Genma Speaks

Entrepreneur/ Writer/ Radio-Host

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas Catherine Ramsey

As Ms. Santa, I get wish lists and special requests from children all during the holiday season. Over the years, the requests have not all been about receiving toys at Christmas time. Children often share their hopes, dreams, and wishes for others and ask for reassurance that all will be right in the upcoming year.

As Ms. Santa, I am not just a giver of gifts but also an encourager-in-chief. Wishes and dreams shared with me are taken to heart.

Children are not the only ones who share their hopes, dreams and wishes with me; adults make wishes and special requests that are equally as charming and memorable. I have been asked to drop off presents to friends in the hospital, visit an elderly parent at a nursing home, and deliver a meal to a new mommy. The smiles (and sometimes looks of disbelief) on the faces of people I see elicit chuckles and roars of laughter from the folks who sent me. Everyone ends up with a Christmas memory to share over and over for years to come. This year, a small request from Catherine (Cathy) Ramsey created a memory that will stay with me long after the trees and lights have been put away.

Cathy and I are in a small book club together. Other members of the clubs are Diane, Jackie, Joyce, Pat, and Vernon. We began reading books over the summer and now meet once a month over dinner to discuss our views and opinions about our reading selections. Our books have taken us on journeys to the Jim Crow South, the backwoods of Virginia, the inner city of Baltimore, the Middle East, New York City, and Cuba. Our mutual distaste for drama and love of reading and traveling seem to be the common thread that runs among this group of diverse personalities.

At one meeting, Cathy shared a desire to share her love of reading with a group of girls. “It has always been a longing of mine to give girls books to encourage them to read. I want them to learn to love reading. I want to give them books without any strings attached. I want to share my story about how I learned to love reading”, Cathy said wishfully as she continued to talk about her long held dream. “Wouldn’t that be neat to do for Christmas?” she asked the group with determination.

I was not surprised that Cathy, a lifelong educator, wanted to help young girls to learn the joy of reading. Her passion was heard clearly through her soft tones. “This is something I have dreamed about for a long time,” she said as her voice trailed off while still smiling.

As the group dispersed to various corners of town after our book club meeting, Cathy’s smiling face stayed with me. Hearing her enduring wish that will have a profound effect on young readers for years to come left me agitated with excitement and anticipation.

By the time I made it home, Joyce had already texted suggestions for us to consider. Within a few days, a Girl Scouts Troop in the Edgehill area was chosen to receive the books. Naturally, I volunteered to wear my finest Ms. Santa suit. When Cathy asked if I would also read a few stories to the girls, I agreed without hesitation. For reading and Ms. Santa go together like gift wrap and bows.

The group agreed to keep everything sweet and simple. Cookies and cocoa would be served for refreshments. Vernonica, Diane, and Pat bought books, prizes for games, and Christmas décor to make our time with the girls festive. There was no committee meeting to determine who was going to do what. Everyone simply served with heart and soul.

On Wednesday, December 15, with my favorite Christmas stories and Santa figure in hand along with my freshly pressed suit, I met the rest of the book club members at the center.

Upon entering the room, there was ample proof that this party was being thrown by reading enthusiasts. Books for different ages were stacked front and center. The titles seemed to jump off the covers! The books reflected the personalities in the book club. Books about adventures and travel to other countries were plentiful. Books about instilling confidence in young girls were also in abundance along with timeless Christmas stories. And to my delight, one about bugs was included! These books were chosen to capture the imagination of girls.

At ten before five, Cathy gave us a signal that the girls were on their way. With a quick sweep of the room by club members and a few adjustments to my Christmas cape, everyone was ready. With a dramatic swing of the doors, in walked several Brownies and one tiny Daisy from Troop 5082. The girls were curious about the visitors at their troop meeting. As the girls were greeted by club members with hellos and smiles, Ms. Santa gave out hugs. Little faces filled with curiosity were replaced with oohs and ahs as they touched my red suit.

Our meeting was quickly brought to order when Cathy effortlessly put on her educator’s hat. She had dreamed of this day for a long time, and it was obvious she was ready. She walked to the front of the room and told the smiling faces that she wanted to give them books and had been anticipating meeting them. Cathy shared her love of reading and expressed her desire for them to learn to love reading. After we were introduced, Cathy asked each girl to share a personal tidbit. With some shyness, every girl gave her name and the name of the school she attended.

After the introductions, Cathy cued me to start reading. With all the drama of an overlooked Oscar nod, I gave my best reading performance to date. With animated hands and changes in voice to match the story characters, I read one of my favorite stories to the girls, “I’ve Seen Santa”. As I read, Cathy watched with twinkling eyes. With each turn of the pages of my book, the girls waited eagerly to hear what came next in the story. This was to Cathy’s delight who saw what she wished and expressed several weeks ago come to life.

When the story ended with thunderous applause and laughter from everyone, we could see that the seeds had been planted to enjoy reading. After story time, Cathy escorted the girls to the table to choose books that appealed to them. They looked over the titles carefully and excitingly picked books that fit their personalities. Some even started reading right away. With books in hand, they snacked and discussed their choices with each other. There was endless chatter about reading. However, no smile was bigger or brighter than Cathy’s.

As our time together came to a close, there was no way one could miss Cathy’s glowing face. It was very obvious that Cathy was having one of her very best Christmases. Her sweet and simple request helped create memories for everyone present. Cathy’s sharing her passion for reading was a spark that will ignite and burn brightly for years to come. The girls left with gifts that will not disappear after the tree and lights have been put away. Cathy also left with a gift—a wish fulfilled, and she thanked club members profusely.

As I drove off into the night to my part of town, I repeated several times, “Merry Christmas, Catharine Ramsey. Merry Christmas.”


Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Tolk Family on Living Your Best Life with Genma Holmes

Thank you for continuing to join Living Your Best Life with Genma Holmes during the month of December. We are hearing amazing stories of faith that will "empower, inspire, and motivate you to live your best life". Hear powerful individuals with diverse backgrounds from around the country share how their faith have shaped their lives as well others.

Tune in as we hear how they have soared and taken others with them. We will also hear how they have overcome personal struggles that affected their leadership and personal lives. Living Your Best Life can be heard every Saturday on 760 AM in the Nashville-Middle Tennessee region and on worldwide on Ustream.TV from 9-10AM CST.

Join us on Christmas Eve for a very special show with the Tolk Family. Hear from Tennessee's Music Teach of the Year and Tolk family matriarch, Marilyn Tolk; her son, pianist, composer and legal eagle, David Tolk; and her son-in-law, renown painter, sculptor and children author, J. Kirk Richards. Hear each of them share about their deep faith and staying grounded while in the spotlight. Listen as they share about their individual lives and how they draw strength from each other. This show promises to empower, inspire, and motivate one to live a better life as we look forward to the upcoming New Year.

More About the Tolk Family:

David Tolk
A gentleman unafraid to admit his mother's influence in his life, David H. Tolk is a pianist and keyboardist highly esteemed by his peers. The son of a mother who is a graduate of the Juilliard School of Music and a father with a doctorate in Physics, Tolk was exposed to an academic environment that included piano instruction by his mother. Talented enough to be a musician for a living, he instead chooses to balance a dual career as lawyer and musician. He admits enjoying both. “I very much enjoy combining a career in music with a career as an attorney. These two fields have blended quite well to create a wonderful harmony in my life," Tolk says in an online interview. “People always ask when I will give up being an attorney to pursue music full time. My music is a reflection of my life, my travels, my family and my experiences. I will continue to seek to maintain a balance among all of those different areas."

Finding a harmonious balance between his careers and his family is an important part of his life's melody. Married to Lisa, David has two daughters and one son. Apparently he's successful in achieving the balance as artists he's worked with describe him as a classy guy. Independent recording artist Peter Breinholt says that Tolk has “unreal" musicianship, “but it's been his personality that has endeared the band (Big Parade) and the audience the most to him. He's a huge part of what we do now, and his wit and integrity are part of why he's been able to have success with his own albums, I think."“As a person," says Colors member Russ Dixon, “David is one of the most sincere individuals I know." Tolk plays piano, synthesizers and acoustic guitar in the band Big Parade, his studio work and on his own albums; but the piano is his first love. His mother's influence included intensive exposure to classical masters and his compositions reflect this as they are a blend of New Age and Contemporary Instrumental genres.

Davids' educational background includes a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature from Brigham Young University, and a degree in law from the University of Utah. As of 2002, he and his family made their home in the foothills of the Wasatch Mountains near Salt Lake City, Utah.

J. Kirk Richards
Figurative artist J. Kirk Richards is becoming increasingly known for his accomplishments as a painter of Judeo-Christian themes. While not all of his paintings are overtly religious, the majority of his themes stem from spiritual ideas and narratives. He continues to work in a surprising variety of styles, but most of his paintings exhibit a love for the human figure, general use of symbolism and metaphor, and an emphasis on lyric composition.

Kirk is the fourth of eight musical children. He attributes much of his love for the arts to an early emphasis on musical training in the home. As a teen, his interests turned from music to visual arts. He took private lessons from artist Clayton Williams to supplement his public school studies. Upon graduation, Richards was accepted into the B.Y.U. art program where he studied with artists Bruce Smith, Hagen Haltern, Gary Barton, James Christensen, Wulf Barsch, Joe Ostraff, and others.

Kirk took a break from University studies to briefly apprentice with Swiss-born symbolist Patrick Devonas. Richards attributes his learning of classical realist skills to the instruction he received from Devonas in Princeton, New Jersey.

Marilyn Tolk
Marilyn Tolk, 2011 Tennessee Music Teachers Association's Music Teacher of the Year, was born in Canada and at age twenty-one moved to New York City to attend the Juilliard School of Music where she studied with Irwin Freundlich and Adele Marcus. She also received a degree in music education from Teachers College at Columbia University. She taught briefly at the New York Institute for the Blind in the Bronx, and then moved to Mendham, New Jersey where she performed and taught for sixteen years. In 1984, she moved to her current home in Nashville, TN.

Her students have received many superior ratings in local and state TMTA auditions, in addition to awards in Federation, Guild, and Clavierfest. She was one of the founders of the Nashville Piano Achievement Competition and served as its President for ten years. Several of her students have gone on to major in music. She has served as an adjudicator for Federation, NAMTA, Winterfest and Guild.

Marilyn is also a composer, arranger, organist and choral conductor. She has recently taken up the art of storytelling, which has become an inspirational vehicle for sharing her love of music and of life. Marilyn is celebrating her 50th Anniversary this year to Vanderbilt Physics Professor, Norm Tolk.
For more info about Marilyn Tolk click here and here

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Eliza Donahue Shares her Family's Adoption Journey on Living Your Best Life

Join Living Your Best Life with Genma Holmes during the month of December as we hear stories of faith that will "empower, inspire, and motivate you to live your best life". Hear powerful individuals with diverse backgrounds from around the country share how their faith have shaped their lives as well others.

Tune in as we hear how they have soared and taken others with them. We will also hear how they have overcome personal struggles that affected their leadership and personal lives. Living Your Best Life can be heard every Saturday on 760 AM in the Nashville-Middle Tennessee region and on worldwide on Ustream.TV from 9-10AM CST.

On Saturday, December 17, 2011, we will hear eleven year old Eliza Donahue and her journey to help adopt a sibling from Haiti. Hear how she was spiritually impacted and her family lives altered by the devastating earthquake that hit Haiti on January 12, 2010. She will share how she helped family friends Mike and Missy Wilson who soon to be adopted daughter Tia was in an orphanage the day of the earthquake. Without being asked, Eliza counted all her money and gave it to the Wilsons to help them bring Tia home. Her decision to give her all to help the Wilsons put Eliza on the path to travel to Haiti herself. This powerful story from an eleven year old will leave you empowered, inspired, and motivated to look deeply within our hearts and beyond our borders to find a calling in life.

More about Eliza Donahue's Journey

The months following the earthquake, after Tia and her sister, Naika, were safely in the U.S., Eliza began asking to go to Haiti herself. She wanted to see Haiti in person and meet the children from the Creche run by Dr. Joseph Bernard and New Life Link. Because of the Wilson family, Eliza had grown to love the children of Haiti deeply even though she had not been to the orphanage. She persistently talked to her parents about going to Haiti. For Christmas, instead of asking for presents typical of tweens, Eliza asked to go to Haiti. At that point, her parents knew this was not a phase; their daughter was determined to go to Haiti.

Eliza received a certificate for Christmas giving her the opportunity to go to Haiti, but she would have to raise the funds. Without hesitation, Eliza began to raise funds through a letter writing campaign themed, "I have a Heart for Haiti". She raised the necessary funds through generous donations from friends and family. In July of 2011, Eliza and her mom, Laura, traveled to Haiti.

To say that the experience changed both of them would be a huge understatement. It was transforming; heart, mind and soul! Eliza was so touched by the children and people of Haiti that she was asking to adopt a sibling even before leaving Haiti.

Upon returning from Haiti, Eliza (and Mom) gathered the family and asked everyone to consider adopting from Haiti. Because of the family's experience with Mike and Missy Wilson, Haiti held a close place in each person's heart even though not everyone had traveled there. After a month of praying, discussing and praying some more, the family all agreed that the Lord was calling them to adopt.

Isaiah prophesied that "a little child will lead them"... and so Eliza has listened to the voice of the Lord and has led her family on the journey of adoption.

To read more about the family's journey and to help contribute to their adoption click Here

Eliza is the youngest of four. Her older siblings are Baker, 16, and 13 year old twins, Brennan and Cara.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Author and Speaker Regina Prude on Living Your Best Life with Genma Holmes

Join Living Your Best Life with Genma Holmes during the month of December as we hear stories of faith that will "empower, inspire, and motivate you to live your best life". Hear powerful individuals with diverse backgrounds from around the country share how their faith have shaped their lives as well others.

Tune in as we hear how they have soared and taken others with them. We will also hear how they have overcome personal struggles that affected their leadership and personal lives .Living Your Best Life can be heard every Saturday on 760AM in the Nashville-Middle Tennessee region and on worldwide on Ustream.TV from 9-10AM CST.

On Saturday, December 10, 2011, Genma will be joined by the speaker, author, syndicated columnist and business woman Regina M. Prude. Hear about her extraordinary life as a partner in the ministry with her husband, Dr, Floyd Prude Jr., and the challenges, spiritual and emotionally, that came with his unexpected passing in 2009. Her message of overcoming and fighting the good fight promises to leave you empowered, inspired and motivated.

About Regina Prude
For over thirty-six years, she served as First Lady of Emmanuel Baptist Church, of Beloit, Wisconsin, where her late husband, Dr. Floyd Prude, Jr., was Senior Pastor. She provided “behind the scenes” leadership and support, serving in ministries such as Christian Education, Stewardship and Evangelism. She was also founded and facilitated a prayer and support ministry, Titus II Women's Ministry.

She has been invited to speak at women’s events at many churches and faith-based organizations' events around the country and worldwide like Wisconsin General Baptist State Convention and the Sovereign Grace Bible Conference. In August 2010, she lectured in Mannheim, Germany, for the German Baptist Association. In January 2010, she delivered the King Convocation message at Beloit College (Wisconsin), a school often called the “Yale of the Midwest.”

As an inspirational writer, she has been a contributor to the devotional magazine, “Alive, Now!,” published by The United Methodist Publishing Board. Her weekly syndicated newspaper column, “Everyday Joy,” appears in several publications across the country, including The Madison Times and The Chronicle in Wisconsin, The Tennessee Tribune, and in Maryland and New York publications. While living in Wisconsin, she hosted a weekly inspirational radio program.

As an overcomer, she has relied upon the power of God, her personal faith and the power of prayer after being diagnosed in 2001 with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. The results has been a miraculous miracle of healing which she continues to proclaim! In Regina's upcoming book, Zero Fear, she will share about her victory over illness and her steadfast belief that healing scriptures and her joy in Christ (along with her doctors) helped her defeat the disease.

In addition to her speaking and writing, Regina is the founder, President and CEO of NEW DIRECTIONS Management Services, Incorporated, a small business she established in 1983. In that role, she has provided oversight for the diversity consulting and management training services offered to clients. She has managed contracts awarded by federal agencies, including the U. S Departments of Defense, Energy, Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency. For the U. S. Department of the Army, she directed a Minority Student Internship Program, which placed over 50 students from Historically Black colleges and universities into Defense internships.

In August, 2010, she relocated from Wisconsin to Nashville, Tennessee.

Text INSPIRE to 99000 to win a copy of Dr. Floyd Prude Jr.'s Book Lessons From The Prophets: Elijah, Jeremiah & Elisha [Kindle Edition] Vol 1 : or to ask a question or share comments.

We will also be giving away copies of Belmont University Christmas CD

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Impact Church on Living Your Best Life with Genma Holmes

Join Living Your Best Life with Genma Holmes during the month of December as we hear stories of faith that will "empower, inspire, and motivate you to live your best life". Hear powerful individuals with diverse backgrounds from around the country share how their faith have shaped their lives as well others.

Tune in as we hear how they have soared and taken others with them. We will also hear how they have overcome personal struggles that affected their leadership.
Living Your Best Life can be heard every Saturday on 760AM in the Nashville-Middle Tennessee region and on worldwide on Ustream.TV from 9-10AM CST.

On Saturday, Dec 3, 2011, Living Your Best Life will kick off this exciting series on faith in the marketplace with Impact Church of Atlanta. Impact Church believes firmly in "Doing Church Differently".

Founded January 2007, Impact Church is a multicultural gathering of people who come together regularly with one common purpose--to share the love of Christ. Throughout their journey, they have impacted schools, community organizations, and the lives of countless individuals. They have been committed to making a global impact by sticking to the basics and taking the "churchiness" out of church.

Impact Church was recently featured on CNN for allowing members to text in church and having social media infused services. Hear how the church leaders have embraced technology and uses it throughout their ministry to grow their church and to connect with the “unchurch”.

Olu Brown is the founder and lead pastor of Impact Church. He is married to Farrah Brown and they are the proud parents of Daya Brown. A native of Texas, Olu graduated from The Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta and was Associate Pastor at Cascade United Methodist Church for six years prior to starting Impact Church. Pastor Olu can be contacted at

Sunday Worship Experiences are held in Brown Middle School, 765 Peeples Street SW, Atlanta, GA 30310. The church can be contacted by phone at 404-577-2826

Looking for a gift idea for the holidays? Impact Church has a wonderful Christmas CD and published book by Pastor Olu Brown titled “Zero to 80”. Living Your Best Life is giving away ten sets of the Book and CD. Text INSPIRE to 99000.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Fran Zinder, Joy Mckenzie, and Charlotta Janssen on Living Your Best Life Radio Show

Living Your Best Life Radio Show with Genma Holmes celebrates Artober Nashville with the Frist Center. Tune in as we shine the spotlight on art, culture, community and the Frist Center’s leadership that "inspire people through art to look at their world in new ways." Each week, we will hear from individuals who will share how the Frist Center carries out its mission to present and originate high quality exhibitions with related educational programs and community outreach that have been recognized throughout Middle Tennessee, nationally, and around the world.

Living Your Best Life Radio Show can be heard on 880 AM from 10am-12noon CST in the Nashville-Middle Tennessee Area or on UStream.TV worldwide.

Join us Saturday, October 29, 2011 as we meet two fascinating and adventurous teachers, Fran Zinder and Joy McKenzie, who spent part of their summer vacation teaching students enrolled in SMART Moves (Skills Mastery and Resistance Training), a six-week summer program for kids at risk, designed to broaden their experiences and to help them in decision-making. Fran Zinder, an art teacher at Apollo Junior High School, and Joy McKenzie, a Professor at Watkins College of Art, Design, and Film, will share about their summer adventure with Apollo's teens that included a trip to the Frist Center to examine the work of photographer Vesna Pavlovic'. To learn more about their collaborative work with the teens click here.

Charlotta Janssen

We will also hear from artist Charlotta Janssen. Ms. Janssen's, Threads of a Story: History Inspiring Art, opened in Nashville on June 18, 2011 at the Nashville Public Library. Hear how the Freedom Riders mug shots (normally a sign of shame and criminality) inspired Janssen to work for a year and a half to tell their story of epic courage with paint, rust, and collages. Jannseen work has received great reviews in Nashville and is featured on

To purchase copies of prints or giclees from this exhibit go here.

On Saturday, November 5, 2011, the Nashville chapter of the NAACP will host its annual Freedom Fund Gala fundraiser. This year, 11 Freedom Riders from the Nashville area will be honored by the NAACP for their bravery and enduring hardships that paved the way for desegregated travel in America.

Five other influential individuals from this time period are also being honored; Mr. George Barrett, Justice A. A. Birch, Jr. (posthumously), Rev. Dr. James Lawson, Mr. John Seigenthaler, Sr., Rev. Dr. Kelly Miller Smith, Sr. (posthumously). For more information about the event, contact 615-414-0618.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Michael McBride and Michael Brechner on Living Your Best Life Radio Show

Living Your Best Life Show with Genma Holmes celebrates Artober Nashville with the Frist Center. Tune in as we shine the spotlight on art, culture, community and the Frist Center’s leadership that "inspire people through art to look at their world in new ways." Each week, we will hear from individuals who will share how the Frist Center carries out its mission to present and originate high quality exhibitions with related educational programs and community outreach that have been recognized throughout Middle Tennessee, nationally, and around the world.

On Saturday, October 22, 2011 we will be joined by renown artist, educator, and a member of the Frist Center Board of Trustees, Michael McBride and Director of Design & Operations for the Frist Center, Michael Brechner. Michael McBride will share how his background as an artist and an educator help guides the vision and mission of the Frist Center. Michael Brechner will take us behind the scenes and share about the implementation of an exhibit at the Frist Center. He will share details about the Frist Center exhibits that are not found in the pages of an exhibition guide.

In the Nashville-Middle Tennessee region, Living Your Best Life Radio can be heard live on 880AM and on Ustream.TV worldwide from 10am-12pm CST.

Michael McBride

Michael J. McBride, a native Tennessean, earned his undergraduate degree in art, from Tennessee State University and his graduate degree in painting from Illinois State University, where he credits Dr. Harold Gregor with providing a world class artistic mentorship. Currently, he is an instructor of art at Tennessee State University. McBride has also taught at Watkins College of Art and Design and Film school. McBride's commitment to the Nashville art world's future has always been at the forefront of his own career.

McBride has been the lead artist on many community-based projects in Nashville like the Sister Cities Mural Projects as well as Nashville International Airport's Arts in the Airport program. In addition to serving as a Trustee for the Frist Center, McBride also serves on the Board of Family and Children Services.

McBride's work was featured in Visions of My People: Sixty-years of African American art in Tennessee, an exhibit organized by the Tennessee State Museum. One of his pieces is part of their permanent collection. He was one of twelve Nashville artists selected by The Tennessean newspaper for inclusion in the Millennium 2000 Collection, a signal honor. McBride was was also chosen for Side by Side Sister Cities exhibition with Belfast, Northern Ireland. This exhibition featured 17 artists from Nashville and 17 artists from Ireland. In the summer of 2005, McBride completed a ten weeks artist in residence program in Bermuda with the Master Works Museum of Bermuda Art. His current body of work titled “Too Black Too Fast” is a traveling exhibition of art about African-American jockeys and trainers. McBride’s work is included in both private and corporate collections in the US and abroad. His work has been featured on television sitcoms, such as "Living Single", "The Wayans Bros. Show", and "The Jamie Foxx Show". McBride has also illustrated children's books and book covers for several publishing groups. To see more of Michael McBride's work click here and here .

Michael Brechner

Michael Brechner is the Director of Design & Operations at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts. Mr. Brechner joined the Frist Center staff in 2004 as the Exhibition Designer. He has over 30 years of museum exhibition design experience. Before coming to Nashville, he was employed as the Chief Designer of the Cincinnati Art Museum. He has also served as the head of the design and installation departments at The Speed Art Museum (Louisville, KY), and the University of Kentucky Art Museum (Lexington, KY).

A Divine Light: Northern Renaissance Paintings from Bob Jones University Museum & Gallery; Tracey Snelling: Woman on the Run; Maria Magdalena Compos-Pons: Journeys; The Quest for Immortality: Treasures of Ancient Egypt; Lyrical Traditions: Chinese Paintings from the Papp Collection; and The Golden Age of Couture: Paris and London 1947-1957
are among the many exhibitions that Mr. Brechner has designed for the Frist Center.

Photo Credits: Frist Center for Visual Arts, Michael McBride and Genma Holmes

Other stories and radio interviews:
Dr. Tommy Frist, Chinese Arts Alliance of Nashville and Professor William Luis

Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons, Neil Leonard, and Emily Harper Beard

Dr. Susan Edwards Knighted By Consul General of France

Susan Edwards

My Very Special Frist Center Adventure

Friday, October 14, 2011

Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons, Neil Leonard, and Emily Haper Beard on Living Your Best Life Radio Show

Living Your Best Life Radio Show with Genma Holmes celebrates Artober Nashville with the Frist Center. Tune in as we continue to shine the spotlight on art, culture, community and the Frist Center’s leadership that "inspire people through art to look at their world in new ways."

On Saturday, October 15, 2011 we will be joined by world renown artist, Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons, one of the most significant artists to emerge from the Cuban post-revolutionary era, and her husband, Neil Leonard, an internationally recognized composer. The powerful artistic team and founders of G.A.S.P Gallery of Boston will share about their week-long residency at Vanderbilt which has included dual exhibits of Campos-Pons work at the Vanderbilt Fine Arts Gallery and the Frist Center for the Visual Arts, panel discussions, receptions, and a family collaborate intimate performance art piece. The individual lectures by the artistic duo and residency are sponsored by the Vanderbilt University Department of Art, Center for Latin American Studies, Department of History of Art, Vanderbilt Fine Arts Gallery, Program in African American and Diaspora Studies, Atlantic World Seminar, Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Curb Center for Art, Enterprise and Public Policy, Neil Leonard, and the College of Arts and Science.

We will also hear from the Frist Center’s go too, hands on, out and about, Community Relations Manager, Emily Harper Beard. Emily will share how she and the Frist Center’s Education outreach team, Shaun Giles and Rosemary Swain Brunton, take the vision and mission of the Frist Center beyond its Broadway address to classrooms, non-profits, groups and organizations, and to various events throughout the Middle Tennessee region.

Living Your Best Life Radio Show can be heard on 880 AM in the Nashville-Middle Tennessee area and on Ustream.TV worldwide from 10am-12pm CST.

Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons

Born in 1959, Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons was raised in the Cuban province of Matanzas. Campos-Pons was educated in Cuba at the National School of Art (1976-1979) and Instituto Superior de Arte (1980-1985). She graduated from Massachusetts College of Art in 1988 and now lives in Brookline, Massachusetts, with her husband, Neil Leonard and their son.

Campos-Pons creates photographs, video, and multimedia installations that tell the story of the survival of African cultures by evoking rites, myths, and narratives that have evolved through generations. Her work symbolically follows the history of the slave trade from her family’s origin in Nigeria to Cuba, where they worked in the sugar industry, to present-day Boston, where Campos-Pons now works and teaches.

Her works have been exhibited in the United States, Canada, Japan, Norway, France, Italy, and Cuba. She was represented in the Johannesburg Biennial and has had a solo exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Campos-Pons’ powerful attachment to her cultural African heritage is one that she has never experienced directly but its presence in the rites and myths of her childhood make her a Cuban transplanted in the United States, an exile twice over.

Most recently, the Guangzhou Triennial in China hosted her work. A 20-year retrospective of Campos-Pons’ work, Everything is Separated by Water: María Magdalena Campos-Pons, opened in Indianapolis in 2006 and traveled to the Bass Museum in Miami.

During her life, she has received many awards and recognitions like the "Mention of Honor", in 1986 in the XVIIIème Festival International de la Peinture, Château Musée, Cagnes Sur Mer, Francia. In 1990 Painting Fellowship, The Banff Centre for the Arts, Alberta, Canada, in 1992 Foreign Visiting Artist Grant, Media Arts, Canada Council, Canada, in 1994 Bunting Fellowship. Mary Ingraham Bunting Institute, Radcliffe Research and Study Center, Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S.A and in 1995 Art Reach 95 Award, National Congress of Art & Design, Salt Lake City, Utah, EE.UU.

While in Nashville, the Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce recognized Campos-Pons for her contributions to international cultural with an award for "Outstanding Hispanic Professional Achievement Award in Art" at its 7th Annual Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration and Awards Ceremony held on Thursday, October 13, 2011.

For more info on her dual exhibits at the Frist Center and Vanderbilt go here. A list of exhibitions can be found here.

Neil Leonard

Leonard is one of the most inventive and adventuresome artist in new music today. Leonard's work has ranged from traditional jazz performance, solo concerts for saxophone and electronics, collaborations with top Cuban musicians, works for orchestra as well as sound and music for dance, theater, performance and installation.

Leonard's collaborative work with visual artist Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons was featured by the 49th Venice Biennial, Museum of Modern Art (NYC), purchased by the National Gallery of Canada and presented by the U.S. State Department at Dakar Biennial. Leonard composed the music for Relatives, by Tony Oursler and Constance DeJong that was featured by the Whitney Biennial and the ICA (Boston).

His ensemble and collective projects featured Marshall Allen, Bruce Barth, Don Byron, Uri Caine, Kenwood Dennard, Robin Eubanks, Frank Lacy, Oriente Lopez, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Badal Roy, Jamaaladeen Tacuma. Leonard’s "Dreaming of an Island", (for orchestra, electronics and live-video) was premiered by the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra. Leonard's composition Totems was premiered at Carnegie Hall by Byron and Caine. Leonard's "Echoes and Footsteps" was featured by the Tel Aviv Biennial for New Music, Issue Project Room (NYC) and the Auditorium di Roma. To learn more about the composer click here and here.

Emily Harper Beard

Emily Harper Beard, formerly Communications Coordinator at the Frist Center, recently moved into the Community Relations Manager position where she works with a variety of community groups and audiences to help promote the Frist Center’s mission. Prior to working at the Frist Center, she received her B.A. in graphic design from Middle Tennessee State University and worked at Animax Design—a puppet shop in Nashville which creates characters for live shows, film, and television. She continues to be an active artist in and supporter of Nashville’s growing arts scene.

To learn more about community partners, educational programs, and affinity days at the Frist Center click here and here.

Photos: Neil Leonard,Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons, Susan Edwards, and Katie Delmez;Joesph Mella and Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons; and Emily Harper Beard courtesy of Genma Holmes

CD cover, art, and photo of Campos-Pons and Leonard courtesy of Campos-Pons and Leonard

Article written by: Chuck Beard
Chuck Beard is an active volunteer in the Nashville community. He works tirelessly to bring attention to those in need by bringing the music and art community together to raise funds and awareness to causes near and dear to his heart.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Dr. Tommy Frist, Chinese Arts Alliance Nashville, and Professor William Luis on Living Your Best Life Radio Show

Living Your Best Life Show with Genma Holmes celebrates Artober Nashville with the Frist Center. Tune in as we shine the spotlight on art, culture, community and the Frist Center’s leadership that "inspire people through art to look at their world in new ways." Each week, we will hear from individuals who will share how the Frist Center carries out its mission to present and originate high quality exhibitions with related educational programs and community outreach that have been recognized throughout Middle Tennessee, nationally, and around the world.

On Saturday, October 8, 2011, we will be joined by Dr. Tommy Frist, Jr., Chairman of the boards for The Frist Center and The Frist Foundation and Chairman Emeritus of Hospital Corporation of America; Jen-Jen Lin, Director of Chinese Arts Alliance of Nashville; and Dr. William Luis Professor of Spanish at Vanderbilt University and Editor of Afro Hispanic Review. In the Nashville-Middle Tennessee region, Living Your Best Life Radio can be heard live on 880AM and on Ustream.TV worldwide from 10am-12pm CST.

Dr. Tommy Frist, Jr.

Dr. Tommy Frist will share from the annals of Nashville’s history about the Frist Center's early years. Hear how his family and the Frist Foundation embarked on a venture to transform an old post office into an art museum that started in the 1990s. They implemented an interesting public/private venture between the Frist Foundation, the U.S. Postal Service, and the city of Nashville. The Frist Center opened its doors as a non-collecting museum to the public in April, 2001.

Chinese Arts Alliance Nashville, Director Jen-Jen Lin

The Chinese Arts Alliance of Nashville (CAAN), a Frist Center community partner organization, was organized to promote the awareness, understanding, appreciation, and enjoyment of Chinese visual arts and performing arts by presenting fine Chinese visual arts, crafts, performing artists and culture to the public. Their activities include seminars, art exhibitions, classroom teaching, educational workshops, and public programs for children and adults.

Jen-Jen will share about her involvement with the Frist Center’s Connecting Cultures Exhibit and the upcoming show at the Nashville Public Library, We Are One. We Are One celebrates the diverse ethnic groups in Chinese culture with various dances. This presentation includes dances representing Han people, Manchu people, Mogols, Chinese Muslims, and Tibetans.

To learn more about CAAN click here

Afro-Cuban Chinese Heritage

William Luis is the Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor of Spanish at Vanderbilt University. He has held teaching positions at Dartmouth College, Yale University, Washington University in St. Louis, and Binghamton University. Luis has published thirteen books and more than one hundred articles. His authored books include Literary Bondage: Slavery in Cuban Narrative (1990), Dance Between Two Cultures: Latino Caribbean Literature Written in the United States (1997), Culture and Customs of Cuba (2001), Lunes de Revolución: Literatura y cultura en los primeros años de la Revolución Cubana (2003), Juan Francisco Manzano: Autobiografía del esclavo poeta y otros escritos (2007), and Bibliografía y antología crítica de las vanguardias del Caribe: Cuba, Puerto Rico y República Dominicana (2010). Also, Luis is Editor of the Afro-Hispanic Review. Born and raised in New York City of a Chinese father and a Cuban mother, Luis is widely regarded as a leading authority on Latin American, Caribbean, Afro-Hispanic, and Latino U.S. literatures.
Read William Luis Curriculum VITe here

Photo Credits: Dr.Tommy Frist with Genma Holmes and Terriance Moody, CEO of Dream Systems, LLC courtesy of the Frist Center
We Are One-CAAN
Professor William Luis and Mayor Karl Dean-Vanderbilt Press

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Dr. Susan Edwards Knighted By Consul General of France

The Frist Center's Executive Director, Dr. Susan H. Edwards, was decorated as a Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Arts et Lettres (Knight in the Order of Arts and Letters) in a ceremony at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts. The medal was presented by the Consul General of France, Pascal Le Deunff.

Dr. Edwards was recognized for her significant contributions to the art and the culture of France.

Consul General Pascal Le Deunff remarks to Dr. Susan Edwards at Chevalier Award ceremony held at the Frist Center on September 23, 2011:

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear Friends,
Dear Susan,

It is both a pleasure and a privilege to be here in Nashville with you today to honor a truly exceptional woman, visionary, ambassador of the arts, and precious friend of France, Dr. Susan Edwards.

Susan, your passion for art has been a driving force in every step of your professional career, which is clearly reflected on your curriculum vitae, but even more so in your community. Before arriving in Nashville, you spent a considerable amount of time in New York where you received your PhD in Art History from City University of New York in 1995. During your time as Curator at Hunter College of the City University of New York from 1987 to 1998, your drive and artistic vision was exemplified by the over twenty art exhibitions that you originated, and was affirmed in 1997 when you were named a Founding Fellow at the Liguria Study Center for the Arts and Humanities in Genoa, Italy.

You further honed your skills as Executive Director of the Katonah Museum in Katonah, New York from 1998 to 2004. But of course, your exemplary commitment to the arts spread far beyond the walls of museums. In addition to your book, Ben Shahn and the Task of Photography in Thirties America, you have also published numerous articles on modern and contemporary artists, material, culture, and photography-- of which you are a specialist -- as well as several exhibition catalogues, further establishing yourself as a known expert in the world of visual arts in the United States. You have also brought your knowledge and expertise to many schools and universities, including New York University, Queens College/CUNY, School of Visual Arts, New York, and Vanderbilt, where you are currently Adjunct Associate Professor.

As a recognized member of the art community, you continue to make contributions, serving on the advisory boards of the Bogliasco Foundation, Harvard University Art Museums and Collection Committee, and the Stephen Taller Archive at Harvard University. And all of these eminent accomplishments and contributions to the art community are only the half of it.

Your work at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts here in Nashville, Tennessee has been in a league of its own. From the very onset of your career as Executive Director in 2004, you’ve offered Nashville and beyond an ambitious, diverse, and multicultural program that has truly lived up to the vision of the Frist Center of “inspiring people through art to look at the world in new ways.” In addition to the spectacular array of art exhibited, your programming has demonstrated and reinforced an exceptional friendship with France. In only six years, you’ve consecrated more than ten expositions to French culture and artists. From “Les Chemins de l’Impressionisme, paysages français et américains du Worchester Art Museumto Matisse, Picasso and the School of Paris Masterpieces from the Baltimore Museum of Art, Rodin, A Magnificent Obsession, sculpture from the Iris and B Gerald Cantor Foundation to Twilight Visions : Surrealisme, Photography and Paris”, your high, your high quality exhibitions have been both multi-disciplinary and extremely tangible, offering educational programs and community outreach activities that have brought French culture closer to the Southeast.

Most recently, it is thanks to your efforts that the Frist Center became one of only two institutions in the United States – making Nashville one of three cities in the world to present the exhibition "The Birth of Impressionism: Masterpieces from the Musée d’Orsay”. Displaying 100 paintings from the permanent collection of the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, you’ve provided the Southeast with an unparalleled cultural experience. This further demonstrates your excellent intuition and entrepreneurial sensitivity. Indeed, the echoes from exhibitions and events have reached far beyond the boundaries of Nashville and Tennessee. Your leadership has brought the Frist Center to new heights, giving it national visibility and recognition and turning it into one of the premier art centers in the Southeast.

Your remarkable contributions to advancing cultural relations between France and the United States are commendable and worthy of the distinction that you are receiving today. It is a great honour partnering with you and we look forward to strengthening this relationship with you and with the Frist Center for the Arts in the years and projects to come.

Dear Susan, to render homage to your commitment to artistic efforts and actions, au nom de la République, nous vous faisons Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.

Dr.Susan Edwards Acceptance Speech

"Consul General Pascal Le Deunff, Honorarie Consul Madame Amelie De Gaulle, Madame Chevalier Hazel Joyner-Smith, et invités distingués. C'est mon honeur d’ accepter la medaille de Chevalier de l’ordre des arts et lettres de le part du comité administrateur et du personnel du Frist Center. Merci beaucoup. Maintenant, je voudrais continuer in anglais, s’il vous plait"

Consul General Le Deunff, Honorary Consul Amelie De Gaulle, fellow Chevalier Hazel Joyner-Smith and distinguished guests, I am deeply honored to accept the medal of the Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters on behalf of the Board of Trustees and the staff of the Frist Center. I am grateful to M. Frederic Mitterrand, the French Minister of Culture and Communication and the people of France. I thank Consul General Le Deunff and Carole Scipion, the French Cultural Attache in Atlanta, for placing my name in nomination, and Ellen Pryor and Angela Butler for keeping my nomination secret -- even from me – for the past year.

I am pleased to receive a Chevalier at this point in my life and career, after youthful arrogance has mellowed. It is not false modesty to acknowledge the role of many others in this award. Great accomplishments are rarely the result of one person’s endeavors, rather they come about through the combined efforts of visionaries such as Tommy Frist, the relentless promotion of a Ken Roberts, the steady direction and leadership of Billy Frist, as well as the assistance and professionalism of colleagues, co-workers, and friends.

The Chevalier acknowledges my passion for all things French and a twenty-year history of working on exhibitions, film series, and literary projects that promote French arts and culture. There is no doubt in my mind, however, that the pinnacle of my visibility was our 2010 exhibition "The Birth of Impressionism: Masterpieces from the Musée d’Orsay."

I am grateful to Guy Cogeval, President of the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, for allowing their extraordinary 19th-century paintings to be presented in Nashville. The exhibition would not have come to Nashville without the support of Tommy and Trish Frist, Janet and Jim Ayers and Marlene and Spencer Hays, who made the lead gifts that gave us the courage to move forward with the project. Mark Scala, Chief Curator at the Frist Center, worked closely with Stéfane Guegan at the Musée d’Orsay to refine the checklist for our venue. For considerable efforts on « The Birth of Impressionism » and their devotion to our mission, I remain eternally grateful to our founders, trustees, members of our advisory councils, and the entire staff at the Frist Center.

For assistance on previous projects devoted to French culture, I should like to acknowledge colleagues and collaborators here at the Frist Center and from New York: Thérèse Lichtenstein, Jane Roos, Catherine Bernard, Laura Schor, Alice Zimet, Annette Blaugrund, Jeanine Plottel, Philippe Lalliot and Annie Cohen-Solal.

I want to thank Ellen Pryor, Kathy Demonbreun, Angela Butler, Brandon Gnetz, and Karen Gwaltney for planning this day for us. Thank you for being here. Please stay and join us for some refreshments.

Once again, I thank Cultural Attache Carole Scipion, Consul General Pascal Le Deunff, and the French government for this great honor.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Richard Diggs and Tia Brewer-Footman Share How A Bleak Economy Did Not Stop their Determination to Succeed

The more the well paid television pundits feed us hype that the sky is falling, the more individuals are coming forward to inform us that the sky is really blue and does not have a ceiling! Join Genma Holmes on Living Your Best Life Radio Show as we continue to talk to entrepreneurs who are soaring in the big blue yonder and taking quite a number of individuals with them.

Meet savvy individuals whose walks of faith have lead them down the road to success and garnered national attention by being steady and determined when others said it could not or should not happen. They have taken their success and served their communities by teaching others with heart and soul. Listen to Richard Diggs, CEO of Alexandria Pest Services and Tia Brewer-Footman empower, inspired, and motivate you to live your best life. Saturday, from 10am-12pm on 880 AM, The Big Mouth, in the Nashville market with Genma Holmes and on Ustream.TV

Richard Diggs, CEO of Alexandria Pest Services
(On cover Genma Holmes, Richard Diggs, Lenny Carter, and Ka Tsu)

Richard Diggs is the owner of Alexandria Pest Services, Inc., a growing pest and termite control business located in Alexandria, Virginia. Mr. Diggs has been employed by the pest control industry for more than 25 years. Rising from an entry level field technician to owner of a business employing more than 30 individuals. He is an accomplished corporate strategist and marketer with extensive experience in commercial, construction, governmental and residential contracts for pest, turf, ornamental birds and wood destroying pest control services.

Mr. Diggs began his career at a major pest control company as a commercial and residential technician. He quickly rose up the ranks as a regional sales manager and technical adviser. His rapid accession to high sales closer did not go unnoticed, he won several awards as Sales Person of the Year. In December, 1993, he established Diggs Pest Control in Arlington, Virginia. From 1994 thru 1999, Diggs Pest Control grew from a single employee to a staff of more than 20. Without commercial advertising, Diggs Pest Control contracted with over 3100 residential and commercial clients. In December, 1999, Mr. Diggs sold Diggs Pest Control to a leading Fortune 500 Company. In 2000, Mr. Diggs, together with his son Richard Jr., formed Alexandria Pest Services, Inc. (APS). Today APS is a leader in the local industry with over 3800 residential, commercial, state & local, and Federal clients in the Washington D.C. Metropolitan Area. APS employs more than a dozen certified and registered technicians, on-staff entomologist, outstanding accountant and clerical staff. APS has achieved market share as well as recognition in a highly competitive industry. In 2009, Alexandria Pest Services spun off Asian Pest Services, a pest control company that services the undeserved Asian community on the East Coast. both companies have seen exponential growth within the Washington D.C. Metropolitan area as well as exploding into the national marketplace. Utilizing the latest technologies and research, the Mr. Diggs companies are well placed to make an impact not only in the local market, but nationally and international.

Mr. Diggs is a member of the National Pest Management Association Inc., co-founder of Minorities in Pest Management (MPM) Council, Chairman of MPM mentoring group in the U.S, a member of the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce, a member of the National Register's Who's Who, member of St. John Baptist Church Board of Trustee, Executive Committee, and the recipient of various community and industry awards. His ethical values form the cornerstone of his business practices. Mr. Diggs sponsors numerous events to train individuals interested careers in the pest control industry and entrepreneurship.

Mr. Diggs companies have ab "Outstanding" rating with the GSA. Mr. Diggs has been recognized nationally for his work with Minorities in Pest Management and has received numerous awards for his work in Fairfax County and Washington, DC inner cities. Read more about Alexdrian Pest Services here and Asian Pest Services

Tia Brewer-Footman has worked as an award winning journalist and television news anchor. Her community appeal and passion for her work helped to create one of the highest rated CBS-affiliated morning shows in the country. Her media experience spans across nearly 10 years in the industry as a former radio personality, reporter and television anchor for such affiliates as CBS, ABC and FOX.

After transitioning from television news, Tia and her husband Gerald
Footman founded Footman-Brewer Enterprises, LLC (FBE).This multicultural marketing consulting, publishing and special events firm produces a southeastern African American beauty and healthy living publication entitled “Hair Etc. Magazine.” Marketing consulting and special event coordination support has been provided to current and past clients such as McDonald’s, Johnson Products, Soft-Sheen Carson and Mizani (L’Oreal’s ethnic brands), American Heart Association (AHA), American Cancer Society (ACS), Clear Essence Cosmetics, the National Association of Black Female Executives in Music and Entertainment (NABFEME), the BET Foundation, University of South Carolina’s Center for Cancer Research (USC-CCCR), etc.

In addition to helping other companies succeed, specially created FBE initiatives such as the Beauty Barber Network, formerly the Shop Talk Movement was founded. This evidenced based initiative trains African American hairstylists and barbers on the latest in health and industry information in an effort to educate and save the lives of beauty professionals and their clients. The latest FBE project is the McDonald’s Choir Showcase Tour, a multicultural faith-based consumer relations program conducted in key southeastern US markets.

Aside from the work Tia produces under her company umbrella, she is no stranger to the camera or the stage as she has made guest appearances on the CW’s (formerly WB) “One Tree Hill”, featured in Walt Disney commercial print ads and videos, Steve Harvey national campaign ad, Mercedes Benz campaign ad, numerous commercials, infomercials, PSA’s, radio and online campaigns for corporate clients throughout the US.

As a State Finalist to the 2000 Miss Georgia USA Pageant and former Miss Savannah State University(1998), Tia’s love for pageantry is what prompted her to also own and direct both the Mrs. South Carolina United States and the Miss Black Teen Charleston Scholarship Pageant along with creating ”T-Time Girls”, a non-profit etiquette, leadership development and public speaking program for young ladies.

Tia is passionate about the community and has received numerous honors for her involvement. Tia was recently recognized by the Charleston Regional Business Journal as a 2011 Top 40 Under 40, Post & Courier's Newspaper’s Top Influential Woman under the Age of 40; the Bethune Leonard Section of the National Council of Negro Women’s Young Innovators under 35 Award and featured in the June 2008 edition of High Profiles within the Post & Courier. Also under her belt is a day named in her honor. Mayor Joe Riley proclaimed October 8, as "Tia Brewer Day" in the City of Charleston, South Carolina.

Tia is the founder of the Live 5 News Golden Apple Award and recipient of the Georgia State Department of Education’s School Bell Media Award for Best News Series on School Violence.Her community work spans from serving as the National Ambassador to the inaugural Power to End Stroke Campaign (American Stroke Association), Susan G. Komen’s Circle of Promise Ambassador, Member of the Medical University of South Carolina’s Center for Community Health Partnerships Board, University of South Carolina’s Health Disparities Research Network, Charleston’s Minority Business Development Advisory Board (appointed by Charleston Mayor Joseph Riley), Board of Directors for the North Charleston Housing Authority, Advisory Board Member to the Women’s & Children Shelter S.O.L.D. (appointed by North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey), former member of the Harbour Clubs’ Young Executive Council, Jr. League of Charleston, Charleston County Safe and Orderly Schools Advisory Board, YWCA Board of Directors, United Methodist Relief Center Board of Directors and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc.

For more information about McDonald's Choir Show Case here
Read more about previous Hair and Health Expo here
Order Copy of Public Speaking Super Powers book featuring Tia Brewer-Footman here

Thursday, September 22, 2011

30 Days to Losing Weight brought on by Emotional Eating

Trying to get to five miles a day. on Twitpic

I have never blogged about losing weight. I have read numerous posts over the years from other bloggers sharing their weight loss stories, but I never thought it was an issue I would write about for my readers. But surely as a blogger lives, a blogger grows; mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and sometimes, to my dismay, physically.

I have worked out and walked regularly to stay healthy and slim all of my adult life. I have many reminders from my family tree of what obesity looks like and countless ill family members. Having modeled off and on for many years, I know that staying fit is necessary to getting booked. After I turned 40, being healthy overshadowed vanity. Now, well into my 40s, I am learning that my fight with weight is often a fight with eating for emotional comfort. For the last ten years, several family crises led me to late-night snacking that contributed to spikes in my weight. Family issues like my older son’s surprising marriage, a teen daughter's determination to see the whole family all in hell, along with the devastating loss of my grandfather in 2007 contributed to weight gains that I fought and won over the years, but my weight gain pandemonium reached its highest level this past year.

In 2010, my youngest son, known affectionately as Baby Boy, abruptly decided to join the Marines and the family’s drama queen came on with all the fury of Hurricane Katrina. Again. Not to mention my beloved grandmother has been ill throughout the year. I internalized all my frustrations and anxiety without realizing it. Working late at night and reaching for "something" crunchy became a nightly habit.

My weight crept up slowly on me. I was walking but not being attentive to working out. I learned some time ago that in order to prevent genetic health issues and weight gain, I needed more than walking to keep my weight down. I added Zumba and weightlifting to my workout routines. When I became an empty nester, my beloved workout plan included exercising in the mornings and afternoons. That time was carefully carved out and rarely interrupted. All of that changed when my adult children came home this summer.

In May, my baby boy, returned from Camp Legumes. Elated to have him home, I was at his beck and call. Who says no to a Marine? In June, my drama queen moved back home for a few short months. Within a few days of everyone dropping their bags in the middle of my living room floor, I became a taxi driver, a caretaker, and "mommy" again to grown children. Add worrying about my grandmother to my tornadic family life and I was a perfect storm for gaining weight. “God help me”, became my daily plea. My little home became too small for my own shadow. Claustrophobia started settling in, quickly. The pressure from all the issues happening at once got to be unbearable. Did I share that I started a radio show somewhere in the middle of all of this mayhem?

Over the summer, I became a size thick a term I learned from my sons. Nothing’s wrong with being thick, they reassured me often, but I saw someone in the mirror who has gained enough weight to make two of me. When the children eventually left home for school and work, I challenged myself to lose my "baby boy" weight, 25 pounds. I got my doctor’s approval last week.

I thought I would share my routines and goals with Genma Speaks readers and to my radio show, Living Your Best Life, audience.

When I was at my desired weight, I walked five to seven miles a day, rain or shine. Often, I combined a Leslie Sansone's Walk Away the Pounds walk indoors with a two-mile walk outdoors, if the weather cooperated. I also worked out three times a week on my gazelle. Last year, I added Zumba on Monday evenings. Zumba was fun and gave me time to spend with others having sweaty fun. I was not a workout fanatic by any means, but my stress levels were kept at bay. Running two businesses comes with an anxiety clause. Anxiety has been a key issue in my gaining weight.

I have kept journals for years that soaked up the ups and downs of my life, but today is my first time blogging about my weight. I was motivated by other women who have blogged about their weight loss journey. I was never one to follow the crowd, but why not share? Public scrutiny can have its downside. But publicly engaging others on an issue that many struggle with can have many positive outcomes, if not for me, for those who are in the same situation.

I was encouraged by reading others’ weight loss journeys on the web and attending Cindy N. Landham’s class two summers ago, which I want to take a second time this fall.

Wish me luck as I find my figure (and sanity) and put a summer of stress behind me.

Day 1, Monday, September 19, 2011 my workout included a Leslie Sansone Walk At Home five mile fat burning walk and 20 minutes on my Gazelle. I worked up a serious sweat and felt the burn.

Here is a website that I spent days reading: Black Woman's Weight Loss Blog

P.S. No, I do not expect to lose 25 pounds in 30 days...I am hoping to update my blog for 30 days about losing weight.
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