Flip Flops and Smoothies for a Cause on June 17th

Flip Flops and Smoothies for a Cause

Are you looking for a way to kickstart the upcoming summer season and contribute to a great cause? You are in luck because Tropical Smoothie Cafe is hosting its 10th Anniversary of National Flip Flop Day, June 17th. The company will also run a charitable campaign benefitting  Camp Sunshine from June 17–31, 2016. Camp Sunshine is a Maine-based organization devoted to providing an enriching and fun camp experience to children with life threatening illnesses and their families, completely free of charge. Tropical Smoothie Café started its annual National Flip Flop Day to solely support Camp Sunshine.

On June 17th, locations across the country will offer a free 24 oz. Jetty Punch smoothie (its signature strawberry and banana smoothie) to any guest visiting a café location while wearing flip flops between 2:00PM-7:00PM. During this one day, Tropical Smoothie Café will give away over 250,000 bananas and 63,000 pounds of strawberries. In addition, the company will give patrons an opportunity to donate to its annual campaign for Camp Sunshine and nominate eligible families to attend Camp Sunshine.

Jennie Hong, Senior Director of Brand Marketing and Strategy for Tropical Smoothie Café says National Flip Flop Day is the single most important day of the year to the company. “We’ve seen first-hand how much Camp Sunshine means to the kids and families who attend, and we want to provide that opportunity to as many people as possible,” Hong continued. The average cost to send a family to a one-week camp is $2500. The camp has provided free services to 47,000 families since 2006.

How To Support Camp Sunshine

  • Drop by for a Jetty Punch smoothie free of charge and also make a charitable donation to the campaign in your local area. The are two locations in the greater Birmingham, Alabama, area including 3049 John Hawkins Parkway in Hoover and 1350 Inverness Corner South in Birmingham.
  • Donate $1–$4 for paper flip flops (A paper flip flop sign that will hang in the restaurant, and can be customized with guests’ names.)
  • $5 key fobs (provides 30% off Feel Goodz flip flops through an annual Flip Flop Key discount code to be used at feelgoodz.com – an all-natural flip flop company that is partnering with Tropical Smoothie Café for 2016.)
  • $10 Tropical Smoothie Café National Flip Flop Day Mugs (A limited-edition re-usable mug, featuring artwork designed by a previous Camp Sunshine camper.)
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Get Out of Your Own Way!

 

Horizons, Self Growth

“The giver is greater than the gift. What does it mean? It only means that what we gain is nothing, it is what we give that counts. It is nothing — what has been done to us — if only we did all we wished to do, that is what counts. Either learning or wisdom, position or power or wealth, all these things gained are very small compared with what one can give to the others.” – Hazrat Inayat Khan

I am the first to admit that I am often my own worst critic. One of the hardest truths that I’ve had to face as I near the age of 30 is that we are often our own worst enemy. Not some ominous and scary force that lurks in the shadows and conspires to knock each of us over when we least expect it. More often than not each of us does a great job of cutting ourselves down before anyone else even gets the opportunity to do it.

I challenge you to become your own number one cheerleader while serving as a faithful servant to your community and personal tribe as well. It is important to get to a point where you are self-aware, self-confident, and gutsy enough to take risks to fulfill the hopes and dreams that you’ve carried deep inside. No one will come along and make this happen for you. You have to chase it like there is really no tomorrow. The funny thing about people who sit back in complacency is that they complain about what is not going right without making proactive choices to change things. The ritual itself is counterproductive and a waste of energy for those who engage in it.

5 Simple Guidelines to Get Out of Your Own Way

  • Stop Undervaluing Yourself
  • Follow Your Passion Intentionally
  • Have a Plan and Be Flexible
  • Give Support to Your Community
  • Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help

You can either dictate your own destiny by intentionally making choices that continue to lead you to your goals and dreams or you can passively let others dictate your path for you while utilizing your God given gifts to build their dreams. The choice is up to you. Don’t you dare complain for another wasted second. Capitalize on the moment to put your time, energy, and passion into something (whatever positive thing it may be) that propels you one step closer to your dreams. Bring your passion along with you regardless of where your life and career path may take you. You never know what door might open just by getting out of own damn way! What you stand to offer and give to the others by following your passion may pale in comparison to letting your fear of failure stop you before you start. In short, I challenge you to get out of your own way and make things happen.

Until the Next Post,

Janece

Recap of the 2015 Inaugural Sloss Music and Arts Festival

Sloss Music and Arts Festival (aka Slossfest) was held July 18-19, 2015 at Sloss Furnaces in Birmingham, Alabama at the height of the summer’s sweltering heat! Despite the heat, Slossfest proved to be an awesome and unforgettable event. It was a two day event that spotlighted everything from great music, art, food, drink, and the Birmingham area in a way that I never thought I would see! It featured 30 plus artists including: Primus,Tyler the Creator, St. Paul and The Broken Bones, Modest Mouse, The Avett Brothers, Band of Horses, Cage The Elephant, Young the Giant, Lord Huron, Manchester Orchestra, Sturgill Simpson, The New Pornographers, Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires, Jessica Hernandez & The Deltas, Kaleo, LANY, T. Hardy Morris, Muddy Magnolias, and many more!

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Day I of Slossfest

Aside from the great music, I enjoyed sampling the great craft beer from Alabama in the various bar areas at Slossfest. The Starr Hill All Access Area was by far my favorite and featured the Siren of Sloss Summer Pale Ale collaboration beer with Trim Tab Brewing along with their Belgian Witbier with Cherries, Soul Shine Summer Pale Ale, Reviver Red IPA, Keller Czech Pils, and Jomo Vienna-Style Lager. The Siren of Sloss Summer Pale Ale was something special and tasted like a refreshing and crisp IPA disguised as a pale ale! Cathead Distillery of Mississippi also hosted a cocktail lounge that featured mixed drinks. Piggly Wiggly hosted the Craftly Beerly Garden that featured the following Alabama breweries: Trim Tab, Druid City, Cheaha, Old Black Bear, and Singin River.

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Siren of Sloss Summer Pale Ale

The food selection was also pretty impressive and included Jim ‘N Nick’s, Cantina on Wheels, Philly Connection, Shindigs Catering, Jalapeno Corndog, Repicci’s Italian Ice, Flaming Wok, Mexi Grill, Choice Burger, Phat Daddy’s, Sprout & Pour, and Efe’s. I enjoyed the insanely delicious Phat Daddy’s alligator tenders and hushpuppies and a solid Philly Cheesesteak Sandwich by Philly Connection while I was at the fest.

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Phat Daddy’s alligator tenders and hushpuppies

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The fountains of Sloss Furnaces

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The New Pornographers

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The Blast Stage and Sloss at sunset

In addition, the Sloss Metal Arts Program hosted Hands-On Iron Pouring demonstrations for attendees and allowed them to buy one-of-a-kind iron souvenirs from the demos. Various art vendors and local mixed media artists (Yellowhammer Creative, art by Kunkle, Anne Coneway, Feather wild, etc.) had booths where patrons could purchase unique art pieces. Patrons stayed hydrated by MailChimp’s  convenient and free water filling stations on-site, Alabama Power offered free charging stations, and Yelp had a great water misting tent to cool down from the festival’s crazy heat during the day! Overall, Slossfest was a special moment for Birmingham and I’m already looking forward to next year’s festival despite the crazy heat of this year’s fest!

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Day II of Slossfest

Until The Next Post,

Janece

P.S. Who was your favorite artist of this year’s Slossfest or favorite memory?

Underdogs Above Ground: An Examination of Secret Stages – History, Mission, and Aspirations for the Future

What is it about going an impromptu road trip that excites each of us deep within the depths of our spirit? Maybe it’s the open road? Or maybe it’s the endless possibility and adventure that lies ahead? Much like a frenetic and exhilarating unplanned road-trip, Birmingham’s own Secret Stages music festival is that place of excitement that we often get within our spirit after seeing uncharted roads and attractions for the first time. Only Secret Stages is a purveyor of amazing music.

Secret Stages is a unique annual two-day walking music festival founded in 2011 that is hosted in downtown Birmingham, Alabama every first weekend of August over a two block area near local restaurants, bars, shops, and parks. Festival attendees embark a musical discovery journey that includes over 60 up-and-coming bands and artists from various genres of music gracing the stages of local Birmingham spots. In a two day span, your subject to hearing everything from acoustic, alternative country, alt rock, Americana, blues, folk, folk rock, funk, hip hop, indie, jazz, metal, pop, punk, rock, singer/songwriter, southern rock, and so much more.

Secret Stages is hands down one of the must-see events in the Southeastern region of the country that every music enthusiast should make plans to attend. This year’s line-up is comprised of artists from all across the nation from various genres of music! Past artists include the following: St. Paul & the Broken Bones, Shovels & Rope, G-Side, Robert Ellis, Jacuzzi Boys, Banditos, Fly Golden Eagle, Lambchop, Hiss Golden Messenger, Futurebirds, Belle Adair, Barton Carroll, Pujol, Ponychase, Shonna Tucker and Ear Candy and many more.

Check out my Q & A Interview with Sam George, one of the creative forces behind Secret Stages below:

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Q & A interview with Sam George of Secret Stages


How did Secret Stages begin? What inspired the conception of it? Did any other festivals or creative events influence the founding of Secret Stages?

  • We formed Secret Stages in the wake of the collapse of City Stages. We felt that City Stages had become bloated and unrepresentative of the spirit of Birmingham in it’s waning years, and that a fest that focused more on up and coming artists, while showcasing many of the great venues that already exist here would be a better fit.

How do you personally define the mission of Secret Stages?

  • For me, Secret Stages is about spreading the particular joy of finding your new favorite band, and of getting to see that band in an intimate setting before they break out and start playing the larger venues in town to hundreds or thousands of people.

Do you feel like Secret Stages has done a great job of exposing people in the Greater Birmingham area and beyond to quality artists on the rise?

  • I certainly do! Every year there have been artists that we’ve booked that have gone on to acclaim. Dawes, Shovels and Rope, St. Paul and the Broken Bones, Hiss Golden Messenger and more!

What has been the most challenging thing that the Secret Stages team has faced as a creative unit and has it grown as a result?

  • The most challenging thing has to been to get people to come out for an event featuring artists they don’t know. People are accustomed to paying for festivals where they already know and love the artists, but as we’ve built a reputation for bringing quality up-and-comers to Birmingham, people have begun to trust that he you come to Secret Stages, you’re going to see amazing stuff, even if you’ve never heard of it before.

Do you feel that people are very familiar with Secret Stages at this point – five years after its founding?

  • We definitely have a following, but because of the nature of our lineup, there’s always more work to be done spreading the word!

What audience do you generally appeal to and who’s been the number one supporter of Secret Stages since day one?

  • That’s one of the great things about our fest, it appeals to such a wide variety of music -lovers. We have so many genre’s, from metal to jazz, from electronic to hip-hop. If you like any kind music, there will be something awesome for you to discover at our fest.

What is Secret Stages ultimate aspiration for the future?

  • We’d like to grow slowly out from our center. Though our lineup is huge, we only bring a fraction of the amazing talent available to us. As interest in exploring new music increases, we’d like to continue to expand what we have on offer.

Who’s your favorite artist in the 2015 Secret Stages line-up and why?

  • Hehe, unfair! So many! I’m a big fan of Landlady from Brooklyn, catchy yet complex art-rock.

Where do you see Secret Stages in the next five years?

  • Still doing our thing. Happier, wiser, older.

How can people get involved, support, or sponsor the efforts of Secret Stages?


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Until the Next Post,
Janece
Note: All of the images used in this feature story belong to Secret Stages.

 

Wanderlust in Bham: 7/21/15-8/4/15 Edition


This week’s Weekly Wanderlust in Bham spotlights a multitude of events that offers an opportunity to make a positive contribution to the community, support a local cause or business, engage with the fabulous citizens of our city, or enjoy an evening of fun. The Weekly Wanderlust in Bham feature is dedicated to sharing information about exciting, creative, and innovative happenings in the Greater Birmingham, Alabama community. This week, I am featuring the following events:

  • The See Jane Write Bloganista Mixer presented by Collage Designer Consignment – 7/23/15
  • SNL’s Sasheer Zamata with Special Guest Liza Treyer – 7/27/15
  • Secret Stages 2015 – 7/31/15-8/1/15
  • The 2015 See Jane Write Bloganista Mini-Con – 8/1/15
  • SchaefferCityFest – 8/1/15

The Bloganista Mixer presented by Collage Designer Consignment – 7/23/15

Are you interested in meeting Birmingham area bloggers and writers or thinking about attending the See Jane Write Bloganista Mini-Con? Join local bloggers, writers, and some of the See Jane Write Bloganista Mini-Con conference speakers at the Bloganista Mixer presented by Collage Designer Consignment. It will be a fashionable evening of mixing, mingling, shopping, and delectable hors d’oeuvres. The event is free event but registration is required. Register at bloganistamixer2015.eventbrite.com


SNL’s Sasheer Zamata with Special Guest Liza Treyer – 7/27/15

Birmingham area Goulash Comedy Presents Sasheer Zamata Whiskey on the Rock Tour at The Syndicate Lounge in Birmingham, AL on Monday, July 27th, 2015 for a special evening of comedy with special guest, Liza Treygor! Sasheer is currently featured in the Saturday Night Live (SNL) cast. Sasheer Zamata is a graduate of the University of Virginia with a degree in Drama and started her career in New York’s improv and sketch Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre. She is also the creative force behind highly praised web series “Pursuit of Sexiness”.  This will be an intimate show with limited tickets available. Tickets can be ordered at https://www.facebook.com/TheSyndicateLoungeBham/app_154926464573917


 Secret Stages – 7/31/15 – 8/1/15

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Secret Stages is a unique annual two-day walking music festival that is hosted in downtown Birmingham, Alabama every first weekend of August over a two-block area near local restaurants, bars, shops, and parks.  Festival attendees embark a musical discovery journey that includes over 60 up-and-coming bands and artists from various genres of music (including everything from acoustic, alt. country, alt rock, Americana, blues, folk, folk rock, funk, hip hop, indie, jazz, metal, pop, punk, rock, singer/songwriter, southern rock, and much more) gracing the stages of local Birmingham spots. Secret Stage is must see event that every music enthusiast should make plans to attend. This year’s line-up is comprised of artists from all across the nation, southern region, and within Alabama! Past artists who have graced the stage at the event include the following: St. Paul & the Broken Bones, Shovels & Rope, G-Side, Robert Ellis, Jacuzzi Boys, Banditos, Fly Golden Eagle, Lambchop, Hiss Golden Messenger, Futurebirds, Belle Adair, Barton Carroll, Pujol, Ponychase, Shonna Tucker and Ear Candy and many more. Visit http://www.secretstages.net  for more information and http://www.secretstages.net/tickets/ to purchase advance tickets.

  • When: Friday, July 31 at 3 PM – Saturday, August 1 at 11:45 PM
  • Where: Morris Ave., 1st and 2nd Ave. North, between 22nd and 24th St., Birmingham, Alabama 35203
  • Cost: VIP Passes are $50 in advance ($75 at event gates) and Weekend Passes are $25 in advance ($35 at event gates). Tickets will be available for pick up at the festival Will Call starting Friday, July 31st.
  • Website: www.secretstages.net/tickets

The 2015 Bloganista Mini-Con – 8/1/15

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Are you a blogger, writer or simply an aspiring one? Make plans to join the women of See Jane Write for the 2nd Annual Bloganista Mini-Con presented by Laura Vincent Printing & Design. The one-day blogging conference is billed as a game changer for any writer looking to start a blog, grow their audience, launch a writing business, or learn more about blogging. This year’s conference will cover the following topics:
  1. How to build a better blog
  2. How to increase your blog traffic
  3. How to turn your blog into a business
  4. How to create and promote your personal brand
  5. How to best use social media to promote your blog and your brand
  6. How to write for your favorite magazine
  7. How to get featured in your favorite magazine
  8. How to start a magazine of your own
  9. How to handle the not-so-glamourous side of fashion blogging

Each tickets covers breakfast, lunch, and an afternoon sweet treat! The event will feature coffee from Church Street Coffee and Books, free chair massages by LightWorks Chair Massage, Insomnia Cookies, Full Moon Bar-B-Que, and an opportunity to talk with panelists and speakers. Confirmed speakers and panelists include:

Order tickets online at www.eventbrite.com/e/the-bloganista-mini-con-presented-by-laura-vincent-printing-design-tickets-17350767613


SchaefferCityFest – 8/1/15

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The Schaeffer Eye Center CityFest returns this year on Saturday, August 1 at Railroad Park and features an eclectic music lineup including the Grammy Award winning hip hop band, The Roots, hip hop artist, actor, and poet, Common, and Alabama’s own, Taylor Hicks, will return to perform that evening. The Schaeffer Eye Center CityFest is presented with  Birmingham Mayor, William Bell, and the Birmingham City Council. The free event will begin at 3 p.m. and features local music, food trucks, an AlaBev Beer Garden, cultural, art and family activities. Visit www.schaeffercityfest.com for more details.

  • When: Saturday, August 1 from 3 PM until the close of the event
  • Where: 1600 1st Ave S, Birmingham, AL 35233
  • Cost: Free
  • Website: www.schaeffercityfest.com

Until the Next Post,
Janece

Eat Drink Birmingham 2015: Recap

 

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“Wine is wonderful. But let’s be honest – it can’t do everything. Real beer can do everything. Beer has bitterness to slice through fat, carbonation to refresh the palate, carmelized flavors to match those in your food, and sweetness to quench the fire of chilies.” – Garrett Oliver, Brewmaster, Photo Credit: Janece Maze

Last month, I attended Eat Drink Birmingham at Rosewood Hall in Homewood’s SoHo Square on March 12. According to the event’s website, Eat Drink Birmingham is a beer and food pairing experience created by the Alabama Brewers Guild and the Birmingham Originals. The afternoon proved to be a fun and fantastic sampling journey for foodies and brew enthusiasts of all levels. The event was a unique pairing between various Alabama’s craft breweries and many of Birmingham’s best independent restaurants. In a nutshell, Eat Drink Birmingham was a hybrid mix of a traditional beer festival and food fest that featured souvenir sampling glasses, unlimited samples for each attendee, and music from the Steel City Jug Slammers.

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St. Stephens Stout: An Alabama Collaboration aka the prize gem of Eat Drink Birmingham, Photo Credit: Janece Maze

The event allowed attendees to check out the rich culinary flavor of the city by way of expertly curated dish and beer pairings from Alabama breweries and local restaurants. The afternoon was full of many great pairings of craft beers and dishes. I attempted to check out each of them. Honestly, I only sampled about one-third of the event’s menu pairings but enjoyed each sip and bite. The festival was also the first stop of the new limited edition St. Stephens Stout. The St. Stephens Stout is the creation of an Alabama collaboration between of all of the state’s breweries and the Alabama Brewers Guild. I am a huge fan of stouts and it is a phenomenal beer. I was lucky enough to receive a bottle to take home after receiving  the gift from a representative of the Alabama Breweries Guild after chatting about the festival. The crowd of taste-makers were also entertained by the sounds of the Birmingham’s own Steel City Jug Slammers. Make sure you check out this stellar band’s music via their website or on Facebook.

(Ratings of the Craft Beer and Local Dish Pairings)

Bellini’s Filet Fricasse and Fairhope Brewing Co (Take the) Causeway IPA

  • The Filet Fricassse and Fairhope Brewing (Take the) Causeway IPA was oh so good! The filet was tender, juicy, and full of so much flavor. In addition, it was served with savory roasted potatoes and corn. The IPA was delicious although I’m honestly not a fan of this particular type of beer. I am more of a porter and stout kind of gal. The pairing was OK but I felt like the filet would have benefited from another type beer that did not overpower its rich flavor. The IPA was good but the strong complex hoppiness of it felt more like a palate cleanser than a complement to enhance the dish. Overall,  both were great alone and just OK together.
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Bellini’s Filet Fricasse and Fairhope Brewing Co (Take the) Causeway IPA, and a second helping of Silvertron Cafe’s White Chocolate Bread Pudding with Raspberry Coulis, Photo Credit: Janece Maze

Jackson’s White Chicken Chili with Cheaha Brewing Co. Old Reliable Ale 

  • The slightly spicy white bean chili was served with fresh cilantro and paired well with the Old Reliable Ale. The yummy chili was full of spicy notes from jalapeno peppers and cumin seasoning. It is definitely comfort food for a cold day and will leave you satisfied. I was more of a fan of the Old Reliable Ale that is a unique blend of an amber ale and a pale ale.  The ale initially strikes your palate as hoppy but finishes with the smooth subtle flavor of a good standard ale. According to the beer server this is a common California beer blend and I agree that it works well.

Ted’s Restaurant Souvlakia with Greek Slaw with Black Warrior Brewing Co. Black Warrior Blond 

  • The Ted’s Souvlakia and Black Warrior Brewing American Blonde was quite a pair. The subtle sour notes, rich lemon and oregano Greek marinated meat, and juicy flavor of the pork was enhanced by the refreshing and slightly sweet blonde beer in a way that complemented and highlighted both.
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Ted’s Restaurant Souvlakia with Greek Slaw with Black Warrior Brewing Co. Black Warrior Blond, Photo Credit: Janece Maze

The Silvertron Cafe White Chocolate Bread Pudding with Raspberry Coulis with Avondale Brewing Co. Spring Street Saison 

  • I could seriously eat this all day but I am certain it would be a bad idea for my waistline. The white chocolate bread pudding with raspberry coulis was divine. I’m still craving another taste of this sweet pudding along with the refreshing taste of the crisp Spring Street Saison. This was my favorite pairing of Eat Drink Birmingham – hands down!

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Homewood Gourmet Crawfish Tasso with Straight to Ale Monkeynaut IPA, Photo Credit: Janece Maze

Nabeel’s Greek Penne with Vegetables with Back Forty Beer Co. Naked Pig Pale Ale 

  • The Greek penne with vegetables was a tasty bowl of veggies, cheese, and a light sauce that balanced well with the acidic, hoppy, and malty goodness of Naked Pig Pale Ale.

The J. Clyde Fatso Pudding with Good People Brewing Co. El Gordo Imperial Stout 

  • The Fatso pudding and El Gordo paired well.  The nice smokey taste of the stout was full of fruity notes and balanced well with the rich chocolate, honey laced, and slightly nutty flavor of the pudding. I plan to revisit the pair the next time I visit The J. Clyde.
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The J. Clyde Fatso Pudding with Good People Brewing Co. El Gordo Imperial Stout, Photo Credit: Janece Maze

 Festival Verdict: 

  • Eat Drink Birmingham is an outstanding event that features some of the best bites in Birmingham, craft beer in Alabama, and entertainment for its attendees. It is a great way to explore local restaurants and beer for anyone with a passion for food and drink. I had a great time mingling, eating, drinking, chatting, learning more about local restaurants and breweries, and listening to the sounds of the Steel City Jug Slammers. The only suggestion I have is to find a larger space for the event (in the event of rain) so that guests are not constantly bumping shoulders with one another. Other than that, I am looking forward to checking out Eat Drink Birmingham next year and you should too!

Photo Credit: Janece Maze

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Until the Next Post,

Janece

Cultivate Gratitude: Find Joy in All Experiences

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My Grandparents – The late Pauline D. Maze and Deacon William A. Maze in the 1970s

Don’t hurry. Don’t worry. And be sure to smell the flowers along the way. ~Walter Hagen


Last month, I wrote a post (i.e., All I Really Want for Christmas Is Presence!) prior to the Christmas holiday. It focused on being fully present in life’s moments (both big and small) to create a series of beautiful moments with the people or things you love. At the start of this month, the previous month’s message rings true with a resounding echo. On January 5, 2015, my grandfather made the transition to heaven early in the morning after living nearly 85 full years on this beautiful earth. I got the call from my mother ten minutes after arriving at my office on that Monday morning and all I could say was, “OK and I love you.” I grabbed my bags and exited work before anyone could see me shed a tear. My car was full of plenty of tears by the close of the morning. However, in the midst of my sadness, I found joy because I knew that I was blessed to have my grandfather’s presence from birth until adulthood. His unconditional love, support, gentle nature, loving spirit, and amazing family meals are some of the most vivid experiences that life has afforded me thus far.

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Easter 2007 with my twin sister, Janeka, Grandfather, and cousin Pauline

In many ways, my grandfather and grandmother helped to raise me and all of my siblings with my parents. Every weekend, summer break, and family holiday was spent with Granddad and Grandma Maze. I spent countless hours in their car on the road to visit family all across the country. We traveled to places from St. Louis to Miami to Little Rock to Charlotte to Detroit and numerous places in between. Each road trip was a unique adventure for me and helped to cultivate my restless spirit of adventure at an early age. Two years ago, I decided to relocate back to Alabama from the San Francisco Bay area after my Granddad became increasingly ill. My family comes before anyone and anything so the move back to Alabama was a non-negotiable decision for me.

I was blessed with two more years to spend quality time with him despite the ever present challenge my family faced while caring for my Granddad. I know that I am a lucky because I had the opportunity to know and spend time with him all the way to the end. He was a living example of fortitude – in spirit and action. He grew up through the 1930s in Mississippi and endured difficult circumstances that make any trouble I have experienced seem laughable. Yet, he persevered and made his way through life with intention and purpose. He went on to become a successful career man and business owner in Chicago while balancing family and faithful service to his church and community.

There are many people who talk about what they are going to do but my Granddad was always a man of faith and action despite being a man of few words. He was the first person to receive a call and the first to show up to lend a hand to anyone in need. I am thankful that he always led by example and attended to all the needs of his family and friends. In addition, I am forever in debt to the sacrifices, hard work, faithful service my Granddad provided to my family.  No one will ever replace him and I will continue to honor the his legacy while I’m blessed to live. Although it is difficult, it is imperative to cultivate gratitude and find joy even when dealing with loss. Be thankful for what you have experienced along the way and store those beautiful moments in your heart to carry yourself through the tough days. Likewise, Eat Drink Savor Life is an affirmation of my commitment to celebrating life and cultivating gratitude in all situations – good, bad, sad, and all things in between. I decide to be thankful every day.

Until the Next Post,

Janece

All I Really Want for Christmas Is Presence!

 

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Over the last couple of weeks, I have had countless people ask me what I want for Christmas. My answer has baffled and angered a few of my family members and friends. My response has been direct and simple – nothing but your presence. Even at the present moment, I can think of nothing being more desirable than the present of presence. There are people who lack basic necessities throughout the entire world and I know that I am not lacking a single one. I have a home, clothes on my back, food in my cupboard and refrigerator, a vehicle, and even some luxuries that serve a purpose but are not necessities.

The one thing that I find many people lacking in this technological age is a lack of connection to each present moment that we walk through on a daily basis. How many times have you went out with friends to dinner and discovered that each of you spent a significant portion of the time checking messages and social media on your phone or cool tech gadget? If you are honest with yourself, the answer is yes for most of you. Do not misconstrue my personal affinity for technology. I enjoy it like any twenty-something living in the current era. However, over the last year, I have tried to challenge myself to power off my cell phone, unplug my computer, and shut down my tablet to rest in nothing more than the present moment and in the company of whoever I am with at the time. Unplugging from the technological comfort zone is not an easy feat. Nevertheless, I believe that it is necessary to do so, if we want to retain our collective and individual personal sanity and preserve the sanctity of our human connection to one another.

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Instead of focusing on the accumulation of more things that you do not need for the holiday season, enjoy the mere presence of another human being. Make it a priority to create a series of beautiful moments that you are able to reflect on throughout your life. Trust me; time is not something you can regain. I would rather look back on my youth as older woman and remember great memories of engaging in improvised activities and behaviors with my love ones. Seriously, who wants to look back and realize that precious time was wasted mindlessly scrolling through their Facebook newsfeed, checking out random funny memes on ifunny, or taking Buzzfeed quizzes.


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Suggested List of Holiday Activities that Encourage Presence:

  • Volunteer – Help out a local community organization with a clean-up project, assist with cooking and serving dinner at a local community kitchen, etc.
  • Help Someone You Know – Offer to assist them with a holiday project, dinner, etc.
  • Go Outside Alone or with a Friend– Take a hike at a local park, explore a local farmers market, go on a bike ride through your community, etc.
  • Participate in a Group Activity or Sport – Participate in a holiday potluck, plan a fun group activity such as ice skating or bowling, host a DIY holiday craft party, etc.
  • Engage in Dialogue without Modern Distractions– Have an actual conversation with someone without glancing at your smart phone for a change – including people you know or a friendly stranger at your local coffee shop
  • Spend Quality Time with Your Significant Other – Find time to let your special person know that you value their presence in your life by spending meaningful time around your respective schedules
  • Smile – Seriously, find time to smile just because you are breathing and above the ground. It will influence your outlook and perspective in a positive light.

In the words of The ManKind Project, “Make sure your holiday to-do list puts the important things first!” Above all, eat, drink, and savor life by appreciating the amazing present that is presence over the holiday season.

Until the Next Post,

Janece

Day 9: Let Go of Fear to Find Peace and Purpose

 “There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance. We need to learn to love ourselves first, in all our glory and our imperfections. If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot fully open to our ability to love others or our potential to create. Evolution and all hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness and open-hearted vision of people who embrace life.” – John Lennon

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Can I be honest and let you in on a secret of mine? I am terribly afraid of heights despite my love of flying in planes. If you place me on a high balcony overlooking a scenic view, I will likely proceed to feel sick to my stomach and potentially pass out. However, I decided to go zip lining with my brother side by side from the 50 mph, 82 feet tall and 1,300-feet long Kaul Adventure Tower zipline at Red Mountain Park. 

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The hardest part of this adventure was letting go. I really wanted to climb back down the tower after making it to the top but something in my gut told me to go for it. The 82 feet drop from the top of the tower zip line was the most exhilarating and freeing experience that I have had in a long time.

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Despite my apprehension, I found the internal strength to abandon my fears to literally take a leap of faith from the zip line platform. In my opinion, faith is the most powerful thing to embrace in times of uncertainty. Fear should never drive our actions. Anytime fear strikes me, I find a way to muster the audacity to move pass it to find peace and purpose  in the midst of any challenge I face. Letting go from an 82 feet tall tower only reaffirmed my personal faith and determination. It reminded me to continuously challenge myself each day and to embody the positive force that I hope to see in the rest of the world.

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Until the Next Post,

Janece

P.S. Check out Red Mountain Park’s website if you want to find information about the attractions and hiking trails at the park: http://www.redmountainpark.org/