(Appeared In May online edition of Exposure Magazine).
Today, we struggle to understand the language surrounding our health and beauty products. GMO, toxic, nontoxic, and chemical free are among many confusing words that plague us. It is nice to know that there are a few companies that are transparent, upfront, and honest about ingredients, sourcing, and manufacturing. One of those companies is Poofy Organics. When Kristina Gagliardi-Wilson’s mother, Nella Gagliardi, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006, they began to research chemical free alternative products. They decided to create their own products when they discovered very few options. They have been creating delightful healthy product since. The company, with its unusual name, is named after Kristina’s daughter Mariah, affectionately referred to as Poofy. The very popular Baby Poof line was created for her son Nicolas. It is truly a family affair, and all members help in the business. This New Jersey based business creates all the product themselves by hand, in small batches, and use only organic ingredients, including therapeutic essential oils and extracts. Poofy Organics does have the USDA certified organic stamp of approval.
Through the company’s distribution channel of Independent Guides, I had the pleasure of meeting Chelsea Allen. She had been using the products for three full years before joining as a representative. She was in search of some chemical free products for her two children. Her search led to this small New Jersey company. She has created an entirely free toxin zone at home with Poofy Organics products. She has become passionate about helping other create that same life. One might be surprised at the number and types of products this company has. Some of the categories are: skin, hair, and body care products, deodorant, toothpaste, and an entire household lines of cleaners. All are organic and toxin free. They even have cosmetics, nail polish, and nail polish remover; of course, these are also organic. Surprisingly, they even have nontoxic wax melts for your warmers. Chelsea was very kind to share some samples of the products with me. The most amazing thing is that, contrary to what you might think, these products smell amazing. The bottom line is that your favorite products are available, they smell amazing, and you CAN detoxify your house safely. If you are a parent looking to create a safer home with less toxins, Poofy Organics is a great place to start. You can celebrate Earth Day with Chelsea Allen by visiting CrunchyChelc - Poofy Organics and detoxify your home just like she did for herself and her family.
(Originally published in the online Exposure Magazine).
I completely understand the need for medical marijuana. This editorial is not to debate the benefits of it being used as such. I am very clear that, in many cases, it is very effective in medical treatments. Webmd.com states that medical cannabis or cannabinoids are used commonly by people with chronic pain, cancer treatment patients, those with seizure disorders, Crohns disease, etc. However, as I was strolling through Bourbon Street in New Orleans, and could smell it very strongly, I was pretty sure not everyone was suffering from a medical condition. I travel a lot, and recently I have noticed that in big cities, I can smell waves of it wafting across the sidewalks and radiating off people who are in front of me in checkout lines. Are there really this many people falling into the categories listed above? It can be quite the profitable business to be in to be retailing it for medical usage, not to mention the profit gained from illegal sales. Yes, it is legal in a few states, but are we still faced with impaired drivers and other problems that come with being in an altered state of mind across the nation. I read an article that stated that some companies were still doing drug testing as a prerequisite for hiring but were not disqualifying people if they only had a dirty drug test because of marijuana. They simply are overlooking it because some employers, factories especially, cited they cannot find enough workers if they disqualify applicants based on that. I don’t think this is the best trend to ever occur in the United States. Who wants the liability of an impaired factory worker? Do you want the stoned forklift driver coming at you, your spouse, or your child? When you are driving down the highway at 70 miles per hour, do you consider who in the traffic around you is driving high? I think it’s a legitimate question. Perhaps we as citizens need to consider what the long-term impact can be and the message we are sending to our next generations. I believe that we need to focus on reaching higher, not getting high.
(Originally published in the March 28, 2018 Exposure Magazine.)
“Fall down seven times, rise up eight.”
The Japanese proverb, “Fall down seven times, stand up eight” has created an amazing movement. This movement was put in motion by music multimedia artist and entrepreneur Michael Nova. It has been a movement born of pain, scraped knees, perseverance, and the ability to not only stand up, but rise above the challenges in life, and find yourself and your center during adversity and succeed anyway. It started for Michael as a young boy, and that seed of an idea that was planted of falling and rising again grew. He has used his own experience of feeling different, and repeatedly being knocked down, to inspire and help people in their journey toward rising again. Nothing about his journey has been easy. Between health challenges, starting new businesses, almost facing bankruptcy, and maintaining and growing his musical career, he found a true purpose and passion. He used his own experiences to fuel his passion to overcome and succeed when no one believed in him or his dream. He founded the not for profit Rise up Eight to create a platform to share people’s stories of falling and persevering, rising again and stepping into their greatness. He has written a free downloadable e-book called Overcoming Adversity: 8 Ways to take Back Control of Your Life…Now! This e-book can be found on the riseupeight.org website. Michael chuckles when he describes what a labor of love this project is, and notes that it is completely self-funded. He described himself as a Do It Yourself – DIY guy. While this may have not been the easiest or fastest route, he is exceptionally happy and proud of each step and connection he has made along the way. You can read many stories and listen to interviews with some incredible people that Rise up eight has connected him to. Michael is continually in search of new connections and inspiring stories of people who have overcome adversity and went on to create success anyway. He continues to touch lives through his Rise up eight mission, as well as through his music, which is called X: THC (The Human Condition). Michael has found tremendous peace and acceptance through his music as well as using it to express himself. As a person who describes himself as an outsider who didn’t quite feel like he fit in, he is refreshingly honest and kind. His ability to easily connect with others is proof that he has lots of amazing company outside the norm. One of the most inspiring gifts Michael has is his voice. His voice exudes trust, kindness, acceptance and love. If you are that person who is struggling and has just fallen down… and needs a hand up- Michael Nova has created a beautiful space for you to be inspired, connect and heal at riseupeight.org.
To connect with Michael Nova you can visit riseupeight.org
(Originally published in the March 26th Exposure Magazine.)
What does a young single mom who was raising her son alone do when she struggles to find resources to connect to? She creates her own Not-for Profit faith-based organization called Tigerlili Resources. She felt an overwhelming push from God to create this entity to help women succeed when they felt most vulnerable and alone. Tigerlili Resources originated in Florida and has continued to grow in its outreach and various ministries. What started as a simple organization to empower single moms in the St. Louis Area, like it had in Florida- has become so much more. While they are still very involved in connecting moms to services, clothes, and coaching for job interviews, etc., another mission became important. Through connecting with law enforcement agencies and social services, Meredith became aware of the need for aid in helping young women out of the sex trafficking trade (Yes- it is not just somewhere else- it is in your city, too). The Tigerlili Resources outreach program The Scarlet Line- The Road to Redemption was formed from this need. You can watch Meredith tell her story of “Invisible Amy”, and how powerful this motivator was in the creation of the House of Rehab, and even why this became an important outreach for Tigerlili Resources. She is actively working to fund raise for The House of Rahab to come to fruition. A Black-Tie Gala ball is scheduled for May 11th in St Louis. Meredith, true to form, has become a warrior fighting to save every girl that finds herself in this position. One might not understand how this happens. I was shocked to learn just how easy it is for these young girls to fall prey to this type of victimization. Most have no money, limited family involvement, they struggle in school, and don’t have many people paying close attention to their behavior and movements. These girls are easy prey for the traffickers because they are often lured in slowly, given gifts, shoes, clothes, makeup, and jewelry they couldn’t otherwise afford. Meredith works closely with the law enforcement and is often called down to intercede when these girls are arrested or found cowering in a closet or hiding somewhere. Part of the difficulty in working with these young women is that the pull of having all the things that make her feel special often override rational judgement. Differentiating right or wrong becomes distorted. Purchasing a prostitute that is 15-17 years old is only a class A misdemeanor. The penalty doesn’t match the crime. Fortunately, Meredith doesn’t discriminate in the helping. Her heart is so big. She is also working on a 12-step rehabilitative sex addiction program for the people who are soliciting the girls. This is a full-service program designed to end trafficking and for those who solicit. For more information please go to www.tigerliliresources.org and click on the Scarlet Line tab. If you wish to further this mission please visit http://www.tigerlilipb.org/give-now.html. You will not find a more compassionate child of God than Meredith Seithel Mittlestadt, who literally puts her faith in action every single day!
(Originally Published in Exposure Magazine February 27, 2018).
Experiences shape who you are, but they don’t dictate who you become.
Imagine being 15 years old and giving birth. Your world has turned upside down. Myesha Collins found herself in this position and had to make hard choices. Incredibly, she stayed in school, parented, and graduated high school right on schedule. Even after moving with her parents to a new state where everything was new, she pressed on. After high school, she enlisted in the military, and found herself in a situation where she was sexually assaulted. The incident was essentially brushed aside. The inner turmoil that resulted and began to manifest wasn’t pretty. Myesha became very wary and introverted over time. She went into therapy after leaving the military, and with the help of a spiritual advisor, was able to sort through some of the emotional trauma that came from the physical assault. She was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) from sexual trauma. Ironically, Myesha seem to draw other wounded women to her, who she truly enjoyed helping, but she was still stuck herself. She started to heal as she shared more of her own personal story and journey with others. From pain came great personal growth. She became very passionate about helping other women stand in their personal power by being more transparent. From this space, Blue Girls Turned Gold was born. She founded this Not for Profit to empower women. Her mission became to share her story to help other women move from the place of feeling less than and broken-Blue, to a place of personal power, strength and courage- Gold. Myesha Collins could have been a statistic. Instead, she rose up from her challenges and has become an advocate for women. Helping them to feel strong, empowered, and to have a voice is just part of her mission. You can read about her journey in a collaborative effort co-authored with Andrea A. Moore. The book is entitled Blue Girl Turned Gold and can be found on Amazon. Myesha Collins is a strong, capable, and resilient young woman with so many things to accomplish yet in this world. To learn more about how you can support Blue Girls Turned Gold or volunteer or donate please contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also join the community on her Facebook page, @Bluegirlsturnedgoldtm.
(Originally Published in Exposure Magazine January 24, 2018).
Andrea A. Moore believed she could be more and do more, so she decided to venture into coaching. As fate would have it, she was drawn to youth and women, desiring to empower them into becoming strong, creative, bold human beings! Hence the Passion Pusher community was born.
She was influenced greatly by her mother. Her mother was a foster parent and showed great compassion and love, yet a firmness and directness that Andrea herself represents. Andrea’s business has grown in many directions. She multitasks as a wife, mother, successful entrepreneur and PASSION PUSHER. She became completely focused on helping others connect to their passions and enhance their dream building. She teaches people to learn to love what they do, and works with people to find their true self and connect with their personal passions. She created a business called Mindset Empowerment Coaching. She is completely fueled by helping other grow. She herself has a personal coach as well.
Andrea moved from Racine WI to Killeen TX to build her dreams further, even though it meant being farther away from family. It was a leap of faith, and has been rewarded with fabulous relationships and personal growth. She currently works with people by both individually coaching and group work. She does some coaching by phone, and some by using zoom conferencing. One of her greatest passions is helping people get unstuck, slap fear in the face, and step into their greatness. Seeing people make those breakthroughs and watching it help them grow physically, financially, and spiritually fuels her daily.
She has co authored 2 books available on Amazon.com. The first, co-authored with Wynter Snow, is called “Blue Girls Turned Gold”. The second is “The Unexplained Pain- A Sisters Cry” by Alwayz Moore, which chronicles her pain in losing her sister. Pain does fuel growth. It can also create being stuck. Luckily, Andrea is here to help you connect to your passion and, get unstuck and live your ideal life! You can connect with Andrea A. Moore at email email@example.com. You may also follow her on social media by joining the Passion Pusher Community on Facebook/IamAndreaAMoore/
(Originally published in Exposure Magazine December 20, 2017).
Recently while I was in Kansas City, MO for business, my friend suggested we meet at lunch at Trago Bar & Tapas. I took the opportunity to learn a bit about the place, the owner, and its origins. It was such a unique experience, I decided to do a review and share.
Trago is in a busy shopping area, so it’s convenient for those who might be multitasking. The appearance outside is rather unassuming and basic. The inside, however, is very inviting, warm, and welcoming. I was greeted by the owner, founder and Chef Kandi Kerns. The décor, the food and the atmosphere are just like Kandi: warm, friendly, open, and inviting. It’s understandable that the place is packed on the weekends, including the outdoor patio area.
Sherri: This is a very interesting space, Kandi. How did you arrive at the idea of this kind of establishment?
Kandi: It was inspired by my late grandmother. Her name was Anna Maria Rosa Carlota Urrutia Evans. All the recipes are inspired by her recipes in some way. I was going to start with a food truck, but then suddenly I found myself in this almost 2500 square foot building due to some unexpected financial help.
Sherri: What is your mission with Trago Bar &Tapas?
Kandi: When I returned to Kansas City, I was so welcomed into this community. I knew I wanted to create something that promoted community and made people feel welcome and connected. I wanted to incorporate parts of the community into it, also. We made the bar from repurposed materials, and much of it coming from the Habitat for Humanity store. The tile, the construction, everything is a little part of this community. We have local musicians play every Wednesday evening, which is ladies night.
Sherri: Who is your target customer or patron?
Kandi: (Chuckles) Myself! I strive to put together a place where friends and family could gather in an upscale, yet comfortable place with friends and family, and experience custom drinks and fine dining. A place where memories are made. It’s more than just food and drinks, but an experience people never forget!
Sherri: What do you see as your long-range goals having just celebrated your one-year anniversary on Halloween?
Kandi: I would love to see us within 5 years also in a free standing 2 story building, which would allow more events, live music and entertaining!
Kandi then asked what I chose to eat. Because I knew I wanted to sample a few things, I ordered 3 items to sample and share (which is what Tapas means- shareable plates- usually paired with drinks). I ordered Albóndigas en Salsa de Tomate (Spanish meatballs), Tacos Hinchados (Puffy Tacos), and Pan Plano con Brie (flat-bread with brie). It was so delicious. Fresh ingredients, and a very unique presentation to each dish as well. Palette appealing as well as beautiful to look at. We had fabulous service by Jessica, and I learned so much. Too bad I was driving, because the drink menu is stellar! Be sure to stop in at the Trago Bar & Tapas if you are in Kansas City. You can visit them online at TragoKC.com, follow them on Facebook at facebook.com/tragokc or stop in at 9261 NE 83rd Terrace, Kansas City Mo. I absolutely give Trago Bar& Tapas thumbs up, a 10, a 5 star rating or whatever measure you prefer. It’s an experience you don’t want to miss. Order the Puffy Tacos!
(Originally posted in Exposure Magazine on December 4, 2017).
Women….there is a Goddess within all of us. Audrey Davis-Dunning, CEO & Founder of Get Your Goddess, believes this with her whole heart. She has made it her mission to help women reclaim their power by connecting with their Inner Goddess. Although all women have one, somewhere along the line, many tend to lose touch with that Goddess and their confidence along with it. During Audrey’s 24 years of teaching women of all ages, she has found an unfortunate negative common denominator. The recurring theme is, “I’m not good enough.” Women say self-deprecating things to themselves while others are body shaming themselves on a daily basis. After years of experience, Audrey decided to make a change on how women view themselves. The Get Your Goddess Principles were born out of a desire to improve future generations of women by allowing them to reclaim their personal power. Audrey also wanted women to learn how to accept themselves exactly as they are, perceived flaws and all. Learning to love yourself, love your body and accepting that you are a Goddess is the foundation of Audrey’s teachings and Goddess mission.
Audrey has developed a program that embody five specific principles designed to acknowledge and celebrate the Goddess within you. Those five principles are Power, Beauty, Movement, Music & Achievement. Each principle is full of self-discovery and self-love activities and messaging. She revels in presenting this program because it allows women to step into their power. Audrey often shares this message at conferences, via social media and shares additional practices in her private Goddess trainings such as her most popular package called Unapologetically Goddess. She is also creating a Junior Goddess program for young girls. Make no mistake about this, Audrey’s purpose is very clear. She has created Get Your Goddess to inspire women of any age or race everywhere to embrace their Inner Goddess and move powerfully in the world like the Goddesses they are!
Please Get Your Goddess in gear at www.getyourgoddess.com to find more information and follow all the latest happenings.
(Originally published in the December 2, 2017 Edition of Exposure Magazine).
What a joy this beautiful lady brings when she shares her gifts with people. Chenoa Alamu is a talented, kind women that resides in Springfield, IL, and inspires others when she plays her violin. In October 2017, she was invited to participate in the Colour of Music Festival held every year in Charleston, SC. It is a music festival for black classical musicians founded by Lee Pringle. The festival just celebrated their 5th anniversary. She believes she was invited through word of mouth, but isn’t sure. She received an email over the summer asking her to be join them, and was elated her scheduled permitted her to participate.
Sherri: Can you share with us about how you became interested in the violin?
Chenoa: As the story goes, my mother took me to my first classical music concert when I was two years old. The Suzuki Violin Method, founded by Dr. Shinichi Suzuki, was coming to tour the United States with Japanese children. She told me I showed an interest in the violin during that concert and wanted to enroll me at that age, but was told I was too young. She waited, and at age three, I started violin lessons. As they say, the rest is history!
Sherri: How does the violin relate to your life in terms of happiness and health? When you play or listen to music, does it affect you physically?
Chenoa: I experience immense joy when I play the violin, especially in an orchestral setting. Within the past few months, I’ve been listening to music set to frequencies that have helped me tremendously with my anxiety levels. I would say music has affected me more emotionally and mentally than physically. However, I do have some of my favorite songs chosen for my gym workouts that help keep me in the groove.
Sherri: How do you feel that being an African American woman has impacted your journey?
Chenoa: Growing up, I was told by white male teachers that I had two things going for me as a violinist: One, I am African American, and two, I am a female, I carried this as a sense of pride. However sometimes, I felt torn between two worlds, White and Black. My black friends didn’t understand what I did, although they supported me, and I didn’t quite feel accepted by my white peers, whom I grew up taking violin lessons with. This created a feeling of being off balance constantly. This may sound strange, but it wasn’t until I participated in the Colour of Music Festival that I TRULY felt I belonged, and had something to contribute. I was treated as an equal, not only among my peers but among people who LOOKED liked me and shared the same passion as I did as a classical musician. It was a very powerful experience for me. It boosted my self-esteem as a violinist, as a woman, and as an African American. Having a sense of identity is very important, especially for people of color! Although these two factors haven’t hindered me from experiencing and enjoying this wonderful field, they did have an impact.
Sherri: What is your greatest wish for inspiring the world with your gift of music?
Chenoa: I am blessed to be in a field that has afforded me many opportunities to travel, both in this country and abroad. I’ve met people literally from all over the world, who speak different languages, have different religions, sexual orientations, and no matter what, it’s MUSIC- we are all moved in some way through music. Beethoven’s 5th symphony is the same no matter who you are, where you come from, what teacher you studied with, or the music school you attended. It truly is the world’s UNIVERSAL language. I pray more people realize this, and continue to use music as a tool to bring us closer together!
These are my older blog posts, which originally appeared in my Exposure Magazine Column, "Healthy Living."