The Boatwright – a play by Bo Wilson


The Boatwright. Only two actors and the entire story takes place in the garage around a boat. A really good story.” Robert Wilcox, while photographing dress rehearsal.

With over 38 plays under his belt, professional award winning playwright, Bo Wilson, is no novice to the stage. His current play, The Boatwright, is making its premier debut for the first time on any stage in Grand Rapids at the Grand Rapids Civic Theatre. Starting this evening, Sept. 12, 2014, this new play arrives in our community just in time for the ArtPrize kick off. Although this play is not considered an ArtPrize entry, it’s another wonderful new addition to the art world and will be showcased on the Civic Theatre’s stage.

The Boatwright is a 2 person, 3 character play about a widowed retired police officer, Ben, his neighbor’s son, Jaime, and a boat that they set out to build together. All three characters create an unexpected bond all while discovering the trials and tribulations of building a boat fit to sail across the Atlantic Ocean.




“At some point in everyone’s life we all want a boat, we all are looking for a way to get away,” according to Wilson. “At the middle point of many people’s lives they feel compelled to push themselves, some run and some take up boating.” says Bo.

Although I don’t consider myself quite middle aged yet, I can certainly relate to reaching a point in my life and asking, is this all that I am ever going to do?  Is this the life I want to be leading? About two years ago I took up running. Like the main character, Ben, in the play, I felt the need to push myself, look at the world from another vantage point.

Wilson purposefully made his characters generationally different instead of portraying them as peers because he felt they’d be more interesting to the audience. He wanted to create the dynamic between an older, middle class personality and a younger, technology driven young man for an interesting contrast. Wilson says,“ The play is funny but not a comedy.” The audience is sure to see many humorous nods at technology and how its effect shows up in these two characters from different generations.


The third character of the play is a boat. Five different boats were designed and created for Civics’ production of The Boatwright. Nancy Brozek, Civic Theatre’s Director of Development and Community Relations said’ “The boat is an interesting anchoring point between the two men.”

While Wilson’s own experiences with boating does not go much beyond tooling around once on a 10ft sea snark of his own and reading Treasure Island. He too can relate well to the character relationship dynamic because his own son Zack James, was 15 when Wilson wrote the play.

Civic Theater is known for amazing 60 plus person casts staring in larger than life exuberant musicals and Bruce Tinker, the executive and artistic director, hopes to bring another flavor to the stage with this two person cast play. The same amount of researching went into their decision to bring Mary Poppins and South Pacific to the stage.  This year’s dedication to a terrific season,

Grand Rapids has been wowed with many well-known musicals and plays and the Civic Theatre hopes that its community continues to trust us to bring less known, but just as talented art to the stage that will entertain them.”, says TinkerWilson’s goal is to have his audience enjoy the characters, Ben and Jamie, because he wrote them to characters that might be a guy you know.

For upcoming performances: The Boatwright runs now through September 25th.
For tickets:

Hungerford Nichols Announces Two New Shareholders


Photos Bryan Esler

Last week, we joined our friends, Hungerford Nichols CPAs + Advisors, at the Blue Water Grill to celebrate the election of Adriane Schrauben and Doug Schmitt to the position of Shareholder.


Both Adriane Schrauben and Doug Schmitt began their accounting careers with Hungerford Nichols and have advanced within the firm. “The addition of Adriane and Doug aligns well with our mission, vision and values and we are excited to have them as part of the leadership team.” says Rick Chrisman, CPA, MST, Managing Shareholder of the firm. “Our firm continues to grow as a result of our constant focus on preparing our next generation of leaders for the future. We believe that growth creates opportunities for all and this is reflected within our succession plan.”






Adriane specializes in the area of School District Auditing as well as heading up the Estate and Trust group within the firm. With over fourteen years in public accounting, she provides her clients with services including audit of financial statements, preparation of individual and trust tax returns and tax planning. Adriane is the third female Shareholder in the firm.


Shareholder Jerry Nichols shares, “Although her technical expertise is one of her strong suits, Adriane is successful in her ability to build long-term relationships with the people she serves. She is able to develop these relationships by focusing on solutions to the problems clients have.”

Adriane earned both her Bachelor and Master of Business Administration degrees at Grand Valley State University and is a national presenter of technical topics for the Association of School Business Officials International conference. She has also authored articles on estate planning.


Doug specializes in servicing closely-held businesses in the manufacturing, petroleum and retail industries.  He has twenty four years of experience in business accounting and tax services, including audit, review and compilation of financial statements, tax return preparation and tax planning strategies. Doug works out of both the Grand Rapids and Greenville offices and manages the Greenville office operations.

Doug has consistently demonstrated a strong commitment to quality. His leadership, hard work and attention to detail have contributed significantly to our continued growth and success. We look forward to his continued success in his new role.” says Tom Prince, CPA, MBA, Shareholder.

Doug earned his Bachelor of Business Administration at Grand Valley State University.


Hungerford Nichols CPAs + Advisors is a full-service CPA firm with offices in Grand Rapids and Greenville, MI. The firm provides accounting, business advisory, tax return preparation, tax planning, auditing, financial planning and IT advisory services with an emphasis on closely-held and family-owned businesses. The firm also services Governmental entities, Not-for-Profit Organizations and Employee Benefit Plans.  Hungerford Nichols has grown to become one of the largest locally-owned, independent CPA firms in West Michigan.  Visit their website at and join them on Facebook


Stellafly Recap of Restaurant Week Grand Rapids 2014

Restaurant Week
 came to Grand Rapids mid-August, and wrapped up last Sunday, August 24. Every year, Restaurant Week Grand Rapids encourages local restaurants to participate and celebrate the “Art of Dining Out” by offering earth-to-table menu creations from scores of restaurants.

Stellafly sent out a team of willing writers and photographers to check out three different restaurants in the Grand Rapids area that were participating in Restaurant Week: Tre CuiginiRezervoir Lounge and Cork Wine & Grille


Tre Cugini
Sparkly Stellafly / photos Jason Hite

I had the pleasure of visiting Tre Cugini along with Jason Hite and Leah Bekins to try out their offerings. We were all first-timers at this great spot in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids.

In one word: AMAZING.


If you’ve never been to Tre Cugini, it is located on Monroe Center, across from the Grand Rapids Art Museum. This four-time winner of Grand Rapids Magazine’s Award of Excellence provides a very authentic Italian cuisine experience with Executive Chef Daniel R. Chudik at the helm in the kitchen. This small, intimate space also includes a large space for events such as wedding receptions and the wine dinners that are offered by the restaurant throughout the year.

After being seated we were quickly greeted by our server for the evening, Sara, who provided excellent recommendations, service, and was a true delight the entire time we were there. Tre Cugini offered a 3-course meal for the extraordinary price of $28 during Restaurant Week, and our group tried several of the dishes listed.

Antipasto (Appetizer) Course

Thanks to the recommendation of Sara, all three of us at the table selected the Bruschetta for our appetizer course and agreed it was hands down the best we had ever had. Toasted crostini is topped with house-made ricotta cheese, fresh tomato, arugula, and balsamic vinegar—it was truly extraordinary.


Secondo (Main) Course

Like the first course, the second course provided equally difficult decisions. The menu was full of wonderful options, from Eggplant Terrine to the Four Cheese Ravioli. Leah chose the ravioli and Jason and I both selected the Cavatelli Pasta with Sausage and Spinach. All the pasta is made in house as was the sausage. It was evident by the quiet moment at the table that everyone enjoyed their dishes a great deal. Each one was bursting with flavor and it felt as if we were actually in Italy.




Dolce (Dessert)

It was hard to believe we actually had room to eat dessert after the first two wonderful courses, but we could not resist the house made Lemon Pudding Cake (me), house made chocolate Gelato (Jason), and Sicilian Cannoli with sweet ricotta cheese and chocolate chips (Leah). Each of these was the perfect way to end our delicious meal.

On behalf of all of us, I would like to say Bravissimo! to Chef Dan, Sara, and the entire staff of Tre Cugini for the amazing dining experience. We will most certainly be back.




Be sure to visit Tre Cuigini on their website:


Rezevoir Lounge
Eve Gardner / photos Bryan Esler

The community of Grand Rapids continues to come together to put on events that are enticing to every demographic in this growing city. Most recently, I had the opportunity to experience Grand Rapids’ third annual Restaurant Week. And, the timing couldn’t have been more perfect – two days before the Michigan Titanium Triathlon.

As an endurance athlete, I sometimes feel as if there is not enough food that can fit on one plate – or three – to replace the number of calories I intentionally burn each day. While dining with a friend at the Rezevoir Lounge, one of the local businesses participating in Restaurant Week this year, my expectations were exceeded. The three courses I chose were all delicious and seemed strategically designed to pack a flavorful punch to my appetite – something not easily done!

The over-simplified menu, designed specifically for Restaurant Week, made making the decision of what to order much, much easier. In my opinion, there is nothing more damning than attempting to choose just one plate to enjoy when the menu is chocked full of mouth-watering entrée options. With only three plate options for each of the three courses included, I felt confident in each of my choices while simultaneously never feeling as if I was sacrificing the other options on the menu. Furthermore, having specific options for Vegetarians, Vegans and even those with gluten allergies was reassuring; as a Vegetarian myself, I didn’t feel excluded from this community-wide event.

My dinner included a Kale salad with a toasted fennel seed and agave vinaigrette,  a Spicy Vegetable Alfredo and Brown Rice Penne and concluded with the French 75. The Kale salad was nothing short of delicious or interesting – the agave vinaigrette dressing balanced each bite, not-too-sweet and not-too-tart.  The Spicy Vegetable Alfredo was a step above any other pasta I have tasted, especially for an Alfredo-type pasta. The jalapenos add the perfect kick to the dish while the noodle-to-sauce ratio was spot on – I didn’t feel as if I was eating a bowl of Alfredo soup and noodles, like normal. And, the French 75 for desert was … well, my taste buds freaked out in excitement in a way that I would never be able to put to words. The tartness of the sparkling wine gin sorbet and the sweetness of the Michigan cherry syrup made the perfect pairing – I almost licked the martini glass when I was finished.








It’s not often I finish a meal at a restaurant perfectly satisfied, both in taste and in volume of food. Thankfully, the Rezevoir Lounge met and exceeded every expectation I had. And, while the food was appetizing, the atmosphere was equally enjoyable. From the lighting to the hand-crafted beer selection list and the exposed brick wall, the establishment gave off a vibe that emanated a laid back comfort. Although a bar setting, families were warmly welcomed.

Rezevoir Lounge on the web:


Cork Wine and Grille
Nancy Agrillo and Michael Meilock / photos Michael Meilock

2014-08-23 07.01.40


Every plate was wiped clean- and not just because we are 2 soon-to-be Ironman triathletes fueling up for a race. The food was delicious.

Cork Wine and Grille’s menu for restaurant week combined some standard favorites with surprising creations. The Watermark Salad blends mixed greens with a flavorful medley of dried cranberries, strawberries and candied pecans. The Stone Fruit pizza, however, took the first course to a whole new stratosphere. Who would have thought a combination of apricot, peaches, plums and olive oil on a crust would result in such delishousness? And then there’s the impressive wine selection.



Servers Aaron and Dani recommended the perfect wine choices, a Sauvignon Blanc and a Malbec. The main course of Southwest Chicken with fingerling potatoes pleasantly surprised with the touch of black bean puree. The Peach Bourbon Glazed Trout, slathered in a sweet glaze, paired nicely with the bacon and spinach accompaniments.



The Cane Berry Cheesecake would impress even a cheesecake snob (which I am). Server Dani recommended the Peanut butter Pie. Its luscious peanut butter filling topped with chocolate ganache was reminiscent of a top shelf Reese’s peanut butter cup.


Cork Wine and Grille on the web:

The Inside Dish on Civic Theatre’s Nine to Five: The Musical


When 9 to 5 hit the movie theaters in 1980, I hadn’t seen anything like it. I was a teenager, and I went to see it in a West Michigan suburban movie theater with my middle-aged Canadian mother.

We both laughed ourselves silly throughout the entire film — and we weren’t alone. Everyone else in the movie roared at this now classic movie about three working women (played by Lily Tomlin, Dolly Parton, and Jane Fonda) who take their revenge on their “…sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot” of a boss (played by Dabney Coleman).

If you haven’t seen 9 to 5, go see it for the laughs. Nine to Five: The Musical will be playing at the Grand Rapids Civic Theatre from May 30 to June 15. Even if you’ve seen it at the movies or on TV, go anyway; because this very funny story is now a full-blown live musical with new lyrics and music by the phenomenal Dolly Parton.

The Grand Rapids Civic Theatre production will be directed by Penelope Notter, with Musical Director Charles Hutchins, and Choreographers William Schutte and Torry Thomas. Actors Emily Diener, Jenny Fischer, and Samantha Gauthier will play the three female leads. Actor David Duiven will perform the role of the villainous Mr. Frank Hart, Jr.




Like all groundbreaking stories, 9 to 5: The Musical is more than just good, plain fun. The play helps facilitate extremely helpful discussions about sexism and harassment in the workplace.

After seeing the movie back in 1980, my mother told me she had worked with villains just like Mr. Frank Hart in Canada, and later in the States. Everyone had. And because I was just about to enter college and the workforce, I asked my mom if guys like this cartoonish villain still existed.

Without 9 to 5, a mother-daughter conversation about real world workplace dangers might have have been prickly, tense, or preachy — but with the movie? The comedy bridges generational and cultural gaps in a way that a conversation alone cannot.

“The Civics’ role in the community is to entertain and to create community discussion.” show director Penelope Notter said. “This play is hilarious: it will entertain but it also shows a slice of history.”

Most people who see the play will cringe and laugh at the over-the-top, in-your-face sexism and harassment performed by actor David Duiven, who plays the evil Mr. Frank Hart, Jr.

Is there anything redeemable about this character at all? Is there anything good about him?

“Nope, not anything,” said Duiven, made up to look eerily like Dabney Coleman, down to his fake but completely realistic 1970’s porn star mustache. “He’s just a bad guy.”

Duiven continued:

“My character in 2014? This is sexual harassment. I am a bad, bad man. I need to be fired. I need to be told ‘it’s not appropriate’. I need to be told how to respect women. So I think it really makes a really strong statement in 2014.”




Today, many people in the workplace have learned to not say and do things that are as overtly sexist as the egregiously awful Mr. Frank Hart, Jr. They’ve gotten the message and received the “sensitivity” training. Instead of nearly bludgeoning women to death with overtly sexist remarks and actions, today is the era of ‘death by a million paper cuts’. Microaggressions and an oppressively systemic patriarchy are today’s insidious and frustrating forms of workplace evil.

At work, women might not get as many overt death or rape threats as we might have in 1980, but Bonnie Nawara, CEO of GROW (Grand Rapids Opportunities for Women) notes that equality in the workplace is still elusive.

“In the 1980’s, there were new guidelines for equal employment opportunities for women,” said Nawara. “The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) was put forward in the 1970’s, but it needed 38 states to be ratified. And it never was ratified.”

Nawara shared a few poignant statistics. Currently, women are the majority owners of nearly 1 in every 3 U.S. firms. Women employ 7.8 million people, providing 1 in 7 privately held jobs, and over 1 in 16 in jobs nationwide.

GROW exists as a non-profit organization in Grand Rapids that helps women start and grow businesses. The organization does this largely through education, networking, and counseling. And yet, GROW felt the need to open a micro-loan program in 2012.

“A lot of banks don’t like financing small (women-owned) businesses, just because they don’t like taking a chance,” said Nawara.




In 2014, that old line about ‘women coming a long way’ seems quaint. Rather, covert sexism and systems that support a patriarchal workplace and deny women equal opportunity continue to make giant leaps forward.

That’s one reason why the appeal of 9 to 5 remains timeless. Even though it’s technically a period piece set in the 1970’s, you can look beyond the big hair and shoulder pads to see that many of the painfully sexist attitudes and behaviors are still with us today.

In the play, the three lead actresses fantasize about killing their obnoxious boss in ways that are every bit as spectacular and over-the-top as the sexual harassment they endure on the job. Today, as in 1980, these revenge fantasies are worth having — and well-worth watching. They’re comical, but they are also cathartic.

By all means, see 9 to 5: The Musical for the laughs — but don’t be surprised when it stirs up vivid, real-world, discussions both before and after the show.

For tickets:

Seva Yoga – Something for Everyone



One of the many reasons we love Seva Yoga, in East Grand Rapids, is that their studio offers a little something for everybody. Students come to Seva to meet, learn, and practice the many disciplines of Yoga. The owners, Tobi and Melissa Tungl, believe that Yoga is simply too vast to narrow offerings down to a single discipline and it is here that students can explore and discover the practice that works for each individual.





On Saturday May 31st, we joined Seva’s Saturday morning Vinyasa class. However, this wasn’t a typical Vinyasa class. Jeremy Arndt, musician, played live music that complemented the class’ atmosphere taking its students deeper within while his melodies fit with the teachings of the class and the poses.

Jeremy has traveled the world studying different musical traditions and sharing his own music. He crafts his gentle blend of world-music, inspired by his journeys, with the the handpan and other world instruments. Jeremy played  music from his new album, Journeys: Handpan Solo, and other compositions. You can check him out here.


Seva offers a wide variety of classes, including:

Vinyasa: This energizing and empowering class combines pranyama with a continuous flow of asana. Build strength, increase endurance, release tension and find flexibility in this vigorous practice.

Sweet Vinyasa: Everything that you LOVE about Vinyasa, just a little sweeter. These classes focus on the alignment of asana as well as cultivating balance within your life.

Gentle Yoga: A restorative and relaxing practice ideal for new students or anyone wishing to find their center. Perfect for students with chronic symptoms such as muscle joint pain, stiffness, stress and fatigue. A good choice during pregnancy as well.

Hot Vinyasa: For those who like it HOT! This energizing and empowering class combines pranyama with a continuous flow of asana. Build strength, increase endurance, release tension and find flexibility in this vigorous practice. *not recommended during pregnancy

Slow Flow: A slow flow of postures set to music. Strengthen and lengthen in a relaxed way. All levels welcome.

Yin Yoga: A contemplative practice in which participants hold floor postures for longer periods of time while softening the muscles and focusing on the breath. Poses are chosen to stimulate the connective tissues and direct energy, bringing vitality to the entire body while promoting stress relief, meditation and relaxation.

Happy Hour Vinyasa: A fun, fast hour of vinyasa flow set to energizing and uplifting music. Start your weekend off with this exciting, dynamic practice featuring live music monthly to bring great energy into the studio and your life.




Are you a promising Yoga Instructor?

Seva Yoga’s 200-hour Level Foundation Yoga Teacher Training focuses on Ashtanga, moving through Vinyasa and finally flowing into the Seva Yoga practice, our foundational class that makes yoga accessible to all levels.

The next Seva Yoga Teacher Training Shala, with Melissa Tungl begins September 2014!

This program is designed for success as a Yoga teacher and student in mind. Program hours exceed the curriculum hours required by Yoga Alliance and will include workshop topics such as:

The Ethics of Teaching Yoga

Optimal Alignment & Accessible Modifications

a study of the Chakras

an Introduction to Ayurveda

a deep study of Anatomy

For more information or to request the application and catalog please contact


To learn more about Seva Yoga, visit their website: www.

Be sure to like them on Facebook


Everybody, meet Noah: Roberta King’s new memoir, “He Plays a Harp,” is a family love story



Beans for tacos are simmering in a crock pot on the counter as Roberta King and her husband Mike Miesch sit at the kitchen table talking about Noah.

They do this a lot.

Their son Noah died eight years ago at the age of 17 from pneumonia, a complication of a life with cerebral palsy.

But the essence of Noah is all over the place in their pink and white beach house in Muskegon.

His photo is on the refrigerator. His shoes are lined up in his bedroom closet. A couple of his favorite books are still on his bed.

Noah comes to life, in a way, every time his parents talk and laugh about him.

Now, everybody can get to know this kid who had curly blonde hair, a love of Jimmy Buffet and a mischievous streak that once compelled him to pull the school fire alarm.

Consider King’s new memoir, He Plays a Harp,” your introduction.

Everybody, meet Noah.


He once splashed in the Gulf of Mexico with dolphins. He owned one of Jimmy Buffet’s guitar picks. He loved SpongeBob SquarePants cartoons. He appreciated a good hunt for the perfect Halloween pumpkin.

King’s book, published by Principia Media, is mostly a story about how Noah lived.

But it starts out with how he died.

You’ll likely be crying by page 22, when King tenderly, but matter-of-factly, writes how she and Mike gently told their boy goodbye as he died:

“Don’t be afraid, Noah. It’ll be good in heaven, love. You’ll be able to breathe again,” I told him. I thought he might like to know that because his labored breathing and coughing bothered him.

“We’re here with you right now, and we’ll be with you always. Don’t be scared.”

… As Noah journeyed forward to his death, Mike and I held tightly onto each other and to him. Finally, as he drew his last troubled breath, we let the most amazing kid we’d ever known go where he wanted to go. Home.



It’s the most private of moments. Sad, but somehow beautiful. But King would rather laugh with you than cry with you, and much of the book captures the funny family moments that she and Miesch hold dear.

As King and Miesch savor wine and tacos, a bouquet of cheerful daffodils on the kitchen table, there’s lots of laughter.

Remember how Noah would ask what’s for dinner? He’d keep asking, repeatedly, ignoring his mom’s answers until she finally named his favorite — spaghetti.

Remember that time Noah took a huge dump in the airplane bathroom? Miesch carried him from their seats in coach to the bathroom in first class, because it was closer. The stink, his parents tell between fits of laughter, would make your eyes water.

“It was a first-class poop,” Miesch quips with a grin.

“I like talking about Noah,” says King, vice president of public relations and marketing at the Grand Rapids Community Foundation. “It keeps my memories fresh. It keeps him alive.”

“We bring him back,” Miesch says, “with our memories.”

While King’s account of Noah’s final moments brings her readers to tears, the stories of Noah’s life were hardest for her to write.

“His life stories made me cry more than anything else,” she says. “Those were the tender times I spent with him.”

She knows some people might shy away from a book they know deals with the death of a child.

“We have a societal discomfort with death,” King says. “People don’t want to read about it.

“But death is pretty short,” she says. “Life — even if it was short, like Noah’s — is filled with experiences. For it to be a complete book, death has to be part of it. But not all of it.

“I told the things I thought would help people get to know him. To understand why he’s so beloved.”

She pauses, and smiles.

“He was so cute,” she says.




He was also severely disabled. Noah was never able to stand, walk or run. He used a wheelchair since kindergarten. His clenched and shaky hands made it difficult and awkward for him to feed himself.

“Not only does death make people uncomfortable, but disabilities freak people out, too,” King says. In her first draft of the book, she “sugarcoated” Noah’s severe disability, she says.

“Then one of my test readers said, ‘You wouldn’t know that Noah was disabled,’” she says.

So she included more stories about the struggle to get Noah ready to leave the house. The complications of family vacations. The challenge Noah had making good friends.

As she wrote, she felt closer to her son.

“One thing the writing did was help me remember things I had long ago tucked away,” King says. “Then, suddenly, all this good stuff came out. I’m grateful for that gift of greater memory.

“I feel like we were really close all of our lives,” she says, “but I feel even more connected to Noah now than any time since his death.”

Miesch, maintenance manager at Pioneer Resources in Muskegon, says the book is a gift to him, too, preserving his son’s story.

Noah’s bedroom is a place of comfort for Miesch. It remains just the way it was when Noah went to bed there each night.



Miesch walks down the hallway and shows how Noah’s sailboat comforter is still on the bed, and his SpongeBob pillows. Noah’s copies of “Charlotte’s Web” and “The Jungle Book” rest on the bed. His shoes are neatly lined up in the closet.

“His shoes never wore out, because he never walked in them,” Miesch says. “I haven’t wanted to change his room. Once something is gone, it’s gone forever.”

He’s quiet for a minute.

“It’s a way I try to hold on,” he says. “When I go in there, I think about Noah.”

Miesch created the cover art for “He Plays a Harp” years ago, when he and King were dating.

“It represents something like a bigger universe,” he says, walking into the living room to get the original oil pastel art, in a carved black frame.

“When we die, we go somewhere,” he says. “It speaks of that bigger picture.”

The book’s title came from King’s struggle to answer the question she often gets asked: Do you have any children?

Sometimes, to avoid the discomfort that can follow “My son died,” she fibs, and pretends Noah is still alive.

When a woman once started asking about Noah and his interests, King blurted out, “He plays a harp.” No idea where that came from, she says.

She wonders why there isn’t a special word for parents who have lost a child.

King keeps a plastic bag of Noah’s clothes in her dresser drawer.

“Every so often, I’ll open up the bag, just to smell it,” she says. Then she closes it fast, so the air can’t dilute the scent.

Noah had a good smell,” she says.

One more thing to know about Noah.

“Through the book, people are getting to know Noah, who he was,” King says. “Maybe people will read it and be less fearful of people with disabilities, when they realize they live a normal family life.

“It’s kind of a love story,” King muses. “A good family story, about how families cope, that situations like ours are real.

“But mostly,” she says, “I wrote it for myself. I wanted a record of his life. I didn’t want him to pass from this world forgotten.”

For more information and a schedule of book signings and events, visit

King’s debut reading will be at 2 p.m. Saturday, May 3 at the Scolnik Center for Healing, part of Muskegon’s Art of Loss and Hope event.

She’ll also read from and sign copies of her book at a launch party at 2 p.m. Sunday, May 4 at the Richard App Gallery, 910 Cherry Street SE in Grand Rapids.

SEVA — Selfless service.


Seva means ‘selfless service.’ And the teachers, the support staff, and students really embrace that,” said Melissa Tungl.

Melissa and her husband Tobi own and operate SEVA Yoga at 2237 Wealthy Street SE, Suite 120 in the Gaslight Village business district of East Grand Rapids. The studio, now in its eighth year, is well-known in the area. The Tungls took over operations just last year.

But why is Seva Yoga different than a yoga class that you may find online, on video, or even take at your local gym?

“We do a lot of community classes where we take all the funds that we collect and donate it to different parts of need in the community. We’ve donated to Kid’s Food Basket, God’s Kitchen, and Humane Society of West Michigan,” said Melissa.

And that’s just for starters.





At Seva, they support the notion that Yoga should be accessible to everyone regardless of their financial situation. If the pricing structure at Seva is beyond your financial means, please come enjoy the classes simply by making a donation to the studio. Donation meaning “the act of giving”, please simply give what you can afford. 

Melissa Tungl glows when she talks about yoga and her commitment to community. She strongly feels that everyone can find something to love about practicing yoga.

“I have always been interested in yoga and wellness,” she said. “It’s been a path that’s always called to me. It’s a joy and honor to share my enthusiasm with my students. When they’re here, I can see it. And I can feel it. I know that it’s making a difference.”

It was while first living in Caledonia, that Melissa visited many different yoga studios. When she found Seva, she says she finally “found her yoga home”.

“I enjoyed the practice style and the good community here,” she said. “Moving forward, I decided to become a yoga teacher. I took my training here at Seva. I was a teacher here at Seva. And then we bought the studio.”

Beyond the style of practice and the community, Melissa felt assured by the studio’s reputation for excellence. Seva not only holds a State of Michigan propriety school license, but it also offers a rigorous training program to become a Yoga Alliance 200RYT certified Yoga instructor.

“The teachers are really known in the area,” she said. “People who have their certificate from Seva are some of the best.”

The Seva Yoga studio offers a variety of different classes, with different styles, instructors and pacing: something for every body type.

“We offer anything from really gentle yoga, which would be really good for someone who’s got a lot of stress, a lot of anxiety, depression,” said Melissa. “It would be good for people recovering from injury. Gentle yoga is really therapeutic and one of our slower classes. And then we offer everything from that base level all the way up to your really high, Vinyasa, cardio-based hot yoga class for those people who want to really move and really sweat.”





But what about a person who is ‘yoga curious’ but feels too intimidated to drop in for a class?

Melissa sympathizes. She’s been there.

“Oh, man, it’s so hard to get on your mat for the first time,” she said. “It can be really intimidating. You see all these pictures in magazines of these beautiful women just like pretzels, totally, totally unrealistic. And you realize that’s just the marketing of yoga. That’s not really what yoga is.”

So what is yoga? Melissa smiles and offers this suggestion:

“Sit at home. Just sit down. Close your eyes. Take ten deep breathes. Feel that awareness,” she said.

“And that,” said Melissa, “is yoga. Yoga is not the picture on the magazine. It is not the woman with the leg behind her head.”

“It’s that awareness and really deep connection, which is what everyone is looking for. Everyone. And I think that’s why yoga is so popular now.”

The studio also offers drop-in, student, and senior rates; as well as unlimited monthly packages. Weekend training for 200RYT Yoga Alliance certified Yoga instructors begins in September 2014. Visit the Seva Yoga website for more details.

Grand Rapids Community Foundation Recognized for Diversity and Inclusion


This year Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce has chosen Grand Rapids Community Foundation as the recipient of its 2014 Diversity Visionary Award. Created by the Chamber in 2003, the award recognizes an individual or organization for their exemplary efforts, advancements and contributions to ensure diversity, inclusion and equity within their own institution or community.

Grand Rapids Community Foundation has been a true leader in fostering a more welcoming, inclusive and equitable community. We are pleased to honor the organization for their sustained efforts at the board and staff levels as well as their successful track record in making an impact on the behaviors, policies and strategies in the region,” said Rick Baker, Chamber president and CEO.



“This award demonstrates how important inclusion is in continuing to build a vibrant and dynamic community, and it brings attention to the issue. We have devoted, and will continue to devote, our time and commitment to assuring that all voices are heard and all members of our community are at the table. We intend our organizational culture to model equity in everything we do,” said Diana Sieger, Community Foundation president.

“For more than 25 years, Grand Rapids Community Foundation has been deliberately trying to increase diversity and inclusion, internally and with our grantees. When we established our first volunteer committee to review grants, it was intentionally diverse in its make-up. That opened the door for further conversations throughout the organization on this subject,” said Marcia Rapp, vice president of programs and diversity co-champion.

The Community Foundation focus on diversity and inclusion has become part of our organizational culture and involves staff, trustees and grantees. This award comes on the heels of important work that the Community Foundation has been doing to move the issues of diversity, inclusion and cultural competency forward. As an example, over the last few years, three staff teams (of four to five people) participated in year-long statewide cultural competency learning groups with other foundations. “Facilitated by specialists in this area of knowledge, these peer learning groups fanned the fire and created enthusiasm across the organization,” Marcia said. Additionally, all staff and trustees take a personal inventory of their cultural views. This inventory helps determine where each person is on their cultural competency journey.




Recently, the Board of Trustees approved a strong diversity and inclusion policy for use with nonprofits who are applying for general grants. “Our mode is to ‘work with’ not ‘do to’ others, so we are working with community experts to assemble a palette of resources that nonprofits and others can tap for continuous improvement in the area of cultural competence,” Marcia said.

“Each day as I work with donors and the community, the importance of diversity and inclusion becomes more apparent. Although one can grow fatigued along the way, reflecting on the successes provides the energy and determination to keep going. I am honored to be a part of the leadership team at the Community Foundation as we further this work internally and externally,” said Jonse Young, donor services director and diversity co-champion.






Past Recipients of the Diversity Vision Award include:

2013: Faye Richardson-Green, Steelcase Inc.

2011: Bing Goei, Eastern Floral & Goei Center

2009: Warner Norcross & Judd LLP

2007: Cascade Engineering Inc.

2005: James P. Hackett, Steelcase Inc.

2003: Bob Woodrick, D & W Foods



Stress can destroy a 66 ton bridge. What about you?



You hear a ton about stress these days. What can you do to better manage your response to the tension in your life?

Dr. Steven L. Pastyrnak, Division Chief of Pediatric Psychology at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital and Assistant Adjunct Professor at Michigan State University, will offer a practical approach to dealing with stress at a 90 minute event at Grand Rapids Community College (GRCC) on Wednesday, March 12, 2014. “Understanding and Managing Stress” is free and open to the public.

“Everyone feels stress at some point or another,” said Dr. Pastyrnak. “I don’t care if you are a two year old kid or a 102 year old senior, you’ve experienced stress at various points throughout your life.”

Stress is something that impacts all of us.

“What I would say as a clinical psychologist who’s been working with kids for 20 years now, is that ultimately the more stress that people experience, the more other issues develop in their lives: whether it’s physical, emotional, or performance-related,” said Dr. Pastyrnak.

“If we’re dealing with younger kids, we see a lot of physical complaints develop as a result of stress. We see school performance impacted.”

But what about as we get older?

“Not only do relationships and school performance suffer, then occupational performance suffers. How they do at their jobs. How they get along with people. Things like that.”


At the Children’s Hospital for the past 17 years and in his doctoral dissertation, Dr. Pastyrnak has developed expertise in intervention directly related to reducing anxiety and stress. When children are being treated for cancer or some other type of other chronic illness, he and the pediatric psychology team identify the kind of stress a child is experiencing. They can develop recommendations and interventions to help reduce that stress.

Dr. Pastyrnak identifies three pillars of stress: physical, mental, and behavioral.

“First are the physical symptoms that go along with stress. That includes your stereotypical six year old who doesn’t want to go to school and complains of a tummy ache. You can have stomach pains. You can have butterflies in your tummy. You can have your heart racing a little bit. You can have tingling in your hands and your feet. You can have this whole sense of numbness that takes over your body at times. And that can be very much stress related.”

Those are some examples of physical signs. But what’s going on in your head?

“When your body is feeling stressed, then you have a tendency for your mind to try to make sense of why it’s stressed. And that’s where worries come from. And that’s where anxious thoughts come from. ‘Well, I must be stressed because I’m late on my rent. Or I must be stressed because I have a test the next day. Or I must be stressed because this part of my life isn’t going so well.’ And it’s your mind’s attribution to what’s going on that we normally think of as anxiety. We think of it as worries, basically.”

Thirdly, Dr. Pastyrnak addresses the behavioral component of stress.

“The younger kids are, the less likely they’re to be able to communicate their thoughts and their physical symptoms. But more likely, we’re able to see it through their behavior. So ultimately, think of stress as your body’s emotional defense. It’s what triggers your fight or flight response. So kids who tend to withdraw or avoid things, or kids who tend to be more explosive (have tantrums and act out) are experiencing some degree of stress.”

Adult behaviors are often not that different from what Dr. Pastyrnak sees in children.

“If you as an adult have ever avoided anything because you didn’t want to deal with it at the moment, that is a little bit of a stress reaction. You may have avoided it as a way to protect yourself.”

“The reality is that anything that causes a physical change to your body is identified as a stressor. It doesn’t always have to be a bad thing. But your lack of sleep. Your lack of good nutrition. Sometimes your lack of exercise. These are things that can create stress in your body. If you’re fighting off an illness, this can create additional stress in your body and it can come out in different physical and psychological ways.”

However, the doctor emphasizes that stress is primarily physical.

“But then, it becomes psychological or behavior afterwards. And that’s why some people are more prone to stress, and other one are less prone. Just because their bodies don’t respond physically the ways others do.”

“We all have a certain genetic predisposition to experience stress. If we have a very high predisposition and a low amount of stress, we still may have the symptoms of stress. If we have a low predisposition but a high level of environmental things going on, you may be stressed. It’s really that equation that determines how stressed we are in a given situation.”


Beyond sharing an overview of stress, Dr. Pastyrnak plans to make the session interactive.

“We’re going to do some breathing exercises. We’re going to do some muscle relaxation exercises. Anybody interested in coming along should leave their reservations and their tight clothing at the door.”

Although Dr. Pastyrnak has a wealth of clinical experience, he also has personal experience dealing with stress. He and his wife Jennifer (also a psychologist) have two teenagers: Anna, who is 15 going on 16; and Camden who has just turned 17.

“I have two teenage drivers at my house,” said Dr. Pastyrnak.

How is the doctor responding to that stress?

“Y’know, so far, so good,” he said.

Even if you’re not feeling stressed, learn to help someone who is. Attend this free event in room 168 of the Wisner-Bottrall Applied Technology Center on Fountain Street at GRCC from 1:00-2:30 pm on Wednesday, March 12, 2014. For more information, visit the GRCC Psychology Speaker Series web page (