Finding the drive in refugees – Entertainment & Life – Savannah Morning News – Savannah, GA

Finding the drive in refugees – Entertainment & Life – Savannah Morning News – Savannah, GA
— Read on

My great and beautiful friend, Meredith LeBeau has written this insightful, humorous and informative article on the life of a refugee family trying to make their way in Savannah. Understanding the struggles of our displaced fellows is so important these days.

I invite you to follow the link to learn what it means to be a Syrian refugee living day to day in Savannah, GA. Discover, as Meredith has, how lucky we are, how courageous this family is and how we can all help

Toxic Want

swiss rollThe first-grade teacher, Miss Bliss, pulled the closet door open and gasped at the sight of me. I was sitting on the floor, looking at her, wide-eyed with knees to chin. The coats of the cloak room enveloped me as the teacher put her hands to her hips and nodded for me to follow her. I complied. She marched ahead to the principal’s office, throwing back his door.

“I found her,” she told him, scowling at me, “in the coat closet.”

After briefing him on what I’d done, he stared at me with his index fingers rested on his chin. I stood at the back of the room, staring back with my lips pinched.

“We need to call her mother,” he said.

An hour before, Miss Bliss was giving her math lesson, but I was staring at the coat closet. At the morning bell, the first-graders crowded into the tiny space, hanging coats and dropping lunch pails. The elementary school was small, one room for every class. There was no cafeteria for lunch, no gymnasium for sports.

Susie Spalding had been standing next to me, stretching forward to hang her pink jacket on the last rung. Her lunch box, a tin pail with Michael Jackson’s gloved hand waving, has dangling from her arm. The boy beside her pushed through the group, shoving Susie against the wall. She struggled to free herself, losing grip on the lunch box. It hit the ceramic tile with a bang and the latch loosened releasing her lunch onto my foot.

I reached down to help her as she scrambled to retrieve her food. I handed over her Swiss Rolls, staring at them as I did. Her orange had rolled over the edge of the package, smashing the contents. The cake oozed the white center onto the plastic packaging. She smiled and thanked me for the help.

Two hours later, during addition and subtraction, those Swiss Rolls were still on my mind. I wondered if she’d eat them now that they’d been damaged. Would they taste different? Every day Susie Spalding had a different snack cake. Did she pack her own lunch? She had a sandwich and other things in the lunch box. Would she eat the dessert first?

My lunch was always the same. Bologna with ketchup on homemade bread, carrots, milk, and homemade oatmeal raisin cookies. I didn’t much care for raisins. We never had snack cakes in our house. Sometimes my mom would buy Pop Tarts, but only the cinnamon kind and those were only for breakfast. I didn’t much care for cinnamon.

It was almost time for morning recess and I kept thinking of those Swiss Rolls. My mouth watered as I imagined the smell of the sugary filling and waxy chocolate coating.

The bell rang. Children ran for their coats, leaving pencils to roll to the floor and papers splayed out atop their desks. I lagged. Taking my time to tuck my things inside the front cubby, I was the last child in the room. I watched as Miss Bliss followed her students down the hall. She didn’t seem to notice I was not with the group.

I opened the closet door and inspected the pile of lunch pails on the floor. The room was silent, no noise coming from the hall. I sat on the cold tile, struggling to pull the door closed. Sifting through the lunch boxes, I found Michael Jackson with his sparkling glove. The Swiss Rolls peaked from under the potato chips, which I shoved to one side, reaching for the sweets. Moments later I’d eaten it and began wondering about the other lunch boxes. The one with the dinosaurs had a Twinkie in it. The brown sack has brownies.

I’d almost finished the brownie when Miss Bliss threw back the door, startling it from my hand. When she realized what I’d done and beckoned me to follow, I hesitated. Reaching for the dropped brownie, I shoved it into my mouth.

Miss Bliss marched forward, heels clicking down the hall. She was an oddly shaped woman with a narrow top and large round bottom. Walking behind her, I noted that her butt looked like two large and jiggly water balloons stuffed into a dress.

My mother rushed to the school after the principal called. Sitting in the chair across from him, she gaped at me. I lowered my eyes, shuffling, as I stood in the back of the room.

“I don’t know what to say. We will replace the items,” she stuttered.

“I’m uncertain that’s necessary,” Miss Bliss comforted, “but she will have to serve detentions during her recess.”

“Of course,” my mother obliged, “I just – I don’t know. We feed her,” she insisted.

The principal and the teacher nodded. My mother looked at me again. Later that evening, after typical punishments and scoldings, my mother asked me why I’d done it. I admitted that I didn’t know, that I couldn’t stop thinking about the Swiss Rolls. I’m certain my mother thought I was crazy.

The next day, at lunch time, I pulled out my brown sack. It was heavier than usual. I opened the bag and dumped the contents. Instead of one sandwich, there were two. Instead of two cookies there were four. And it was this way for the rest of the year. I never finished all the food. Sometimes I would take the leftovers home. My mother would yell at me and insist that I eat it all. So, I started throwing what I couldn’t eat away.

I’m certain none of the other kids knew what I’d done. No one teased me. No one stopped talking to me. But, Susie Spalding’s lunch pail never spilled again. And Miss Bliss kept a watchful eye on the coat closet.

The 5 greatest hits of aloe vera

aloe.jpgAloe Vera is not just for sunburns

By:  Julie Kuhns, MA Health and Risk Communication

When we were kids, our mothers swore by aloe for burns.  Today, we know that it provides more than just skin remedies.  Belonging to the lily family (so are onions and garlic, by the way), aloe is an easy-to-care-for plant that needs little watering or maintenance.  Its best when freshly juiced and a wonderful additive to smoothies.  Below are the top 5 best reasons to add this plant to your diet:

  1. Aloe Vera Is High in Vitamins & Minerals

It contains vitamins A, C, E, folic acid, choline, B1, B2, B3 (niacin), B6. Aloe is one of few plants that contains B12. Among the minerals found in Aloe: calcium, magnesium, zinc, chromium, selenium, sodium, iron, potassium, copper, manganese (Dawn, 2012).

  1. Aloe Vera is High in Amino Acids

Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. There are about 22 amino acids that are necessary for the human body and it is said that 8 of these are essential. Estimates of the amino acids found in aloe range from 18-20 amino acids, with all 8 essential amino acids (Leech, 2016).

3.    Aloe is an Adaptogen

Aloe is a well-known adaptogen. An adaptogen boosts the body’s natural ability to adapt to external change and resist illness. It is thought that aloe balances the system, stimulating the defense and adaptive mechanisms of the body. This allows you an increased ability to cope with physical, emotional and environmental stress (Leech, 2016).

  1. Aloe Alkalizes the Body

Disease cannot manifest in an alkaline environment. Most people are subsisting on rather acidic foods. For great health, remember the 80/20 rule – 80% alkaline forming foods and 20% acidic. Aloe is an alkaline forming food, helping to balance acidic dietary habits.

5.  Aloe Vera is a

Disinfectant, Anti-biotic, Anti-microbial, Germicidal, Anti-bacterial, Anti-septic, Anti-fungal, and Anti-viral.  This makes it a great topical ointment and, I would suppose, cleaning product.


It is important to make use of the inner leaf. This is a clear gel substance containing the essential nutrients described above and deemed as perfectly safe. However, the outer green/yellow leaf contains latex which, in heavy doses, can be toxic to the body; creating stomach cramps, laxative effects, and causing liver damage. To extract the clear interior, use the dull edge of a knife to squeeze out the center. Discard the green exterior.


Dawn, L. (2012). Benefits of Aloe. WHO.

Leech, J. (2016). Evidenced-Based Guide to Aloe Vera. Authority Nutrition: An Evidence-Based Approach.


Probiotics and Mental Health

Once thought as a digestive aid, probiotics are proving more useful than ever

By: Julie Kuhns, MA Health and Risk Communications
The stomach contains over 400 kinds of bacteria (Favaro & Philip, 2015). Some of these are bad bacteria; nasty culprits in stomach flus, infections, constipation, and many other ailments. Naturally, some stomach bacteria are good; leveling acidity and aiding in digestion. These heroes of the germ world are known as probiotics. Now, science is proving that these bacteria may be a contributing factor in mental health.
Although researchers are not exactly certain how they work, probiotics have the task of helping food move successfully through the entire digestive system. In turn, the whole body is effected by what they do (DiLonardo, 2015). In two studies conducted last year, findings indicated that high doses of probiotics may help to eliminate certain mental health problems.
“It is promising to think that mood disorders could be eradicated by simply balancing our digestive system”
Dr Kelly Brogan, 2015
In January of 2015, researcher’s at Women’s College Hospital in Toronto used high-dose probiotics to relieve symptoms of 50 individuals diagnosed with bipolar disorder. In February of 2015, researchers from the Leiden Institute of Brain and Cognition tested 40 individuals, 20 taking probiotics and 20 taking a placebo, on their reactivity toward depression; finding individuals taking probiotics were less susceptible to depressive thinking.

Why Does This Matter and How Do I Get Them?
It’s simple: We want to feel happy. When we feel happy, we are more productive and efficient. We are better athletes, employees, parents, and friends. Probiotics may offer us an effective, safe alternative to prescribed medications. They do not have side effects. They cost less. And, bonus, we can eat them.
Now, there are two ways to get more probiotics in your life without having to follow Jamie Lee Curtis down the Activia path. First, you can buy them as a supplement in many local pharmacies and grocery stores. Supplements come in powder and pill form and provide serving suggestions on the label. However, take caution with supplements. The FDA regulates supplements in the same way they regulate food. Therefore, there is no need for a supplement company to prove the supplement is effective. Additionally, supplements may contain only a small portion of the effective ingredient; while the rest of the product is filler.
Ideally, you can get what you need from food. In particular, fermented food. Items like sauerkraut, pickles, yogurt, and kefir contain the active bacteria that the body needs. If you really want to dose up on probiotics (and you might consider it if you have recently taken antibiotics or had a colon cleanse, as these things may rob the body of good bacteria), take a shot of apple cider vinegar daily. Be cautioned, though, apple vinegar contains a lot of acid. While your stomach may thank you, your esophagus will not. To protect your throat, dilute one shot of the vinegar in about 4 ounces of water and bottoms up.

DiLonardo, A. (2015). CNS Neurol Discord Drug Targets. NCBI.
Favaro, J. and Philip, T. (2015). Mental Health Benefits of Probiotics. Medical Daily.

Seafood, See Art


When I heard that the Bluffton Seafood and Arts Festival was happening around the corner from my humble abode, I just had to go. Seafood and Art. Art and Seafood. It is, let’s face it, an odd combination. Unless of course, you are a neighboring town to a highly trafficked tourist area such as Hilton Head Island.

“The Historic Bluffton Arts & Seafood Festival was created in 2005 to help further a sense of community and to benefit the citizens, the local area merchants and artists through tourism,” according to the festival website. Each year, the festival has grown to include 100 fine artists from several states and 23 local food vendors. The seven day festival boasts different musical talents and various events (art contests, Iron Chef contests, and fireworks).

Upon arrival, I was instantly corralled along with many other guests down an outdoor corridor of art vendors displaying their wares. As a fellow artist, I was appreciative of the displays; but kept wondering, “where is the food?” It took sifting through several artist booths before I came upon my first food spotting, Palmetto Kettle Korn. Hmmm….not typical seafood and not what I was craving. After several more art booths, I found myself drooling over oysters from the Old Oyster Factory. Pizza was being passed and beers were being slung, while the Groovetones rocked out some blues.

I became mesmerized by Chris Hartfield’s (Daphne, AL) watorcolors. Delightful marine life and finely detailed sailboats jumped out at me, screaming, “Buy Me!!!” For the low, low price of $1,800, of course. Hey, art supplies are not cheap.

And, then, the unthinkable. Too much coffee had pushed my bladder into overdrive. I desperately searched the corridor for a restroom. At last, but with a chill, I had found one. Blue port-a-potties lined a side street and wobbled uneasily as drunken seafooders made their way in and out. I sighed and hung my head as I walked in the direction, pulling open the door of the first open stall. I had noticed the over-sized, middle-aged man, belch his way from the john and had I had a stronger bladder, I would have waited. Holding my breath, I rushed in and rushed out. And, then, went home to take a shower.

In all honesty, the art was beautiful. I was truly overwhelmed with the vibrant colors and variety of media, ranging from typical seascapes to unusual drip paintings. The festival coordinators did an excellent job of mixing amatuer artists (simply hanging their wares in the booths, no business cards, no websites) to professional artists (fully prepared to sell you a cheaper print version of their pieces).

That being said, I felt that I was short changed on the seafood. I was truly looking forward to seeing lobsters strung by claws and people feasting on steam pots and bread bowls filled with chowder. Instead, I found some pizza that was being passed out as samples and kettle korn. Certainly, there was seafood, but definitely not enough.

The Bluffton Seafood and Arts Festival is a yearly fall event running mid to late October. This year’s festival climaxed with a fireworks display.

For more information, see for details.


Finally Here! American Horror Story, Season 2, Premier

Jessica Lang is the new queen of horror!

The long-awaited, much-anticipated Season 2 has finally debuted.  The premier season of the horror soap, American Horror Story, shocked and awed its audiences with the “Murder House” that…well, captured its victims.  When the season ended, viewers were left to wonder how the second season would play out.  With more shock and awe, we discovered that the show would take an entirely new platform.

The second season is set in Briarcliff Mental Hospital and is filmed in parallel time periods of present day and circa 1964.  The episode opens with a newly married couple taking tours of America’s most haunted places for their honeymoon (isn’t that so sweet).  Leo (Adam Levine) and Teresa (Jenna Dewan) break into the asylum to find that they may never get out.

The story morphs into the 1960’s to follow all the buzz of notorious killer, Bloody Face, as he is checked-in to the hospital.  Sister Jude (Jessica Lange) runs the joint with the strictest of twisted forms of rehabilitation.  Of course, there is a mad scientist behind the scenes, some mystery aliens, and monsters in the dark to round out the fun.

If Jessica Lang hadn’t proven herself as the queen of horror in AHS, Season 1, she is working toward it for this season.  She plays a delightful nun filled with malice, insanity, and a touch of lust for good measure.  Oh yeah, and she rocked the lingerie scene.

Adam Levine made his acting debut playing the newlywed, Leo.  His acting is weak and a bit strained, it seemed.  Perhaps, it will get better in time and with some coaching.  Thankfully for him, he will always have Maroon 5.

Some nice additions to the show were Sara Paulson, who plays journalist, Lana Winters (now that was a tragic twist); and Chloe Sevigny playing the nymphomaniac, Shelly.

This year, the show touched base on some interesting social topics of the times, such as homosexuality and interracial marriage.  Of course, these young lovers all had doomed fates.  Although, the story writing is not unexpected, remembering last season’s social topics of abortion and…what…dominatrix?

Overall, the sophomore season of the show has opened with some fresh material.  Let’s hope it stays that way.

American Horror Story airs on FX on Wednesdays at 10 p.m. EST.