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Authors Posts by Jessica Kopena

Jessica Kopena


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One local company is making meal planning and preparation an easier process. Read on for all the tasty details.

With closures, canceled plans and lots (and lots) of extra time at home, it’s easy to get a little stir crazy. But for Christina Karam Painter, Owner and Personal Chef of Stir Crazy Cuisine, she aims to make meal preparation easy, too. 

Stir Crazy Cuisine is “a personal chef servcie specializing in customized menu planning and cooking weekly meals, as well as dinner parties, and in-home cooking classes,” says Painter. 

The business has been around since 2013 and provides service to the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky area. “We service anywhere from Mason, Ohio to Florence, Kentucky,” Painter says. “At any given time, I have one to two additional chefs who work with Stir Crazy Cuisine. I value the personal aspect of having a small company.”

The inspiration behind starting the business came from Painter’s passion for cooking that comes naturally to her. “I knew that when I was a sales rep in the plastics industry that I wanted something different,” she says. “I wanted to make people happy with my food and connect on a personal level because food can be a very personal thing. 

The thought process behind the name of the service came from wanting to have a name that everyone can relate to and a fun food pun. “Everyone has been stir crazy at some point and when I cook, I do a lot of stirring! Voila,” she says. 

The services offered through Stir Crazy Cuisine are customized meal planning, grocery shopping, cooking, clean up, food storage and labeling,” Painter says. “We also do dinner parties and in-home cooking classes.” The kind of food that she makes is based off of a client’s preference, but she loves making Lebanese food. “I have Lebanese food running through my veins as this is my heritage. However, over the past several years, we have learned to cater to specific dietary restrictions ans even picky eaters. It has been such a fun challenge,” Painter says. “I almost never say “no” to a client, when it comes to a menu item. If people are paying me to cook for them, it should be something they enjoy eating! That being said, I have a lot of clients who come to me wanting to eat healthier.” 

Stir Crazy Cuisine defines success by how satisfied their clients feel. “Obviously, the number clients indicate success, but we see it as going further. Receiving a text or email about how much the client enjoyed the food or how easy we made their week is success in my book,” she says. “It’s why I do what I do. It gives me such a great feeling to know that I can share something I love with people and that they enjoy it!”

The mission of the service is to not compromise. “We believe that people don’t have to compromise when it comes to having a delicious home-cooked meal. Our motto is ‘making eating fun, easy and positively delicious…one meal at a time,’” Painter says. “The chefs I hire have to have strong communication skillsbecause I believe that when people allow us in their home to cook, we need to be respectful and make the experience of having a personal chef as a whole enjoyable. It’s easy to find someone who can cook. It’s more difficult to find someone who will make the client feel understood, connect with them and be professional in their home.”

Stir Crazy Cuisine is unique for two main reasons, Painter says. “We provide customized menu options to each client as opposed to offering a general, limited menu. We truly value the opportunity to cook food for our clients in their homes,” she explains. “We see it as an honor and that we’re even part of their family. We’ve had clients we’ve connected with and some that we’ve never even met before, if we cook while they’re at work. Either way, we’re connected through the meals we cook them. That’s a special thing.”

Painter says her business is important for the community because it helps bring people together. “Dinner parties are a great way to socialize and connect with friends while experiencing a delicious menu. Cooking classes offer a learning experience all while connecting with either the chef or those around you and the weekly meals are ways to make people’s lives more manageable and delicious,” Painter says. “A personal chef service is exactly that personal. I think some people forget just how personal the experience of cooking for someone and eating can be.”

If you want to keep up with what’s going on with Stir Crazy Cuisine, follow them on their website, Facebook and Instagram.

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Learn about a Kenwood bakery spreading happiness across the Tri-State with DIY cupcake and cookie kits, gluten friendly options and lots of seasonal new flavors that kids and kids-at-heart will love.

A local bakery is spreading joy during these trying times one tasty treat at a time. Gigi’s Cupcakes is a full-service dessert bakery in Kenwood. The bakery is named after Gigi Butler, who was the founder of the bakery. “Gigi’s began in Nashville in 2008,” Amy Jones, Owner of Gigi’s Cupcakes in Kenwood, says. “My husband and I had visited a bakery nearby and knew we needed to bring this bakery to Cincinnati.” Now, the bakery has been open in Kenwood for 7 ½ years.

Gigi’s Cupcakes offers many options for customers to choose from, including cupcakes, cheesecakes, stuffed cookies, brownies and cakes.There are seasonal creations that include: Hummingbird, Pineapple Right-Side Up Cake, Orange Dreamsicle and Margarita. 

“We use the finest ingredients and all are made in our kitchen with much love and care. We also offer delivery,” Jones says. The business is unique because “our cupcakes are topped with a special swirl of delectable frosting and we have made over 200 flavors in our years of baking.”

They also sell DIY kits for families to make signature Gigi’s Cupcake creations at home. The kit comes with cookies or cupcakes, frosting and sprinkles. These kits allow kids to create their own sweet creations. “We’ve been doing this for a few years now at a parent’s request,” she says. “However, with the pandemic, many are looking for activities at home or during a virtual meeting so we wanted to assist.”

Along with the kits for kids, there are also gluten friendly options. “We make three flavors daily. Currently, we are making wedding cake, triple chocolate torte and orange dreamsicle,” Jones says. “Many people have gluten allergies and/or choosing to remove gluten from their diet. They deserve a treat like everyone else and we enjoy making it taste as good as it looks.”

Jones’ favorite part of running the bakery is celebrating with customers. “Whether it’s a graduation, wedding or birthday, it’s always fun helping someone plan for their special day,” she says. 

Jones defines success by “seeing the smiles on people’s faces as they walk in our door, hearing people say how good it smells and how they love coming to visit,” she says. “We bring joy to those who visit or receive our special green box filled with goodies.”

Gigi’s Cupcakes is located at 7940 Hosbrook Road, Cincinnati, Ohio 45243. Follow them on FacebookInstagram and their website.

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Learn about a woman who pivoted her catering business due to COVID to spread joy and happiness through family comfort foods.

There is a business in Anderson that wants to help people experience joy during the trying times we are in. “Oink! Is a craft service and catering company that was established to meet the food needs of feature filmmakers. That has all changed,” says Pamela Ford, Owner of Oink. The business is located at 1119 Sutton Road, Anderson Township, Ohio 45230. “The catering component and the LLC was established January 2020,” she says. “The craft service side has been in place for over seven years.”

The business name came from prior work experience that Ford has. “When I was the media coordinator for Jack Rouse Associates, I enjoyed all of the creative one verb names of our clients and thought that Oink fit well for a Cincinnati food-based company due to our relationship with pork product processing,” Ford says.

Oink has been offering Daily Meal Pickup throughout this time of COVID 19 pandemic. “Oink started offering family comfort foods for pick up each day. Customers place their orders by 8pm the night prior and can pickup after 4pm the next day. They text when they’re on their way and I set items out on a table in my front yard or in the back of my car in my driveway for a contactless pickup experience,” she says. “Oink has been able to alleviate the stress of shopping and meal preparation for my clients who were concerned about their elderly parents contracting the virus. Instead, they opted for meal pickup Oink! Pickup provides the opportunity for people to get out of their house and have some contact with a friendly face. Oink! offers affordable food for unemployed and employed alike.”

During the pandemic, they have also done so much for the community. Along with their Daily Meal Pickup service, they have “partnered with Sadie Blossoms to offer floral Fridays. $25 mason jar floral arrangements to spread happiness. With the sale of each cookie dozen, we also purchase masks from CriKettCreations out of Brooklyn for anyone who needs them,” Ford says. “Panda foods, a local produce company, delivers produce for us every two weeks, which we offer for cost and one week- a sponsor covered that cost so we offered free produce. In one week, Oink! raised $350 to feed three families in need of food. 

Additionally, an anonymous supporter asked if they had pets and provided pet food for these families as well. Oink! sees a need within the community and responds to that need. It’s a daily call and response and it feels guided by spirit.”

If you want to know more about what Oink does, check out their website and follow what they’re doing on Facebook.

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It’s a new community of custom homes built among a working organic farm. Learn more about Ohio’s first agri-community that’s sprouting up in South Lebanon.

A neighborhood in South Lebanon is offering Ohio’s first agri-community. Aberlin Springs is a family farm that was built in 1996, but started building homes on the property back in 2018. There are 41 homes that have currently been sold or are under construction in the community and that is located in South Lebanon at 71 and Route 48. 

“There is one lot left in phase 2, a decorated model for sale $950,000 and a ranch market home under construction, available in October for $599,000, and opening 38 new lots in phase three this summer,” says Leslie Aberlin, owner of Pendragon Homes. “There is a waiting list for lot holds, which are processing now. 138 homesites total for the community.”

There are a wide variety of services and amenities offered through Aberlin Springs and they include:

• Provides “custom homes from $360,000 to one million+with three different types of products and price points,” she says.
• “Working organic farm with professional farmers and two new hoop houses for year long growing seasons,” Aberlinsays.
• There are “Vegetables, greens, sprouts, mushrooms, egg laying chickens, and a lamb,” she says. “Goats and a donkey, which are farm pets.”
• Farm Market and gathering space
• On-site chef Rebecca Denney cooks meals for homeowners, runs the market and provides prepared food from the farm.
• Fishing Pond
• Herb and medicine garden
• Hiking trails and sidewalks for walking
• Chalet available for homeowners to rent space for events. “Three bedrooms with full bathrooms we rent to guests of homeowners and their friends,” Aberlin says.
• Salt water pool and hot tub
• Playground
• Grill room
• Two community fire pits

Aberlin says the farm environment is what makes Aberlin Springs so special and unique. “It is the amenity for the community and the desire for local chemical free food and connecting with the animals and the peace that is present when we slow down,” Aberlin says. The wanted to create an agricultural community to support farmers. The neighborhood “provides food security and provides a way of maintaining a rural environment, while allowing for developmental growth,” she says. 

Aberlin’s favorite part of Aberlin Springs is the environment around her. She loves “the spectacular views from every homesite overlooking the ravines, our farm to table dinners, monthly happy hour with the neighbors and Rebecca’s cooking classes,” she says.

If you want to keep up with what’s going on with Aberlin Springs, check them out on their website and Facebook.

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A new fitness facility in Mason provides a fun, unique and full-body approach to fitness. Keep reading for all the heart-pumping details!

A new fitness studio promises to bring a full-body workout and supportive community like no other to the Mason area this summer. “AKT is a full body workout that combines dance cardio intervals with strength and toning,” says Amanda Davis, owner of AKT Mason. 

While doors are opening this summer, building out The AKT has been in the works for a year. Unfortunately, due to COVID 19, their opening was postponed. “We had a lot of events planned with local businesses to help spread brand awareness and introduce the Cincinnati market to AKT. Those were all cancelled. We are now starting those back up as we finish construction,” Davis says.

The inspiration behind The AKT came from the passion that Davis has for fitness. “I grew up a competitive gymnast as a child and have always had a love for fitness and health. I have had a corporate career running a technology sales team and always felt like my true passion was in fitness and health. I took the leap of faith and followed my heart. I really wanted to do something that I felt truly made an impact in the community,” she says. “I believe in overall health from a mental and physical standpoint and feel AKT embodies just that. I have four young children under eight and really wanted them to see that you can follow your dreams if you work hard and believe in what you are working for.” The name of the business came from the Anna Kaiser Technique, who is the celebrity trainer and founder of the AKT concept. 

The AKT will offer four different classes at their facility and they will be: Dance, Bands, Tone and Circuit. If you want to know more about the classes, check out their website. Davis says the success of her business will be defined by the attitude of her team. “Success is having a team that comes to work happy every day and excited to train our amazing clients,” she adds. “Having clients who want to come to our because they are getting the results they want and are having fun doing it. We love when members refer friends to join them!”

Davis’ vision for the business is to see her clients get stronger on the inside, as well as the outside. “My vision for the business is to create a space where people can come in and spend an hour sweating, dancing and getting both mentally and physically stronger with a supportive family-like community. “At AKT, we are all about community. We say, ‘Nothing prepares you for AKT, AKT prepares you for everything,’” she says. “I want every member to walk out of AKT feeling like they can conquer their day.”

Davis says AKT brings people together, no matter what circumstances they are going through and community is a major part of their business. “We want to bring every individual, regardless of your circumstance together for one common goal. To become physically and mentally stronger while having fun doing it,” Davis explains. “We want members to support each other, care about each other and create bonds that will last a lifetime.”

Davis says the workout provides variations that always keep you on your toes. “We are a dance-based workout that combines dance cardio intervals and strength and toning into one fully comprehensive workout,” she says.

Davis’ favorite part of the job is her team. “I love working with my amazing team to provide clients with a space they feel they can come to and feel at home,” she says. “I love meeting clients and hearing their stories. Understanding who they are and really getting to know them on a personal level.”

The AKT will be located at 5675 Deerfield Boulevard in Mason in the Deerfield Shopping Center next to Whole Foods. To keep up with what’s going on with The AKT, check out their website or you can email tem at:

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See how one local woman is making it easier (and tastier) to naturally build your immunity and feel your best.

One local woman is making it easier (and tastier) to naturally build your immunity. 

“Garden of Eten is a herbalism company and community. We provide products and information to help put your health back into your own hands,” Rachel Eten, Owner of Garden of Eten, says. “Our products use the balancing power of nature to give you the tools you need to help you live a full and whole life.”

Garden of Eten has a product called Elderberry Syrup. “Elderberry Syrup is a delicious honey-based herbal infusion that has been used for hundreds of years to help fight colds and flus, as well as seasonal allergies,” she says. 

Elderberries have been scientifically proven to help boost your immune system. “Elderberries come from the elder plant, which grows all over North America, as well as in other parts of the world. The berries have been used for hundreds of years to make syrups, pie, wine and other delectable treats,” Eten says. “It just so happens that these tiny berries are packed with Vitamin C, antioxidants and many other vitamins and nutrients.” 

There are a variety of ingredients in the syrup. “We use a gorgeous local raw wildflower honey that we infuse with cinnamon, clove, orange peel, rosemary and eucalyptus, organic elderberries that have been cooked low and slow with purified water in a batch kettle to preserve their nutrients,” Eten says. “We then top it off with a shot of freshly juiced organic, raw ginger root juice.”

Eten started making the Elderberry Syrup in her home during the winter of 2018-2019. “News got around fast and soon I was getting calls and messages on Facebook from people placing orders,” she says. “As the demand grew, I decided to make the plunge into the entrepreneurial life and officially began selling to retailers at the end of 2019.” Now “We produce our productsat the Incubator Kitchen Collective in Newport, Kentucky. 

The inspiration behind creating the Elderberry Syrup came from wanting to have creative and fun ways to keep Eten’s family healthy. “It may be hard to make your husband or kid eat an orange every day or remember to take their vitamins, but I found an elderberry was something they would ask for. It’s basically a yummy way to give our immune systems a boost during cold and flu season. Little did I know, it also helped us with our seasonal allergies,” she says. 

The Elderberry Syrup is unique because they took the most difficult route to create it. They use “the best equipment, the safest packaging, we never rush our recipe at the price of our ingredients. We cook our elderberries in a small batch kettle for hours before we start,” Eten says. “We also never allow our honey to be heated in fear of losing its important properties. We take the time to infuse the honey and juice our organic raw ginger root using a top of the line cold press juicer.”

The product is important for the community. “Garden of Etenhelps many connect with their local plant allies, as well as providing information on our Facebook group to help people reach their natural health goals. I love when customers tell me they started making their own elderberry syrup, that’s the point,” she says. “I want people tp realize that a more natural life isn’t just for people living on a farm. I want my products and Facebook group to be a jumping off point, as well as something they can continuously come back to as they go on their natural journey.”

With this product, Eten defines success with the Elderberry Syrup by the testimonials that she gets from customers. ”I’ve had customers write to me who have struggled with seasonal allergies their whole life who have found relief after taking the syrup daily. A lot of customers claim they are getting sick less and for a smaller amount of time,” Eten says. “Our Elderberry Syrup is cherished by so many, from teachers, nurses, lawyers, yoga instructors, flight attendants and stay-at-home moms, since it’s such a versatile product. That’s really why I love making the syrup.” People can get the Elderberry Syrup at a variety of places, including: Root Juicery and Kitchen, Susan’s Natural World, Performance Chiropractic and Cornerstone Family Chiropractic. “We are still waiting for several of our retail locations to reopen from CDC mandates. We also have some more locations launching over the summer, so stay tuned.”

Garden of Eten offers other products, beside the Elderberry Syrup. “We offer Drunken botanicals that are an organic, alcohol-based herbal infusion. Drunken botanicals are mostly single herb infusions, which can be used for what the plant is known to help aid (inflammation, seasonal allergies and relaxation). They can also be used for cooking or cocktails,” she says. “We have our Sober botanicals, which are an organic, glycerin infusion. Currently, we have Flower Child, which was inspired by my toddler son to help him ease the terrible part of terrible two’s and he’s obsessed with the yummy taste! We also have our skincare line with an Herbal Salve, Bruise Blend Roller and our Wild Violet Toner.” You can get the Skincare andBotanicals on the Garden of Eten website.

People can keep up with what’s going on with the business on InstagramFacebook and join their private Facebook group, “To keep up on fun health tips, science and natural food info,” she says. 

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Read on to learn about a woman who wants to blend natural food and creativity together in her cooking. 

An unhealthy relationship with food inspired one local woman to launch a service that brings nutrition to both table and life.

Trinidad Earth Food Chef is “A healthy and healing food biz that provides nourishment for your mind, body and soul to people,” says Trinidad Mac-Auliffe, Professional Chef and Nutritional Healing Coach. “Based on my experience as a certified raw vegan chef, my experience working in Mediterranean style restaurants and working as a food and healing coach for private clients. I created Trinidad Earth Food Chef as a way to bring balance and nutrition to your table and therefore to your life.”

Mac-Auliffe started her business in 2012 and it was called Raw Intervention. It “focused on high end raw food and vegan meals and did lots of educational programs,” she says. “Over the years, it has evolved. I have explored different ways of being a chef and coach. I have created different services; some remain and some not. It has been an evolution.” Mac-Auliffe currently works by herself at her home in the Eden Park area of Cincinnati. “It is best practice during lockdown because I keep the place with all regulations and restaurant standards and there are no people coming in and out,” she says.

The inspiration behind starting the business came from a passion for natural foods. “I am inspired by the beauty of natural food, by the reality that every element in nature has a purpose with its minerals, vitamins, fat content, etc. It’s all wonderfully created by the universe for us to thrive,” Mac-Auliffe says. 

She was inspired to create the business because of the unhealthy relationship she used to have with food. “I have also battled eating disorders since my teen years, which I believe is an emotional maladjustment to life and it was puzzling for me, the dichotomy between loving to eat healthy and the eating disorder,” Mac-Auliffe says. “I believe that the love I have for health food has saved me. I do my best to eat balanced and honor the earth foods and that is what inspires me to keep growing inside of my biz. I believe that eating healthy without a diet per se that has restrictions is a solution to mental and physical disorders.”

She calls herself ‘Earth Food Chef’ because she wanted “a way to really just brand myself as a chef that supports earth food practices, as a chef that supports sustainable practices to the best of my abilities and also this is inclusive of elements -both plants and animal, and yes, minerals.”

Mac-Auliffe provides two different services right now and they are:

▪ “Collective Delivery is a plant-based meal delivery service that runs once a week, every Tuesday. You receive a new menu on Thursday evening via email and order by Saturday at noon,” she says. “Food is super, highly nutritious and all items are made in the house, such as quinoa breads, taco shells, herbed dressings, etc. I have awesome photos on my website-site is under construction and it will be ready soon. 
▪ Alchemy of Nutrition (Opens Friday, May 29)

“I am opening a new service for pick up from the kitchen on Fridays and Sundays. Meals are inspired by my Mediterranean food upbringing and they include: meats, fish eggs and eventually some traditional Chilean recipes,” Mac-Auliffe says. Menus for the week will be sent to people’s email inboxes on Mondays and takes orders until Wednesday at noon. 

“Friday is great for carry out for families and couples wanting to chill and have some super awesome healthy food ready for them and their kids for the weekend.,” she says. “Sunday is great for people to get ready for the week ahead. Pick up some healthy balanced dishes to take to work or have ready when done with work, whether work is at home or office-healthy food always available is a must.”

The mission of Trinidad Earth Food Chef is creating dishes that “fun, accessible and fill of awesome flavors,” Mac-Auliffe says. Healthy eating is a lifestyle, not just a diet. “I want to break the boundaries between so-called diets and embrace the whole of what the planet has to offer, and hopefully we- the people- can stop judging and creating division between vegan and non-vegans and be supportive of other cultures that are ancients and have a beautiful balance using all the elements from earth foods,” she says. “I hope people have fun eating, free from guilt and shame and can experience health! The truth is that the energy that healthy food brings is undeniable.”

The business is unique because it concentrates on creativity with creating food. “The meals are very creative and loaded with nutrition, attention to the nutritional value of dishes is evident by the amount of colors, textures and elements in each dish. There is a lot of design that goes on the menus, and flavors are layered with intention. It requires a different kind of approach to cooking, preparing and assembling,” Mac-Auliffe says. “Alchemy of flavors and nutrition cometogether in your plate, good for the senses and health. Of course, some dishes are more successful than others and that’s part of my personal growth as a Chef and Nutritionist.”

To learn more about Trinidad Earth Home Chef, you can check her out on Facebook and her website.

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Priorities, goals or career unexpectedly changing? Learn about a free virtual event next week that aims to help you refocus and re-energize while also helping local healthcare heroes.

Melissa Kirkpatrick, Founder of Find Your Own Drive

Priorities, goals or career looking a little different than they did a few months ago? One local expert wants to help you get refocused and re-energized with an upcoming workshop, while also supporting an important cause.

Melissa Kirkpatrick, Cincinnati-based Transformation Coach, Motivational Speaker, author and Founder and CEO of Find Your Own D.R. I.V.E., created the “Virtual Vision Board Workshop: Manifest in Quarantine” event to help participants get the most out of these unprecedented times. 

“I am donating my time and expertise to help you leverage #QuarantineLife to set clear intentions and goals with inspiration, transformation, growth guidance and support when it’s needed most,” Kirkpatrick says. “Creating your life by design is so much fun when you can tap into the tools, tips and tricks that will ignite the magic and using a vision board is a great place to start. And if you didn’t create a physical vision board, I know you have a vision of what you want for your life and business/career. So, you too are welcome to join us because the value of what is offered in this workshop will offer ways to amp the energy and manifest more effectively.”

The content of the workshop involves teaching you how to make an effective vision board. “Many have used vision boards to create their next best version of self and life. Vision boards are great if you know how to create them effectively and use them correctly. Yes, there is a right way. Two things with a vision board is the frequency you are on at the time you create the board and the action steps you’ll take following the creation,” Kirkpatrick says. 

Through creating the vision boards, she wants to put an excitement in people about their future. The workshop will teach you that a vision board is more than cutting stuff out of magazines and putting them on a board. “An effective vision board requires thought connection, intuition and high energy to be aligned with what your heart desires to experience in this lifetime,” she says. “I will also be sharing six areas that have the most power connection when creating your vision for the future (board or not)-our mind is a powerful thing and it is programmed every second of the day, so learning to use conscious language and empowering thoughts to create your life by design because you make it happen.”

The vision of the workshop is for people to experience community, since this pandemic will teach us how to live and experience the world differently. “My hope is that opening the space to bring community together, and engage in creativity with a vision board activity, will support one another in finding balance and offer peace of mind as we see a more abundant and prosperous future for ourselves not only in the mind, but making it our reality,” Kirkpatrick says.

The workshop is important for the community because it is a way to provide support and help to people in the midst of these trying times. “For me, it seems appropriate to bring a community together, virtually, from all over the world, to collaborate in creating what’s next,” she says. “The workshop offers a relief from the day to day thoughts of the current circumstances and begins to bring hope into the future with excitement and clear vision for what’s next.”

Kirkpatrick’s favorite part of working on the event has been the thought of people’s lives being changed. “The excitement I am feeling about how this workshop can really change people’s lives through a new perspective for what’s next for them is priceless. My vision is so clear, with an outcome that is a game changer. Being able to offer this for free, along with a copy of my ebook and a complimentary follow up call for those who have registered, brings even more excitement,” Kirkpatrick says. “My favorite part is knowing the impact this will have on those who say, Yes, to be part of the workshop, learning to visualize and painting their future with joy, happiness, flow and ease. Priceless.”

This event will on Tuesday, April 28, from 8-9:30pm online via Zoom. “The link and additional details and materials will be provided through email to those who registered at: Registration includes access to the live workshop (and the ability to access to replay later) with step-by-step instructions for creating the most empowering and effective vision board for you,” she says. “It also includes a free copy of my 5 Steps to D.R. I.V.E. ebook and a complimentary 1:1 Activation Call.”

This workshop is going to be supporting The Christ Hospital Foundation’s COVID Relief Fund. It “directly assists our local healthcare heroes. The foundation will use the donations to support our caregivers and provide resources that are needed. We are asking that you join us in assisting those who put themselves in harm’s way for the greater good. The fund will cover needed supplies and will also assist our front-line employees with their greatest needs,” Kirkpatrick says. “This is a Cincinnati-based foundation, so we are encouraging those participating in the Vision Board Workshop to feel free to donate to any other foundation that may be in their area. However, donations are optional. You are still welcome to join us for the workshop for free.”

If you want to keep up with what’s going on with the workshop, follow Kirkpatrick on Facebook and Instagram.

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    When a car accident almost took everything away for one local woman, she worked to take it all back and then some (including time on a reality TV show). Read on to see how she’s using her inspiring story to help others who need it most.

    Brooke Van Paris’ trialed testimony is now a guiding light for people in the fitness industry and beyond. 

    Paris, a Cincinnati native, began this storied journey on October 29, 2009. “I was attending Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. I had just finished a midterm and was heading home from class. I passed through an intersection and in a split second, my life changed for the rest of my life. I was hit head on. My SUV did two 360s, all four tires blew, my windshield shattered, my engine broke off its hinges and came into the car on my lap, but that wasn’t all,” Paris says. “Once I got out of my car and got help, my adrenaline calmed down just enough for me to notice that the airbag had completely shattered both of my hands.”

    After this accident, she started a long two-year journey of healing. “Over the course of two years, I had surgery to re-break my hands four times. I couldn’t feed myself, bathe myself, do any of life’s simplest tasks alone. I went from a fully independent athletic all-star in high school to a 19-year-old fully dependent college kid. Want to know what it was like? Tie your hands behind your back and proceed to live your life. Tough, right?,” Paris says. “Because I am stubborn-and I needed something constant to focus on, I decided to stay in school as a full-time student. I used Mac Speech and Dictate software to talk to my computer and have it type my papers for me and lots of assistance from my father, as well as my professors. After two years in fingertip to elbow casts, I was finally done…or so I thought. My muscles had atrophied completely away and the person I saw in the mirror looked nothing like the Brooke I knew.”

    She was struggling with doing anything by healthy because she couldn’t do regular life tasks without help. Paris was at an all-time low, when it came to her health, being about 175 lbs. and over 50 percent body fat. Paris took about a year to try her best to lose weight. 

    “They never taught me in school how to workout as an adult, so it was all very intimidating to me. I would go to the gym and I was embarrassed and self-conscious. I wasn’t confident with what I was doing, so to save myself the anguish- I would only do cardio. No one will know if I just do the treadmill every day, right?,” she says. 

    Even though Paris was doing cardio, she was not happy with her results. “If I lost weight, I would gain it back twice as bad. I was discouraged and unhappy. My confidence was gone. I tried diet pills, fad diets, everything. Nothing worked,” she says. 

    Her fitness journey changed when she had a coworker at work invite her to do an obstacle course race with her. “It was a local three-mile race called Morgan’s Mud Gauntlet in Brookeville, Indiana and it was amazing. I loved it. I huffed and puffed my way through the entire thing, but it was so rewarding,” Paris says. “I probably failed about 75 percent of the obstacles, but that didn’t matter because people of all shapes and sizes, all at different levels of their own fitness journey-were helping me-and once we reached the finish line, we all had the same medals. How cool. I was hooked.”

    After that race, she started to sign up for races and ended up completing 48 obstacle course races, lost a total of 30 lbs. and got to represent the United States at the World Championships. She was even on two TV reality shows, Broken Skull Challenge on CMT and American Grit on FOX. American Grit was “A military-inspired competition reality show. They chose 16 professional athletes and put us through military-inspired training drills to test the human will of never giving up,” Paris explains. 

    She first heard about the opportunity through a casting company on Facebook. “After the first Obstacle Course Racing World Championship, I saw a quote on Facebook that said, ‘Your testimony could be the key that unlocks someone else’s prison.’ And with that-I decided to share the story of my accident in hopes that I could help someone else stuck in the same dark space I was previously in,” Paris says. “About two days after that, I was reached out to in my Facebook DM’s and the message started with, ‘We are looking for America’s fittest men and women.’”

    Paris was completely shocked to see receive this message because of everything she had gone through for two years, so she ignored the message and deleted it, thinking it was a scam. However, one day she decided to take their phone call, “and the rest is history,” she says.

    Her run on the show was for only two episodes, but she was proud of her performance because she gave everything she had. “The challenge that forced me to leave was called ‘Ice Cubed.’ It was an event where three women (including myself) had to submerge in an ice bath, get out and do 10 burpees and continue incessantly repeating until one of the three of us gave up. Well-now that you know my background story… never giving up is kind of my mantra and I have absolutely no quit in me, so this showdown was about to get interesting,” Paris says. “After nine rounds-nine submersions and 90 burpees-I collapsed to the ground and my body went into Stage Three Hypothermia. Basically, my body said STOP and shut down all systems that were not vital to survival. I was conscious the whole time, but couldn’t move or speak or anything. I could hear people talking to me and touching me, but I couldn’t respond. That lasted for about an hour and I finally came to the hospital.” 

    She recovered fully from that and she now works at Lifetime Fitness in Mason, Ohio. She is an Assistant Personal Training Manager and a Master Trainer. “I live the fitness life all day every day and I could not love it more. I love being able to connect and help people daily and I have never had a more rewarding career to do that with,” she says. “Outside of my job, I do a lot with Fox 19. I showcase workout tips once a month there! It is so much fun and really informative! I also have my own YouTube channel that I post a lot of At Home Workouts on. I live the fitness life myself! Daily workouts, meal prep, etc. I love to live a healthy life.”

    Paris’ success with fitness is defined by the number of people she can help. “I truly believe my purpose in life and the reason for my accident, is being able to help people with my journey and my talents. I find it incredibly rewarding to help be the person to light the fire of hope for someone who has been struggling,” Paris says. “To give out my and tell someone, I can help you, and then watch their journey to success. There is nothing more rewarding than to see the happiness on someone’s face when they win their life back.”

    Being healthy to Paris isn’t just about being healthy physically, but emotionally and mentally as well. “Basically, making sure you don’t get too stressed, that you work out daily, but also take days for recovery, make sure you get enough water, enough sleep and enough of the right nutrition to fuel your body-including your vitamins and minerals!”

    If you want to keep up with what’s going on with Brooke Van Paris, follow her on FacebookYouTube and Instagram.

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    A local fitness studio launched a new way to maintain health and wellness during quarantine. Read on for more!

    Despite not having live classes due to the Coronavirus, a Ft. Thomas-based fitness studio is launching new fit kits. 

    “Fit Philosophie is a boutique fitness studio that offers a wide range of private and group fitness classes,” says Jennifer Lynn, Owner and Master Instructor of Fit Philosophie.

    There are a wide variety of services offered during quarantine. “For our existing members, I put together ‘fit kits’ to send home so every member has some basic tools for our workouts. We are offering live streaming classes seven days a week. We are offering private sessions streaming seven days a week,” Lynn says. “We are also going to be releasing on-demand videos for members (filming this week). We have a current promo for Cincy Chic and anyone who is new to Fit Philosophie. They can join our streaming classes for $9.99/month.”

    Lynn is grateful that she has clients that are faithful to the business. “I am very, very thankful to my clients because they have just shifted gears and jumped right on board with our ‘new virtual world,’” she says.

    Fit Philosophie is located in Fort Thomas, Kentucky and has been around for seven and a half years. When Lynn opened the business, she wanted to build a community of people who stay healthy and have a good time together. “True wellness is comprehensive. It’s a ‘philosophie’ of life to be healthy and not just ‘fit’. I want our studio to offer the feeling of comprehensive wellness versus vanity wellness,” Lynn says. “We don’t just ‘do it for the gram.’”

    Fit Philosophie defines success by “The constant pursuit to always be better, do better and offer my very best to the world through my business with all my heart,” Lynn says. 

    The business is a unique part of the Fort Thomas community. “We offer custom options to anyone who wants to be a part of this community. We create custom packages that range in price and option,” she says. “We are constantly planning a new workout for every class and we offer Sound Off technology (when we are not quarantined) for some amazing ‘silent classes’ (See”

    Lynn’s favorite part of her job is the people she interacts with on a regular basis. “They are the heartbeat of this studio,” she says. “Lynn loves “the daily challenge to keep it fresh and fun for the clients and the challenge to my mind,” she says. 

    If you want to keep up with what’s going on with Fit Philosophie, follow them on FacebookInstagram and their website