Tuesday, 05 December 2017 21:48

My Best Self: Christine Pullara

Christine Pullara has been in front of a camera since she began modeling at 13. So it's no wonder she's an expert at making the guests on her hit weekday talk show, "Atlanta & Company," feel as comfortable onscreen as she does. Pullara's radiant authenticity has translated into a successful media career as an award-winning news anchor, show host, and producer with major networks and channels such as NBC and HGTV. Today, she is just as passionate about sharing the stories of the "Big Peach" and the people that call it home, as she was when she first moved here in 2005.


By India Powell


What advice would you give to a budding journalist? Try to make meaningful connections. Learn every aspect of the business—writing, editing, and videotaping. Show up, work hard, and create a reputation for yourself that will leave people with a positive impression of you so they hire you again and again.

Are there ever days you just feel like pulling the covers up over your head and not going on air? How do you deal with that? All the time! First, I pour myself a cup of coffee, and that helps. Then I remember that I am lucky to be making a living doing what I love. Gratitude is a great motivator.

How do you balance career and family? Do I? Ha! No, honestly. It's really hard! I've been striving to be more present. I want to do impactful work in the community, but I also need to be there for my family. My girls like games and they love being outside. At night, I've started reading the Bible to them. Not the kiddie version, but the real deal and they have lots of questions. It starts great conversations.

You're in amazing shape! What's your workout secret? It ain't easy! I'm into classes or working out with a trainer. I'm not very disciplined on my own and I know that about myself. I turned 48 in April and five pounds have snuck up on me. So, I'm working out with one of my favorite trainers, Lawton Hydrick, at The Forum Athletic Club. He makes me use heavy weights and do cardio spurts.

How do you nurture your inner self and spirituality? I am now in a great women's group that's held at my friend's office. These are fabulous ladies who inspire and motivate me to live my best life but also accept my shortcomings. They are beautiful souls, and I think it's so important to surround yourself with a circle of women you love, respect, and admire as you walk together in faith.

What inspires you? Thoughtfulness, kindness, laughter, and joy. With all that's going on in the world, I especially love it when friends are eating and drinking together, kids are running around laughing, and we're just enjoying one another. I grew up watching my family do that and that's what I hope to create in my own home.

How do you give back? I frequently get asked to emcee events or be on committees. I love to bring fun and excitement to a special moment and help raise as much money as I can for an organization!

Who helps you be your best self? I would have to say my husband, Jim. He really is my best friend and he's a wonderful, caring man. When I'm feeling stressed or frazzled, he's a great problem solver and helps me keep my priorities in perspective. Another person who helps me be my best self is my makeup artist, Nyssa Green. She smooths away the bags and blemishes and makes me feel great.

Tuesday, 05 December 2017 20:51

Peace of Mind

By Katherine Michalak

He'd been growing weaker and we all saw it. In 2008, my father suffered a massive stroke, which left him paralyzed on his right side and unable to speak. He spent the next nine years battling his own body as he tackled various rehab routines and struggled with physiological setbacks. A case of pneumonia put him in the hospital again in May 2017 and slowly his other systems began to falter. A few weeks later, Daddy passed away peacefully with our family surrounding him, bearing witness to his graceful and proud surrender. We stumbled out of the hospital in a sorrowful haze.

The next morning, we found ourselves sitting in the church office with our reverend, attempting to plan a memorial service. Questions circled the room: "We need to have the programs printed up and get everything scheduled. What hymns would you like sung? Are there some favorite Scriptures he'd want read or used for a sermon?" We searched each other's faces for some clue and shook our heads in solemn recognition that in our exhaustion and fog of grief we couldn't recall a single passage or verse, or note of music. And there was no time to discuss the options. We hastily looked through a list the church kept on file, noting recommended readings and songs, selecting ones that seemed appropriate or jogged a memory.

That meeting wrapped, we dashed off in separate directions—my mother to the funeral home, my siblings to coordinate other arrangements, and me to write the obituary before the newspaper's 4 p.m. deadline. One of the most important men in my life and I had 90 minutes to summarize his incredible presence on the planet in less time than it takes for me to get my hair colored. Once again, my mind went blank. I couldn't remember the name of the little town where Daddy was born or his military rank or the many accolades he'd received during his esteemed medical career. Letters and words became a cryptic jumble on the computer screen as my hands shook and tears clouded my eyes.

A few days after the funeral, my mother received a call from one of her credit card companies. Someone had attempted identity fraud using my father's information. We quickly sprang to action and spent several days securing various accounts. The duties, tasks, and errands seemed to mount exponentially, compounding our collective grief with a fearful sense of urgency.

P1My father's death landed a heavy blow on my family, but I am still astounded at how relatively unprepared we were to handle the logistics that followed. His health had been compromised for years, so we obviously knew this was coming. By avoiding focused conversations about "life after Dad," we inadvertently added another layer of stress. Losing a loved one is devastating no matter when or how it happens. But with some basic planning and discussion, perhaps some of the more difficult tasks could be simplified.


We all know how important it is to have a legal will and medical directives, but what about documenting preferences for honoring your life? Even if you think, "Oh, I don't really care, don't make a big fuss." It would be an incredible help to your family, friends, and loved ones to simply write it all down—no heavy details required, just an outline or list of your thoughts, such as:

  • Location and type of burial
  • Form of service or gathering
  • Special flowers
  • Music selections
  • Significant poems, quotes or spiritual readings
  • Charity or organization for memorial donations

This exercise could be completely private or an opportunity for a meaningful family discussion, full of nostalgic anecdotes and touching memories. Once you've made the list, file it with your will or other important paperwork and make sure it's labeled clearly. If it's possible to prearrange some elements, such as purchasing an interment plot or funeral insurance, do so. During such a stressful time, clarity will be appreciated.


Immediately after the passing of a loved one, contact the Social Security Administration (SSA) on behalf of the deceased. Unfortunately, identity fraud plagues our modern society and deceased individuals become prime targets. According to the American Association of Retired Persons, thieves aware of the administrative time lag in processing death records regularly attempt to open accounts using the Social Security numbers and personal information of the departed. Scams most commonly originate from trolling obituaries for details but also include nefarious cons involving hospitals, morgues, and funeral homes. Alerting the SSA, a credit-reporting bureau, and the Department of Motor Vehicles will flag the name of your loved one in order to curtail fraud.


Writing a testimony to the life of a family member or friend presents a daunting task to the author, particularly under duress. However, a full obituary may not be necessary or prudent. Authorities recommend keeping the public obituary brief and free of any specific details, which might give hints for security breach—place of birth, schools, parents' full names, etc. Instead, post a brief public announcement of service times or memorial details. Save the more eloquent biography for exclusive resources such as the funeral program bulletin, alumni magazines, and newsletters for church, clubs or professional organizations.


Upon reporting a death, make sure to request several copies of the official death certificate. Yes, several, maybe even dozens. This may sound morbid, but you will need all of them. For almost every account and policy changed, closed, transferred or canceled, you will be required to submit a valid death certificate supporting your claim.

These include adjustments to:

  • Bank and investment accounts
  • Credit cards
  • Utilities
  • Insurance policies
  • Travel/mileage points
  • Club memberships
  • Transferring deeds of ownership


Probate procedures vary according to circumstances and the size of estate. Consulting an estate attorney provides important guidance through the process. The state of Georgia does not require a court-supervised legal proceeding if all heirs and beneficiaries are in agreement, if no debt exists (or creditors agree to other arrangements) or in cases where no will is present. However, if an executor has been named, that person is responsible for settling all aspects of the estate—from asset appraisal and accounting, to paying debts and taxes, to selling property and distributing funds to heirs. Finalizing settlements can take months or longer, including time for legal notice to be published in local newspapers. According to Attorney Stephen M. Scriber, of Scriber Law Group, the majority of estate administration issues stem from a lack of understanding of the legal process and poor coordination. Scriber says, "issues finding the accounts, knowing what investments exist and what debts are owed, and finding estate documents all boil down to organization. It is critically important in estate planning to make everything as locatable and straightforward as possible."


Please let people assist you with some tasks. Helping others becomes a healing act and, most of the time, when people offer to do something for you, they really mean it. Even the smallest chore might be a welcome distraction for sympathetic friends or family mourning in their own way. Allow others to pitch in to:

  • Make necessary phone calls and schedule appointments
  • Keep record of condolence cards, gifts, and flowers
  • Manage meals and grocery shopping
  • Handle errands such as pet care, laundry/dry cleaning,
  • yard maintenance
  • Write thank you notes
  • Coordinate childcare and carpools
  • Organize paperwork and files


Don't feel pressured to "go back to normal" after the details are handled. Managing the logistics and administrative duties are as emotionally draining as every other part of grief. In fact, you may have mentally postponed your deeper grieving process in order to stay on track with the to-do list. Therapist Annette Hodgson, LCSW, counsels, "Grief is not linear. It's a different experience for every person. Research has shown that the stages of grief really don't exist. A person is forever changed and a new normal has to be established. Each person should be encouraged to honor his or her own experience of the grief journey ... a journey that has a definite start but no end and no rules." Accept and expect that there will be unforeseen challenges ahead and try to plan accordingly:

  • What are the new routines for spouses or other family members?
  • Who might need some professional grief counseling or support from a church ministry?
  • When and where can a vacation or change of scenery
  • be arranged?
  • How will you handle upcoming milestones, birthdays or holidays?

Talking about death need not be awkward. Attitude is everything and when we face the fear of discussing the inevitable, we can feel more confident in enjoying the time we still have together. Each of us leaves a unique legacy, which impacts our family and community; securing that legacy keeps the individual spirit alive.


American Association of Retired Persons, aarp.com
Annette Hodgson, East Cobb Center for Therapy, annettehodgsonfamilycounseling.com
Social Security Administration, ssa.gov
Stephen M. Scriber, Scriber Law Group, scriberlaw.com


Monday, 23 October 2017 17:45

Lasting Change Made Easy with Hypnosis



Americans spent $11 billion in 2008 on self-improvement books, CDs, seminars, coaching and stress-management programs—13.6 percent more than they did back in 2005.—Forbes, January 15, 2009


Self-help is a huge industry. And why not? We all want to look and feel our best, but so many self-development or self-help programs fall short of the mark because they just work with the conscious mind. These books, seminars, and programs employ short-term tools like rational thinking and willpower to effect change, which means you have to remember to do the things you've learned.

How is hypnosis different?

Hypnosis works directly with the subconscious mind, which houses your emotions, memories, long-term habits, and imagination. It is ultimately responsible for up to 95 percent of your behavior. So change doesn't have to be the same old battle of willpower against self-limiting thoughts and behavior patterns. Hypnosis can help you erase old belief systems and negative habits, and then replace them with suggestions for positive self-talk and empowering behavior. Once your subconscious mind has accepted these positive suggestions, the change you desire is automatically sustained by way of new thought patterns and/or habits of behavior.

Does that mean you can put me under and take control of my mind?

No. Hypnosis is defined as a "relaxed state with heightened mental awareness." During hypnosis, you are deeply relaxed physically, but mentally, you are likely more alert than your normal state of awareness. You hear and respond to everything. You have complete control over what you will and will not do. You will automatically reject any idea or suggestion that is uncomfortable for you. If you like and want a suggestion, it enters into your subconscious mind.

I already do positive affirmations. How is this different?

Hypnosis works because you are in a relaxed state of extreme concentration, solely focused on the message, deeply absorbing it, as opposed to a conscious mode in which you may trivialize, ignore or resist change. Once you've accepted the suggestion, your subconscious mind acts like a computer and responds to it automatically. With hypnosis, we are able to access the deepest thoughts and reprogram them, letting go of those old thought patterns and replacing them with positive thoughts and actions.

Change can happen quickly, sometimes even automatically. With hypnosis, it's easier than you think! Learn to relax with
this FREE Basic Relaxation MP3
, which is a guided self-hypnosis and is to be used with eyes closed. DO NOT use while driving or operating machinery.


Angella Ocheltree, Emotional Intelligence Development Specialist
NGH Nationally Certified Hypnotherapist, Life Coach, Sports Hypnotist, and Performance Coach




Friday, 29 September 2017 18:43

Best of 2017 Contest Winners

2015 General RIBBON

Thank you to everyone who voted! Here are the results of your votes.

Announcing the "Best of 2017" Contest Winners:

Fitness/Weight Loss  
Best Barre Instructor Izabela Amos
Best Barre Studio barre3 - East Cobb
Best Boot Camp Instructor Katherine Mason
Best Boxing Workout Facility BURN
Best Boxing Workout Instructor Daniel Spain
Best Boot Camp
Burn Boot Camp
Best CrossFit Gym CrossFit Terminus
Best CrossFit Instructor Pete Mongeau
Best Cycling Shop Peachtree Bikes
Best Dance Fitness Facility Dance It Off
Best Dance Fitness Instructor Renate Trussell
Best Fitness Apparel Store Lululemon Westside
Best Fitness Equipment Store Fitness Depot
Best Group Fitness Facility SculptHouse
Best Group Fitness Instructor Megan Armstrong
Best HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) Facility F45 Training Buckhead
Best HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) Instructor Cedric Morris
Best Indoor Cycling Instructor Alex Martinez
Best Indoor Cycling Studio Flywheel Sports
Best Indoor Sport/Activity The Painted Pin
Best Place for Kids’ Fitness Atlanta Rocks!
Best Large Fitness Facility Life Time Fitness
Best Martial Arts Training Atlanta Kick
Best Mountain Biking Club/Group Free-Flite Bicycles
Best Outdoor Gear Store High Country Outfitters
Best Personal Trainer Kellyn Henderson
Best Personal Training Facility (Tie) BodyFitz / House of Payne Personal Training
Best Pilates Instructor Megan Hunter
Best Pilates Studio Stability Pilates and Physical Therapy
Best Small/Medium Fitness Facility Stellar Bodies
Best Tennis Facility Windy Hill Athletic Club
Best Tennis Instructor Shannon Calder
Best Weight Loss Center Atlanta Endocrine Associates
Best Yoga Instructor Leila Jankowski
Best Yoga Studio East Cobb Yoga
Best Botox Dr. Leslie Gray
Best Breast Plastic Surgery Center/Doctor Dr. Patricia Yugueros
Best Butt Lift/Augmentation Plastic Surgery Center/Doctor Georgia Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery
Best Cosmetic Dentist Dr. Debra Gray King
Best Cosmetic Dentistry Practice Atlanta Center for Cosmetic Dentistry
Best Dermatology Practice Overall Dermatology Associates of Atlanta
Best Esthetician Overall Heather Davis
Best Eyebrow Shaping/Maintenance Alyson Hoag
Best Eyelash Extensions The Lash Lounge Sandy Springs
Best Facial Plastic Surgery Center/Doctor Dr. Elizabeth Whitaker
Best Facial Treatment/Place Overall Institut DERMed
Best Fat Removal/Reduction Treatment/Place North Atlanta Dermatology
Best Fillers Barbara Weber - LUX Med Spa in Buckhead Plastic Surgery
Best Hair Extension Expert/Place (Tie) The Colour Bar Salon / Jutta Blase
Best Hair Salon for African-American Hair Nubiance Salon & Spa
Best Hair Salon for Blowouts Cherry Blow Dry Bar
Best Hair Salon for Color Van Michael Salon
Best Hair Salon for Cuts Bob Steele Salon
Best Hair Stylist for Color Whitney Jones
Best Hair Stylist for Cuts Richie Arpino
Best Hair Salon for Men Bob Steele Salon
Best Hair Salon Overall Vis-à-Vis The Salon
Best Laser Hair Removal Facility Laser Lights Cosmetic Laser Center
Best Lip Enhancement Timeless Aesthetics of Atlanta
Best Local Skin Care Products Little Barn Apothecary
Best Makeup Artist Heather Petty Harris
Best Manicure Hammond Nails
Best Men’s Hair Replacement/Restoration Anderson Center for Hair
Best Men's Med Spa AmaChi MedSpa
Best Med Spa Overall A New You Skin & Body Center
Best Microblading Heather Tereso Dobson
Best Non-Surgical Facial Rejuvenation Gardner Dermatology & Med Spa
Best Pedicure The Haute Spot Nail Boutique
Best Permanent Makeup Michael Lynch
Best Skin Care Place/Person AYA Medical Spa
Best Tummy/Midsection Plastic Surgery Center/Doctor Dr. Asaf Yalif
Best Vein Treatment Doctor Dr. Louis Prevosti
Best Vein Treatment Practice VeinInnovations
Best Waxing Brazilian Wax by Andreia
Best Wigs Expert/Place Rebecca Walden
Best Women’s Thinning Hair Place/Person Dr. Ashley Curtis
Health and Wellness  
Best Acupuncture Place/Practitioner Atlanta Center for Acupuncture and Wellness
Best Addiction Care Facility Ridgeview Institute
Best Aging Care Facility Senior Services North Fulton
Best Allergy Doctor Dr. Eugene Hurwitz
Best Allergy Care Atlanta Allergy & Asthma
Best Arthritis Care Arthritis & Rheumatology of Georgia, P.C.
Best Arthritis Care Doctor Dr. Paula Tanasa
Best Audiology Practice Audiological Consultants of Atlanta
Best Back and Spine Care Doctor Dr. Keith Osborn
Best Back and Spine Care Practice/Facility Resurgens Spine Center
Best Bariatric Surgeon Dr. Michael Williams
Best Bariatric Surgery Hospital/Facility Northside Hospital
Best Body Detox Facility Warrior Body Spa
Best Brain Health Treatment Amen Clinics
Best Cancer Care Hospital/Facility Winship Cancer Institute at Emory University
Best Chiropractic Care Place/Person Dr. Kevin Flythe
Best Dermatologist Dr. Anna Paré
Best Diabetes Care Piedmont Atlanta Hospital
Best Diabetes Care Doctor Dr. Jennifer Gilligan
Best Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) Ear, Nose & Throat Institute
Best Eye Care Doctor Dr. Paul Kaufman
Best Eye Care Practice Thomas Eye Group
Best Facility for Stroke Rehabilitation Shepherd Center
Best Fertility Specialist Doctor Dr. Lisa Hasty
Best Fertility Specialist Practice Georgia Reproductive Specialists
Best Fibroid Doctor Dr. John Lipman
Best Foot and Ankle Care Facility Resurgens Foot & Ankle Center
Best Gastroenterologist Dr. Stephen Rashbaum
Best Gastroenterology Practice Atlanta Gastroenterology Associates
Best General/Family Dental Practice Atlanta Smiles and Wellness
Best General/Family Dentist Dr. Tonique L. Reynolds
Best Gynecology Practice Atlanta Women's Obstetrics & Gynecology
Best Heart Doctor Dr. Tara Hrobowski
Best Heart Health Hospital/Facility WellStar Cardiology
Best Heart Surgeon Dr. James Kauten
Best Hormone Therapy Practitioner Allison Cochran, PA-C
Best Hormone Therapy Practice Atlanta Women Specialty Group
Best Integrative/Functional Medical Doctor Dr. Sonza Curtis
Best Integrative/Functional Overall Medical Facility Three D Wellness
Best Joint Surgery/Replacement Doctor Dr. Raj Pandya
Best Joint Surgery/Replacement Hospital/Facility Atlanta Orthopaedic Institute
Best Massage Therapist/Place Jo Ann Taylor - Pure Life Mind and Body
Best Men’s Health Doctor Dr. Scott Miller
Best Neurologist Dr. Lisa Billars
Best Orthodontics Practice BB Braces Braces
Best Orthodontist Dr. Leon Leonard
Best Orthopedist Dr. Kenneth Kress
Best Pediatric Practice Children's Medical Group
Best Pediatrician Dr. Terrence Gfroerer
Best Physical Therapy Center PT360
Best Podiatrist Village Podiatry Centers
Best Radiology/Imaging Center OutPatient Imaging
Best Spa Healthy Getaway (in Atlanta or within driving distance) Jeju Sauna
Best Stress & Anxiety Treatment Facility Atlanta Center for Wellness
Best Stroke Care Hospital/Facility Marcus Stroke & Neuroscience Center at Grady
Best Urgent Care Facility Piedmont Urgent Care by WellStreet
Best Urology Practice Georgia Urology
Best Women’s Health Clinic Metro Surgical Associates
Best Women’s Health Doctor Dr. Kristine Gould
Best Women’s Health/Maternity Hospital/Facility Northside Hospital
Life Enrichment  
Best Active Senior Community The Overlook at Old Atlanta
Best Art Gallery Wentworth Gallery
Best Ballroom Dance Instructor Asiya Khasnutdinova
Best Ballroom Dance Studio Ballroom Dance Clubs of Atlanta
Best Bookstore Little Shop of Stories
Best Career Counseling Services Thriveworks
Best Charity Ball/Gala The Pink Affair
Best Charity Race Race for The Cure
Best Comedy Club Laughing Skull Lounge
Best Community Garden Peachtree Hills Community Garden
Best Cooking Classes/School Sur La Table
Best Doggie Day Care and Boarding Puppy Haven
Best Financial Planner Faye Sykes
Best Financial Planning/Services Harmon Financial
Best Gardening Classes Pike Nurseries
Best Groomer Andrea Richardson
Best Hypnotherapist Amy Head
Best In-town Getaway Château Élan
Best Life Coach Dr. Jill Kahn
Best Local Festival Piedmont Park Arts Festival
Best Marriage and Relationship Counselor/Therapist Brittany Hewitt
Best Matchmakers Single Atlanta
Best Meditation Program Lisa Wellstead
Best Museum High Museum of Art
Best New Give-Back Initiative Jewels with a Purpose
Best Pet Rescue Organization Angels Among Us Pet Rescue
Best Pet Store in Atlanta The Whole Dog Market
Best Pet Trainer Susie Aga
Best Pet Walker/Sitter Service CutiePaws Pet Sitting Services
Best Place for Fun Classes/Workshops Center for Puppetry Arts
Best Place for Live Music Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre
Best Place to go Dancing Johnny's Hideaway
Best School for Continuing Education for Adults Kennesaw State University
Best Sunless Tanning Opulence Spray Tan Club
Best Veterinarian The Village Vets Buckhead
Best Volunteer Opportunity Sisters By Choice
Best Wedding Planner Jade Ladson
Food and Nutrition  
Best Farm-to-Home Delivery PeachDish
Best Farm-to-Table Restaurant Miller Union
Best Farmers Market Buford Highway Farmers Market
Best Food Blog Healthy Eating 101
Best Food Truck The Fry Guy
Best Health Food Store Sevananda Natural Foods Market
Best Healthy Restaurant Cafe Sunflower
Best Juice Bar Kale Me Crazy
Best Kid-Friendly Restaurant Farm Burger
Best Nutrition Counseling/Coach Jacynta Harb
Best Pet-Friendly Restaurant Park Tavern
Best Prepared Healthy Meal Delivery Fresh 'n Fit Cuisine
Best Vegetarian Restaurant True Food Kitchen

Friday, 29 September 2017 14:46

October / November 2017 Digital Issue

October / November 2017 Digital Issue

Thursday, 28 September 2017 14:49

Helping Hands for Breast Cancer


By Amy Meadows


You get a phone call. You see a message posted on Facebook. You hear the news from a friend. And it's devastating. Someone you know has breast cancer. All you want to do is help, but you're not quite sure how. Can you bring them something? Is it OK to visit? What should you ask—or not ask? It's tough to know where to start. That's why we've talked to breast cancer survivors and their spouses to find out exactly what to do. Here, these brave and caring individuals provide practical tips and specific advice that will allow you to figure out how to be as supportive as possible without overstepping your bounds. From surgery and treatment to everyday life, these recommendations will give you the understanding you need to help your friend or loved one navigate the challenging road ahead.


PHOTO 1Surgery and Treatment

For many breast cancer patients, surgery and treatment begin almost immediately after diagnosis. They face a whirlwind of information and to-do lists that seem to multiply by the minute as they fight for their lives. When it comes to offering support surrounding surgery (from mastectomies to reconstructive surgery) and treatment (both chemotherapy and radiation), there are certain things you should—and should not—do during this delicate time.

Avoid Giving Unsolicited Advice

Whether talking about certain doctors to see or specific treatments to consider, sometimes it's best to keep your advice to yourself when talking to someone who has just received a breast cancer diagnosis. While your intentions may be nothing but good, the suggestions can be overwhelming for the patient.

"When someone is trying to help, and if they've been through cancer, they want to tell you everything to do. But every breast cancer is different," explains Mickala Hawkins, who was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer at 40 and was treated at Piedmont Newton Women's Diagnostic Center. Chris Spires concurs. His wife, Heather, was diagnosed with Stage 0 ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) in November 2016 at 43. "Everyone means well, but every case is so personal and so different. Stop before you say something even in passing. I wanted to tell people, 'We have qualified people who know my wife's situation. We have a team and a plan that is best for us,'" says Spires, a Susan G. Komen Greater Atlanta supporter.

PHOTO 2"Everybody has a friend or relative who has had cancer, and they wanted me to talk to them," recalls Donna Wentz, who, in September 2014, discovered she had breast cancer at 39 and was treated at WellStar Douglas Hospital and WellStar Paulding Radiation. "I'm a talker, but I didn't want to talk to anyone. I didn't want to hear everyone else's story. I had my own story that I was living, and I wanted to do just that."

What's more, as a patient is facing surgery and treatment, be sure to avoid talking about what may have "caused" the cancer. "People that get breast cancer did not cause their breast cancer," notes Heidi Floyd, a Model of Courage for Ford Warriors in Pink, who was only 36 and pregnant with her fourth child when she was diagnosed more than a decade ago with an aggressive form of breast cancer. "Don't ask, 'Did you smoke? Did you drink? Did you not eat organic?' The list goes on and on. [People are] looking for answers, and they think there has to be a reason because, otherwise, [they're] vulnerable too."

In any case, let the patient guide you as you figure out how to talk about the cancer. "Don't be afraid to talk about it, but if the person doesn't want to talk about it, then don't," Hawkins states.

Be a Second Set of Ears

Doctor appointments immediately become an integral part of a breast cancer patient's life, and they often need someone to be there to help them sort through the experience. "There were times when I was overwhelmed. My wife would come to the appointments. She would listen and write down what the doctors had said," says Leslie Mullins, who was treated at Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) at Southeastern Regional Medical Center, and as a 51-year-old man, never expected to receive a breast cancer diagnosis.

"You need someone there who can ask questions," says Hawkins, whose mother attended many of her first appointments. Together, they also sought the help of a cancer navigator. The navigator was able to explain terminology and clarify what the doctors were saying.

PHOTO 3Prepare for Post-Op Days

Particularly for spouses, Spires recommends preparing yourself for what the patient will endure during and after a single or double mastectomy. "You need some sort of a road map for what to expect. So my single biggest advice for any partner is to Google images and look at pictures of mastectomy healing," he explains. "It sounds crude, but this isn't your run-of-the-mill boob job," he continues. "It's easier to look at for the first time when it's a faceless, two-dimensional picture."

In addition to the scars associated with the surgery, patients have to deal with drain tubes and more during those first few post-op days—and it's best to understand what lies ahead and what the patient will need. According to Maria Bedoya, a former patient of Dr. Speed's Global Breast Health & Wellness Center who was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer in October 2015, there are resources available to help those recovering with their comfort level, including finding the proper clothes. From loose-fitting shirts that you can step into (instead of lifting your arms) to clothing that can accommodate the drain tubes, there are numerous options available for purchase.

What's more, while they have their drain tubes in, breast cancer patients can't take a shower. Spires recommends doing something to help the patient feel a bit normal if possible. "I took my wife to the salon so she could get her hair washed and dried. It made her feel good again."

Everyday Life

Breast cancer stops even the most organized and together patient in their tracks. That person's everyday existence becomes filled with doctor appointments, treatment days and countless hours feeling sick because of the many medications being administered. Fortunately, this is the area where people really can make a huge difference for their loved one.

Meals and More

One of the first things people do when someone in their community is facing breast cancer is to start a meal tree. Delivering food can help you feel proactive, and the gesture is always welcomed. Yet, there are some steps you can take to make the process even easier for the patient and the family.

"I have a friend at the courthouse who I've known for 20 years. Jennifer—I called her my manager," says Wentz, who is the chief clerk of the juvenile court in Douglas County. "She took control of the meal calendars and arranged them for when I was out of surgery. People flocked to set up their night to bring food. She had four weeks covered and taken care of until my husband was ready to start cooking again."

PHOTO 4Although the food is greatly appreciated, oftentimes having visitors can place additional stress on the patient, who may not be up to talking or discussing the situation. In this case, Spires recommends placing a cooler on the porch for the family, so meals can be left with care but the patient can continue to rest and focus on healing. And for those people who may not be able to deliver food, Wentz notes, you can always have pizza delivered directly to the patient's house. And there is another option as well.

"Gift cards are the bomb," says Lynn Wyatt, who was treated at Emory Saint Joseph's Hospital and received her first breast cancer diagnosis nine years ago at 40, and her second four years later, as metastatic cancer spread to her liver, spine and brain. "You can use them anytime. You can't go out when you're sick, but you have them for when you're feeling better. And they're great for anything—from restaurants to Target."

PHOTO 5It's important to remember that eating is not always possible for patients, who often experience nausea and worse from chemotherapy. In many cases, delivered meals benefit the patient's spouse and children—which is equally important. However, to ensure that the patient also is taken care of, consider delivering food that she or he can eat. "When you're in treatment, you can't eat. Your mouth is full of sores and gets dry like sandpaper. I was just sick," Hawkins says. "I mixed berries, kale, spinach, carrots, flax seeds, bananas, and coconut water or aloe vera juice. I had no energy, but I could drink that and get my energy back."

Household Chores

For patients and their families, regular household work gets pushed by the wayside in the wake of a breast cancer diagnosis. Assistance with routine tasks could be the most helpful thing you can do—even if the offer initially is met with resistance.

"For someone who wants to help a loved one, don't ask what you can do to help or say, 'Call me if you need anything.' I would never call," Bedoya asserts. "So just be firm and tell the person when you're coming over. Ask what day will be a good day to come do the laundry."

"You want to think you can do it yourself, but you need help. You can't do it alone," says Hawkins, who notes that spouses—including her husband—often are preoccupied with caring for not only the patient, but also their children and their own work schedules, making housework all but impossible. Throughout her treatment, she was able to receive help from national organization Cleaning for a Reason, which provided housecleaning services for her every four weeks.

PHOTO 6Take Care of the Caregiver

"Caregivers have a unique set of challenges that set them apart," says Heidi Floyd's husband, Stuart. "As a spouse, you love the person, you try to care for the person, you try to do everything you can to help them and to give them a good life, but when cancer strikes, they're going through things that you're not going through. You start feeling guilty about the physical things they're going through, and you can't alleviate that. That's why the emotional, mental and spiritual support that you get are just phenomenal to help caregivers in our own unique circumstances."

"It's important to have a contact person who is close but not a spouse," says Wentz, who depended on her friend, Jennifer, to be that person. "My husband, Scott, was just as overwhelmed as I was. He was a wreck. So she answered his phone at the hospital. She updated Facebook. And if anyone asked, I would just say, 'Call Jennifer. She'll tell you what needs to be done.' Having that one person as a contact was one of the best things we did."

Furthermore, whenever possible, it's important to give caregivers a day—or even just a few hours away—to regroup and refresh. "Once a month, the guys in the neighborhood would do a poker night, and my husband was always included," Wyatt recalls. "It got him out of the house and away from doing the minutia that has to be done to keep the family afloat. It really helps everyone."

PHOTO 7As the husband of a breast cancer patient and survivor, Spires notes the importance of being around a group of people who can listen. "As men, we don't like to ask for directions. And we don't like to be vulnerable with other men. But if you're a husband [or partner], you need to find a friend or friends who you can be authentic with," he says. "You need to be able to say, 'I'm stressed, and this sucks.' This is real life. It's not golf or fishing or sports. It's life and death."

The same is true for the children of breast cancer patients, who also feel the pressure associated with such a serious family situation. In addition to helping shuttle them to school when necessary, offer to take kids on
playdates to the park or anywhere that will take their minds off their parent's illness. It will help them retain a sense of normalcy. "Get them gift cards to activities or a gift card so Dad can take them out to dinner. All of the attention is on Mom, and there is no attention on them. Doing something like that is a thoughtful gift for the family," Wyatt says.


PHOTO 8No one likes to think about or discuss the financial burden that a breast cancer diagnosis can cause a family. "The No. 1 stress—then and now—with every cancer patient I know is financial," Heidi Floyd asserts. "One of the ways you become quickly overwhelmed is by the amount of medical bills that pile up."

In many instances, there are organizations and resources that can help patients negotiate financial services with hospitals and doctors, but the bills—both medical and everyday expenses—will continue to skyrocket. A common option is to set up a GoFundMe page for the patient and family. Yet some family members and friends will go a step further and try to raise money personally.

Hawkins' friends held multiple fundraisers in Covington for her medical care, raising a total of $24,000. Wentz's friend Jennifer arranged a walk on a local golf course, which included a raffle. "They gave all of the proceeds that they had made to us so we would have extra funds to help with bills and things," she recalls. "And people at my job anonymously donated their leave time—since I had exhausted all of my leave for my surgery—so I did not miss a paycheck. It was such a gift."

The key is to realize that every little bit counts. You don't have to donate large sums of money to make a huge impact. Wentz recalls receiving a card with $20 in the mail from a high school friend. "It was a surprise $20. She said, 'I know every little bit helps.' And it did."

Moral Support

Sometimes the most important effort you can make is just to let the patient know that you are there. And that can come in many different forms. You can do a variety of things for the patient such as putting a funny card in the mail, letting them know that your prayer group is praying for them, and being a positive source of support while fighting right alongside them. Bedoya recalls, "When I told my son that I had breast cancer, he said, 'Think positive. We're going to win. We're going to fight this cancer as a family.'"

And fight, we will. "Cancer is not a death sentence," says Mildred Schmelz, a two-time breast cancer survivor who was treated at Piedmont Henry Hospital. "Life can and will go on. You just need to make the decision to fight as hard as you can to live."


Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) at Southeastern Regional Medical Center, cancercenter.com/southeastern
Dr. Speed's Global Breast Health & Wellness Center, draprilspeed.com
Emory Saint Joseph's Hospital, emoryhealthcare.org
Ford Warriors in Pink, warriorsinpink.ford.com
Piedmont Healthcare, piedmont.org
Susan G. Komen Greater Atlanta, komenatlanta.org
WellStar Health System, wellstar.org



Thursday, 28 September 2017 14:12

Y Plastic Surgery


By Amy Meadows



About a year ago, Asaf Yalif, MD, founder of Y Plastic Surgery, became one of the first members to join WellStar North Fulton Hospital's Breast Cancer STAT (Specialty Teams and Treatment) Clinic, a clinic that brings together all the medical specialists a patient may need to see when diagnosed with breast cancer.

"To be part of a breast cancer team is a wonderful opportunity," he says. "It's an excellent approach to cancer care because patients get to see all of their doctors together at one time. In this way we can explain how we can help them through the entire process. We want these patients to have the best possible experience from the very beginning, especially through such a frightening time."

Photo1That patient-centered focus has been at the heart of Dr. Yalif's practice since he opened the doors to Y Plastic Surgery in 2008 after years of intensive training in locations like New York City, Buffalo, and Memphis. Today, with offices in Alpharetta, Roswell, and Woodstock, Dr. Yalif and his team offer a wide range of cosmetic and aesthetic services for the entire body, as well as specialized service in breast surgery, including cosmetic and reconstructive procedures. "The amazing thing about plastic surgery is that we have the opportunity to replace form," he observes. "In a situation like breast cancer, we can help patients cope with some of the loss required with a cancer operation. When a mastectomy is done, the entire breast is removed and patients may feel like they have lost a part of themselves, and we can help recreate it for them. Plastic surgery is the only discipline where I can help in this way."

Offering comprehensive counsel and support throughout the surgical process—regardless of the type of procedure being done—is of the utmost importance to Dr. Yalif and his staff, who make themselves fully available to patients to answer questions and address concerns. "We really care about our patients, and we want them to be in an environment that makes them as comfortable as possible as we help them through their journey."

Being a supportive team member extends beyond the office for Dr. Yalif, who has been inspired by his work with breast cancer patients to help raise funds for research toward a cure. In November, he will run the New York City Marathon for the second time with The Pink Agenda team. The Pink Agenda is an organization that focuses on raising money for breast cancer research and care, with a focus among young professionals. To prepare, Dr. Yalif rises at 4 a.m. six days a week for morning runs, some more than 20 miles. And every step of the way, he thinks about his patients.

"It's an honor to be able to help breast cancer patients," Dr. Yalif says. "We want to provide the best level of care—with compassion—to all of our patients. Whether it's cosmetic or reconstructive, we want the process to be an excellent one." YPlasticSurgery.com


PHOTO23 Differences You'll Notice About Y Plastic Surgery

1 A "Family" Affair
According to Dr. Asaf Yalif, the staff is a tight-knit group. "Our team is like a small family," he says. "You will see the same faces and hear the same voices throughout your care here. We're always here for patients, to help them spiritually, emotionally and physically."

2 Best Results
Dr. Yalif uses the some of the most advanced techniques and technology to create the patients desired look—whether surgical or minimally invasive. "There are so many options available these days, and a new one pops up every week! We have to stay abreast of what is 'best practice' and master it," he reveals. "When we have discussions with patients, we want them to know that we will make choices based on their anatomy and their desires to create their best aesthetic."

3 Giving Back
Dr. Yalif and his team are active in the community. In addition to their commitment to breast cancer research, they also volunteer with numerous local and national charities. "Giving back to the community is very important to the heart and soul of Y Plastic," explains Dr. Yalif. "We always want to educate, enrich, and help the best that we can. Through running, raising funds, and engaging the community, we can bring about great change." Rebecka Stenberg, the front office coordinator, adds, "You can always check us out on our social media to see who we are raising funds for next!"


Thursday, 28 September 2017 13:49

Breakdancing Comes of Age

There aren't many dance instructors who are the same age as their form of expression, but for Honey Rockwell, that's precisely the case. She and hip-hop dancing have evolved alongside each other over the past four decades, and now she's helping choreograph its future.

QUOTE 1Breaking the Mold

Rockwell, 45, is dedicated to sharing her love of hip-hop through her school, Rockwell Dance Academy, which she opened four years ago in Acworth with her husband, Orko, a fellow dancer. What started off as a small community dance-off, ended up being something way bigger. "I recruited my daughter's friends and some kids from the neighborhood. We had a blast! We would put on performances for the neighborhood. As more kids started joining, our basement was getting too small to fit everyone. So then we moved it to the garage, then I rented space at a recreation center, and finally, our studio."

The type of dancing she specializes in is breakin' (also referred to in popular culture as breakdancing). Her mission is to preserve the original dance styles of hip-hop. "My passion is teaching dance, my experiences, and what I can share with the next generation," she says.

PHOTO 1In addition to the array of classes for kids offered at the academy, there are classes for adults who want to move in ways they may not have ever tried before.

Adults can take classes in breakin', locking (freezing and holding certain positions), popping (quick, precisely timed muscle movements), salsa, and new school hip-hop choreography. "Dance can be a kind of Fountain of Youth. I've actually seen it reverse certain diseases like diabetes for the better. Bodies in motion stay in motion," Rockwell says.

SB 1Because hip-hop and breakin' are still such relatively young styles of dance in the history of the art form, Rockwell says she has had to forge her own ways of sharing them with her students of all ages.

"There's no template for what we're doing now," she says. "I'm always challenging myself to make my students believers of this dance style. It's about just going for it and having fun with it at any age. I love showing my students that this is me and this is what I turned out to be!"

Making Moves

Rockwell got her start dancing as a young girl growing up in the South Bronx, where hip-hop itself was born. She was studying gymnastics and dance by the time she was 7. As a teenager, she competed with the gymnastics team at John F. Kennedy High School and competed for the United States Gymnastics Federation (now known as USA Gymnastics).

The transition between the gymnastics mat and the dance floor was a natural one. While most high school students were busy keeping tabs on their crushes, Rockwell was connecting with many of the key pioneers of breakin' in New York, including Louie New Wave (who has since passed), Ghettoriginal Dance Production, the Rock Steady Crew, and VII Grandmasters. By the time Rockwell was 23, they had recognized and nurtured her skills, claiming her as one of their own: a true "B-Girl."

It was during this time that Rockwell says she learned some of life's toughest lessons, all of which she says went into making her the disciplined, balanced and focused woman, business person, and mother she is now. As a very young mom, she had to rely on the help of her grandmother to keep things together as she worked as a gymnastics coach and made a name for herself in the competitive dance culture.

In 1994, Rockwell began performing and touring with the Off-Broadway hip-hop musical, "Jam on the Groove," which went on to tour nationally and internationally. It was in that show that she met her future husband, "B-Boy" Orko. (The two remained in each other's circles over the years, eventually marrying when Rockwell was 40. They moved to the Atlanta area in 2010 with Orko's job at a utility company.)

After her tour with the show, Rockwell danced in the Vegas theater production, "Madhattan," and was cast in the movie "Mannequin 2." She also performed on MTV's New Year's Eve 2000, and at the VH1 Fashion Awards with Cuba Gooding Jr., and Kid Rock. She still remembers the experience vividly to this day. "It was nerve-racking and exciting at the same time. Plus, it was awesome to dance with Cuba Gooding Jr., who happens to be a B-Boy as well by the way—insider scoop!"

PHOTO 2In the early 2000s, with the Seven Gems Crew, she took part in a U.S. government-sponsored tour teaching hip-hop dance and performing in Brazil. She also produced Honey Rockwell's B-Girl Video, the first B-Girl dance video, which can still be purchased today, and in 2008, she was a dancer and actress in the Grand Theft Auto IV video game.

Dancing Through Life

As she reflects on life in her mid-40s, the youngest of her three children now a teenager, and life as an empty nester on the horizon, she is looking forward to finding new ways to enjoy dancing.

"I'm in this beautiful place in my life and I want to be an example for others. If you stay on a good path and learn discipline within yourself, you can have a better life," she says.

Her gaze is also focused on the future and expanding her dance school and continuing to spread the breakin' and hip-hop dance style. "Dance is an opportunity to release stress; it's therapeutic. It allows me to step into a world of fantasy. I love breakin' because I love the feeling of accomplishing challenging moves. It's a total body strength-training workout."


Wednesday, 27 September 2017 18:00

My Best Self: Caroline Jeffords

Before Caroline Jeffords ever stepped foot onto a stage, she already exuded beauty, grace, and confidence. Her experience serving as Miss Georgia USA and representing the Southern state at Miss USA in 2004 in Los Angeles only enhanced those qualities. Today, the 39-year-old uses the skills the pageant world helped her develop to give back to the Atlanta community through her work as a board and committee member for nonprofits and as an active stay-at-home mom.


By Alex McCray


What is your definition of beauty? I feel that a woman's beauty comes from her inner character, dignity, and values. When the confidence and strength that comes from knowing our value is expressed through kindness and compassion, that is when we exude true beauty.

How can people find their true beauty? The first step to finding your true beauty is to identify the unique gifts and talents that you have been blessed with and then to find ways to use those gifts to benefit those around you.

How and why did you get started in pageants? I chose to enter Miss Georgia USA after being encouraged by several friends who were familiar with the Miss USA system. After some research, I decided that participating would be a fun way to challenge myself and serve as a unique opportunity to meet new people and enjoy new experiences.

What have you learned from participating in these competitions? To compete successfully, Miss USA requires a significant amount of preparation, discipline, and organization. For me, the experience helped to reinforce these life skills that are vital to the realization of your goals, whether it be success in athletics, accomplishment in the business world, or raising a family.

What do you like to do in your spare time? I enjoy being actively involved with my daughter's school. Wesleyan School has been a tremendous blessing to our family and provides so many wonderful opportunities to engage with my daughter during and after school. At Wesleyan, community service is a priority, and I have enjoyed participating in their annual Capture the Warmth coat drive and the Serving Others after-school enrichment class with my daughter. The annual Artist Market is also a favorite family tradition. It's a phenomenal opportunity to shop for amazing art and for students and local artists to work together and engage with our community.

Why is volunteering important to you? What organizations are you currently working with? There are so many worthy charities here in Atlanta that you can't possibly support them all. You have to find organizations whose mission touches your heart. I have chosen to be involved with Mercy Care, Atlanta Ballet, and Open Hand.

Who helps you be your "best self?" My faith and family are my foundation. They are the bedrock for my loyalty, trust, and cooperation. It is where I truly begin to learn to love, bear one another's burdens, find meaning and purpose in my life, and feel the value of being part of something greater than myself.

Tell us more about your faith and family being your foundation. As a Christian, my faith is the most important aspect of my life, with my love for my family being second. We attend Perimeter Church in Johns Creek and have been members there since 2010. My ultimate purpose is to try to reflect the love that God has shown us by working to make life better for others.



Wednesday, 27 September 2017 17:38

Paleo Home Cooking





By Laura Janelle Downey


Peter Servold used the art of cooking to woo Sarah Menkes seven years ago. "We did a Paleo challenge together," he says. "I went to the store and got every vegetable and different proteins." From there, he'd go to Sarah's place to prepare the meal. And when he arrived, Sarah would be plugging away on her computer while sipping a glass of wine. "I would be in the kitchen cooking and I thought, 'This would be a good life, this would be a good thing.'" It ended up being a great thing. The two got married in 2011 and the following year, opened Pete's Paleo, an online meal delivery service with commercial kitchens in Atlanta and San Diego.

QUOTE 1PHOTO 1"People take everything so literally with the Paleo diet and they say, 'Paleolithic? Do you cut with a rock and cook over an open fire?'" He sees the diet in a different light. "It's better described as the 'Great Grandmother' diet," he says. "If your great grandmother wouldn't recognize it as food then it is probably not food."

The basic tenets include nonprocessed meats, fruits, fish, vegetables, nuts and seeds. "We eat beef, fish and chicken. It's about variety," he says. "Paleo is just about getting outside of your comfort zone. If you know how to cook a sweet potato, you can cook every root vegetable that exists like rutabaga, beets, turnips, and all kinds of squash," Peter says. "They all kind of cook the same. You just toss them in olive oil and put them in the oven for a little while. It's about not being intimidated by it."

With demanding schedules, Peter and Sarah make time to catch up on their day over dinner.
As for whipping up something in the kitchen, Peter says, "Be bold and try new things." He also notes that the abundance of fresh ingredients available year-round makes experimenting in the kitchen easier than ever. "It's amazing what is available now to everybody. I prefer to shop at Whole Foods but there are really great produce and products at Publix and Kroger," he says.

At home, Peter continues to prepare Sarah's favorite meals whenever he gets the chance. "Sarah really loves cast-iron chicken thighs. Each time, I'll just use different seasonings like curry or adobo." He'll pair the dish with roasted purple sweet potatoes and broccoli. "In 35 minutes, you've made an unbelievable nutrient-dense meal."










PHOTO 3Cook time: 10 minutes

Serves: 4

• 1 pound ground pork
• 4 teaspoons table salt
• 3-4 Thai basil leaves, chiffonade
• 1½ teaspoons finely minced garlic
• 1½ teaspoons seeded, minced Thai chiles
• 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger

• Preheat oven to 375 F.
• Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.
• Form the sausage mixture into 2-ounce patties.
• Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat.
• Sear the sausages for 1 minute on each side, for a total of 3 minutes.
• Place the pan in the oven and cook for 7 minutes.
• Serve immediately.




Cook time: 6 minutes

Serves: 2-3

• 1 pound white fish fillet, cut into strips


• 1 large egg
• 3 tablespoons water
• 1 teaspoon table salt


• 2 cups fine almond flour
• 1 teaspoon table salt
• 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• 1 cup olive oil
• Several butter lettuce leaves for serving
• Several lime wedges for serving

• Pat the fish completely dry with paper towels.
• Slowly heat the oil over medium heat in a heavy sauté pan, until it reaches 300 F.
• In a shallow bowl, whisk together the ingredients for the egg wash.
• In another shallow bowl, whisk together the ingredients for the almond flour coating.
• Place the fish strips into the egg wash, then into the flour coating. Repeat on opposite side.
• Place fish in pan for 3 minutes, or until flour coating turns golden brown. Flip the fish and cook opposite side for 2 to 3 minutes.
• Serve in a butter lettuce leaf with a wedge of lime.




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