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.


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 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.


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.

Why Uncomfortable is The Place Where Things Happen

fork in the roadI’m a member of a writing group and every couple of weeks a small number of us get together and place our hearts on the table. It’s challenging, it’s scary, and it’s uncomfortable. It’s also one of the few things that pushes me to write consistently, and with more honesty.

I’ve been plagued with headaches my entire life. Even when they weren’t full-on migraines, they lingered above me like a warning, reminding me that they were always on the horizon. I’d gotten used to them and taking medication to relieve them. But then I learned more about the medicine I was taking, learned about the long-term effects, and became uncomfortable with the idea of taking this medication for the rest of my life. I consulted a nutritionist and with her help, adjusted my diet (more on that in a future post), eliminating foods that were triggers. Removing foods from my diet that I’d once thought were harmless (and in some cases healthy) was uncomfortable, and at times difficult, but we pinpointed my triggers and I’m happy to report that staying away from those foods have left me virtually headache free for longer than I can remember being anytime in the recent past.

In order to progress, we’ve got to leave our comfort zone behind us. Sometimes that takes the shape of a big, uncomfortable, scary-as-hell leap, and other times it’s in small increments, every single day.

Uncomfortable is the place where things happen because that tension, that discomfort, is what reminds us that we want and deserve more.

because I know no other way

Love’s been on my mind all week, and then my cousin posted this poem on her Facebook Page (you can follow her at Ask Jackie O’ Nappy) and I was all, “This, right here.”  You will find love, imperfections and all, because the heart knows no other way. Enjoy, and may the love you deserve find you wherever you are today.

Pablo Neruda

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.

Great Expectations

Expectations - Women at Forty

I’m not talking about goals here (or the Charles Dickens novel). Not the things we want to accomplish by the end of the day or end of a project. No. Expectations are different, and for some of us, paralyzing. So what’s the difference?

Here’s an example that some of you might relate to you. If you’re a writer you may have a daily writing goal of 1,000 words and a final word count goal of 90,000 words. Great goals to have. Your expectation attached to those goals however are what often stymies you. With each keystroke you expect a New York Times bestseller that will change the world. Forever. But bestsellers aren’t necessarily written during first drafts – or first books. Talk about working in a pressure cooker.

See the difference between goals and expectations? And can you see how expectations can sometimes paralyze us with fear? We’re planning our outfit for our interview with Matt Lauer and panicking about stage fright and we’ve barely written 500 words.

It’s those damn expectations. And the analogy holds for just about anything you’re working on with your whole heart. You’re eating healthy and working out – which is a goal in and of itself – but then you begin to expect a six-pack like the woman at your gym, or a certain magic weekly weight loss number, or fill-in-th-blank,  and then one day you realize you’ve lost sight of your purpose – your main goal. Damn expectations.

Here’s the thing about expectations. They’re based on a belief that something should happen in the future. And that’s where we get into trouble – the should.

We allow our expectations of what should happen to rob of us of the joy of doing, being, and achieving in the present.  It’s human nature to expect certain things. But when we lose sight of the work we’re doing in the present to focus on what we think should happen in the end, we end up missing out on an awful lot. Let’s be clear – there’s nothing wrong with wanting six-pack abs, or wanting to be a bestselling author. In fact they’re great things to work toward if they have meaning and value to you. It’s when those things begin to hinder us that the problem arises.

Yesterday when I was outlining this post I saw this on Geneen Roth‘s Facebook page and it confirmed for me that this is something most of struggle with (and that I was writing the post at the right time):


The process is the goal. And this is always true. Otherwise, you get to where you believe the goal is, and you raise the proverbial bar. You make another goal. And then, you push to get to that one, that goal. And make another one. And in the meantime, you keep missing what you call your life. And then you wonder how it all went by so fast and where you were while it was happening. That’s how people get to the end of their lives and suddenly realize, they missed the gifts. The small moments. The ordinary moments, on the way to the Big Get. The Goal.

Today, while we’re going about meeting your goals let’s save the great expectations for Charles Dickens and Pip and just be great at whatever we’re doing in the moment. Hope – yes, set goals – yes, and work – work our butts off, but let’s not be so tied to the “should” that we lose site of what already is.