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postheadericon Cold weather is here. Share a hoodie and catch some cooties!

Health Matters - Healthy Living

People may think of cooties as an innocuous childhood game, but to some people they are a biting reality.Almost 100 years ago, soldiers in the trencehse of World War I referred to biting parasites as "cooties". This included headlice! Nowdays, children give themselves cooties shots and use cootie catchers. But as winter presses on, the chances of contracting cooties is real. People may believe that just because it's cold that all the insects have gone dormant this time of the year. Not so, since head lice live on human scalps which have an excellent natural insulator: hair. These parasites are present all over the world and in every social class. People need to be aware that sharing clothing may transmit them from person to person. Oftentimes, children are not aware of this and will share their winter-wear without second thought! Adults need to be vigilant for these pests during the winter months too. They should be checking for: itching,restlessness at night (when the lice are active and move around), lice eggs that can be found at the base of the hair shafts and are smaller than sesame seedsthat are white in color, and crawling lice that are often seen around the hairline and the thin spots on the crown of the head.


Next: Lice salons.


postheadericon Atlantic Shores Senior Artists Show Age is No Barrier In Creating Award-Winning Masterpieces

Profiles - Central Virginia
Art is ageless, and artists can be as well! At least, in the case of a group of talented artisans at Atlantic Shores Retirement Community in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Whether working in oils or watercolor, stained glass or photography, these creative artists in their seventies through nineties are establishing or renewing a passion for the arts in their retirement years. Some, like Atlantic Shores resident artist Margene Sullivan, have discovered their creative side later in life -- becoming artists as part of their journey as perpetual students of life. After her husband passed away in 1984, Margene started taking art and dance classes as a way to keep her mind and body busy. She developed her fledgling talent, and is now one of the most talented pastel artists in the community. Her art is full of such color and vibrancy; it is hard to imagine it all started from such a sad time in her life. Others, like 74 year-old Jeanie Drescher, are reconnecting with their artistic side now that they have time to devote to it. Her photography, which started as a hobby in 1976, now has become a full time passion, with her hand-tinted and digitally-painted photographs selling briskly to fellow residents, their friends and other art aficionados. To support their large community of artists, Atlantic Shores offers an array of classes in the community’s sunny art studio. Classes are taught by talented residents, including 93 year-old Dorothy Stott, a retired art teacher who encourages her fellow artisans to explore their creative side in her art fundamentals class. Some residents also instructed by professionals outside the community, including classes at the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art. Many artists are self-taught, and take inspiration from the surrounding beauty of Atlantic Shores’ 100-acre campus, some choosing to paint in an outdoor gazebo beside the community’s lake. Many of Jeanie’s photographs capture the beauty of nature and wildlife at Atlantic Shores. Teachers and students alike are finding fulfillment through art. Blooming in her late-eighties, Margene has sometime been the oldest person in her art class, to which she commented, “that’s just fine with me. It’s never too late to learn something new, and to do something you love.” And appreciation for the arts goes beyond creating their own masterpieces, with resident field trips to local art shows and exhibits at the Chrysler Museum, and Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art. Some residents are even more involved, like Jane Webster, who has served as a Master Docent at the Chrysler Museum for 13 years. According to Atlantic Shores Resident Services Director Kathy Parks, “I’m consistently impressed by the diverse range of talent our residents have. Each person expresses themselves with a totally different style, creating works as unique as they are. They are excited to continue developing their skills, and their optimism and energy really show in their creations.” Just like their younger contemporaries, the work of these seasoned artists are showcased in gallery shows and exhibits, with many works sold to local area collectors. More than 70 of their beautiful pieces were also featured at a gallery display during the annual Atlantic Shores Home & Garden Tour. And a rotating selection is featured on display in one of Atlantic Shores’ busiest corridors. And their works are capturing the attention of a national fan base as well, with many recently selected for inclusion in the 2013 VANHA online senior art show. Competing against 242 pieces of art from 17 retirement communities, Atlantic Shores artist Ruth Portner was awarded 2nd Place in the Painting and Drawing category for her “Peruvian Women” painting. Honorable Mention awards went to Frank Portner for his “Carousel Horse,” and to George Ikonen for his “Atlantic Shores Gazebo.” Some are taking this national exposure to a new level, like 73 year-old artist George Ikonen, who’s also gained fame by being featured “in the buff” while creating one of his paintings as a model in the Pin-Up Boys of Atlantic Shores Calendar, a nearly-nude fundraising calendar featuring gentlemen from the retirement community. And more than just a national audience, their artwork has also gone global on the web, with an online gallery shared with the community’s facebook fans from around the world. Camaraderie keeps the Atlantic Shores artist community moving forward, encouraging and spurring each other’s creativity. As George Ikonen says, “I first picked up a paint brush in 1972 before heading overseas as part of the Marine Corp. It wasn’t until 2009, when I took a class with Dorothy here at Atlantic Shores, that I took up painting again. Now it is such a big part of my life, I don’t know what I’d do without it. I have my friends at Atlantic Shores to thank for that gift.” For more information on Atlantic Shores, please visit:


V Community News - V Community Listings



postheadericon A new definition of ‘running buddies’

Sporting Women - Individual eVents

They’ve shared holidays, birthdays, happy times, and struggles. They’ve been through ten years of changes, ten years of great memories and have watched each other’s children grow up. But, Heidi McNelis, Jackie Mitchell, and Kathie Spraggins may not have ever met if it wasn’t for early mornings and long distances.

“I’ve kind of been running my whole life,” McNelis said. “My mom says I went from walking to running.”

McNelis started running with the Sports Backers Marathon Training Team in 2003 after completing the Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10k. The mother of three young girls didn’t know anyone else on the team, and had recently left her job to be a stay at home mom. Her fortieth birthday was approaching, and while she had been running for exercise on her own, she wanted to do something significant to celebrate the next stage of her life. 

“I also wanted to do something to show my daughters that even if I was a stay at home mom I could still accomplish things that maybe other stay at home moms couldn't,” McNelis said. “It was a bit of an ego thing for me I guess.”

In addition to McNelis, 2003 also marked Jackie Mitchell’s first marathon. Mitchell didn’t start long distance running until she was 36. She had done the YMCA training team for the Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10k with her church, and afterward signed up for the MTT. Mitchell frequently ran with another friend. One day her companion didn’t show up for training; not wanting to run solo she approached Kathie Spraggins.

I just walked up to Kathie and said, ‘Hi can I run with you?’” Mitchell said.

It was Spraggins’ second marathon. She completed her first one on a New Year’s dare from her neighbors, and due to training too quickly, ended up injured. She had just recently moved to a new neighborhood, and was looking for a way to get outside her cul-de-sac.

“I needed to get out and meet some new people,” Spraggins said. “I was running with my neighbors, and between joining the training team, having not trained correctly, and then training correctly it took 48 minutes off of my marathon time. So it speaks volumes for the training team.”

Spraggins introduced Mitchell to McNelis, who she had met on a previous run, and the three quickly formed a tight bond. They soon realized they all lived close to each other in the West End, and began to meet for weekly 5:30 a.m. runs. Those runs quickly led to meeting for a drink every now and then, or a cup of coffee, and soon transcended into deep and meaningful friendships.

“I could not have done what I’ve done without them,” Mitchell said. “It was our destiny to meet.”

After a successful marathon in 2003, the three women kept at it and decided that summers wouldn’t be quite the same if they weren’t getting up to run on Saturdays with the training team. Ten years later they’re doing just that. Together they train through the winter, and have run over 30 races together, and about 12 marathons, including Boston.

“They're not just my running friends anymore,” McNelis said. “They're so much more than running friends. They're my bestie, bestie, bestie friends. I have a small family, so these guys are my fill-ins. They're my family.”


Over the years their husbands and families have become friends, as well as one of each of their three daughters that are the same age. They share a close-knit group of other running friends they have met through the training team that they affectionately refer to as the “R-Dubs”. All three women say they have loved the diversity of people the MTT has allowed them to meet, including individuals spanning from age 18-72.


“I believe that the training program teaches you how to do it the right way,” Mitchell said. “Too many people go out and say well I'm going to run three miles and then they run out and they never catch their breath and they're miserable and have a miserable run. Just learning how you have to warm your body up and relax and just keep increasing your mileage little by little instead of just saying, ‘I'm going to go do this.’”


Spraggins also thinks running with a group can prove helpful for most women when it comes to commitment and accountability.


“I get up in the morning because I know I'm going to meet my friends,” Spraggins said. “They're waiting for me. We get each other through a lot, it's incredibly therapeutic to get things out; even if nobody has the answers at least you know you have understanding people with you.”


Mitchell echoes her friend’s statements saying that women should consider their knack for being relational a strength when it comes to group wellness.


“I think women support each other; it's not as competitive,” Mitchell said. “It's more like, okay you can do it and it's positive.”


While the three contend that the modern mom has a lot going on between work and home-life these days, they want to stress to others just how easy it is to incorporate exercise into everyday life and how rewarding it can be.


“It’s something that you can own that's not wrapped around your kids; it's not wrapped around your husband,” Spraggins said. “It's for you.”


“I know for me as a mom, finishing a marathon and doing well, that's mine,” McNelis said. “It's not me doing something good for my kids or being a good supportive wife or something, that's like my own thing. Nobody gave it to me or did it for me and that's mine and I own it. I will shout it out to the world like, ‘Hey look what I did!’”


“Do something for yourself,” Mitchell said. “This is the beginning of what you can be and to get there you have to work hard at it a little bit. You just build up and you'll be surprised where you can go.”


postheadericon Angel of Hope

V Community News - V Community Listings

 In 2003 my daughter Reagan was born, but in less than eight months I was following an ambulance to the hospital not knowing what was wrong with my daughter. By the next day we were learning how different our lives would be.

 That week I spent most of my time online learning the Internet and searching for a suitable memorial stone for my daughter. In my search I kept coming across something called the Angel of Hope, we were looking for a memorial with an Angel in it but this was a bronze Angel and we were looking for something made out of stone. It intrigued me though as I kept running across it in my search, so I saved it to my favorites tab to view at a later date.

 After some time I went back into one of the sites that talked about the Angel of Hope and discovered that the Author Richard Paul Evans was responsible for forging the first Angel and that it was a memorial for bereaved parents to remember their children who are no longer with us.

 With the help of the community and through Mr. Evans organization I was able to raise the appropriate funds to have an Angel of Hope brought here to Richmond, Va. It now resides in the beautiful historic Hollywood Cemetery within sight of where we buried Reagan.

 Many parents visit throughout the year to come and remember their children, to leave little reminders like coins, flowers and pictures at the memorial. On December 6th at 6pm (7pm in most other locations nationwide) we gather in the darkness to light a candle and to share our stories with others, to celebrate the memories of our "Angels". At the end of the ceremony we lay a white flowing at the base of the Angel to honor and remember them.

 Everyone is invited to attend to be there for your own child or to remember a child of a relative or a friend. There is no set "age" of child, for as we all know, no matter how old they are they are still our children.

 For more information here in Virginia please go to "Angel of Hope Richmond Va" on acebook or for info on "Angel of Hope's" across the nation and a listing of them look up Richard Paul Evans on the web.