No Judgements

When it comes to picking a gym, there are many things we take into consideration. Some will say cardio is where they thrive, where others will swear by weights, HITT, or even aerobics. Where finding a perfect gym can be a hassle to most, Ryan Dalton can say “Not anymore.”

What if there was a place where everything was at your fingertips? A place where you can release the stress holding you captive within your life, and even enjoy relaxation afterwards, without having to leave to travel to another location. It seems too good to be true? That is exactly what Crunch Fitness in Florence Alabama is bringing to your fingertips.

Ryan Dalton the owner of the new location opening in October, has much experience within the industry. A native of Fayetteville, TN, his passion of fitness was developed at a young age of 15, and continued to follow him on his path through life. At 25 years of age, he sought out and kickstarted his dream by becoming nationally certified as a personal trainer with Cooper Institute. Here he continued his passion by beginning his own personal training business called Dalton’s Fitness. This however was just the beginning of his effort to becoming an owner of the franchise known as Crunch Fitness.

At age 32, he alongside of his wife Carlie Dalton opened their first 24 hour gym Dalton’s Fitness. A successful venture which led them to open a second location in 2018. As their business grew so did their vision. They wanted a place where every venue of fitness could be obtained and with much consideration in 2019, they bought into the franchise Crunch Fitness.

Knowing location was key, after much consideration, Florence Alabama was at the forefront of their decision. They found that the community, who has welcomed them in strides, to the UNA campus, that Florence would be a prime location to build the first Crunch Fitness in North Alabama. They could bring to the citizens a high value as well as offering a low cost to those who want fitness within their lives.

With gym memberships on the rise, the ability to accommodate all avenues of styles is key. From a ride studio to weightlifting , Crunch has created a 25,000 square foot location to bring you nothing but the best the industry has to offer. With amenities such as tanning, Rejuvenation Red Light Therapy, even a 3D Body Scanner, the possibilities beyond the doors of Crunch are endless. With everything under one roof the need for multiple subscriptions, at multiple locations is void. By allowing everything at your fingertips in one general location, cuts both time and money. At a price affordable to everyone.

With enrollment now open, the need for fitness within your life is as easy as ever. With the newest technology you will find yourself in awe of what Crunch can bring to you, and how the No judgement will benefit you in the years to come.

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Your Song is Your Humanity

If you would have told me ten years ago what my life had in store for me, I would have laughed at the craziness of what life had yet to unfold, then I would have taken a moment to pause and think to myself if it was possible. My love for writing has always been present since early childhood, but it wasnt until I was at a low in my life, eight years ago, when I began to see the healing powers it had upon my soul.

When I really began to pour out my words for others to read was when I found a piece of myself I never knew existed. Call me crazy, but nothing made a lick of sense to me until that moment. I had lived my life always questioning what my journey held. I questioned college, and even had several jobs that I considered to hold my passion, only to come to the conclusion that my passion was elsewhere. I was at a disadvantage in life(Or so I thought). I was almost thirty wondering where my life had gone and where did I go wrong? However, I learned along the way that God has timing unlike anything I have ever seen. He was preparing me along the way and I was just too blinded to see it within my own timing.

It took me along time to get here in this moment. It took moving away from Sweet Home Alabama, to show me where my heart thrived. It took me facing obstacles, diversities, and even self reflection to be standing today with the words to write, and inspire. I even remember the moment when it all clicked. I found myself constantly telling others I was meeting, along my travels, of how amazing my hometown was and how they should visit. It wasn’t just interesting for me, it was like breathing air. You see I love The Shoals. I love the history it holds within the small towns that surround one another. I love the music that is never ending and the way our community thrives with the words hidden between the beat.

That was when I realized music and myself are a lot alike. I may not be one who speaks openly about my day to day life, but I can give you the words to read, and connect. This is what makes the sound of our own come to light. Whether you are hidden within the music, or an open book, our words have more of an impact than we can imagine. Which is why I believe our stories can bring to light a situation someone else is pursuing.

Its beautiful and it is relatable. Which is why I decided then and there that if God ever brought me back home, I would find a way to intertwine our stories and make them human. This is what we need yall. It is that humanity that creates a life worth living. Who is to say that the last person you came in contact with needed your story. Who is to say that your past had a purpose, even when your own doubt was suffocating you.

So sing your songs with passion. Sing them with pride, because that songstress within you needs to be heard by someone who needs to be inspired.

There is Music within our stories. Some dark, some happy, some fun. But all music is inspiring to the right listener.

Mary Swinney

Take Life One Sip At A Time

As of late, I have found myself over analyzing everything. From my health, to my family and friends, to everything that life has been hauling towards me. I decided that it was time for me to gather a few of my girls together and have a GNO. It was something that I have been needing mentally for a while. It seems that sometimes all we need is someone to sit down next to you, and listen as you pour your heart out. Someone to just gather what you have been feeling, and take away, if only an ounce of your problems.

I wanted to find a place where we could all sit and be able to talk, in an intimate setting where there was no chaos, only solitude surrounding us. Adding a glass or two of wine would be a perk to the evening. So without even questioning it I knew the perfect place to where I could catch up with the girls, and ease my heart from the stress of the past weeks.

As soon as I walked into The Carriage I was blown away with the assortments of the wine displayed around me. I took in the vibe of the place, and had a feeling of modern day -old world, with the dark undertones with pops of color throughout. There was soft music playing overhead and I was instantly in love with the space. The feeling of calmness surrounded me as I made my way straight to the bar where I was greeted by two individuals, who not only greeted me with a smile, but welcomed me straight away to a glass of House Cabernet (The way to my heart). The appreciation i had for them was instantaneous. They had no clue of the past few weeks I have had, but still made an effort to make me feel home and welcomed to the establishment.

I sat quietly towards the back, as I waited for the others to arrive. While sipping on my glass of wine I decided to pass time by catching up on some emails. I stopped for a moment and realized just how much I needed this place. A few hours dressed up, with my wine glass in hand, and a few minutes of quiet peace. Which in turn got me thinking of just how much the past few months have been weighing heavy on me.

How is it that I have allowed so many emotions to go unoticed to so many? I have been open to those who are closest to me about the fear of my remission coming to an end, but how is it that I expect others to understand what I feel inside without the words coming from my mouth? I am a VERY private person when it comes to my homelife, but this fear within me is something that so many others have as well. I had realized sitting in silence, surrounded by no one, that there was a possibility that in the near future I would have to tell everyone that I was preparing myself for a diagnosis, that had once placed fear writhing in my mind, body, and soul.

I sat in slilence, thinking of the gentlness I had to be with myself, and the understanding in knowing that I was more in control this time than last time. Last time I was blindsided by the diagnosis of Follicular Carcinoma a form of Thyroid cancer. It was so unexpected that I had zero time to understand what was happening around me. I honestly just had a goiter, that was all it had been. I underwent the biopsy to learn that it was benign, I did the labs, I took the time to understand that surgery was optional, but went with my gut and ultimately made the desicion to have my thyroid removed. A decision that SAVED MY LIFE!

I followed all the rules and still recieved a phone call telling me that I did in fact have cancer. This snowballed into months of chaos. My mind was strong as my body struggled through, joint pain, memory loss, and one of the most awful side effects…. TIREDNESS. A tiredness that I cannot ever explain plagued my body until I was begging for someone to help me. I was in a state that I never want to be in again… I was vulnerable. This time though I was more in control. In fact I am prepared.

I have sought out the future, doing everything within my power to be ahead of the diagnosis, which God willing may never come. I am surrounding myself with those I love and attempting to stray away from negative energy. I am filling my body with positivity, and self-love. I am simply being gentle with myself at this time. I am a firm believer that healing starts within. it is something that this go around I am adament about.

I didn’t realize just how much I needed a night out. The crazy thing is that I found more within myself in thirty minutes of silence than I did the rest of the night. I always seem to find myself thanking God for taking the time to help me understand that all my emotions are valid. It is easy to panic in times where we know things are tilting, but keeping ourselves in check is a strength that may not be seen outwards, but can be felt within. I felt a piece of my soul shift into a knowing peace, as I saw the first of many start to come in.

I spent the next hour catching up on things happening and felt the positive energy flowing around me. While my mind was still reeling with the fact that the future holds two paths

1. my remission stays in tact

2. I will be planning to kick cancer again

Either way it was ok to feel as if I needed something in this moment. I needed to feel as though someone would listen, I needed to feel as if I was surrounded with love, I needed to feel as if those I love cared. And I knew that it was ok to feel this way. I am allowed to feel so strongly, as everyone is, illness or not.

So as I gave Salute to those sitting with me, I also gave a Salute to myself. For I am the one who knows the emotions within my mind, I am the one who knows the pain in the process, and I also know the feelings of watching my husband and kids, seeing me in this state. I pray for healing, I pray for guidance, and I pray that my journey helps those who are experiencing the same feelings as I am.

I found myself in the most unhurried place, and spent the remainder of the evening listening, laughing, and enjoying a great glass of wine. I put the doubts away, and focused on allowing myself a moment of certainty that every thing I come up against, will only lead me to seeing things in a new light. Just like sitting in a blue velvet chair, led me to understand that I may be scared, but there is strength unlike any other in a person who has the ability to create love from a vulnerable state of mind.

Salute My Friends

Make sure to visit The Carriage at both locations listed below.

121 E Mobile St. Florence, AL 35630 (256)-810-3752

320 N Montgomery Ave. Sheffield, AL 35660 (256)-627-9067

Website and Events: http://www.carriagewine.com

Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/the_carriage

Facebook: http://www.facebook.cm/TheCarriage

A Date With Me

Time as of lately has seemed to be speeding away from all of us. With all the tasks that carries us everyday we find ourselves dreaming of slowing down enough just to catch a break. My daily life is filled with errands that need to be ran, appointments that have to be set up, and people who I find myself always needing to make time for. With this all piled upon my shoulders, I find it hard to sometimes move. I seem to tell myself that more people take than they give, and burden more than they help.

Yesterday I felt the tension rolling through me and even felt the overwhelming cycle of life beginning to push me to a point that would have me spewing more apologies than your welcomes. Reminding myself that this was not who I was, and not what I represent to those who do give me their time, I decided that it was time for a much needed date…. with myself. I knew that some alone time resetting was exactly what I needed. Without focusing on another individual I found myself re-establishing my thoughts, and this is what I found. I found myself at war with myself. My thoughts had turned negative, spewing uncertainties, and welcoming negativity. I found myself on the verge of tears to have gotten to a point where I was not being gentle with myself. Instead I had allowed my though process to criticize the most valuable thing I had on my side…ME.

I took time to not just review my thought process, but also to redirect them to that of positivity and love. By telling myself that I was beautiful to not only notice my flaws, but to love them for what they were, it began to instantly change my attitude. It seemed that by replacing my inner dialogue I allowed my self forgiveness to what I had allowed myself to become.

*I was hating my body for always seeming to betray my health- with a trace of health issues that I had to once again battle with. I had to make peace with my body. I had to understand the strength that it has taken, the will to overcome, and the faith that I had somehow rendered constant within my journey, was that of my own power. I knew that my body was stronger than any thing standing in my path.

*I was hating my worth. Knowing that I strived everyday to be someone to somebody had began to crumble my self-esteem. I honestly struggle with acceptance. Not that of wanting to fit in, but that of wanting everyone to do for me as I would do for them. I know that everyone is different, and that no two souls are the same. Reminding myself that my tribe is the ultimate goal of love, tenderness, communication, and strength was enough for me to reset and allow my worth to be enough.

So much of ourselves are at a disadvantage because of our thinking. Thinking that we are not of importance is one of the most demeaning examples of self-abuse. We have to love ourselves and know that it is important to make sure that we separate ourselves at times to rediscover what makes us unique, what make us loving, and what makes us worthy.

I think of yesterday and think of the moment I was a peace. I was driving around Muscle Shoals and ended up in the parking lot of the Trap House. To most people who visit they are there for their famous Tea Bombs, or their shakes, but for me it was as simple as a refreshing moment in which I was confident enough to be alone with myself. Before even walking through the doors I was smiling, especially when I saw the Rainbow chalked in the concrete. I was immediately reminded how God sends us signs that all is amazing. Even in our depths, he has the ability to put us in positions where we find his grace and love.

Part of that grace and love was a woman by the name of Mayra. As the owner of Trap House, I felt an instant comfort within her presence. Knowing that this was my first time there, she made sure to explain the process from what went into my drink, the benefits, and took joy with just having a conversation with me. Even with a hammer in my hand she kept conversation flowing, while her smile lite up the room.

Knowing that she had no clue what battles I had been through with myself, it was a refreshing experience to be in the presence of someone who’s goals were the same as mine. To bring laughter, love, and joy to others.

I had no clue as to what yesterday would being me. As with most days we sometimes are caught blindsided with the overwhelming needs of the world. Luckily for me, the needs of the world were put on pause. For a moment I reconnected with my self, and simply had one of the best dates of my life.

Be easy on yourself, and remember that you are not alone. Every one of us is constantly working on figuring it out. If it takes you dating yourself then I would say go for it. We have only one life, and I would much prefer you to love every minute of it, and that means loving every minute of who you are.

T.R.A.P House Nutrition Smoothie and Juice Bar

http://www.instagram.com/traphouse.nutrition

http://www.facebook.com/traphousenutrition

605 Buena Vista Ave. Muscle Shoals Al 35661

In the Shadow

Silent Sacrifices

As a mother, my intentions will always be what is best for my husband and kids. Lets be honest in saying that in order to be a wonderful mother that “silent’ sacrifices are always being made. I say silent because these sacrifices are the ones that we hold within, without trying to appear selfish to those quick to judge. There is a lot of guilt that comes with being a wonderful leader to the family, that everyone experiences, but no one speaks of. One being we have to give up a part of ourselves. Yes, I said it, because its true. I am one who has put my own inspirations and dreams aside so that my family could come to a place of comfort and sustainability.

When I decided to be a mother I knew the type of mom I wanted to be. I wanted to be understanding, loving, a great leader,present and most importantly I wanted my kids to see that no matter what life throws our way, that family would always be there, NO MATTER WHAT. I make sure to be at most school functions, I make sure that they have everything they need, I am always there with no questions asked. This is not because I have to be, but because this is who I chose to be as a mother, and I know that my kids are thankful, if not today then they will be one day. This is something that I have dedicated my life towards. I have made sure that my wants, and needs were pushed away in order to give my kids the life that I felt they deserved and continue to deserve.

When it comes to my husband I have done the same. I have sacrificed a lot to ensure that his career has grown over the years. I have ensured that the household stayed afloat as he has traveled, without me and the kids, knowing that he was sacrificing as well. He has missed seeing those special moments that I have had the joy of cherishing, and he had to withstand not being there on occasions that I will hold as some of the greatest moments in my life. We have balanced work and family for years and we have maintained an understanding that we have to work together. We have been teetering on when my time would come to become more, knowing that I do eventually want something more than to be a stay at home mom.

You see I am first and foremost a mother and wife, but I am also so much more. I have unselfishly stayed within the shadows supporting and cheering on my favorite people in the world. It is, and will always be my greatest accomplishment. I also feel a small void that screams to show everyone exactly who I am beyond the title of mom and wife.

A few years back I found myself praying more often, “God when will my time be here?” I see my husband viewing landmarks and seeing views that I have only dreamed about, while I am cleaning a house every day and making sure I am prepared for the same exact day tomorrow. Even though I sometimes feel this way, everyday I am thankful of the life that my sweet family has built together. Honestly there are days where I am a tadbit jealous of the fact that my husband gets to see so many amazing places, but I also know that he is jealous that I get to experience special moments with our kids. Beyond these feelings our goals are the same in being that we are working together to give our kids the life that they deserve. We are parents who would move mountains, or states to make sure that happens. We only get one shot at creating wonderful people, and that is our main focus in this stage in life.

I want everyone to see the struggles, sacrifices and the moments that have defined us. So they know that there is someone else who is going through the same things they are. There is always events that lead to heartache, sobbing, and chaos… everything is not always peachy. Whether we show our vulnerability or not, its there.

Bakerlanebabe

You see, I don’t mind being in the position I am in, because I love what I am bringing to my family. I am passionate about so much beyond my place within my home, but until I know that my kids are comfortable, I will have to just plan and be prepared. I think that the timing is not something that is set but felt. So until then I will continue my journey with writing.-( Who knows maybe this is my true destiny. Maybe this is exactly what God wants me to be doing.)- I will bring hope where I can, and fingers crossed along the way, I will inspire others in some way.

So, For all you moms who feel as if you are tired, I understand more than you know. I know how overwhelming your days are and how you are just itching to bust at the seams. And like me, you are patiently waiting for the right moment, not because you are lazy, not because you don’t matter, but because you are the most unselfish momma in the world. I see how much you love your family. I see the sacrifices you are making… I see the unselfish, loving momma you are and most importantly, I know you are there doing your best. You are not alone and I am so proud of the momma you are. You are so valuable to your family, and when you do decide your time is upon you, I will be there clapping the hardest, screaming “Go get it.”

Its ok to want more for your life. Its ok to view your future with ambition. Its ok to see a life with you in the center. It doesn’t make you a horrible person, in fact it makes you more empowering to your future self.

Bakerlanebabe

Momma, Stop Feeling Bad

I’ve been where you are. Sitting on the couch, wondering where you are going to get the energy to finish cleaning the house. There are dishes in the sink, the floors need to be swept, and the amount of laundry is enough to have you tearing up. You still need to plan a date night, you need to visit your friends, there is just so much to do. Simply put… your tired. And guess what, I am here to tell you that its ok.

As moms we see everything that needs to be done. We spend endless hours going over a list within our minds of what needs to be checked off. Between taking the kids to and from practices, to keeping the house clean, to making sure they are eating healthy, to making sure you are spending enough time with your significant other… Its a lot. Then throw in your friends, extended family, doctors appt, ect. you begin to find its harder than ever to juggle things in order to keep your life going smoothly. You find yourself saying frequently “There just isn’t enough time or energy in a day.”

Ive been there and tomorrow I may be there with you again. It is the constant worry that keeps your household functioning, at the expense of your self care. It is you that holds it all together for everyone else. I have taught myself that this isn’t a burden, as we often consider and feel it to be. It is honestly an extraordinary gift that we have.

How beautiful is it that our precious kids look to us to guide them? That we are reliable enough to make sure they are cared for, in a way that no one can compete with. How extraordinary is it that we make as much time as we can to ensure our spouse that they are cared for and loved. That we care enough to make sure that our home is not just a home but a safe haven for our family. What a blessing it is that we have enough love within our hearts that we worry so much, selflessly, about those we love and cherish, simply so they do not have to carry that burden at this moment in their lives.

Take a breath and don’t feel bad for the overwhelming need to just take a moment and breathe. As my mother has told me over and over again… ‘What needs to be done will be there waiting for you tomorrow.’ Take the day off and see, really see the joy you continue to bring to your family. Re-evaluate the smiles that rest upon your kids faces, because of the worry we have taken away from them, to place upon ourselves. Hold that hug your spouse gives you a little longer, knowing that they are cherishing that you have made an extra moment meant just for them.

Understand that we can only do so much until we grow tired, and that it is absolutely fine to feel that way. Everyone needs a day every now and then to reset. Take a bath, read a book, go for a walk, but most importantly, don’t feel bad for being an amazing momma. Every momma has been in your shoes more than once, and we all know that every momma needs a break every now and then. So look at those dishes and shrug those shoulders. Prop your feet up, rent a movie, pour yourself a glass of wine, and smile with relief, knowing that the world will still be patiently waiting for you tomorrow. I promise it will not end because you took an off day. (Trust me I know.)

Power of Mind

Thinking Beyond Negativity

Maysville, Alabama
Photo Credits – Karen Sanford

When it comes to success we often try and measure it with factors such as money and notability. There are times where we are pushing to achieve such things that we do not realize that we are undercutting the success we have already achieved. Taking a task and completing it with a passionate heart is a moment that is felt within, whether we realize the success or not. Within our minds we see others who “have it all together,” and we begin to measure the things that set them apart, with hopes that one day our everyday accomplishments will lead us to a position, in which those we are viewing, reside in.

The problem with this thinking is even though we push in the right direction, our thinking is already defeated. How can we succeed in a world where our success is stigmatized? We have to reset our minds to understand that even the smallest of efforts of succeeding is an accomplishment. There are many times where I feel myself wanting things to quickly come to fruition, that I am immediately defeated. If I repeated over and over again that some dreams and ideas are unobtainable then they are just that … Dreams. I for one want my dreams to be substainable. In order for this to be I have to realize several things.

IT WILL TAKE TIME

Instant gratification is a myth, and it is something that we need to move away from within our thought process. I am raising my hand high when it comes to this, because I am one who wants things here and now. It is not a reality though. No matter how much I wish it, it is a lie. Things do not happen overnight. For me this is a hard reality, that I find myself having to redirect my thought process from daily.

It takes walking a mile to move an inch when chasing success, but remember an inch in the right direction is better than no inches at all.

-Bakerlanebabe

Tombigbee River
Photo Credit- Karen Sanford

NOT EVERYONE IS YOUR CHEERLEADER

The most heart wrenching thing that I have learned is that sometimes the ones closest to us, are the ones who either act as if you have already failed, or act as if it is a burden for them to recognize your attempts. Being aware of those who are in your corner is not only important but necessary. On the other hand recognizing those who are attempting to railroad your attempts are not only crippling your walk towards success, but also crippling your mindset as well. Positivity is the key that will develop you into who you need to be to achieve your expectations of yourself. So do not give this power to anyone else who can crumble your attempts. Keep positivity key. It is only you who can fail, especially with a mindset of pleasing others around you.

There will be people rooting for your FAILURE when you need APPLAUSE the most.

Bakerlanebabe
Colbert Heights Mountain
Tuscumbia. Al

YOU WILL WANT TO GIVE UP

There will be times where the doubt will settle in and in return you will find yourself wanting to give up. Just remember if you are putting time and effort into something, and you find yourself wanting to quit, then you need to ask yourself , “is this something that I love?” also “Is this something worth accomplishing and seeing through?” There will always be doubt and hardships in anything worth achieving. Although it is imminent we must immediately check the negativity and base our goals on positivity.

Doubt can be the death of your reality.

Bakerlanebabe
Phil Campbell, Alabama

STRENGTH WILL BE YOUR SUCCESS STORY

In conclusion, when you are finding yourself with doubt and dissatisfaction, push forward until there is no more doubt left. You tend to find that you are your strongest self when you at your most vulnerable. With this you will eventually see that your strength was always within you to succeed all along.

Chasing goals are not easy, in fact we all know that sometimes we railroad our goals before we even begin. Mindset is key. Our thoughts is the most powerful weapon we have. It is always there helping us evolve. Whether we feed into the negative nature or our wellbeing is in our own hands. I for one find it difficult at times, but reminding myself the outcome is a positive reminder of just how powerful I am within my own frame of mind. Remind yourself today that you have control over the world you want and by replacing your negative thoughts IMMEDIATELY with POSITIVITY then you are not only doing yourself a solid, but you are finding yourself closer to your success.

Visit North Alabama

http://www.instagram.com/visitnorthal

Legacy

Catfish Haven

There are many things that happens within your life that alters your ideals, and has you seeing the world for what it really is. You begin to understand that the good has you reminesent of how things used to be, and the bad sculpted your strength within. The memories I hold from my childhood are a combination of both as most individuals are. There are times that I look back and smile at how carefree life was with my innocence of a young girl. The knowledge of what was beginning to shape my world was irrelevant to me at the time. So I smiled when times were tough, and found joy just by being surrounded by family.

As I think back there are several people who shaped and inspired me to become who I am today. I feel that I have lived my life based on certain others who taught me, even at a young age to be my best self. Their strength, wisdom, and most of all passion for what they loved most has seeped into my soul, creating my identity for the world to see. Being one of many who were impacted by their selfless love while they walked this Earth makes me understand that each passing moment in time is something to be treasured.

One of those people was Wayne Sanford, my grandfather who not only showed me the best was always for the here and now, but also what hard work could accomplish. His story is one that I think of often, and I find myself constantly wondering if his and my grandmothers dream is one that will withstand the testament of time.

Life is all about taking chances, knowing that there are two ways to go. Failure was never an option for my grandmother who decided in the Winter of 1976 to take over Catfish Haven, a restaurant that specialized in seafood in the city of Russellville, Al. The thought was to come in and re-establish the business with hopes of creating a one of a kind customer atmosphere. In doing so they knew that “the customer is always right”mentality would gather business with a knowing that whoever ate there would indeed come back.

Two months after opening my grandfather left his job as a crane operator in Decatur Al, to be alongside my grandmother. The work ethic they shared was an addition to gather knowledge to run a successful business. Within a year the name Catfish Haven was known far and wide, not just in Alabama, but surrounding states as well. At the time there was no place selling Pond Raised Catfish that could hold a light to what they were creating. The food was delicious, but one would not only talk about the food more than the experience they offered.

My grandmother Sina Sanford was the one who kickstarted the restaurant. A legacy that has withstood time.

When talking to customers one thing that is always remembered is the pond that ran straight through the center of the dining hall. The fish would swim in and out allowing people to stand in awe, while showing their kids the fun to be had, while grabbing a bite to eat. My grandparents took pride in knowing that they had created a family atmosphere worthy of so many. All the while working togrow their own family within the walls of Catfish Haven.

With all things, there are times where darkness makes its presence known. In 1981 my grandmother was killed unexpectedly in a car accident. My grandfather was left to carry on with their dreams of keeping Catfish Haven thriving within the city. With my father now at his side, at age 16, they worked in a family dynamic to keep growing the business. With the will to keep improving, before long the customers were creating lines out the door waiting for tables to come open.

A dream is but a thought, a thought is but a memory, but a memory is a testament of time.

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As the grandkids were being raised, even at a young age, we knew that the Catfish industry was in our future. We stood aside and watched and took note with every detail that went into the process of prepping food and customer appreciation. I was even taught how to count back change by my dad at the To-Go window . Seeing the drive and determination that my grandfather carried we began to grow into young adults capable of knowing that work didn’t have to be something you did, but something you loved. We soon took on the roles that my grandfather and father shaped us to hold.

My grandfather a.k.a”Papaw Monkey” was always the first ones there at 6a.m., with my dad not far behind. I never remember him missing a days work, and when asked why he would always tell me simply, because he wasn’t lazy. His long hours were to some overwhelming but watching him you would see that his smile was just that… happiness. There was never a time where we would see him otherwise. The customers would watch though an open window that separated the kitchen from the dining hall and talk to him as he worked, and he valued every moment.

He was more than business owner. He was a friend, an encourager, and most importantly a teacher. Through his eyes his two children were taught the value of giving back. He used his success to make donations within the community. Giving to schools, fundraisers, even helping those who were too afraid to ask. Even on his off days it wasn’t uncommon to see him on his tractor heading down the road to bush hog for those who needed a helping hand.

Standing in front of the infamous window that Wayne Sanford was known to rest against while greeting and talking to customers.

With everything he did, he did it with pride and hard work. He taught us so much that in 2003 when he left this world we were at a total loss. Nothing could have prepared us for a world without him in it, and knowing that Catfish Haven was no more within our family, held a void that we were uncertain how to replace. It took rebuilding our lives, without knowing if we were heading in the right direction. Everything we had known was created with my grandfather by our sides, and we now had to learn to live without him next to us.

Time doesn’t heal all wounds, it simply teaches us that the words that were meant to be understood at the time, is now our resounding wisdom for tomorrow.

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My father at the age of 37 knew that his story was in the process of altering. The only profession he knew was running Catfish Haven, alongside his father, and now everything he had worked towards was tipping. With his own kids almost grown he had to make a decision to uproot everything he worked hard for and begin a new life in Morgan County. This decision was one that took heart and gut. There are no words to describe the feeling of leaving a life that had memories of love, hard work, and most importantly family. The feeling of uncertainty with starting over, without the knowing of whether his decisions were right, were always in his mind. One thing was for sure though like his parents, there was no room for failure.

The admiration I have for my father for stepping into the unknown, struggling but succeeding, is something that I not only admire but cherish. He did exactly what his mom and dad did by walking by faith and thriving. He is living the legacy his own dad left to him, the knowledge of knowing that hard work and love leads to success.

You see, life is always throwing hardships when you least expect it. There is no manual on how to avoid situations that come your way. We brace and fight to overcome obstacles that tend to try and tear us down. When I am driving down Hwy 43, I always look to see my home away from home…the original Catfish Haven. I rejoice in the memories that I was able to make with my family there. I remember the laughter as we all ate breakfast before the doors opened. I remember singing with my dad in the kitchen. I remember seeing my brother hustling making plates, as fast as my sister was taking orders. But most of all I remember a smile on my grandfathers face as I walked through the doors. His booming voice as he yelled “Shelley” and wrapped his arms around me.

I know that my grandmother and grandfathers time spent at Catfish Haven is something that will never be forgotten. How can it be forgotten when they are within our thoughts, our actions, and our love that we pass on from this generation to generations to come. With everything that we were taught, I guess you could say the most important thing we took away from the restaurant, is that success isn’t about the amount of money we make, but the journey we take, while laughing, loving, and creating memories with the ones we love.

Papaw: What time did you get up Shelley?

Me: 7A.M.

Papaw: You lazy thing…sleeping the day away

Wayne Sanford 1942-2003

Bridging the Times

Knowledge of Society

First off let me say that we live in a world where social media is God, and God is figmentated. The scary reality is that we have grown so accustomed to the way the world is that we have become shadowed by the things that we once would be appalled by. I laid in bed last night praying for my family when it hit me that not only is our time frame so different from when I was a child, but that I to have to adjust. I also cannot be naΓ―ve in the world my children are growing in.

Let it be known that my time has NOT been spent learning the ways of the world, as much as teaching the world to learn the ways of mine.

I tremble when I think of the access my kids have today. I am what my mother calls “Old School.” I claim to hate the fact that my kids have media in their lives, but how can I claim to hate something that I use on a daily basis. It is essentially our families bread and butter, and yet I have my own qualms when it comes to my kids. This in which got me thinking… What are their boundries? I am not so naΓ―ve to know that in todays societies, the workforce is dominated by social media, and it would be a disservice if my kids were not educated in the arts of how it could be beneficial to their future. I am also not so naΓ―ve to know that there are terrible acts that comes with it as well.

Cyber bullying- It is there. Suprisingly enough you would think that this would end at an appropriate age of adulthood, but I have found that the adults are sometimes just as bad, if not worse than children. For some reason we have conjured in our minds that it is ok to treat people with little respect, with the notion that we ourselves would not want to be on the receiving end. Our disagreements have become comments, our likes have become “thumbs up,” and our view in society has become not what is in your heart and soul, but what they can get from you in your presence. I for one know that my judgment to everyone around me is inconsequential to the bigger scheme of things. My measly opinions are just that opinions. My advice is there when asked and I teach my kids that if no one is asking for your opinion, then keep your thoughts to yourself. It is honestly that simple, but instead we act like three year olds who are not disciplined enough to do so.

Perfectly Imperfections- This is something that I believe we are all guilty of. We strive for perfection. Our skin needs to be blemish free, our makeup needs to be just right, our weight needs to be this number…and so on. I catch myself daily voicing these concerns only to look at my daughter who is most definitely paying close attention. We are a product of our parents and the sooner that we understand this the better off THEY will be. If your kids see you standing on a scale everyday they will more than likely have it within their minds that they too need to battle with weight. If they see you speaking unkindly to others, guess what? They to will think it is appropriate to bully others around them. our kids are nothing if not a mirrored image of what they are around. We must tread carefully with how we present ourselves. We must take accountability that we are who our kids will be in the near future.

Growth is bound to happen, but it is the mold that we use that makes sure it withstands the age of time.

There are so many things that I want to teach our kids. So many life lessons that I myself have had to endure, that I wouldn’t want to see my own have to go through. Every day is a learning experience for all of us. I always tell my family that if I learn something everyday then I am a better teacher. I want my kids to be strong enough to fight through insecurities, wise enough to know the impact of words, and smart enough to shine beyond their own expectations. In order for them to be the adult I want them to be, I need to hold the same expectations for myself.

In todays eyes I am merely a statistic that is programmed by the amount of likes and comments I receive on social media. To my kids I am so much more. In knowing this and allowing myself to not be subjected to the stigmatism in this day and age, I am developing a future for them that is a testament of who I am. I want others to see my kids and immediately know that I am a wonderful mother. I want them to say that my kids are a representation of the world I have created for them, not what the world has created us to be. I want to know that one day when I am gone that my kids know that mom taught them the values, the morals, and the responsibility of what life truly is.

I see you watching me, I see you listening, what is more important is I see that you know I love you.

This day and age is more than hard for parents to raise their kids. It is a struggle to protect them and to make sure that we are putting value into the things that matter and the things that are not of value we push aside. The hardest thing is to teach them to know the difference. When I think that I am struggling at my role I simply tell myself that the thought of not doing my very best is exactly when I am at my best. If I did not worry to make the right decisions, if I didn’t struggle to show them the error of the world, and if I did not pray every night that I am enough, then I wouldn’t be the mom I search to be every day. Remind yourself in times of hardships and uncertainty that you are what you create. Remind yourself that your struggle is also your future victories. Be thankful for the good, the great, and the tough. Because they all have an impact of not just what you are but what you teach your children.

6th St. Boutique

Southern Charm is Thriving

There are many things that Southerners take pride in, but there is one thing that every southerner can tell you everything about….their hometown. There is nothing as important than feeling like you are who you are today because of the many people who live in your community. People that can be found within the local grocery store, The Court House, Fire Dept, even the local Fast Food stops we make on the regular.

You see, in a small town there is a few things that is certain, 1. your field trips will most definitely be local, 2.If you think you can get away with something, well I hate to tell you, but Jim from the local Depot, knows your daddy, 3. You will no doubt see someone you know every single time you go out, so you better have your face on and be ready to talk.

Small towns grow the greatest stories, because everyone remembers a time when…

Not only do they carry gorgeous clothing, but the staff is amazingly sweet.

One thing that I love about growing up within a small town is the growth that you can actively see happening. The town is always evolving and growing. Bringing in some of the most amazing locals who have dreams that are finally becoming realities. It is an honor to watch so many of our locals thriving within the local shops. Supporting these small businesses is such an interval part in what makes our community more like a family.

One of these businesses that I have grown to love and cherish is Simple Luxuries Boutique. I see the pride that the boutique has taken with styling the community as well as the love they have for Tuscumbia, Alabama. There is something worth visiting when you know that when you walk within the doors, you are greeted with good styled Southern Charm.

In the words of Miranda Lambert

“Everybody Dies Famous in a Small town.”

As a true Southern girl I know how valuable a good kimono, and a pair of shoes can mean. My closet holds more boutique pieces than I can count. I am always looking for different pieces that I know will “Wow” when I leave the house.

They are continuing to grow, and just kickstarted an online website.

Simple Luxuries not only houses womens apparel, but also a line of mens apparel that is both stylish and well priced. They hold so many options for teen to adults that you can see the worth that they bring to Tuscumbia. From hair ties, purses, to candles they bring so much to our hometown that you will find yourself visiting frequently and leaving smiling and looking like a true Southerner.

Growing up in a small town means everyone is your family. One thing you will be able to count on is the love, support, and most definitely the southern charm that is still alive and well. Get out and visit the local businesses and meet the amazing individuals that have made Tuscumbia their home. Talk and listen to the stories that this town has created. Just remember it doesn’t hurt to look good while doing it, so check out Simple Luxuries Boutique to be styled by some of the best in the business.

Accessories are a must with any outfit.

Make sure to head over to Simple Luxuries Boutique at 110 W. 6th St. Tuscumbia, Al 35674 and see everything they have to offer

Also make sure to stay updated by following them on social media

http://www.instagram.com/simpleluxuriesboutique

http://www.facebook.com/simpleluxuriesboutique

or visit their website to order at

http://www.simpleluxuries256.com