Stepping into a New Year


“Solvitur ambulando—it is solved by walking.” –Saint Augustine

With a new calendar on my wall and thoughts of resolutions, I know I must put on my walking shoes again and get this body moving. The first step out the door after over-indulging through the holidays is the hardest for me to make.

While wishing to be back in my cozy corner sipping cocoa, I’m inspired by my friends, Nancy Ellis and her dad, Sonny Evans, who get up at 4 A.M. on week-day mornings several times a week to exercise at the gym before going to their places of business. I’m thinking that if they can do that, surely I can manage to drag myself out of bed at sun-up and get back on a schedule of walking on the gym treadmill at least three times weekly.

I’m told that physical exercise also benefits mind as much as body.

According to an online article produced by AARP, “How Walking Buffs Your Brain,” research shows that, “Aerobic activity releases hormones like adrenaline in your body. These hormones are key players in your nervous system and in boosting your mood. Endorphins also release in your body during activity. They help relieve pain and create a sense of well-being.

Many people believe that a brisk walk can also help you tap into your creative side, boosting your power to think of new ideas and to solve problems. Author, Julia Cameron, who has written more than a dozen best-selling books on creativity, considers her daily outdoor walks a necessary discipline for both creativity and peace of mind. Cameron says, “It is on these walks that my best ideas come to me. It is while walking that difficult clarity emerges. It is while walking that I experience a sense of well-being and connection, and it is in walking that I live most prayerfully.”

In her book, Walking in this World, Julia Cameron shares:

“It was during a time in which my life felt directionless both personally and creatively that I discovered the solace and direction to be found in walking. I would walk a forty-five minute loop. As I walked, emotions would wash through me. I was grieving a lost marriage and the death of my father. I would walk and pray for guidance. A day at time, a walk at a time, even a simple step at a time, my sad and tangled life began to sort itself.”

Creative writing instructor, Brenda Ueland, advised her students who were suffering from writer’s block: “I will tell you what I have learned myself. For me, a long five-or six-mile walk helps. And one must go alone and every day.”

The American Heart Association recommends:

“Walk more, eat better, and live a more healthy life.” They tell us that exercising for as little as 30 minutes a day can reduce our risk of heart disease. 

I need new ideas and problem solving techniques. I need to stretch my legs, stretch my mind, and gain new strength for my body. So, here I go, stepping into a New Year, walking in this world.

by Virginia Dawkins


Photo “Runners On The Street During Adidas King Of The Road 2012 Run…” courtesy of Sura Nualpradid and freedigitalphotos

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

Holiday Events – December 20-21, 2014




Get your Merre on at Merrehope! 47th Annual Trees of Christmas 2014 opens with a reception on Sunday, November 23 from 1-5 p.m.  This years theme is “Moments to Remember,” featuring trees decorated to depict special memories such as First Day of School, Peppermint Pops, Wedding, Graduation, etc. Both historic homes will be decked out with holiday decorations and theme decorated trees.  Regular tours begin November 24 and run through December 30th, Monday – Saturday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., with last tour beginning at 4 p.m.  Special events can be arranged on Sunday and in the evenings by appointment.


The 1st Annual Santa’s Christmas Factory will be held at historic Soule’ Steam Works in downtown Meridian. The Mississippi Industrial Heritage Museum is sponsoring this event that will feature “falling snow” and a snow-filled play area for the kids. If your children enjoy the movie “Frozen”, they should enjoy this event. Santa_Christmas_Factory_ArtworkA small Christmas train will be in operation for the children to ride. The Soule’ factory will be decorated for the holidays. Last tour begins at 7 p.m. each night!





Come experience the most wonderful time of year with an all-new, interactive outdoor light show! The 120-acre farm will be covered with scenes telling the true story of Christmas – perfect for families, churches, and youth groups! Take a wagon ride around the farm and listen to Santa and Rudolph share the story of Christmas and the true reason for the season. lazyacreschristmasOpen Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights from 6 to 9 p.m. through Christmas (weather permitting). Also open December 22nd, 23rd, and Christmas night.





Big Elf on a REALLY BIG SCREEN!  Meridian’s Temple Theatre proudly presents a special Holiday movie matinee for the entire family!  Come see Will Ferrell in “Elf”.  Special Guest Appearance by SANTA!!  LIVE MUSIC —  Mr. Frank Evans at the console of the Temple’s Mighty Morton Theatre Organ will entertain the audience by playing your favorite Songs of the Seasons!  Admission is just $2.00 per person. We are also collecting canned goods for charity at this event, so feel free to drop an extra canned item in the lobby. Temple






M E S S I A H   Christmas production is this Saturday, Dec. 20 at 6 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 21 at 10:30 a.m. Come celebrate the birth of our Savior with us this weekend. Admission is free. Messiah






Saturday, make and take great holiday crafts and gifts each Saturday until Christmas at the Children’s Hands-On Museum of Tuscaloosa! CHOM, children Explore, Create and Discover every time they visit.  When we say “hands-on” we really mean it!  Learning through play is what our exhibits are all about, and you are encouraged to touch, feel and play in our exhibits.  Three floors of fun wait for families and school groups, too.  With 24 exhibits, CHOM offers newborns through age 13 a fabulous place just for them!  Exhibits, special events, holiday celebrations and parties are all waiting at CHOM!


Giving: An Everyday Celebration!

The Holiday Season brings forth feelings of gratitude, charity and selflessness.

Thanksgiving is the time to thankful.  Christmas is the time for giving. The New Year ushers in resolutions that usually include being more thankful and more giving throughout the year. Being thankful and charitable are actions we know we should do and need to do.  Our consciences nag us, but how often do we follow our Good Samaritan instincts and help others who are not in our social, cultural, ethnic or religious realm?

We spend hours upon hours shopping for our children and family members, people we give to all during the year.  Let us ask ourselves this question.  Is that really giving? Are we teaching our children that the spirit of giving really is all about them?  And if we are, is that a good thing? Maybe the best gift we can give our children is teaching them how to give throughout the year and not just during the Christmas season.

Try these few tips to teach children about giving and why giving is so important.

  1. Children who eat three meals a day along with snacks have a difficult time comprehending hunger. A simple family exercise can be to skip a meal (taking into consideration all health concerns within the family) and to talk with your children about those who rarely get one meal a day. Skipping a meal will certainly not hurt anyone, but hunger pangs are reminders that for some those pangs never go away.  As a family, watch documentaries on hunger and discuss ways your family can make a difference, even to those suffering in other countries.  Research various organizations and, as a family, choose one to focus on. Everyone should chip in on the monthly or yearly contribution to this charity. In fact, keep a money jar just for this charity. Let your children see you slip quarters, dimes, nickels, and dollars into it.  They will learn to do the same.

  2. Create food baskets to take to shut-ins and the elderly. Before selecting items, make sure about the dietary restrictions of the recipients. Shopping for basket items presents perfect opportunities to discuss health concerns and why being selective when choosing items is so important.  Studying labels with children educates them on nutritional content, but also helps them learn new vocabulary words that improve their reading skills.



    Image courtesy of Ambro at Free Digital Photos

  3. Help feed hungry animals at animal shelters by buying dog food and taking it to your local shelter. First, check with the shelter about food and snack choices. At the shelter, have the director share information about homeless animals. Volunteer as a family at the animal shelter and consider contributing financially.

  4. Giving to and volunteering in the community gives a family a sense of ownership in their community. Volunteer at the soup kitchen.  Children too young to volunteer can donate food items they pick out at the store.  Families can also clean-up their community by picking up trash.  Many cities offer a city-wide volunteer day. Main Street programs do this for the downtown area as well.  While working downtown, share with children some of the history of the downtown area, especially the old buildings still standing.

  5. rake_papaija2008

    Image courtesy of Rake at Free Digital Photos

    Offer to wash the windows or do yard work for an elderly neighbor. As a family, you not only do a good deed, but you and your children get to know someone you may have only waved to in passing.  Provide refreshments so that when you take a break, you and your neighbor can fellowship and enjoy getting to know one another.




  6. Create a photo journal of family giving. Taking photos during the preparation steps (shopping, gathering tools, etc.) and during the giving occasion to create beautiful memories for generations to come.  Write about your experiences individually and as a family. Provide writing prompts for you and your children and decorate your papers with markers, crayons, and stickers, whatever to make the journal fun and creative.

Teaching children that the giving season doesn’t come once a year may well be one of the most significant gifts they receive in a lifetime.

by Richelle Putnam


Learning to Give

We Give Books

Free Rice

Locks of Love

The Mississippi Arts and Entertainment Center – The Dream

When the Mississippi State Legislature enacted Senate Bill #2666 in 2001 establishing the Southern Arts and Entertainment Center, Inc., d/b/a The Mississippi Arts and Entertainment Center (MAEC), there was no warning of what was to come in 2005 when Katrina’s fury struck Mississippi and hurled her into years of disaster relief and recovery. Neither was there warning of a downswing economy and soaring gas prices. Life is that way. It changes every moment. The saying, “Only the strong survive,” has nothing to do with physical strength, but everything to do with perseverance and carrying on with a dream in spite of adversity. The journey for the MAEC has been a long, difficult struggle, but then again…we’re talking about Mississippi.TheWorld

And when you talk Mississippi, you’re talking rich soil that grows anything and the Mighty Mississippi that stretches beyond all other rivers in the country.

You’re talking Elvis Presley, Sela Ward, William Faulkner, Morgan Freeman, Jim Henson, Tennessee Williams, Mac McAnnally, B. B. King, Oprah Winfrey, James Earl Jones, John Grisham, Joe Willie “Pinetop” Perkins, LeAnn Rimes, Eudora Welty, Leontyne Price, Walter Anderson, Faith Hill, Jimmy Buffett, Robin Roberts, and, yes, the list goes on because we’re talking about Mississippi. Factories and businesses come and go. And have. But Mississippi’s legacies will never leave the ground from which they were birthed. In fact, these legacies continue rising to infinite glory through stories, music and photographs, creating histories for generations to come.

This is the dream the MAEC refused to surrender.

In 2009, MAEC’s Walk of Fame began its bronze legacy pathway from the historical MSU Riley Center for the Performing Arts toward the MAEC building site and will continue its trek as the MAEC moves toward constructing its state-of-the-art museum on the corner of 22nd Avenue and Front Street in Meridian, Mississippi, the birthplace of Jimmie Rodgers.

ThePlaceSupport of this museum helps the MAEC accomplish its mission in recognizing and honoring legendary artists through a hands-on Hall of Fame and other exhibit halls that visually, auditorily, and kinesthetically educate, inform, and entertain every visitor. In addition, the museum will steer these visitors to other museums throughout the state, forming a partnership that benefits all Mississippi regions and their legacies, from Tupelo’s Elvis, to Indianola’s B. B. King, to Pascagoula’s Jimmy Buffett, to Jackson’s Eudora Welty, to Ocean Springs’ Walter Anderson, and…well, you know the rest.

This is Mississippi,

where stories pass from generation to generation and where legends are made; where visitors from all over the world come to walk upon its soil and to drink the water in hopes of becoming a part of Mississippi and making Mississippi a part of them.

Join the MAEC Newsletter to stay updated about the progress of the Mississippi Arts and Entertainment Center and step into conversations about the Mississippi artists who made history and who are making history. But be prepared to pull up a chair and sit a spell because here in Mississippi, you just can’t rush a good story.


Visit MAEC

Growing Green to Grow Community

Go Green Meridian is committed to providing information and resources to empower the Meridian community to make healthy, sustainable life choices.

DSC_0455With a mission to increase awareness, connect the community, support our local farmers and businesses, and create a more sustainable and healthy life for the people of Meridian and surrounding areas, Go Green Meridian is a local chapter of Gaining Ground Sustainability Institute of Mississippi (GGSIM), a state-wide educational, networking, and outreach institute in Mississippi growing community around issues of sustainability by identifying sustainable initiatives, connecting those efforts, and expanding on them.

Pamela Dees

Pamela Dees

Meridianite Pamela Dees got involved with Go Green Meridian in this past spring. To her, a community garden is important because it brings so many different people from the community together, including the children, who learn about gardening while also enjoying getting their hand dirty with their family.

“There are so many knowledgeable people here who know about the plants or the bamboo teepees,” said Pamela.  “Go Green planted and tilled and everything.” The planted area Pamela speaks had been a field of high grass. “They cleared it out and made the beds; the city donated a lot of material and people in the community have donated,” she said. “So the garden has really been a community effort.

Community gardens have been growing in popularity across the nation for quite some time and have provided families who don’t have access to yard or land, the opportunity to produce their own food. In 1999, 15 New York gardens organized as the City Farms program of the group “Just Food.” They grew close to 11,000 pounds of fresh vegetables and fruits and donated approximately half of the harvest to nearby soup kitchens and food pantries.

The non-profit Gardeners in Community Development (GICD)

of Dallas, Texas has made it their mission since 1994 to “grow people” through community gardens.

They have compiled a List of Benefits of Community Gardening, something every community, large or small, should do. That list includes:

Benefits of Community Gardens

  • Community gardens increase a sense of community ownership and stewardship.
  • Community gardens foster the development of a community identity and spirit.
  • Community gardens bring people together from a wide variety of backgrounds (age, race, culture, social class).
  • Community gardens build community leaders.
  • Community gardens offer a focal point for community organizing, and can lead to community-based efforts to deal with other social concerns.

Crime Prevention

  • Community gardens provide opportunities to meet neighbors.
  • Community gardens build block clubs (neighborhood associations).
  • Community gardens increase eyes on the street.
  • Community gardening is recognized by the many police departments as an effective community crime prevention strategy.

Cultural Opportunities

  • Community gardens offer unique opportunities for new immigrants (who tend to be concentrated in low-income urban communities) to:

– Produce traditional crops otherwise unavailable locally,

– Take advantage of the experience of elders to produce a significant amount of food for   the household,

– Provide inter-generational exposure to cultural traditions,

– Offer a cultural exchange with other gardeners,

– Learn about block clubs, neighborhood groups, and other community information.

  • Community gardens offer neighborhoods an access point to non-English speaking communities.
  • Community gardens allow people from diverse backgrounds to work side-by-side on common goals without speaking the same language.


Community gardens offer unique opportunities to teach youth about:

  • Where food comes from
  • Practical math skills
  • Basic business principles
  • The importance of community and stewardship
  • Issues of environmental sustainability
  • Job and life skills


  • Community gardening is a healthy, inexpensive activity for youth that can bring them closer to nature, and allow them to interact with each other in a socially meaningful and physically productive way.

Food Production

  • Many community gardeners, especially those from immigrant communities, take advantage of food production in community gardens to provide a significant source of food and/or income.
  • Community gardens allow families and individuals without land of their own the opportunity to produce food.
  • Community gardens provide access to nutritionally rich foods that may otherwise be unavailable to low-income families and individuals.
  • Urban agriculture is 3-5 times more productive per acre than traditional large-scale farming!
  • Community gardens donate thousands of pounds of fresh produce to food pantries and involve people in processes that provide food security and alleviate hunger.


  • Studies have shown that community gardeners and their children eat healthier diets than do non-gardening families.
  • Eating locally produced food reduces asthma rates, because children are able to consume manageable amounts of local pollen and develop immunities.
  • Exposure to green space reduces stress and increases a sense of wellness and belonging.
  • Increasing the consumption of fresh local produce is one of the best ways to address childhood lead poisoning.
  • The benefits of Horticulture Therapy can be and are used to great advantage in community gardens.

Green Space

  • Community gardens add beauty to the community and heighten people’s awareness and appreciation for living things.
  • Community gardens filter rainwater, helping to keep lakes, rivers, and groundwater clean.
  • Community gardens restore oxygen to the air and help to reduce air pollution.
  • Community gardens recycle huge volumes of tree trimmings, leaves, grass clippings, and other organic wastes back into the soil.
  • Community gardens provide a place to retreat from the noise and commotion of urban environments.
  • Community gardens provide much needed green space in lower-income neighborhoods which typically have access to less green space than do other parts of the community.
  • Development and maintenance of garden space is less expensive than that of parkland.
  • Scientific studies show that crime decreases in neighborhoods as the amount of green space increases.
  • Community gardens have been shown to actually increase property values in the immediate vicinity where they are located.

Go Green Meridian provides the community with an informative website and facilitates special events and workshops and meets every month to discuss ongoing sustainability initiatives in Meridian and how to better serve the community.

“I’m not from Mississippi and I haven’t had a garden myself and it’s a good way for me to meet people,” said Pamela. Even though we’re all in the community, we stay in our own comfort zones. A community garden presents a good representation of what community can be with the diversity of age, gender, race, culture, social status, everything.





Each community garden has unique by-laws and requirements. However, most provide a plot of land and some training in exchange for a time commitment and a small fee. Find the garden near you and get involved. For first time gardeners, a wealth of information is available online.


Many community gardens provide fresh fruits and vegetables to local food banks and churches. Find a local food bank and enlist others in planting a row for the hungry.


The effects of community gardening are particularly pronounced among low-income children with limited access to fresh fruits and vegetables. Volunteer at an organization or a school garden that specifically targets youth. Once screened, volunteers help in the garden, offer nutrition courses, provide administrative support and more. To connect with the right group, call your local high school or search for community groups like Seattle-based Cultivating Youth.


Partnerships between local schools and community gardens are blossoming around the country. If you already work at a community garden, consider inviting local students in or running a free workshop over the summer for low-income youth. There are resources and manuaLs available to help design a curriculum.


Sharing successes and identifying best practices will help foster the sense of community at your garden and keep people involved. There are many tactics, both high and low tech, for sharing information. Consider starting a community notebook at your school garden or creating an e-newsletter outlining opportunities for service and issues for advocacy.


Fundraising can pay garden rents, buy new tools, support service projects and keep the garden growing. Online resources can help you navigate the world of private foundations, individual contributors, and old fashioned bake sales.


Go Green Meridian

Gaining Ground Sustainability Institute of Mississippi (GGSIM)

United We Serve Corporation for National and Community Service

Gardeners in Community Development

The Truth About Yoga

Greetings, friends!

I am thrilled to be apart of the Southern Roots family. I hope that together, we can help discover, create, and promote all of the wonderful experiences that East Mississippi and West Alabama has to offer you!

September is National Yoga Month!nanney

Yoga has been my passion for a many years now and I find it such a rewarding element in my life that it’s hard for me not to share it with you.  Due to it’s roots in eastern religions, I have found that when mentioning the word “yoga” around these parts, it can bring about an air of uncertainty and hesitation mainly due to a lack of understanding.

Yoga is not a religion! It’s an ancient art form combining movement and breath.

You can believe anything you want to and still practice. National studies comeout everyday highlighting all of the benefits a yoga practice can bring you. It has been linked to helping children with ADHD, autism, sensory processing disorders, and yoga has been shown to help adults with depression, anxiety, chronic pain, and neurological disorders. Practicing yoga also has demonstrated an increase in bone density, decrease in blood sugar,  decreasing the risk of heart disease–and the list goes on and on.


In 2008, the Department of Health and Human Services designated September as National Yoga Month, one of a select number of national health observances.

The purpose of having a whole month dedicated to yoga is to educate, inspire, and motivate people to achieve a healthy lifestyle. This initiative has led to a grassroots movement that becomes bigger and bigger every year. Yoga studios, teachers, and organizers around the globe are encouraged to offer free yoga classes and events in their community so everyone gets a “taste” of what yoga looks and feels like.

Common myths about practicing yoga are that you need to have good balance, be able to touch your toes, and wear specific yoga clothing to class. None of that is true! Some benefits of practicing yoga is that you increase balance,  flexibility, and strength.  As long as you are comfortable and can move around freely without being too restricted, you wear whatever you want!

On a personal note, in honor of National Yoga Month, I have decided to partake in an instagram yoga challenge hosted by three well-known yogis (Kino MacGregor, Kerri Verna, Laura Sykora) to promote and educate others on the benefits and beauty of yoga. Each day for the month of September I post the “pose of the day” pic (selected by the 3 women hosting the challenge) to instagram and facebook. This month’s challenge is called “Balance Basics” and it’s not too late to join in on the fun and participate! To find out more about this yoga challenge, check out my instagram account @HippieofHealthCare82 or email me and ask me specific details. If you don’t have insragram and have no idea what I’m talking about then that’s okay, too–email me!

If you have never tried yoga because it’s just too scary, intimidating, or weird, I encourage you to at least give it a shot this month. Just one little class. I think you just might find out that it gets a lot of hype for a reason.

Below is a list of yoga studios in and around Mississippi and Alabama. If you live in an area that does not have a yoga studio or you think does not offer yoga, email me and I will do my best to find something close to you. Also, if you know of any additional studios or places where yoga is being offered in your area that I  left off this list, please message us and let us know so we can add it!

I look forward to sharing with you tips, topics, education, and insightful information on health and wellness stories around Mississippi and Alabama. If you have a particular topic you would like me to focus on, please message us and let us know!

As always,


Jennifer Nanney

bio pic 1

You can do yoga anywhere!


Find the Perfect Yoga Class




Butterfly Yoga

Jackson, MS


StudiOM Yoga

Jackson, MS




Flowood, MS



JoyFlow Yoga

Ridgeland, MS

601.613. 4317



Blue Heron Yoga of Mississippi

Summit, MS



Stillwater Studio

Brookhaven, MS




The Yoga Room

Hattiesburg, MS



Downtown Down Dog

Hattiesburg, MS



Shanti Yoga and Counseling

Gulfport, MS



River Rock Yoga

Ocean Springs, MS



Earth Path Yoga

Bay Saint Louis, MS



Natchez Yoga Studio

Natchez, MS



Bliss Yoga

Columbus, MS



Firefly Yoga Studio

Starkville, MS




Harmony Yoga & Wellness Center

Greenville, MS



Delta Yoga

Cleveland, MS & Clarksdale, MS



Southern Star Yoga

Oxford, MS

601.513. 0001




Meridian, MS




Kula Yoga Community

Mobile, AL



Sterling Hot Yoga Works Mobile

Mobile, AL



Point Clear Yoga Center

Fairhope, AL



Fair Hope Yoga

Fairhope, AL




Auburn, AL



Yoga Gem

Montgomery, AL



Shoals Yoga

Florence, AL



Inner Sunshine Yoga & Wellness

Opelika, AL



Yoga Fire

Madison, AL & Huntsville, AL



East Wind Yoga

Roseville, AL & Auburn, AL



Center for Yoga & Ayurveda

Anniston, AL



Yoga Bliss

Tuscaloosa, AL