I write this column two days before we will experience a full moon. This particular moon, a “full blood moon,” will have a big effect on our emotions, according to a Facebook post I read. Apparently, it has something to do with the total lunar eclipse that’s occurring on the other side of the planet. Some say this astronomical event is having an impact on our energy, too. Maybe this explains why my emotions and energy levels have been a little wacky lately.
I’ve always been interested in the Zodiac and astrology, but I don’t know much about it. I’m a Libra, and Librans characteristically take a long time to make decisions, weighing each different option carefully. This is true for me, and it’s been known to drive my husband crazy. What I do know is for eons people around the world have felt a kinship with the moon and with the changes the moon brings. Scientists point to the moon’s effect on tides and animal behavior. Farmers often make decisions about planting and harvesting based on the phases of the moon.
Someone once told me that it’s best to start new projects during the waxing moon—when it’s moving from new to full—as this is a time when we have good creative energy. During the waning moon, the opposite is said to occur. Our energy is reduced, and our creative impulses are harder to tap into. It’s supposed to be a good time for resting, being more mindful, and engaging in fewer activities. I suppose some will say this is hogwash, but I’m always glad when my deadline falls in the waxing stage.
Even though I’m not much of an expert in the stars and the planets, I am fascinated by watching the sky at night. It’s so vast and mysterious. I love finding constellations and keep saying I need to buy that app that helps you locate them. On the other hand, having my smartphone with me when I look at the stars kind of defeats the purpose of enjoying the night sky—which to me is a way to be present and mindful and awed by nature’s abundant beauty.
Shooting starts are symbolic for many people. In my case, I think they are a form of greeting from my daughter, Sierra, who passed away 28 years ago this month. She drowned when she was 2. It took me many years to come to terms with her death, and the experience changed who I am and the way I look at life. Losing a loved one is the hardest thing humans have to deal with. If you’ve lost a loved one recently, I can feel your pain and I’m very sorry for your loss. That said, I do think it’s true that things get better in time.
Being present in nature helped me find joy again. Being with family and experiencing life kept me from falling into the deep hole of depression. Oh, I was very mad for a while, especially at God, but I grew to understand that there are things we simply can’t understand. It took me some time, but I learned to let the anger and frustration go. Sierra moved on, and I think she wanted me to move on, too. The only other choice was to stay stuck somewhere, and being stuck is not a healthy thing. To me life is about evolving, growing, learning, and accepting the things we cannot change.
So my column about the moon took a detour. That’s OK. That’s why I love writing. It often takes me places I need to go. I always miss Sierra a little more each August since it marks another year since she was here on this earth with me. She’s still here in ways I don’t understand, but I’m always grateful when a shooting star brings me her greetings.
Cyndi Levy knows what it it’s like to jump into action with no warning. When she was a senior advisor in Congress, she attended President Ronald Reagan’s State of the Union address—a big deal for her as one of the few women on Capitol Hill. As the evening ended and she was ready to head home, her boss, Senator John Chafee (R-RI), told her to write a speech for him to deliver on the Senate floor the following morning.
Cyndi knew what she had to do. She handed the speech to the senator in less than 12 hours. “I’m pretty sure I didn’t sleep that night,” she said, laughing.
A veteran of foreign policy work for over three decades, Cyndi says that leaping into action at a moment’s notice and getting your facts straight at the same time are critical traits for anyone in the field. “You must know your subject matter better than every person in the room,” she stressed. “You need to have an innate sense of where you are and what’s going on around you.”
Currently, women make up less than 30 percent of senior positions in U.S. foreign policy, such as government and the military. In the 1970s Cyndi and one other woman were the only female senate advisors.
Today more women than ever are serving in military leadership, government, and global humanitarian organizations, like the Peace Corps. They are bringing female perspectives to international issues and perhaps a stronger sense of empathy, especially in matters concerning women and children. They are influencing legislation, tearing down barriers, and creating bonds of understanding among cultures and governments.
Meet Cyndi and two other Tidewater women who are fostering global change in varying ways.
It might seem as if Cyndi Levy is from another era. She says she has read a book nearly every day since around fifth grade and typed her doctoral dissertation on a manual typewriter. She also hosts family dinners in her Virginia Beach home on Sundays.
But don’t let the slightly old-fashioned façade fool you. She’s a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) analyst, a former special assistant to a Secretary of Defense, and was appointed by President Ronald Reagan to help write the first annual Defense Guidance, the U.S. five-year war plan.
The “family” with whom she shares a weekly meal? Her students, who just happen to be U.S. Navy SEALs and other military personnel.
The 63-year-old New York native initially thought she might pursue a career in social justice. With a therapist mother and a rabbi father, she was exposed at an early age to helping others. And unlike most of her friends who attended private schools, Cyndi was educated in the Syracuse public school system during an era of race riots. “My parents wanted me to be around everybody to know how the world works,” she said.
Her exposure to different races and cultures, along with her father’s commitment to social activism, were catalysts in Cyndi’s career path. She knew she wanted to help people in some way, but instead of becoming a community organizer or a humanitarian worker, she chose foreign policy, an area in which few women at the time were involved.
“Foreign policy is social justice, so I figured I’d start with the big problems,” Cyndi said. She earned four degrees, then headed to Capitol Hill, where she was the first senior legislative assistant to serve under two U.S. senators, Senator Chafee and Orrin Hatch (R- UT). Cyndi advised both men on dealing with “big problems” in defense and intelligence, all of which is classified information. She was only in her twenties when she held this role.
Sometimes the issues she helped resolve were humanitarian acts. In 1983 while working with Senator Chafee, Cyndi noticed a group of visually impaired people sitting outside her office for days. She learned they were there to advocate for blind children in several African countries. She listened as these folks from the Helen Keller Institute talked about the benefits of Vitamin A in preventing blindness. With the Senator’s approval, she added three little lines in the massive State Department Appropriations Bill, requesting funding to send the needed capsules to Africa. The legislation passed, and the project reduced the blindness rate by 80 percent.
“If I do nothing else in my life, that was a pretty good thing,” Cyndi said.
But she has done a lot in the 35 years since inserting that request in the bill, and a lot of what she’s done is classified. What’s not top-secret, though, is Cyndi’s dedication to helping others, whether it’s advising senators, advocating for foreign aid, or teaching countless students in universities across the world. She’ll tell anybody that’s what drives her.
Besides a desire to help people, Cyndi believes there are specific and important skills everyone, regardless of gender, needs in matters of foreign policy. In fact, she doesn’t believe gender has anything to do with how well one does in the field. To Cyndi, it’s about having the best person do the job, and that person must be willing to understand the other guy’s premise, to work with people across the aisle and the ocean.
“Things are moving so quickly in the world,” she said. “You don’t know who’s learning what information, so talking to each other is important.”
And, of course, helping. “In the end,” said Cyndy, “I want people to say, ‘She tried to help. Whoever needed it, she was there.’”
It almost seems preordained that Maria Zammit would seek a career in foreign affairs. She grew up within sight of the United Nations campus on Manhattan’s East Side, and her parents, immigrants from the Mediterranean island nation of Malta, taught her to ride her tricycle in the shadow of its towering Secretariat Building.
The 65-year-old Virginia Beach resident considered law school after graduating from college but decided to take a break by backpacking around the world. During her journeys she became fascinated by Asian and Middle Eastern cultures. She decided to rethink law school and chose to pursue an advanced degree in international relations.
Early on, Maria worked for a U.S. ambassador, but for nearly 30 years her passion has been connected to the World Affairs Councils of America, a nonpartisan, non-profit, and globally-focused association with locations in over 90 major cities. She has served as vice chair of the national organization and as president of the Hampton Roads Council. Her involvement has enabled her to lead delegations to Iraq, Syria, and other countries.
“We live in a very interconnected world, and we need to understand this world,” she said.
Maria considers herself a people-to-people diplomat and likes to work at the grassroots of foreign policy. She feels strongly that women should be more involved. “Women are half our population, but we’re not using that half of our resources,” she said.
She realizes the lack of women in foreign policy is a conundrum, particularly in cultures where men create the rules, but she’s reassured by positive changes she’s witnessed.
Before leading a delegation to Afghanistan in 2011, she visited the country in advance to prepare and met many professional women who had been in hiding under Taliban rule. One, a physician who couldn’t practice medicine during that time and until the Taliban’s breakup, was required to have her husband by her side in public. Now she’s head of the Ministry of Public Health.
“Women must deal with things the opposite sex doesn’t understand in cultures with patriarchal rule,” she said. For instance, tampon accessibility is no sure thing in certain cultures where men call the shots. “American women in the field of foreign policy are able to transform lives because they’re empathetic to the needs and rights of women around the world.”
She believes that diplomacy is more critical now than ever, saying it’s central for a stable world. “Not everything is settled with guns and ammunition,” she pointed out. Disagreements are better solved by coming to the table with open minds and an understanding of others’ positions.
Maria encourages young women to consider foreign policy careers that focus on creating channels of understanding. She suggests they look into internships, global humanitarian trips, and groups such as the World Affairs Council. She also advises them to learn other languages. She says it’s transforming to help change lives.
“There’s a lot of injustice and unfairness in the world, but there’s also a lot of beauty,” she said. “I want to take it all in and be remembered as one who built bridges across the ocean.”
Unlike Cyndi and Maria, 18-year-old Sydney Cherry has never ventured outside the U.S., but she hopes to one day work in an embassy, possibly in the Middle East as a special advisor or liaison.
The recent First Colonial High School (FC) graduate boasts an impressive resumé that includes two years as class president, six national honor societies, Student Congress, and the city-wide Student Council Association. Her final grade point average is 4.4.
This month she heads to the University of Virginia, where she plans to study policy and international affairs on a pre-law track. It’s a surprising choice for a young woman who until a few years ago thought she wanted to be a career musician.
Sydney’s involvement in Student Congress, beginning in her freshman year of high school, sparked a curiosity in global issues. The group’s trip to Washington, D.C. the following year cemented her interest as she quickly realized how much of an impact the U.S. has in the world. She joined the Foreign Policy Work Group, a small group of students at FC united by their interest in global relations.
“We didn’t stay in a classroom,” Sydney said. “We got out and met people who were making a difference in government and international affairs.”
The ensemble made about 15 trips to D.C. in Sydney’s three years of membership, meeting leaders in the military, Congress, and State Department. One of the most memorable talks Sydney heard was by John A. Rizzo, the former CIA lawyer who approved the legality of controversial interrogation techniques. He and members of the U.S. military spoke about cases where torture might be justified.
“Since I’m interested in going to law school, I found the legality issue fascinating,” said Sydney. “It gave me something to think about.” She agrees with Maria that diplomacy is more important than it’s ever been. “The climate now does require more diplomacy,” she said.
Sydney wakes up every day with a passion for learning about international relations. Last February she organized a seminar to connect young women to mentors in areas of foreign policy. The event was her senior project for FC’s Legal Studies Academy. She assembled a group of leaders that included an admiral, a former CEO of The Washington Post, Cyndi Levy, and other ladies involved in global change. Sydney handled every aspect of the program, from contacting the speakers to promoting the event. Around 95 high school girls attended.
“All the struggles were worth it,” she said. “I was empowered listening to the younger girls ask questions and hearing them say they were happy to be there.”
Sydney’s goals this summer have focused on moving to Charlottesville and staying current on world affairs with daily reads of The New York Times and BBC websites. She also enjoys her Saturday morning ritual of breakfast with her mom, whom she considers her greatest role model.
The girl who learned to play the guitar at age 7 and pictured herself in the music industry is now a young woman who’s excited about studying Arabic and brokering harmony between nations. “I feel like I am a completely different person than when I started this journey,” said Sydney.
Welcome to Tidewater Women’s August Calendar of Events
Concierge Jeweler Event & Precious Gem and Metals Day - 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Spon. by PrimePlus. Sell, repair, + appraise. RR 7300 Newport Ave. 625-5857 (N)
Kiwanis Club Meeting - 7:15 a.m. 1st & 3rd Wed. Change the world one child at a time. Pop’s Diner, 1432 Greenbrier Way 469-4945 (C)
B&H Farmer’s Market - 9:30-3:30 p.m. Every Wed. Enjoy local produce. Chesapeake Health Dept., 748 Battlefield Blvd. N. 382-8650 (C)
Harmony & Fitness Yoga - 9:30 a.m. Every Wed. ($) Eliz. Gardens 473-3234 (Manteo)
Crocheting - 10 a.m.-noon. Seniors. Every Wed. Bring supplies. South Norfolk Community Center 543-5721 (C)
Senior Wednesdays - 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Every Wed. thru 9/26. Ages 62+. Enjoy free admission to celebrate senior’ contributions to our communities! Va. Zoo 441-2374 (N)
Food Truck Hump Days - 4 p.m. Every 1st & 3rd Wed. thru Sept. Gourmet dishes + children’s activities & entertainment. Courtyard Square Park 408-2245 (C)
Ynot Wednesdays - 5-9 p.m. Every Wed. in Aug. Entertainment, kids crafts, farmers market + artisan market. Sandler Center 557-6925 (VB)
VHS Summer Concert Series - 6-9 p.m. Every Wed. thru 8/29. Bring a picnic for some great music. William Styron Square 223-0284 (NN)
Harmony Health Guided Paddle & Yoga Tours - 6 p.m. Every Wed. & Fri. thru summer. Rudee Inlet SUP 563-3075 (VB)
OBC Trivia Night - 6-8 p.m. Every 1st Wed. ($) O’Connor Brewing Co. 623-2337 (N)
Weekly Meditation Class - 6:30-8 p.m. Most Wed. ($) Fred Heutte Ctr. 504-4425 (N)
Planetarium Shows - 8:30 p.m. Wed. thru summer. Learn about constellations, galaxies + more. Pretlow Planetarium 683-3865 (N)
Paint 4 Fun - 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Every Thurs. Seniors. River Crest Community Ctr. 436-3100 (C)
City Center Farmers’ Market - 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Every Thurs. City Center at Oyster Point 873-2020 (NN)
Art Connections - 1 p.m. Every Thurs. Seniors. All mediums accepted. PrimePlus 7300 Newport Ave. 625-5857 (N)
Ask the Artist - 5:30 p.m. Every Thurs. Engage with works of art through artist talks. d’ART Center 625-4211 (N)
D’Art Firsthand - 5:30-7:30 p.m. Every 1st Thurs. Make & takes, demos + lectures. RR D’Art Center, 740 Duke St. 625-4211 (N)
Summer Concert Series - 5:30-8 p.m. Every Thurs. thru 8/30. Enjoy a different music genre every week. Towne Place at Greenbrier, 725 Eden Way N. 627-8611 (C)
Sunsets on the River – 5:30-9 p.m. Also 8/16 & 8/30. Local music, food trucks, and art! Bring chairs and/or blankets. ($) Hermitage Museum 423-2052 (N)
Sunset Thursdays - 6:30-9 p.m. Every Thurs. thru 9/6. Bring a chair for waterfront concerts. High Street Landing 393-8481 (P)
Steel Pulse - 7 p.m. Enjoy entertainment, food, drinks + more. ($) Scope Plaza 664-6464 (N)
Music by the Bay - 7-8:30 p.m. Every Thurs. in Aug. Enjoy military bands, youth bands + community orchestras. Ft. Monroe Continental Park 637-7778 (Ft. Monroe)
Planetarium Show: Summer Stars - 8 p.m. Every Thurs. thru 8/30. Examine summer constellations and learn to find them. Chesapeake Planetarium 547-0153 (C)
Write Where You Are: Creative Writing Workshop - 10-11:30 a.m. Instructed by Lisa Hartz. RR ($) Portsmouth Art & Cultural Center 393-5258 (P)
Family Fun Friday - 10 a.m. 1st Fri. thru Sept. Enjoy hands-on crafts, activities, and art discoveries. RR ($) Chrysler Museum 664-6200 (N)
Friendly Friday Yoga Flow - 10-11:30 a.m. Every Fri. ($) Wells Therapeutics 490-9488 (VB)
Seasoned and Sassy - 2 p.m. Every Fri. Get active & socialize! Black Library 441-5806 (N)
First Friday Concert Series - 5-8 p.m. 1st Fri. thru Oct. Music by Don Comer & Patti Triplett. Portsmouth Art & Cultural Center 393-8543 (P)
First Friday Street Parties: Guava Jam Band - 5-8:30 p.m. Music, food & fun. TCC Plaza, Granby St. 623-1757 (N)
Zoo Grooves: The Deloreans - 5:30-8:30 p.m. Enjoy exhibits, summer fare + local brews. ($) Va. Zoo 441-2374 (N)
Meditation: Unwind the Mind - 5:30-6:15 p.m. Most Fri. ($) Keajra Kadampa Buddhist Center, 156 Newtown Rd. #A2 504-4425 (VB)
TGIF Summer Concert Series: Soul Intent - 6-9:30 p.m. Entertainment + children’s area. Bennett’s Creek Park, 3000 Bennetts Creek Park Rd. 514-7267 (S)
VB Farmers Market Friday Hoedowns - 7-10 p.m. Every Fri. thru Oct. Enjoy live local music! 3649 Dam Neck Rd. 385-4388 (VB)
Paint Night - 7:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m. Every 1st Fri. ($) Downing Gross Ctr. 247-8950 (NN)
Ja Rule & Ashanti in Concert - 8 p.m. ($) Chrysler Hall 664-6464 (N)
Fireworks Show - 9:30 p.m. Fri.-Sun. thru Sept. ($) Busch Gardens 229-4386 (W)
Coast Guard City Celebration: 10K Run + 5K Run/Walk - 7 a.m.-noon. RR ($) Union Bank + Trust Pavilion, 16 Crawford Cir. 393-8000 (P)
Lynnhaven River Now: Bird and Plant Walks - 7:30-9 a.m. Every 1st Sat. RR Pleasure House Point Natural Area 962-5398 (VB)
Old Beach Farmer’s Market - 9 a.m.-noon. Every Sat. Croc’s 19th St. Bistro 202-9533 (VB)
Green Market & Art Market - 9 a.m.-noon. Every Sat. ViBe Park, 18th St. & Cypress Ave. 202-9533 (VB)
Suffolk Farmers’ Market - 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Every Sat. Enjoy locally-grown goods, artisan crafts + family activities. Suffolk Visitor Center Pavilion 514-4130 (S)
Farmers’ Market - 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Every Sat. Olde Towne Portsmouth 397-6395 (P)
Buckroe Beach Farmers Market - 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Most Sat. thru Nov. Browse local produce, baked goods + more. Buckroe Beach Gazebo, First St. 877-2933 (H)
Fresh & Fruity Kombucha - 10 a.m.-noon. Discover this ancient Asian health remedy. RR ($) Norfolk Botanical Garden 441-5830 (N)
CVUU Safety Fair - 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Enjoy food trucks, dunk-a-cop tank, and local displays. Coastal Virginia Unitarian Universalists, 809 S. Military Hwy. 627-5371 (VB)
Camp SPL Grand Finale Carnival - 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Enjoy pie-eating contest, water wars, talent show, pony rides + more. Downtown Suffolk, 321 W. Washington St. 514-7323 (S)
Old Towne Antiques to Flea Market - 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Every 1st Sat. 70+ vendors. Middle Street Garage 339-1876 (P)
Professional Practices for the Visual Artist - 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Discuss photographing artwork, funding opportunities, developing professional relationships + more. RR Va. MOCA 425-0000 (VB)
Armed Services Arts Partnership Workshop: Ceramics - 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Free for veterans, service members, military families, and caregivers. RR Va. MOCA 425-0000 (VB)
Yoga Class - 10:30-11:30 a.m. Every Sat. Stretch your best in this vinyasa flow. Donations ($) MacArthur Center 627-6000 (N)
Women’s Creativity Retreat - 10:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Sun. 1-5 p.m. Explore the labyrinth as a tool for wel lbeing and the divine feminine as the archetype of abundance. RR ($) Ocean View Arts 961-0808 (N)
Create Your Own Milk Chocolate Bar - 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Every 1st Sat. Choose your own toppings. ($) The Royal Chocolate 557-6925 (VB)
Big Ugly Grand Opening Celebration - 12 p.m. Enjoy live music all day. Big Ugly Brewing Co., 845 Battlefield Blvd. S. 609-2739 (C)
Suffolk Mystery Authors Festival - 1-6 p.m. Enjoy book signings, meet + greets, and moderated panel discussions. Suffolk Center 514-4130 (S)
World Arts Celebration - 4-8 p.m. Explore 30+ world cultures with exhibits, demos, music + more. City Center at Oyster Point 926-1400 (NN)
Water Lantern Festival - 4-9 p.m. Witness the magic of lanterns as they light up the water. ($) Mt. Trashmore 473-5237 (VB)
Downtown Hampton Block Party - 6-10:30 p.m. Select Sat. thru Aug. Music, food trucks, vendors + children’s activities. Queens Way 727-1271 (H)
Fireside Chat & Chomp - 7:30-8:30 p.m. Every Sat. thru Oct. Mingle & hear campfire tales. Northwest River Park 421-7151 (C)
Parents w/o Partners Open Dance - 8-11 p.m. Adults. Enjoy music, socializing. All are welcome ($) S. Norfolk Moose Lodge, 2000 Campostella Rd. 465-8114 (N)
Yoga on the Square - 8-9:15 a.m. Every Sun. All levels. Get your zen on! Zenya Yoga Studio, 101 Herman Melville Ave. 643-6900 (NN)
Prayers for World Peace - 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. Most Sun. Adults. Two guided meditations on how to apply Buddhist teachings. Keajra Kadampa Buddhist Ctr. 504-4425 (VB)
Drag Yourself to Brunch - 11 a.m. & 2 p.m. Every Sun. Age 18+. High-energy entertainment from female impersonators. RR ($) Croc’s 19th Street Bistro 428-5444 (VB)
Sunday Brunch -11 a.m.–3 p.m. Every 1st & 3rd Sun. RR ($) Sweetwater Cuisine 403-7073 (VB)
Free Wine Tasting - 12-4 p.m. Every Sun. Va. Beach Winery, 152 Newtown Rd. 995-4315 (VB)
Groovin’ by the Bay - 6-9 p.m. Every Sun. thru Labor Day. Enjoy live music with a little funk. Buckroe Beach & Park 727-8311 (H)
Pentatonix in Concert - 8-10 p.m. ($) Veterans United Home Loans Amphitheater 368-3000 (VB)
Monday Yoga Flow - 10-11:30 a.m. Every Mon. ($) Wells Therapeutics 490-9488 (VB)
Cardio Quick Class - 12-12:30 p.m. Every Mon., Wed. & Fri. ($) Seven Cities Dance Studio 362-4973 (H)
Lunchtime Meditation - 12:15-12:45 p.m. Most Mon. ($) Keajra Kadampa Buddhist Center, 156 Newtown Rd. #A2 504-4425 (VB)
Saints Alive Senior Chorus - 12:30 p.m. Every Mon. St. Paul’s UMC, 437 Providence Rd. 543-5721 (C)
Yoga for Special Needs - 4:30-5:45 p.m. Every Mon. A class for those w/physical challenges. RR ($) Wells Therapeutics 313-4962 (VB)
Sophisticated Steppers - 5:45-7:15 p.m. Every Mon. Seniors dance. ($) Cuffee Community Ctr., 2019 Windy Rd., 382-6411 (C)
Manic Monday Bike Rides - 6-8 p.m. Every Mon. MacArthur Center Green 627-6000 (N)
Functional Forum - 6:30 p.m. Every 1st Mon. Health news. Holistic Family Practice 685-4325 (VB)
Peace Circle Group w/ Rev. Laura - 6:30-8 p.m. 1st Mon. Unity Church of Tidewater, 5580 Shell Rd. 804-818-6084 (VB)
Drum Circle - 7-10 p.m. Every Mon. Donations accepted. Mystic Moon 855-3280 (N)
Yoga in the Galleries - 8:45-9:45 a.m. Every Tues. RR ($) Chrysler Museum 664-6200 (N)
Yin Yoga - 10:45 a.m. Every Tues. Seniors. Improve flexibility and strengthen muscles. RR ($) PrimePlus, 7300 Newport Ave. 625-5857 (N)
Keep Me in Stitches - 2-5 p.m. Every Tues. Knit & crochet for cancer patients. Grace Comm. Church, 1725 Salem Rd. 404-6593 (VB)
Cooperative Co-Parenting - 4-8 p.m. Every 1st Tues. Prevent problems related to divorce. RR ($) 135 Hall Ave., 624-6666 (S)
Bhav Class - 5:30 p.m. Every Tues. thru summer. Beginner friendly. Bring a mat or towel. Donations ($) Wareing’s Gym, 18th St. & Cypress Ave. 202-9533 (VB)
National Night Out Celebration Kickoff - 5:30-6:30 p.m. Join forces for drug- and crime-prevention. Suffolk City Hall 514-4104 (S)
Peppy Steppers - 5:45-7:15 p.m. Every Tues. Seniors. ($) W. Branch Comm. Ctr. 382-6411 (C)
Life 101 - 6-7:15 p.m. Every Tues. ($) Wells Therapeutics 490-9488 (VB)
Mixed Media: Mini Zen Garden - 6-8:30 p.m. Create your own! RR ($) Norfolk Botanical Garden 441-5830 (N)
YMCA MixxedFit Class - 6:30-8:30 p.m. Every Tues. Enjoy dance-inspired fitness. Donation ($) MacArthur Center 627-6000 (N)
Counting Crows + Live: 25 Years & Counting - 6:30-10:30 p.m. ($) Veterans United Home Loans Amphitheater 368-3000 (VB)
Magic of Harmony Show Chorus Rehearsals - 7-9 p.m. Every Tues. Visitors welcome. Tabb H.S. Chorus Rm. 566-8600 (Y)
Spontaneous Theater Troupe Training - 7-9 p.m. Every Tues. RR ($) Fellowship Center, 620 14th St. 472-0662 (VB)
In-Depth Study Program - 7-9:30 p.m. Every Tues. Meditation, chanted prayers & more. ($) Keajra Kadampa Buddhist Ctr. 504-4425 (VB)
Coffee Connection - 7:30-9 a.m. Spon. by Va. Peninsula Chamber of Commerce. RR ($) W&M Mason School of Business, 41 Old Oyster Pt. Rd. 262-2000 (NN)
Teacher Workshop - 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Find meaning using symbolic imagery in art and incorporate this into the classroom setting. RR ($) Va. MOCA 425-0000 (VB)
Wednesdays in the Wild - 6-7 p.m. Learn family camping basics, gourmet camp cooking, and camping with dogs. RR Northwest River Park 421-7151 (C)
Croc’s Cooking Class - 6 p.m. Every 2nd Wed. Incl. tastings and wine. RR ($) Croc’s 19th Street Bistro 428-5444 (VB)
Anita Baker: Farewell Concert Series - 8 p.m. ($) Chrysler Hall 664-6464 (N)
Pink Bag Lunch - 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Speaker Danielle Cronin, Manager, Mission Advancement of Goodwill. RR ($) Va. Peninsula Chamber of Commerce 262-2000 (H)
Alzheimer’s Support Group - 1-2:30 p.m. 2nd Thurs. Beth Sholom Village 420-2512 (VB)
Rolling on the River Food Truck Series - 4 p.m.-Sunset. Every 2nd & 4th Thurs. thru Sept. Food trucks, lawn games + music. Elizabeth River Park 382-6411 (C)
Sip & Sway Nights - 6:30-8:30 p.m. Ages 21+. Learn new dances while sipping on adult beverages. RR ($) Suffolk Center 923-2900 (S)
Summer Salads - 6:30-8:30 p.m. Sample new recipes. RR ($) Norfolk Botanical Garden 441-5830 (N)
The Mystical Arts of Tibet: Opening Ceremony - 7 p.m. Tibetan Monks of Drepung Loseling Monastery create a sand-painted mandala. American Theatre 722-2787 (H)
STOP Inc.: Spring Into Community Action Golf Tournament - 9 a.m.-4 p.m. 18 holes of golf, contests, door prizes + more to fund scholarships. RR ($) Cahoon Plantation Golf Course, 1501 Cahoon Pkwy. 858-1380 (C)
The Mystical Arts of Tibet: Creation of Sand Mandala - 10 a.m.-6 p.m. thru Sat. American Theatre 722-2787 (H)
Lion Day - 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Keeper chats, education carts + zoodoption special. ($) Va. Zoo 441-2374 (N)
Working Mom Meals Cooking Classes - 6-9 p.m. Also 8/24. Spon. by Sentara Careplex & The Culinary Institute of Va. Learn about balanced diets during pregnancy and children’s early development. RR ($) CIV, 11850 Merchants Walk, 736-0191 (NN)
TGIF Summer Concert Series: Touch of Spice - 6-9:30 p.m. Entertainment + children’s area. Bennett’s Creek Park, 3000 Bennetts Creek Park Rd. 514-7267 (S)
Muse Jam - 7-10 p.m. Every 2nd Fri. Read your work, play music, or just listen. Muse Writers Center, 2200 Colonial Ave. 818-9880 (N)
One Mile with a Smile Run Series - 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Runs for all fitness levels throughout the day. RR ($) Oak Grove Lake Park 382-6411 (C)
Chesapeake Criterium Bike Race - 8 a.m. Families experience top-level bike racing. Chesapeake Municipal Center 547-7188 (C)
Breakfast with the Animals - 8-10 a.m. Enjoy breakfast while learning animal facts. RR ($) Va. Zoo 441-2374 (N)
Volunteer Day - 9-11 a.m. Be a river hero. RR Paradise Creek Nature Park 399-7487 (P)
River Cleanup - 9 a.m.-noon. Every 2nd Sat. All ages. Locations vary. Spon. by Lynnhaven River Now. 962-5398 (VB)
Harmony Health Yoga Fusion Class - 10 a.m. Every 2nd Sat. Followed by drinks and appetizers. RR ($) Wasserhund Brewery 563-3075 (VB)
Second Saturday Conversations Tour - 10:30-11:30 a.m. ($) Va. MOCA 425-0000 (VB)
Master Class - 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Explore paper collage techniques and adhesive methods. RR ($) Va. MOCA 425-0000 (VB)
National Council of Negro Women, Inc. Monthly Meeting - 11 a.m. Every 2nd Sat. Stanhope House, 2715 Stanhope Ave. 264-1748 (N)
Beer, Bourbon & BBQ Festival - 12-6 p.m. Enjoy entertainment, samples, + more to support Spirit of Hope Children’s Foundation. ($) Hunt Club Farm 427-9520 (VB)
ViBe Summer Concert Series: Commonwealth ViBez - 12-10 p.m. 2nd & 4th Sat. thru Aug. Music, vendors, craft beer + more. ViBe Park, 18th St. & Cypress Ave. 202-9533 (VB)
D’Art Firsthand - 1-3 p.m. Every 2nd Sat. Make & takes, demos + lectures. RR D’Art Center, 740 Duke St. 625-4211 (N)
Gotta Story to Tell Book Launch - 2-5 p.m. Book signing and discussion with six local authors. ($) 30/30 Bistro Lounge, 517 Washington St. 295-8787 (P)
Tap! Tap! Craft Beer Festival - 2-7 p.m. Unlimited samples, food trucks + entertainment. ($) Greenbrier Farms 421-2141 (C)
Wiz Khalifa & Rae Sremmurd: Dazed & Blazed Tour - 6 p.m. ($) Veterans United Home Loans Amphitheater 368-3000 (VB)
Adult Only Luau Party - 7-10 p.m. Enjoy pottery painting, appetizers, beverages + more. RR ($) Glazenfyre, 501 Kempsville Rd. 436-9990 (C)
Adult Overnight - 7 p.m.-8:30 a.m. Ages 21+. Enjoy dinner, drinks, games + activities and quick breakfast. RR ($) Va. Aquarium 385-3474 (VB)
The Light and Sound Service – 11 a.m.-12 p.m. Tidewater Eckankar Center, 1500 E. Little Creek Rd. 588-5683 (N)
Second Sundays Williamsburg - 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Enjoy living history, various artisans, and more. Merchants Square 879-3029 (W)
The Mystical Arts of Tibet: Completion of Mandala and Closing Ceremony - 1 p.m. Tibetan Monks of Drepung Loseling Monastery create a sand-painted mandala. American Theatre 722-2787 (H)
Choreographers of Va. Showcase - 4 p.m. Celebrate all genres of dance. RR ($) Va. MOCA 804-571-2129 (VB)
One Love Caribbean Steel Drum Band - 5:30-7:30 p.m. Enjoy the sounds of island music and good times. Elizabeth River Park 382-6411 (C)
Keith Urban: Graffiti U World Tour - 7:30-11:30 p.m. ($) Veterans United Home Loans Amphitheater 368-3000 (VB)
Job Search and Career Exploration - 5 p.m. Every 2nd Mon. Learn about various topics. Jordan-Newby Library 441-2843 (N)
Def Leppard & Journey in Concert - 7-11 p.m. ($) Veterans United home Loans Amphitheater 368-3000 (VB)
Women’s Voices Book Club - 7:30 p.m. Every 2nd Mon. New members welcome. Barnes & Noble, 4485 Va. Beach Blvd. 671-7929 (VB)
History and Horticulture of Beer - 6:30-8:30 p.m. Learn the brewing process, beer styles, and have a tasting. RR ($) Norfolk Botanical Garden 441-5830 (N)
25 Mics: Spoken Word and Open Mic Night - 7-8:30 p.m. Every 2nd Tues. Downing-Gross Cultural Arts Center 247-8950 (NN)
Chesapeake Fruits & Roots Tour - 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Enjoy wine sampling, food, shopping, and fun. RR ($) Chesapeake Conference Center 731-2957 (C)
Adults with Disabilities Social Group - 3-4:30 p.m. Every 3rd Wed. Enjoy socializing and entertainment. Bayside Library 385-2689 (VB)
HR Youth Got Talent Showcase - 6-8:30 p.m. Featuring singing, dancing, musical instruments + more. ($) Suffolk Center 539-8010 (S)
Neighborhood Block Party - 5:30-7:30 p.m. Enjoy live music + samples. Traditions Catering & Events, 1201 Club House Dr. 547-8009 (C)
Terrarium Workshop - 6:30-8:30 p.m. Create a miniature living tabletop display. RR ($) Norfolk Botanical Garden 441-5830 (N)
VSO: Symphony by the Sea - 7:30 p.m. Enjoy beachfront pops and classics. Neptune Park, 31st St. & Atlantic Ave. 892-6366 (VB)
TGIF Summer Concert Series: Vinyl Headlights - 6-9:30 p.m. Entertainment + kids’ area. Bennett’s Creek Park 514-7267 (S)
Open Mic Night - 7 p.m. Every 3rd Fri. Share music, poetry, stories + more. Christ Episcopal Church, 111 S. Church St. 407-6333 (Smithfield)
The Sound of Soul - 7-8 p.m. Tidewater Eckankar Center, 1500 E. Little Creek Rd. 588-5683 (N)
Guided Nature Walk - 9 a.m.-11 a.m. Bring binoculars to identify local flora and fauna on the trails. RR Chesapeake Arboretum 382-1359 (C)
Transformation by the Spirit - 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Be empowered. Christian Life Support Center, 2005 Old Greenbrier Rd. 366-0130 (C)
Virginia CaribFest - 10 a.m. Enjoy authentic Caribbean music, cuisine, carnival + culture. ($) Town Point Park 664-6880 (N)
Honey Bee Festival - 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Enjoy bee products, activities, vendors + more. ($) Norfolk Botanical Garden 441-5830 (N)
Nansemond Indian Tribal Pow Wow - 10 a.m.-5 p.m. thru Sun. Enjoy a cultural celebration of music, dance, authentic crafts + food. Pembroke Lane 277-4183 (S)
National Honeybee Day - 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Crafts, stories + more. ($) Va. Zoo 441-2374 (N)
Social Cycle Norfolk Bike Education Class - 12-1 p.m. Every 3rd Sat. How to prepare a bike camp kit + more. MacArthur Center 627-6000 (N)
Camp NOW 2018 - 12-6 p.m. All ages connect through music, games, mind concepts, yoga + more. ($) Hunt Club Farm 427-9520 (VB)
Kayaking - 4-6 p.m. Enjoy a guided paddle through the largest restored wetland in Va. RR ($) Paradise Creek Nature Park 392-7132 (P)
Movie Nights - 6 p.m. Enjoy activities & family-favorite films. Mt. Trashmore 385-2990 (VB)
Somewhere Over the Rainbow Gala - 6-10 p.m. Spon. by Mile High Kids & Community Dev. Inc. Raise funds for literacy programs. RR ($) Va. MOCA 962-8005 (VB)
Godsmack and Shinedown in Concert - 7-11 p.m. w/ Red Sun Rising. ($) Veterans United Home Loans Amphitheater 368-3000 (VB)
Jason Aldean: High Noon Neon Tour - 7:30-11:30 p.m. ($) Veterans United Home Loans Amphitheater 368-3000 (VB)
Paint and Unwind - 6:30-8:30 p.m. Come early for happy hour. RR ($) Mermaid Winery, 4401 Shore Dr. 233-4155 (VB)
Mindful Meditation & Sound Bath - 7:15-8:30 p.m. Restore inner peace through guided meditation. RR ($) Healing Concepts, 3619 Va. Beach Blvd. 581-6112 (VB)
Stick Weaving Workshop - 9:30 a.m.-noon. Learn how to weave flowers, leaves, and landscape scenes. RR ($) Norfolk Botanical Garden 441-5830 (N)
REVIVE! Lay Rescuer Training - 5:39-7 p.m. Learn how to respond to an opioid overdose emergency. RR EMS Training Center, 4160 Va. Beach Blvd. 385-0800 (VB)
CHKD Annual Circle Orientation - 4-7:30 p.m. Participate, share, learn & grow with fellow circle members. RR Church of the Good Shepherd, 7400 Hampton Blvd. 668-7098 (N)
Sunset Kayaking - 6-8 p.m. Explore the plants & animals that inhabit Lake Whitehurst. RR ($) Norfolk Botanical Garden 441-5830 (N)
Business Connection After Hours - 5-7 p.m. Spon. by Va. Peninsula Chamber of Commerce. RR ($) Daily Press, 703 Mariners 262-2000 (NN)
Cocktails and Conservation - 6-8 p.m. Adults. Enjoy education, drinks + socializing while learning about protecting cheetahs. RR ($) Va. Zoo 441-2374 (N)
Weekday Wine Down - 6-8:30 p.m. Sample wine & paint your own glass. RR ($) Norfolk Botanical Garden 441-5830 (N)
Fourth Thursday Summer Sings - 7 p.m. Sing some of your favorite works with a conductor. RR ($) Christ & St. Luke’s, 560 W. Olney Rd. 455-3200 (N)
Norfolk Waterfront Jazz Festival - 5-11 p.m. thru Sat. Enjoy legendary sounds + festival craft marketplace. ($) Town Point Park 441-2345 (N)
Party at the Pier - 7-10 p.m. Enjoy live music, food trucks + dancing. Little Island Park 385-2990 (VB)
Zumba - 9-10 a.m. Ages 13+. Enjoy a cardio Latin-inspired dance workout. RR ($) Va. Zoo 441-2374 (N)
Advanced Soap Making - 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Craft your own homemade natural soaps. RR ($) Norfolk Botanical Garden 441-5830 (N)
HR Writers: Storytelling: The Stories Inside Us - 9:30 a.m.-noon. RR ($) TCC Blackwater Bldg. 638-6146 (VB)
Seawall Art Show - 10 a.m.-6 p.m. thru Sun. Browse juried arts and fine crafts. Olde Towne, High Street 393-8543 (P)
Teacher with a Purpose - 2-3:30 p.m. Book signing + professional development. RR Greenbrier Library 410-7058 (C)
Va. Zoo: Bowling for Rhinos - 6-9 p.m. Game, silent auction, prizes + more. RR ($) Pinboy’s at the Beach, 1577 Laskin Rd. 441-2374 (N)
Rooftop Yoga - 9 a.m. RR ($) Sky Bar, 3001 Atlantic Ave. 213-3000 (VB)
The Book Discussion - 11 a.m.-noon. Tidewater Eckankar Center, 1500 E. Little Creek Rd. 588-5683 (N)
Ladies Only Next Steps Class - 6:30-8:30 p.m. Take the next step in your firearms training. RR ($) SP&G Lynnhaven Shooting Range 427-2627 (VB)
Eckankar Spiritual Conversations - 7-8:30 p.m. Open discussion on past lives, dreams and soul travel. Wells Therapeutics 748-7438 (VB)
Chase Bryant and Justin Adams in Concert - 5-9 p.m. Town Point Park 441-2345 (N)
HR Writers: Grow Your Prose w/ Professional Critique - 5:30-8:30 p.m. RR Gus and George’s Spaghetti and Steak House, 4312 Va. Beach Blvd. 639-6146 (VB)
Zoovies: Disney’s Zootopia - 6-9 p.m. ($) Va. Zoo 441-2374 (N) Q
Please call to confirm.
RR - Reservation req’d. ($) Fee (C) Chesapeake (H) Hampton (N) Norfolk
(NN) Newport News (P) Portsmouth
(S) Suffolk (VB) Va. Beach (W) W’burg
Many people find it very easy to love a dog, and this is not new. Bryan Sykes tells us in his book The Seven Daughters of Eve, “By eight thousand years ago, dogs had become the indispensable companions of the hunters who ranged over Europe after the last Ice Age. Some became so precious that they were given a ceremonial burial with their owners.” Dogs are still precious to us for so many reasons.
Dogs can help remind us how nice it is to live in tune with the natural world. Humans are meant to be active but sometimes are sedentary instead. It is harder to stay inside if our faithful companion asks us (in a very persistent way) to go outside. Dogs remind us to rise with the sun and stretch, to start the day with a drink of water, to go outside for a walk and move as fast as we can just for the fun of it, and to settle in for the evening when the sun goes down.
Humans get stuck in thoughts of the past or the future. Dogs live in the moment, noticing, appreciating, and enjoying every detail of every day. Dogs can’t cheat or lie, and we can’t lie to them because they can sense our true feelings through their sensitive noses and attunement to our body language. They can alert us to danger and also be trained to sense medical emergencies.
We take our dogs to school so that we can learn to embody the calm and assertive energy that helps them learn what we are asking them to do. We practice setting clear and consistent boundaries and staying focused on the positive, speaking of what we want more of. This is the same strategy that helps humans to live in cooperation with our families and coworkers.
Though we raise our children to leave us and become independent, we raise our dogs to stay with us and be our companions. When we pet our beloved dog and gaze into her eyes, oxcytocin (the bonding hormone) is released into our nervous system. This shifts us from the ‘fight or flight’ response to the ‘tend and befriend’ mode, making our animals natural therapists. Pet owners live longer! Many dogs are specially trained as Therapy Dogs to visit nursing homes, schools, and hospitals to provide this feeling to those who can’t own a dog of their own. It’s not the ownership of the dog that helps us; it’s the loving bond.
Because we have evolved with dogs, being with them helps us to be fully human. When they come to us as a puppy, they can prepare us for the responsibility of having a baby. As they live with us, they demonstrate what unconditional love looks like. And since they do not live as long as we do, we can practice that very difficult art of letting go—as we love them to the very end. They show us that though death is perfectly awful, it is also a perfectly natural part of life.
They say that when you pass over, your loved ones are there to meet you. I hope that would include my dog because I would not want to go to heaven without her. I love this version of a story based on an episode of The Twilight Zone by Rod Serling. I’ve given it a more ‘pawsitive’ twist at the end.
An old man and his dog were walking down a hot, dusty road lined with a fence on both sides. As they walked along, they became very thirsty and tired. They came upon a man in flowing white robes standing just inside a gate. Behind him a path led to a beautiful, sunny meadow with a cool, clear stream running through it.
The gatekeeper told him, “You can come in, but your dog can’t come with you. This is Heaven, and dogs aren’t allowed here.” The man responded, “Well, if he can’t come in, then I’ll stay out here on the road with him. He’s been my faithful companion all his life, and I won’t desert him now.”
As they walked on, the fence became more and more rundown until the boards fell away completely leaving a gap. Another man dressed in old, ragged clothes sat just inside the broken fence under a shady tree. This man said, “Come on in and rest. Make yourself comfortable.” This time the old man responded, “I won’t come in if my buddy here can’t come too.” The man smiled and said, “Welcome to Heaven, and bring your dog!”
Questioning this response, the old man asked, “Then why did that fellow down the road say dogs weren’t allowed in Heaven?” The man replied, “That was the Devil, and he gets all the souls who are willing to give up a life-long companion. Their dogs just come on down here on their own. As soon as those people realize their mistake, they are filled with regret. But they all make their way here eventually. Hell is a state of mind, and once they realize they are free to change, they choose love, and love has a powerful pull.”
Kristie Abel is an artist and freelance editor.
Janet Abel has been teaching yoga in the area since 2001. She is an Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher (E- RYT) certified by the Yoga Alliance, a member of the International Association of Yoga Therapists and a Mindful Living Consultant. For information, visit JanetAbel.com.
Good relationships require leadership. Many of us have a few dissatisfying relationships, but it doesn’t occur to us to guide the relationship to a healthier place. We feel we are stuck with how the other person is. More likely, we haven’t thought through what we really want from our relationships. We deal with our relationships passively and reactively, instead of taking leadership.
If you wait for people to guess your needs, relationships fall apart. Instead of just reacting to other people’s insensitivity, you could tell them how you want your relationships to feel. What do you want them to do? What are the unspoken paths of conduct you wish they would follow?
Such openness comes more naturally in close friendships and intimate relationships. But you can also lead in other relationships that you didn’t choose, such as your work, neighbors, and family connections. You may end up around people with whom you have little in common and who are insensitive to how you feel or what you want. You can feel stuck with these relationships, but here is where you can shine as a relationship leader.
Relationship leaders are people who are clear about how they want to be treated and what makes a relationship rewarding. They request respectful treatment, such as asking them politely or disagreeing without becoming insulting. For instance, a relationship leader might say to a man who barks orders, “I’d love to help you, and I’d love for you to ask me nicely.” Or to a woman who mocks others’ political views, a relationship leader might say, “I think it’s perfectly fine that we see things differently, and it’s interesting to hear both sides.” These are neutral responses that actively lift the dialogue toward something better.
Relationship leaders can even go a step further by adding broader instruction in how relationships can be made more rewarding for both parties. For example, family members who annoy you by stopping by whenever they feel like it are being disrespectful of boundaries. You might make a request, such as “Please call before you come to see if it’s a good time for me.” But you could also offer additional relational leadership by sharing an insight about good relationships in general, like “Happy relationships have good boundaries” or “Visits are more fun when both people feel like visiting.”
If people violate a boundary you requested, they are telling you they didn’t get it the first time. They are thoughtlessly reacting only to their own wishes, so they need your leadership toward more desirable behavior. For instance, if a co-worker keeps talking after you’ve stated your need for uninterrupted work time, you can lead the relationship by saying, “To be good co-workers, we have to give each other time to get things done. I’ll let you know when I’m able to talk.” To an overly chatty neighbor, you could say: “That’s interesting, but I’m not up for talking right now. Sometimes we all need some quiet time to ourselves.” In a respectful, informative way, you are offering good relationship values to live by.
Beyond setting limits, there may be times when other people simply treat you badly or accuse you of things that aren’t true. That’s when relationship leadership can guide the relationship forward without reacting in ways that could injure the bond beyond repair. For example, if someone unjustly accuses you of a malevolent intent, you might say “That’s not how I meant it” and follow up with relational leadership, such as “We can check it out with each other before assuming the worst.” Or if someone has been holding a grudge against you, say “Things work better if we tell each other clearly why we’re upset.”
Sometimes relationships between adult children and their parents breed conflict over dominance and inequality. Parents are accustomed to being the authority figures, and it often falls to the adult child to lead the way to a more equal and respectful adult relationship. For instance, when parents try to take over or give advice, you might say: “Well, that’s a good idea, Mom, but it’s important to let me think this through for myself.” If a parent gets angry and speaks harshly, you can be the leader by saying “I expect you to control yourself. We are two grown adults now. How are we going to have a respectful adult relationship with you talking to me like that?”
Remember, the ultimate goal of relationship leadership is to not only to speak up for yourself, but also to offer good relationship values that can inspire both of you to treat each other respectfully. Your choice is either to lead or follow. You’re not doing them any favors if you know a better way but don’t teach them a better way.
The family gathering to celebrate Independence Day didn’t see their celebration end with the type of fireworks they had initially planned. Instead of enjoying beach-front festivities, they were gathered in the emergency department with concerns about Grandma’s health. During their cookout earlier in the day, Grandma suddenly began to have problems speaking, walking, and using her right arm. Fortunately, her family recognized the need for immediate medical attention and called 9-1-1. In minutes, the fire department arrived at the cookout and took control of the situation by immediately initiating treatment.
Grandma suffered an ischemic stroke because of the sudden blockage of a blood vessel in her brain. This type of stroke, or brain attack, is quite common and deprives the brain of blood and oxygen. Symptoms such as problems with Balance, vision (Eyes), Facial muscle weakness, Arm or leg weakness, and problems Speaking are common with this type of stroke. These findings form a series of letters (B.E.F.A.S.T.) that should prompt Timely activation of emergency services personnel to get a patient to the hospital for evaluation.
The family’s ability to recognize these signs allowed Grandma to arrive at the hospital within minutes. Prompt recognition allowed for prompt treatment. In this case, Grandma was eligible to receive a medicine that breaks up the clot causing her stroke. Shortly after this medication was given, the medical team began to see improvements. While she remained in the hospital for a few days for testing and evaluation, Grandma was able to return home to the level of independence she previously enjoyed.
Grandma’s stroke was caused by a small blood clot that formed because of an irregular heartbeat. The medication she received helped to dissolve that clot and allow her brain to recover quickly. More severe strokes require a specially trained doctor to use a small wire to remove the clots. Either way, re-establishing blood flow to the brain as quickly as possible is a key factor in helping the patient experience a positive outcome.
During their time at the hospital, the family learned a great deal about strokes. For instance, while everyone is at risk for having a stroke, some are at greater risk. If you smoke, have high blood pressure, and/or have increased cholesterol and other risk factors, your chances of having a stroke are increased. In addition, females share unique risk factors, such as pregnancy, use of hormone replacement therapy, and/or a history of migraines.
Regardless of eligibility to receive the clot-busting medication or the clot removal procedure, everyone’s recovery process is different. Some patients require extensive rehabilitation with physical, occupational, and speech therapy while others have very few complications and require only outpatient physical therapy. Unfortunately, those who suffer a stroke have an increased risk of having another stroke. This is where lifestyle changes are so important after a stroke. They make a big difference in modifying a person’s risk factors.
In this story, Grandma had a great outcome because of a few key actions. Her family recognized her stroke and dialed 9-1-1 to call for an ambulance. They also used the B.E.F.A.S.T. assessment tool to identify symptoms quickly. Remember: B-balance; E-eyes (or vision issues); F-facial drooping on one side; A-arm (or leg) weakness; S-speech difficulties; T-time is of the essence.
Fire department medical personnel arrived soon after they were called and acted as an extension of the emergency department. They performed detailed testing which allowed them to transport Grandma to the hospital most-prepared to handle her stroke emergency.
Some hospitals in the region, such as Chesapeake Regional Medical Center, have a well-trained team of doctors and nurses who focus on the care and treatment of stroke patients. Hospitals like this are ready and waiting for patients to arrive to ensure that care is provided quickly. Restarting blood flow to the brain is key for stroke patients. Hospitals that prioritize this treatment give patients the best chance for a positive recovery.
Chesapeake Regional Medical Center was recently recognized by the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association for their commitment to ensuring stroke patients receive the most appropriate treatment.
Michael J. Whitehurst, RN, BSN, CCRN, SCRN, is CRMC’s Stroke/Rapid Response Team Coordinator. For more information, visit www.chesapeakeregional.com.
Reggae music plays as I watch a harvest scene unfold at one of Argentina’s trendiest wineries, Passionate Wine. We’re south of Mendoza in a region called Tupungato, touring the tiny winery with Ramiro, who is excited to share the company’s passion for wine. Inside the building, machines crush grapes beneath brightly painted walls depicting far-out creatures and scenes, graffiti-style. The vibe here is chill, a bit cutting edge, like Passionate’s unique wines and its winemaker, Matias Michelini, who likes to shake up the status quo.
On a trip to France, Matias discovered wineries there used 12-foot concrete eggs to ferment wines. The egg shape maintains a stable temperature and gives the wine more intense flavors, aromas, and colors, Ramiro explained. It also allows the “energies of the universe” to engage with the wine. Besides fermenting wines in these strange vessels, Matias and his team at Passionate Wines resurrect historic grapes, harvest earlier than traditional wineries, and create wines that break all the rules. In a glass-walled tasting bar, Ramiro lets us taste a few of their wines, including Via Revolutionaria, featuring the Bonarda grape. I love its fresh mouthfeel and acidic yet fruity notes. A lovely, layered red blend called Demente features Malbec and Cabernet Franc grapes. It’s nicely balanced, not too tannic. Ramiro says at night the wine bar comes alive with locals and tourists, who spread out across the grassy yard and drink wine under the stars. Sounds like heaven.
It is heavenly here in Mendoza. After 10 days exploring the fabulous wine regions of Chile, I wasn’t sure whether Mendoza’s scenic views of the Andes and great wines would measure up to its neighbor’s. But after a few days, I am falling in love with Mendoza, its people, and of course its luscious wines. Come along with Peter and me as we explore the other side of the Andes.
Once we met a couple who told us they’d ridden horses over the Andes. After our one-day horseback adventure in Chile, I can’t imagine spending 6-8 days crossing these monstrous mountains in the saddle. Instead Peter and I hop on a plane in Santiago for the short, 45-minute flight east to Mendoza, Argentina. A $10 taxi ride brings us to our hotel, the Park Hyatt Mendoza in the center of town, and we already love the city’s cozy vibe. The Park Hyatt is across from a green, leafy park filled with families strolling and kids playing. Businesses, restaurants, bars, and shops line the streets, and the city feels safe and tranquil.
One night while walking around we find ourselves in a smaller park, where young adults are swaying and swirling to tunes on a portable radio. I’ve no idea what the different dances are, but these kids are having a ball, smiling and spinning around in dizzying circles as sultry dance music keeps the beat. You gotta love a country where young people choose to enjoy a healthy activity like dancing outside with their friends.
An attorney from San Francisco I met on the rooftop bar at the W Santiago recommended a restaurant in Mendoza called Maria Antonieta. “It’s popular, though, so you better make reservations,” he said. Well, Peter and I like to live dangerously, so we show up at 8 p.m. one night. The place is empty. Argentineans enjoy their dinner late, a Spanish tradition we never seem to get used to. We get lucky, score a table, and watch the place fill up as the night unfolds.
When the food arrives, we know why this charming restaurant is so popular. The cuisine rocks! For appetizers we enjoy rustic bread with a beet purée, golden-orange gazpacho for Peter, and, for me, the best-ever grilled endive salad featuring greens, bleu cheese, prosciutto, and slices of pear. Perfection! Peter’s main is grilled sea bass with mounds of roasted veggies—eggplant, carrots, onions, and squash. I order a ribeye steak medium rare, which is full of flavor. Even though the restaurant is busy, we never feel rushed. Its laid back vibe and jazzy background music encourages us to linger over the last drop of wine. We hear brunch is also crazy-good, but our hotel stay includes breakfast so that’s where we start our day.
The Park Hyatt’s breakfast buffet is varied and delicious—eggs, cheese, fruit, and yummy pastries—and we love our spacious room at the hotel. Besides its central location, the Park Hyatt is super fancy, its grand exterior gleaming white and featuring Spanish Colonial architecture. Thanks to a good exchange rate, it’s not too expensive—from $150 a night. The hotel has all the amenities you’d expect from a first-class property: sparkling outdoor pool, a serene spa where Victoria gives me a fabulous massage, and a casino right next door for those who like games of chance.
We take it easy in Mendoza, catching our breath and exploring the neighborhoods. It’s a walkable city, and we love getting to know the local culture, visiting the market, and tasting local cuisine. Many travelers who come to Mendoza take advantage of tours or hop-on buses to visit area wineries. Outfitters are also happy to pick you up in Mendoza and take you on adventurous outings—think white water rafting, hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding. Peter and I plan to go a bit further afield so we enjoy relaxing in the city for three days before renting a car and heading south.
A SEA OF VINEYARDS
Wineries are everywhere in Mendoza, it seems. Close to the city is Bodega Catena Zapata, a state-of-the-art winery my friend Kal, who owns Croc’s 19th Street Bistro, told me to visit. Turns out many of the most popular wineries require advance reservations. Wine tourism is big in Mendoza, and that means wine tastings, tours, and even lunch reservations sell out. Next time we’ll know better and make plans in advance.
To be honest, Peter and I are happy enough winging it. Our next lodging is a beautiful boutique hotel called Auberge du Vin located in Tupungato about an hour south of Mendoza. It’s a chic, modern property surrounded by vineyards with incredible views of the Andes. Our first night we dine at their restaurant, Epic, and our meal definitely is! The eight-course tasting menu features a gamut of dishes designed to wow your palate, especially if you are a protein fan. Octopus, salmon, mushroom risotto, crispy sweetbread, veal, and braised lamb. The house Malbec is a perfect accompaniment.
Auberge du Vin makes a great home base for exploring nearby wineries. Besides Passionate Wine, we visit Andeluna, an impressive winery housed in a huge stone building that rises up from a sea of grapevines. Besides the wine-making facilities, the building is home to their amazing restaurant featuring a romantic veranda with views of the cloud-shrouded Andes to the west. It’s a warm fall afternoon, and piano music tinkles in the background mingling with the murmur of conversation and the clinking of glasses. It’s the kind of place I could stay all day. And yes, there’s wine, too!
Luciana, Andeluna’s marketing specialist, takes Peter and me through a tasting of their fabulous wines out on the veranda. Luciana is passionate about wine and says there’s always more to learn about wine. I agree! Here in Mendoza the combination of altitude, rocky soil, rainfall, and sunlight create a terroir where high-quality grapes grow almost effortlessly. Red varietals include Malbec, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc. Andeluna’s white varietals include Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Torrontés, an acidic, complex white with floral notes. My favorite red is the Pasionado Cuatro Cepas, a spicy blend of the four red varietals with notes of anise and local herbs. It’s one of their top wines, and I can see why. But you may have to go to Mendoza to find it. A quick check online shows none is available in the states.
One windy afternoon on a whim, we follow a small wooden sign near our hotel down dusty, dirt roads towards the Andes. Our goal? A Monasterio. I asked about it at the hotel, but they couldn’t tell me much more other than yes, there’s a monastery further down the road. We drive a few minutes, finally spy another sign, and pull into a nearly deserted parking lot. The wind is kicking up clouds of dust as we follow a path past a small fountain through tidy, landscaped grounds leading to a lovely little chapel. Inside the walls are frescoed with simple paintings of angels and saints, and wooden benches face the altar where a crucifix hangs. It’s breathtakingly beautiful, and Peter and I are the only ones here.
Outside we meet the Padré, a monk wearing a traditional hooded robe and a big smile. He welcomes us into the humble gift shop, where a nice lady sells candles, wine, honey, and chocolate to visitors. We buy a few goodies, and Peter and I chat with the Padré whose English is quite good. We ask if we can walk around the grounds, and he says, “Of course.”
We stroll through woods and over meadows and find ourselves in view of the monastery, where the monks live, work, and study. It’s on top of ridge with the Andes rising beyond, and I can’t think of a better place to live a contemplative life. No cell phones here, you can be sure. Besides their religious activities, the monks also tend grapes and bees and make chocolate. Visitors are welcome to attend Mass, in Spanish, of course, but Peter and I feel holy just walking around in this special place with the fresh, wind blowing down from the mountain range and a landscape around us that looks like a fairytale.
Our final four nights we chose to stay in a private lodging in Chacras de Coria, which is a suburb of Mendoza. The property’s lovely backyard is lined with tall poplar trees whose leaves rustle in the wind. The weather has remained perfect throughout our South American adventure: cool nights, sunny days, and practically no humidity. Our idea is to take it easy these last few days before we return home.
But it’s hard for me to sit still. So we head west up into the Andes for a hike to Aconcagua, the highest mountain in the Western hemisphere (22,838 feet tall). Mind you, we aren’t climbing to the top—I’m not crazy. We journey by car to a park about an hour this side of the Chilean border. The sky is piercingly blue studded by a few fluffy clouds, but what impresses us most as we hike a windswept trail are the colors of the Andes. Sheer cliffs show layers of sedimentary and metamorphic rock that exhibit almost every color of the rainbow: green, pink, blue, gray, gold. Who knew rocks could be so colorful?
Overhead a few condors fly in slow, spiraling patterns. In the distance Aconcagua rises up like a snowy mirage. From our vantage point about 12 miles away, it’s hard to grasp its true height, but signs along the trail say the glacier on its south face is 6 miles long. It’s a beautiful day for a hike—warm, a bit breezy—but weather changes quickly at nearly 10,000 feet in the sky, so we’re happy to have picked such a perfect day.
Another day we visit a boutique hotel and winery in Chacras de Coria owned by a Swiss family, who moved to Argentina a few years ago. One of the owners, Cecile, invites us for a tour of the hotel, which also features a spa, restaurant, and meeting space. Called Entre Cielos, it’s one of the prettiest places I’ve ever seen. When you arrive, you park at the front of the property and stroll along tidy paths past rows of grapes, art installations, and playful water features. Art is a big part of the décor at the hotel, where cutting-edge artists exhibit paintings, sculptures, and textiles.
Peter and I are invited to enjoy the spa’s hamam, a Turkish steam bath with a ritualized bathing protocol. At each of the stations, you have tasks to do from sweating to washing to rinsing to swimming to relaxing on a warm tile surface while thermal heat permeates deep into your bones. Couples and/or same sex groups take turns going through the stations, and it’s supremely relaxing and therapeutic. We loved it!
Afterwards Cecile shows us some of the 16 rooms of the hotel. Its chic, modern architecture utilizes lots of natural materials—wood, tiles, and stone—and its furnishings and bedding are super luxurious. The most amazing room is actually a pod on stilts that juts up from the vineyard. Cecile says, “It’s like a treehouse. The vines are the trees.” It’s a romantic spot with a jetted tub on the outdoor balcony for bathing under the stars while sipping on glasses of wine—from the Entre Cielos winery, of course.
Speaking of wine, Cecile treats us to a delicious lunch at Katharina Bistro. We sit on the terrace overlooking the hotel’s turquoise pool and grapevines shimmering like gold in the afternoon sunlight. In the distance the Andes rise up like sentinels in the sky. Our lunch is as magnificent as the view. Peter has roasted veggies with pumpkin that pops with flavor followed by a veggie burger. I enjoy fabulous tomatoes served with burrata and then a filet mignon with a Malbec sauce that is insanely good. Cecile serves Marantal Malbec, named after a star in the constellation Orion. And, yes, the wine is stellar, just like everything else at Entre Cielos.
The next morning as we pack up the car before heading to the airport, our landlord brings us a bottle of red wine with a handwritten label and says, “It’s from our family winery. It’s a gift.” We thank her and wonder whether the wine will be any good. Back home in Virginia we open her bottle—along with the wine from the Monasterio. Both bottles are amazing and transport us instantly back to the vineyards of Argentina. Something tells me we will be back one day.
Read about Peggy’s adventures in Chile’s wine country here!
For those who love the outdoors and care about the environment, finding a career where they are surrounded by nature is a dream come true. Let’s meet three local women who have the distinct pleasure of getting wet, muddy, mosquito-bitten, and sunburned doing jobs they adore in this month’s TW cover story: Caring for the Planet.
TW has freshened up its design and sports a playful new logo—just one of the ways we are celebrating our 20th year in publication! Stay tuned for exciting specials and fun planned throughout the year.
There’s no excuse for spending the summer inside looking at screens when we live in an area so full of opportunities for enrichment in the outdoors. Learn about some local hotspots so exciting, your kids won’t mind putting their devices away in this month’s TF cover story: No Screens? No Problem!
Need ideas for what to do on a rainy day? Please visit our website for tips and trends from previous issues. Plus check out our Go-To Guides, featuring businesses that offer goods and services your family needs, and much more. Don’t forget to connect with us on Facebook and Twitter, too!
These days, women are seeking educational, enriching activities to add meaning and FUN to their lives, as well as build skills that can help them advance in the workplace or seek a new career. Women are taking classes in all kinds of endeavors—career-related, technology, music, art, cooking, crafts and more. Women today want to be creatively and purposefully engaged.
We can help you reach local women who want to know about the enriching classes and programs you offer! Our August issue will feature our 2018 CAREER & ENRICHMENT GUIDE, and it’s the perfect place to get the word out about your offerings to area women. We’ll feature organizations that offer career-related educational programs and enriching classes in art, music, writing, and so much more.
Parents are always on the lookout for ways to help their children discover and develop skills and talents. Introducing children to a wide variety of after-school activities ensures they will increase creativity, develop thinking skills, and improve social interaction.
The August issue of Tidewater Family will feature our 2018 AFTER-SCHOOL GUIDE. Whether you offer tutoring, martial arts, sports, music, dance, or another extracurricular activity, parents today recognize the value of introducing kids to experiences like yours. Make sure they find out about the after-school activities you offer and reserve your space today.
Our Pre-K & Private School Guide also continues through August. Don’t miss the opportunity to get the word out about your school to area parents!
Most of us need a break from crowds when we travel. Heading off the beaten track not only helps us calm down and savor the moment, it also brings us face to face with amazing sites we might otherwise never see.
Plus, find out why Chile is the newest must-see destination in this unforgettable wine-tasting adventure featured in TW, At Home in Chile’s Wine Country.
I remember when people first started emailing and texting in lieu of picking up the phone and calling someone. The first time I saw my sister-in-law send an email to my brother about something instead of bringing it up in conversation, I was stunned. Why would anybody want to take the extra effort to key in letters and words and then correct everything when it’s so much easier to talk?
Even though I am now part of the texting/emailing/hardly-ever-picking-up-the-phone crowd, I still hate it. First of all, texting/emailing takes longer. Sometimes I find myself going back and forth via email trying to clarify something when a simple phone call would be so much more efficient. Secondly, messages get misconstrued. When we sent messages with text, it’s impossible to use tone of voice and body language to help communicate the subtleties of the language.
That’s exactly what I miss. I miss the warmth in my friends’ voices, the laughter we share about a funny story we heard, the humanity that connects us when we talk to one another, whether in person or over the phone. Talking enables us to exchange ideas, collaborate, and create together. Sending a lonely text out into the universe is a far cry from an enriching conversation that not only helps bring new ideas to the surface, but also serves to express support, reassurance, inspiration, and love.
Conversation is becoming a lost art especially among the younger generations. People are growing disenfranchised as a result and are forgetting how to interact with one other. Social niceties like saying good morning and smiling and greeting strangers as you pass them by are becoming things of the past. Remember eye contact and facial expressions and gentle reassuring touches? These elements of nonverbal communication are disappearing as fast as emojis and memes can replace them. Sorry, but a smiley face or a crying face or a mad face just doesn’t provide the same feedback as heart-to-heart communication.
So next time you start sending a text message or an email, do yourself a favor and pick up the phone. If your kids are constantly texting you, tell them to call you instead. You want to hear their voice anyway, don’t you? Let’s bring back the art of warm, human conversation and minimize our reliance on bits and bytes to convey our thoughts and feelings.
Even better make a date with a friend to meet for coffee—no phones allowed. Talk about your dreams and desires, the past and the future, and the challenges you face. When we take the time to reach out to people and simply talk to them, we show that we love and support them and care about their thoughts and feelings. Try doing that in an email.
I hope you find time for meaningful conversations this month, and don’t forget to put your toes in the sand at least once a week!
P.S. - If you’re a business owner and have been thinking about advertising in Tidewater Women, it’s your lucky day! We’ve extended our Celebration Rates (see back cover) until July 31, 2018. Advertising in TW aligns your business with a magazine that cares for and supports local women. Join our family of satisfied customers and call 757-204-4688. If you’re a reader, take time to call an advertiser and say, “Thanks!” for supporting the area’s only magazine that’s just for women!
Stephanie Drzal, a nutrient management specialist for Virginia’s Department of Conservation and Recreation, is no stick in the mud. But one day while taking soil samples on a farm in Chesapeake after a heavy rain, her 4-wheel drive Jeep got seriously stuck in the mud. After five minutes of panic and mortification, she said to herself, “Girl, if you have to call anyone to get you unstuck, you will never live this down with your coworkers.”
Motivated by pride, Steph decided to dig the Jeep out herself. She always caries a shovel and plank in the Jeep, so she dug the mud out from under the tires and wedged the plank under one. She slowly drove forward and felt a jolt when the tires hit solid land. “I can’t put into words the relief I felt,” she recalled. She laughed all the way home to Suffolk, she said, covered in thick, black mud from head to toe.
For those who love the outdoors and care about the environment, finding a career where they are surrounded by nature is a dream come true. Let’s meet three local women who have the distinct pleasure of getting wet, muddy, mosquito-bitten, and sunburned doing jobs they adore. For them, it’s all in a day’s work.
BIRDSONG & BLUE SKIES
Most days on the job aren’t that stressful for Stephanie. The 31-year-old native of Wernersville, Pennsylvania, enjoys soil sampling and tries to work around the weather. “When I’m outside smelling the soil, looking at the sky, hearing birds sing, it’s very meditative for me,” said Stephanie, who has a master’s degree in Soil Science from North Carolina State University.
Manure samples aren’t as much fun, Steph said. She doesn’t mind cow and horse manure, but chicken droppings can burn your eyes. Sampling a hog lagoon is the smelliest. If she does it before lunch, it ruins her appetite. Once a bottle of manure sample exploded on Steph. It was a hot day, and heat put too much pressure on the plastic bottle. “BAM. It just spewed everywhere. I was covered,” Steph recalled. “I took the rest of the day off. Hog manure sticks in your skin. That’s a smell that lingers.”
The soil samples Steph takes are checked for concentrations of chemicals such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Depending on these tests, she lets farmers know when they don’t need to fertilize. This reduces the chemicals that pollute the waterways due to runoff. Ultimately, Steph’s efforts help ensure the health of the Chesapeake Bay.
As someone who “loves dirt,” Steph is passionate about teaching others why soil is so important to the health of our planet. “Soil affects every aspect of our lives. It’s where our food and clothing come from; it grows the plants that help us breathe; it’s where we end up after we’re gone. It is truly a living, breathing organism,” she said.
Steph teaches soil basics in a Master Gardener Class for the Virginia Cooperative Extension and loves talking to people who appreciate soil as much as she does. Her one word of advice for home gardeners? “Compost,” she said. “It’s the best thing you can do for your soil.”
Back in college, Stephanie was very active in environmental causes. Her passion for the environment hasn’t subsided, but she said a few years of real-world experience have changed how she sees life. “At first, I was disheartened because not everyone has the fire of change in his/her heart, but the longer I work, the more hopeful I become,” she said. “Grasses regrowing in the Chesapeake Bay is proof that what I’m working for and sweating over is working.”
Erica Ryder, a visitor services specialist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, enjoyed the outdoors as a young girl and loved exploring the woods near her home. A career in conservation was a natural progression for her, so she attended George Mason University’s Environmental Science program. During college, she read Rachel Carson’s classic 1962 book, Silent Spring, and it profoundly affected her. “Her work jumpstarted the environmental movement in this country,” said Erica, who grew up in Chesapeake. “She persevered when she was told to leave biology to men. She broke many social barriers and paved the way for women scientists.”
Erica joined the Peace Corps in 2008 after finishing college and went to the small community of Alita in Northern Peru, a desert forest region where the temperature can reach over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and rain is extremely rare. In addition, the community had no electricity or running water, a huge challenge for Erica.
Her host family helped her adapt to the new climate, culture, and language, but every day brought a lot of hard work. The family usually woke with the sun and went to bed shortly after dark. Every day Erica and other members of her family retrieved buckets of water from a well near the house.
While in Peru, Erica taught families organic gardening and assisted at the elementary school. The students tended fruit trees and spent two hours a day hauling buckets out of the well to water them. When electricity came to the community during Erica’s second year, an electric pump was installed in the well, so that a drip irrigation system could water the trees. She remembers that getting electricity was exciting for everyone. Once the families had electric lights in their homes, they no longer ate dinner by candlelight.
The most important skill Erica gained while in the Peace Corps was to learn from her failures and try again. She also discovered she could adapt to challenging conditions. This has helped give her the courage to try new things and persevere when times are tough.
Today Erica loves inspiring others as she leads tours at the Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Her mission is to share this beautiful environment with the public and teach them the importance of providing a protected habitat for wildlife. During visits to the refuge and on Erica’s tours, many visitors experience nature in a way they never have before. Maybe they’ll see dolphins frolicking in the ocean or pelicans sailing in formation above the shore. They might spot a cottonmouth snake swimming on the water or view a peaceful sunset at the end of the day. “I love seeing a person’s face light up when they see something new,” said Erica.
Another responsibility Erica has at the refuge is assisting with the sea turtle conservation program. When left to nature, most baby turtles are eaten by predators. Refuge staff and a group of volunteers try to turn the odds in favor of their survival.
When the sea turtles lay eggs on the beach in summer, a cage is placed over the nests, so the eggs won’t be eaten. Then close to the time the eggs will hatch, volunteers sit beside the nests all night and wait. The volunteers remove any ghost crabs and cover any ghost crab holes because they are the greatest threat to the baby turtles.
When dozens of hatchlings emerge from their nests and crawl to the ocean, refuge staff and volunteers scurry around trying to keep track of them. It’s a big feeling of relief and excitement when the hatchlings reach the ocean, Erica said, though they are still vulnerable to sea predators. “We always hope for the best and wonder about their fate,” Erica said.
Grace Saunders, 25, is a woman on a mission. She’s the Eastern Branch lead scientist for the Elizabeth River Project in Portsmouth, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to restore the health of the Elizabeth River.
What motivates Grace most is the excitement she feels when she revisits a project site and sees more plants and animal species than were there before, a good indication the river is getting healthier. “The improvement is quantifiable,” Grace explained. “We’ve seen six species of fish increase to 25 species. Native species of marsh grasses are repopulating the marshes. And these increases in biodiversity are happening so quickly.”
Currently, the Eastern Branch of the Elizabeth River has a D score for water quality. Its two tributaries, Indian River and Broad Creek, earned F scores for bacteria. Much of the bacteria is from dog feces. “The big challenge is to change people’s minds, to move people from indifference about the environment to caring,” Grace noted. “Some people don’t feel motivated to recycle or pick up dog poop. It can be hard to believe that little actions improve the health of the environment, but the little things really do add up.” This summer Grace will be running a “Scoop the poop” campaign in Indian River neighborhoods and hopes residents will become more mindful of their pet’s harmful impact.
Another aspect of Grace’s job is flood control. Because Norfolk is so close to sea level, flooding is always an issue. After a heavy rain, the water has nowhere to go. Grace attends civic league meetings with Norfolk homeowners to discuss the issue. One way homeowners can help reduce flooding, said Grace, is to create a rain garden with native plants, which allows standing water to naturally sink back into the groundwater table.
Flood control is also aided by what Grace calls ditch retrofits. Ditches are excavated and re-modeled so that rainwater can easily drip down into the groundwater. Stone, woodchips, and compost are layered within the new ditch, and native plants are planted on the surface, improving water quality and resolving the nuisance of standing water.
Grace, who grew up in rural Suffolk, is proud of her work in the community. She loves it when she goes to a civic meeting and gets 30 homeowners on board with rain gardens and other best management practices. She has gained the trust of these people, and, as a result, they install living shorelines and build oyster habitat to prevent erosion and to improve the health of the Elizabeth River. The more people that participate, the more successful the project will be.
Grace said she’s grateful to be part of this project and remains hopeful we will have a cleaner environment to leave to our children. “The future of the Earth does not have to be so grim,” Grace said. “Humans are an innovative species and caring towards others. If we work together, I believe we can find harmony with our ever-changing environment.”
Dona Sapristi is a freelance journalist and poet who lives in Newport News. Her interests include health, spirituality, nature, and women’s issues.