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Mesmerizing Mt. Juliet

Local artist Jeremy Simons partners with the city to bring the art scene alive

By Laurie Everett

In jeans, cowboy boots and well-worn cowboy hat always within reach, he worked many days and well into nights with paintbrush in hand.

Oftentimes Jeremy Simons was alone past midnight, dipping his brushes into the paints. At times hunched over, and other times stretched high, the artist lost himself in his project. One stroke at a time, a large-scale mural slowly emerged on a most unlikely canvas, at a most unlikely place. That canvas was a bare concrete wall in the main entrance to Mt. Juliet City Hall.

With each stroke the wall transformed into a vibrant one-of-a-kind homage to Mt. Juliet. Out of nothing, with just paints and a natural born gift, Simons, 33, brought to life locally known Mt. Juliet images of iconic country music artist Charlie Daniels, the commuter train, a local lake with a crane, a large-mouth bass, a Native American Pow Wow dancer and the city seal.

“I just wanted to represent Mt. Juliet and these images show how diverse the city is,” Simons said.

It took Simons about a week and a half to complete the mural that has the community in awe. City Billing Manager Wayne Griffin said he was mesmerized as he watched the veteran artist work.

“It was fascinating to watch,” said Griffin, who sits directly in front of the 5-foot by 12-foot mural. “It would be just blank, then all of a sudden a train would appear and then a fish would appear and I thought ‘how can anyone do that?’ The citizens are just blown away by it.”

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Artist captivates country

Nationally known for his mesmerizing, massive inspirational murals created within minutes with his bare hands to music performed by his wife Lydia’s band, Lydia Brittan, Simons is used to large-scale painting.

For a decade he toured the country, mesmerizing audiences as he poetically painted giant images of Christ with in mere minutes.  Up to 250 shows per year, he drew crowds awed to see his strokes of inspiration.

‘Art is mirror to heart’

An ever-evolving artist, Simons now has dialed back the tours. His wife, who is a singer and songwriter, has as well and now is recording an album. The creative young couple moved to Mt. Juliet a year ago and Simons is concentrating on fine arts nearly full time. He is working on a new body of work with a Native American influence, among many other projects. He’s from West Virginia and his heritage is of the Powhatan tribe.

“My great grandmother and great grandfather were Powhatan,” he said.

Simons was raised in the Appalachian mountains of West Virginia, home to the Powhatan, a Native American people from that general area. It is estimated there were about 14,000 to 21,000 Powhatan people in the early 1600s. Today there are less than 3,900. It is, in part, because of this Simons wants to pay tribute to his heritage with his “American Realist” paintings.

“The heritage of my family has been some of my greatest memories,” Simons said.  “Dancing at a Pow Wow with my brothers and grandmother has been a lasting impression in my mind. Tribal heritage is one of great sorrow and triumph, but most important it is a lifestyle of family. The native heritage shared by our people is one of great beauty, and as an artist, I see the artistry in song, life, and even regalia. Everything has a story and a purpose, and if I can share that through my art, it is an honor.”

The evolution of an artist

Simons said he’s self-taught and started drawing in the first grade. He has a natural talent, as did his father. However, he said his dad never really made money with art.  Simons turned down 17 full-ride scholarships to art schools and instead went to Bible college. He laid his art aside and worked in the ministry full time. He did, however, illustrate his sermons. He then had dreams of painting live on stage.

“I knew what I was supposed to do was art,” he said. “It was liberating and terrifying.”

His performance art skyrocketed and his career emerged with the tours. Now, there’s a new chapter in his life as he works nearly full time creating and selling his artwork. He’s inspired by his Appalachian upbringing in the mountains that have inspired his love for the American frontier and the nation’s first people.

Devotion to Mt. Juliet

However, along with progressing his career full time, he plans to devote a lot of his time to “beautifying” Mt. Juliet with his murals. Simons said when he and Lydia moved to Mt. Juliet they “loved the area and the people.”

“We feel there is so much potential here and we feel this is a great destination for musicians and artist,” he said. “We know there’s a great Shop Mt. Juliet campaign, but feel maybe the artisans’ side is not quite developed.”

This artist decided to take that mission on himself.

“Why wait for other artists to do it?” he said.

The initial prong to that mission is his donation of his murals to the city. Along with his completed mural at City Hall, Simons is in talks with City Manager Kenneth Martin about painting murals on a couple walls at the police department and has a four-year plan to paint all the traffic control boxes at traffic lights. There are also plans to expand the entrance to Charlie Daniels Park and he’s talked with Martin about painting murals on that as well.

“I think it will bring an art presence to Mt. Juliet,” he explained.

Martin is thrilled.

“Mr. Simons is a wonderful young man I met through a mutual local artist friend,” Martin said. “When he showed me some of his artwork I was totally blown away by his immense talent and many, many God-given abilities beyond just drawing, sculpting and painting.”

Martin said he was even more impressed with Simons’ “character and sincere desire to give something back to Mt. Juliet and its citizens.”

“Jeremy is so talented and we are all so very thankful to him for making this wonderful mural a reality for the city. I’m hopeful that other talented artists like Jeremy are able to create a true place to showcase their talents here in Mt. Juliet and Wilson County.”

An artist’s dream for Mt. Juliet

Simons hopes so too. He has big dreams for Mt. Juliet.

“This generous city is growing,” he said. “My personal goal is to have an art district with shops and studios. I want a huge art presence here in the city and if I can start by bringing awareness it can only grow.”

He said he knows numerous other artists who reside in Mt. Juliet.

“I feel good, why not give it a little push, and bring interest?” he said.

From the traditions of old masters to live rapid strokes at his stage shows, to donated jaw-dropping homage murals to the city he now calls home, Simons continues to astonish and mesmerize his audience.

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…ONE LAST THING Nov-Dec 2015

By Becky Andrews

It’s hard to believe that this issue marks our eighth holiday issue! What started as a simple idea Angel shared with me in the summer of 2008 has grown into the perfect outlet to share the people, places and things that make Wilson County THE place to live to experience the good life. Thank you for taking the time to read each issue!

When it comes to the holidays, there’s several distinctive personalities. But two types stand out.  The first is the Martha Stewart decorating, Batali baking, perfect Elf on the Shelf scene making, lover of any and all things holiday.

The second wants to throat punch the person I just described. They shop last minute, avoid big parties and mostly, keep a low profile from Thanksgiving until New Year’s. Direct descendant of Ebenezer Scrooge? Don’t go judging. While the holidays can be full of good cheer, love and celebrations, this time of year can also induce an extreme amount of stress. So be kind and accommodating to friends and family who fall into the second personality. Give them a free pass on turning down a dinner or party invite. Your understanding may be their favorite gift this season.

If time teaches us anything it’s that it goes on. Our kids will grow out of toddlerhood. Our parents and grandparents may stop decorating for Christmas. No matter how your holiday traditions evolve over the years, as long as it’s spent with family and friends, you ARE living the good life.


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Defeated Creek to Hollywood

Smith County native Gary Granstaff makes movie deals from the family farm




Plenty of folks, after they flee their small neck of the woods in rural America to seek their fortune in the big cities, never look back.

For Smith County native son Gary Granstaff, who grew up on a small tobacco farm in Defeated Creek, to deny his birthright and get above his raisin’ proved an impossibility.
After leaving Defeated at 17, he was pretty much gone for 35 years, but he never forgot where he came from or those who shaped his character. About 12 years ago he built a new house half way up a hill on the old family farm, and today spends the majority of his time here managing one of the largest retirement consulting firms within Voya Financial Corporation and evaluating and negotiating movie deals with son Brett, his partner in Ridgerock Entertainment Group.

“I’m kind of a rarity for Smith County. There are not many movie producers here,” says Granstaff, 66, who served as an executive producer on the $65 million film Black Mass, starring Johnny Depp, which hit theaters in September.

DSC09342“Inasmuch as a majority of our work is in development and then production, with most being done outside of L.A. and Las Vegas, it really is not critical to be located in a specific area, and since I prefer to be in my home area, it was a logical move. Also, there are a very few independent film companies in the Nashville area, and we feel it has a great opportunity long term to develop the market in Tennessee.”

Ridgerock, where Granstaff handles development and finance and acquires intellectual properties, unveils The Masked Saint, a $3.5 million faith-based movie, in January. It stars his son as professional wrestler who decides to become a Southern Baptist pastor.

“My son is actually the boss. He got me into the film end of the business about 10 years ago,” said Granstaff, who over the last decade has rubbed shoulders with the likes of Bruce Willis, Nicolas Cage, John Cusack, Meg Ryan, William H. Macy, and most recently with Black Mass stars Depp, Benedict Cumberbatch and Kevin Bacon.

Ridgerock has several projects that the father and son duo are scrutinizing, including a Steve McQueen documentary and two boxing-related films, Francois and Shadow Boxing the Mob: The Carmen Basilio Story. Meanwhile, Karaoke Kings, a comedy, is in the development stage, and Gary has definite plans to make a film in Carthage in two years.

“I have a passion project called Class Favorites that is set in the ’60s around the week of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., and when I shoot that I will shoot it here locally and shoot all of it in Tennessee,” he said.

Gary and wife Wanda built a home in Las Vegas in 1994. Because of his marketing company, he could operate from anywhere in the U.S., so they settled in Chattanooga in the mid-1990s where Brett received a solid education at Baylor, a private prep school.

After Brett graduated from high school and enrolled at New York University (NYU) Film School, Gary and Wanda returned to Vegas. In more recent years they have divided their time between the farm and the city famed for showgirls, games of chance and glittering neon lights.

Gary Granstaff visits with actress Meg Ryan, co-star of the 2008 film The Deal.

“I try to be here at least seven or eight months a year. We’ve opened an office in Nashville so I’m trying to spend more time here if I can. It kind of depends where we are with production and business. I don’t want to be in Los Angeles,” Granstaff said.

As for his business partner and star of the upcoming Masked Saint, he says, “Brett’s a very creative person. He rewrote the script. He plays the lead… he did probably two-thirds of the casting, so that’s all from the creative side.

“He really didn’t have the interest or the inclination for the financial side, and that kind of fit my strength. I’ve been involved with some Hollywood productions, and when you see the waste of the money that goes on, surely just throwing money away, we felt like we could build a better business model.

“So Brett appealed to me to start taking control of financial opportunities that we could see within the film industry. There were several of his contacts that wanted us to invest and co-produce, and he didn’t have the confidence at that time, so we formed Ridgerock Entertainment in 2005.

“Then starting in 2007 we partnered with Emmett Furla Films on a couple of projects that I did the financing part for. In 2008 we co-oped with Meg Ryan and William H. Macy on a romantic comedy, The Deal. So as time went on we became more entrenched in acquiring properties and development, and then Brett brought me Black Mass, so we started working on Black Mass, and it just kind of snowballed.”

As things slowed down in 2012, Brett accepted a media scholarship to Cambridge University in England and earned an MBA in Media and Entertainment Management.

“It’s really given him more confidence in the financial side. He’s not only equal but taken the lead in some of the financial side. So we kind of partner in that. So that’s how I kind of got involved in the film business, through his encouragement to help him on the financial end of the film business,” Granstaff said.

Brett Granstaff, who currently hangs his hat in Franklin, Tenn., describes their roles by saying, “I say yes or no and do everything from business finance to creative. Dad specializes in the financial side and the fund management. I go to him and ask, ‘Is this a good deal? What do you think?’ I bounce ideas off of him. He’s amazing in what he’s done in his business. He handles all the finances: I do all the creative.

“He’s really good with the finances, good with negotiations, and he’s really a good people person, what you need to get along with everyone and problem solve.”

Black Mass came to Ridgerock in 2008 when Brian Oliver, now president of Cross Creek Pictures, told Brett he needed help in development. Brett, in turn, told his father about the book based on the life of Boston mobster Whitey Bulger.

“I did the research,” said Gary, “and in 2010 said, ‘Yeah, let’s pull the trigger on this and get involved because this is a very compelling story, a story that needs to be told to people.’ At that time this fellow was No. 2 in line behind Osama bin Laden on the FBI’s most wanted list.”

The rigors of plowing a ton of dough into a big-budget flick and watching the box-office reports come in, he describes as “a roller-coaster ride,” certainly a more exhilarating experience than riding behind a tractor, setting tobacco plants.

He notes that the biggest lesson he learned from helping guide the major film “is the ability to have control of a project, so that at the end of the day what’s on the screen turns out to be what you want.”

Thus, Ridgerock has complete control over the faith-based movie, The Masked Saint, based on the true tale of Chris Whaley, pastor of Longwood Baptist Church in Orlando, Fla.

“It’s the story of a Southern Baptist pastor who was a professional wrestler who is trying to make the transition from that world into being a pastor, and the trials and tribulations and struggles that he has of going from someone who is a very physical take-charge person and becoming a pastor of a church,” Granstaff said.

Brett, 35, who plays the lead, shares more about the wrestling preacher, saying, “He doesn’t always turn the other cheek all the time. He solves a couple of robberies, helps people and always has the knack of being where he can make a difference.”

As Gary tries to be objective about how son Brett’s comes off in his first starring role, he says, “His wrestling performance… when you have people like Jeff Jarrett and Jimmy Noonan, those kind of people who’ve been around pro wrestling all their life, tell you that he maintained the integrity of the physicality of the sport to a T, and that’s the only reason they endorsed our movie… then I think he did a good job.”

The Masked Saint, which opens nationwide January 8, gets its world premiere January 7 at Regal Cinemas Green Hills in Nashville. The film co-stars Diahann Carroll as a church parishioner who provides the pastor with direction, and the late professional wrestler Roddy Piper plays a promoter and announcer.

Gary leads Ridgerock’s faith division as he seeks to make more faith-based films.

“I used to work 100 hours a week, and in 2003 I had a major heart attack. I had just moved here in April, had a major heart attack in November and nearly died. I had quadruple bypass,” he recalls.

“I go see my mom some years after that and tell her about going into the film business, and she pretty much said, ‘You know, Gary, you’ve made a lot of money. You’ve done very well, but anybody can make money, but not everybody is gonna make a difference. You have the talent to make a difference.’

Ridgerock Entertainment Group vice president of development Gary Granstaff, who graduated from Smith County High School in 1966, has homes in Las Vegas, Nevada, and Defeated Creek, Tenn. He works from both locations but lately has been trying to spend more time closer to home. He also has offices in the old Carthage post office building and Nashville.

“After nearly falling out of my chair, I really walked away saying, ‘I do have an opportunity here to do something positive.’ That’s what really transitioned me into saying to my son Brett that I want to set up this faith division and make faith-based films side by side with secular films, so that we can take a message and hopefully be entertaining and expand the tent to bring people into see a faith-based movie that might not go see a movie otherwise.

“Our movie has a great positive message, but it also has a lot of action. So we want to embrace people who normally won’t go see that movie to say, ‘Hey, I’d like to go see this wrestling film.’”

While Gary gives his son Brett the credit for being the creative force of the team, he’s proven to be quite the dreamer himself and confesses that his imaginative powers were a gift passed down from his maternal grandfather, Newton Burford (N.B.) Kemp, who was his first babysitter.

“He had imagination that he really transferred to me, translated all of his dreams,” Granstaff reminisced. “He never really got to travel and explore and do a lot of things. I can remember sitting on that front porch in the swing with him, and him taking me on trips in his mind and really kind of cultivating all of his adventurous spirit that I kind of wound up with.”

Born the son of Don and Hazel Granstaff, Gary spent his first eight years of school at Defeated Creek Elementary where his mother was his first and second-grade teacher. He grew up on the family farm with siblings Virginia, LaDon and Bill, where they grew tobacco and corn and “all the trappings that go with being in farm life.”

His mother, who spent 36 years in the Smith County school system later served as librarian at the high school. His father operated Granstaff TV and Appliance Service Center in Carthage for about 25 years.

As a youth he helped in the tobacco patch every year where he learned the lesson of hard labor.

“It started early from the plant bed and ended up taking the tobacco to sell, and we had cattle and raised corn and had a huge garden. We did canning and freezing and all those things. It was like every time you get up there was something to do.

Married for 45 years, Gary Granstaff and Wanda Key had been dating about two weeks when they had this snapshot taken at the Smith County Fair in the summer of 1967. Photo submitted

“My mom was a big positive influence. As an educator, she encouraged me. I was in public speaking. I did a lot of work in 4-H, and I think in terms of those kinds of things that help you with self-confidence, my mom was a huge influence. I look back now, and it was nearly a borderline between pushing me and encouraging me kind of thing, but she knew I had some talent in leadership skills and she tried to cultivate that in me. I wasn’t the best student but I did always accomplish what I set out to accomplish,” said Granstaff.

As a child of the ’50s, he whetted his appetite for movies going to Saturday afternoon matinees at The Princess Theater in Carthage.

“I think the cost was either 25 cents or 50 cents,” he said. “The most memorable movies that I can remember seeing as a child were Peter Pan, Old Yeller and Gunfight at the O.K. Corral.”

The country boy also found another way to get to town during those long, hot summers. His excuse to flee the farm and carve out a little income for himself came via a job at a new hamburger joint in Carthage.

“They were opening up a little hamburger place called G&R, which is now Brenda’s [Restaurant]. Me and my buddy Tom McCall were the first two employees. I made 40 cents an hour, and it was a good experience. It was pretty much the only place to go and hang out,” he says. “It gave me a time not only to work but to socialize and to see people.”

After graduating Smith County High, the 17-year-old talked his way into a job at Ross-Gear in Lebanon, saved his money and entered Middle Tennessee State University that fall.

“It set a foundation. I became self-reliant and learned the value of money,” said Gary, who graduated in 1970 with a degree in business.

He and his buddy C.K. Smith of Hartsville, with whom he played a lot of games of hearts, planned to enter the University of Tennessee Law School together. Then his uncle referred him to a TBI (Tennessee Bureau of Investigation) officer.

Their conversation led Granstaff into almost becoming a member of the first class of ATF (the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives). To get the job he had to agree to go undercover for six to nine months in the Florida Everglades and cut himself completely off from family and friends.

However, he and girlfriend Wanda Key were on the edge of matrimony, so he turned down the job in law enforcement, got married and wound up teaching and coaching junior high basketball for a year in a small town in South Carolina.

Returning to the Volunteer State, he accepted a job with the Tennessee Department of Corrections at Spencer Youth Center. He resigned two years later and became an insurance salesman.

“In 1984 I converted into pension planning. Later I got into retirement planning and took over the marketing department of a small company in Seattle and helped grow it from $30 million a year to $300 million a year,” he said.

Today he oversees a marketing organization of 250 sales representatives nationwide who handle retirement planning for educators, teachers, nonprofits, colleges and universities.

And he produces movies.

His favorite film of all time? That would be Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Favorite actor? Paul Newman.

Hard-driven at business, for relaxation or short getaways Granstaff drives a small fleet of antique vehicles that includes a ’56 Chevy Bel Air, a ’69 Camaro and ’91 Mercedes. He also plays the piano and guitar and enjoys a game of tennis now and then.

“Probably right now I’m spending three-fourths of my time in the film business. The other fourth is spent overseeing about 20 commercial and residential properties I own here in Smith County,” he said of his work regimen.

Horses on Granstaff’s Smith County farm.

“As a youth growing up at Defeated, I always had an adventuresome spirit and wanted to travel and see the world. Since my love of my life, Wanda, had the same spirit, we were able to share the adventures that gave us the opportunity to not only live in many places such as Colorado, Washington, Nevada, California and South Carolina but also travel over the globe and have experiences that my grandfather and I dreamed, and I imagined as a child when I spent so much of my time with him.

“He enriched my imagination as a child, and then I was able to live out many of those dreams and then return to enjoy the beauty and people of my home where I grew up,” said the moviemaker, a man whose Smith County roots run as deep as his imagination.

Smith County filmmaker

For more details about Gary Granstaff’s Ridgerock Entertainment Group, go online to The film production company behind Johnny Depp’s Black Mass has several projects in development and debuts The Masked Saint in 600 theaters nationwide January 8.

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Not Just another Christmas Party

6 Tips for dressing your table this holiday


WilsonLiving-10182015-071By Elizabeth Scruggs, Superior Construction and Design

Photos by Chesley Summar Photography

We all drool over Pinterest worthy tablescapes and dream of having a perfect holiday home, but when it comes down to it- who has the time OR money to create such lavish spreads?

It’s fun to flip through the pages of your favorite magazine to find inspiration for the holidays, but what I’m looking for- and what I hope we’ve created for you here- is something real, something easy to duplicate, and something that uses items you already own.

I put this table together for Wilson Living’s holiday party using greenery from my yard, my big boys’ childhood sled, and assorted holiday decorations I already own.  When decorating, think outside the box using items you own in a different way- and when in doubt, always use fresh foliage.  It adds color, texture, and even aroma- and that’s something you can’t buy!



Tip No. 1

Use a minimum of colors to keep things simple and unified.  This table featured classic red and green, punctuated with black and silver.

pic 1



Tip No. 2

Add sparkle with candlelight and hang glistening ornaments from the fixture to help reflect light.pic 2


 Tip No 3

Ice skates and a sled help make a winter table festive.

pic 3



Tip No. 4

Details are so important!  Wrapping the chair backs with wide strips of felt provided the perfect place to add Christmas picks with snowflakes and mittens to carry out the winter theme.pic 4


Tip No. 5

Using a chalkboard, you can change the message to welcome guests for different events during the holidays without changing the tablescape.pic 5



Tip No. 6

Simple chargers and white plates were dressed up a bit with chalkboard paper featuring a different holiday greeting at each setting.pick 6



















From our Wilson Living Family to yours, we wish you the most wonderful time of year!

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I had a home birth!

(and no, I’m not a hippie)

IMG_2239By Andrea Hagan

“There’s no place like home.” “Home is where the heart is.” “Home sweet home.”

“Home is where you have a baby.”

Wait, is that last one not a saying?  Well, it should be! Our son Anthony Ensley Hagan, III, was born on May 30th at 3:35 a.m.  It was a relatively short labor and easy delivery.  Nothing out of the ordinary except that I had him on the guest bedroom floor of our home here in Lebanon with my husband Ensley catching our little bundle of joy!

It was always interesting when people would ask about the pregnancy- are you having a boy or a girl? (It’s a surprise!).  Didn’t you sneak a peak at the ultrasound? (Didn’t have an ultrasound!).  Which hospital are you delivering at? (Delivering at home!).  Who’s your physician? (Don’t have one, using a midwife!).  My husband and I would get looks ranging from confusion to shock when we would explain that we planned on having the baby at home.  “I didn’t know you were such a hippie” was my brother’s two cents.  My husband and I are lawyers for goodness sake, not a couple of long haired, incense burning hippies!  Another friend described the decision to birth at home as “very Little House on the Prairie.”

I’ve never liked hospitals.  Well, granted, who does, but as a kid I really had an unhealthy fear of them.  I blame my older sister for making me watch a movie about a hospital orderly who would take patients to the basement and kill them.

But seriously, I’ve always thought hospitals were for sick people and I wasn’t sick, I was pregnant!  I wanted to have a home birth with my first child, but I let everyone else’s fears become my own.  I read all of the famous Tennessean midwife Ina May Gaskin’s books, I watched the documentary “The Business of Being Born,” the whole a woman’s body knows best motto made sense to me, but ultimately I capitulated and went the conventional route.

IMG_2267To say that I had a less than desirable hospital experience would be putting it nicely.  My OB was on vacation and I wound up with another physician that I’d never laid eyes on before.  I knew this doctor and I were not on the same page when she walked in and began lining up her surgical instruments.  Somehow, I had a natural childbirth, but only out of sheer determination.  Exhausted and battle worn, we left the hospital 24 hours later, again only by sheer determination, as the powers that be didn’t want us to leave without this doctor signing off, and that doctor signing off.  I was in hospital prison! (At least I was not in the hospital basement, though…).

Needless to say, I vowed that the birth of baby number two would be different.  As soon as that little plus sign came up on the home pregnancy test, the search for my midwife began.  After a round of interviews, I found my perfect match with Jennifer Vines and never looked back.  Not that my husband and other family members were without some fears, but ultimately, Ensley agreed with me that the person pushing the baby out gets to call the shots!

Prenatal care was not that much different than with an OB/GYN, only much more relaxed. I met with Jennifer at her office in East Nashville on a typical prenatal schedule.  With my first pregnancy, I always felt like I was going into battle prior to my OB/GYN appointments, having to outline my arguments in my head as to why I was declining this or that test.  My physician, while known as the “lenient” one in her practice, would often look at me visibly annoyed. She actually huffed at me once! My prenatal appointments with Jennifer felt more like visiting with a friend who, while knowledgeable, respected my opinions and decisions.

IMG_2237At 36 weeks of pregnancy, Jennifer and the team, which consisted of a birthing assistant and a doula, came out to my house for my appointment.  There, we made sure the space I had selected to labor and deliver was appropriate and that I had my birthing kit ready in the event the baby decided to make an early appearance.  I won’t get into too much detail about the birthing kit, other than to tell you that lots of plastic floor liners are necessary!

Our little guy decided to come two weeks early.  I was working from home during the early stages of labor, finishing a legal brief while sitting on a big balance ball and having sporadic contractions.  I wasn’t sure for a long time if I was even in labor because it was so different from what I experienced with my daughter.  We decided to play it safe and get everything ready just in case.

I had planned on laboring in my birthing pool, yet there it lay deflated on the kitchen floor.  My husband first tried a hand bicycle pump – fifteen minutes later with nothing but a hand cramp to show for it, he decided we needed heavier artillery.  After burning out his electric pump, my husband tore off to TSC to buy a heavy duty air compressor, asking me not to have the baby before he got back.  I’m pretty sure I was breathing through a contraction, otherwise I probably would have thrown the bicycle pump at him. About three hours later, the pool was inflated and filled with a lead free garden hose.

IMG_2228The game plan was to send our then 19 month old daughter Emeline to grandma Barbara Allison’s house, which is right down the street from us, but she had gone out of town for the weekend.  Luckily, our daughter is a sound sleeper—she slept through the entire event!

When the contractions were too intense to ignore, my husband called Jennifer and my birthing team was at the house within an hour.  Unlike a hospital where the nurse has to check this and check that every hour, I was allowed to just breathe and labor the way nature intended.  Not to say that having a baby is easy, but it was a cake walk compared to the long, painful and stress-filled hospital birth of our daughter.  It was the most amazing feeling when I gave that final push and out came our baby and my husband PDW_5868yelled, “It’s a boy!”  After Jennifer gave our baby a once over, he and I had time to look at each other and just marvel at how amazing it all was.  No whisking away to the nursery for shots or a bath, just mom with baby.

Several weeks later we ran into an acquaintance who heard the big news.  “So, you really gave birth at home?” followed by “Was it intentional?”  Yes, yes it was.  And no, we won’t be buying up farm land for our commune any time soon.

No siree, Ensley is still practicing law at the Hagan Law Firm and I’ve decided to stay at home with the kids for a year.  Jane Austen wrote that “there is nothing like staying at home, for real comfort. Nobody can be more devoted to home than I am.”  I couldn’t agree more, and that’s my little piece of the good life.

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Nov-Dec 2015 Issue Out Now!

…in this issue



4 Notes from the Editor

8 Sabrina Out on the Town

54 One Last Thing



20 Mesmerizing Mt. Juliet: Muralist Jeremy Simons

24 Smile, Kids! Pediatric Dentistry of Lebanon

30 Betcha Can’t Leave Just One: The Cracker Barrel Peg Game

38 Defeated Creek to Hollywood: Gary Granstaff

46 Justice in Action: TN Supreme Court at Cumberland



14 Coming Home—Not Just another Christmas Party

18 It’s Expo Time

36 3 Steps to Deck Your Halls

48 Ask the Vet

50 I Had a Home Birth: Andrea Hagan’s Good Life

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