Danica Thomas- Widowed Army Spouse, Service Member Suicide Awareness Advocate, Susan M. Tillis Foundation

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“I want to make a difference and make sure that our Veterans know there are many reasons to fight through the pain. They owe it to themselves and to those who lost their lives on the battlefield and the ones who lost their battle at home.” – Danica Thomas

Charlotte, North Carolina

To say I am inspired by Danica Thomas is an understatement. She survived a nightmare but byway of her personal experience, she is now helping military families and service members to prevent tragic outcomes.

As a widowed Army spouse— who survived her late husband’s suicide following his traumatic injuries sustained from a suicide bomber while deployed in Afghanistan— she is now paving a path of light and healing for her two young daughters as well as the military community.

Danica is a huge proponent of suicide awareness and prevention. She is an avid volunteer and speaker with both The Independence Fund https://www.independencefund.org/ and Travis Marion Foundation https://www.travismanion.org/.

She serves as the Board Chair for Susan M. Tillis Foundation www.susantillis.org which supports families with newborns born at Womack Army Medical Center on Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

Listen to our conversation on Hodge Podge Podcast about Danica’s journey and her mission to help the military community. It is a truly inspiring conversation:https://anchor.fm/jalisonpaulyahoocom/episodes/Danica-Thomas–Widowed-Army-Spouse–Military-Suicide-Awareness-Advocate–Susan-Tillis-Foundat-eb1lev

-Alison Paul Klakowicz

http://www.hodgepodgebyalisonklak.com

Host and Creator of Hodge Podge Podcast and Blog

Author of the award-winning children’s book, Mommy’s Big, Red Monster Truck

http://www.alisonpaulklakowicz.com

Alison is a military spouse, writer, blogger, podcaster and author who resides in her native state of North Carolina with her husband and son. They have called Fayetteville, NC their home for the past decade.

Shane McCarthy, Sandboxx Chief Marketing Officer, Keeping the Military Community Informed and Engaged

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Arlington, VA-

Recently, I had the honor of speaking with Shane McCarthy, Chief Marketing Officer of Sandboxx an amazing veteran-owned platform that supports almost 2 million service members throughout their military journey. The organization assists recruits, active military, military families and their supporters to stay engaged and informed.

Shane, a charismatic and intuitive Irish born and bred young professional, has lead a full array of enterprise marketing and business operation teams, building foundations that enable companies to scale for growth.

A few years back when Sandboxx was in its start-up beginnings, Shane was eager to join the ranks of the company’s industrious Marine Corps veteran founders and has embraced the organization’s culture and mission.

Learn more about Sandboxx here: https://www.sandboxx.us/

Shane McCarthy, Chief Marketing Officer of Sandboxx

Over the past 5 years, Sandboxx has hired 50 team members, half of whom are veterans and military spouses. Due to the nature of military life, most of the Sandboxx military spouse team work remotely which is an extremely important current trend in assisting spouses with maintaining successful employment when considering the obstacles they face from PCS to deployments and beyond.

Shane is passionate about this endeavor as well as spreading the message of the important services Sandboxx provides its consumers. He even provided tips to employers on hiring practices involving military spouses as well as advice for spouses seeking remote employment.

Shane and I discussed Sandboxx’s core supports ranging from communications through the company’s global letters distribution service, content creation to keep families informed as well as technology features such as the organization’s free cell phone app, and additional support provided to service members and military families from basic training onwards.

Listen to our conversation here on Hodge Podge Podcast (note from host- please forgive glitches during our recording as we encountered some technical difficulties which is experienced when recording remotely from time to time): https://anchor.fm/jalisonpaulyahoocom/episodes/Shane-McCarthy–Sandboxx-Chief-Marketing-Officer-eaqj47

You can connect with Shane on LinkedIn as he is happy to answer questions from military spouses or veterans who want to reach out him: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mccarthyshane/

Alison Paul Klakowicz

Host and Creator of Hodge Podge Podcast and Blog

http://www.hodgepodgebyalisonklak.com

Author of the award-winning children’s travel and adventure picture book Mommy’s Big, Red Monster Truck

http://www.alisonpaulklakowicz.com

Alison Paul Klakowicz is a children’s book author, freelance writer, blogger and podcaster. She is a military spouse who lives in Fayetteville, North Carolina with her husband and son. She is a storyteller who loves to feature people and places that inspire and empower others.

Guiding Wellness to the Military Community

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Guiding Wellness Institute, Fayetteville, North Carolina
Kelsy Timas, Founder and Owner of Guiding Wellness Institute (photo provided by Kelsy Timas)

Kelsy Timas is guiding the military community to wellness— one soldier, one military spouse, one veteran at a time. Civilians are welcome to join the journey as well.

With 20 years experience in the health and wellness field, she has developed an entirely holistic establishment dedicated to healing individuals from the inside out.

I recently received the opportunity to visit Guiding Wellness Institute in Fayetteville, North Carolina to talk with Kelsy about her mission and passion which pours from every inch of her business.

The center offers services ranging from yoga, therapeutic massage, facial treatments, acupuncture, holistic life coaching, wellness and nutrition consultations onto educational courses to include yoga teacher trainings.

In addition, Guiding Wellness Institute provides Warriors At Ease programs which support health and healing of service members, veterans, military spouses and their families through yoga and meditation. The program was first developed in 2006 in partnership with Department of Defense-funded research at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

Through the programs success, a teacher training curriculum was developed to meet the growing demand of specially-trained instructors to share the benefits of WAE to the military community. WAE has grown to a network of 750 plus teachers worldwide who serve warriors and their families in the United States and abroad.

One of the most unique features offered at the institute are FREE (yes, you read that right… FREE) yoga classes provided weekly on Wednesday (6:30-7:30pm), Thursday (6:30-7:30pm) and Friday (9:15a-10:30am) for all active & retired military to include military spouses and their family members.

Kelsy and I spoke in depth about the many beneficial services Guiding Wellness Institute provides. You can listen 👂 to our conversation here on Hodge Podge Podcast 👉: https://anchor.fm/jalisonpaulyahoocom/episodes/Kelsy-Timas–Guiding-Wellness-To-the-Military-Community-eamm03

Scroll further to read about my personal experience at Guiding Wellness Institute.

Kelsy Timas providing instruction to a yoga student (photo provided by Kelsy Timas)
Lobby area of Guiding Wellness Institute

Spa Wellness Experience

During my visit to Guiding Wellness Institute, I had the privilege of trying out some of the wonderful services it offers.

Upon entrance of the building I was instantly put at ease, felt welcome and secure as if somewhat familial. There is a great focus on creating a place where people instantly feel at home which I can wholeheartedly attest to.

I was first given a tour of the facility by Guiding Wellness Center Holistic Health Coach, Brittany Moore whose passion is true wellness starting with what an individual feeds their mind and bodies.

Brittany Moore (left) Guiding Wellness Institute Holistic Health Coach along with CEO Kelsy Timas (right)
The center provides a kitchen and wellness bar area where visitors can enjoy delicious, healthy beverages

Brittany pointed out that healthy refreshments are offered to guests in the beautiful kitchen and bar space that overlooks the serene outdoor garden. Nutrition classes are offered in this space as well, she said.

Outdoor patio and meditation gardens
Fitness Area of Guiding Wellness Institute where yoga, barre, and other classes are given

Next we toured the vast and tidy fitness area where a myriad of holistic wellness fitness classes are offered Monday through Friday as well as special events held on weekends.

The center offers classic spa features to include massage rooms as well as floatation therapy

Last we toured the center’s massage and floatation therapy rooms that provide guests a perfect spa atmosphere.

My Personal Spa Experience

My first service was a traditional full-body massage provided by Coral Esparza, Licensed Massage and Bodywork Therapist. Coral provides great care in her work coupled with clinical knowledge and a solid background in massage therapy.

I suffer from aches and pains associated with sciatica- and most recently tendinitis in my right arm. Coral knew exactly where to focus deep tissue massage to my aching muscles and joints to provide relief. She was professional and kind as well as careful to make my experience holistically balanced, extremely pleasant and relaxing.

I highly recommend her for massage for anyone struggling with chronic pain issues.

Coral Esparza, Licensed Massage and Bodywork Therapist

Following the massage, it was suggested I try Floatation Therapy which is becoming a popular antidote in holistic wellness. I had not yet experienced floatation therapy and was extremely excited to try out this treatment.

If you are not familiar with floatation therapy, it is a healing treatment using sensory deprivation to heal your physical body, mental and emotional health as well as enhance spiritual growth.

The institute dons a custom-designed float suite which contains a luxury shower, along with a tranquil, large tub much like an oversized bath filled with soothing warm water filled with a thousand pounds of salt. You enter through a beautiful private dressing area that allows for spacious privacy.

Floatation Therapy Room (photo provided by Kelsy Timas)

Brittany set my mind at ease with the process of my float by explaining in detail the steps I would take to make my experience purposeful and successful. I was a bit nervous in not knowing what exactly to expect so her instruction and care was much appreciated. However, I grew up on the coast so my soul longs for salt water and I embraced the chance to reconnect with my beginnings while allowing my body and mind to succumb to this new experience.

Once Brittany ensured I was ready to begin my float, she left me in the suite where I changed into my bathing suit (which is required by law for the float bath). I rinsed off in the shower beforehand as you would do in any public pool area. I then entered the bath where I stepped into the most luxurious warm water. I allowed myself a moment to become familiar with my surroundings then placed the small floatation pillow provided to me behind my head and allowed my body to submerge in the water.

Effortlessly, my body floated to a natural state atop the water. The weightless feeling was utterly wonderful and I felt instant relief. For people like myself who have a difficult time of letting go of the need to be in control, this experience might be an adjustment. But for me it was a welcomed change of pace.

As I eased into my new state of body and mind, relaxing music played for a few moments. But as Brittany forewarned previously, the music began to fade as did the lighting and the bath became dark as is recommended to receive the full sensory deprivation therapy experience.

There is a button along the wall where guests can lightly touch to turn a dim light on if they need to do so. I will admit I chose at one point to turn the light back on to put myself at bit more at ease with my surroundings, but I then relaxed, closed my eyes and focused on the beauty of the moment.

I will definitely try floatation therapy again as I reaped the benefits and felt utterly relaxed and renewed following my visit.

I hope everyone has the opportunity to try this therapy treatment at some point whether for chronic pain, mental and emotional health or just to have a break from your hectic life schedule and routine.

It is a divine experience.

To learn more about how you can benefit from the services Guiding Wellness Institute provides, go here: https://guidingwellness.com/

Link to Podcast Episode with Kelsy Timas on Hodge Podge: https://anchor.fm/jalisonpaulyahoocom/episodes/Kelsy-Timas–Guiding-Wellness-To-the-Military-Community-eamm03

Or follow GWI on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GuidingWellnessInstitute/?fref=ts

You can also subscribe to receive their bi-annual magazine live well here: http://guidingwellness.com/live-well-subscription/

– Alison Paul Klakowicz

Host and Creator of Hodge Podge Podcast & Blog

Author of Mommy’s Big, Red Monster Truck

http://www.alisonpaulklakowicz.com

Alison Paul Klakowicz is an Eastern North Carolina native, children’s book author, freelance writer, blogger, podcaster and creative writer. She is a military spouse who resides in Fayetteville, NC with her husband, Adam, and son, Mak.

Jenny Bell- Go Fayetteville Blog, Fayetteville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau

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Fayetteville, NC-

It was only natural my first post of the new year would be an interview with a delightful and brilliant woman who shares a mutual love of Fayetteville, North Carolina.

The same woman who welcomed me with open arms nearly a year ago to be a part of Fayetteville Bloggers Network, a highlight for me in 2019 as it has allowed me to embrace my community and grow in new contacts as well as friendships with creatives and business owners who share our vision— and respect of this All-American City we call home.

Members of Fayetteville Bloggers Network and FACVB

Jenny Bell , Communications & Social Media Specialist for the Fayetteville Area Convention & Visitors Bureau (FACVB), prides herself as a displaced Texan who proudly calls Fayetteville, NC her “adopted hometown.”

Jenny Bell proudly displaying her WRAL Voter’s Choice Award for her blog GoFayettevilleBlog.com

In her role with FACVB, she promotes Cumberland County as a tourism destination by leading the Fayetteville NC Blogger Network, managing the FACVB’s multiple social media outlets, and writing for the award-winning GoFayetteville.com blog (a fabulous resource for all individuals living in this area as well as potential visitors to our community).

https://www.gofayetteville.com/

Jenny Bell along with FACVB team members out promoting Fayetteville Woodpeckers at Segra Stadium Downtown Fayetteville (photo courtesy of Jenny Bell)

I have witnessed firsthand her passionate advocacy for our beloved community, where she also serves on boards and committees for area nonprofit organizations.

When Jenny isn’t busy working or volunteering, she is adventuring about Cumberland County highlighting the vast recreational opportunities, historic sites and businesses folks should be placing on their “to visit” lists.

http://www.visitfayettevillenc.com/

Listen here to our fabulous podcast interview where we discuss all the awesome things happening in the Fayetteville Area.

It will surely make you say, “GO FAYETTEVILLE!”

👂 👉: https://anchor.fm/jalisonpaulyahoocom/episodes/Jenny-Bell–Go-Fayetteville–Fayetteville-Area-Convention-and-Visitors-Bureau-e9mqtv

 

– Alison Paul Klakowicz

Host and Creator of Hodge Podge Podcast and Blog

Author of the Award-Winning Children’s Picture Book Mommy’s Big, Red Monster Truck

https://www.amazon.com/Mommys-Big-Red-Monster-Truck/dp/1525530178

http://www.alisonpaulklakowicz.com

Alison Paul Klakowicz is an Eastern North Carolina native, children’s book author, blogger, podcaster and creative writer. She is a military spouse who resides in Fayetteville, NC with her husband, Adam, and son, Mak.

Katlin McFadden- Marketing Virtuoso, Women’s Business Coach, Brilliant Artist

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Photo by @styletobits

Fayetteville, NC-

Recently, I had the pleasure of speaking with Katlin McFadden, Business Coach with the Women’s Business Center with NC CEED in downtown Fayetteville, North Carolina.

https://instagram.com/nc_ceed?igshid=1lj1mzkr0j50c

Katlin is a Social Media Marketing Expert, and talented Visual Artist.

She is the owner of Katlin McFadden Studio where she is the creator and curator of her beautiful and emotion provoking artistry.

https://instagram.com/mcfaddenstudio?igshid=9kz2lkpvb0xq

Photo courtesy of Katlin McFadden
Photo courtesy of Katlin McFadden
Photo by @styletobits

Katlin brings her experience as an #entrepreneur, successful #blogger, and #artist to help #women strive toward their entrepreneurial dreams.

https://instagram.com/wbcfaync?igshid=6u2aaqubw7vt

Listen 👂 to our interview here 👇:

https://anchor.fm/jalisonpaulyahoocom/episodes/Katlin-McFadden–Business-Coach-CEED–Social-Media-Marketing-Expert–Talented-Artist-e8ss0k

Katlin McFadden, NC CEED Women’s Business Center Business Coach

– Alison Paul Klakowicz

Host and Creator of Hodge Podge Podcast and Blog

Author of the Award-Winning Children’s Picture Book Mommy’s Big, Red Monster Truck

https://www.amazon.com/Mommys-Big-Red-Monster-Truck/dp/1525530178

http://www.alisonpaulklakowicz.com

Alison Paul Klakowicz is an Eastern North Carolina native, children’s book author, blogger, podcaster and creative writer. She is a military spouse who resides in Fayetteville, NC with her husband, Adam, and son, Mak.

Tiffany Haywood: MilSpouse 🇺🇸, Mother, Award-Winning Blogger, Writer, Radio/TV/YouTube Personality, Business Consultant

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Photo by Tysha Hallman https://www.facebook.com/tyshahallmanphoto/

Fayetteville, NC-

I was honored to speak with Tiffany Haywood— a military spouse 🇺🇸, mom to six children, award-winning blogger (The Mrs. Tee Blog https://themrstee.com/), radio host (What’s Going On Fayetteville), YouTuber (https://www.youtube.com/user/TeeLoveLifeLaughter/), technology and social media guru, and business consultant http://tiffanyhaywood.com/.

Tiffany is a wealth of knowledge and talents. I’m not sure how she does it all, but she does it well.

When asked how she keeps her focus, without hesitation she said, “prayer 🙏🏻 and coffee ☕️!”

Me too, lady.

Me too!

Enjoy our podcast interview here👇👂:

https://anchor.fm/jalisonpaulyahoocom/episodes/Tiffany-Haywood–Award-Winning-Blogger–RadioTV-Personality–Tech-Guru–Business-Consultant-e8t20h

Photo by Tysha Hallman https://www.facebook.com/tyshahallmanphoto/

– Alison Paul Klakowicz

Host and Creator of Hodge Podge Podcast and Blog

Author of the Award-Winning Children’s Picture Book Mommy’s Big, Red Monster Truck

https://www.amazon.com/Mommys-Big-Red-Monster-Truck/dp/1525530178

http://www.alisonpaulklakowicz.com

Alison Paul Klakowicz is an Eastern North Carolina native, children’s book author, blogger, podcaster and creative writer. She is a military spouse who resides in Fayetteville, NC with her husband, Adam, and son, Mak.

Mommy’s Big, Red Monster Truck Celebrates First Birthday 🎂

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November, 9, 2019-

One year ago today, Mommy’s Big, Red Monster Truck hit the presses!

What was a little dream, became a huge accomplishment.

Over the past year, there have been many firsts… holding my published children’s book in my hands for the first time, attending my first bookstore author events, first library events, visiting elementary schools as an official author for the first time, reading my book to children across North Carolina, and the list goes on.

The opportunity to share my children’s travel and adventure picture book has been a priceless gift to me.

I’ve driven all types of new terrain with Mommy’s Big, Red Monster Truck, and feel like we’ve barely hit the surface.

I am ecstatic to see what adventures lie ahead in 2020.

I would like to thank each bookstore, library, school, media outlet, and other venues for welcoming me with open arms.

To my friends and family, thanks for the amazing encouragement and support.

To my little monster truck fans, thank you for reading my book!

To everyone else that helped me find my way as a new author, who gave me advice, connected me with resources, helped spread the word… thank you.

The greatest lesson I learned this year is this— when you have a dream, follow it.

Make it happen.

Put your truck in gear and…

DRIVE TOWARD YOUR DREAMS!

– Alison Paul Klakowicz

Host and Creator of Hodge Podge Podcast and Blog

Author of the Award-Winning Children’s Picture Book Mommy’s Big, Red Monster Truck

https://www.amazon.com/Mommys-Big-Red-Monster-Truck/dp/1525530178

http://www.alisonpaulklakowicz.com

Alison Paul Klakowicz is an Eastern North Carolina native, children’s book author, blogger, podcaster and creative writer. She is a military spouse who resides in Fayetteville, NC with her husband, Adam, and son, Mak.

Award-Winning Author Donna Sager Cowan Debuts New Book

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Award-winning Children’s Book Author Donna Sager Cowan

California-based children’s book author, Donna Sager Cowan, debuts book two in her award-winning Superhero School Series.

Official Donna Sager Cowan Website: https://donnasagercowan.com/

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07JYNJKGW/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i1

With the Curiosity of a Cat hits the presses next week and is sure to be a middle-grades juvenile fiction fan favorite mirroring the success of the first book in the series, With the Courage of a Mouse.

Preorder With the Curiosity of a Cat on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08136QG26?ref_=pe_3052080_276849420

Donna has been writing most of her life— following teaching herself to read at age five as she was the youngest of a large family, and read books and created her own tales to occupy her creative mind.

She attributes her inspiration and character development for the book series to her six grandchildren. She encourages aspiring authors to give themselves “permission” to go after their dreams of publication as she has successfully and gracefully accomplished.

She is the recipient of the prestigious Mom’s Choice Awards- Gold Award: Honoring Excellence, and was a top ten finalist in the Author Academy Awards.

Follow the official Donna Sager Cowan, Author Facebook Page here: https://www.facebook.com/donnasagercowanauthor/

I had the honor of speaking with Donna on my podcast recently to discuss the release of her new book, her wisdom on finding your inner superhero, and her insights into striving toward your writing goals.

Listen to our conversation here 👂👇🌟:https://anchor.fm/jalisonpaulyahoocom/episodes/Donna-Sager-Cowan-Award-Winning-Childrens-Author-Debuts-Book-e8rjsp

-Alison Paul Klakowicz

Host and Creator of Hodge Podge Podcast and Blog

Author of the Award-Winning Children’s Picture Book Mommy’s Big, Red Monster Truck

https://www.amazon.com/Mommys-Big-Red-Monster-Truck/dp/1525530178

http://www.alisonpaulklakowicz.com

Alison Paul Klakowicz is an Eastern North Carolina native, children’s book author, blogger, podcaster and creative writer. She is a military spouse who resides in Fayetteville, NC with her husband, Adam, and son, Mak.

Jami McLaughlin- Mom On The Go!, Community Advocate, and Spring Lake, NC Mayoral Candidate

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Spring Lake, NC-

Jami McLaughlin is a visionary, active community partner and volunteer, mom on the go, and advocate for her beloved community of Spring Lake, North Carolina.

She is the creator of Mom on the Go! blog https://www.fayobserver.com/blogs/mom_on_the_go which was voted the #5 Best Blog by WRAL Reader’s Choice Awards 2018.

She serves as Spring Lake, North Carolina’s Town Historian and is a Member of the Cumberland County Joint Planning Board as well as Partnership for Children of Cumberland County Board of Directors.

Jami is a Sustainer with Junior League of Fayetteville and Fayetteville Holly Day Fair past chairwoman, and current active committee member.

To top it off she is an author and writer… among a ton of other accolades and professional experience in bettering communities located in Cumberland County, NC.

The busy mother of four’s current mission is to be elected as the Mayor of Spring Lake (a neighboring community and gateway to both Fort Bragg and Fayetteville) and Jami’s family’s native home where her deep roots are sowed. She vows to make the community shine through her leadership.

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Jami at my home to discuss her vision for Spring Lake, NC and why it’s residents should consider electing her as their mayor. http://jamiformayor.com/get-updates/

Listen to our podcast interview here 👇

https://anchor.fm/jalisonpaulyahoocom/episodes/Jami-McLaughlin–Mom-on-the-Go–Community-Developer–Spring-Lake–NC-Mayoral-Candidate-e8cbej

– Alison Paul Klakowicz

Host and Creator of Hodge Podge Podcast and Blog

Author of Mommy’s Big, Red Monster Truck

https://www.amazon.com/Mommys-Big-Red-Monster-Truck/dp/1525530178

http://www.alisonpaulklakowicz.com

Alison Paul Klakowicz is an Eastern North Carolina native, children’s book author, blogger, podcaster and creative writer. She is a military spouse who resides in Fayetteville, NC with her husband, Adam, and son, Mak.

Zombie Walk— Fayetteville, NC

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Fayetteville, North Carolina-

Zombie Walk— an amazing Halloween-inspired event which draws thousands of zombies 🧟‍♀️ and onlookers— occurs each year on Hay Street in the heart of Historic Downtown Fayetteville conveniently located off I-95.

https://m.facebook.com/events/699055680599266?ti=icl

The creepy and creative citywide tradition has lured my family (and friends) into its monster mash over the past several years— and we absolutely love this ghoulish time.

Last night, we attended the 2019 event where Hay Street turned into a frighteningly fun festival with artisans, entertainers, live music, food, and spooks galore with 12,000 attendees!

Scroll below to checkout some of last night’s highlights of Zombie Walk 2019!

US Army Rock Band

Fayetteville Artist Saundra Rubiera

Fayetteville Artist Hannah Locklear

A nod to “Stranger Things” at The Sweet Palette

– Alison Paul Klakowicz

Host and Creator of Hodge Podge Podcast and Blog

Author of Mommy’s Big, Red Monster Truck

https://www.amazon.com/Mommys-Big-Red-Monster-Truck/dp/1525530178

http://www.alisonpaulklakowicz.com

Alison Paul Klakowicz is an Eastern North Carolina native, children’s book author, blogger, podcaster and creative writer. She is a military spouse who resides in Fayetteville, NC with her husband, Adam, and son, Mak.

Stephanie Starr: Multiple Sclerosis Warrior, Woman of Faith, Mompreneur

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Today, I had the honor of interviewing one of my dearest friends in the world, Stephanie Starr.
Stephanie is a superstar whose light shines so bright. She has overcome amazing odds and blossomed during a time of struggle.
She is an amazing mother of two beautiful miracle children, a loving and devoted wife to her husband Adam, a successful and tenacious Mompreneur, a devout woman of faith and encourager, and a Multiple Sclerosis warrior and advocate.
We talked about everything under the sun to include her battle with MS, infertility issues, Christian Faith, postpartum depression, and her recent entrepreneurial pursuits in the CBD industry with a local coastal North Carolina-based company, Green Compass Global.

LISTEN TO OUR PODCAST INTERVIEW HERE: https://anchor.fm/jalisonpaulyahoocom/episodes/Stephanie-Starr-MS-Warrior–Woman-of-Faith–Mompreneur-e7tpdh

– Alison Paul Klakowicz

Host and Creator of Hodge Podge Blog and Podcast

Author of Mommy’s Big, Red Monster Truck

https://www.amazon.com/Mommys-Big-Red-Monster-Truck/dp/1525530178

http://www.alisonpaulklakowicz.com

Alison Paul Klakowicz is an Eastern North Carolina native, children’s book author, blogger, podcaster and creative writer. She is a military spouse who resides in Fayetteville, NC with her husband, Adam, and son, Mak.

Children's Book Review- Super Max and the Math Menace by Heather E. Robyn

Coming Spring 2020: Super Max and the Math Menace

Super Max and the Math Menace by Heather E. Robyn is a story about a little girl named Max on her way to elementary school classroom 23 just as any other day. BUT this day was different for some reason. Max could not place the feeling. Something was making her quite nervous, chilling her spine.

She tries to find the culprit, but none can be found. That is until she sits down in her math class and her teacher Ms. Spice asks the class to put their books down as it was time to take a TEST.

Max can feel her heart beating in her chest, while a classmate yells out from behind her that he too feels unprepared.

Max knows she has to do something to save her class from the terrible, terrible math menace test. So she has an awesome idea! She walks to the back of the class, opens her bookbag and reaches inside. She pulls out a super hero cape and mask which she quickly puts on.

Then walks out for all to see and hears her classmates exclaim, “Look! Super Max!”

All eyes in the class, including her teacher Ms. Spice, look to her for guidance on how to beat the lurking math test villain.

Super Max then knows just what to say to them all,We just need to relax.”

The book ends with the best advice:

So, if you ever feel stuck and don’t know what to do, search deep down inside for the hero in you. It can help you find answers and help others too. Be the hero you know you have living in you.”

The message of this story is one so many children (and adults) can relate to. Anxiety can prevent us from accomplishing our goals and it is so very important to learn how to control the symptoms.

The beautiful and vivid illustrations by Zoe Mellors help keep the reader engaged as well as intrigued. The book also includes a wonderful guide that includes tips and tricks to overcome test anxiety. It is noted the guide was developed by Nakeya Fields, LCSW, PPSE, Registered Play Therapist, Trauma Informed Restorative Yoga Therapist, and Executive Director of The Feel Well Empowerment Center.

The author Heather E. Robyn was raised in Southern California. As an avid learner, she earned a Doctorate degree in Education and spent several years in Social Work helping foster youth and homeless veterans. She enjoys traveling with her two children and exploring new activities. She calls the Bay Area of California home with her kids, boyfriend and Husky, Echo.

To learn more about Heather, go here: https://heathererobyn.com/

If you would like to monetarily contribute to Heather’s Kickstarter Campaign to get this fabulous book published and in the hands of children who need its wisdom and advice to defeat test anxiety, go here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/heathererobyn/a-childrens-book-about-overcoming-test-anxiety?ref=user_menu

– Alison Paul Klakowicz, BA, MS

Host and Creator of Hodge Podge Podcast and Blog

Author of the award-winning children’s travel and adventure picture book, Mommy’s Big, Red Monster Truck

http://www.alisonpaulklakowicz.com

Happening This Weekend: The North Carolina Book Festival 2020- Raleigh, NC

Internet Image Provided by the North Carolina Book Festival 2020 Website

Raleigh, North Carolina-

Hello North Carolinians, and all the BOOK LOVERS of the world! The beloved annual North Carolina Book Festival 2020 returns to Raleigh, North Carolina this weekend.

https://ncbookfestival.com/

Authors from across the Tarheel State and nationwide will be participating in this annual literary arts event.

DO NOT MISS the NC Book Festival 2020 Book Fair held on Saturday, February 22, 2020 from 9AM until 6pm at CAM in downtown Raleigh.

Make sure to stop into the book fair to meet local authors and buy some new books 📚 as there will be so many wonderful books to choose from! You might even get to snag a signed copy and a photograph with the author!

Image created by Tammera Cooper

From author talks to poetry readings to information on self-publishing, the book festival has a full spectrum schedule to inform and entertain literature lovers.

Internet Image Provided by the North Carolina Book Festival 2020 website
Internet Image Provided by the North Carolina Book Festival 2020 website
Internet Image Provided by the North Carolina Book Festival 2020 Website
Internet Image Provided by the North Carolina Book Festival 2020 Website

Click here for the FULL Schedule of Events 👇:


Internet Image Provided by the North Carolina Book Festival 2020 Website

– Alison Paul Klakowicz

Author of Mommy’s Big, Red Monster Truck

http://www.alisonpaulklakowicz.com

Host and Creator of Hodge Podge Podcast and Blog

http://www.hodgepodgebyalisonklak.com

Yoga, Brunch and Bookclub- YES, Please!

Guiding Wellness Institute

Fayetteville, NC

Did you say—

Yoga✅

Brunch✅

AND,

Bookclub✅???

Say no more, I’m there!

What better way to spend a day than in mindful reflection!?

Caring for your body and soul, eating delicious food and drinking blissful adult beverages while discussing thought provoking literature surrounded by fabulous company— AND in a beautiful setting?

That pretty much sums up the experience I had last weekend at Guiding Wellness Institute.

The holistic wellness center is masterful in curating monthly events that incorporate wellness practices into perfect weekend outings appealing to the young and old, single or betrothed, hardcore yogi or novice.

All are welcome!

AND all will enjoy!

I attended the Yoga, Brunch and Bookclub this past Sunday which fell on Valentines weekend and made for a fabulous Galentines outing!

A 60 minute gentle flow vinyasa yoga class was taught by GWI CEO Kelsey Timas. The lantern lit studio paired with beautiful acoustic music playing in the background and Kelsy’s fluid class instruction kept each student engaged and made for a perfect yoga experience.

Following yoga, guests were treated to a gorgeous brunch prepared by Brittany Moore, GWI Holistic Wellness Coach.

During our brunch, attendees engaged in an enlightening conversation regarding the Bookclub pick—Elizabeth Gilbert’s novel Eat, Pray, Love. It was lovely to reflect on a book focused on self-awareness, self-acceptance, self-growth and self-healing.

Overall the experience was wonderful and although most of those who attended the event met as strangers, I feel confident that we left as friends.

Mark your calendars for the next Yoga, Brunch and Bookclub May 3, 2020 from 11am-2pm.

For more information, go here: http://guidingwellness.com/

– Alison Paul Klakowicz

Creator and Host of Hodge Podge Podcast and Blog

Author of the award-winning children’s travel and adventure picture book, Mommy’s Big, Red Monster Truck

http://www.alisonpaulklakowicz.com

Children’s Book Review- If The Slipper Fits by Lindsay DeRollo

If The Slipper Fits author Lindsay DeRollo

Lindsay DeRollo has written and illustrated an adorable children’s picture book, If The Slipper Fits, which is the third book in her Sugarplum Stars series.

The book features two little ballerina’s Emma and Pinky who are performing their roles in the ballet Cinderella. The pair along with their ballet mates auditioned for their parts and are quite excited to twinkle their toes.

However following their performance, Emma becomes quite conscientious of her height following her performance when she overhears two other dancers commenting that Emma is a talented dancer, but tall dancers like Emma never get the lead role.

This comment upsets Emma greatly as she loves to dance and longs to be a “real ballerina.” She begins to question if she is good enough because of her height. Emma makes the decision to talk about the gossip she overheard and face her fear by asking her dance teacher, Miss Linda, if it is indeed true that tall dancers never get the lead.

To Emma’s surprise and delight, her teacher reassures her this could not be further from the truth, “Nonsense… Size should have nothing to do with a dancer’s talent…” said Miss Linda to a very relieved Emma.

Instantly Emma’s spirits are lifted and her hopes and dreams of becoming a ballerina in a lead role on stage are renewed.

The story’s focus of believing in one’s self despite your size is such an important topic to be discussed for all children as to instill a positive self image in one-self. Also a lesson to others to be mindful of what you say as it could deeply hurt others.

I highly recommend this book for all the little dancers in the world as well as all children learning the lesson of the importance of building a healthy self-esteem and body image.

Lindsay DeRollo is a children’s book author and illustrator living in Central New York. Her book series is published under an independent publishing company named Two Girls and a Reading Corner https://twogirlsandareadingcorner.com/

Lindsay also has a self-published short story through Amazon, titled “Prima Ballerina”. https://www.amazon.com/author/lindsayderollo

She continues to write and illustrate children’s books which will be published later this year. 

You can follow Lindsay’s progress and updates on her social media links here:

https://www.facebook.com/shimmeringhope86

https://www.instagram.com/lindsayderolloauthor/https://twitter.com/faery86

https://twitter.com/faery86?fbclid=IwAR1IU5pmoYI7NmrjvLFwha9MW7wao51WgidHVuUagxBi0A8wS1AoT9aTZpM

-Alison Paul Klakowicz

Host and Creator of Hodge Podge Podcast and Blog

Author of Mommy’s Big, Red Monster Truck

http://www.alisonpaulklakowicz.com

Alison Paul Klakowicz is an Eastern North Carolina native, children’s book author, freelance writer, blogger, podcaster and creative writer. She is a military spouse who resides in Fayetteville, NC with her husband, Adam, and son, Mak.