a Christmas Eve tradition for me and my husband, Nick. Amidst all of the holiday stress, we like to laugh at the misadventures of the Griswolds and sing the Star-Spangled Banner along with Aunt Bethany, (bless her heart). Cheers to us all as, because you know what? “We’re going to have the hap-hap-happiest Christmas!” 3. ELF (Jon Favreau, 2003) The best way to spread Christmas cheer is by watching

Women’s LifeStyle Magazine • December 2019

Elf loudly for all to hear. This comedy classic is best experienced with friends, and better yet, with a crowd. When it first came out, I saw Elf with my best friend Lydia in a sold-out theatre. With her infectious laugh and Buddy’s endearing and blissful ignorance, the whole crowd was roaring with laughter the whole way through. It’s so fun to relive that experience when we play it at Wealthy Theatre. 4. HOME ALONE (Chris Columbus, 1990) This film was set up for absolute success from the start. You’ve got John Williams scoring it, (Star Wars, Jaws, Jurassic Park). You’ve got John Hughes writing it, (The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles). You’ve got Chris Columbus directing it, (Adventures in Babysitting, Mrs. Doubtfire, Harry Potter 1 and 2). And then you have not only the powerhouse actor Joe Pesci, (Goodfellas, Raging Bull, My Cousin Vinny), but also the snarkiest ten-yearold around, Macaulay Culkin. So grab a slice of cheese pizza, and don’t bunk with Fuller. This holiday classic is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser. 5. HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS (Ron Howard, 2000) This is my favorite movie version of Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch. I love it not only because Jim Carrey is amazing, but can we take a minute to appreciate the complexity

and meticulousness of the costuming, make-up, set design and over-all art direction? It’s almost completely practical effects. This film is the visual (and tonal) embodiment of a Seuss world, with barely any CGI. It’s magical, whimsical and downright zany. It’s adorable, funny, heartwarming and charming. Move over, Grinch; I think Ron Howard is the true Holiday Cheermeister. 6. RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER (Larry Roemer, 1964) Speaking of practical effects talents, we absolutely have to include the Rankin/Bass Claymations. Watching Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer as a child is like watching your stuffed animals come to life, (but not in a creepy horror movie way); even quite literally in this film, as we see with my favorite characters on the Island of Misfit Toys. Feeling creatively inspired by this film? Try your hand at some simple stop-motion animation! Better yet, get the kids involved, too! After seeing this movie and The Nightmare Before Christmas (runner up for this list) every year, I grabbed some play dough and a camera, and made a Claymation of my own. It’s not as hard as you think. Come on, give it a go. I believe in you! Just like Santa believes in Rudolph.


“It kind of feels whimsical when you walk in. It’s a space you really have to experience in order to understand.” — KATE LICHTENSTEIN

Find the Perfect Unique Gift at Gallery 154 BY KAYLA SOSA | PHOTOGRAPHY BY ELYSE WILD


“As a gallery, we’re well known for the largest selection of holiday ornaments in West Michigan,” Kate expressed. “They’re lining our shelves and hanging all over.”

t’s that time of year to give gifts to loved ones in your life. To give the perfect, unique gift this year, consider stopping by Gallery 154., located at 1456 Lake Dr SE.

From old collectibles to wacky objects, there are ornaments for every member of the family. An extensive collection of nativity sets, tree toppers, and Santas are a sight to be seen, located behind the front desk.

Christine Lichtenstein first opened Gallery 154 in 1976 in downtown Grand Rapids. It moved to its current Eastown location in 1978. “I was raised in the business, so I’ve been here 27 years,” Christine’s daughter, Kate, said. The store is small and full of all kinds of art, trinkets, collectibles, clothing, jewelry and more. The narrow staircase takes visitors to the second floor, where there are a few rooms full of one-of-akind pieces. More than 70 artists have their work represented in the shop, half of which are local to the region or state; the other half are from all over the world. All three of the Lichtensteins are artists themselves and sell their work at the gallery. Kate is most known for her handmade jewelry, and her father Ron



is known for his sprocket clocks crafted out of bike parts. “The sprocket clocks are good for people who are into bicycles or just appreciate up-cycled metal that is saved and turned into something really unique and different,” Kate said. Gallery 154 has a vast collection of charming holiday ornaments.

All over the store, you can find artistic, handmade goods, such as a lamp made out of keys. On top of all the handmade items, there is a wide variety of vintage pieces to suit any soul. “It kind of feels whimsical when you walk in,” Kate commented. “It’s a space you really have to experience in order to understand.” Kates says while they carry many decor items, it also carries useful and artistic items. “We’re not quite just a printings and paintings kind of art gallery, but we have handmade gifts galore. Any category you can think of — we have really nice

scarves and hats and purses and stuff for kids. We have stuffed animals, stuff for babies, really nice handmade mittens.” There are unique, indoor plants on the second floor of the gallery. One can also find hand made pottery with safe glazes, so they can be used with food. At Gallery 154, the prices range widely, from a costly vintage chandelier to a tiny, inexpensive trinket. “We have items in every budget range,” Kate said. “For every different type of person. Whatever you’re looking for, you can find something here.”

Kayla Sosa is a multimedia journalism student at GVSU. She’s a local freelance writer and enjoys spending time with her husband, her kitty and her family. When she’s not writing, she likes to go on nature walks, do yoga and paint.

Women’s LifeStyle Magazine • December 2019

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New Year’s Traditions Around the World COURTESY OF MCC

E January 1 often is a time for reflection and for making future plans. It also is a holiday full of tradition.

ach December 31st, people anxiously await and count down to the arrival of the new year. January 1 often is a time for reflection and for making future plans. It also is a holiday full of tradition. Notable New Year’s traditions include toasting champagne beneath skies lit up by fireworks, kissing one’s sweetheart at midnight and making resolutions to better oneself in the year ahead. New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day traditions vary across the globe. The following is a look at the unique ways people ring in the new year throughout the world. • Filipinos embrace round fruits for the new year. The custom includes gathering 12 different round fruits for

each month of the year. The round shape symbolizes wealth and prosperity. • Around Stonehaven, Scotland, people wield large fireballs for the Hogmanay festival on New Year’s Eve. The idea is to ward off evil spirits by swinging balls of fires over the heads of trained professionals and then tossing them into the sea. The tradition has endured for more than 100 years. • In the Eastern Orthodox Greek Church, Christmas isn’t celebrated until January 7. Aghios Vassilis, the Greek Santa Claus, makes his rounds on New Year’s Day. • Chilean families celebrate the arrival of the new year by commemorating deceased friends and family members. It is common for those in Chile to set up chairs next to graves in the cemetery. • Burmese people end the Thingyan Water Festival on New Year’s Day. Since April, they have celebrated the arrival of Thagyamin, a celestial Buddhist figure, with the firing of water cannons. The water-logged revelry ends with the new year. • Siberians celebrate the new year with the planting of the “New Year’s Tree” underneath frozen lakes. This “yolka” is said to symbolize the coming of Father Frost, but also represents starting over. • Grapes are a hallmark of Spanish New Year’s celebrations. Throughout Spain, revelers gobble a grape per second as they count down the last 12 seconds of the year. Each grape corresponds to good luck for the 12 months of the new year. • In Denmark, residents break old dishes on the doorsteps of family and friends on New Year’s Day. The bigger the pile, the more friends and good will in the new year.



• In China, where the new year is celebrated on February 5 this year according to the lunar calendar, celebrants paint their doors red or hang red curtains or cutouts on windows to symbolize good luck.

Women’s LifeStyle Magazine • December 2019

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hen holiday gatherings turn into all-day events, having meals ready from morning to night becomes an important part of seasonal hosting. Starting with breakfast through the main course followed by a savory dessert, a full day of celebration calls for a variety of dishes.

To help keep your crowd fueled for a wide range of activities, consider these recipes for Hot Cocoa Pancakes to get your morning started, Browned Butter Smashed Potatoes with Butternut Squash to pair with a holiday ham and Black Forest Cake to end the festivities on a high note. Find more holiday recipe inspiration at Culinary.net.

Begin the Holiday with a Family Breakfast With so many activities scheduled and places to be during the holidays, starting the morning with a filling breakfast can help set your family on the path to enjoyable moments with loved ones. These Hot Cocoa Pancakes require little time in the kitchen, leaving you more time to spend with the family before hitting the road or working on decorations for seasonal gatherings. Made with Aunt Jemima pancake mix, containing no artificial coloring or flavors, this recipe makes it simple to put breakfast on the table quickly while still achieving a meal full of flavor. Visit auntjemima.com for more family-friendly recipes.

Hot Cocoa Pancakes Prep time: 10 minutes Cook time: 2 minutes per pancake Yield: 12 pancakes (3 per serving) Heat skillet over medium-low heat or electric griddle to 375 F. In microwave-safe bowl, mix cocoa powder, sugar, milk and vanilla until well combined. Heat in microwave 30 seconds, or until warm. Stir again to ensure mixture is combined.

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar 1 cup 2% or non-fat milk 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 2 cups Aunt Jemima Original Complete or Buttermilk Complete Pancake & Waffle Mix 1/4 cup water marshmallow spread (optional) chocolate syrup (optional) Aunt Jemima Syrup (optional)

Combine cocoa mixture, pancake mix and water. Stir until large lumps disappear (do not beat or overmix). If batter is too thick, add additional 1-2 tablespoons water. Pour slightly less than 1/4 cup batter onto lightly greased skillet or griddle. Cook 90 seconds, or until bubbles appear on surface. Turn and cook additional 30 seconds. Repeat with remaining batter. Top pancakes with marshmallow spread and drizzle chocolate syrup, or top with syrup.


Women’s LifeStyle Magazine • December 2019

Serve Up a Savory Sweet


o holiday gathering is complete without dessert, and you can take your sweets to the next level with this rich, creamy Black Forest Cake recipe.

Tart cherries and whipped cream are combined with Domino Golden Sugar - a less processed option which is made from pure cane sugar and works cup-for-cup just like white sugar, but with a golden color and distinct hint of molasses flavor - for a contrasting profile to put a spin on a seasonal classic. Find more holiday dessert ideas at dominosugar.com.

Cherry Filling:

Black Forest Cake To make cherry filling: In medium saucepot, whisk sugar and cornstarch with water or juice then bring to boil over medium heat. Stir in cherries and cherry brandy, if desired, and boil 2-3 minutes, stirring, until sauce is thick and translucent. Drain cherries from sauce and set both aside. To make cake layers: Heat oven to 350 F. Line bottoms of three 8-inch round cake pans with parchment paper.

Servings: 8

Grease and flour bottoms and sides. In medium bowl, sift flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. In mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar 2 minutes on medium speed. Add eggs and vanilla; beat 1 minute. Stir in flour mixture and buttermilk. Pour batter evenly among cake pans and bake 20-22 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool and remove layers from pans. To make stabilized whipped cream: In small pan or microwaveable bowl, combine gelatin and cold water; allow gelatin to bloom. Heat until gelatin melts and dissolves; set aside. In chilled bowl, whip cream with chilled beaters until soft peaks form. Add sugar and gelatin; beat until stiff. Prick tops of two bottom layers with fork and brush cherry filling over layers. Sandwich bottom layers with a 1/4-inch-thick spread of stabilized whipped cream. Sandwich second and top layer with same whipped cream. Spread remaining whipped cream over top layer and sides.

1/2 cup Domino Golden Sugar 1 tablespoon cornstarch 1/2 cup water or unsweetened cherry juice 2 cups fresh or frozen pitted tart (Montmorency) cherries 2 tablespoons cherry brandy (optional)


1 2/3 2/3 1 1/2 1 1/2 1 1/2 2 1 1 1/2

cups all-purpose flour cup cocoa powder teaspoons baking soda teaspoon salt cup butter, softened cups Domino Golden Sugar eggs teaspoon vanilla cups buttermilk

Stabilized Whipped Cream:

1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin 2 tablespoons cold water 2 cups (1 pint) heavy whipping cream 2 tablespoons Domino Golden Sugar chocolate curls or shavings, for garnish (optional)

Party-Perfect Potatoes Almost every holiday meal calls for side dishes to complement the main course, and as one of the most versatile base ingredients available, potatoes often provide home chefs with a multitude of options. Served mashed, fried, scalloped, sliced, diced, boiled, roasted or just about any style in-between, potatoes are ideal for matching with the centerpiece of your family meal. These Browned Butter Smashed Potatoes with Butternut Squash call for Wisconsin yellow-flesh potatoes to achieve a dense, creamy texture with their just-buttered appearance. Find more dishes for your holiday gatherings at eatwisconsinpotatoes.com.

Browned Butter Smashed Potatoes with Butternut Squash 1 pound (3 medium) Wisconsin yellow-flesh potatoes, cut into 3/4-inch chunks 1 small butternut squash (about 1 pound), peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch chunks 1 teaspoon salt, plus additional, to taste, divided 3 tablespoons butter, divided 8-10 fresh (2-3-inch) sage leaves, stacked and cut into 1/4-inch strips 1/2 cup 1% milk freshly ground black pepper, to taste water

Prep time: 25 minutes Cook time: 15 minutes In 3-quart saucepan, cover potatoes and squash with water; add 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to boil over high heat; reduce heat, cover and cook until tender, 12-15 minutes. In small saucepan over medium heat, mix 2 tablespoons butter and sage. Tilting pan and watching closely, cook about 3 minutes, until butter foams and begins to brown; keep warm. Thoroughly drain potatoes and squash, return to pan and shake 1-2 minutes over low heat. Using hand masher, roughly mash to create chunky mixture. Over low heat, gently mix in remaining butter and milk. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Spoon into serving bowl and drizzle with brown butter and sage.

Women’s LifeStyle Magazine • December 2019


From the outside, you may think Shannon Cohen has it all figured out — she is an inspirational speaker, podcaster, author and entrepreneur who not only has worked all throughout West Michigan, but also for the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. She will be the first to tell you, though, leadership can be very lonely. “Leadership is one of the most rewarding and painful things you will ever make a decision to do,” Cohen said. “There have been seasons in my life where I was excelling in my career, but in a low place in my soul.” BY MEGAN SARNACKI Cohen is not the only one with this feeling. According to Gallup, eight out of 10 Americans experience stress in their daily lives. “We don’t talk about it enough,” Cohen said. “We think that positions, titles and money insulate us from pain, but they don’t.” While stress has become a daily consideration for many individuals, soft skills and self-care techniques are rarely taught in school or work settings. Because of this, Cohen has devised strategies to help women grow as leaders from the inside out. “Shannon has held me up and so many other women up with her empathy, encouragement and support in times of great trial and hardship,” Janay Brower, founder and CEO of Public Thread, said. “She brings exponential light to everything she touches. Her words, stories, guidance and quiet challenges help us to protect our hearts while we are out in the world fighting for a better and more enlightened future.” Whether it is through writing, speaking engagements or her inspirational product line, Cohen uses the power of words to heal and liberate leaders’ emotional well-being. As a working mother, Cohen knew too well how limited time women have between work and family life. Before her son woke up each morning, Cohen loved listening to podcasts. But she often felt frustrated due to the hour lengths of each episode. Wanting to provide women with grab and go encouragement, Cohen started her own podcast, “Tough Skin, Soft Heart,” this past September. “No episode is more than 15 minutes.” Cohen said. “If there was such a thing as fast food for your soul, that’s what my podcast would be.” After noticing how Cohen’s words benefited her own life, Brower compares Cohen’s leadership style to Kintsugi, the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with gold lacquer. “The practice does not aim to hide the cracks,” Brower expressed. “Instead, it highlights and strengthens the imperfections, while simultaneously making the dish more interesting and beautiful because of the wear it has survived. Shannon is the gold to so many women in our community and to anyone that has the pleasure of being with her and being touched by her healing powers.” While looking at executive leadership roles in West Michigan, Cohen saw a need for not only women leaders in general, but recognized an even larger disparity that exists for women of color. “There is a myth that we don’t have qualified, talented women of color ready to lead at those high levels,” Cohen said. “But 86% of the women of color that we’ve


researched consistently have advanced degrees. There are these invisible walls, ceilings and floors that impair and restrict the movement of women of color to executive leadership roles.”


To knock down these invisible barriers and empower female leaders of color to speak their truth, Cohen partnered with Pat Sosa to create Sisters Who Lead, a regional talent and wellness affinity group for women of color. Raven Odom, Grand Rapids African American Health Institute’s Health Advocacy Administrative Fellow, first worked under Cohen’s leadership while participating in the Urban Core Collective’s Transformational Leaders Program. She says learning from Cohen has been transformative to her career. “She challenges me to grow as a young professional by inviting me into spaces I feel are suited for people with more life or work experience — spaces I don’t always feel ‘ready’ for,” Odom expressed. “Shannon does not enable me to operate out of fear or minimize my gifts.” As a role model for many women in the community, Cohen’s uplifting and positive philosophy creates safe spaces for female leaders to amplify their voices across West Michigan. “Through using her gifts, she inspires others to tap into their own,” Odom said. “Shannon possesses what I am in search of — an understanding of one’s purpose.” Because wellness and leadership longevity are interwoven, Cohen wants people to realize that success does not equal running on empty. She hopes communities and workplaces can start conversations among citizens and colleagues that improve individuals’ emotional well-being. “Often, we glorify the works of people’s hands over the person doing the work,” Cohen expressed. “That’s an equation for disaster, though, because if people aren’t well, then the works of their hands can’t be well longterm. Real leadership and real transformation happens when we are looking to heal.”

“She brings exponential light to everything she touches. Her words, stories, guidance and quiet challenges help us to protect our hearts while we are out in the world fighting for a better and more enlightened future.” — JANAY BROWER, FOUNDER AND CEO OF PUBLIC THREAD

For more information, visit shannoncohen.com. Megan Sarnacki is a Grand Rapids writer who enjoys crafting stories through multimedia platforms and learning about leaders making a difference in the community.

Women’s LifeStyle Magazine • December 2019

Women’s LifeStyle Magazine • December 2019


From Intern to CEO: Kids’ Food Basket’s Bridget Clark Whitney BY MEGAN SARNACKI | PHOTOGRAPHY BY ELYSE WILD


rom intern to founding CEO, Bridget Clark Whitney has spent the last 17 years providing children with equal opportunities to receive nourishing evening meals.

“I wanted to make out my career working toward breaking down the barriers for people living in poverty,” Whitney said. “My passion is creating an equitable world for all, and that means equitable resources for everyone. It’s critical for me to stand behind that and work for that every day.”

“When kids are well-nourished and have consistent access to good, nourishing foods, they have significantly better test scores, less ego problems, less truancy and less sicknesses.” — BRIDGET CLARK WHITNEY

Along with Founder Mary K. Hoodhood, Whitney started serving meals to students in three elementary schools in 2002. Today, Kids’ Food Basket serves about 8,800 children each day within Kent, Muskegon, Holland and Allegan counties. Not only is it home to the largest volunteer program in the state of Michigan with 250 volunteers a day, but Kids’ Food Basket also has expanded its offering of educational opportunities and experiential learning through its youth-led urban farming initiative. “Bridget is constantly thinking about what’s on the horizon and strategizing ways we can make the greatest impact in the future,” Afton DeVos, COO of Kids’ Food Basket, said. “She sees the inherent value in every single person and brings positivity to every single situation. That sets a tone for our culture at Kids’ Food Basket, and it is what makes this place a place that tackles really tough issues.” This trajectory of growth over the past 17 years is due to not only the rising need for healthy meals in West Michigan, but also from the noticeable impact the organization has made in the lives of the children they serve.


Women’s LifeStyle Magazine • December 2019

“If there’s something that will genuinely make a significant positive impact on the world, you, as the leader, need to bring the right people around you and listen to them.” — BRIDGET CLARK WHITNEY

“Every human being has the right to good food,” Whitney said. “This food is necessary for kids to be their best selves and reach their full potential. It is what our bodies were designed to eat and our brains were designed to consume.” In fact, promoting access to healthy meals for children can also benefit their performance in the classroom. “When kids are well-nourished and have consistent access to good, nourishing foods, they have significantly better test scores, less ego problems, less truancy and less sicknesses,” Whitney said. “Those are all critical to healthy schools, healthy minds and healthy development.” While Whitney is thankful that Kids’ Food Basket makes a difference for children living in poverty, working in the nonprofit world is not easy. “It takes a lot of grit, grace, resourcefulness and persistence,” she reflected. “But if there’s something that will genuinely make a significant positive impact on the world, you, as the leader, need to bring the right people around you and listen to them. There’s lots of smart and knowledgeable people you can learn from.”

According to DeVos, having a leader that empowers their employee’s strengths — instead of feeling intimidated by them — is what makes people feel as though they can bring their best selves to the organization. Working with Whitney has shown DeVos not only how much tenacity she brings into the office, but also the firm commitment Whitney has made to lifelong learning. “She is not afraid of weaknesses,” DeVos said. “She doesn’t hide from her mistakes. She owns them and looks for ways to do better. She fosters a culture where that is welcomed here and encourages us all to do the same so we can be better than the day before.” One of the main reasons Whitney promotes daily selfimprovement within the company culture is the fact that Kids’ Food Basket cannot reach every single child in need. Each day, there are children in West Michigan who struggle to find and afford meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Even though Kids’ Food Basket helps 70% of children living in poverty and serves more than 50 schools between the four counties, there remains more than 35 schools on the nonprofit’s waiting list. “There is a significant need that still exists,” Whitney said. “It is not all centered in urban areas either. There is a lot of need in rural communities that don’t have nearly all the resources in places like Kent County.”

For This

Because of the ongoing demand, Whitney aims to expand the reach of Kids’ Food Basket throughout West Michigan. After the first of the new year, Kids’ Food Basket will launch an initiative to grow their work in the Holland and Allegan communities. But Whitney wants to remind the communities across West Michigan they could not have done any of this work without their dedicated volunteers and charitable donations. “We are not funded by government dollars, so it is really an honor that the community continues to surround children in need. It makes me so proud to see how the community shows its care for its children through believing in the power of good food and feeding more and more kids.” To volunteer or learn more about Kids’ Food Basket, visit kidsfoodbasket.org.

Megan Sarnacki is a Grand Rapids writer who enjoys crafting stories through multimedia platforms and learning about leaders making a difference in the community.

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Women’s LifeStyle Magazine • December 2019

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amari Taylor is taking West Michigan by storm. Motivated, courageous, and driven, this 22-year-old Grand Valley University senior has recently gained huge momentum in her art career and is showing no signs of slowing down. Since her first solo show earlier this year at Nomad Gallery, Taylor has exhibited continuously, including in group shows at DeVos Place and Muse Gallery.

“I’ve always wanted people to take away selfconfidence and strength after viewing my work.” — JAMARI TAYLOR

Taylor’s interest in becoming a professional artist started in high school. Her art teacher got her involved in Battle Creek’s annual event, “Spring into the Arts,” and it was then that Taylor decided she wanted to be a part of the art world. She applied for the visual arts program at GVSU and stayed late after school every day to complete her admissions portfolio. She was accepted into the illustration program and chose a focus in portraiture. During her studies, Taylor was told that it would be years before she would gain recognition. While this would certainly be discouraging to most, it only motivated her more to take her career into her own hands. “You have to put yourself out there, because if you don’t no one will know your name as an artist,” she reflected.


Taylor started her art business, Jaylei Art, during her junior year. She created a logo, branded materials, and began promoting herself on social media and pop-up markets. A firm believer in goal setting to create success, she continued to push herself to book commissions each month and earn a living doing what she loves.

generating more income, but it also allowed for more people to be able to purchase her art.

“I asked myself: How do I make money at this? What can I do to keep drawing people in? I [had to] think of myself as a business.”

“It is very important to stay dedicated, to stay focused, and to be 100% with your faith,” she said when asked about what it means to be a working artist.

Taylor found the answer in launching a product side to her art business, which includes notebooks, prints, water bottles, t-shirts, mugs, and more, with her paintings predominantly featured. Not only was this the key to

“I say that because on this journey I’ve been on for the past five years, people think that it’s easy, but it has been very, very challenging. I’ve had a lot of moments when I didn’t want to do it anymore, but that was the lack of

It is refreshing and inspiring to see a young person so motivated to be successful in this field. Being a professional artist is demanding.

Women’s LifeStyle Magazine • December 2019

faith I had in what I was doing, the lack of confidence.”

wearing a nature crown is not powering over anyone.

When looking at Taylor’s work, there is certainly no shortage of confidence there. She draws and paints women of color who exude power and grace. They stand tall, with their heads held high, and command the room. She describes her work as “boldness mixed with softness.”

“You see power within them. The crown symbolized everything that they had to go through to get to where they are today.”

The women Taylor paints are crowned with flowers, foliage, and symbolic objects as well as their own glorious hair. This signature motif led to Taylor’s mural commission at the Battle Creek Urban League. A larger than life portrait depicting a woman with a large afro and flower crown now resides on the building’s exterior. This piece can easily be appreciated for purely aesthetic reasons, but Taylor’s true message behind the portrait was to “[bring] awareness of laws that have recently passed banning discrimination against black people wearing their protective hairstyles.” “It is ridiculous that our culture had to push it to be protected by the law,” she added. This is the passion that Taylor brings to all of her work.

She takes care to capture the likeness of the women who model for her and aims to connect with her audience. While interested in learning about other cultures for future work, her current focus on African American women is deeply rooted in her own experiences and background. “That’s my culture, that’s who I’m surrounded by. I paint my best friends — they are my muses” With undeniable radiance, Taylor’s work is as captivating as it is inspiring. Her positivity and dedication to her craft will surely carry her far in life. We will be seeing much more from this indomitable spirit. You can see more of Jamari Taylor’s art by following her on social media @jayleiart and visiting her online at jayleiart.com

“I’ve always wanted people to take away self-confidence and strength after viewing my work.” There is also significant meaning behind the objects adorning each woman’s hair. She calls these “nature crowns,” and explains that a metal crown denotes a ruler — someone who powers over others —whereas a person

She takes care

to capture the likeness of the women who model for her and aims to connect with her audience. While interested in learning about other cultures for future work, her current focus on African American women is deeply rooted in her own experiences and background.

Devin DuMond is a Grand Rapids artist, entrepreneur, and professor who is passionate about cultivating community and empowering women. Find her online at hatchgr.com and grwomenwho.com.

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Women’s LifeStyle Magazine • December 2019


The Grand Rapids Ballet Welcomes Audiences to the

Magic of The Nutcracker

“I can’t really explain it, and I don’t think anyone really can, why it is such a huge phenomenon in America, but it has become something we do as a yearly Christmas time ritual. I am very happy that the ballet has become part of people’s lives in that way.” — GRAND RAPID BALLET ARTISTIC DIRECTOR JAMES SOFRANKO BY ELYSE WILD | PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE GRAND RAPIDS BALLET


rom the ethereal notes of the “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” to the symphonic rush of the “March of the Toy Soldiers,” the music of The Nutcracker is synonymous with a season that arguably holds more magic than any other. For more than 50 years, American ballet audiences have been captivated by this story of a little girl who befriends a nutcracker that comes to life on Christmas Eve to battle an evil mouse king. This year, the Grand Rapids Ballet returns to DeVos Performance Hall on Dec. 12-15 and Dec. 20-22 to treat audiences to a resplendent rendition of this adored tale with production design by beloved children’s book author and illustrator Chris Van Allsburg in collaboration with Tony-award winning set designer Eugene Lee, choreography by internationally sought-after choreographer Val Caniparoli and music performed by the Grand Rapid Symphony. Attendees are drawn into the story’s magical world before they even take their seats: The lobby of DeVos Hall will be transformed into a Land of Sweets by Grand Rapids Community College’s Secchia Institute for Culinary Education, featuring dancers in stained-glass sugar, bells made from blown sugar and more.


Women’s LifeStyle Magazine • December 2019

The story of The Nutcracker was initially written in 1816 by Prussian author E.T.A. Hoffman and had much darker themes than the version that was first performed on the Moscow stage in 1892, adapted and choreographed by Lev Ivanov. Legendary Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky created the original score. The signature notes of “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” — the ones that immediately usher us into the story’s fantastical realm — is created by the bell-like sound of the celeste, an instrument patented in 1886. “The score alone is one of Tchaikovsky’s best,” James Sofranko, artistic director for the Grand Rapids Ballet, said. “I think the score has a lot to do with why The Nutcracker is so famous and so well known.” American-audiences were introduced to The Nutcracker when the San Fransisco Opera Ballet performed it in 1944, with choreography by William Christensen. It would be 10 years before it was performed by another ballet in the United States; in 1954 The New York City Ballet performed it, as choreographed by George Balanchine. The New York production was a smash hit, and The Nutcracker established a foothold in our collective imaginations, becoming the holiday tradition that prevails today. In a survey of member dance companies, Dance/USA reported that from 2008-2017, Nutcracker attendance increase 14 percent, and ticket sales grew from $30 million to $51 million. “I can’t really explain it, and I don’t think anyone really can, why it is such a huge phenomenon in America, but it has become something we do as a yearly Christmas time ritual,” Sofranko expressed. “I am very happy that the ballet has become part of people’s lives in that way.” Grand Rapids resident Pamela Pietryga first saw The Nutcracker performed in New York City when she was 12. From the time her daughters were 4 years old, she took them to see the Grand Rapids Ballet perform it. It is so much a part of their lives, in fact, that she and her husband saw The Nutcracker the night he purposed to her. As members of the Grand Rapids Ballet School Junior Company, all three of Peitryga’s daughters have performed in the show — an event, she says, they cherish. “It is a part of our lives,” Pietryga expressed. “We wouldn’t do Christmas without it ... they love it, they love the whole feeling of being on the DeVos stage and being involved with the professional company. They are awestruck. It is a beautiful experience.”

Women’s LifeStyle Magazine • December 2019

This year, Pietryga’s 17-year-old daughter, Lily, is performing in several roles, including a soldier, the mother mouse, a maid and part of the Chinese dragon. She has performed with the Grand Rapids Ballet for the past 8 years, and in 2015 played the role of young Clara, an experience she describes as a surreal. “I looked up to the older dancers wearing the beautiful costumes, and I always wanted to be Clara or the Sugar Plum Fairy,” Lily said. “When I found out I would be playing Clara, I started crying because I was so happy and emotional. I would be setting an example for the little girls who looked up to those roles just like I did.” Up to 80 children will be performing in this year’s production. Sofranko is familiar with the thrill of a young dancer performing The Nutcracker on a large stage with a professional company. “It was something I did as a kid, and I would say that my performing career started when I was a party kid in The Nutcracker with the Cincinnati Ballet,” he said. “It is such a great experience for the young ones.” Sofranko has been involved with productions of The Nutcracker for his entire career, yet the excitement and captivation in his voice are clear as he describes his favorite elements of the show.

“I love that transformation scene when it goes from Clara’s living room into the battle scene,” he expressed. “It is a fantastic, magical moment, it is one of my all-time favorite theatrical moments, ever. I look forward to it every year.” As an artistic director, Sofranko says he now observes the show more from an audience perspective than that of a dancer. This allows him an intimate view of the enchantment audiences experience during The Nutcracker. “I get to see the reactions of the members of the audience a lot more, “ he expressed. “It is a treat for me to tangibly witness the children who are experiencing the ballet and the families that make a tradition out of it. It is all around art — live performance and music and dancing — and it is wonderful to see families embrace performing arts in this way.”

When she is not editing for WLM, Elyse enjoys traveling to far off lands, taking photos, listening to live music and spinning records.




he saying “the more the merrier” certainly applies during the holiday season. But during a season of big gifts, extra food and travel, “more” can exact a heavy toll on the environment. According to Stanford University, Americans generate 25 percent more trash between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve than during the rest of the year. While no one wants to take anything away from the spirit of holiday season, everyone can take steps to make the holidays more ecofriendly. In fact, there are various eco-friendly gifts that can make great presents and benefit the environment at the same time.

Purchase experiential gifts

When making holiday shopping lists, think of gifts that offer experiences rather than material goods. Gifts that involve experiences, such as going to a sporting event or attending a play or musical, decrease reliance on wrapping paper. Such gifts also reduce clutter in the recipient’s house and conserve the resources otherwise used to manufacture alternative items that would have been purchased. Experiential gifts that also tap into environmental pursuits, such as touring with an animal rescue group, or accommodations at a carbon-neutral hotel can be an added bonus.

Opt for locally made gifts

Select gifts made by local artisans or companies that operate domestically. This cuts down on the carbon emissions from having to ship products from long distances or even overseas.

Give climate-friendly stocking stuffers

Companies like Cool Effect offer gifts for those looking to offset carbon emissions through clever funding. People can buy and offer gifts that correlate to packages like Costa Rican wind power or the “poo package,” which funds biogas digesters for family farms in India that capture methane emissions from cattle dung.

Get crafty

Gifts from the kitchen or ones made by the giver can be crafted from sustainable materials. They also show how you care by taking the time to customize a gift for the recipient.

Avoid gag or useless gifts

Select gifts only with utility in mind. Skip purchases that are made only to beef-up the look of presents under the tree or to make it appear that gifting was more generous. Items that a person cannot or will not use will ultimately be relegated to the trash, which is wasteful.

Wrap in reusable materials

Fancy wrapping paper certainly looks nice, but choose other materials that can be reused. Look for decorative tins, boxes, fancy gift bags, and other items that can be reused for years to come. Sustainability is possible during a season of excess when gift givers shop and wrap gifts with the environment in mind.


Women’s LifeStyle Magazine • December 2019

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Women’s LifeStyle Magazine • December 2019


December Events Tuesdays

Thrift Store Trivia. Use your knowledge of sports, entertainment, politics, science, history and more to win prizes from local area businesses and some of the finest thrift store and clearance shelf finds that West Michigan has to offer. Our Brewing Company. 7pm. downtownholland.com Santa Visits. Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park. 5-8pm. meijergardens.org

Wednesdays and Saturday

Holland Farmers Market. The Market is also home to great activities for the entire family, which include street performances, cooking demonstrations, kids activities, and a professional pumpkin carving event. Holland Farmers Market. downtownholland.com


Live Music at New Holland Brewing. New Holland Brewing Company. 10pm-1am. downtownholland.com


Rooftop Reindeer. Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park. 1-4pm. meijergardens.org Mindstorm Saturdays. Kids ages 10 and up can explore robotics every Saturday at the library. Main Library. 10am-12pm. grpl.org

Through Dec 20

SPECTRA. SPECTRA is an interdisciplinary group exhibition that explores theories of abstract art through multiple mediums. Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts. uica.org

Through Dec 22

Elf, the Musical. A modern-day classic about the importance of identity,

different meanings of the word family, and the magical charm of the holiday season. Civic Theater. grct.org


Bodies Revealed. This exhibition features real, whole and partial body specimens that have been preserved through an innovative process, giving visitors the opportunity to view the complexity of their own organs and systems like never before. Grand Rapids Public Museum. grpm.org David Wiesner & The Art of Wordless Storytelling. David Wiesner & The Art of Wordless Storytelling presents a colorful survey of the career of one of the most highly acclaimed book illustrators in the world. David Wiesner (b. 1956) is a master of storytelling through pictures and three-time winner of the Caldecott Medal. Grand Rapids Art Museum. artmuseumgr.org Metro Health Christmas & Holiday Traditions. Honoring holiday cultures around the world, Meijer Gardens focuses on the authenticity of the symbols of beloved holiday traditions - it’s an idyllic spot to center your thoughts on the true meaning of the holidays. Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park. meijergardens.org Larry Cook: On the Scene. On the Scene is a solo exhibition that explores the cultural aesthetic of “club” photography and painted backdrops. Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts. uica.org

Dec 1

Broadway Grand Rapids presents Disney’s The Lion King. DeVos Performance Hall. broadwaygrandrapids.com Holiday Open House and Train Opening. Kick off the Holiday Season this year at the Ford Presidential

Compiled by editorial staff. We do our best to ensure the accuracy of each listing. Time, date and location of events are subject to change.

Museum with holiday music, a visit with Santa and his reindeer. Ford Presidential Museum. 1-4pm. Fordlibrarymeseum.gov Sunday Classical Concert Series: Leslie Van Becker and Robert Byrens. Grand Rapids Art Museum. 2-3pm. artmuseumgr.org Cabochon Stone Setting workshop. In this 5 hour class, you will learn to cut, solder, and work with silver and bezel wire to set those beautiful stones in your own ring or pendant. The Hot Spot. 10am-3pm. thehotspotgr.com Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Returning with all new staging and effects is the unforgettable show that started it all, “Christmas Eve and Other Stories.” Van Andel Arena. 3pm and 7:30pm. vanandelarena.com

Dec 2

Adult Holiday Party. Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park. 7-9pm. meijergardens.org

Dec 3

Book Club - Octavia’s Brood. This collection of short stories is written by social justice activists with little to no experience writing fiction. Books & Mortar. 6:30-8pm. booksandmortar.com Meanwhile Movie: Scrooged. A selfish, cynical television executive is haunted by three spirits bearing lessons on Christmas Eve. Peter Wege Auditorium. 8pm. grcmc.org Parade of Lights. During the annual Parade of Lights, Santa will arrive in Downtown Holland escorted by bands, floats, trucks, family and more. Downtown Holland. 6:30pm. downtownholland.com

Dec 4

Dot Painted Gourd Bowl. Lions and Rabbits. 6:30-8:30pm. lionsandrabbits.com Grand Rapids Griffins. Van Andel Arena. 7pm. vanandelarena.com

Dec 5

2019 Sparkle Celebration. Cascade Hills Country Club. 5-7:30pm. growbusiness.org Amy Grant & Michael W. Smith Christmas 2019. The highly anticipated show will feature selections spanning the artists’ expansive Christmas repertoires and combine the vast collection of critically acclaimed holiday albums between them. Van Andel Arena. 7pm. vanandelarena.com

Dec 5-8

GR Symphony Presents Wolverine Worldwide Holiday Pops. Your family will thrill to the spectacle of the season as the GR Pops and their very special guests perform this sparkling holiday celebration. DeVos Performance Hall. devosperformancehall.com

Dec 6

Kid’s Night Out. Parents, drop your kids off for a Kid’s Night Out and have a night of your own to get ready for the holidays. Blandford Nature Center. 5:30-8:30pm. blandfordnaturecenter.org Sinterklaas Eve Celebration. Downtown Holland. 6pm. downtownholland.com B93 Holiday Hoedown w/ Blanco Brown. The Intersection. 6:30pm. sectionlive.com Holiday Extravaganza at Grand Circus. A fun, family-friendly educational event for the tech-curious. Start Garden. 9:30am-1pm. startgarden.com

Write Michigan: Songwriting 101


West Michigan musicians May Erlewine and Max Lockwood will guide participants through the songwriting process from tapping into inner creativity to getting lyrics on paper and merging with just the right notes. Light lunch will be provided.

Kentwood (Richard L. Root) Branch 4950 Breton Road SE

This event is free but space is limited and pre-registration is required. For ages 16+.

For more information and to register, visit www.kdl.org/events.

Saturday, Jan. 11 9:30 AM to 3:00 PM

May Erlewine

Max Lockwood

Women’s LifeStyle Magazine • December 2019

1,000 Photographs: A Visual Journey of Family Roots. Main Library. 1:30-3pm. grpl.org Gunnar & The Grizzly Boys. The Intersection. 6:30pm. sectionlive.com

Dec 8

Sunday Classical Concert Series: “Viva Brazil” Music by Brazilian Composers. Grand Rapids Art Museum. 2-3pm. artmuseumgr.org

Dec 10

Networking Christmas Party. Every year, we take our last meeting of the year and use it as a chance to reconnect with one another, celebrate our wins, and focus our hearts and minds on the year to come. Schuler Books & Music. 9-11am. meetup.com Meanwhile Movie: Gremlins. A boy inadvertently breaks three important rules concerning his new pet and unleashes a horde of malevolently mischievous monsters on a small town. Peter Wege Auditorium. 8pm. grcmc.org

Dec 11

Date Night Tour: Abstract Art in GRAM’s Collection. Explore abstract works in GRAM’s permanent collection and learn about the emotions and techniques behind abstract art, including the use of color, perspective, and style. Grand Rapids Art Museum. 7-9pm. artmuseumgr.org Experientials Art Group: Fairy Tales, Oil Pastels, Water Colors. Lions and Rabbits. 7-9pm. lionsandrabbits.com

Dec 13

choreography by Val Caniparoli, and the live music of your Grand Rapids Symphony. DeVos Performance Hall. devosperformancehall.com

Extinct Embroidery: Eastern Elk. Lions and Rabbits. 6:30-8:30pm. lionsandrabbits.com

River City Improv. Our shows weave skits, games and songs with audience suggestions to create unique entertainment experiences for each show. Peter Wege Auditorium. 7:30pm. Grcmc.org

GR Symphony Presents Old National Bank Cirque De Noel. Celebrating its 10th annual Cirque de Noel with the Grand Rapids Symphony, Cirque de la Symphonie’s company of acrobats, jugglers, contortionists and aerial artists makes merry with amazing feats of agility and strength, accompanied by beloved Christmas songs and classical favorites. DeVos Performance Hall. 7:30pm. devosperformancehall.com

Breakfast with Santa.Join us for a special morning with Santa & Mrs. Claus for pictures, breakfast, Let it Snow in the Planetarium and a holiday gift. Grand Rapids Public Museum. 8:30-11am. grpm.org

Holiday Boutique Pop Up & Artist Demos. LaFONTSEE Galleries & Framing. 11am-4pm. lafontsee.us

Dec 14-15

Happy 2 Years!: Gallery Opening. The Hot Spot. Saturday 11am-Sunday 5pm. thehotspotgr.com

Dec 15

Grand Rapids Drive vs. Maine Red Claws. The DeltaPlex. 1pm. deltaplex.com Jane Lynch’s a Swingin’ Little Christmas. Jane Lynch’s holiday album “A Swingin’ Little Christmas” - featuring Kate Flannery, Tim Davis & the Tony Guerrero Quintet - landed a spot in the top twenty of the Billboard charts. 20 Monroe Live. 7pm. 20monroelive.com Meanwhile Movie: Christmas Vacation. The Griswold family’s plans for a big family Christmas predictably turn into a big disaster. Peter Wege Auditorium. 8pm. grcmc.org

Dec 13-15

Dec 18

Pop Scholars Improv Comedy. They impress with their fast-paced humor, perfect comedic-timing, and uncanny on-stage chemistry. Peter Wege Auditorium. 8pm. Grcmc.org

Double Dare Live. Double Dare Live is coming to your town and will bring all the action and excitement of Nickelodeon’s hugely popular TV show to the stage. 20 Monroe Live. 7pm. 20monroelive.com

Holiday Classics Organ Concert. Join the GRPM for Dave Wickerham’s 7th return to the Mighty Wurlitzer Organ Concert series, performing a collection of Christmas and seasonal holiday favorites. Grand Rapids Public Museum. grpm.org

Dec 20-22

Grand Rapids Ballet Presents The Nutcracker. West Michigan’s favorite holiday tradition returns to the grandeur of DeVos Performance Hall with sets by famed children’s book author and illustrator Chris Van Allsburg, set design by Tony Award winner Eugene Lee, choreography by Val Caniparoli, and the live music of your Grand Rapids Symphony. DeVos Performance Hall. devosperformancehall.com

Dec 21

Solstice Night Hike. Our Solstice night hike will take you through the trails and WEEKDAYS


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Women’s LifeStyle Magazine • December 2019


Mega 80’s Christmas. Their mix of accurately replicated sounds of the 80’s era, their expansive play list and retro style has made them a dominating force in Detroit entertainment. The Intersection. 8pm. sectionlive.com

Dec 25

Coffee with Cops. The Harris Building. 9:30-11am. facebook.com/ littlespaceGR

Dec 27

Grand Rapids Griffins. Van Andel Arena. 7pm. vanandelarena.com

Dec 29

Timeless NYE. The DeltaPlex. 8:30pm. Deltaplex.com

Dec 30

Jeff Dunham: Seriously. For the past twelve years, Jeff Dunham and his somewhat inappropriate-proteges, Peanut, Walter, Jose Jalapeno, Bubba J. and Achmed the Dead Terrorist, have filled arenas across the U.S. Van Andel Arena. 7pm. vanandelarena. com

Dec 31

Gatsby New Year’s Party. Paddock Place. 5pm. facebook.com/ PaddockPlaceGR The Ballroom Bash New Year’s Eve Celebration. Amway Grand Plaza. 8pm. facebook.com/pg/ AmwayGrandPlaza New Year’s Early Eve at Grand Rapids Children’s Museum. Grand Rapids Children’s Museum. 6pm. grcm.org Roaring 2020: A New Year’s Eve Party. Opera Grand Rapids. 9pm. operagr.org

For more event listings,visit womenslifestyle.com.



Dec 20

Dec 20-21

Dec 17


Dec 19

3rd Thursday: Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree. Wear out your finest holiday threads for an ugly sweater contest as we rock around the Christmas tree to music with Santa. Downtown Market. 4-7pm. downtownmarketgr.com

Born Of Osiris – The Simulation Tour. The Stache. 6pm. Sectionlive.com

Up On the Rooftops. Experience an exclusive tour of Downtown Holland’s rarely seen second story during this traditional holiday event. Downtown Holland. 6-9pm. downtownholland.com Grand Rapids Ballet Presents The Nutcracker. West Michigan’s favorite holiday tradition returns to the grandeur of DeVos Performance Hall with sets by famed children’s book author and illustrator Chris Van Allsburg, set design by Tony Award winner Eugene Lee,

Dec 18-19

forests of Blandford for an experience that is part nature education, part personal exploration. Blandford Nature Center. 6-8pm. blandfordnaturecenter.org


Arts & Entertainment:

Event Spotlight

Celebrate the Holidays

with The Grand Rapids Symphony, Wolverine Worldwide Holiday Pops and Old National Bank Cirque de Noël WORDS AND PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE GRAND RAPIDS SYMPHONY


he Grand Rapids Symphony once again presents the Wolverine Worldwide Holiday Pops on Dec. 5-8 followed by the Old National Bank Cirque de Noël on Dec. 18-19, both in DeVos Performance Hall. Principal Pops conductor Bob Bernhardt will lead the orchestra in such timeless melodies as Leroy Anderson’s Sleigh Ride and such modern classics as music from films Home Alone and The Polar Express in this year’s Wolverine Worldwide Holiday Pops.



Capathia Jones, star of stage and screen, joins the Grand Rapids Pops to sing such songs as “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town” for Grand Rapids’ favorite holiday tradition. Guest Artist Sponsor is Jim Jurries. Joining the Symphony in favorites such as the “Hallelujah Chorus” from Handel’s Messiah and music from the 1990 film Home Alone are the joyful voices of the Grand Rapids Symphony Chorus and the Grand Rapids Symphony Youth Chorus. The adult Grand Rapids Symphony Chorus, led by director Pearl Shangkuan, will sing traditional and modern songs for the season and will lead the audience in a Christmas Carol Sing Along. The Grand Rapids Symphony Youth Chorus, co-directed by Sean and Leah Ivory, will sing a traditional Irish song, “The Darkest Midnight” in December, arranged by Sean Ivory; and an original song titled, “Sewa! (Joy!)” by Leah Ivory. Cirque de la Symphonie will once again bring the wonder of cirque and the delight of live holiday music to DeVos Performance Hall. Shows in the Gerber SymphonicBoom series are at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday, Dec. 1819. The company of acrobats, jugglers, contortionists and aerial artists will make merry with amazing feats of agility and strength, accompanied by beloved Christmas songs classical favorites.


Returning this year with Cirque de la Symphonie for the first time since 2014 is aerialist Christine Van Loo, a native of Grand Rapids. The seven-time National Champion acrobatic gymnast, named Athlete of the Decade for the 1980s by the U.S. Sports Acrobatics Federation, has performed throughout the world from Sydney Opera House to Madison Square Garden, sharing stages with Paul McCartney, Aerosmith, Josh Groban, Aaron Neville and Earth, Wind and Fire. Van Loo will perform a solo aerial silk routine to Debussy’s Clair de Lune and an aerial duet with Benjamin Lerman to Tchaikovsky’s “Waltz of the Flowers” from The Nutcracker. Purchase tickets at grsymphony.org.

What: Wolverine Worldwide Holiday Pops and Old National Bank Cirque de Noël When: Dec. 5-8; Dec.18-19 Where: DeVos Performance Hall, 303 Monroe Ave NW Cost: Wolverine Worldwide Holiday Pops-starting at $18/adults, $5/students; Old National Bank Cirque de Noël-starting at $18

Women’s LifeStyle Magazine • December 2019

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Dec. 13-15 & 20-22, 2019 | DeVos Performance Hall | 616.454.4771 x10 | grballet.com/nutcracker Val Caniparoli’s The Nutcracker; photo by Tim Motley

Women’s LifeStyle Magazine • December 2019


Assisted living does not mean you have to leave your home.

Arts & Entertainment:

Event Spotlight

Our carefully screened home care aides provide care, drawing from both their experience and their hearts. Call today so The Giving Care Group can put together a plan that will keep you safe and assisted in your own environment.

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Eastern Floral Design Class BY AUTUMN LAU

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Intuitive artist and counselor who channels messages from the angelic realm. Her clients receive insights and guidance from those entities and spirits with which they are surrounded. Vivian is a 5th generation medium who continues the legacy as teacher, spiritual counselor, and healer. www.loveisvictorious.com

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ave you ever been stuck during the holidays, not knowing what to give someone as a gift? I think we’ve all been there at least once. If you’re in this dilemma this holiday season, think about attending Eastern Floral’s Design Class on Dec. 21 from 10 -11:30am to create a homemade gift! During the hour and a half class, taught by Eastern Floral designer Penny Diephouse, attendees will design and trim a boxwood Christmas tree.

“It really appeals to people of all ages, we have our regulars, we’ve had participants as young as 12-13 years old.” — MEGEN KASSUBA

“Essentially, it’s not really a tree, it’s a form that we use to create the shape of a tree, essentially they are cuttings of a boxwood bush,” Megen Kassuba, Eastern Floral’s store manager, explained.

“There is no targeted demographic,” Kassuba said. “It really appeals to people of all ages, we have our regulars, we’ve had participants as young as 12-13 years old.”

All materials are included, such as the ornaments, embellishments, the tree itself, and instructions. At the end of the session, participants are able to take their creation home and keep it for decoration or give it as a Christmas gift to a loved one.

Sign up at easternfloral.com/ designclass/2019/ ,or call 616-949-2200.

If you can’t make it to this class, but are still interested in doing something similar to this, Eastern Floral holds a class every month.

What: Eastern Floral Design Class When: Saturday, Dec. 21, 10-11:30 a.m. Where: Eastern Floral, 2836 broadmoor Ave SE Cost: $40

Women’s LifeStyle Magazine • December 2019

Arts & Entertainment:

Event Spotlight

Get into the Holiday Spirit with Elf The Musical at Grand Rapids Civic Theatre



here are a number of staples that go into making Christmas the joy-filled holiday that it is: evergreens, ornaments, crisp snow, eggnog, friends and family, and, maybe most importantly, Buddy the Elf. This year, instead of rewatching the beloved Christmas classic, Elf-lovers can catch Elf The Musical playing at Civic Theatre from November 22-December-22.

only in the sense that it is a classic Broadway musical, complete with big band scores, tap dancing, ballads and big production numbers.

A story of a little orphan boy who spends the first 30 years of his life growing up among elves in Santa’s workshop, Elf The Musical traces Buddy’s journey to find his human family in New York City. Along the way, he encounters obstacle after obstacle, all the while doing what he does best: spreading good cheer. Honoring the film in all of its major plot points and themes, Elf The Musical differs from the 2003 motion picture

Performed in one of the premier community theaters in the country by a cast who has spent hundreds of hours preparing, this show offers something for all ages.

“Everything they do, there’s just such great joy in the show and a longing for kindling that Christmas spirit in everybody,” Civic Theatre Executive and Artistic Director Bruce Tinker noted of the exceptional cast.

In Tinker’s words, Buddy’s example of “unvarnished love and acceptance of everybody and everything,” is just one reason to come to the show. Exploring themes of identity, family, and the

charm of the Christmas season, Elf The Musical is a crucial reminder that joy, love, and acceptance are hallmarks of the holiday. And while this season lends itself well to such feelings of gratitude and good cheer, the infectious Christmas spirit so prevalent in December should be extended well-beyond the holidays. “Certainly love — and the kindling love — is something we definitely need in this world.” For more information, visit grct.org

What: Elf The Musical When: Nov. 22-Dec. 22 Where: Grand Rapids Civic Theatre Cost: Adults/$22-$39; Children and Students/$16-$20

In this New Year … Here’s to your Good Health! The New Year is the season to reflect on the things in our lives that leave room for improvement, healing or change. This year the Women’s Lifestyle team resolves to help our readers discover options for improving their health from head to toe. Look for answers from the experts in the January, February and March issues of WLM. Our Wellness Series will feature area doctors and practitioners with Ask the Expert information about building and maintaining your physical and emotional health in the New Year. Experts on tap … • Pine Rest / mental and emotional health • Lisa Pullum, DO / hormone replacement (BioTe) • Jannah Thompson, MD, FPMRS / pelvic floor health • Roseanna Noordhoek, DDS / Oral Surgery & Dental Implants • Emily VanHeukelom, DDS / Oral Surgery & Dental Implants Women’s Lifestyle Magazine | 2020 Wellness Guide Advertising Special Section: January, February and March issues For information on advertising in this section, contact: Terrie Lynema, terrie@womenslifestyle.com

Women’s LifeStyle Magazine • December 2019

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Steele Angelas Creat ing Together



R •F

Behind the Scenes of a Food Truck



Gettin’ Fresh with Abigail Sterling


and Grand Rapids|Holland|Gr


Leading Like a Girl (Scout)


The Sisterhoo WOMEN 4 DÉG d of AGÉ We Are LIT Pop s Up with Diverse Reads FOOD PREP 101: Filipino Cuisine


Piper Adonya: Illustrator, ArtPrize Winner, Mom

SHE Means Business

R •F

Historic Church Resurrected



Join In!

UICA Curator Juana Williams’ Contemporary Perspectives



JUNE 2019

6 Must-Attend Festivals

Fear Doesn’t Go Away Until You Talk to It

Ar ts



d|Grand Have n

10 Things You Should Know About Immigration

Bonnie Nawara



SHE Means Business

Grand Rapids|H ollan

JULY 2019




Grand Rapids | Holland | Grand Haven



Grand Rapids | Holland | Grand Haven


Grand Rapids|Holland|Grand Haven FR EE • FR EE • FR |Grand Haven Holland EE Rapids| Grand






History on the Bench: 17 T H C I RCUIT


s and , Beca Velazquez-Puble Milinda Ysasi, Stacy Stout

The Latina Network of West Michigan

PURPOSE & Passion



Ten Ways to Feel Beautiful Physical Acceptance and Wellness




Victoria Ann Upton (1955 - 2018)

“I Started Wearing Makeup at Age 33”




WomensLifeStyle.com/contests Online entry only. Sweepstakes opens December 2019. Winner chosen December 2019. No purchase necessary. Full rules on womenslifestyle.com


Women’s LifeStyle Magazine • December 2019

Get Crafty

at the Library


Beaubien Bodyworks Massage, Skin & Hair Boutique

2 hours of luxury only $99! Our new client specials make great Holiday Gifts 3 to choose from: • Luxury facial with wax, sugaring or peel • Organic color, cut & blowout • Massage & facial - both a full hour!

Purchase gift cards online at beaubienbodyworks.com or call 616.258.8181 We are in the heart of East Hills at 951 Wealthy St, SE

G RPL Felt Garlands & Wood Ornaments Saturday, December 14 1:00 pm Main Library 111 Library St NE Join us for two DIY crafts this month: felt garlands and wood ornaments! Supplies will be provided. Space is limited.

Learn new crafting skills with

Creativebug Get inspired with more than 1,000 online video classes in painting, knitting, crafting, sewing, and more, taught by top artists and creative experts. Free to watch with your Grand Rapids Public Library card! Visit www.grpl.org/download to get started.

Come experience all that My Sweet Peony has to offer. From the moment you enter we hope you feel right at home. Once you take in our beautiful and unique gifts and home decor, we invite you to explore our creative space. Please check out our website and Facebook page to view our scheduled events. Our classes range from watercolor, macrame, wool felting, acrylic painting, signmaking, and much more. Our space is also available to book for private events. We hope you find our space an inviting atmosphere to explore your inner creativity. As our guest, we want to offer you 15% off your next purchase (excluding sale and consignment items) by simply mentioning this ad.

EVENTS ARE FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC 616.988.5400 WWW.GRPL.ORG Many of these events and resources are provided thanks to the funding of the Grand Rapids Public Library Foundation. Women’s LifeStyle Magazine • December 2019

616.259.9781 | www.mysweetpeony.com facebook.com/mysweetpeony | instagram.com/mysweetpeony 2795 Orange Ave. SE, Grand Rapids, 49546


See more photos at womenslifestyle.com/party-pics Hope on the Hill • Van Andel Institute • October 24, 2019 • Van Andel Institute • Photos by Two Eagles Marcus

Fork Fest • Local First • October 25, 2019 • Romence Gardens • Photos by Two Eagles Marcus

Vine & Vinyl • Mercy Health Foundation • October 28, 2019 • The High Five GR • Photos by GlitterBooth.com

EPIC Awards • Grand Rapids Chamber • October 30, 2019 • 20 Monroe Live • Photos by GlitterBooth.com

Cherry Health Celebration • Cherry Health Foundation • November 7, 2019 • Frederik Meijer Gardens • Photos by GlitterBooth.com

Signature Chefs Auction • March of Dimes • November 8, 2019 • DeVos Place • Photos by GlitterBooth.com

Submit your event coverage request at womenslifestyle.com/photos 38

Women’s LifeStyle Magazine • December 2019

Thursday, DECEMBER 5

Experience a festive shopping event you’ll want to brag about. With free shuttle service connecting Uptown’s four vibrant neighborhood districts, you’ll kick off the holiday shopping season with local finds you can feel great about in a community you love to support.


Women’s LifeStyle Magazine • December 2019

@ UptownGR



■ Lindo Mexico Restaurante Mexicano ■ Aperitivo ■ Bistro Bella Vita ■ Brewery Vivant ■ Byron Center Meats ■ Essence Group ■ Ferris Coffee & Nut ■ Field & Fire ■ Grand Rapids Cheesecake Company ■ Grove ■ Malamiah Juice Bar ■ Railside Golf Club ■ Reserve Wine & Food ■ Terra GR ■ The B.O.B. ■ The Cheese Lady Grand Rapids - CHZ Enterprise ■ The Green Well


■ Arie Nol Auto Center ■ Community Automotive Repair ■ Harvey Automotive, Cadillac, Lexus, Auto Outlet ■ Pfeiffer Lincoln


■ Art of the Table ■ Bill & Paulʼs Sporthaus ■ Frames Unlimited ■ Schuler Books ■ Spirit Dreams ■ Stonesthrow ■ Supermercado Mexico ■ Switchback Gear Exchange ■ The Shade Shop


■ A-1 Locksmith ■ EPS Security ■ Gerritʼs Appliance ■ Gordon Water ■ Morris Builders ■ Nawara Brothers Home Store ■ Rockford Construction ■ Tazzia Lawn Care ■ Verhey Carpets


■ Innereactive ■ The Image Shoppe ■ Womenʼs LifeStyle Magazine


■ Grand Rapids Community Media Center (GRCMC) ■ Grand Rapids Opportunities for Women (GROW) ■ Grand Rapids Public Library ■ Neighbors Development ■ Slow Food West Michigan ■ The Rapid ■ West Michigan Environmental Action Council (WMEAC)

PET PRODUCTS & SERVICES ■ Chow Hound Pet Supplies


■ AgeWise Eldercare Solutions ■ Design 1 Salon Spa ■ Grand Rapids Center for Mindfulness ■ Grand Rapids Wellness ■ Grand Ridge Orthodontics ■ Mommas Home ■ The hairport ■ The Village Doula GR

FINANCIAL & LEGAL ■ Lucy Shair Financial ■ United Bank

TRAVEL & LODGING ■ Breton Travel ■ Countryside Tours ■ Witte Travel

When you support a locally owned business, more resources stay in the community and get reinvested in the economy.

ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT ■ Celebration Cinema ■ Community Circle Theatre ■ Frames Unlimited ■ Glitter Booth Photo Booth ■ Grand Rapids Art Museum ■ Grand Rapids Civic Theatre ■ Grand Rapids Public Museum ■ LaFontsee Galleries ■ LowellArts ■ River City Improv ■ ShowSpan, Inc. ■ The Ruse Escape Room ■ Triumph Music Academy


LOCAL FIRST means PEOPLE FIRST Communities thrive when the economy puts people first.

■ Ball Park Floral & Gifts ■ Eastern Floral ■ Romence Gardens

Local First •345 Fuller Avenue NE • GR, MI 49503 • (616) 808-3788 • www.localfirst.com

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Women's LifeStyle Magazine - December 2019  

Women's LifeStyle Magazine - December 2019