By Deb Peterson • Photos by Amanda Herd
When I started Marvelous! five years ago, I took a giant leap into the unknown, accepting all the risk that went with such a leap, in an effort to create the life I wanted. It was scary, to be sure, and I sometimes still worry about the tiniest details at 2 a.m., but for all of the challenges, there really are greater joys. People want to be a part of something positive and creative. They want to be inspired to create the life they want. When I see you at Marvelous! events and hear your stories, I know we are doing something good and right together, and I am so pleased about that.
Of the many people who have helped me make Marvelous! the magazine it is today, five women have had exceptional influence on the pages you read every two months, and I celebrate them here: Estella Tullgren, Lucinda Blair, Christy Keirn, Sarah Knight, and Kelly Householder-Giuliano. How wonderful it has been for me to be surrounded by these girlfriends who are so generous with their time, talent, advice, writing, and enthusiasm. With a grateful heart I share five things I love about each of them, and their answers to my request for them to share five things every woman should have, their five best pieces of advice, five wishes, five favorite words, and five local women who inspire them—a celebration of fives. Thank you, girls!
— Deb Peterson
5 Things I Love About CHRISTY KEIRN
Christy is the queen of connections! I’ve never seen anything like it. She can connect people like nobody else I know. All of her jobs have had something to do with putting people and businesses together, and she has three giant rotary Rolodex systems plus a basket full of business cards to show for it.
“I have never gotten rid of a single one,” she says of her stash of cards.
The collection started with her very first job out of college in 1985 selling ads for a newspaper in Mississippi. When she moved on to Mississippi Magazine, she called on accounts all over the state and continued to save every card she received.
“Those cards became my life,” she says.
After leaving the magazine, Christy became the first director of the chamber of commerce in Canton, Mississippi. More connecting. And then she married Bud Keirn and moved to Minneapolis, where she knew no one.
“I realized how important all those connections were,” she says.
She went to work for Children’s Miracle Network planning special fundraising events, and she was back to collecting cards, and people. When she and Bud moved back to Mississippi, she worked for the Center for Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi, the National Association of Senior Living and the McComb School District, where Pat Cooper’s program The Safety Net: The McComb Nine Component Coordinated School Health, Wellness and Safety Model was recognized nationally for its effectiveness in increasing test scores and graduation rates, and decreasing teen pregnancies, juvenile crime rates, and suspensions. Christy was in charge of community and parent involvement.
Before Bud retired in Arkansas, which brought the couple to Mountain Home, he bought an old corner grocery store in McComb and turned it into a neighborhood pub called Buddy’s. It was the go-to place to meet people for conversation. More connections and more cards. Today Christy is the director of public relations, fundraising, community education and special events at The Vada Sheid Community Development Center at Arkansas State University-Mountain Home. Cards, cards, and more cards. She finds people jobs, life partners, and, in my case, story ideas. She is full of them, and she often writes the stories herself, beautifully, and I love that about her.
2. Photography Talent
Christy is also the queen of photographs. She has her picture taken with everyone who performs at The Sheid. She doesn’t care if it happens at the end of an exhausting 14-hour day or in the middle of a chaotic and sweaty afternoon setup. She records the occasion with a smile and she has some fantastic mementoes as a result.
Five years ago, Christy participated in a 52-week self-portrait photography project that knocked my socks off. She learned a lot about her camera and the art of photography, and shared it all with us on Facebook. Thank you, girlfriend, for giving us a peek inside your world.
I can always count on Christy to tell me the hard truth, even when it’s difficult. Girlfriend, she once said, I don’t want to see things in the magazine that I can Google. I want to see local women, local homes. She is the reason we have started featuring a home in almost every issue. Christy is one of the Marvelous! Muses, my girlfriend advisory board, and this is one reason why.
Christy also said to me: People don’t know what Marvelous! Minis are (they are mini events for girlfriends at Marvelous! World Headquarters in Cotter in case you don’t know about them). When I told her defensively that I had 200 names on my email newsletter list, she laughed. She made me guess how many people she has on her list. 2,000? Nope. 20,000! Point made. Send an email to email@example.com to be included (shameless promotion here in honor of Christy’s legendary connections).
This woman will tell you what you need to hear, but that doesn’t mean she is heartless. She is exactly the opposite, so full of heart that she’s willing to take the risk of speaking the truth. It also doesn’t mean that she is tough-skinned. She’s actually super sensitive, and I love that about her, too.
She is like the Energizer Bunny. I can’t believe the hours this woman puts in. She will spend a full day in her office, manage an event at The Sheid in the evening, and might very well be in Mississippi before the next morning for yet another event. I think she doesn’t sleep.
5. Speaking Ability
Christy is fantastic on her feet, speaking to groups small or large. She has been the national president of Junior Auxiliary. As someone who has always dreaded speaking in public, I love this about her. She had good training. Christy’s mom, Suzanne Case, taught forensic speech, debate, and government. She mentored at-risk kids.
“I can still hear my mother coaching me,” Christy says.
Christy’s grandmother, Christine Spell (for whom Christy is named), was equally influential. She taught British literature and Spanish, and traveled the world, often taking Christy with her. While other kids were enjoying camp during summer break, Christy’s time with her grandmother included researching and writing book reports. Until the day Christine died, at nearly 100, she corrected and returned every letter Christy ever sent her.
Christy’s contributions to Marvelous!
• Wrote Silver Dollar City’s Culinary & Craft School in February/March 2012
• Featured in a story about charm bracelets, Charming Memories, written by Marvelous! intern Pamela Backus, in April/May 2012
• Wrote Marvelous! Voices: Books That Bind Us in December 2012/January 2013
• On the cover of August/September 2013
• Wrote Girlfriend Getaway: Paint & Pour at Big Cedar in August/September 2013
• Wrote Get Your Degree Online and Have it All: Two Women Prove You Can Balance Work, Life, and School Online in August/September 2013
• Wrote The Art of Ava Obert in June/July 2014
• Wrote Top of the Rock: Over-the-Top Fantastic! in August/September 2014
• Wrote Chickens, Purses & Glass, Oh My!: A Girlfriend Getaway in Little Rock in December 2014/January 2015
• Wrote Samantha Sherry: The Power in Freeing Your Creative Spirit in June/July 2015
• Wrote Julia Gist: Influencing Health Through Education in October/November 2015
5 Things I Love About ESTELLA TULLGREN
1. Bella’s Table Column
Estella has written Bella’s Table for Marvelous! since the second issue in April/May 2011, and her column has become one of the most popular features in the magazine. I’m so grateful! For every issue, Estella comes up with her own recipes and prepares them at her own expense for a photo shoot. We don’t have details to share yet, but we are researching the possibility of a Bella’s Table cookbook for all of you foodies out there.
2. Cooking Talent
She’s a really good cook! I get to taste almost everything she makes after our photo shoots, and sometimes take a little something home for Tim. Estella’s culinary skills come from her mother, a German war bride who became a naturalized citizen in the 50s.
Estella’s dad was Hispanic, so her mother combined Southwest American and European cultures at home in the kitchen while learning both Spanish and English.
When their mother went to work, Estella and her sisters, Irene (Queenie) and Doris, took over the cooking.
“It came naturally,” Estella says.
Her favorite meal from childhood is beef rouladen (thinly sliced beef wrapped around onions, bacon, mustard, and sometimes a pickle), braised red cabbage, kloesse (a German potato dumpling), and a simple salad.
She graciously opens her home to guests on a regular basis. She says it’s only two or three times a month. If you ask her husband, Chris, he’ll tell you it’s more like once a week. Her parents loved entertaining, and their hospitality is evident in their daughter. While in the military, Estella’s parents often had friends over for meals, holidays, and picnics.
“There were always people sitting around our table enjoying food,” Estella says. “My mother always had something baked just in case someone stopped by.”
Today, her favorite way to entertain is to invite four to eight friends for dinner on the patio, cooking with Chris in their outdoor kitchen. She loves that Chris is her biggest fan, always asking what’s for dinner or dreaming of pancakes for breakfast as they call it a night.
I love that she’s a diplomat. Estella is gracious and sensitive. She’s discreet. You know that she is always trying to do the right thing, with everyone’s interests in mind. She attributes this to her years of teaching vocational business education at the college level. She has a masters degree in adult and vocational education from the University of Arkansas and worked for the Arkansas Department of Education for a time.
“I loved my students,” Estella says. “Teaching taught me diplomacy and fairness.”
Those qualities make her very good at her job as the planned giving officer for the Baxter Regional Hospital Foundation at Baxter Regional Medical Center, a job she’s held for nine years. She helps people include the hospital in their estate plans.
“It’s so important for ensuring our hospital can remain independent,” she says.
I love the combination of the twinkle in her eye and the rasp in her voice. When Estella is tickled, she has a way of smiling at you that is adorable, like she’s up to something when you know she isn’t. And then she laughs with her raspy voice, and you are completely charmed. That rasp comes from a near miss.
At 24, Estella was engaged to be married and teaching school when she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. She went in for a biopsy, and when she awoke, her parents and fiancé were standing over her, and she thought, “Oh oh.”
The doctors had performed surgery to remove a cancerous lymph node attached to her thyroid. They had to cut part of her vocal cord in the process. She had no chemotherapy or radiation. She did have a new voice.
“I used to have a really loud voice,” Estella says.
Anyone familiar with her characteristic voice today surely celebrates that we have her with us 40 some years later.
5 Things Every Woman Should Have:
A favorite perfume
A good set of knives
A favorite go-to meal
5 pieces of advice:
Laugh a lot
Be true to yourself
Listen to your mother
Always give thanks
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. We’re all in this world together. Let’s make it a better place to live.
Grow old with Chris
Honor my family and friends
Always have my love of cooking
Have another wire-haired dachshund
Continue to work at being healthy
5 favorite words:
Jammerschlappen (because it’s a funny-sounding German word)
“What’s for dinner?”
5 Local Women who Inspire Me:
It is virtually impossible for me to name just 5! I meet so many women who inspire me because of the love they have for this community and show it by giving of themselves through their gifts of time, talent and treasures. I learn from all of them.
5 Things I Love About KELLY HOUSEHOLDER-GIULIANO
It is more difficult than you might imagine to take great photos of people. There are so many variables, including lighting, clothing, setting, props, and “the pose.” I will be eternally grateful that Kelly offered to help me style Marvelous! photo shoots. Ever since she did, the photos in Marvelous! have been far more flattering and creative, our models have been thrilled, and we’ve had a blast. This girl is a lot of fun! Kelly has been a professional model, has worked on Hollywood film crews, and is married to retired producer Peter Giuliano. She knows style, and I love that she shares her sense of it with Marvelous!
A typical photo shoot now involves scouting our location for the best backgrounds (I have lots of goofy photos of Kelly standing in for our model while we get everything set up), setting up studio lights, framing the shot, and coaching the model. Kelly is a pro at helping her models look their very best, which usually means tucking, turning, and hiding certain areas behind arms, and sometimes dogs! She knows all kinds of handy tricks. Did you know you can minimize the little sag under your chin by putting your tongue on the roof of your mouth before the shutter clicks?
I am so grateful for Kelly’s incredible generosity. She shares so much of herself with the magazine that Tim Zikowsky, a Facebook friend, once commented that he couldn’t find her in one issue. She styles photos, writes stories, teaches a Marvelous! Mini on how to look your best in photos, and serves as a Marvelous! Muse. She is a volunteer extraordinaire.
3. Writing Talent
She writes! Kelly says she has no formal training in writing, aside from good grades in English, so her talent for writing is natural. She attributes this to her love of talking.
“I can talk to anybody,” she says. “I love to talk, and writing is like talking on paper.”
One of my favorite stories in the magazine is Kelly’s article about her own life, told with candor and from the heart, The Art of Letting Life Flow, in the June/July 2014 issue. Her writing is genuine and sometimes very funny.
I absolutely love how incredibly goofy Kelly is! If you have the good luck to be at an event with her and her childhood friend, local woman Nan Quinney, you are in for a goofy treat. “Good weird?” Kelly might ask you if you comment on their weirdness. Oh yes, good weird.
Her sense of humor comes from her dad, Jim Householder, and especially from her grandfather, Roy Householder.
“At my dad’s family reunions we laugh so hard we cry,” she says.
His family is delighted by sarcasm, Kelly says, an art she didn’t understand as a child, but learned to love as she grew up around it.
“I appreciate the cleverness in it, the art of sarcasm,” she says now. “It breaks the ice. Life is challenging enough. Laughing is important. I try to make life lighter whenever I can.”
She is as comfortable sipping cocktails in high heels with movie execs as she is drinking wine, or cinnamon Fireball whiskey, with girlfriends wearing cowboy boots in the woods. I love that about her. Her ability to hold her own and look the part when she and Peter attend movie events with celebrities might actually be attributed to her love of nature, as odd as that might seem. Much of her childhood was spent running through the woods and creeks of Mountain Home with her sister, Dana.
“I have a fierce sense of independence and adventure,” she says. “I have always felt so connected to nature, and I have very little fear of anything.”
Lucky for us, she shares that sense of adventure in the girlfriend getaway stories she writes. Thank you, Kelly. You are loved!
Kelly’s Contribution to Marvelous!
• Women, Wine and Horses: A Karry Bass Update in February/March 2012
• Meet You in Hardy in February/March 2013
• Marvelous! Voices: Today’s Beautiful Women in June/July 2013
• On the cover June/July 2104
• The Art of Letting Life Flow in June/July 2014
• Painless Breast Health Screenings: The Thermography Option in October/November 2015
• Taught Marvelous! Mini Strike a Pose
5 Things I Love About LUCINDA BLAIR
1. Love of Marvelous!
Lucinda believes in Marvelous! and loves her job as sales director for the magazine, and I feel so lucky that she has been a part of the magazine since its first year. From the very beginning she has maintained a five-year plan, and she is unstoppable. I love that about her.
2. Abundance Mentality
She has an abundance mentality, even when times are tough. Lucinda has had great wealth in her life and she has struggled at times, but she has a heart of gold and believes there is enough to go around. She says yes to opportunity! She will tell you that a full-page ad in Marvelous! will be worth far more than your investment, and she means it in her very soul.
3. Positive Nature
Lucinda is one of the most resilient and positive people I know. She doesn’t let anything get her down. When faced with challenges, and she’s had more than her fair share, she does everything in her power to make the right things happen, and then she keeps busy with positive activities. You will not find Lucinda moping. Ever.
This is especially remarkable because she has known the heartache of losing not only one child, but two. Her baby boy, Nathaniel, died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome when he was just 10 weeks old. In 2010, she and husband Don lost their son, Todd, to a heart attack. He was 44. The couple has two other children and five grandchildren. Natalie, 32, lives in Cincinnati, and Matthew, 31, lives here in Mountain Home.
Lucinda is resilient in other ways as well. She once called me to say she fell in her home and split her knee cap open. Even typing those words is excruciating. The incident barely slowed her down. Another day, I learned she had been stricken with a very bad case of Bell’s Palsy, a paralysis of one side of the face. It, too, was extremely painful. She didn’t skip a beat! And she didn’t hide. She kept her appointments wearing sunglasses and joking about her crooked Elvis smile. Many people recover fully from Bell’s Palsy within six months, but Lucinda did not. Today, she still suffers from partial paralysis. Her acceptance of it and attitude about it make me love her even more. By the way, Lucinda is a huge Elvis fan!
4. Love of People
She loves people. As an introvert myself, it’s always a little amazing for me to watch people like Lucinda who love everybody and can talk to anybody.
“I just love people, especially old people” she says. “I love their stories and history. Their values are firm and real. I want to know how people met and what brought them to Mountain Home.”
She once owned a pie shop in the 80s, the Apple Tree Pie Shop, in Fort Worth, Texas. Where better to dish with happy people? There’s a chance this side of Lucinda is an extension of the ice cream socials her parents held after church. They often had lots of guests around their table.
5. Wide World View
She has traveled the world and loves experiencing different cultures. Her world view is expansive, inclusive, and first hand. This girl from Magazine, Arkansas has dined with royal families, covered her head with a scarf in order to boss around men in the patriarchal Middle East, worked for various banks and British Airways, and for many years served as president of the American Women of Riyadh, raising money for local charities. She has lived in California, Fort Worth, Houston, Washington D.C., Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Dubai. She and Don have been back in Mountain Home on the Blair farm since 2007.
5 things every woman should have:
A good friend or friends
Love of life
A positive attitude
A great handbag
5 pieces of advice:
Surround yourself with people who are positive, active, and fun.
Love like you are loved.
Respect the opinions of others.
Travel and experience other cultures.
Make every day the best day.
To have good health
To have peace and serenity
To learn something new every day
To smile and hug someone who needs you
To always be kinder and more loving to people
5 favorite words:
Elvis (photo of this)
5 local women who inspire me:
Barbie Graham — she is real, smart, generous, gracious, and has integrity.
Donna McMullen — she is strong, loving, supportive, kind, and beautiful.
Robin Hawkins — she is warm, a survivor, a great example to others, and community minded.
Deb Peterson — she is creative, bright, involved with projects that help the community, independent, and an example of how you can create the life you want. She is supportive of women and their goals.
The Women of Marvelous! — Jennifer Porter is loyal, broad-minded, independent, loves her family and friends, and supports her community. She’s a hard worker. Brenda Allen is a survivor, strong, beautiful in spirit and always there for her friends. She is always willing to take on new projects for charity. Renae Schocke is intelligent, organized, generous, kind, and is a great supporter of community projects.
5 Things I Love About SARAH KNIGHT
1. Love of Magazines
Sarah has a passion for the publishing industry, and her enthusiasm is catchy. Her senior year in graphic design at Eastern New Mexico University, the school’s annual graphic design magazine went from being national to international, and she was off to good start. Just three months after graduating and moving to Jonesboro, where her parents lived, she landed a job as a graphic designer with Vicki Vowell at AY Magazine in Little Rock. The stars were aligning for Sarah. Having started Marvelous! with very little graphic design experience, I have a great appreciation for her talent, which leads me to No. 2.
2. Design Talent
Design takes a special eye. Sure, you can learn the elements of good design, but to be really good at it, you need a certain gift. Sarah’s natural talent for design is evident immediately upon viewing her work. When she started doing the layout for Marvelous!, the improvement in our quality and professionalism truly wowed me, and I love her for that. I feel so lucky that she is part of our team.
“I love publication design,” Sarah says. Amen.
The great news for you is that Sarah is now doing freelance design work. She has a fantastic portfolio! You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 501-766-0859.
3. Publishing Knowledge
In addition to enthusiasm and talent, I love that Sarah has a good head for the publishing business. I’m a little embarrassed to admit that when I first met her to discuss her possible involvement in Marvelous!, there were times when I stared at her blankly. I had absolutely no idea what she was talking about! I can laugh about it now, and I cut myself a little slack for having learned as much as I did on my own, but thank goodness for Sarah and her willingness to teach me! She has helped me gain a better understanding not only of magazine design but of good practices that lead to a profitable business.
4. Photography Skills
On top of everything else, Sarah is also a very good photographer, and I love that I can rely on her to fix problem photos I’ve taken myself. Photographing food is especially challenging, and while Estella and I have improved our Bella’s Table photos over the years, we’re excited about involving Sarah more in the future. A bonus for all of us!
I love that Sarah and her husband, Chris, the technology coordinator for the Cotter School District, have shared with all of us their little angel Clark and his challenging first five years. Clark has Down Syndrome with several serious complications. In 2013, a respiratory infection landed him in Children’s Hospital in Little Rock for several months and resulted in surgery for a tracheostomy tube that he still needs all day and night because of a softness in his tissue called malacia.
“Our understanding is, like all children, he will grow out of his malacia in his own time,” Sarah says.
Clark’s struggle has had an impact on Sarah and Chris that only a handful of us can understand, but it’s easy to see the strength in Sarah that must come from loving such a special little boy. In her words, this is what Sarah says about raising Clark: “He has helped me achieve a whole new level of patience, one that sometimes comes with wine 🙂 He reminds me that you should never take anything for granted, and to appreciate the little things in life. I’m not going to lie, there are days I reminisce about our life before, but I’m thankful for the perspective that this chapter in our lives has given us. It’s changed our priorities, our bond, and our love for one another in a way I will never be able to put into words.
“There were several times I wondered if Clark would ever get to come home. That changes you more than a person realizes. It changes the decisions you make for yourself and family for years to come. Clark is the reason why I do what I do, even now as I start a new chapter in my career, he is my driving force.” M! February/March 2016
5 things every woman should have:
A kind heart
Belief in herself
5 best pieces of advice:
Prepare for tomorrow today
Never burn a bridge
Know that you are always replaceable no matter how good you may be at what you do
Don’t judge people by their appearance
Be more conscious of purchases in order to save money and be wiser with my spending.
Get up early to have time to myself to reflect on the day ahead.
Take a ‘me’ day once a month.
Get back to walking again. Walking is meditation for me, it helps me to reset.
Read more books.
5 favorite words:
5 inspiring women:
It is hard to pull out five women in this community. There are so many in the area that work to help each other and dig in when things are tough. They never ask for the spotlight, but rather what is next to be done.