I do it every year. The week leading up to Thanksgiving, I cram.

Every night, I scan Pinterest and cooking blogs and make detailed notes. Food Network becomes my CNN news feed. Tyler Florence, Paula Deen and Ina Garten bring me updates on all things Thanksgiving like Diane Sawyer, Robin Roberts and George Stephanopoulos keep viewers abreast of all the latest news.

Speaking of breasts, did you know that more than 200 million pounds of turkey breasts are consumed during Thanksgiving? That’s just a sample of what I’ve learned during my cram sessions.

Now onto my planned Thanksgiving feast courtesy of Pinterest and the Food Network or what my husband calls, “The fast, easy way to drive yourself insane before a single relative walks through the door and asks, ‘what’s that smell?'”

They make it look so easy; those television chefs. According to Paula, the success of this holiday is dependent on a single ingredient; “moar reel buuuuttr.” By the end of her Thanksgiving special, I’m saying things like, “Jackson, get yo’ mama the buttr. I think these Fruit Loops will be a mighty bit tastier if we put a big dollop on top.”

I did come away with some very handy cooking tips courtesy of Ms. Deen. One: Real butter does make everything taste better. And two: Just because you exaggerate a southern drawl doesn’t mean you can intelligently explain that a turducken is not a cross hibernation of three birds but rather the main dish for the Andrews’ Thanksgiving feast.

I’ve started preparing my grocery list. For Tyler Florence’s cornbread sausage stuffing, I need 12 spices I’ve never heard of. I’m convinced Ina Garten’s recipe for Pear Clafouti will be a crowd pleaser even though my mother-in-law says, “people won’t eat what they can’t pronounce.” And if my guests don’t particularly care for those, my fried macaroni and cheese is sure to win them over… Or raise their cholesterol 100 points.

I’ve picked up most of the non-perishable grocery items and ordered the bird needed for the Thanksgiving feast.This means I will have a few minutes to rest before the rush of activity begins on Thanksgiving eve. For fun, I decided to try out one of the new recipes while Jacob was home from college last weekend. I summoned the boys to the kitchen to taste a sample of what is sure to be the perfect addition to our Thanksgiving Day dinner; cranberry pudding. Halfway down the stairs Jackson says, “Ugggh! What’s that smell?” Maybe not.

No matter what, I’ll continue to cram for the holiday cooking season. And I’ll always remember that Thanksgiving is not about the food you cook but about the people gathered around your table refusing to eat it. Happy Thanksgiving, y’all!

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Festive Feast

Sweet and savory smells coming from the kitchen, quality time with family, chilly temperatures outside. Those are just a few of the best things about the holidays. Make mouths water at your next gathering with these tasty recipes from Wildberry Café and Catering.

Lemon and thyme roasted chicken

Ingredients

1 5- to 6-lb. whole chicken

I pack of thyme

4 lemons, halved

2 heads of garlic, peeled and cut in half

1/2 lb. of carrots, peeled and cut

Kosher salt

Black pepper

2 Tbsp. of butter

4 onions, peeled and quartered

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 425. Remove the chicken giblets, and rinse the chicken and pat dry inside and out. Place the chicken in a large roasting pan or casserole dish, and generously salt the inside with salt and pepper. Stuff two lemons, two portions of garlic, a bunch of thyme and two onions inside the cavity of the chicken. Lay the carrots and remaining onions, lemons and garlic around the chicken. Brush the melted butter on the outside of the chicken, and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast the chicken for about 1 1/2 hours or until the juices run clear.

 

Roasted brussel sprouts with dried cranberries and balsamic glaze

Ingredients

2 pounds of brussel sprouts

2 Tbsp. of extra virgin olive oil

Kosher salt

Pepper

1 cup of dried cranberries

2 Tbsp. of balsamic vinegar

Instructions

Preheat oven to 425. Trim off ends of brussel sprouts, and any leaves that look discolored. Toss them with the olive oil, salt and pepper and spread onto a baking sheet. Roast for about 15 minutes. Remove from oven, and drizzle balsamic over the sprouts. Return to the oven for about 5 minutes. Remove from oven, and toss with cranberries.

 

Macaroni and cheese with bacon

Ingredients

1 lb. of macaroni

4 cups of whole milk

1/2 stick of butter, melted

2 cups of sharp cheddar cheese, grated

2 cup of Colby/Monterey jack cheese, grated

2 cups of mild cheddar cheese

½ block of Velveeta cheese, melted

1 cup of sour cream

8 to 12 pieces of cooked crumbled bacon (depending on how much you want crumbled on top)

Instructions

Preheat oven to 400. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Salt generously. Drop in the macaroni, and cook for about 8 minutes or until al dente. When macaroni is cooked, drain and put into a bowl to mix in the milk, cheeses (reserving half a cup of sharp cheddar cheese for topping), butter and sour cream. The macaroni should look very creamy — if not creamy add more milk and/or Velveeta. Pour into casserole dish, and top with cheddar cheese and crumbled bacon. Bake for about 15 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and bacon is crisped.

 

Blackberry Dijon glazed salmon

Ingredients

One whole salmon

Kosher salt, pepper

Blackberries and lemon for garnish

½ jar of blackberry jelly

2 tabs of Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons of olive oil

Instructions

Preheat oven to 400. Mix the jelly and Dijon together and set aside. Lay salmon on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Drizzle salmon with olive oil, and top with salt and pepper. Roast the fish for about 15 minutes or until firm but slightly underdone in the middle. Take out of oven, and brush with the glaze. Return to the oven for about 5 to 7 minutes or until salmon is just about cooked through. Cover with foil and let rest for about 5 minutes. Garnish with blackberries and lemon and serve!

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Major Milestone

Wilson Bank & Trust celebrates 30th anniversary

A lot has changed for Wilson Bank & Trust after three decades. But then other things, like their commitment to their community, customers and employees, have continued to stay strong the years.

The original bank location was in a small, two-bedroom home — where their main office is today at 623 West Main St. in Lebanon — says Randall Clemons, CEO of Wilson Bank & Trust. A group of businessmen decided back in December 1986 to form a bank because the two local banks had sold to large holding company banks, Clemons explains.

“We started the process on Feb. 1 and raised $5 million from 800 local stockholders and opened in 90 days,” he says. “We had a tremendous response in the sale of stock and people purchasing stock that had never owned stock before.”

The bank has continued to grow since then, starting with eight employees the year they opened to now having 475.

“Our employees have made our bank by being servants to our customers and to each community that we serve,” Clemons says. “Our employees believe that we always treat our customers like we want to be treated.”

That mindset has paid off. They now have 27 offices in eight counties, with their newest location being in Metro Nashville. Clemons says they also have plans to open an office in Williamson County and additional offices in the counties they currently serve.

“We have been a community bank in each community that we serve and tried to make the community better as a result of our office being there,” Clemons says. “We have community boards in each community that we serve to help us be sure that we meet the needs of the community.”

The bank has a lot to celebrate, including their 30th anniversary. To show their gratitude for all of the support through the years, the bank is committed to giving $30,000 to the community.

“We believe we have a responsibility to give back to our communities and meet the needs of each,” he says.

They’ve also recognized this important 30-year milestone with family fun days in all of the county’s they serve and a larger-than-normal Oktoberfest. They will also continue the celebration with their Christmas Open House and Christmas parades in the counties where they’re located.

When it comes to the secret to the banks three-decade success, Clemons says it comes down to serving customers and the community — and also having professional employees who are team players.

Community is important to Wilson Bank, Clemons says, and they are proud to be part of the one here.

“Wilson County is a unique place that gave us our beginning, where people have a great volunteer spirit and believe in giving back to the community,” he says. “Our county is made up of special people that have blessed our bank with being loyal customers and that are part of our bank family.”

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Message of Hope

Family’s journey takes them in an unexpected direction

 

Wesley and Randi Binkley watched their two daughters, Evelyn, 4, and Eleanor, 2, peer at the rabbits and ducks at the Wilson County Fair animal exhibit two years ago when they got the phone call.

The couple loved being parents and wanted to give Evelyn and Eleanor a sibling to round out their happy family. Both had come from families with multiple siblings.

“It was my doctor on the phone,” Randi recalls.

The deflating and life-changing news blurred Randi’s vision and caught her breath. She was just 35 years old.

“He gave me the results of all my lab work and basically told me I would not be able to have another baby because I didn’t have any viable eggs left,” Randi says quietly from her home in Lebanon.

That phone call two years ago came in the midst of Randi and Wesley’s attempt to become pregnant with their third. The disappointing news propelled a quest that led them to a successful option to fulfill their desire to complete their family. They chose an option few understood or discussed.

It’s called embryo adoption. And because of this process, today Wesley and Randi have not one more baby, but two. The babies are not biological to this determined couple and are not biological to each other. This sometimes boggles peoples’ minds, until Randi and Wesley easily explain what embryo adoption is and how it’s completed their family.

“For some reason, infertility is not talked about,” says Randi, a certified nurse anesthetist at Lebanon’s Tennova Hospital. “Woman and men feel somehow ashamed or inept if this issue arises. It’s painful.”

She wants to debunk this, open a conversation and share the option they chose to expand their family when it could not happen the natural way.

While Randi works at Tennova, her husband is in real estate at Remax Exceptional Properties in Mt. Juliet. They celebrated their eighth anniversary in October. They moved to Lebanon three years ago from Davidson County, simply because they love Wilson County. Randi recently transferred to Tennova after nine years at Centennial Hospital in Nashville. Today, Evelyn is 6, Eleanor is 4 — and brother and sister Wynn and Elise are 10 months old.

The couple’s passage to an expanded family is detailed and arduous, but there are several highlights they want to share. They never had trouble conceiving with their two girls, and after about a year, they decided to round the kids out to a trio.

“We really didn’t think much about any problem,” Randi recalls. “But I learned at age 35, fertility drops quite significantly.”

After no success in about two months, they felt a niggling and started to pay more attention. “I knew if it didn’t come quickly for me, something might be wrong,” Randi says.

They were both tested for fertility, and Randi was told she was the “issue.”

“Yes, it was difficult to swallow,” she says. “They said I had premature ovarian failure. Basically, I was menopausal. I was emotional, and I got into that wrong mindset that as a woman you should be able to get pregnant.”

This is when their road to pregnancy began. It was bumpy, scary and eye opening. Randi went through five IUI’s (intrauterine insemination), which is a fertility treatment that involves placing sperm inside a woman’s uterus to facilitate fertilization.

The doctor gave them a generous 25 percent success rate for conception with this.  It was the same with IVF (in vetro fertilization), which is an assisted reproduction technology and process of extracting eggs, retrieving a sperm sample and manually combining them in a lab dish. Then, the embryo is transferred to the uterus. But, Randi was not producing viable eggs anymore.

Another option was an egg donor where a random female donates eggs, usually for money, and they are combined with the husband’s sperm.

“We already had biological children,” Randy said, and they rejected this option.

They thought of traditional adoption, but it’s extremely expensive, up to $50,000. They thought this could have a lot of potential heartache if the mother decided to change her mind.

Randi had a chance encounter with a woman on Facebook from Memphis who had a daughter through embryo adoption. Randi connected with a support group, learned more and then asked her doctor about it. He connected her to Nashville Fertility, which is the largest clinic in the Nashville area. They went to the facility’s embryo adoption program.

Randi and Wesley loved this option that implants a donor’s embryo into her uterus, and if it attaches, she would carry the baby full term. It was a fit for Randi because she loved being pregnant and felt carrying a child would bond her to the baby. There are more than 600,000 embryos preserved in Tennessee. Most come from couples who were successful in IVF and chose to donate their remaining embryos for those who wanted to adopt.

The couple waited five months on a list and then got to the top and were given 10 profiles. Since they already had biological children, they did not concern themselves with trying to find a match that resembled them.

It was suggested they choose two, in case one failed. They choose one genetically tested male embryo that had been frozen five years and one highly successful embryo that was frozen for 15 years. Each embryo came with a general profile of the donors for medical reasons and general information on the donors.

The two embryos were thawed and transferred to Randi’s uterus on May 2, 2016, and four days later Randi was already experiencing nausea, which was a terrific sign.

“I never felt so sick when I was pregnant before,” Randi says with a smile.

The doctor confirmed their pregnancy with two babies, and it was a bit rougher because it was twins and she was older. They say they both secretly hoped both embryos were viable and broke into tears when they realized they had two babies.

Wynn and Elise were early Christmas presents. Born Dec. 6, 2016, six weeks early, they soon flourished. They each came from separate donors.

Ironically, though not biological, they both look like their parents, with Elise taking after Randi’s blue eyed, blonde features and Wynn after Wesley’s darker features. People are astounded when they learn about the embryo implantation. The cost of the adoption was about $7,000 and another $1,000 for special medication.

At 11 months, Wynn is high strung and all boy, and Elise is “chubby with fat cheeks” and loves to smile.

Because of other couples’ generous donations, Randi and Wesley now have two beautiful babies. Also, full circle, because Randi could not produce enough milk to breast feed, she connected with a wonderful group where mothers donate their extra breast milk.

“I know,” Randi whispers. “Other people have given us so much.”

Mom and dad are adapting happily to their new normal with four children. It’s their dream. It’s busy with a lot of give and take and little sleep. But, they say it’s miraculous.

“Embryo adoption is a wonderful option not a lot of people research,” Randi says quietly as she looks at her twins asleep. “I want people to know being infertile is not a failure. It’s life, but there are options. If I had to walk this road again in order to educate people, I would. I’m okay I walked the road and got to the other side.”

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Be The Change

Recently I was in a work meeting, and it seemed everyone in attendance was in a funk. It was not a work-related funk, but a general “life as we know it” funk. The conversation quickly turned from work to politics, natural disasters and of course, Las Vegas.

It seems that everywhere we look these days, evil abounds.

There are populations of people that want to harm us. From nukes that may reach our shores to wayward souls who massacre the innocent among us. Natural disasters are battering homes and our spirits. Tweets and daily political posts that keep us in constant turmoil.

Conversations about how we go about fixing what has gone so wrong often lead to nowhere. Fixing “it” seems almost insurmountable until you realize that the next move is ours to make, and we best get to making it.

I don’t know how to fix politicians or world leaders, nor do I know how to make someone insane become saner. I can’t make floods subside, nor can I bring back innocent lives lost.

But I can….

  1. Be kind to those around me. I can smile at the clerk at Walmart and ask their name. The minute I do, we are no longer strangers. In a world where so many are alone or lonely, I will take a minute to ensure those who pass through my daily world know they are valued.
  2. Be a helper. I can hold a door, pay for a meal, do a favor and expect nothing in return. It astounds me that there are so many among us who may be hungry or do not have a permanent home where they can rest. Let’s help them. Let’s feed them. Let’s bring them some peace. For we all know that helping them, brings us peace as well.
  3. Be thankful. I can thank the good Lord above that somehow I landed right here. We may not have the swankiest of restaurants or big sprawling malls, but we have something better. Fridays are for football, the county fair is still a big deal, you get caught behind a tractor on the highway and your life automatically slows down. It’s not a simple life by any means, but at the same time, it’s not the life many in this world suffer though. We know our neighbors. We watch out for each other. Good abounds.
  4. Be resolute. I can right a wrong. I can speak up. I can speak out. There is a time and place for silence, but now is not the time or place. We can no longer let the politicians or other people fix things for us. It’s time we fix things in our own homes. It’s time we fix things in our own schools. It’s time we fix things in our own small communities. Only then will we be ready to fix the bigger challenges facing us.
  5. Be the change. I can make a difference. Even a small one. I can make it every single day. I may not be saving the entire world, but I’m doing what I can to save my little world.

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A Joint Decision

Lebanon couple praises Tennova Healthcare for outstanding orthopedic care

Bobby and Betty Kirk share life together. The husband and wife enjoy boating, fishing, dancing, traveling and socializing together with their friends at the Lebanon Senior Citizens Center. They also share a history of joint pain. Both suffered from arthritic joints that had worn away cartilage until bone met bone. 

So, it’s no surprise that they both came to the conclusion to have total joint replacement surgery at Tennova Healthcare – Lebanon. In fact, the Kirks had a combined four knee replacement surgeries performed at the hospital within a span of just five months. They also shared the same orthopedic surgeon: Jon Cornelius, M.D. 

According to Dr. Cornelius, joint pain can result from a variety of conditions or injuries. “It can be the direct consequence of a single traumatic event like a fall. Or it can arise from overuse, repetitive trauma or stress to a particular joint or muscle. Regardless of its origin, joint pain can significantly interfere with normal movements, such as bending, reaching, walking and climbing stairs. If joint pain affects everyday activities and prevents you from doing the things you enjoy, it might be time to see an orthopedic specialist,” he says. 

A retired home health tech, Betty made the decision to have a total left knee replacement in July 2016. She admits she was worried about having surgery, but after meeting with Dr. Cornelius, her concern was quickly replaced with confidence. Three months after her first knee replacement surgery, the 68-year-old mother and grandmother from Lebanon had a total right knee replacement. 

“I can honestly say I experienced very little pain after my surgeries,” Betty says. “For each knee replacement, I spent just two days in the hospital and then I received physical therapy at home. I strongly believe that if you do your exercises and everything the doctor tells you to do, you will have a good recovery.” 

Seeing how well Betty did — and how quickly she “bounced back” after both of her joint replacement procedures — Bobby Kirk, age 69 and a semi-retired central air conditioning and heating mechanic, chose to have double knee replacement surgery in December 2016. Bobby says he used a walker for about a week post-surgery, and he was back at the gym working out within two weeks of his left and right knee replacements. 

“Dr. Cornelius encouraged us to do our exercises and not lay around,” Bobby says. “And I think that was a key to our successful recovery.” 

“Joint replacement is considered an elective surgery, meaning patients determine for themselves if and when to schedule the procedure,” Dr. Cornelius says. “This choice can be both a blessing and a curse. Patients appreciate being in charge, but often agonize for months or even years over whether it’s the right time for surgery. Frequently, they postpone the procedure and suffer tremendously in the interim.” 

“We can’t thank Tennova enough for the great care we received,” Betty says. “The staff was wonderful. We only wish we had done it sooner. We are both enjoying an active, pain-free life now.” 

“I don’t crawl around in attics anymore,” Bobby adds. “But we’re back to boating and playing Bingo at the senior citizens’ center and line dancing. You should see us do the Cupid shuffle now!” 

For more information or to find a doctor, call 1-855-TENNOVA (836-6682) or visit Tennova.com. 

About Orthopedics at Tennova Healthcare – Lebanon 

The comprehensive program at Tennova Healthcare – Lebanon features the expertise of a multidisciplinary team including orthopedic surgeons, anesthesiologists, orthopedic nurses, physical and occupational therapists, and a total joint program coordinator. Tennova Healthcare – Lebanon offers a full range of advanced surgical techniques including total joint replacement, partial joint replacement, resurfacing, and robotic-assisted surgery. To learn more, call 615-443-2560 or visit www.TennovaOrtho.com to sign up for a joint pain seminar. 

About Tennova Healthcare 

One of the state’s largest health networks, Tennova Healthcare includes 16 hospitals and more than 115 physician clinics. The combined network has approximately 2,600 licensed beds, 2,800 physicians on the combined active medical staffs, and 9,000 employees, with more than 70,000 admissions and 465,000 emergency department visits each year. Learn more at www.Tennova.com. 

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Notes for Nurses

Helping the next generation with fun night out

The community came out for an entertaining evening that supported a great cause:
Notes for Nurses. Cumberland University held its fifth annual Notes for Nurses event
Sept. 23 at the Savage Aviation Hanger at the Lebanon Municipal Airport.

It’s the University’s Rudy School of Nursing and Health Professions’ primary fundraiser
of the year, and they raised more than $93,000 this year. Since Notes for Nurses
started, it’s raised nearly $300,000 to help the school provide scholarships and lab
equipment.

The event also kicked off the 25th anniversary celebration for the Rudy School of
Nursing and Health Professions.

“Notes for Nurses is an important event because it has allowed us to purchase state-of-
the-art simulation and training equipment to help us educate the next generation
of nurses,” says Joy Kimbrell, interim dean at Cumberland University. “The event has
also offered us the opportunity to provide scholarships to some students who might not
otherwise have the opportunity to become a nurse.”

The event featured music from musician Jonell Mosser, a live auction, cash bar, food
from Sammy B’s and much more. Attendees enjoyed the event well into the evening.
“It was such a wonderful evening, full of excitement, amazing food, incredible music and
dancing,” says Pam McAteer, Dental Group Transformations and event chair. “Seeing
the outpouring of support from the community with record attendance was
heartwarming.”

Although a lot of work went into planning the event, the group got to let loose with the
rest of the attendees.

“My favorite part of the event would have to be watching the nursing student volunteers
having such a great time on the dance floor during the after-party, which was an added
event this year,” McAteer says.

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Bird Eggs in One Basket

After making the decision this year to actively pursue a writing career (more about that
in my blog Mommy Moments “When Life Gives You Lemons and Lyme Complex” for
Wilson Living online), I began writing a little bit every day.

I finished the draft on a different children’s story about a bird and read it to the toughest
critic I know: my now four-year-old daughter. I asked her what she thought. Her hesitant
reply was, “Well, I like it, but I wish I had a blue jay story because the blue jay is my
favorite bird.”

And so I sat down while my kids were taking a nap and wrote “The Blue Jay Blues.” I
had some feathery inspiration, seemingly having birds on the brain. My husband
recently put up a hummingbird feeder and a songbird feeder in our backyard, little things
that have brought big entertainment to myself and my children.

We all have our favorite birds, my son the hummingbird, myself the cardinal and my
daughter, of course, the blue jay. Fitting that my daughter picked the notoriously mean
bird as her favorite, as she delights in terrorizing her little brother.

But then I got to thinking about it. Was the blue jay really a bad bird, or was he just
misunderstood? This sparked the story for “The Blue Jay Blues,” with more inspiration
flowing from my time living in Memphis where both my husband Ensley and I attended
law school. You think Memphis, and you can hear B.B. King’s electric guitar. You can
visualize a lyrical, neon trail of heartbreak dancing down Beale Street.

“The Blue Jay Blues” is a story about a blues playing Blue Jay who just wants to play
with the other birds, but they’ve all heard that Blue Jay is bad news. Overcoming his
bad reputation, all the birds perform in the Blue Jay Blues Band. It’s a rocking good time
with an educational bent, throwing in some facts about Blues music and blue jays.

While I’ve sent out many of my other stories to find a home at a big publishing house, I
decided that I wasn’t going to wait until an elite in New York decided to give my blue jay
story a chance. I had my marching orders from my daughter, after all.

I asked for divine wisdom on how to proceed. It just so happens that my daughter
received an angel book by a publisher whose name included the word “wisdom.” Seeing
that as a sign, I did an online search trying to find the book’s publisher, thinking that was
where I should send my story. Well, I couldn’t find the angel book publisher, but landed
instead on Wisdom House Press, an independent publishing house in North Carolina. I
decided to take a leap of faith, or a flight of faith as it were, since birds apparently are
my muse.

So about all those eggs in one basket. During “The Blue Jay Blues” production, I had
the idea for a Southern poetry journal. Much of my writing begins in a journal, so I
thought why not put my pen to paper on paper already containing my words?
I began thinking of all the sayins' of my late grandma from Crossville and began turning
those expressions into poems. My list keeps growing every day, with “new” old material
supplied by my Lebanon grandmother-in-law Madeline Hagan, and the current tally is at
more than 600.

I decided to split the sassy sayins' into multiple books. The first I’m sharing is called “A
Big Helping of Southern with a Pinch of Poetry: A Sassy Southern Journal.” From
canning to a can-do attitude, from big hair to big dreams, with A Big Helping of Southern
I hope to leave you hungry for seconds! Of course, I want you to buy my journal, but I’ll
give you a taste (just don’t ruin your supper!):

“Life is like a potluck, what others make you can’t dictate. But you create your own
menu, so make something delicious to adorn your plate!”

“All your eggs in one basket is said to be foolhardy. Unless you’re making omelets, you
need a few broken eggs for a brunch party!”

Come out to hear a reading of “The Blue Jay Blues” during Wilson Living’s
Breakfast with Santa Nov. 16 at 8 and 10 a.m. The event will be at the Wilson
County Fairgrounds’ James E. Ward Ag Center.

Andrea Hagan is a mom full time, a lawyer part-time and a wordsmith on the weekends.
Check out her blog Mommy Moments for Wilson Living Magazine online. Andrea and
her family live in Lebanon where her husband, Ensley, was born and raised. Andrea is
an interloper from Sparta, but we won’t hold that against her. Be sure to check out
Andrea’s website Andreahaganbooks.com for more information about her upcoming
projects and to purchase her books.

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Bombshell Business Woman

Local author looks to inspire female entrepreneurs with book

It’s no longer a man’s world, at least if the growing number of women entrepreneurs have anything to say about it. That includes Amber Hurdle, who wrote “The Bombshell Business Woman” to give other women actionable advice on how they can grow their businesses and succeed — no matter their circumstances.

Her struggles are actually what helped this bombshell get to where she’s at today, and readers can learn all about her journey in the book.

Hurdle, who grew up in Orange County, California, moved to Lebanon when she was 14 years old. Her father had always been in the music industry, so it only made sense that the family of eight would end up in the Nashville area.

She was seen as the ideal student, even making the evening news as a strong high school leader. That was just weeks before the moment that changed her life forever. At 16, Hurdle found out she was pregnant. After the initial shock wore off, she started to think about the logistics of raising a child when she was still one herself.

Hurdle knew she had to be dedicated to her education and work if she was ever going to be able to give her child all of the opportunities she deserved. She not only wanted to prove the naysayers and statistics wrong, but she wanted to also push herself to be the best she could.

Besides her family, helping her on that journey was Lebanon’s Johnny and Peggy Keel. Johnny was her first mentor, and Peggy — who Hurdle says was an entrepreneur in town before there was a thing — helped raise her professionally. “Peggy is the one who really encouraged me. I just can’t help but think if she didn’t make those investments in me, there’s no way I’d be where I am now — and she’s still there for me.”

From there, Hurdle has had a career focused on communications and engagement, whether that was in a marketing, public/internal relations or event management role. Like other writers, the idea of a book started to take root. So, she started putting pen to paper nearly four years ago.

At first, she had a difficult time coming up with the topic for her book. She originally considered writing a leadership book. But the more involved she became with female entrepreneurs throughout the community, she soon realized how little information and actionable advice there was for them.

“I personally had a hard time finding out how to do this. There wasn’t a book out there like what I wanted,” she says. So, she decided to solve the problem and create one.

Things started to fall together after that, finding a publisher, getting more clarity on her targeted audience and creating a plan to get the book published and out to readers. Her book, “The Bombshell Business Woman,” came out this fall and covers everything from Hurdle’s story to real advice on engaging employees, setting goals and networking.

A straight shooter, Hurdle uses her experiences, knowledge and skills to help other women looking to grow their businesses. She’s learned what does and doesn’t work for entrepreneurs, and she wants to share that with others to see them be successful.

Supporting her throughout the publishing process has been her husband, Geoff, and children Brittany, Derek and stepdaughter, Kristen Fussell. She’s also gotten support from the community.

Her book even features several local businesses who worked through her book guide together. “There’s just a sense of comradery that really inspired a lot of this book,” she says. “The most powerful aspect of it was that they were there for each other. They realized they weren’t really competition.

“So many women in this town contributed to its existence, whether they realize it or not,” Hurdle continues. “Lebanon is a true community, and we can only sustain that if we make an intentional effort to invest in each other.”

The book is for both new business owners and ones who have been doing it for years but need advice and support. She encourages entrepreneurs to grab a few of their fellow business women friends, study the book and help each other through the process.

“The huge challenge for women is having confidence, especially in a Pinterest-perfect world,” Hurdle says. “You were created a certain way: You have inherent, natural gifts you can use.”

The basis of her book is the idea of a bombshell woman, who she says is a woman who is comfortable in her own skin. “It’s not about vanity or external presentation. It’s who you are on the inside.”

In her book, she defines a bombshell as “a bold, brave and unwaveringly confident woman in business and life.” Those are attributes she strives toward, as well.

“It’s about being able to be a wife, mom, business owner, community volunteer,” Hurdle says. “A bombshell isn’t 9 to 5.”

Being able to understand the dynamics of being a woman business owner has enabled Hurdle to speak to women on a larger basis, giving them information that really helps and hits home. Having the opportunity to work with a variety of women and being able to make a real difference in their lives has been rewarding for Hurdle.

She says she wants readers to come away from the book feeling empowered. “If a woman feels empowered, she doesn’t let fear dictate her actions. She lets her truth and her talent and her gut instinct tell her what is next and how to best do things. And when a woman is operating in that flow, she’s unstoppable.”

It’s that unstoppable mindset that drove Hurdle to earn not only her high school degree, but also a bachelor’s degree. She’s proof people really can do anything they put their mind to, no matter what obstacles they’re against.

Her book aims to help other women find that same confidence, no matter their circumstances, and the best plan for their businesses. As she says in her book, “I can show just how far from grace I fell and what it took to first claw my way out of desperation and then to grow personally and professionally far more than I thought possible.”

For women who purchase her book early on, she’s offering a free 40-page workbook, 30 days of affirmation and a one-week Bible study. The book also features a study guide.

“If you want to get together with your bombshell squad, we have everything in there for how to facilitate a book study and how to make sure everybody’s heard,” she says.

“The Bombshell Business Woman” is available at Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, independent stores and Amazon.com. For more information, visit Amberhurdle.com.

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Healthy Living

I’m a sucker for anything holistic.

Some of my first memories are of my grandmother giving me a big, heaping spoon of cod liver oil right before bed, followed by a dose of wisdom. “This will make you smarter than all the other girls,” she would promise.

And with that…I was hooked.

Who needed to memorize multiplication tables each night, when instead, I could endure two seconds of this gross, nasty, magical elixir and just like that, I would know math!

My grandmother was also a big believer in the benefits of fresh goat’s milk. And when I mean fresh, I mean still warm from the utter, fresh. To keep me from gagging, she would add in two tablespoons of chocolate Ovaltine and then place the tall glass of frothy, smelly, awfulness in front of me. “This will make you prettier than all the other girls,” was the promise this time.

To this day, if I pass Ovaltine in the grocery aisle, I have to take a big gulp and look away.

But I continue to be a believer, and so every few months, if I stumble on an article or hear about an amazing superfood that will make me healthier (with no other effort on my part), usually within 48 hours, I’m trying it.

Coconut oil. Check.

Kefir. Check.

Green tea. Check.

Ezekiel sprouted bread. Check.

You name it. I’ve suffered through it.

And most always, I’ve done it alone.

This time, however, my husband was the one who heard about the benefits of apple cider vinegar and wanted to give it a shot. A quick Google search of all this vinegar could promise, and I was in!

Before he could say Kroger, I was home with a big bottle of Bragg’s Organic Vinegar.

This would be easy. I liked apples. I liked cider. And I loved vinegar on my salad.

The bottle said add two tablespoons to a cup of water and then mix in honey to taste.  Are you kidding me? I was weaned on the oil squeezed from the liver of a cod fish.

I drank it straight.

The burn as the vinegar went down my throat was like tiny razors slicing my throat, one paper cut at a time. The taste was like eating a salad puréed in a blender.

This elixir was going to go the way of all the others, but for one small fact.

Throwing away a six dollar bottle of vinegar is not anything Brody Kane can bring himself to do. So instead, every morning, he brings me my vinegar water.

“I promise, two more weeks and the bottle will be done,'” he tries to remind me.

I close my eyes, hold my nose, and gulp it down.

This worked a lot better, when I was the only health nut in the family!

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