Reaching for the Stars

Here’s a secret you don’t have to keep: P.E.O., a philanthropic organization for women of all ages, is a sisterhood dedicated to fulfill the mission of making higher education possible for other women. Learn all about this formerly secret society of young women and the lives they touch in this month’s TW cover story, Reaching for the Stars.

Pick up Tidewater Women’s November issue for our 2017 Holiday Guide, where we’ll help you find the best places for gifts and holiday happenings in the area completely stress-free. You’re welcome!

Find more useful information online at and connect with TW on FacebookTwitter and Instagram. Message, post, tweet, and gram with us this month. Tag your comments #tidewaterwomen and we will get back to you pronto!

Time for the Holidays!

This month’s Tidewater Family is filled with exciting content! Look to our 2017 Holiday Fun Guide for special holiday events for families, dining out options, gift ideas, and more! Plus, we’ve got some Thrifty Holiday Tips to keep you right on budget this season.

Do you have a child who loves technology? It’s Time for a Tech Talk! Find out how you can keep your family safe in the World Wide Web in our latest cover story.

Head on over to TF’s website for health information, parenting tips + our Go-To Guides to help you be the best parent you can be. We’d love to connect with you through social media, so find us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram. Tag your messages, posts, tweets, and grams #tidewaterfamily and let’s chat! 

Let's Be Mindful

Today’s women are vitally interested in maintaining their health and well being, as well as becoming more mindful and spiritually aware. Here in Tidewater, women regularly seek new options and therapies on their journeys toward wellness. The December issue of Tidewater Women will feature our 2017 MIND•BODY•SPIRIT GUIDE. It’s the perfect place for you to get the word out about how your business or health care practice can help women in our community achieve optimum wellness, physically, spiritually, and mentally. 

Deadline to reserve your space is Friday, November 17, 2017. Call 757-204-4688 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more info. 

Now's the time to think about your ad campaigns for the new year. Let us help you grow your business! TW’s 2018 editorial calendar and rate card are now available. Contact your sales rep to get the scoop on next year’s themed issues, special sections, advertising rates, and more.

Grow Your School with Tidewater Family!

Are you interested in spreading the word about your private school to area parents? Tidewater Family’s DECEMBER & JANUARY issues will feature the PRE-K/
PRIVATE SCHOOL GUIDE, a special advertising section that appears four times a year. It’s the perfect place for you to get the word out about your school to parents in our area. 

Deadline for this special issue is Monday, November 13, 2017. Call 757-204-4688 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to reserve space.

Now's the time to think about your ad campaigns for the new year. Let us help you reach your target market. TF’s 2018 editorial calendar and rate card are now available. Contact your sales rep to get the scoop on next year’s themed issues, special sections, advertising rates, and more.

Discover Hidden Gems

Turns out Northern Arizona isn’t only about the Grand Canyon and Sedona’s red rocks. Many more surprises await in “them thar hills.” Come along with Peter and Peggy on Part 3 of their adventure as we discover more of Arizona’s magic in Tidewater Women’s Surprising Northern Arizona.

Then, join Peggy along Florida’s Forgotten Coast to discover what the real Florida is like–in its natural state. Learn about local ecosystems, enjoy the picturesque fishing harbors, and explore meandering rivers and creeks in this month’s Tidewater Family travel story! 

Remember the Girl Scout song we sang when we were young? “Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other’s gold.” When was the last time you made a new friend? I know, it’s easy to hang with the pals you’ve known forever. They understand you, know about all your foibles, and accept you the way you are. Likewise, you know your old friends inside out. They’re comforting to hang around, but they don’t surprise you much anymore.

Making a new friend means saying goodbye to your comfort zone. You put yourself out there without knowing for sure whether the person you just met wants to know you better. Luckily, most times, we can tell the difference. It’s like there’s a click or a surge of energy that runs between you and your new acquaintance. Sometimes it feels like you’ve already met somewhere. You sense some level of recognition, a feeling like you already know each other.

New Age aficionados would say the reason you feel connected to someone you’ve just met is that you probably knew this person in a past life. Some woo-woo folks believe we are all part of very unique “soul clusters,” groups of souls that we travel through time with. So someone who’s your child currently might have been your best friend in a previous life. I’m not sure about all that, but I do know there are people whose paths I’ve crossed that I instantly am drawn to. I’m sure you’ve had the same feeling.

If your circle of friends is feeling a little stale, maybe it’s time to get out there and find some new friends. Not sure where to look? First, think about your interests. If you’re like me, these have changed over the years—which might be why you have less in common with your old friends now than back in the day. Perhaps you recently discovered yoga or horseback riding. Suddenly, the potential for meeting new people has doubled, and all it takes is a little courage and the ability to put yourself in a vulnerable position.

It’s not that hard. If you meet someone new and you hit it off, ask her if she wants to meet for coffee and a chat. It’s that easy. When you meet, enjoy the old-fashioned art of conversation and keep your cell phone off and out of sight. There’s nothing worse that meeting someone for a friendly visit and watching her interact with her cell phone instead of being present in the moment with you.

What do you talk about? Your shared interests, of course. You might be surprised to find out how much you have in common. You’ll know your new friend is a keeper if she fills you with enthusiasm and excitement and inspires you to reach new heights. For isn’t that what friends are for? To help you find your way through the maze called life. When you get to a dead end, a true friend helps you find an alternate path, which truly is the very one you are supposed to be on.

The fact is we can’t do everything on our own. We need people to help us find fulfillment in life. If you are feeling stuck in a rut, seek out a new friend and make a date for coffee or a walk in the woods. It will do your soul good. Happy Thanksgiving!               

Two years ago, a long-time and long-distance friend called me out of the blue. We caught up on each other’s lives. Then she said, “I’d like to recommend you for membership to a women’s organization I’m in. It’s P.E.O.”

“What is P.E.O.?,” I asked. Her answer seemed very cryptic: “Oh, you’ll see. You’ll like them, and you’ll be a great P.E.O.”

Within a few weeks, I received invitations to socialize with local P.E.O.s. in different chapters. Even for an extrovert like me, walking into a room of strangers I didn’t know much about was a bit stressful. But the stress melted away immediately because of their caring and warmth.

Later, when I became a P.E.O., I learned the secret of this sisterhood and their noble mission—the secret of P.E.O.

P.E.O. has always been referred to as “P.E.O.” – with no definition of its letters and always using the periods. The secret organization was only known to its members. But in 2005, P.E.O. broke the silence with its initiative: It’s Okay to Talk about P.E.O. Then in 2008, the Sisterhood revealed that it is a “Philanthropic Educational Organization.” Coincidentally around that time, the TV game show Jeopardy revealed the same thing!

What began as a secret society of young women at an Iowa college nearly 150 years ago is now a sisterhood a quarter of a million strong. The first chapter came to Virginia in 1927, and now in Hampton Roads alone, there are 18 chapters. Three thousand dedicated Virginia women fulfill the mission of making higher education possible for other women. Virginia P.E.O. is led by Sherry Arendt of Virginia Beach. Let’s meet Sherry and a few other local P.E.O. sisters who are helping other women reach for the stars.

Virginia Chapter President Sherry Arendt spent the last four years on the Virginia state board in training for this year. Actually, her entire 15 years of experience as a P.E.O. member have helped prepare her for this role.

Originally from Iowa, she made her way to Virginia Beach via her husband’s naval career. The area won her over. She has the sea in her veins – and in her back yard.

“I look out my condo window at the beach, and I am amazed at how much it reminds me of P.E.O.—a constant, yet ever-changing presence in my life,” said Sherry in her president’s message. Her theme for this year is: Catch the Waves to Better Futures.

“Every day at the beach is different,” she observed. “Some days the waves are calm and gently rolling. Other days the waves are strong and full of energy. But all of them together make for a very powerful force, just as together in P.E.O., we are a powerful force. We even own a college!”

Since 1927, P.E.O. has owned and operated Cottey College in Missouri. Cottey is part of the mission of the organization: funding higher education for women. Cottey and other programs—called Projects—provide hundreds of millions of dollars in scholarships, loans and grants.

“I know from personal experience how hard it is to finance going to school,” Sherry said. “If only P.E.O. had been more public in their mission at that time, I might have been able to get help from my hometown chapter, which I did not know existed.”

P.E.O.’s philanthropic mission convinced Sherry to become a P.E.O. She was recommended for membership by a childhood friend.

Sherry said she treasures what P.E.O. offers—an instant support system that stems from a common bond promising acceptance and sisterhood. “P.E.O.s are committed and have a loving concern for each other,” she said. “If your college kid is in the hospital at a school, call a P.E.O. and ask her to visit. A P.E.O. will do it!”

Kat Padua Adkins of Norfolk received a P.E.O. grant to finish her master’s degree.  She didn’t know much about P.E.O. at the time. It was the mother of her then boyfriend/now husband—a P.E.O.—who suggested she apply. She got her Masters of Fine Arts degree in computer art and launched a successful career as a visual artist and animator.

Then her husband’s job brought them to Norfolk, and Kat became a P.E.O. “It was my mother-in-law again,” she said, laughing, about how she became part of the organization that helped her. But the drive to her mother-in-law’s Williamsburg chapter became too far to go on a work night. She loved her Williamsburg sisters, but began to look for a Southside group. “I felt a certain connection immediately,” she said about her new Southside chapter.

Now she has more time for P.E.O. and her job at the Governors School for the Arts (GSA) in Norfolk. She stresses the importance of teaching art and keeping up with technology, especially for children, because technology moves so quickly. “Being ready to change with technology opens up what you can do,” said Kat.

She is passionate about helping others. “It’s the mentorship that I really enjoy,” she said about helping the GSA students. “It’s so rewarding. Each student I’ve mentored has gotten into the program of their choice.”

She also mentors in P.E.O. Kat helps her chapter select candidates for the P.E.O. Projects. She helps further by being a mentor for the women whether or not they receive assistance. “All the candidates are amazing,” she said. Her chapter’s candidate was recently selected for a scholarship.

Kat’s passion for helping people shows in everything she does. Her motto is “Never give anyone a reason to say no to you.” Her website is full of positive vibes and tells of her focus on creating high quality entertainment for children.

And she has taken on a new personal project—writing a children’s book—while she’s nesting in preparation for her and her husband’s first child.

Given its prior secrecy, it’s not surprising that P.E.O. membership can run in families. When Jennifer Culver of Norfolk became a military spouse, her mother told her she needed to be a P.E.O.

“I remember them (P.E.O.s) as being this warm group of women,” she recalled about her childhood and her mother’s chapter. “My dad and I stayed upstairs when my mom would have a meeting. I knew about getting into a meeting only if you were a P.E.O.”

When her Navy husband was sent to Diego Garcia for a year unaccompanied, Jennifer decided that she and her three-month-old baby would spend time with her parents in North Carolina. Living far from a Navy community, Jennifer missed the Navy support system, but P.E.O. filled in perfectly.

Right about the time Jennifer moved in with her folks, her mother’s P.E.O. chapter decided it had gotten too big and would branch off a new chapter. “It was super exciting,” she said about being a new P.E.O. in a new chapter. “We meet in people’s homes, and when a chapter gets too big, you can’t meet in someone’s living room anymore.” She treasures meeting in sisters’ homes rather than meeting rooms. “You get that home-y love feeling.” It was just what Jennifer needed. “I had my mom and my P.E.O. sisters for my new-mom support.”

Through the years, Jennifer’s military moves have sent her to many different locations. But finding the right chapter isn’t hard to do, she said. When she got to Norfolk, she found the right fit at the very first chapter she visited.

“When you walk in somewhere and say you’re a PEO, it’s instant family,” she said. “They will drop everything for you, even welcome you into their home if you need a place to stay.”

That’s P.E.O. according to Jennifer. “With PEO, I have a support system like no other.”

Sara Walters of Virginia Beach grew up in a military family and also served. After visiting the Naval Academy when she was young, she knew it was for her.

She graduated in 2003, and four weeks after graduation, she was on a ship. Being a surface warfare officer was a good career choice for her, but it wasn’t her passion. “I knew I wanted to be a nurse even before I graduated,” Sara explained. So, she served her commitment, entered the reserves, and started her nursing degree.

A while later, her husband decided it was time to leave the Navy and pursue his master’s degree. So, they settled down and began life as civilians.

The timing was right to think about following in her mother’s footsteps as a P.E.O. But it wasn’t her mom that recommended her for membership; it was her mother’s friend. Sara joined P.E.O. and started making her own great memories.

Then her husband signed up for the Naval reserves. It didn’t take long for him to be called up to active duty and sent to Hampton Roads. The friend that recommended her for membership started calling P.E.O. chapters in Norfolk to tell them that Sara was moving to their area. So, finding a new chapter to join was easy.

Although being back in the military offers help and support like spouses’ groups and more, Sara said she devotes her time to P.E.O. “It’s nice to have something that’s all yours,” she said of the sisterhood, “and not something centered on your husband’s job.”

A member of P.E.O. for barely two years, Sara said the more she learns about P.E.O., the more impressed she is with the organization. “It’s all about friendship and the betterment of society,” she said.

“Women that I already hold in great esteem have turned out to be P.E.O.s,” said Sara. “I was talking to this dear friend of mine who is like a mother to me, and I told her about this organization I joined. You know what she said? She is a P.E.O.!”

Now that you know more about P.E.O., you might start noticing their letters and daisy stickers in car windows or on tote bags. At your high school’s senior awards ceremony, P.E.O.s might present a scholarship. The sisterhood is everywhere. Matter of fact, so many of my friends have turned out to be P.E.O.s that my husband thinks it might be a conspiracy. His actual words were, “I think P.E.O.s run the world.”

Hmmm. Well? There are still a few things about P.E.O. that are secret. Wink, wink!

If you would like more information about P.E.O. or know someone who could benefit from its Projects, ask a P.E.O. or search:



Beth Cothron is a proud Navy wife and mother of two sons. She used to be a Tidewater woman but now lives in Northern Virginia. She loved meeting new P.E.O. sisters through this article. 

Welcome to Tidewater Women’s November Calendar of Events

Wednesday                 1
Fleet Forces Band Concert - All day. Celebrate the 250th Anniversary of the Norfolk Naval Shipyard. Portsmouth Pavilion 393-5111 (P)
Skippers Farm Market - 9 a.m.-4 p.m. 748 Battlefield Blvd. N. 368-0355 (C)
Harmony & Fitness Yoga - 9:30 a.m. Every Wed. ($) Eliz. Gardens 473-3234 (Manteo)
Breastfeeding Support Group - 10-11:30 a.m. RR Lifestyle Center 312-3000 (C)
Crocheting - 10 a.m.-noon. Seniors. Every Wed. Bring supplies. South Norfolk Community Center 543-5721 (C)
Holiday Cards for Sailors - 10 a.m.-5 p.m. thru 11/25. Bring some joy to a deployed sailor. Larchmont Library 441-5335 (N)
Chesapeake Social & Newcomers Club - 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Every 1st Wed. RSVP by preceding Friday. RR ($) Traditions Grill, Chesapeake Golf Club 966-9000 (C)
My Healthy Weight - 6-7:30 p.m. RR ($) Lifestyle Center 312-3000 (C)
OBC Trivia Night - 6-8 p.m. Every 1st Wed. ($) O’Connor Brewing Co. 623-2337 (N)
Weekly Meditation Class - 6:30-8 p.m. Most Wed. ($) Fred Heutte Ctr. 504-4425 (N)
Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical - 7:30 p.m. thru Sat. Also 11/8-11/11. ($) Goode Theatre, 683-5305 (N)
Va. Stage Company: The Parchman Hour - 7:30 p.m. Times vary thru 11/12. Journey through the Deep South with pioneers who fought discrimination. ($) Wells Theatre 627-6988 (N)
Straight No Chaser - 7:30 p.m. Enjoy this nontraditional male a cappella group. ($) Chrysler Hall 664-6464 (N)

Thursday         2
Up Center: Open Doors to More Business - 8-11:30 a.m. Learn about down payment assistance, low-cost mortgage programs + more. RR Kroc Center 965-8683 (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)
Girl Scouts Famous Formers Luncheon - 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Honor distinguished Girl Scouts. RR ($) Hilton Norfolk The Main, 100 Main St. 549-0641 (N)
Women’s Career Speaker Series - 12:30 p.m. NASA thermal engineer Ruth Amundsen shares her career journey. TCC Student Center, Multipurpose Rm. 822-7296 (P)
Art Connections - 1 p.m. Every Thurs. Seniors. All mediums accepted. PrimePlus 7300 Newport Ave. 625-5857 (N)
TWP Gala & Move Maker Awards: In Full Bloom - 5:30-9 p.m. Gourmet food & silent auction. RR ($) Chrysler Museum 747-2679 (N)
Ask the Artist - 5:30 p.m. Every Thurs. Engage with works of art through artist talks. d’ART Center 625-4211 (N)
Day of the Dead Shrine-Making Workshop - 6:30-9 p.m. All supplies included. RR ($) Ocean View Arts 961-0808 (N)
Weekly Drop-In Meditation Class - 7-8:30 p.m. Most Thurs. Guided meditation & discussion. ($) Keajra Kadampa Buddhist Center, 156 Newtown Rd. #A2 504-4425 (VB)
TCC Theatre: Dracula - 7:30 p.m. thru 11/11. Sun. 2:30 p.m. Lucy Seward is a victim of a vampire. ($) Black Box Theatre 822-5219 (C)
Generic Theater: A User’s Guide to Hell - 8 p.m. Dates & times vary thru 11/12. Ages 14+. A witty look at the proper punishment for modern sinners. ($) Generic Theater 441-2160 (N)

Friday              3
Friendly Friday Yoga Flow - 10-11:30 a.m. Every Fri. ($) Wells Therapeutics 490-9488 (VB)
Seasoned and Sassy - 2 p.m. Every Fri. Get active & socialize! Black Library 441-5806 (N)
Meditation: Unwind the Mind - 5:30-6:15 p.m. Most Fri. ($) Keajra Kadampa Buddhist Center, 156 Newtown Rd. #A2 504-4425 (VB)
Mann’s World Family Tour - 7 p.m. Grammy award-winning artist Tamela Mann performs. ($) Chrysler Hall 664-6464 (N)
Books with Brew - 7-10 p.m. Live music, food, and drinks. ($) Slover Library 664-7323 (N)
Healing Sanctuary - 7:25 p.m. Most 1st Fri. thru Nov. Emmanuel Episcopal Church, 5181 Singleton Way 932-5263 (VB)
Paint Night - 7:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m. Every 1st Fri. ($) Downing Gross Ctr. 247-8950 (NN)
Arsenic & Old Lace - 8 p.m. Thru 11/26 (days & times vary). Hilarious classic! ($) Little Theatre of Norfolk, 801 Claremont Ave. 627-8551 (N)

Saturday          4
Spread the Love - 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Serve the community. Francis Asbury UMC 481-5016 (VB)
Pearl Faith Community Gathering - 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. All faiths welcome. RR Brock Environmental Center 962-5398 (VB)
Farmers’ Market - 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Every Sat. Olde Towne Portsmouth 397-6395 (P) Farmers’ Fare Market - 9 a.m.-noon. Every Sat. Fresh veggies + more. 4730 Hammock La. (N)
Suffolk Farmers’ Market - 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Every Sat. Suffolk Visitor Center 514-4130 (S)
Santa’s Stocking Bazaar - 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sun. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Browse craft vendors for fine art, stocking stuffers, and visit with Santa! Princess Anne Rec. Center 385-0458 (VB)
HR Writers: Show and Grow your Prose - 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Critiques to follow. RR Slover Library 639-6146 (N)
Old Towne Antiques to Flea Market - 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Every 1st Sat. Middle St. Garage 339-1876 (P)
Chesapeake Jubilee Fall Craft Market - 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Discover arts, crafts + more. City Park 482-4848 (C)
Holiday Cards for Sailors - 10 a.m.-6 p.m. thru Thurs. Bring some joy to a deployed sailor. Lafayette Library 441-2842 (N)
Create Your Own Chocolate Bar - 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Every 1st Sat. Choose fun toppings. ($) The Royal Chocolate 557-6925 (VB)
Songwriting Workshop/Concert - 1-4 pm. Concert @ 7 p.m. Multi-Platinum singer/songwriter Harold Payne. RR ($) Ocean View Arts  961-0808 (N)
Oyster Roast & Barbecue - 1-5:30 p.m. Music, cornhole competition + more. ($) Hoffler Creek Wildlife Preserve 686-8684 (P)
War of the Wings - 2-6 p.m. Wing eating contest, samples + live music. ($) Waterside District, 333 Waterside Dr. 441-2345 (N)
Restaurant Week: A Culinary Encore - Thru 11/11. ($) Citywide eateries 514-4130 (S)
Starlets of Dance - 7-10 p.m. Young cancer survivors dance into recovery. ($) Sandler Center 385-2787 (VB)
Va. Symphony Orchestra: Reformation Festival - 8 p.m. ($) Chrysler Hall 664-6464 (N)
Church Street Jazz Series: Richard Elliot - 8 p.m. ($) Attucks Theatre 622-4763 (N)
The Second City: Cure for the Common Comedy - 8 p.m. Enjoy cutting-edge satirical revues. ($) American Theatre 722-2787 (H)

Sunday                        5
DAV 5K: Run to Honor Veterans - 9 a.m. Thank those who served. RR ($) City Center at Oyster Point 926-1400 (NN)
Wilderness Survival - 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Develop basic survival skills while hiking. RR ($) False Cape State Park (VB)
Prayers for World Peace - 10:30 a.m.-noon. Every Sun. Keajra Kadampa Buddhist Center, 156 Newtown Rd. #A2 504-4425 (VB)
Drag Yourself to Brunch - 11 a.m. & 2 p.m. Every Sun. Age 18+ High-energy entertainment from female impersonators. RR ($) Croc’s 19th Street Bistro 428-5444 (VB)
Advocacy for Special Ed Presentation - 1 p.m. w/ Linda Miller Dunleavy, M.S.Ed., Senior Lecturer, Special Education, ODU. Chesapeake Bay Academy 497-6200 (VB)
Group Life Coaching & Hypnosis - 1-3 p.m. Every Sun. Manifest your dreams. RR ($) 101 N. Lynnhaven Rd. #205 729-2716 (VB)
Ordination Workshop - 1-4 p.m. ($) Wells Therapeutics 490-9488 (VB)
Johnny Peers & the Muttville Comix - 3-5 p.m. Watch dogs perform challenging tricks. ($) Suffolk Center 923-0003 (S)
Va. Fashion Week Event: Emerging Designers - 6-9 p.m. ($) Gallery 21, 115 W. 21st St. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (N)

Monday                       6
Monday Yoga Flow - 10-11:30 a.m. Every Mon. ($) Wells Therapeutics 490-9488 (VB)
Lunchtime Meditation - 12:15-12:45 p.m. Most Mon. ($) 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 ($) Wells Therapeutics 313-4962 (VB)
Yoga/Functional Fitness - 5:30-6:50 p.m. Ages 50-80. Open level classes on alt. Mon. ($) Old Donation Episcopal Church 464-0250 (VB)
Sophisticated Steppers - 5:45-7:15 p.m. Every Mon. Seniors dance. ($) Cuffee Community Ctr., 2019 Windy Rd., 382-6411 (C)
Va. Fashion Week Event: Girls Night Out - 6-8 p.m. 344 Beauty Bar, 344 Laskin Rd. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (VB)
VB Bee Club - 6:30 p.m. Every 1st Mon. Learn about backyard beehives. Croc’s 19th St. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (VB)
Functional Forum - 6:30 p.m. 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)

Tuesday                       7
Coffee Connection - 7:30-9 a.m. Spon. by Va. Peninsula Chamber of Commerce. RR Goodwill, 1911 Saville Row 262-2000 (H)
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)
Bayside Block Party - 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Entertainment, crafts, hands-on science + more. Bayside Library 385-2680 (VB)
Women’s Career Speaker Series - 12:30 p.m. Debbie Martinez of NASA. TCC Student Center, Big Otter Rm. 822-7296 (C)
Keep Me in Stitches - 2-5 p.m. Every Tues. Knit & crochet for cancer patients. Grace Comm. Church, 1725 Salem Rd. 404-6593 (VB)
Business Education - 3-4 p.m. RR ($) Va. Peninsula Chamber 262-2000 (H)
Cooperative Co-Parenting - 4-8 p.m. Every 1st Tues. Prevent problems related to divorce. RR ($) 135 Hall Ave., 624-6666 (S)
Peppy Steppers - 5:45-7:15 p.m. Every Tues. Seniors. ($) W. Branch Comm. Ctr. 382-6411 (C)
Terrarium Workshop - 6:30-8:30 p.m. Create a miniature living tabletop display. RR ($) Norfolk Botanical Garden 441-5830 (N)
Develop Your Intuition and Open Your 3rd Eye - 7-8:30 p.m. Also 11/28. ($) Wells Therapeutics 490-9488 (VB)
Magic of Harmony Show Chorus Rehearsals - 7-9 p.m. Every Tues. Visitors welcome. Tabb H.S. Chorus Rm. 566-8600 (Y)
Spontaneous Theater Troupe Training - 7-9 p.m. Every Tues. RR ($) Fellowship Center, 620 14th St. 472-0662 (VB)
In-Depth Study Program - 7-9:30 p.m. Every Tues. Meditation, chanted prayers & more. ($) Keajra Kadampa Buddhist Ctr. 504-4425 (VB)
YO-YO MA, Cello & Kathryn Stott, Piano - 7:30 p.m. ($) Chrysler Hall 664-6464 (N)

Wednesday     8
Business Education - 3-4 p.m. RR Va. Peninsula Chamber of Commerce 262-2000 (H)
Croc’s Cooking Class - 6 p.m. Every 2nd Wed. Incl. tastings and wine. RR ($) Croc’s 19th Street Bistro 428-5444 (VB)

Thursday         9
AMA HR: Build a Strong Brand- 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. RR ($) Buzz Franchize Brands, 2829 Guardian Ln. (VB)
Pink Bag Lunch: The Importance of YOU in Marketing - 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. RR ($) Va. Peninsula Chamber 262-2000 (H)
Lunch & Learn: Succession Planning - 12-1 p.m. RR Va. Tech HR Center, 1444 Diamond Springs Rd. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., 594-7433 (NN)
Alzheimer’s Support Group - 1-2:30 p.m. 2nd Thurs. Beth Sholom Village 420-2512 (VB)
Pretlow Carolers - 4:30 p.m. Pre-K & School age. Have fun learning holiday music. RR Pretlow Anchor Library 441-1750 (N)
Spaghetti Dinner Fundraiser - 5:30 p.m. RR Francis Asbury UMC 481-5016 (VB)
Weekday Wine Down - 6-8:30 p.m. Enjoy garden views, sample wine + paint your own glass. RR ($) Norfolk Botanical Garden 441-5830 (N)

Friday              10
Psychic Development Conference - Times vary thru Sun. Apply innate psychic abilities. RR ($) Edgar Cayce’s A.R.E. 428-3588 (VB)
Garden Tracks - 9:30-10:30 a.m. Get wellness tips on this energetic fitness walk. ($) Norfolk Botanical Garden 441-5830 (N)
Va. Fashion Week Event -10 a.m.-8 p.m. Workshops, consultations, and show. ($) Dillard’s Lynn. Mall, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (VB)
Million Bulb Walk - 4-9 p.m. Daily thru 11/30. Explore over 2 miles of light displays. ($) Norfolk Botanical Garden 441-5830 (N)
Alton Brown: Eat Your Science - 7 p.m. Songs, multimedia, and potentially dangerous food demos. ($) Ferguson Center 594-8752 (NN)
Muse Jam - 7-10 p.m. Every 2nd Fri. Read your work, play music, or just listen. Muse Writers Center 818-9880 (N)
Hampton Arts: American Farmer - 7:30 p.m. Proceeds go to Farmer Veterans Coalition-Virginia. ($) American Theatre 722-2787 (H)
Va. Opera: The Girl of the Golden West - 8 p.m. Times vary thru Tues. Saloon owner holds out for her own true love. ($) Harrison Opera House 664-6464 (N)

Saturday          11
Volunteer Service Day - 9-11 a.m. Be a river hero. RR Paradise Creek Park 399-7487 (P)
River Cleanup - 9 a.m.-noon. Every 2nd Sat. All ages welcome. Locations vary. Spon. by Lynnhaven River Now. 962-5398 (VB)
Bioenergy w/ Mietek Wirkus - 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Appt. req’d. RR ($) Wells Therapeutics 490-9488 (VB)
Art of Daily Living Workshop - 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Mindfulness, creativity and energy renewal. RR ($) Taylor Arts Center 727-1490 (H)
C.E. and H. Oyster Roast - 1-5 p.m. Oysters, beer, music, and good company. ($) Ruritan Hall, 8881 Eclipse Dr. 803-8487 (S)
Eat, Prey, Love - 3-6 p.m. Ages 21+. Wine, appetizers, tour, an presentation on animal feeding behavior. RR ($) Va. Zoo 441-2374 (N)
Va. Fashion Week Event: Designer Showcase - 6-10 p.m. ($) Harbor Club, Waterside District, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (N)
Presidio Brass: Sounds of the Cinema - 8 p.m. A sweeping musical journey through Hollywood. ($) American Theatre 722-2787 (H)
Stand Up Comedy: Veterans Take the Mic - 8 p.m. ($) American Revolution Museum 253-4838 (Yorktown)
Black Jacket Symphony: Led Zeppelin’s IV - 8 p.m. ($) Sandler Center 385-2787 (VB)
The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses - 8 p.m. ($) Chrysler Hall 664-6464 (N)

Sunday                        12
Second Sundays Williamsburg - 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Enjoy living history, various artisans, and more. Merchants Square 879-3029 (W)
America’s Got Talent’s Olate Dogs Show - 4 p.m. ($) Sandler Center 385-2787 (VB)
2017 Alli Awards - 5 p.m. Reception to follow. RR ($) American Theater 961-4002 (H)
Ringo Starr and his All-Starr Band - 7:30 p.m. Catch some of Ringo’s greatest hits! ($) Constant Center 683-4444 (N)

Monday                       13
Veterans’ Resource Expo - 12-3 p.m. Churchland Library 686-2538 (P)
Women’s Voices Book Club - 7:30 p.m. Every 2nd Mon. New members welcome. Barnes & Noble, 4485 Va. Beach Blvd. 671-7929 (VB)
ODU Dance Theatre Fall Concert - 8 p.m. Thru 11/18. Also 11/18 @ 2 p.m. Watch emerging and established artists expand the boundaries of dance. ($) University Theatre 683-3828 (N)

Tuesday                       14
Military Recognition Luncheon - 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Spon. by Va. Peninsula Chamber. RR ($) Crowne Plaza Hotel 262-2000 (H)
Cooperative Co-Parenting - 5-9 p.m. Every 2nd Tues. Prevent potential problems. RR ($) 424 W. 21st St., 624-6666 (N)
Weight Loss Surgery Information Session - 6 p.m. RR Lifestyle Center 312-3000 (C)
Opening Our Eyes to Opioid Addiction - 6-8:30 p.m. RR ($) Ches. Conf. Ctr. 312-3000 (C)
Healing with the Angels Meditation - 7-8 p.m. ($) Wells Therapeutics 490-9488 (VB)
25 Mics: Spoken Word and Open Mic Night - 7-8:30 p.m. Every 2nd Tues. Downing-Gross Cultural Arts Center 247-8950 (NN)
Pub Theology - 7-9 p.m. Hosted by Francis Asbury UMC. Pleasure House Brewing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 481-5016 (VB)
The Norfolk Forum: Diana Nyad - 7:30 p.m. Learn about her 110-mile swim from Cuba to Florida. ($) Chrysler Hall 664-6464 (N)

Wednesday     15
Mosaic Steel Orchestra Mall Walk - 9 a.m. Military Circle Mall 625-0545 (N)
Educational Professionals Breakfast - 9 a.m. Special ed focus. RR Chesapeake Bay Academy This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., 497-6200 (VB)
Senior Advocate Round Table - 12-1 p.m. Every 3rd Wed. RR Va. Peninsula Chamber of Commerce 262-2000 (H)
Senior Advocate Round Table - 4-6 p.m. Every 3rd Wed. Learn about services for seniors. HR Chamber 645-6364 (N)
Lung Health Resource Fair - 5:30-7:30 p.m. Lung disease screening, “Quit Kits,” door prizes & more! RR Lifestyle Center 312-6132 (C)
The Writer’s Shelf - 7 p.m. Every 3rd Wed. New members welcome. RR Barnes & Noble, 4485 Va. Beach Blvd. 671-7929 (VB)
Lecture: The Legacy of Henry Knox - 7 p.m. Learn about the contributions of our first Secretary of War. Artillery demo. RR American Revolution Museum 253-4572 (Yorktown)

Thursday         16
Garden Walk & Talk: Fall Foliage - 9:30-11:30 a.m. Soak up the beauty of autumn. RR ($) Norfolk Botanical Garden 441-5830 (N)
Bridge Young Professionals Luncheon - 12-1 p.m. RR ($) Va. Peninsula Chamber of Commerce 262-2000 (H)
Family Health 101 - 6-7 p.m. RR ($) Lifestyle Center 312-5144 (C)
Lewis Black Live - 8 p.m. See the stand-up comedian, actor, and author perform. ($) Chrysler Hall 664-6464 (N)

Friday              17
Caregiver Support Group - 12-1 p.m. Every 3rd Fri. For caregivers of the elderly. Nimmo UMC 422-1292 (VB)
Chartway Norfolk Harbor Half-Marathon - 2 p.m. Times & activities vary thru Sun. Encounter cheer stops, candy stops, a pie stop, and other course surprises. Post-race festival to follow. RR ($) Town Point Park 412-1058 (N)
Olde Towne Merchants Holiday Open House - 5-8:30 p.m. Music, shopping, and good food. Participating Olde Towne shops,, 405-3500 (P)
TCC Art Faculty Exhibition Opening Reception - 6 p.m. On view thru 1/3/18. TCC Visual Arts Center 822-1878 (P)
Grand Illumination - 6-8 p.m. Light up the tree, meet Santa, enjoy treats & carriage rides. Market Park, 326 N. Main St. 514-7267 (S)
TCC Chorus Performance - 7:30-8:30 p.m. Trinity Episcopal Church, 500 Court St. 822-1878 (P)
Dirty Dancing - 8 p.m. Times vary thru Sun. Experience heart-pounding music, passionate romance, and sensational dancing. ($) Chrysler Hall 664-6464 (N)
Smooth Jazz w/ Nick Colionne & Vincent Ingala - 8 p.m. ($) American Theatre 722-2787 (H)

Saturday          18
Volunteer Day - 9 a.m.-noon. Assist with animal and homeless shelters, combat international hunger, work with Habitat for Humanity, and help with disaster relief efforts. RR Va. Wesleyan University 330-1431 (VB)
Old Beach Farmers’ Market - 9 a.m.-noon. Also 12/16. Produce, meat, baked goods & more. 19th & Cypress 428-5444 (VB)
Fall Recycling Day - 9 a.m.-noon. Drive-thru hazardous waste collection, document shredding, and electronic recycling. I.C. Norcom High School 393-8663 (P)
Artisan Craft Fair - 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Kids’ crafts, music, petting zoo, crafts, baked goods + more. Suffolk Visitor Center, 524 N, Main St. 514-4130 (S)
Santa’s Stocking Old Fashioned Craft Bazaar - 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sun. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Browse craft vendors for fine art, stocking stuffers, and visit with Santa! Kempsville Rec. Center 385-0458 (VB)
HR Writers: Traveling Pen Series Workshop - 9:30 a.m.-noon. How to stage a crime scene, literarily speaking. RR ($) TCC Blackwater Bldg. 639-6146 (N)
Nonprofit Symposium & Expo - 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Workshops, exhibitors + networking. RR ($) Regent University, 1000 Regent University Dr. 550-4047 (VB)
Holiday Craft Show - 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sun. 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Children’s Workshop room, Santa Claus, vendors + silent auction. Chesapeake Conference Center 382-6411 (C)
Dickens’ Christmas Towne - 10 a.m.-5 p.m. thru 12/31. Outdoor maze, storybook adventure, entertainment + more. ($) Nauticus 664-1000 (N)
Oyster & South Festival - 1-5 p.m. Enjoy seafood, entertainment + fun. ($) Greenbrier Farms, 225 Sign Pine Rd. 421-2141 (C)
Ranger Walk with Free Native Seeds - 2-3 p.m. Learn insider facts and spy on winter wildlife. RR Paradise Creek Nature Park 399-7487 (P)
Genealogical Society Meeting - 6-9 p.m. Every 3rd Sat. Sept.-Jun. Central Lib. 385-0120 (VB)
Grand Illumination Parade - 7-9 p.m. Floats, marching bands, giant balloons, dancers, and Santa. Downtown Norfolk 623-1757 (N)
Attucks Jazz Club: Charlie Young - 8 p.m. ($) Attucks Theatre 622-4763 (N)

Sunday                        19
Symphonicity: Ode to Hope - 3 p.m. Every note leads to a description of hope. ($) Sandler Center 385-2787 (VB)

Monday                       20
Writer’s Block - 7 p.m. Every 3rd Mon. New members welcome. Barnes & Noble, 4485 Va. Beach Blvd. 671-7929 (VB)

Tuesday                       21
Floral Design Workshop: Thanksgiving Centerpiece - 10 a.m.-11:30 a.m. Create a beautiful holiday tablescape arrangement. RR ($) Norfolk Botanical Garden 441-5830 (N)
Movie Night - 4:30 p.m. Every 3rd Tues. Enjoy movie snacks! Black Library 441-5806 (N)
Family and Friends Support Group - 6 p.m. Every 3rd Tues. Learn how to support a loved one in an abusive relationship. Perry Safe Harbor Ctr., 2620 Southern Blvd. 631-0710 (VB) 
Bourbon, Burgers & Bingo - 6-9 p.m. Every 3rd Tues. RR ($) Croc’s 19th St. Bistro 428-5444 (VB)
Oneness Blessing - 7-8 p.m. Every 3rd Tues. Move into a higher state of consciousness. Donation. Wells Therapeutics 225-1496 (VB)
A Christmas Story: The Musical - 7:30 p.m. Also Wed. Ralphie Parker schemes his way toward the holiday gift of his dreams. ($) Ferguson Center 594-8752 (NN)

Wednesday     22
Holiday Magic - 11:30 a.m. Times vary thru 12/31. Ring in the holiday season with this amazing light show. ($) Va. Living Museum 595-1900 (NN)
Mannheim Steamroller Christmas - 8 p.m. Chip Davis’ distinctive sound of Christmas classics. ($) Chrysler Hall 664-6464 (N)

Thursday         23
Thanksgiving Day Buffet - 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. ($) Hilton Garden Inn Suffolk Riverfront, 100 E. Constance Rd. 774-9076 (S)
Celebration in Lights - 5:30-10 p.m. thru 1/1/18. Drive through two miles of holiday light displays. ($) Newport News Park 926-1400 (NN)

Friday              24
Va. Beach Christmas Market - 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Cont. Sat. & Sun. (10-5) 250+ crafters, photos with Santa, Vintage Alley & more. ($) VB Convention Ctr. 417-7771 (VB)
Craft Hope - 10:30 a.m. Every 4th Fri. Knit and crochet for charity. RR Little Creek Library 441-1751 (N)
Winter Wonderland: The Coleman Collection - 11 a.m.-5 p.m. thru 12/31. Crafts, activities, pony rides + more. ($) Portsmouth Art & Cultural Center 393-8543 (P)
Christmas Town - 2-10 p.m. Select times thru 1/1/18. Gift of Harmony show, light displays, and fun for all ages. ($) Busch Gardens 253-3369 (W)
Moscow Ballet: The Russian Nutcracker - 7 p.m. ($) Sandler Center 385-2787 (VB)

Saturday          25
Cooperative Co-Parenting - 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Every 4th Sat. Recognize effects of divorce and prevent potential problems. RR ($) 424 W. 21st St., 624-6666 (N)
Christmas in Driver & Small Business Saturday - 5-8 p.m. Shopping, kids’ crafts, and Santa on a fire truck! Kings Hwy, Driver Village 434-5539 (S)
Holiday Tree Lighting - 5:30 p.m. Visit Santa with choral groups, storytellers + more. Port Warwick 369-3045 (NN)
TBMA Monthly Bluegrass Concert - 7 p.m. Enjoy local & regional bluegrass talent. Donations ($) Hickory Ruritan Club, 2752 S. Battlefield Blvd. 421-0297 (C)
Va. Symphony Orchestra: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone - 7:30 p.m. Sun. 1 p.m. Relive the magic of the film on a giant screen while the orchestra performs. ($) Chrysler Hall 664-6464 (N)

Sunday                        26
Family Advent Wreath Event - Call for times. Francis Asbury United Methodist Church 481-5016 (VB)

Monday                       27       
Winter Wonderland Nights - 4-5 p.m. thru Thurs. Family fun, games, crafts + Million Bulb Walk. RR ($) Norfolk Botanical Garden 441-5830 (N)
Movie Night - 5 p.m. Every last Mon. Call for titles. Larchmont Library 441-5335 (N)
Caregiver Support Group - 5:30 p.m. Every 4th Mon. RR Prime Plus, 7300 Newport Ave. 800-272-3900 (N)

Tuesday                       28
Weight Loss Surgery Information Session - 6 p.m. RR Lifestyle Center 312-3000 (C)
Gifted: d’Art Center Holiday Sale - 2-5 p.m. thru 12/30. Reception 12/2. Browse popular artistic gifts. Harbor Group Int’l Gallery 625-4211 (N)

Thursday         30
Mandala: Luminous Symbols for Healing Workshop - 10:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Suitable for any skill level, supplies included.  Based on Dr. Judith Cornell’s methods. RR ($) Ocean View Arts  961-0808 (N)
The Irish Tenors Christmas: We Three Kings - 7:30 p.m. ($) Ferguson Center 594-8752 (NN)

Please call to confirm.

($) Fee

RR - Reservations Req’d

(C) Chesapeake (H) Hampton  (N) Norfolk

(NN) Newport News  (P) Portsmouth

(S) Suffolk  (VB) Va. Beach  (W) W’burg

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If you’re like me, you may react to autumn’s shorter days with a desire to push back and prolong summer. As I notice the shadows starting earlier outside my office window, I realize I won’t get my outside walk at the end of the day. Nor will there be the hot breath of summer’s humidity to slow me into pleasant sluggishness. Since I love sunlight and higher temperatures, I used to think that winter was nothing more than an unwelcome tunnel I had to go through to get back to my favorite season. But recently I have been reconsidering.

Summer is an extraverted time, full of people and activity. On the other hand, winter is by nature more introverted. Of course there are winter sports, but for most of us a warm home is much more appealing than a nose-freezing walk in the wind. We turn inward in winter, whether we want to or not. It’s a kind of enforced meditation.

To adjust well to seasonal changes, we can learn from the Danes, a people who know how to embrace winter. They make an art form out of pleasurable interiority and call it hygge (pronounced HEW-guh.) Hygge is all about coziness and connection with others. It connotes a sense of warmth, comfort, good conversation, hospitality, hot drinks, soft blankets, and fireplaces—all the things that give you a warm glow inside. Experiencing hygge is nourishing and filling, giving you cuddly comfort and a sense of belonging. If you would like to see examples of hygge, you can check it out on Instagram at #hyggemeans.

Winter can also be appreciated through the Chinese concepts of yin and yang, the opposing universal forces of inner and outer, dark and light, female and male. The American culture tends toward the masculine yang, with its external focus, strong activity, and preference for force instead of contemplation. But many Asian cultures are historically much more attuned to the inward-turning, yin side of life. They know that although life is expressed on the outside, it starts on the inside. Respecting yin energy acknowledges that rest and interiority are necessary to balance active extraversion. They might even honor yin over yang: seeing energetic activity as secondary to the benefits of yin introspection.

When the temperature drops and the cold wind blows, it’s time to go inside—both literally and figuratively. Sometimes this takes a bit of adjusting because, like me, many of us prefer the opportunities of warmer weather. But what if we embrace the rewards of winter and welcome this season as a time of rest and introspection? Maybe winter excitement will come from reading and insights, rather than outer activities. We might sample a craft, learn how to draw, or play more music. Maybe we will spend our free time in the interior arts of meditation, dream analysis, journal keeping, and letter writing—with a nice pen on yummy real paper.

Yoga and Tai Chi are great winter exercises, teaching you how to channel the sources of your inner energies. Puzzles of all types also move you inward, bringing your mind into playful interaction with itself in a challenging way. A good movie or TV show gives you permission in cold weather to cease all activity and be drawn along by what happens next. It’s no accident that the Oscars take place in late winter. Television and binge-watching engage your imagination and let your fantasy mind take over. At such times, our TV is a mesmerizing source of light on a long winter’s night, taking us into our interior like the campfire of our story-telling ancestors.

Winter is also a productive time for exploring our psyches and getting to know ourselves better. Winter supports the world of our thoughts, feelings, sensations, and honest reactions. The lengthening darkness of winter could be our cue to let ourselves think our thoughts and feel our feelings, without inhibition or shame. We can thereby practice the work of self-acceptance, which always starts with a kinder attitude toward our real needs and feelings.

Meditation helps us expand self-acceptance. Instead of evaluating or criticizing our inner experience, we just observe it in a quiet and neutral way. A reassuring sense of comfort and connection comes from practicing this interior awareness and acceptance. We discover there really is something inside us after all. This something often goes unnoticed during our summer busyness but rises in our awareness as soon as we become more mindful of the present moment. Winter can be the perfect time for attuning to spirituality and connecting with your core self.

This is what the practice of mindfulness is all about, the recognition that this something inside us—this inner friend and witness—can help guide us through life. This innermost self can be understood psychologically or spiritually, but its fruits are demonstrable. When you contact this inner core, you feel a lightness and calm that fill you up while giving you clarity. This core-self state can infuse you with a strong, calm energy that heals the fatigue and superficiality of frenetic activity. It reminds you there is a whole continent inside you, waiting to be explored.

Summer is fun, but winter can be the deeper adventure. Maybe that tunnel will take us places we will be glad we found.

Shingles, or varicella zoster virus, is a painful viral infection that manifests as a band or strip of rash that eventually turns into a cluster of blisters. Shingles is actually a re-awakening of the chickenpox virus that many of us had as children.  Many years after the varicella-zoster virus causes chickenpox, the dormant or inactive virus that lives in the nerve cells can be reactivated into shingles. While not life-threatening, shingles can be very painful and can lead to lingering complications.

It is not entirely understood why the varicella zoster virus reactivates, but we know that one cause may be a lower immunity to infections as we age or take certain medications. For instance, shingles is most common in adults over 50. Likewise, individuals with HIV/AIDS and cancer who have compromised immune systems are more likely to get shingles. Additionally, medications and radiation treatments for certain conditions can lower our immune systems and make us more susceptible to shingles. These include chemotherapy medications, anti-rejection medications that are given after organ transplants, and use of steroids for various health conditions.

Aside from the often telltale rash of shingles, one may experience myriad of symptoms including fever, fatigue, headaches, and other flu-like symptoms. The most distinguishing symptom is pain on the skin that may precede the rash by sometimes as much as several days. Once the rash appears, it’s usually isolated to a particular region of the body, most typically around one side or the other of the torso. However the rash can also appear elsewhere including the neck or face. The rash is often fine to start and will eventually appear as fluid-filled blisters. Itching is a common symptom to the rash, and the blisters will eventually pop and crust. Generally, the entire rash should resolve anywhere from 2 to 4 weeks. Many times the skin is extremely sensitive to touch, and many find that even clothing will cause irritation and pain.

The open sores of shingles that may come in contact with individuals who have not had either the chickenpox or the varicella-zoster vaccine can be contagious and result in exposure to the virus. Therefore, it is recommended that someone with shingles avoid contact with others until the blisters have scabbed over. Pregnant women, newborns, and individual with compromised immune systems should avoid exposure to anyone with shingles as well as anyone who has never had chickenpox or received the chickenpox vaccination.

The typical case of shingles can be painful and annoying, but sometimes complications can occur. For instance, shingles around the face that involves the eyes or ophthalmic shingles can lead to painful eye infections and long-term vision loss. Severe cases of shingles can result in bacterial skin infections that will require treatment with antibiotics. Postherpetic neuralgia is a condition whereby damaged nerve fibers send pain signals to the brain resulting in pain long after the shingles rash is gone. In the most acute cases, shingles can cause a swelling in the brain known as encephalitis which can cause long-term problems like facial paralysis and problems with balance, hearing, and vision. These serious complications are not typical but can occur, which makes the need for treatment and prevention important.

A healthcare provider generally diagnoses shingles by the evidence of symptoms and rash; however, cultures of the blisters can be taken to confirm a diagnosis. Once diagnosed, shingles can be treated although not cured. Antiviral medications such as acyclovir or valacyclovir can help hasten the duration of shingles and help to reduce complications. Your healthcare provider can help alleviate the pain associated with shingles by prescribing various medications that help to minimize pain including gels and creams that work to numb painful skin. More severe pain may require narcotic medications and possibly certain antidepressants that help lessen the nerve pain associated with shingles. All these treatments are taken for a short duration until the virus has run its course.

Since we know that shingles is a latent form of the chickenpox’s virus, if you have never had chickenpox, it is wise to get the varicella or chickenpox vaccine that came out in the mid 1990s and is routinely given to children today as part of a normal vaccination schedule. Varicella vaccine will help your body develop antibodies to the chickenpox virus and hence prevent a subsequent case of shingles.

If you have already had the chickenpox virus and want to reduce the risk of reactivation of the virus, there is now a vaccine on the market, Zostavax, which can prevent or at least lessen the severity of shingles should you still get it. All adults over the age of 60 who have had chickenpox should consider getting the vaccine. The vaccine can be given earlier to individuals in certain high-risk group between the ages of 50-59 including those who may be required to take medications that will compromise their immune systems.

Shingles can be a painful and sometimes serious condition, so check with your healthcare provider to see what steps you can take to treat or possibly prevent this viral infection. 

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