Local wellness blogger Brandi Moody: tips for post-holiday detox

The holidays are coming to an end and we are left with overly full bellies. Most likely, you feel pretty tired of food; not to mention lethargic, also known as “food coma”. We want our routines and pre-holiday bodies back.

Below are easy tips and tricks to help detox your body and get you back to feeling normal.


Drink water first thing in the morning.

Our bodies are made up of roughly 75 percent water. We NEED it. Our kidneys use water to rid us of certain waste products. If they do not get the adequate amount of water they need, our bodies cannot remove the waste.


Start every morning with a clean breakfast.

There is nothing your body likes more than getting the right nutrients after a long night of sleep. Starting the day off with a clean and healthy breakfast sets you up for a better and more productive day. You will feel healthy and have more energy.

A great example of a clean breakfast is The Living Bowl at The Pinto, located in downtown Batesville. Its base is greek yogurt, rich in protein, calcium, phosphorus, and B vitamins.

And for all the homebodies…I recommend oatmeal with fruit, one of the best breakfasts of all time. There is a saying that “Oatmeal is King”, meaning oatmeal is the best for breakfast. It helps lower blood sugar, provides fiber, contains needed vitamins and minerals, and has a good amount of protein and fat. I like to cook my oats in almond milk or water, add honey for sweetener, then a little chocolate or vanilla protein powder, and a TBSP of natural peanut butter….. so good!


Throw out all leftover holiday desserts.

Yes, you heard this correctly, throw them out. They are cheap to make and you will see them again next year. This is called “controlling your food environment”. You can control what you buy, what you put on your counter, and what is readily available to eat. Surround yourself with good food. If you have fruit on the counter, you are more likely to eat it because you can see it. If you put it out of sight, you will likely pass it up for something easier to grab (out of sight, out of mind). Leave the fruit where you can see it.


Try your best to eliminate all white flour and sugar.

Both white flour and sugar break down in your body the same. They cause inflammation and an increase in blood sugar. White flour has been considered the “glue” of your waist. White flour, if eaten in excess, keeps the body from burning fat as fuel. In turn, this can add weight gain. No Good!


Avoid eating late at night.

It seems that through the holidays, staying up late and eating is a must. That is fine for awhile, but it will come back to haunt you.

Late night eating has been proven to cause weight gain, higher glucose levels, and higher insulin levels. Try to nip that fast.


Make sleep a priority.

Studies prove a lack of sleep goes along with weight gain. Poor sleep can also increase your appetite by messing with two hunger hormones: ghrelin and leptin. To read more about the studies, click here and here.

Ghrelin is a hormone released in the stomach that tells our brains when we are hungry.

Leptin, a hormone released by fat cells, keeps hunger at bay and signals our brain that we are full. When we do not get the right amount of sleep, our bodies create more ghrelin and less leptin. This leaves us hungry, and our appetite increases.

Detoxing and getting your body back after the holidays will take patience and determination.  You will crave sweets and all the goodies!  Stick to these simple tips and you should be feeling as good as new!

2019: A look back at Batesville’s top headlines


Citizen’s Bank opened its new headquarters on a main drag, 655 St. Louis Street.


The City built a new steamboat-themed playground in place of the old wooden playground located beside the train engine. Total cost: $100,000.


The Batesville Lady Pioneers won the state basketball championship for 4A.


Heritage House, the oldest gift store in town, located at the corner of Harrison and Fitzhugh Streets, closed its doors because the owner, Virginia Ketz, retired. It was the go-to for buying wedding and baby shower gifts, and in its last few years carried high end clothing and accessories for women.


Intimidator, in its sixth year of operation, completed construction on a building of more than 206,000 square feet taking up five acres at 1525 White Drive. Governor Asa Hutchinson and country music legend Neal McCoy attended its grand opening,

A one-hundred-year-old mural was repainted by the Lyon College Art Department under the direction of art professor Dustyn Bork. The students worked for an entire month restoring the classic Coca-Cola logo located in downtown Batesville.


Southside, established in 2014, completed construction of its City Hall building located at 2181 Batesville Blvd. It broke ground in June of 2018 on a 4,650-square-foot, $675,000 building.

The only local, daily newspaper, the Batesville Daily Guard, completed its first entire year under new ownership. (The Jones Family sold to Paxton Media Group of Paducah, Kentucky in June of 2018. At the time it was sold, it was the last non-chain family-owned daily newspaper in Arkansas.)

More than 800 people attended Batesville’s inaugural Pride Celebration in downtown Batesville.

The Batesville Community Center hosted two Pyramid Fights in 2019: on June 22, Justin Frazier defeated Benjamin Rowland, and on Nov 16, Solo Hatley Jr. defeated AJ Cunningham. As of the end of 2019, Cunningham of Batesville was ranked 5th in the state for his division, Arkansas Pro Featherweights.

The Arkansas Country Music Awards announced Tim Crouch of Strawberry, Ark., as Fiddler of the Year. Kenny Loggains of KWOZ Batesville was nominated for Radio DJ of the Year which was won instead by Del Hughes of KWCK in Searcy. KWOZ ‘The Country Super Station” in Batesville was nominated for Radio Station of the Year, but lost to KDXY “The Fox” in Jonesboro.

Two new coffee shops opened around the same time this summer: Nova Joe’s Coffee built a building beside the new Hampton Inn hotel on Harrison Street, and Blue Moon Coffee built across the street from the Riverside Conoco gas station.

Former Arkansas State Senator, Linda Collins, was found murdered in her home.


The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences opened a new family medicine clinic beside Hobby Lobby, and started a new family medicine residency program, which will bring a total of 18 resident physicians and their families to Batesville when at full capacity.

Flowers Baking Co. of Batesville earned the 2019 Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) ENERGY STAR certification, which means it scored in the top 25 percent of all U.S. commercial bread and roll bakeries for “improving energy performance through best practices and making cost-effective improvements,” according to a Flowers Foods press release.

Cave City celebrated its 40th Watermelon Festival with concerts by Shenandoah and Mark Chestnutt.


A study conducted by Background Checks.org concluded that Batesville ranked as the fifth safest city in Arkansas (based on FBI crime statistics of cities with a higher than 10,000 population).


Stan and Shanna Fretwell renovated the Maxfield-Wycough Building, built in downtown Batesville in 1897, to be a luxury boutique hotel, The Royal on Main. The bottom floor is a salon and clothing boutique, Main Attire.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) awarded $500,000 to two Main Street properties in the United States, and one of them was The Adler Building, located in downtown Batesville. The grant specifies the money be used to renovate the building to include affordable apartments.

There were two National Merit Semi-finalists in Independence County this year. One was Batesville High School senior, Veronica Laslo. The other was 16-year-old Zach McClain, one of only two homeschool students in the state this year to achieve this honor.

More than 200 community members gathered to provide input to the City of Batesville and IMPACT Steering Committee on priorities for the town going forward. Riverfront development was mentioned the most.

Batesville Community Theater bought the old Van Atkins building at the top of Main Street, and plans to build a theater.

University of Arkansas Community College at Batesville (UACCB) saw a 10 percent enrollment increase in one year, from 2018 to 2019. Other news from UACCB for 2019 is that RegisteredNursing.org, based out of California, ranked its online nursing program eighth in the nation (among online licensed practical nursing to registered nursing school programs) due in part to national licensure pass rates. The college also hosted a concert by Lee Greenwood, who is known for “God Bless the USA” in Sep 2019, and a meet and greet with University of South Florida head football coach Charlie Strong in Mar 2019.

A new 80-room Hampton Inn hotel opened in Batesville, located across Harrison Street from the old White Rogers building.

Independence County voted to sue the City of Batesville for outstanding payment of jail fees.


Danny Dozier, alongside the Batesville Downtown Foundation, completed a playground at Maxfield Park using recycled materials from the old Riverside Park playground torn down in February. Dozier gave credit to local stonemason Lloyd Blake and master electrician Andy Edwards for helping with the project. The park also now contains the only public restroom downtown.

The Foll Family Farm, established in 1919 and owned by Stanton and Cheryl Foll of Stone County, was honored by the Arkansas Agriculture Department for having been owned by the same family for more than 100 years.

Ozark Mountain Poultry completed its first entire year under ownership of George’s, headquartered in Springdale.

Peco Foods, headquartered in Alabama with a processing plant in Batesville, created a new corporate director position to focus on health and safety. Peter Van Derlyke, with a Ph.D. in Safety Sciences, is the first person to fill the position.


Sulphur Rock Elementary earned a Grade of A on school performance for the third time in a row from the Arkansas Department of Education.

Local man, Larry Bentley, bicycled 80 miles on his 80th birthday. Story found here.

The Child Advocacy of Independence County completed its first full year in the house it renovated at 510 East Boswell Street, diagonal from the Post Office.

The North Arkansas Dance Theater performed their 15th annual Nutcracker ballet, and featured four professional ballet dancers, Leah Morris and Aldrin Vendt of Ballet Arkansas, and Jon Drake and Amy Turner.

Future Fuel Chemical Company’s net income for the first nine months of 2019 was down to $15.8 million from $51.3 million in 2018.


The cities of Batesville and Southside, and Independence County agreed collectively to buy Ramsey Mountain (19 acres) to preserve it for future generations.

Matt Smith bought the vacant movie theater located in the Oaks Shopping Center, and plans to renovate. Smith’s other theaters in the state offer luxury seating, an extensive food menu, and some serve beer and wine.

Independence County went from a ranking of 17th in the state in 2018 to 71st in the state in 2019 for how much important information its website contains, according to the report Access Arkansas: County Web Transparency released by the Arkansas Center for Research in Economics at the University of Central Arkansas. Independence County’s website is under construction. Jefferson County showed the most improvement, mostly due to its new stand-alone website.

Due to a lawsuit filed locally, the community learned a grandson of the former Vice-President and 2020 Presidential candidate Joe Biden currently lives in Independence County.

Four out of four Lyon College students who applied to dental schools were accepted. Keifer Hartwig will be going to Tennessee Health Science Center College of Dentistry, Vinston Van will attend the University of Florida College of Dentistry, Ayden Henry will attend the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Dentistry, and Taylor Dale was accepted to five schools and is still undecided. In other news from Lyon, alumni Clare Brown, Ph.D., was interviewed by CNN about her article concerning the effect of Medicaid expansion on low birth weight and preterm birth published in April 2019 in the Journal of the American Medical Association. And…Lyon built a dog park this year and named it in memory of a beloved biology professor, Mark Schram, Ph.D., who passed away in 2017.

White River Health System (WRHS) now offers telemedicine via Ivanti, a computer software company with 1,600 employees, headquartered in Utah. Other news from WRHS in 2019 includes recognition from the Arkansas Hospital Association of Dylan Carpenter, MD, for being the first surgeon in Arkansas to offer minimally invasive anterior hip replacement (using Stryker’s Mako, a robotic arm); Dianne Lamberth for her work with the Independence County Child Advocacy Center; and Kevin Spears for his work in getting sleep chairs for Stone County Medical Center. Additionally, a local pharmacist, Erin Beth Hays, was selected to serve as President for the Arkansas Association of Health-System Pharmacists.

Cave City erected a new monument to honor veterans.

For the 25th year, the Southside School District hosted its highly successful and annually sold-out ‘Ye Olde Christmas Madrigal Feaste’.

First Community Bank opened three new branches in Arkansas: Newport, downtown Jonesboro, and Conway. Then the bank broke ground on an operations center addition off its main headquarters. The new three-story addition will be more than 28,000 square feet and house 125 employees. Also in 2019, First Community Bank partnered with television host P. Allen Smith to install pollinator gardens at 20 of its bank locations in Arkansas.

County’s transparency ranking drops from 17th to 71st

The rankings and scores are determined by “how much financial, political and administrative information their websites contain.”

Independence County went from a transparency ranking of 17th in the state in 2018 to 71st in the state in 2019, decreasing from a score of 0.231 down to 0.029 for transparency of important public information online, according to a report published by the Arkansas Center for Research in Economics at the University of Central Arkansas.

The rankings and scores are determined by “how much financial, political and administrative information their websites contain.”

Currently, the county’s website gives an error when accessed.

“We are having our website rebuilt,” said County Judge Robert Griffin. “It had too little function and was obsolete. When finished, we will have better access to different offices and be able to publish documents. “

Per the report, Jefferson County improved the most due to a new stand-alone county-owned website.

What is the minimum required by law?

An Arkansas state law passed in March of 2019 requires all Arkansas counties to post their annual budget on a website owned or maintained by the county, the state, or the Association of Arkansas Counties beginning on Jan 1, 2020.

Independence County posted a scanned document of their 2019 budget on a website provided by the Association of Arkansas Counties.

Dinner with Georgeanne: Ann’s Spinach Dip

You know those best friends you meet in preschool who stay with you through all the awkward middle school years, into college, and then into the whole adult-and-having-kids phase of life?

That’s my friend Becca.

She’s been through it all with me.

And one thing as constant as Becca, is her mom Ann’s spinach dip. This dip has been on her table at every off-campus lunch in high school; it was sometimes the only edible thing in our fridge in college, and it has been a staple at every girls night, wedding/baby shower, or other general get-together for our friend group.

So as you can see, this spinach dip is more than a delicious blend of spinach and cheese, it’s truly soul food, laden with memories…

If you are looking for an appetizer, especially at Christmastime, this red, white, and green dip is perfect for any party or get-together where there are hungry humans!


2 bags or boxes frozen chopped spinach
1 can Ro-tel, undrained
1- 8 oz. block cream cheese (2 blocks if you want a creamier dip)
2 bags shredded pepper jack cheese


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Thaw spinach in microwave according to package directions.
  3. While the spinach is thawing, let the cream cheese, pepper jack cheese, and Ro-tel sit in a mixing bowl or KitchenAid mixer to soften and let the flavors soak together.
  4. This step is the most labor-intensive but the most important: you must drain the spinach. Not just in a colander — you have to squeeze the water out of the spinach. If you don’t, it’ll taste too spinach-y.
  5. Combine the spinach with the other ingredients and mix (or stir) until combined.
  6. Put all ingredients in a 9 x 13-inch pan and bake for 30 minutes.
  7. Enjoy with Fritos, Wheat Thins, tortilla chips, on sandwiches, or basically any way you can!

Shopping local for Christmas: BirdCage Vintage Market

Sunday afternoon I needed to “run errands”…

birdcage vintage.jpg In November of 2018, Paul and Dorajo McDonald opened The Birdcage Vintage Market, which has more than 10,000 square feet of goods for sale. Though vintage is in the name, they also have new home decor, boutique clothing, and handcrafted items, offered by more than 75 vendors.

Dorajo commented she has been grateful for the local support she has experienced and the help she continues to get from her family and church friends.

IMG_3022Sunday afternoon I needed to “run errands”…

My phrase for: I need to get out of the house but not spend any money.  I’m just going to look.

My husband’s phrase for: she will undoubtedly come back with bags in hand.

I “ran errands” at The BirdCage Vintage Market, and well, I came back with bags full of ornaments and a piece of furniture in the back of the SUV.

Before I could even get in the house door I was yelling warnings like, “These ornaments were too cheap and too sweet not to get!  Christmas memories, right?!”

Husband:  What is that in the back of the car? Me: Silence… “I love Christmas! Here, just LOOK at these ornaments.”



Someone grab this vintage beauty!

Then put on your finest garb, grab your gloves and strike a pose like these anonymous legends:

These women know how to do Christmas!

I feel like this was the era where the woman had to be photographed by her tree and man had to be photographed by his car.

So many great Christmas ornaments and decorations.


I would put every one of these items in my home.  I’m drawn to anything that looks like it would pair well with a cigar or pipe.

And you might need to know, they have a great selection of brass!

I carried home a large collection of brass candlestick holders that included the candle sticks that our household now lights every night for the Advent season.

This booth has the cutest handcrafted, wooden toys.

This is the booth where my youngest son shops, and with the variety of flavors of taffy and his struggle to make decisions,  I can walk through the whole market and find him still not ready to check out.

If you have yet to make it out to The BirdCage Vintage Market, then seriously, grab a friend and go “run errands”.

The BirdCage Vintage Market: a community of vendors who specialize in old & new, home decor, fashion, handmade goods, & much more.  Located 3 miles north of Batesville, AR on Hwy 167, at 3470 N. Saint Louis St.

Dinner with Georgeanne: Harvest Lentil Soup

We loved the autumnal aroma that filled the house…

Eating vegetarian is one of my very favorite things — I like how it makes me feel, the energy it gives me, and frankly, the taste of veggies over meat. My husband likes the idea of it, but he has a hard time getting full without meat.

So when I found myself craving both a vegetarian meal and pumpkin pie flavor, I knew lentils were the answer. They’re filling, nutritious, and versatile. I dug out an old faithful lentil soup recipe and tweaked it with fall veggies and spices.

Not only was the soup a husband hit, but we loved the autumnal aroma that filled the house!


1 16 oz bag lentils
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 cup frozen chopped onion
1/2 bag matchstick carrots
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
6 cups vegetable broth
1 can pumpkin puree
1 can tomato paste
1 bag frozen sweet potatoes


  1. Rinse and then soak a 16 oz. bag of lentils. The bag itself will tell you there’s no need to soak, but I always do just to make sure they cook and then digest well — so I soak them for a few hours while at work.
  2. When ready to make the soup, rinse the lentils again and set aside.
  3. Over high heat, sauté onions and carrots in olive oil for about five minutes (until tender).
  4. Add the spices and lower the heat to medium and stir until fragrant.
  5. Add the remaining ingredients over medium high heat and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.
  6. Lower heat, cover, and simmer for approximately one hour.
  7. Before serving, taste and adjust spices to preference. (I added a dash more nutmeg and my husband added some worcestershire sauce atop his.)

Pro tips: I like to let mine cool for a bit before eating because the flavors seem to come through more, and it’s as good if not better the next day as leftovers!

Local wellness blogger Brandi Moody on running in the cold: Don’t stop

The best run happens when you least expect it.

By Brandi Moody of Blonde Coffee Mom

Disclaimer: Some links in this post contain affiliate links.

When cold weather hits, it is hard to get motivated to get out and run. Fall and Spring make it easy with the sunny, cool days, but once that cold weather comes, runners find it hard to get out.

Here are 7 tips to keep you running during the winter:


Watch the Weather — This seems like an obvious choice, but the number of people who do not watch the weather would surprise you. At the beginning of each week, look to see which days have the best running temperatures, plan to run on those days, and stick to it. It is good to go into each week with a plan.


Have the right cold gear — Nothing makes a run more terrible than not having the right clothes. The must-have items for a cold run are a beanie or ear warmers, gloves, a long-sleeved top, leggings and/or shorts, and a jacket. For more detailed options, click here.

Leggings and a jacket can make a cold run feel perfect. Tip for the women: if you have medium-length hair, wear it down beneath your hat or beanie. It acts as a barrier/scarf to the wind.


Put a small heater by your bed — No one wants to get out of bed on a cold morning. Keep a small heater next to your bed. This will keep the space below your bed, where your feet and legs first hit, warm. If you would rather, keep warm while you change by placing the heater there.


Warm up before you head outdoors — Do a dynamic warm-up, indoors, before you head out for your run. This gets your blood flowing, which in turn warms up your body temperature. It will help ease that harsh feeling of cold when you first step outside. See below for a good, quick, dynamic warm-up.

This routine was put together with the help of Dylan Carpenter, MD, FAAOS and Josh McIntosh, APRN of the White River Medical Center Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Clinic.


Bring a friend — This might be thrown around a lot in the running world, but it is so true. There is nothing more motivating than accountability. Some of the best runs happen when you are with someone. You forget you are running and enjoy just being outside.


Enjoy the bragging rights of being a winter warrior — You know it feels good to say, “Yep, I just finished a run in near-freezing temps!” You did it, so you get to brag about it!


Set a spring schedule — Write down a goal for the spring. Whether it is a pace goal or race goal, write it down. This will help you get out the door or onto the treadmill. Because: you know as well as I do…you will not hit your goals without working at it.

Don’t let the winter temperatures bring you down. The best run happens when you least expect it. You may think running in the winter is too hard, but don’t write it off so fast! The air is fresh and clean, so get out, breathe the cool air, and run. You may just have the best run of your life!

High School Sweethearts & The Driveway That Led Me Home

This evening, like countless evenings before, I drive away from my parents’ house, the house of my youth. The house that built me. 

I drive in and out on this concrete multiple times per week. This is not surprising as I live in the same town where I grew up, and visit my parents’ house maybe more often than they prefer…

Life is funny. Not the comedic kind of funny, but more like the one that aches deep, down in your soul. 

This driveway on Rosa Street always welcomes me. No matter my condition, I am never shut out. 

And it always lets me go when I am ready, never holds me back. 

I was 6 years old when we moved into this house and drove down that slope of a driveway for the first time. 

It is the place where I watched my dad and big brother light fireworks on many ‘a 4th of July;  the place my sisters, friends, and I rode bikes and played family neighborhood softball games in the summer… where I accidentally knocked out Bonnie Tucker’s tooth during my turn at bat. 

This is the driveway I rode down on a skateboard because my big brother dared me to do it, and that gracious concrete drive caught me when I fell off said skateboard. 

(It is becoming increasingly clear that I should not be allowed to swing baseball bats or ride skateboards.)

This is the driveway where we gathered to have family pictures when I was 13.  My older, teenage brother, in the height of his rebellious ways, dyed his hair orange to spite my mom and her desire to have a nice family picture. 

This same driveway welcomed my brother and me home later that night, engulfed by trauma and grief, after our dear friend died tragically at age 15.

I learned to drive here. 

When I was 16, my now husband kissed me for the first time at the bottom of this driveway.

This is where he and I backed out in a convertible wearing a tuxedo and backless white dress as we headed to the Batesville High School Prom circa 2003. 

And this is the driveway that held my nervous heart steady as I headed out to college in my black Grand Am.

I hurried home to this driveway when that high school sweetheart and I broke up in college. And it is where we drove home later that year for Thanksgiving break, hand in hand, reconciled. 

My first panic attack ended in this driveway as an ambulance pulled in behind us because I was sure I was having a heart attack. 

This is the driveway my high school sweetheart and I drove our tackily-decorated car – with cake and condoms – after our wedding, to retrieve a suitcase left at my parents’ house. 

(Cake and condom décor happen when you get married at 21 and college boys decorate the getaway car. So classy.) 

And it was here where two nuns dug through our backseat to help us find our keys so we could drive off to our honeymoon suite. 

(That was fun to write!)

This driveway has welcomed my kids to their Docky and Gigi’s house since 2009. 

And this is the driveway that took me in at 31 when everything else came crashing down around me. 

Tonight is mundane. It is the usual.  I drive out of this driveway with my 3 kids in tow. We lament of their daddy’s work schedule and how we miss him. We pass by the high school and one of the girls says, “That’s where you and daddy met, right?”

They then want me to tell them again of when I first saw that high school sweetheart boy. 

So I tell them about missing the first day of 11th grade, and how I was kinda relieved because I never did like the first day of anything. When 3:00 rolled around, my two dear friends swiftly drove to my house – down this driveway – and came in my front door to tell me of “the new boy who was perfect for me”. He was cute and kind and believed in Jesus and liked to sing. Plus, he wasn’t super tall- and neither was I. “Ya’ll have so much in common,” they said. 

He and I, we had chemistry class together. I hated chemistry…I loved that class. 

We became friends. Then we became sweethearts. 

We were only 16.

And now we are 34, with lives much different than we dreamed and hearts more fractured than we ever imagined. 

When everything blew up around us, we separated. 

My heart was broken. His heart was broken.

I think we thought it could never be made right.  

But there’s something very very special about high school sweethearts: they know each other in a way that can’t be known if you didn’t experience high school and youth together. 

There is a lot of research that discusses the pitfalls of getting married young and statistics of how high school loves are pretty much predestined to fail. Because…you aren’t really who you are when you’re a teenager. 

That’s true. And I don’t disagree with the statistics…

But in some ways, I would argue, that I was the purest form of myself as a teenager. And he got to see and know that part of me. And I him. 

Life will surely and absolutely change you. Some ways that are good, some ways not so good. 

But he and I, we know each other. We grew up together. We have seen and experienced so many versions of ourselves together.  

When the darkness came…. And the proverbial locust ate away a few years… I was still able to look at him with knowing. 

I was faced with the reality of my ability and choice to walk away. I wanted so badly to forget what I knew. But with good counsel and truth I began to see him again, in his purest form. I saw that 16-year-old boy. If I had only known him for a year or so before we got married and had kids, I would have been tempted to believe that I never truly knew him. 

Tonight…as our children simultaneously beam and act grossed out by the story of our young love, (total fakers, they love it!) I realize that those 16-year-old versions of ourselves are what beckoned us home again. He knew me. And I knew him.  So we met at the truth of who we were and who we are and who we hoped to be. 

And tonight I remember when I packed up that little red car… with our girls in the back and our boy in my belly… and slowly but surely started backing out. The driveway that always brought me home… was leading me home. 

Column: Secret is out

Any additional unnecessary layers of difficulty we lay on pregnancy need to go.

By Shannon Haney

Pregnancy just kinda sucks. 

At least it always has for me, and I don’t mind saying it. Some women love it and I wish I was one of them, but for me it’s being brutally sick for the first three months, followed by being highly uncomfortable and tired — both mentally and physically — the following six months. And I don’t look anything like magazine-cover-celebrity pregnancy. I do look like a public service ad for obesity. Or diabetic edema. Or the ‘before’ picture for epi-pens. Or maybe goiter.

That’s why I think any additional unnecessary layers of difficulty we lay on pregnancy need to go. (It’s NOT reasonable to have your body back three weeks after giving birth, there’s no IDEAL amount of weight to gain, you WON’T ruin your baby’s IQ and all future chances of health and happiness if you eat pizza instead of broccoli every now and then, etc.) Everybody calm down.

Enter the big ole secret-keeping rouse of the first trimester… Granted, there’s a lot that can go wrong in the first three months of pregnancy. It’s considered a delicate time, most susceptible to miscarriage. Some of the baby’s most key developments can go wrong at this time. And for those reasons, and probably a lot of others, we observe this peculiar and unspoken custom in our culture where the parents go on guard of their news like they’re the gatemen for Fort Knox. And yes, it’s big news, but we act like we’ve been handed the recipe for Coca Cola instead of a blurry black and white ultrasound photo.

Some of the books and well-meaning advisers reason that if, God forbid, you lose the baby and no one knew in the first place, you’ve successfully kept the whole thing a very private matter and you don’t have to deal with the… the… what, exactly? Questions and scrutiny? I suppose that’s the implication, but I have a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that that’s the expected response to a miscarriage.  Sure, in the depths of a loss a person very well may not want to talk about it, and rightfully so. But to not want anyone to even know about the fact that you had a new member of the family, and then… didn’t? That could be the preference for some people, and if it is, absolutely fine. Totally your call. But to me, that kind of isolation would feel like a second tragedy on top of the first. 

It feels like a lot of other things, too. For me it feels like a fear-based approach. And it feels like postponing joy, or tiptoeing towards a blessing with skepticism. And maybe most unsettling, it feels like a decision to walk through any possible loss or pain in secret, without the support of friends and family.

And just like pregnancy itself, it may not feel like that to everyone. Maybe keeping things under wraps is truly the best decision for some families. But I’m not interested in keeping up this whole first trimester silence, or avoiding the early announcement taboo. I’m already too exhausted.

So here it is: I am nine weeks pregnant. 

All of you people who are ‘my people’ are now officially in this with me, for better or worse, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to observe a pregnancy custom I will be keeping: eating questionable/nasty stuff from Taco Bell. My pregnancy, my way.

The first ultrasound photo of Little Peanut III.

Lyon students learn the job of ‘influencer’

Since September, these local influencers have been busy promoting both the college and Batesville in general, mostly on Instagram.

Influencer marketing is expected to more than double in size in one year, to $10 billion in 2019, according to this article in Edelman.

Lyon College noticed.

During the past summer, its marketing department announced a new Influencer Program and for the 2019-20 school year, five out of twenty applicants were chosen in September to represent the school as influencers for Lyon on social media.

“The purpose of the program is to not only help our influencers develop their skills but also to reach prospective students through the authentic voices of our Lyon Influencers,” Madeline Pyle of the marketing department explained. “Our influencers are ambassadors for the College and serve as another way for prospective students to learn about Lyon. If the program is successful, our office would like to expand it.”

Now, as the program’s inaugural semester wraps up, both Lyon and the students involved can attest to its benefits.

One of the five chosen was Michael Jorgensen, a sophomore biology and chemistry major from Manila, Ark. Michael said he wanted to be a Lyon influencer to connect with and reach more people.

“Before, all I was doing was class and baseball,” he said, and he wanted more. “I had not felt I had joined in as much.”

“Now I am a person others can rely on to know what’s happening around campus. People definitely know who I am.”

Not just current students, either. Potential students have also reached out to Michael to find out more about what there is to do in and around the campus.

Does Michael want to pursue being an influencer outside of college? An influencer, yes, “but not on social media,” he says. He wants to be a doctor and influence people to be healthy.

Others chosen were Batesville native, Haley Cormican, a junior art major who is also serving as the Student Government Association President, Katherine Jeane, “KJ”, a junior psychology major, from Wooster, Ark., Alexandria Denton, “LeeLee”, a junior business major, from Cabot, Ark., and Marcos Fernandez, a sophomore economics and business major from Argentina.

Since September, these local influencers have been busy promoting both the college and Batesville in general, mostly on Instagram.  

Why Instagram? Because influencer marketing happens on Instagram, say 92 percent of marketers, according to a 2018 study by Linqia, a leading platform for influencers. The study also concluded that engagement and number of clicks are effective measures for return on investment when hiring an influencer.

For those with a mild interest in growing their influence on social media, consider the following.

According to this article in Forbes, people who are most effective influencers are those who are able to obtain and maintain trust of those they are influencing. This can take time, especially if the only interactions are happening online. Those social media users who are saturated with hundreds of thousands of followers have trouble keeping up logistically, and are therefore rendered less effective in their ability to influence.  

This leaves the door open for micro-influencers, or those with roughly 3,000 to 30,000 followers on Instagram. 

According to this article on Whalar, one of the leading companies for influencer insights, marketers are now hiring micro-influencers because they have better engagement — more effective influence — with their followers.

With access to a good editor, becoming a micro-influencer on social media as a side hustle is a realistic goal for someone who has expertise in an area and is willing to post about it online. Even in a small town.

To see what the Lyon College influencers have been posting to attract potential students, click here.