Kalin’s Chronicles: Girlfriend Getaway to Norfolk

Kalin & Erin of Visit NorfolkWhile covering the Norfolk JazzFest in Virginia, I realized the waterfront city is perfect for a weekend Girlfriend Getaway.  And even though the JazzFest is over, you can still visit during the Norfolk Latino Music Festival August 24, the Norfolk Indie Music & Arts Fest September 14, or the Norfolk Gospel & Jazz Celebration Weekend October 4 – 6.  So here are my suggestions for the perfect Girlfriend Getaway for fabulous food and fun.

Friday

Fly in early and check-in at the Norfolk Waterside Marriott  – just two short blocks from the waterfront and downtown attractions.  Then walk a few steps across the street to VisitNorfolk  for coupons and maps to the city’s neighborhoods and attractions.

Next, head over to the Ghent district for lunch at No Frill Bar & Grill.  The name doesn’t do it justice – menu items are huge and delicious, and served with friendly customer service.  I recommend their “Famous Meatloaf!”

Head back to the waterfront for a tour of Nauticus and the Hampton Roads Naval Museum – for a closer look at Norfolk’s history as the world’s largest naval station.

Then make a short trip over to the Chrysler Museum of Art’s Glass Studio for a glass-blowing class that will have you feeling just as artsy as the Ghent community.

You can carry your new glass over to Mermaid Winery for wine tasting at Norfolk’s only urban winery.  Walk through a very small “vineyard” into the entrance for an atmosphere perfect for wining and dining.

Try the “Elizabeth River” raspberry wine with your meal.  You may even catch “Movie Night on the Patio.”

Saturday

Saturday is for shopping!  But you’ll need a good breakfast to fuel up first, so walk three blocks from the hotel to MacArthur Centre.  Have breakfast at Café Nordstrom, then hit the shops.

For more shopping, catch The Tide light rail at MacArthur Station to the Ghent district for eclectic buys at galleries, boutiques, consignment and antique shops.

After a long afternoon of shopping, enjoy a casual dinner and dessert at Doumar’s Barbeque – it’s home to the original waffle cone.  And you can watch Mr. Doumar himself make the cones on the original four-iron waffle machine, built in 1904.

Back at the hotel, get in a good nap and throw on one of your new buys before walking over to the waterfront for a Midnight party cruise on the Spirit of Norfolk.

Sunday

Start your morning with a relaxing meditation class at the beautiful Norfolk Botanical Garden. This is the only site on my list where you’ll need a car.  Try Orange Peel Transportation,  which has great customer service with friendly and knowledgeable drivers.

Head back to the hotel for a quick shower and change, and then back to the Ghent district for Sunday Brunch at Press 626 Café & WineTry their “Pecan Pie Belgian Waffle.”

Before heading back to the airport, pick up a few Norfolk souvenirs at one of my favorite stores – Dollar Tree.  Norfolk is the company’s headquarters, so there are plenty of locations around town.  It’s a lot cheaper than shopping at the airport.

This itinerary let’s you see just enough of Norfolk to want to come back.  On your next visit, make time for a day trip to nearby Virginia Beach.  And remember:  Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness – Mark Twain.

 

Kalin Thomas is an award-winning multimedia journalist.  She is a former travel & lifestyle correspondent for CNN where she traveled to six continents, including Antarctica.  She is writing her book, Do You Know She’s Black?  The journey of CNN’s first black travel correspondent, for a 2015 debut.   For more, visit www.KalinThomas.com.

Kalin’s Chronicles: Sherri Shepherd finds her “best life” in her 40’s

sherri shepherd

Editor’s Note: A couple of weeks ago, The View co-host, Sherri Shepherd, was in town to promote her new book and Kalin had the opportunity to interview the daytime TV celeb, comedian, and mother about her recent health-inspired transformation.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Sherri Shepherd, co-host of The View, during her visit to Atlanta to promote her new book, Plan D: How to lose weight and beat diabetes (even if you don’t have it).  Her book discusses how Sherri lost 40 pounds and transformed her health, after being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.  At age 45, she looks great and is just as cheerful and funny as she is on TV.  Here are some of her comments that I hope will inspire you to make your health a priority.

On why she wrote the book:  I dedicated the book to my mother, who died from complications from diabetes at age 41.  Most of the people in my family have diabetes and have lost limbs and eyesight from it.  It got to a point where it just seemed normal to us.  So when I was diagnosed with being pre-diabetic, I thought “well I don’t have diabetes, so I don’t have to change the way I eat.”  Then, in August 2007 – just days before I was to start on The View — I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.  That day I still wanted to be in denial.  I came home and ate a big plate of pesto pasta.   But eventually I realized I wanted to live for my son. And I want to help others out there who are struggling with diabetes or being overweight, which is one of the causes of diabetes.

On medicating with food:  Growing up, I had always relied on three things:  faith, funny and food.  I ate to get ride of bad feelings, and my mother’s death just made me numb my feelings even more with food.  So I had to change my relationship with food.

On making lifestyle changes:  I had to incorporate exercise into my life.  I started slow on the elliptical machine and started adding two minutes each time.  And a month later, I was able to do 33 minutes.  I also exercise at home with my son, Jeffrey and my husband, Sal. Sal and I do Salsa like we’re on “Dancing with the Stars.” (laughs)

On eating what she wants:  We have a lot of food on the set at The View and I have to talk to myself when I look at the food.  On one hand I’m thinking, “Ooh that cheesecake would taste so good!”  But I know immediately my blood sugar would spike, I would feel sluggish, I’m going to feel tired, I would go into a fog.  In fact, that’s what happened to me on The View when I said I didn’t know if the earth was round or flat.  I couldn’t even think straight. (laughs)  I went from “she’s a breath of fresh air” to “how’d she get that job?”  (laughs)  But there are times when I make the decision to eat what I want, but I know to eat some fiber right afterward so my blood sugar won’t spike.  I learned about food combinations, and I put that in the book.

On learning to love new foods:  I’ve started to love kale and my husband makes it four different ways: sautéed kale, kale salad, kale chips and kale smoothies.  He even made turkey burgers and substituted kale for the lettuce.

On forgiving herself:  One time I went to Popeye’s and it was good going down.  But I had to get back on track the next day and forgive myself and remember all the good stuff I’ve done.  We kick ourselves too much when we’re down, so always pat yourself on the back for the good things you do.  I have a whole chapter in my book on forgiveness.

On being thankful:  I’m thankful for diabetes, because it has made me make a conscious commitment to my health.  I’m not on medication anymore, because of the lifestyle changes I’ve made. And at age 45, I feel the best I’ve ever felt in my entire life!

 

Kalin Thomas is an award-winning multimedia journalist.  She is a former travel & lifestyle correspondent for CNN where she traveled to six continents, including Antarctica.  She is writing her book, Do You Know She’s Black?  The journey of CNN’s first black travel correspondent, for a 2015 debut.   For more, visit www.KalinThomas.com.

Kalin’s Chronicles: Filmmaker Accomplishes Dream in Her 40s

Daisy Bates Poster Women at FortySharon La Cruise is one of my dear friends and former CNN colleagues. After working at CNN, the 1996 Summer Olympics, and Coca-Cola, she left Atlanta for Boston and New York to pursue her dream of becoming a documentary filmmaker.

She has worked on several award-winning films, including:  “Shut Up and Sing” about The Dixie Chicks, and “This Far by Faith” about religion in the African American community.

But at age 49, Sharon reached her goal of writing, producing and directing her own film.  “Daisy Bates:  First Lady of Little Rock” is the product of seven years of hard work.  The film profiles the life of an African American woman who, while in her 40s, fought to integrate Little Rock High School in Arkansas in 1957.

I have the pleasure of traveling as part of Sharon’s “2013 Southern Circuit Tour” to screen the film, and decided to interview her about accomplishing her dream in her 40s.

On Turning 40:

I had reached a point my life where I wanted to live life on my terms without all the BS. I was finally a grown up! And I was on the way to becoming who I wanted to be—a documentary filmmaker.

On why she chose Daisy Bates as the subject of her film:

In 1997, I was 35 years old living in Atlanta. I attended a photo exhibit that would change my life. “I Dream a World” by photographer Brian Lanker included a companion guide of 75 of the most incredible African American women to ever live, including Daisy Bates. I was shocked that I had never learned about her in school.  I started to research more about her and decided to make the film.

On finishing the film after seven years of work:

Producing “Daisy Bates: First Lady of Little Rock” was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. This profession is not for the weak of heart. It takes lots of time researching, writing, editing and fundraising for money.  In the film world, if you get funding from government entities it is mandatory that your film broadcast on PBS or you have to return those funds.  But there are no guarantees that PBS will broadcast your film. I was fortunate to be picked up by “Independent Lens,” which was the culmination of my dreams as a filmmaker. When the film aired on PBS on February 2, 2012–I was 49 years old.

On traveling the country to show the film:

The film has been screened everywhere from Hawaii to New York. Sitting through a screening with an audience has been one of the most rewarding experiences in my life. I love connecting with new people, and it has helped to reaffirm why I made the film in the first place.

On being productive in your 40s:

Daisy Bates helped to shake the foundation of America in her 40s.  I spent most of my 40s working on the film about her life.  It was both wonderful and stressful.  But I am really proud of all the things I was able to accomplish during that decade of my life.

Advice for women turning 40:

Don’t live your life in fear–take chances–and don’t settle for less than an extraordinary life.  While I was working on the film I had signs up all over my office to encourage me — my favorite was from the film “Million Dollar Baby.” It said “Winners win because they dare to do what losers won’t.”

I hope Sharon’s experiences inspired you.  Your 40s is the time to make no apologies for what you want in life.  So get started now, and never give up on your dreams!  For more information on Sharon and Daisy Bates, visit http://daisybatesfilm.com/.

 

Editor’s Update: I’ve added this clip from the documentary on PBS’ Independent Lens website.

Watch A Feminist Before the Term Was Invented on PBS. See more from Independent Lens.

 

 Kalin Thomas is Women at Forty’s Travel & Leisure Editor. She is also Senior Writer/Photographer for SoulOfAmerica. Before starting her own multimedia company, Kalin spent 17 years at CNN where she won several awards for her work as producer/correspondent for CNN’s weekly travel program, CNN TravelNow. She is currently writing a book about her travels. For more information on Kalin, visit www.seetheworldproductions.com.

Kalin’s Chronicles: Love Your Heart

Go Red DayIn the United States, February is the month of love, but it is also American Heart Month. So I’m mixing the two to tell all you “Women at Forty” – and older — to love your heart this month.

Did you know that heart disease is the leading cause of death among women – more than breast cancer?

Here are some tips on symptoms, prevention and places to go for more information on how you can love your heart to health.

What is heart disease?

Heart disease – also called cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease – is a simple term used to describe several problems related to plaque buildup in the walls of the arteries, or atherosclerosis. As the plaque builds up, the arteries narrow, making it more difficult for blood to flow and creating a risk for heart attack or stroke.

According to the American Heart Association, one in three women has some form of heart disease.

Heart attack symptoms in women:

• Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of your chest. It lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back.
• Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
• Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
• Other signs such as breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.

***If you have any of these signs, don’t wait more than five minutes before calling for help. Call 9-1-1 and get to a hospital right away.

Prevention tips:

• Schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider to learn your personal risk for heart disease.    Quit smoking — just one year after you quit, you’ll cut your risk of coronary heart disease by 50 percent.
• Start an exercise program. Just walking 30 minutes a day can lower your risk for heart attack and stroke.
• Reduce stress — meditation is a good option.
• Modify your by eating less fried foods and red meat, and using the leaner white meat of skinless chicken.
• Per TV’s Dr. Oz:   lose belly fat and get enough sleep.  Belly fat and insomnia can both lead to heart disease.

Women’s Heart Resources:

• Go Red For Women

My Life Check Risk Calculator
National Coalition of Women with Heart Disease
Sister to Sister

So during this month of love, do something loving for your heart — it pumps hard for you!

Kalin Thomas is Women at Forty’s Travel & Leisure Editor. She is also Senior Writer/Photographer for SoulOfAmerica. Before starting her own multimedia company, Kalin spent 17 years at CNN where she won several awards for her work as producer/correspondent for CNN’s weekly travel program, CNN TravelNow. She is currently writing a book about her travels. For more information on Kalin, visit www.seetheworldproductions.com.

 

 

Kalin’s Chronicles: Women’s Travel Resources

Women at Forty Passport to TravelI haven’t started my 2013 travels yet, and I still don’t know all the places I’ll be traveling yet.  But while I’m waiting to hit the airport again, I enjoy reading books and blogs that focus on women travelers.

So I thought I’d share some of my favorites with you.  These resources may help you plan your 2013 travels.

Books

Wunderlust and Lipstick:  The Essential Guide to Women Traveling Solo by Beth Whitman – great insider tips for traveling solo and not feeling lonely, including info on the latest technology to use.

Sand in My Bra and Other Misadventures:  Funny Women Write from the Road edited by Jennifer Leo — This book had me ROFLOL with its travel essays full of women’s experiences (including celebs like Ellen) that will make you laugh and warm your heart.  I hope to get one of my essays in a future edition.

East Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert – I loved this book!  It inspires you to travel and find yourself/your spirituality in the process.

Go Girl edited by Elaine Lee – I’m a fan of this book of inspiring essays by black women who have traveled the world.  You’ll be inspired to drop your fears and open your mind to diverse cultures.

101 Tips for Women Travelers edited by Harriet R. Lewis – This mini book via http://www.gct.com/  has great tips for women of all ages, including:  packing, health, safety, etiquette, shopping, photography and traveling solo.  And it easily fits in your purse or luggage. Continue reading Kalin’s Chronicles: Women’s Travel Resources