I had the great privilege of flying across country on July 4th. I had been in Seattle taking care of my nearly 92 year old mother, and while I didn’t get to go to any cookouts, play any horseshoes or watch any parades or fireworks, my celebration of Independence Day was nonetheless most satisfying. Why? Because since my time in Iraq I have engaged in an activity which I have called guerilla gratitude, and got to take my ‘tude out for a spin while beating feet to make my flights and connections on the 4th.

What in the world is “guerilla gratitude?” It is the act, primarily directed toward soldiers, of making a point of getting out of one’s comfort zone and going up to a complete stranger in uniform and thanking them for their service. This is both easiest and toughest to do in airports: easy because everyone is out of their comfort zone, thus, there is a great equalizer, and harder, because the stresses of travel make it much more tempting to pull back into one’s personal cocoon. I have found, though, that virtually without fail, every time that I go out of my way to thank a soldier for my freedom and personal safety the reaction is always worth it.

I meet all types of soldiers: new ones, enlisted ones, officers, those who have had several tours in the Great Sandbox, ‘Nam vets, on it goes. I think that there has only been one time that my getting in their personal space has been met with less than full warmth, and it didn’t bother me a bit. You see, “guerilla gratitude” makes YOU into a warrior. How? Well, understand that the term “guerilla,” (which means ‘little war’ in Spanish,) is defined as follows: “a form of irregular warfare in which a small group of combatants including, but not limited to armed civilians use military tactics such as ambushes, sabotage, raids, the element of surprise, and extraordinary mobility…to strike a vulnerable target, and withdraw almost immediately.”

Now, does that not describe what goes on in a “guerilla gratitude airport raid?” I, in my disguise as a late- middle-aged grandma wannabe, sneak up on the unsuspecting soldier, ambush them through the element of surprise, sabotage the plans of those who seek to demoralize our troops by countering their offensive with gratitude, and “withdraw almost immediately” to the tram, the gate or the plane.

Is it “highly irregular?” It is. Is it great fun? Oh, yeah. To be someone who once upon a time had no respect for the military, and now takes every chance I can to say “thank you” gives me the opportunity to have brief, dear encounters with the most remarkable group of people I have ever met: our men and women in service to our country.

Maybe I’ll start a guerilla gratitude training camp. Maybe my next book will be entitled “Guerilla Gratitude.” (My publisher likes the title, and I did already purchase the online domain.) But my fondest hope is that you, dear reader, will be inspired to make “guerilla gratitude” a lifestyle. Our troops need it more than we can know.
By Ali Elizabeth Turner

Janet Hunt is a Certified Personal Trainer and can be reached at 256-614-3530 to schedule an appointment.

According to a recent Gallup study, three in 10 people in the USA are trying to lose weight,. Below are 11 of the most effective weight loss strategies.

  • Tackle barriers. Determine what is holding you back and create strategies to overcome those obstacles.
  • Dump the quick-fix approach. Quick fixes lead to failure. If you lose weight quickly, you will probably rapidly regain it.
  • Change only one habit at a time. If you do too much at once, you will be overwhelmed and quit. Start with small dietary changes – for example load your sandwiches with more vegetables and less meat.
  • Keep a food and physical activity diary. If you want to lose weight, you have to become more aware of your exercise and eating behaviors which means keeping a diary.
  • Weigh daily
  • Think about calorie density, not just calories. Low calorie density foods are foods that have lower calorie content per certain volume of food than high density foods. Low density foods include fruit, vegetables, beans, and cooked grains, whereas high density foods are crackers, chips, nuts, candy, butter, etc. Lower calorie density foods will fill you up faster with fewer calories.
  • Commit to at least 30 minutes of daily exercise.
  • Sleep more. Not only does lack of sleep make you cranky causing you to turn to “comfort” foods, it may cause cortisol and insulin levels to increase, making you think you are hungry.
  • Pay attention to portions. Use visuals to identify correct portions. Weigh foods at home. Use a smaller plate. Limit your dining out.
  • Focus on fullness, not hunger. People have a difficult time identifying hunger because it is both emotional and physical.
  • Stress less. Stress may lead to comfort eating. In some individuals, stress increases cortisol levels which can lead to weight gain.

For information about “Battling the Bulge” and a healthy lifestyle contact Janet at jhunt1@pclnet.net or 256-614-3530.

by Jim Doyle, owner of Madison Security Group

The gas station, it used to be the place just to get gas and have the oil changed, maybe have your windows washed. Now gas stations have turned into mini shopping, marts. With the convenience of being able to pick up just about anything at the gas station, the trouble can quickly start. Here are some tips to keep you and your family safe while visiting the gas marts.

  • Always turn off your engine before you begin refueling your car
  • Don’t talk on you cell phone while refueling your car
  • Never smoke, or light matches or lighters while refueling
  • Avoid getting in and out of the car while refueling
  • Static explosions and fires are very real danger
  • Avoid spills by not topping off the tank
  • Transporting and storage of gasoline can be very dangerous if you do not use the proper precautions.
  • Only use containers approved for gasoline storage. Do not use old containers that have been laying around such as glass bottles, plastic milk containers or soda bottles.
  • Keep gasoline out of reach of children
  • Keep all containers tightly closed
  • Never mix gasoline with diesel fuel or kerosene
  • Do not use gasoline in kerosene lamps or heaters
  • Store gasoline in a separate building from the house, such as a storage shed
  • Allow engines such as a lawn mower to cool before refueling
  • Make sure that if you are working with gasoline that the area that you are in is well ventilated. Inhaling fumes from gasoline can result in a trip to the emergency room.
  • If you do need to buy something from of one of the mini-mart stores that are now also a part of most gas stations, here are some tips to keep a theft or tragedy from happening.
  • Never leave your car running for any reason at a gas pump
  • Never leave your car running or with the keys in it while you run in the store
  • Never leave your children in the car alone
  • Never use a non-approved container for gas (Glass/Plastic bottle)
  • If you see someone smoking near the pumps, say something
  • Try to be polite to other patrons. I have seen arguments start over the smallest problem.

I am just home from having made a difficult, but most memorable trip to Seattle. My sisters and I cleaned out the apartment of my mother who is struggling with Alzheimer’s, and got her settled in assisted living. It is indeed the beginning of “the long goodbye,” and it has been a good while since I have had such a tough week. But while it might be tempting to “kvetch,” (i.e. “fuss” in Yiddish,”) what I was struck by during my time in Seattle was the kindness of strangers.

First there were the staff members at the care facility. They hailed from all over: Ethiopia, the Philippines, India, and the States, and their tender care of my mom helped me to relax. I knew she was in good hands. Then there was the crew who manned the front desk. They were the cheerleaders who treated each victory at getting one more piece of furniture moved and squared away like a touchdown at a ‘bama/Auburn football game. They even bent the rules a bit and allowed my son and me to move some pieces through the lobby out into his waiting truck, rather than use the freight elevator and go out through the parking garage.

There came one day, though, down toward the end of the week where I “hit the wall,” as they say. My heart was breaking over having to watch my mom say goodbye to so many of her treasures because there simply was no room for them in her new location. Nerves were frayed, muscles were tired, tempers were short, and I needed a moment to “leave and grieve.”

The facility, one of the finest in Seattle, was undergoing extensive remodeling, which is always a nightmare. I found what I thought was nearly a secret passage where I figured I could let my tears flow without disturbing anyone, and wouldn’t you know it, I was discovered by the Director of Sales for the whole shootin’ match.

“Are you alright?” she asked. I managed to croak out an “I will be.” She intently listened to my brief description of what was going on, and said the simplest thing: “This is very hard, what you and your family are going through.” All I could do was nod in agreement. And then she, a complete stranger, showed me kindness that gave me the strength and space to settle down and go get back into the fray.

“Here,” she said, “Come into my office. I am going to be away for about 15 minutes, and you can have it all to yourself.” I let her lead me almost like a little child into my newfound “sanctuary,” and she closed the door and left. There I wailed and prayed. I thought of the cautionary tales all around me I was observing, and became more determined than ever to get my own life in order. I thought of the fact that at the age of 92, my mom’s days are limited, and how much I wanted to build the last part of my relationship with her on this earth. I wondered whether her mind would allow it.

Now, while Peggy, the Director of Sales probably has encountered someone in my temporary emotional state on several occasions, I am sure there is no place stated in the facility’s policy manual that she be required to let me use her office to have a come apart.( Hence, the subtitle of this Publisher’s Point: The Kindness Of Strangers.) While I intend to do my best to tell her what a difference her dear gesture
made to me in that hour of great need, I don’t think Peggy will ever know on this side that her spontaneous kindness gave me what I needed to get through a uniquely rough spot, regain my strength, and get back to my post. She made me want to “pay it forward,” and by God’s grace, I will.

Ali Elizabeth Turner
Athens Now
Information & Inspiration
Website: www.athensnowonal.com

As kids, we all loved to get muddy. Now adults love it as well – at least they do at the annual CASA Mud Volleyball Tournament.

This year the Care AssuranceSystem for the Aging and Homebound (CASA) is hosting their 24th Annual Volleyball Tournament at Swan Creek Park beside Athens High School on July 21st beginning at 9:00 AM. It’s time for teams to register to compete. About 90 teams compete each year and raise about $8,000 for the agency. The deadline to enter is July 11th. If you register by July 2nd, you will receive a t-shirt. Registration is $15 per play. Each team must have a minimum of eight members and two of those must be females.

Spectators are admitted free. If you’ve never attended one of the tournaments, this year would be the perfect time to go and support your favorite team. Don’t get too close to the net; you will get muddy! However, mud washes off and you’ll enjoy every minute of the games. For more information about the tournament, contact 256-777-1038. For information about this and other Athens-Limestone County events call 256-232-5411/256-867-1438 or visit our website www.VisitAthensAL.com.
By Jeanette Dunnavant, President, Athens-Limestone County Tourism Association

Tammy Haymon, KALB’s Education Coordinator and I had the pleasure of manning one of the “stations” at Cub Scout Camp in Decatur recently. About 120 boys attended, including several from Limestone County troops. The theme of this year’s camp was metals. What better way to get a young boy’s attention, than by letting him build his own robot with a huge selection of “parts” from which to choose? Before the boys could begin building their robots, important lessons had to be learned about metals. Tammy presented a PowerPoint program and shared information about the types of metals, the mining process, and also the protection of natural resources and cost savings when these metals are recycled rather than tossed in the trash.

Every one of these boys can now explain how to tell the difference between ferrousand non-ferrous metals and how they are separated when they are recycled. The lesson was like eating your vegetables because it’s required to get dessert. The boys patiently listened to Tammy and me, but could not wait to begin building their own robot to take home!

KALB would like to thank our Recycling Center, Electricfil in Elkmont, Don
Wojtal, and Ruby McCartney for supplying the nuts, bolts, wire, bottle caps, Christmas tree ornaments, metal cans, fittings, screws, and an array of other treasures for this project. As you can see by the photos, it was a great project with some very unique results! If you are interested in having KALB provide activities for a group, please call us. Tammy just loves to be with the kids. Ahem… and just wait until school is back in session and the kids get to hear us sing!

(256) 233-8728

Back in 2009, while driving down Hwy 72 W near Dupree Worthey Road, I noticed a sign and some furniture pieces displayed outdoors that caused me to turn straight into the driveway of Nina’s Place Home Furnishings. Why? Because they had the unmistakable look of the substantive, artfully hand crafted, wood, metal, leather, stoneware and travertine home furnishings and décor that I had come to love so dearly while living and working with my husband at an orphanage in Juarez, Mexico.

I was most definitely on a sentimental journey, and my joy has only increased since then by getting to know “Nina,” (whose real name is Melinda Freeman,) and learning of her heart to help, her spirit of adventure, and her tea cup Chihuahuas, Kitty and Kali, whom, she says, “are part of the store.”

Melinda, (who picked up from her brother the nickname “Nina” when they were still small kids,) has done everything from helping to manage her family’s electronics brokerage business, to living for several years in Guadalajara, Mexico, to being involved with supporting international adoptions. She did what so many Athens Now customers have done: defy conventional wisdom and start a business in the middle of a recession, and the result is a place where it is not at all uncommon to have someone walk in for the first time and say, “This is just what I have been looking for!” Her love of rustic home furnishings goes back to her childhood in California, and she loves to think of it as “furniture with a soul.”

The furniture comes from Puebla, Guadalajara, and all over Mexico. “Some of the reclaimed and primitive pieces are actually made in people’s living rooms,” she told me. People, I might add, that she has come to know personally. The artisans who work with copper and travertine, (a type of stone whose composition is somewhat similar to limestone) have been at it for years, and the excellent level of craftsmanship has remained unchanged.

Melinda is a big fan of radio talk show host Dave Ramsey, who has helped many families become debt free through common sense, biblically based financial strategies, and Nina’s Place is happily “in the black.” “We do not operate in a negative cash flow,” she says, and as a result, she has an uncommon level of flexibility when it comes to selecting the pieces that fill Nina’s Place. She also is able to steer clear of the usual level of price mark up in which many furniture dealers things that make all the hard work involved in selecting and importing furniture so worth it is the joy she feels when someone finally sees the thing that they had lost hope of ever finding in a chain store or anywhere else. She also has helped give several local interior designers their start by employing them in the store, and loves it when they come back “home” with a client who is genuinely delighted in what is available.

Nina’s Place makes a point of carrying the work of several local artisans, and does cross promoting of their work with other outlets. Melinda, as do I, believes that “there is enough to go around.” In addition, due to the fact that her “passion is antiquing,” she has a real knack for finding treasures here in the South where so many regions have been picked over. Recently she found a rustic mantle that had come from a cabin in Kentucky, and once again, a couple who wanted something out of the ordinary was thrilled when they saw it. Nina’s Place carries excellent quality unfinished furniture, and will custom finish pieces to suit the client’s exact needs. They also specialize in painting furniture with the current interior color trends for which Mexican décor is so well known, and “if you bring in the paint, (and the piece you purchased has an unfinished surface,) there is no charge for painting or distressing it,” she added. Someone who was going through an intense time of personal crisis distressed her own piece of furniture, and found it positively therapeutic! Hmmm, a new take on “anger management?!” Nina’s Place has a hope and a vision for their future in the Athens area. The business is doing well, they are planning on having classes on refinishing furniture and other teaching venues, are passionate about giving back to the community, and the hard work is paying off. Come to Nina’s and enjoy the fruit of their labors, and explore a home furnishing store where their motto is, “We don’t carry a brand, we make it by hand.”
by Ali Elizabeth Turner

Terri Dunn, owner of Shoe Gallery, and her husband, Dr. Jimmy Dunn at the entrance to the new location of Shoe Gallery II on Marion Street.

It has been a dream of Terri Dunn’s to have her charming boutique shoe store be located on the Courthouse Square. For much longer than anyone anticipated, the storefront located at 109 S. Marion Street in Athens has been undergoing painstaking renovation, and the effort, while quite intense, is going to be fully worth it.

Wayne Kuykendall, the owner of the building and the visionary behind its renovation, has paid scrupulous attention to every detail of the project, and many times when I have been doing Saturday deliveries of Athens Now I have seen him “knee deep” in the work. For those who know Wayne, who is a lifelong resident of Athens, it is no surprise that he knows so much about the building and is totally committed to its restoration. He told me a bit of its history. It has been everything from an alley way to a restaurant to a sewing store. The reason it is so long and narrow is that it originally was the space between two buildings, but the “shotgun” shape is perfect for a boutique. The rough brick walls give a warm, homey feel, and the unusually high ceilings give the place a sense of space and light. The tile work at the threshold is accurate to the period, as well as the overhead lighting and the opaque tile work that makes up the transom. The original floors were too far gone to use, but Wayne found some old ones from another building, had them refinished, and they are beautiful. Only a few details remain on the “punch list,” as well as the final inspection, and then the process of moving from the current store, located at 1207 East Forrest Street, Suite G, can begin.

Before that can happen, however, Terri and her husband, Dr. Jimmy Dunn are going to be counselors at church camp, something they have done for years since their own kids were small. Once the move to the new location begins, there will be an “everythingmust- go” moving sale and both stores will be open for business until the transition is completed. Lots of work, to be sure, and the results will be wonderful, both for shoe lovers as well as people interested in the revitalization and restoration of the Courthouse Square.

So, whether you shop at the current location, or wait until the new one opens, what can you expect to find at the Shoe Gallery? For openers, service extraordinaire from Terri and her team. I have always been treated like a queen, as has anyone I have sent there to shop. Once I purchased a pair of shoes that turned out to be defective. Not only did I get my money cheerfully refunded, but Terri took my shoes to the market and spoke with the representative to make sure the problem with the shoe’s construction was remedied.

As far as actual shoes are concerned, Shoe Gallery carries such well known lines as Clark’s, Merrell, Vaneli, Pierre Dumas, (one of my favorites,) Nicole, and Jambu, an “eco-shoe” whose sales line is “be you with Jambu.” There are sandals, dressy evening shoes, boots, comfy-butnot- dumpy, and the new ultra light running shoes that are “all the rage.” When Terri can get great deals, she passes on the savings to the customers, and I personally have loved a pair of Nicole black patent leather flats that in New York go for $300, but are much less at Shoe Gallery.

Lovely, elegant, practical, and kicky purses are available, with a new line called Papaya being one of Terri’s current favorites. There are also some lovely scarves. The store also specializes in custom jewelry, including bracelets, earrings and necklaces. One line, called Priti, is made by a woman named Michele Smith who lives near Birmingham. Michele is very selective regarding her choice of stones, and she uses components from estate sales and other venues to craft her unique creations. She will do custom work, and if, for example, you purchase a necklace that is not quite the right length, she will adjust it for you. Shoe Gallery carries invitations, watches, umbrellas, note cards, stationery, journals and planners. One other service that Terri offers is ordering items for a customer from one of her many catalogues. No one can stock everything, so she is happy to show customers what’s available and get it for them.

I do believe the new location of Shoe Gallery II will prove to be one of the most beautiful shops on the Square, and thank Wayne, Terri and Jimmy for having a vision and then seeing it through. Can’t wait til the Grand Opening!
by Ali Elizabeth Turner

Much has changed in the life of LMT (Licensed Massage Therapist) Wendy Couch since I last interviewed her. She is now happily married, and on July 1st had an open house at her practice’s new location just off the Square at 109 Marion Street in Athens, having moved from her previous location in the Lambert Law Firm building on Market Street. There was a great turnout, with “lots of tours and socializing.”

Indeed the new location is ideal. It is roomy, serene, has potential for expansion of services, and as soon as I put this paper “to bed,” I am going to make an appointment for a much needed massage. I am truly overdue!

For those of you who don’t know Wendy, I can say from experience that her knowledge of both massage and massage-related health issues, compassion and level of professionalism have been a blessing to me both professionally as a publisher, and personally as a woman who tends to store her tension between her shoulders. I have needed her skilled hands to “unravel those ropes,” and she has amply delivered.

Wendy is a native of Madison, and after 12 years returned to the area in 2010. She opened her first practice in Athens just after the tornadoes hit in April, 2011, and says “the people in Athens have been wonderful to me.” There are several things I have found endearing about this young woman in the time that we have been each other’s clients. First is of hands.” Wendy, as is the case with many of us in Athens, sees her work as both a profession as well as a ministry, and I always enjoy her fellowship.

Second is that her rates are more than reasonable, and she is worth every penny. While she and I are both convinced of the truth of the biblical maxim which says that the “laborer is worthy of their hire,” she has a heart for people who normally would dismiss the idea of getting massage due to cost. She regularly has promotions, and clients need only to call to inquire. Wendy also offers full body scrubs, masks, and ionic footbaths, and uses only the purest of ingredients in her practice.

She received her degree from Madison School of Massage in 2006, and is licensed to practice several types of massage, including deep tissue, trigger point and Swedish. She also practices medical massage and is trained in pain management. Prior to her working in North Alabama, she was on the Army base located at Ft. Riley, Kansas, and used her expertise in pain management to help our soldiers, for which I am deeply grateful. Wendy, congratulations on your “new digs,” and we trust that your practice in Athens will only continue to grow and thrive!

It’s hard to have a bad day when you are walking
around in summer’s cheerful colors, so start smiling because color blocking is BIG this year in fashion. Wonderful color combinations were all over NY fashion week on the runways. What is color blocking? It’s a styling technique of mixing and matching colors that your Mom would probably call “clashing” colors. If there’s ever been a great time to wear loud bursts of color, it’s now.

Forget the old rules – you can SO wear red and pink together! The trick is to pair neighboring hues on the color wheel such as yellow-orange, purplepink or blue-green. Now draw a straight line across the color wheel from one of your selected colors to the opposite side of the wheel. Voila – the perfect accent color! Adding it to your ensemble is as easy as grabbing a colorful accessory like jewelry or a belt. Do yourself (and the rest of us) a favor and stick to 3 colors max to avoid the “Rainbow Brite” look!

Feeling adventurous? Try matching up more vibrant, but still-complimentary colors, such as the orange, turquoise and white necklace pictured below. Go for contrasting shades such as bold, primary colors – opposites attract, after all. For a more subdued look, pair like-colors such as purple/blue or pink/red that complement each other. For a true color blocking impact, leave the leopard spots and other prints home – solids only.

With all that color, the best choice for shoes would be a nude color or other neutral. Nude shoes are one of the hottest shoe trends right now and are a perfect finish to your color-blocking not to mention they make your legs look longer- woo-hoo!

A little shy about colorblocking your clothes? Try it in your jewelry, such as Guy & Eva’s trendy color-combos. Bright, colorful jewelry is the perfect finish to pull ALL of your fabulous summer looks together! Pam Hartmann is a Style Advisor for Guy & Eva Jewelry and has recently been trained through their new Style Academy. Attend a Guy and Eva Style Session to get the latest fashion tips, learn the best-styling for your body-type, face shape and coloring. To find out more about scheduling a session with your friends and earning free jewelry, contact Pam at 256-729- 1160 or email her at guyandeva.pamh@yahoo. com. Her website is www.guyandeva.com/pamhart.