Cover Profile: Barbara & David Grimes

BOOM-Cover-February-2015This month’s BOOM! profile is Barbara and David Grimes. Barbara is well known to many of you who shop for grandchildren and who have a special interest in custom art projects because she’s the owner of Barb’s on Mulberry, a shop which has distinctly graced the Mulberry District of Midtown for 18 years. David is Barbara’s encourager and partner in the lives they share with the community. From Alabama’s legislature to serving school children they believe in giving back to their community…and have lots of fun along the way. We recently shared some time with them and their three year old granddaughter, Lyla, who has become the apple of their eye…at least until their next grandchild arrives in August! We hope you enjoy getting to know Barbara and David as much as we have. 


BOOM!: Barbara and David please give us a brief biography, i.e. where you’re from, education, what brought you to the Montgomery area, did you raise your family here, schools, family, etc?

Barbara: David is from Phoenix City and I’m from Opelika, Alabama. We both are graduates of Troy University in Troy, David in commercial art and business; mine in art education (k-12)

David’s work brought us to Montgomery. Margaret Carpenter hired him for his fist job here with Composit as a graphic designer.  For the past 36 years he has been in the insurance business and still holds his real estate license. David is also a trained mediator through The Alabama Bar Association.

Boom-Title5-wedding-john-davidOur oldest son, John David, 28, is married to Amanda Jernigan – they have a daughter, Lyla, age 3. Our second son, Tyler is 24, both attended Trinity Presbyterian School. Both also still live in the River Region, where John David is an accountant with Capital Business Equipment and Tyler is in the construction business. We are members of Trinity Presbyterian church.

BOOM!: Barb, as an entrepreneur, could you tell us about Barb’s on Mulberry and what motivated you to open this very unique business? What is your formula for success?

Barbara: David has always encouraged and supported me to paint and retail my art.  While I was the Assistant Director and Public Relations Director of Montgomery  Parks and Recreation we traveled to many art shows on weekends and had annual Christmas shows in my home. Then David discovered the present shop location on Mulberry Street, dropped in and asked the lady working at her sewing machine this question, “Have you ever thought of selling this shop?” she responded “I dream about it every day”. SOLD!!!! Barb’s on Mulberry was born May 1997.  I really did not want to open up a shop but David convinced me it was time and the best thing for me to do. I had been mourning my mother’s recent death and David knew I needed to get out and start painting again.

We share a formula for success – Hard work, persistence and patience.

We learned never to give up – we just kept moving the cheese. We adjusted our inventory to what was popular with our customers.  Focusing on Holiday Art in the shop has added a long term dimension to my retail business. Designing Barb’s own line of t shirts for children, original Christmas ornaments and hand painted Easter Baskets are just a few things that make’s Barb’s on Mulberry unique.  Also selling my art in surrounding shops in the area has been a very good move to promote my shop and artwork.  A fairly new enterprise for Barb’s – for ages 4 to 100 – is Barb’s “ART ON WHEELS”, where we travel to different venues ( school, daycares, homes, retirement homes,  businesses such Nancy’s Ice, churches, etc.) to conduct art classes with various themes of choice. FUN FUN FUN!!

BOOM!: Since Valentine’s Day is around the corner would you share with our readers your love story, how you met and some of the secrets to your marriage success?

Boom-Title5-photo-4-4Barbara: We met in Troy in a laundry mat – David was a senior and I was a freshman.  We kept running into each other at his fraternity house and finally he asked me out after he graduated from college.  We married in Opelika, April 16, 1978.

Secrets to our marriage – Our FAITH and being prayerful!!

Also, talk to each other, confront even when it hurts and being patient with each other.  Just love each other no matter what happens. Almost 40 years of marriage is not easy – it takes a lot of work… marriage and life are not perfect!!  For better for worse, for richer or poorer, thru sickness or health– till death do us part!! We are meant to be with each other – we have too much in common. God put us together for a lot of reasons.  Our infertility allowed us to adopt two wonderful sons in which David was so encouraging and supportive of adoption.  And I know it was meant for me to be David’s wife throughout the challenges of His MS (multiple sclerosis). David’s favorite thing to say to others about me is “If YOU ever leave I am going with you”!!

BOOM!: Many Boomers are experiencing a renewed sense of purpose, new goals, new careers, especially if they’ve experienced the empty nest syndrome. How would you describe this sense of renewal in your life? Any advice for the rest of us seeking renewal?

Barbara: Our empty nest is great!

Our house stays cleaner longer now, less meals to cook and less laundry.

We are much more independent – we are older and wiser about some things too. We both can just pick up and travel at the last minute. David can spend more time on the road helping assist his brother in the construction business and I can travel to more art shows, girl road trips, visiting friends and family members all over the country.  I even went to Europe with my very best high school friend for a month this past spring. We visited London, Paris, Rome, Florence and southern Italy.  We have a bucket list and we are trying to complete it – long way to go still – My 2015 goal is to be in art galleries with more of my fine art paintings – I have to put my mind to it, don’t get distracted with the everyday responsibilities of the shop and just start doing it – I have nothing holding me back now.

David: I love piddling for hours in my garage, building, repairing and maintaining our home, organizing our belongings, driving the tractor and working on the hunting land!

Barbara: My Advice…just do it!!!!   No more excuses…no more procrastination!

Pretend there is no time left – do it now – the clock is ticking – we are getting older and there may not be a tomorrow.

David: More Advice…Buy a NuWave (infra red cooker) – wow – a meal in 9 minutes, meat and lots of fresh vegetables. Finally, learn to secure your home against any outside interference. Practice a home drill of protection with a weapon of choice, “we are both packin’”!

BOOM!: Barbara and David, what are you most passionate about? Why?

Barbara and David: First Boom-Title5-david-barb-lyla-swingand foremost, we love our freedom! Enjoying Lyla, our first grandchild, with another on the way in August. We have been blessed with a good life and a happy family. We have raised our children in a Christian environment, both home and school; we are part of a faithful church family and we lead productive lives with God as our constant protector.  David and I want to be good examples to others and always do what is right and moral. Living a Christian lifestyle is very important to both of us.

BOOM!: How do you like to relax and wind down from a hard day’s work?

Barbara: After a day’s work – we both love coming home, starting the nuwave and just chatting over the kitchen counter about the details of our day. David always has lots more stories to share than I :)

We love to relax on weekends at our lake place at Lake Martin. We love our time together grilling out, enjoy talking on the screen porch and sitting by the fire at the lake. Our favorite thing to do is go boat riding and island hopping searching for old dock wood for me to paint on. I spend many hours painting by the lake. We also like to play and relax at our farm in Macon County. David loves to veg out there – he loves the woods, the dirt, and the sounds of nature there. His favorite thing is to ride his tractor and bush hog. Together we enjoy riding on our 4 wheelers. Driving thru the high puddles of water can be challenging, but so much fun too.  I learned how to shoot a gun there. Our boys enjoy hunting deer and duck shooting.  We have our annual Easter family reunions there.

BOOM!: Favorite vacation spot?  Any travel dreams planned for the future?

Barbara: Our favorite vacation has been on skiing trips with the boys. We had a pop up camper and loved camping with the boys until their senior year of HS. We took many mini camping trips on weekends. Camping trips always brought the best out of our boys – loved that there was no TV or radio – just enjoying nature, collecting wood for our fires at night, cooking on our outside gas stove and cuddling up together at night in the camper to stay warm! Our favorite camping spots were Wind Creek at Lake Martin, Chewacla Park and Fort Toulouse, because we felt like we were miles away!!

David wants to go to Alaska – salmon fishing and I want to return to Italy to study art history and take more impressionist art tours in France.

BOOM!: David, would you share your experience with MS (multiple sclerosis)? How does MS impact your lifestyle/work?

David: The nature of the disease is progressive. I was first diagnosed in 1998 with numbness and fatigue. Now, I have loss of mobility, and experience GI circumstances.  I take 3 interferon injections a week. I like to say that I have a walking problem – not a thinking problem. More importantly,  “the symptoms will persist and progress only while I am Alive!”   As an experienced insurance salesman I want to offer some advice, Disability Income Insurance is grossly undersold! I bought personal insurance on my income when I was 30 years old. Consequently, I have received 60% of my pre-disability earnings for the past 18 years.  That is a very big deal!! BUY Disability Income Insurance!!!

BOOM!: Barbara and David, we understand you have another grandchild on the way, what has been your grand parenting experience so far? Do you have grandparent names yet?

Barbara and David: We are Mimi and Pop – it is a brand new love – a joy that we never had experienced.  Adopting our boys was a great joy but having Lyla as our first grandchild has been an even better joy! We love being parents and it is even better as grandparents.

With a grandchild we can take more leisure than with our children.  We are so much more carefree with her – playing Barbie dolls, art activities, painting projects, puzzles, reading, visiting the Zoo & Museum is so much easier as a grandparent. Household cleaning and other projects are no longer important anymore.  We are not as distracted when spending quality time with her.

BOOM!: What is it about living in the Montgomery/River Region area that you like?

Barbara and David: We love our Cloverdale neighborhood and church, live near our kids and grandchild and are blessed with many dear friends. We feel a strong connection to our community which provides a sense of fulfillment and happiness. We also are conveniently located to our favorite forms of recreation…Lake Martin and The Farm!  We love living here!

BOOM!: As you’ve aged, have your ambitions changed?

Barbara and David: To have a solvent retirement. We have learned what’s really important in life – we don’t worry or get as anxious as we did in our earlier years of raising kids. When David realized he would be using a cane for the rest of his natural life, we have managed to slow down a lot and not be in such a rush all of the time. Really hard for me but I’m making the adjustment just fine! David just invested in some interesting canes as conversation pieces.

BOOM!: Barbara and David, give us three words that describe you?  Your marriage?

David: Funny, caring and intellectual; Barbara: Creative, caring and fun!

Our Marriage: Faith, commitment, love

BOOM!: Do you have any hobbies or other activities that grab your attention?

Barbara: Attending Painting workshops with fellow artists, spinining classes, flea markets & estate sales, I also enjoy painting custom orders of art for customers.

David: Tending to the woods and hunting camp, talk radio, keeping Barb happy!

Barbara: Together we have a 4th of July fireworks store in Equality (near our lake place) – “POP’s FIREWORKS “- Our family runs it during the 4th of July week. It is tremendous fun: no CE requirements or compliance issues, just fire marshal rules of common sense and safety.  David is a PYRO and Lyla is no longer scared of the sound of fireworks.

BOOM!: Do you have time to be involved in community, civic or other activities?

Boom-Title5-david-barb-artBarbara: Yes, I have always been involved with the community, giving back is important. Currently I am a Sunday School and VBS teacher at Trinity Presbyterian Church; a Nellie Burge board member and art volunteer;  Montgomery Jr. League fundraiser volunteer;  Alabama Art Colony board member; Kappa Delta alumnae fundraiser volunteer; and I contribute many hours to local schools and charity fundraisers. I also spent time on the Hospice of Montgomery board, was the Alabama Legislative Spouses President and a Governors House docent.

David: Like Barbara, I too value giving back to our community. I serve as a Deacon at Trinity Presbyterian Church; Lifeline Children Services, A Sav-a-life adoption agency, board member for over 25 years; YMCA-Camp Chandler board member –for over 30 yrs;  and YMCA Metro Board for over 10 years now.

BOOM!: David, are you still involved with politics? Any plans to run for office in the near future?

Barbara and David: YES – Politics is in David’s blood and I loved it. David was in the House of the Representatives for 8 years and it was such a great opportunity for both of us.  We loved serving our state and community. I was very involved with David’s legislative activities and served as President for the Alabama Legislative Spouses club. We both have gotten so much fulfillment representing our citizens.

BOOM!: Barbara and David how have the two of you approached technology in your business and personal lives?

Barbara: We both have websites, facebook pages. (personal and business). I rely on both to promote my business. I use instagram too. I send out emails to over 2500 customers with Constant Contact. I design many fliers and ads for ART on Wheels with my Print Master computer program. We Both have ipads. And use them so much. David has a droid (waterproof  – it’s a good thing) and my Iphone  – I use it often to send instant pictures of art to customers and love recording special moments on the spot of Lyla so we can send them to her parents while babysitting.

We do leave technology at the door when we go out to eat sitting at the table or traveling in the car.


We want to thank Barbara and David for sharing their story with us this month. If you have any questions for Barbara or David, drop by Barb’s on Mulberry located at 1923 Mulberry St. or visit their facebook page. You can also call the store, 334.262.2272 or email .To learn more about Barb’s visit As always, thanks to Kim Bethea from The Studio @ Eastchase for her professional cover photos. If you have questions, comments or suggestions, please send them to

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It’s hard to “love” an athlete today.

We “love” them when they win. We celebrate the stats of extraordinary careers, but most names slide under the rock of obscurity when they retire, or their game retires them.  Too many become famous (infamous) for off-the-field actions. Rarer yet, is the player whose name is synonymous with 1 team and 1 city because he played every game of a long career for the same franchise.

The recently retired Derek Jeter is one such example. He’ll easily make the Hall of Fame, but was he “lovable”? No. Unless you’re a Yankee fan, Jeter was easy to hate because he always seemed to do just the right thing at the right time to beat your team because that’s what great Yankees do.

I’m just creating context here, because IMHO, the last truly lovable athlete died on us late last month. His name was Ernie Banks and I- everyone in Chicago, loved Ernie Banks and he loved us back.

I don’t get weepy over celebrity deaths. For most, it’s all we have in common with the celebrated. Money and fame can’t buy an escape from the Final Curtain.

But I assure you; I had real tears rolling down my face when my favorite player ever passed just shy of his 84th birthday.

Ernie, you see, was a Hall of Fame player and person. Mr. Banks was also an important man, too. The last death occupying the entire front page of the Chicago Sun-Times (see photo) that I can remember was the first Mayor Daley back in 1976.

Ernie was more popular than Daley, too.

I don’t remember the exact moment I fell in love with baseball, but I do remember my parents treating me to a Cubs game for my 5th birthday. All I wanted to see was #14 step to the plate and hit one out of the park. He didn’t but the Cubs won the game 12-2, so it was a happy birthday.

I grew up on Chicago’s south side which is White Sox country. Being a Cubs fan made me a bit of a freak- but much to the horror of my little friends, my favorite player- my idol was- A BLACK MAN! That was not fashionable in the early 60s and it started more than a few fights.

You think the South had the exclusive rights to racist attitudes in those days? Chicago was chopped in half- black and white, but Ernie Banks bridged the races.  Really, the only difference between Illinois and Alabama in those days was the separate water fountains. Sadly, that’s the way it was and all the hand wringing in the world today ain’t going to change it.

Mr. Banks broke into baseball in the segregated Negro Leagues. He persevered discrimination until his performance got him to the Cubs. Ernie took full advantage, too. Within 5 years, Mr. Cub was twice named the National League’s Most Valuable Player (playing for LOSING teams!).

He hit prodigious home runs, and was a great shortstop, but Chicago loved Banks for the man he was. Ernie was always smiling, openly grateful to be paid good money to play a kid’s game, living the dream the rest of us envied. He played with true joy, and considering how lousy the Cubs were most of his career, an optimism that merits scientific study.

The afternoon sunshine at “the friendly confines of Wrigley Field” (Ernie’s term!) was the only Performance Enhancing Drug he needed to reach the 500 home run mark- a real accomplishment in the days before chemically altered players.

Following that 5th birthday party, I went to dozens of Cubs games over many seasons hoping to see Ernie connect, but my bad luck continued. Finally, on August 24, 1971, I took the train to Wrigley to catch the Cubs play Cincinnati. Ernie had really slowed by his final season and had hit only 2 homers by that late date.  In the bottom of the 4th inning, Ernie stepped to the plate, sweeping his bat back and forth over it, fingers wiggling on the slender handle (something I emulated during my little league days).  He did what nobody was expecting. Crack! I heard that unmistakable and beautiful sound, and watched – like a 5 year old at his birthday party – as the ball soared sky high before landing in the left field bleachers. Wrigley went nuts right along with me.

Good thing I chose that game. It was Ernie’s final career home run, number 512.

When #14 said “I’d play for free” you believed him. When he died, a little piece of me died with him.

He’s gone, but his approach to life is the bigger story. While we all have times when this life seems like something to be endured while seeking our path to Heaven, the lovable Mr. Banks lived every day as if he were already there, and things could only get better on the other side.

RIP Mr. Cub. I am sad and feeling a little older. Those damn White Sox may have won more games but Cub fans had you- and that was better.


Greg Budell lives in Montgomery with his wife, children and dogs. He’s a 25 year veteran of radio who hosts the Greg & Susan morning show 6-9 am and Happy Hour 3-6 pm on NEWSTALK 93.1,  Greg can be reached at

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Owning your Future

By Brandt McDonald


In America, it seems to me that somehow we are all born with a unique genetic code that is a hard wired American drive to own things. Owning things or stuff, in and of itself, is not necessarily a bad thing; however, when this “stuff” begins to impede your ability to manage your life, chaos is sure to show up on the scene. We accumulate all kinds of assets and take great care to protect them. But, what about your greatest asset? Your future and your legacy. You are at the controls of a one-of-a kind vessel that was made specifically for you. From a financial perspective, the question to answer in this article is, what are you doing to own your financial future? Are you at the controls? Or, have you blindly ceded that responsibility over to other people or things? To be clear, let’s examine three things that can help you saddle up in the pilot’s seat!

1. Education – In my 26 year career as a financial advisor, I have never seen a greater opportunity of education because of the information that is available on the internet. There are a multitude of websites, hosted by both private and public organizations, for-profit and non-profit, that can help you become familiar with the terminology surrounding financial products and processes. A simple Google search of “understanding financial products/markets/money management will lead you to a broad array of various links to get you started. I also want to invite you to tune in to 93.1 FM every afternoon at 5:00, where you can hear me on Greg Budell’s “Happy Hour” show. During my 15 minute segment, I attempt to break down the important financial news of the day. One of my greatest motivation’s in participating on the show is to provide the listener with facts and information that will hopefully help them navigate their way through the financial impact of the ever-changing geo-political and global economic landscape.  I am so passionate about individual education that it is one of the primary things I do when a new client joins our firm. My strongly held belief is that you are certainly intelligent enough, that once armed with ALL the facts, you can become a more integral part of the decision making process. No longer are you being talked TO!! Once educated, you can pull the chair up next to your financial advisor and be a more active participant in executing a well-thought out financial/retirement plan.

2. Seek professional guidance – notice I underlined the word guidance. With you as the pilot, you still need a navigator, ground control, and an instrument panel. For our purposes you need a good attorney, CPA, and wealth management team. All three of these professionals should work together to provide you with the proper information to manage your financial affairs. By using a team approach of professionals you should be able to attain accountability because all three advisors are held to a fiduciary standard to always have your best interests in mind. Developing trust with an advisor takes time, but it is important to provide him or her with ALL the salient information about your personal life. According to a recent CNBC article, Facebook knows more about you than anyone. “With 70 likes, it could know more about someone than their friends, and with 150 it would be more knowledgeable than a family member. With 300 likes it could determine your personality better than a spouse.” Aside from Facebook, no one knows you better than yourself. The goal at our firm is to know our client’s as much as possible. I’ve always said that you never really know a person until you know exactly what it is that person wants out of life. To that end, our firm knows that we have no chance of serving you until we have a complete understanding of what you want your future to look like.

3. Living within your plan – Once the plan has been executed, it’s time to live your life! Too often, I have clients that do everything the right way and never enjoy the fruits of their labor. I’m not exactly sure why that is. Perhaps anxiety and fear are the culprit. Or, maybe it’s just a simple desire to leave everything to the next generation. Whatever the reason, I challenge you to live life to its fullest.  I think Eleanor Roosevelt had it right when she said “Life was meant to be lived, and curiosity must be kept alive. One must never, for whatever reason, turn his back on life.” Interestingly, she used the word “his”. Perhaps she was referring to her disabled husband at the time? No matter where you find yourself, always remember that life was meant to be lived. One of the greatest tragedies in life is to have never really truly loved and lived. Once it hits you, the feeling of regret is a pain you live with until you’re gone.

Regardless of where you are in your financial life, consider today as an opportune time to reassert yourself as the pilot and take firm control of your future. It’s never too late to start. If you aren’t satisfied with what happened in the past, try something new today. Don’t stay stuck in neutral, drifting without a plan. Remember, that we all have only so many days left on this earth. As we age, each new day becomes more valuable. Whatever you do, don’t exchange a day of your life for something meaningless. Take ownership of your financial future by moving forward. Go slowly if you must, but don’t stand still. Get educated, build your team of advisors, and execute a well thought out plan.

Our team at McDonald, Barranco, and Hagen is passionate about offering you financial guidance and considers it on honor to come alongside you as your personal financial navigator. The best things happen when you least expect it. Together, we can boldly live this thing we call life. Until next time, never run with the herd, always be thankful, and look to the future with anticipation of what’s yet to come.


Brandt McDonald, Managing Partner
McDonald, Barranco & Hagen Wealth Management
LPL Branch Manager

Direct comments and questions to or 334.387.0094

Securities offered through LPL Financial. Member FINRA/SIPC.

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.  The opinions expressed in this material do not necessarily reflect the views of LPL Financial.

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Heart Health

By Leigh Anne Richards


February is designated as heart health month. What an appropriate time to write an article about heart health and exercise. Inactivity is one of the major risk factors for heart disease. However, exercise can improve heart health and in some cases reverse some heart disease risk factors. You heart is a muscle and like all muscles it becomes stronger as a result of exercise; therefore it can pump more blood through the body with every beat and can continue to work at maximum levels, if needed, with less strain. The resting heart rate is slower for those who exercise because less effort is needed to pump blood.

A person that exercises often and vigorously has the lowest risk of heart disease, but any amount of exercise is beneficial. Studies consistently find that light to moderate exercise is beneficial for people with existing heart disease. People who do not exercise are almost twice as likely to get heart disease as people who are active. Note, however, that anyone with heart disease or cardiac risk factors should seek medical advice before starting an exercise program.

Exercise has a number of benefits on the heart and circulation. The benefits include improving cholesterol and fat levels, reducing inflammation in the arteries, helping with weight loss and helping to keep blood vessels flexible and open. Studies continue to show that physical activity and avoiding high fat foods are two of the most successful ways of reaching and maintaining heart healthy levels of fitness and a healthy weight.

The American Heart Association recommends that individuals perform moderately- intense exercise for at least 30 minutes on most days of the week. This recommendation is also supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American College of Sports Medicine. People who maintain an active lifestyle have a 45% lower risk of developing heart disease than sedentary people. Experts have been attempting to define how much exercise is needed to produce heart benefits. Beneficial changes in cholesterol and lipid levels, including lower LDL (bad cholesterol) levels occur when people performed low to moderate –or high intensity exercise such as walking of jogging 12 miles in a week. However, more intense exercise is needed to see significant changes in increasing the HDL (good cholesterol). An example of this kind of exercise program would be jogging about 20 miles a week or any activity that is comparable.

Some studies even suggest that for the greatest heart protection, it is not the duration of a single exercise session that counts but the total weekly amount of energy expended. Therefore, it is recommended 150 minutes a week.

Resistance (strength or weight) training has also been associated with heart protection. It may offer a complimentary benefit to aerobic activity. If you have heart disease, check with your doctor before doing resistance training. You can use weights, resistance bands, or even your own body weight. Do it 2-3 times a week and let your muscles recover for a day in between sessions.

What about people that are high risk individuals? Of course, one should consult their doctor before ever undertaking an exercise program. Patients with known heart disease can exercise safely as long as they are evaluated beforehand. Sometimes they need to begin their workout under medical supervision. At risk individuals should be aware of any symptoms warning of harmful complications while they are exercising.


Some people believe that men over 45 and women over 55 whether or not they are at risk for heart disease should have a complete physical exam before starting or intensifying an exercise program. The following is a questionnaire for people over 40 to help determine whether they require such an exam:

• Has any doctor previously recommended medically supervised activity because of a heart condition?

• Does physical activity bring on chest pain?

• Has chest pain occurred during the previous month?

• Do you faint or fall over from dizziness?

• Does bone or joint pain intensify after exercise?

• Has medication been prescribed for high blood pressure or heart problems?

• Are you aware of, or has the doctor suggested any physical reason for not exercising without medical supervision?


Those who answer yes to any of the above questions should have a complete medical exam before developing an exercise program.

Always listen to warning signs when you are exercising. 40% of young men who die suddenly during a workout have previously experienced and ignored warning signs of heart disease. In addition to avoiding risky activities, the best preventive tactic is to listen to the body and seek medical help at the first sign of symptoms or following exercise.

Exercise is a great prescription for keeping heart disease away. Celebrate Heart health this month!
Health Guide The New York Times, WebMD- Fitness and Exercise

Leigh Anne Richards, MEd, Certified Personal Trainer, Group Exercise Instructor, General Manager- MetroFitness. For any questions or comments, contact Leigh Anne at

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Sweeten Communication this VALENTINE’S DAY

By Dr. Brittany Spahr and Dr. Katie Slade, Doctors Hearing Clinic


Having a spouse or significant other with hearing loss can have its challenges. One common challenge many couples experience is dining out with someone who has a hearing loss. With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, many couples may be looking forward to treating their spouse to a romantic evening out. Doctors Hearing Clinic wants you to enjoy your night out and give you and your spouse a few ideas to help when planning a special evening out when one or both individuals have hearing loss.

First, start thinking about where you would want to go eat. There are a variety of different restaurants to choose from with a variety of listening environments.  Try selecting a couple of restaurants that you have previously visited, or a restaurant suggested by family and friends that is known for great food and a good atmosphere. In addition to picking a restaurant with great food and a good atmosphere it is also important to pick a restaurant that has minimal noise levels and good lighting to more easily allow the conversation to be heard and seen by someone with hearing loss.

One way to help manage the noise level in the restaurant is to talk to the owner or manager, if possible. Inform the manager what day you are planning to visit their restaurant and that your significant other has hearing loss. When talking to the manager try to ask things such as: What are the quietest dinner times in your restaurant? Does your restaurant have good lighting? Are there any accommodations that can be made to sit us in a quieter section of the restaurant? Does your restaurant have music playing during dinner, and would you be able to turn it down? Most restaurants will be honest and will be happy to accommodate you the best way that they can. After explaining that your spouse has hearing loss, it is also important to inform the manager that individuals with hearing loss have more difficulty when listening in background noise. Ask the manager if you could have a booth that is in the corner of the restaurant that is not near the kitchen, bathroom, or the front door. Good lighting is important for communicating because many individuals with hearing loss rely on speechreading, or reading lips, and therefore they would need to have good visual access to their spouse’s face. The more information that can be provided to the manager the more likely the best accommodations can be made for you and your spouse.

Additionally, if your significant other has hearing aids and has a program for noisy situations, encourage them to use this program when at the restaurant. The hearing aid program reduces the background noise that is behind them and focuses more on what is in front of them so it is best if the individual isn’t sitting against the wall facing the noise. When in this program you would want to sit in a booth with your spouse’s back against the restaurant noise so the hearing aid can help block out the noise.

Once you found a restaurant that has the right communication atmosphere it is always best to make reservations. Sitting in the waiting area with everyone so close can make for a hard listening environment, so having a reservation would help avoid communicating with a lot of background noise. If the restaurant does not take reservations try to arrive early to avoid the crowds.

When talking to your spouse try to talk slowly. If they have misheard what was said try to ask what they did hear so you don’t have to repeat the entire conversation and can just fill in the missing pieces. As mentioned earlier, many individuals rely heavily on reading lips to fill in the missing information so make an effort to not have your hands or napkin covering your mouth so they can clearly see your lips and mouth. Most of all, don’t forget to be patient, enjoy each other’s company, and best of all…celebrate with dessert!

Call Doctors Hearing Clinic to find out how you can sweeten communication this Valentine’s Day. We wish everyone a Happy Valentine’s Day!  If there are any questions regarding hearing aid programs for noise or any additional communication strategies please do not hesitate to contact our office at (334) 396-1635.


Content adapted from Captel: hearing-loss/

Dr. Katie Slade is a Board Certified Audiologist and a fellow of the American Academy of Audiology. Dr. Brittany Spahr is a Doctor of Audiology and a fellow of the American Academy of Audiology. Amy Davis is a Doctoral Extern from the University of South Alabama.

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Here’s How to Make Love Last

Researchers, and headlines, have dubbed it “gray divorce”: the climbing divorce rate in recent decades among couples age 50 and older. But what about marriages that work, even flourish, well into later life? How do couples keep the spark alive?

That is the focus of a new book by noted gerontologist Karl Pillemer, 30 Lessons for Loving: Advice From the Wisest Americans on Love, Relationships and Marriage. Dr. Pillemer, a professor at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., surveyed more than 700 women and men age 65 and older. Among his key findings: A willingness to share new interests in midlife and beyond is critical.

“It’s striking how many couples talked about diverging interests as a focal point about whether they became closer or more distant,” he says.

Excerpts from a recent Q & A in the WSJ


Partner’s Interests

WSJ: If you could give one piece of advice for keeping relationships alive through the years, what would it be?

DR. PILLEMER: The romantic spark is important, but over the long term there has to be something more, and that is friendship. A core aspect of that is the ability to embrace your partner’s interests, even if you aren’t initially particularly interested.

WSJ: What are some examples?

DR. PILLEMER: A positive example is a woman in her mid-70s who, after years of being a resentful golf widow, took up the sport with her husband. He told her that had been his life dream for her to play with him.

In another case, a husband started going to the ballet and opera with his wife, and she started to go to sports events with him. Rather than fighting about competing interests, figure out how you can share them in a meaningful way.

WSJ: Are there everyday behaviors that help for the long run?

DR. PILLEMER: Pay attention to and make a habit of small, positive everyday actions. Say it’s a cold, rainy morning, and it’s your partner’s day to walk the dog. You offer to do it instead. Or you surprise your partner by cleaning out the garage to give him a break.

And don’t forget to give compliments. A major regret I heard was not expressing enough positive feelings, and of too often taking the other for granted. Marriage is made up of thousands of micro-interactions. If you can keep creating positive feelings in those small ways, that will have a major impact.


Myth About No Sex

WSJ: What about sex? Does that change?

DR. PILLEMER: The idea of the sexless older years is really a myth. The major reason that older people aren’t sexually active is lack of a partner. People who have partners and are in reasonable shape do continue to have sexual intimacy.

Also, over the years, there is a broadening of the concept of sexuality to involve a greater sense of other kinds of intimacy, such as the importance of touching and a more general sense of physical pleasure of being around one another. One woman told me that if you’re attracted to someone you can feel that way until the end of your life.

WSJ: What impact do physical changes over the years have on intimacy?

DR. PILLEMER: I thought people would emphasize inner beauty and disregard physical appearance, but I was wrong about that. Over and over people said that if you really want to keep the spark alive you’ll take care of your appearance.

That didn’t mean conforming to an impossible standard, but making the most of what you’ve got.

Interestingly, male respondents were harder on other men and females on other females. One piece of really good news was that many people said that if you’ve grown old together, your partner seems the same as they always were.

WSJ: A study published in 2012 in the Journals of Gerontology found that the rate of divorce among married people 50 and older jumped to 10.05 per 1,000 in 2010 from 4.87 in 1990. Should those statistics scare people?

DR. PILLEMER: I wouldn’t want people to get discouraged. Many people still do make it to the finish line of a lifelong marriage, and a lot of people find a relationship the second time around that is just as happy as, or happier than, the first. So I came away optimistic about marriage in the later years.

WSJ: When couples grow apart, should they seek professional counseling before deciding to separate?

DR. PILLEMER: The endorsement of marriage counseling was universal among those I interviewed. So many couples went through awful periods and almost broke up, but they held it together and were extraordinarily happy they did so. Others who did divorce wish they had tried harder.

Certainly, there are marriages that should absolutely end. But if you’re having trouble and your partner says “we need counseling,” you have to say yes.

Many found this was exactly what they needed to save the relationship. Others found that the breakup was far less acrimonious because of it, or felt less regret later because they had tried.


Trying Again

WSJ: What would your interviewees say to those who are divorced or widowed and looking for love again at middle-age and beyond? What qualities and values should they look for?

DR. PILLEMER: If your friends are telling you that your prospective partner seems controlling or disparaging or moody, you should really listen. That is a protection against the feeling that you’re getting older and “this is my last chance.”

Many people also suggest making a list: writing down what you are looking for in a relationship. One woman I interviewed had gone through two disastrous marriages, and before entering another, she did just that and showed her list to the person she was dating. The idea of making this explicit early on and writing down what you want and need came up a surprising number of times.

WSJ: Any closing advice?

DR. PILLEMER: Long-term marriage is a discipline. It’s not always easy. But when it works, it can be incredibly good, kind of transcendentally wonderful. Something worth striving for.


For more on this interview visit

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How do I love thee? Let me count the ways…

The English poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning penned those famous lines around 1845 in a sonnet dedicated to her future husband, Robert Browning.  The sentiment has been quoted so often it has become a part of our popular culture, seen in everything from Hallmark cards to Bugs Bunny cartoons.

While most of us are familiar with the opening stanza of the poem, I suspect that few of us can recall all fourteen lines of the sonnet’s iambic pentameter.  In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, take a moment to read the entire poem:

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

I love thee to the depth and breadth and height

My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight

For the ends of being and ideal grace.

I love thee to the level of every day’s

Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.

I love thee freely, as men strive for right.

I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.

I love thee with the passion put to use

In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.

I love thee with a love I seemed to lose

With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,

Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,

I shall but love thee better after death.


This poem is a love letter, written in an era where people sat in contemplation by candle light with nothing to distract them but books, lively conversation, or perhaps even pen and paper.  Not a modern, cheap, disposable ball-point pen mind you, but a finely-tipped fountain pen which applies ink to paper via a method that is essentially a controlled leak.  The ink, once applied to paper, would have to be blotted dry to avoid smears and smudges.

When was the last time you sat down, shut out the distractions of modern society, and wrote a letter to someone you loved?  Not an email, not a text, not a Facebook post or Tweet, but an honest-to-goodness paper letter?

We rarely take the time to express our feelings to our loved ones the way the future Mrs. Browning did when she wrote the lines quoted above.  While we may not write many letters these days, an estate plan can be a final expression of love, a love letter of sorts, to the people we care about most.

Think about it: the one person who will not be around to benefit from your estate planning is you.  Getting your affairs in order is not a selfish act, it is a gift to your loved ones.  And I’m not just talking about monetary gifts.

For example, what if you were in a terrible car accident, and your family had to make the decision whether to continue to keep you alive using machines or other treatments that would serve to prolong your life, but that would not cure you.  In those conversations, the topic usually turns to what you “would have wanted.”  Without written instructions, your family is left to guess whether you would want to be kept alive indefinitely, or whether you prefer to be allowed to die a natural death.  (If you’re familiar with the famous Terry Shaivo case from the 1990’s, her family spent several years debating whether Terry “would have wanted” to be kept alive using machines, even though she was permanently unconscious).

Once we leave this earth, an estate plan is also an opportunity to give gifts of property to the people we care about.  They may be sentimental gifts, like family heirlooms, or they may be monetary gifts.  They may even be gifts of education, ensuring that children or grandchildren go to college.  You might even leave a gift of motivation—conditioning such gifts on achieving certain goals, like a minimum GPA, for example.

Every person’s estate planning goals will of course be unique.  Every family is unique.  That is why you, and only you, can adequately craft a final expression of love to the people you care about.  Most love letters are written by the young, but you shouldn’t assume that estate planning is only for the old, the sick, or the dying.  To the contrary, the best time to draft your final love letter to your family is while you are strong of body and sharp of mind.

This year, skip the flowers and chocolate, turn off the TV, shut down the cellphone, and write a letter to someone you love.


Raley L. Wiggins
Attorney at Law, Red Oak Legal, PC
334-239-3625  |
401 Madison Avenue, Montgomery AL 36104


Attend Free Workshop

Estate Planning and Asset Protection Workshop

Wednesday, February 18: Hosted by Red Oak Legal, PC: 1:30-3:30 pm at the Archibald Senior Center (MACOA) in Montgomery. This educational workshop presented by local attorney Raley L. Wiggins covers wills, trusts, powers of attorney, advance directives, living wills, probate administration, protecting assets from creditors, bankruptcy, divorce and remarriage, nursing homes, long-term care and Medicaid qualification. Registration is required.

Call 334-625-6774 today to reserve your seat or register online at

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The Gift of Volunteering: I am a Hospice Volunteer…

Presnted by the Volunteer Team from Hospice of Montgomery

I am a hospice volunteer and proud of it.  I sincerely believe in the hospice mission of providing quality, compassionate end-of-life care to those who are dealing with a terminal diagnosis.  There are many of us dispensing love and compassion to our patients and their families.  We care as much for our caregivers as we do for our patients.

These family caregivers, and there is at least one in every family we serve, dispenses love 24-hours a day for weeks, months, and even years to incapacitated family members.  They have no sick days or vacations.  Sleep is a thing of the past.  If they are not caring for the loved one, then they are worrying about which bills to pay and which tasks can wait.

Many family caregivers will have a shortened life span because of the toll such care requires.  Friends and extended family fled long ago.  Their phones are silent and no one comes to the door.  They have conversations mainly with themselves.   They live in a parallel universe where they are invisible to the outside world except for the immediate family members and hospice staff who hold their hands through the journey.

The role of a hospice volunteer is to show up.  To provide the support these family caregivers so desperately need.   We know how hard it is for these caregivers to watch their loved ones’ health decline, but by giving of ourselves we ease the burden for a few precious moments.

This task requires tremendous patience and love and a large dose of strength – both emotional and physical.  We care and share as often as we are needed.  Quietly touching lives and lifting spirits.  We attempt to provide what is needed in that moment – the replacement of a light bulb, a container of home-made soup, a run to the store, the mail from the box, or just a comforting hug.

I heard it said once, that volunteers are the heart of Hospice of Montgomery; that hospice volunteers truly give and share as a gift from their heart.  For me, serving others is a humbling experience.  I didn’t know that I could love someone I didn’t know whole heartedly. It is nice to know that families feel that there is someone there to support them and their loved one.

The process hones character, develops empathy, and lessens my tendency to be judgmental of others.

Death and dying will come to all of us.  I am a hospice volunteer and by sharing myself with the families I serve, as often as I can, I ready myself for my own family’s needs in the future. I am a hospice volunteer, making a difference and doing so is very fulfilling, giving added purpose to my life.

The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization reports that there are more than 355,000 trained hospice volunteers contributing more than 16 million hours of service to hospice organizations across the country.

“Volunteers play an integral role in hospice care and each and every one deserves recognition and the highest accolades,” said Clara Jehle, Hospice of Montgomery’s Volunteer Coordinator.

Hospice volunteers report having a deep sense of satisfaction in being there for someone during a scary time of life.  They feel like they are making a significant contribution and providing a service benefit to their community.

Some become volunteers after watching their parents, spouses, siblings or close friends die and want to honor them by providing this service. But no matter the reason that draws volunteers to hospice work, they all say it helps keep life in perspective.

At Hospice of Montgomery, we can’t say thank you enough for the support volunteers provide.  If you are considering giving of your time and talent to the community, Hospice of Montgomery offers many ways in which you can give back.

As a hospice volunteer you will be given choices as to how much and what types of things you want to do.  From direct patient support and caregiver relief, to administrative support in a local hospice office, hospice volunteers selflessly give of their time to serve patients and families who are facing end-of-life challenges.  Volunteer are never asked to do something they are not comfortable doing.

Want to become a Hospice Volunteer? Hospice of Montgomery will train and support you in this rewarding journey!

Contact Clara Jehle, Volunteer Coordinator at or email


Volunteer Open House

Thursday, March 5th, 2 sessions

10:30 – 11:30 am and 1:30 – 2:30 pm

Please call 271-4924 to reserve your seat.


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The Art of Rhinoplasty

All of us have heard the following statement… “It was better in the old days.”  Well perhaps that statement is true about a lot of things, but believe me, the statement does not apply to Rhinoplasty.

Every physician who has performed a functional Rhinoplasty (to improve breathing), a cosmetic Rhinoplasty (to change the appearance of the nose), or a combination of the two can attest to the fact that Rhinoplasty is the most difficult of all facial plastic procedures.  One of my mentors, Dr. Jack Anderson, once said that of all the Rhinoplasties he performed, being the consummate perfectionist, he only got it to perfection a handful of times.  He was a gifted surgeon and was always tweaking his skills to reach a greater standard of success.

At an early age all of us imprint on our facial appearance, and the nose is the centerpiece of such.  I have done numerous Rhinoplasties, and in 35+ years of practice I have tried to emulate Dr. Anderson’s attempts to achieve the ultimate Rhinoplasty.

There have been times when I have witnessed a young patient’s ground swell of confidence and poise when I changed his or her nasal appearance.  Their personality blossomed, perhaps they changed their hairstyle, and their complexion received better care.  It brings a smile to the patient’s face and mine when observing these changes.

Surgical Rhinoplasty is reported to have begun in ancient Egypt and India.  The Indian physician, Sushruta, first described nasal reconstruction in a text dated circa 500 BC.  Indian society considered the nose to be a symbol of dignity and respect throughout antiquity.  As punishment for adultery, nasal amputation was performed and the practice of Rhinoplasty was started to reconstruct the external nose.  Reading some of the techniques used in nasal reconstruction boggle my modern thoughts as to how they operated and were able to prevent infections and complications.

From those early roots, Rhinoplasty surgery has arisen, and we now have a modernized and civilized approach that is used to correct breathing and nasal impairment, as well as change the contours of the nose in a refined manner.  Current statistics suggest that over 300,000 Rhinoplasty procedures are done annually in North America.  Rhinoplasty is commonly accepted by all ethnic and religious disciplines as a way to change function and appearance.  With the possibility of nasal fractures ranking as the most frequently broken bone of the body, it appears the facial plastic surgeon will always have job security.

Well, how is the procedure performed?  When seeing a patient for a “nose job”, I assess all sense facets of the nose to determine my approach to their needs.  I follow a premise of determine your overall approach to nasal deformity and learn to perfect your approach for consistent results!

As an Otolaryngologist (ENT physician), I determine a need to correct nasal respiratory impairment, as well as simultaneously correct visible deformities within the facial rules of harmony.  In other words, a short nose would not be appropriate for a long and slender face on a tall person.  I have my staff take a series of photographs of the person and their nose in varying views, then I offer the patient the ability to view my proposed nasal changes.  I enjoy sharing the before-and-after photographs with the patient after healing is complete.  Interestingly, many patients seem to suppress memories of their former nasal appearance.

An experience comes to mind with a former female patient whom I performed a Rhinoplasty several years ago.  She confided that before the surgery she would shield her nose from view by placing her hand on her cheek.  The person seated in the adjacent car to the traffic light wouldn’t see her nose.  After the surgery eliminated her self-consciousness about her nasal appearance, she faced the person in the next car and smiled with confidence.

There are occasions where insurance coverage will apply to nasal deformity related to breathing impairment.  We always strive to help the patient if this is an option.  There are also occasions where insurance may cover only the repair of breathing and the patient pays for cosmetic changes.  A personal consultation with my staff and me can be obtained to give one a cost analysis.

The Rhinoplasty is performed typically under a general anesthetic in an outpatient setting.  Every effort is made to make the surgery as comfortable as possible and to minimize bruising.  Medications are placed within the nose to constrict blood vessels and anesthetize the nose. Blood loss is very minimal and many patients have little or no bruising.  My approach is with an “open” technique.  A delicate W-shaped incision is made across the columella, the tissue between the external nostrils, and combines with a small incision within the nostrils’ interior. Through these incisions, the structural supports for nasal shapes can be sculpted to give the appropriate changes.  The incisions are closed with dissolving sutures about the size of a human hair.  Correct technique almost always eliminates nasal packing, which formally was placed in outdated techniques.  Total nasal obstruction from the packing made it impossible to sleep and one was uncomfortable during the first week after surgery.  Splints were frequently used in nasal surgery to secure nasal tissues and prevent bleeding.  Seldom do I use them anymore.  At discharge from surgery with no packing in the nose and no splints within the nose, patients can breathe while recuperating and they are not as uncomfortable.

Patients are requested to refrain from anything that may increase nasal pressures, such as blowing the nose, for one week.  They are also asked to sleep with their head elevated for one week.  Most all return to work and can be very presentable within one week.  Many patients can likely return to participating in sports and exercise in one month.

If you have an interest in having a “nose job”, consult with us to determine what is needed.  You will be well cared for should you choose to have surgery and no, we will not go back to the “good old days!”

Call us at River Region Facial Plastics and let us help you breathe better, remove a “bump” or straighten your twist.


All the best,

Dr. Thomas H. Cawthon


We want your input!  Please call or email us with your questions or suggestions for future columns!
334.270.2003 or write to


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Jewish Food Festival

Over the years thousands of men, women and children have enjoyed the Jewish Food Festival, including sampling the food; visiting the Treasure Market that promises something for everyone; and stopping by our Temple Beth Or Gift Shop, which has a wonderful selection of jewelry and other gifts. Many also take the opportunity to attend a short session in the Temple’s sanctuary with Rabbi Elliot Stevens to learn about Jewish customs. The central attraction, of course, is the Jewish Food Festival food that may be purchased and most of which have been handmade by Temple members. They include pastries such as rugelach, strudel and mondel bread; plates of brisket or corned beef; matzo ball soup; potato latkes; and quajado (spinach pie). “Imported” from New York are New York cheesecakes, direct from the famous Carnegie Deli and sold by the slice or cake. Temple Beth Or’s Rabbi Stevens says, “I always enjoy the authentic Jewish cooking and the variety of wonderful dishes, but for me the best part is reconnecting with neighbors and friends from across our community. It’s so gratifying to see the role our Festival has played in terms of interfaith relations and understanding.  I look forward to continuing this tradition for years to come.”

The Jewish Food Festival is held at Temple Beth Or, located at 2246 Narrow Lane Road, Montgomery. Sunday, February 22nd, 9 am – 2 pm. For more info visit

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