Creating Art and Journals with Ashley

We have two new classes this summer with Ashley, Accordion Books and Art Journaling with Old Books. She shared with us why she loves to journal and how she incorporates art into her journal exercises.

1. You are teaching two classes with NCE this summer; can you tell us more about your upcoming classes?

I am teaching Art Journaling with Old Books and Mixed Media Accordion Books.

The Art Journaling class is a 4-week class. In this class, we will be painting and writing in old books. We will work with writing prompts and I will teach different techniques that I use with my own paintings while letting each person incorporate their own unique creativity. There will be different themes for each week so that we can be sure to get well-rounded information and ideas. Using books is a unique way to do this because it’s easy and if you can’t afford a journal and want to be resourceful, all you need is paint and paintbrushes. Anyone can do it! The reason that I started doing this is because I incorporate writing into my paintings and I began doing smaller versions in sketchbooks and journals. At one point, I had a bunch of older books that I had read and didn’t want to keep and after trying to sell them back to places that wouldn’t take them; I was going to throw them away. But I thought, “I could paint in these and make them into journals!” And that’s what I started doing. That is how I got the idea to teach the content for this class. I taught a few classes at an art store a couple of years ago where we painted in old books and I wanted to teach it again but in a slightly different way, with more structure and by bringing writing into the mix.

With the Mixed Media Accordion Books class, it is a one day class. We will create simple fold-out booklets that will be painted and will have mixed media/collage elements. We will also add little pockets where pictures or little notes can be placed. I like to create small mixed media cards, sometimes with quotes, and we will do that as well. Those can also be placed in the pockets. Little pages can also be added in certain areas on the book so that it can be like a journal as well. I saw a version of these types of books at an art gallery and I wanted to try creating some. I usually keep pictures in some of mine and I like to make them as gifts for other artistic friends. They can make great gifts too!

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2. When did you know you loved creating art and journaling?

I have always been into art in some form. In middle school and high school, I was more into dance and choir, so it was more about being creative with my body itself. Since moving to Nashville, I have fallen in love with Visual Art and Book Arts. And while I am obviously still using my body (hands) to create, I like painting and writing because I have a tangible thing that I can look at and feel when I’m finished. I really knew that I loved art after moving to Nashville and being immersed in it more than I had before. It inspired me to create and still does. I have enjoyed journaling since I was about 8 years old, although then; I only wrote maybe two sentences every few weeks about…probably my cat and my toys. I first really knew that I loved journaling in my late teens when I just had an urge to write and felt better after doing so. I try to keep up more often now, daily or every other day.

3. You have created both classes to focus on art journaling, why do you feel it’s important to have both elements in your particular class?

Both writing and painting are great ways to release and express emotions, whether good or bad. Either one would do the job, but to have both can make what you are creating more powerful. With the writing, I still like to keep it simple and not write too much because that can overwhelm the painting and make it fell contrived. But by adding words to paintings, it sort of solidifies the message that the artist is trying to portray, even if it’s just for them to see. It makes more real whatever it is that they are trying to say or heal. It also looks really cool! The way that I began incorporating the two is that I love writing song lyrics and I play the piano but I have sometimes had a hard time with songwriting. So when I began painting, I wanted to incorporate writing into the paintings as a way to not let my words go to waste, so to speak.

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4. What’s your favorite thing about journaling?

When I journal daily, I feel balanced and peaceful in my life, even if the content is about difficult things that I might be dealing with. I also come up with ideas for writing without trying. I will be free writing and suddenly I will write something that makes me think, “That could be a poem or a song,” and I write it somewhere else to go back to later, and I continue writing in my journal. I love the feeling of writing. I was a nerdy kid who used to ask for extra homework just so I could be writing something.

5. What inspired you to keep a daily journal?

I wanted to be able to remember things and to have a place to express things that I am going through without feeling like someone might judge me or laugh at me. I wanted to have something that was just for me. As a visual artist and writer, I try to exhibit art and read poetry a few times a year and so in that sense, I am literally putting myself out there for critique. And I love that; it can start interesting conversations and debates. But I also need some kind of balance where I can be myself completely, and have that be okay. My journal is always there; open with a fresh new page, welcoming me to just be me. It’s a great way to have a good relationship with yourself and to have compassion for yourself and your journey.

6. If you were to pass your journal down to someone else to see read it, what do you hope they would learn about you?

That I am so many different things. We all are. I sometimes find myself ruminating over things that I have said to other people or things I did that I felt dumb or regretful about and I write it all down. The good stuff and the bad, the funny and the scary, it all goes in my journal. So I would hope that someone would learn that even if I was difficult at times (and I can be) or too excitable, or whatever it is that others try to shame us for being, at least I was trying to live authentically and that all of my quirks and stubbornness and mistakes were making me who I am. Also, and I DO mean to sound cliché, I would want anyone reading my journal to see that as proof that no one is perfect. We all wear masks in different settings, around different people and that’s why journals are so important because if we are willing to be completely open, we can learn about ourselves on a deeper level. And maybe that would inspire someone reading it afterward to accept every part of themselves and to be open.

Also, I would hope that they might learn from my mistakes with men, ha-ha…

7. What can students expect from your classes once it’s over?

• Accordion Books:

To have the tools to create accordion books of different sizes and how to make the book longer, if desired. They can expect to know some techniques to add textures to their art pieces. They will have an accordion book to use as a small journal, photo album or even a travel journal.

• Art Journaling with Old Books:

Students can expect to know how to approach a small painting meant for a journal. They will have painted and written based on different themes and will leave with ideas for future-creating. They can expect to understand how to build a painting and to add writing and materials in a way that doesn’t clutter the page. I hope that they will be encouraged to continue art journaling after the class ends.

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8. How can you encourage some who may be afraid of the “Writing exercises” of this class?

I would tell them, “Don’t think about it.” That is something I find myself saying to at least one person in almost every class I have taught, whether it be just painting or just writing or a mixture of the two. We have jobs, some people have families, a lot of us have several side hustles and so we are often thinking all day long. I try to encourage more feeling. With the writing exercises, I would encourage students to release all pre-judgment because that’s all it is; judging something that hasn’t even made it to the piece of paper or sketchbook. So simply saying, “Don’t think about it,” seems to work. Sadly, “Just Do It” was already taken.

9. Describe your favorite piece of Art Journal or Accordion Book you created?

As far as my favorite art journal piece, I have two pictures from an art journal that were essentially sketches for a bigger painting. On one page, there is a boy who is crying and has a blank look on his face. I have another picture on the page next to that one of a man who is crying and the words, “Boys are taught to cry while strong men remember how” written around him. This turned into a big painting which looks almost exactly the same as the sketches.

And my favorite accordion book….that one is hard. I have a lot, different sizes and mediums (watercolor, acrylic, mixed media, etc.) One of my favorites is one that is about 7 inches tall and about 22 inches wide. On one side, the dominant color is blue and other the other, lime green. There are different color shapes and textures. There are also a few pockets. I have quotes on little cards and I put them in this particular book. I think I like it so much because of its size. There was more to do on this one because I had so much room.

You can register for Art Journaling with Old Books that start on June 6 and Accordion Books starts on July 11.

Dancing and Working Out with Melissa Croushorn

We are so excited to have you with us this summer and to feature you on our blog!


1. Tell our students more about yourself!

I relocated to the Nashville area last summer to be closer to family, after spending the last decade in the Northeast working in performing arts education at The Joyce Theater in NYC, Boston Ballet, and Penn State. I grew up in Southwestern Virginia and have always stayed connected to my southern roots. My family has a strong affinity for athletics, so I was constantly moving as a child - soccer, softball, basketball, dance, gymnastics, swimming. In high school, I got serious about my dance studies and dropped all my sports commitments. Post-college, I shifted from a performer to an educator and really enjoy getting to live “multiple” lives as an artist.

2. You are teaching both Swing Dancing and Basic Principles of Pilates with NCE, is this something you also do professionally?

I completed my initial teaching certifications in Pilates through STOTT PILATES/Merrithew International after experiencing some health issues. I wanted to reconnect with my body in a healthy way and since then have had the opportunity to continue teaching at Pilates Franklin in Cool Springs. In college, I would teach a quick swing dance lesson at wedding receptions to entertain guests while the bridal party was taking photos as well as get people going on the dance floor. Later, I taught Swing as a general education course while a grad student at Florida State - it was really fun to guide undergraduates in building body and relational awareness. I’ve taught it off and on wherever I’ve lived.

3. How did you get started in both Swing Dancing and Pilates?

Some friends in college were really into swing dancing and we had a big student organization hosting dances and training. It was a fun way to spend a Friday night without being out at bars all the time. In high school, one of my teachers suggested I start doing Pilates to build core strength and flexibility without additional impact. My Pilates practice kept me strong and safe as I moved through different dance training and spending a year performing with Florida State’s Flying High Circus.

4. What inspired you to share your passion with the local Nashville community?

I love teaching and being part of an individual’s journey to achieving new things for their health. Pilates is good for everyone and can be modified at any level of fitness, which is why I’m so passionate about increasing exposure and opportunity.

5. When it comes to Swing Dance, what’s your favorite thing about it?

Swing is really fun and a great exercise in effective communication. You have to be willing to step out of your comfort zone but the rewards come pretty quickly once you build a rapport with your partner and move together. Swing dance has a significant place in history; and is a great opportunity to understand socio-political practices regarding the body, gender, and race. Swing dancing releases joy and builds community wherever it is shared.

6. I love Pilates; I had to take it in High School in dance class and learned how such a great workout it is, what are some of the benefits you see in Pilates?

Pilates has a long life span; it is good for everyone from athletes in peak condition to individual’s post-natal recovery. The focus is on achieving the essence of each exercise in a way that balances the individual’s muscle systems, builds strength and mobility. Everyone can find a way to incorporate it into their lifestyle in a way that works for them. 

7.  What is your favorite Pilates exercise and why?

Any kind of spinal rotation always feels good and helps get the body going as it activates nerve pathways in the spine and increases circulation.

8.  What advice do you have for someone who may be a little fearful of trying Pilates for the first time?

It’s about what works for YOUR body; everybody is different and every lifestyle has different stresses on the body. Give yourself permission to drop comparison and find a tension-free way of working. Pilates takes several sessions for its impact to be fully felt and understood. It’s like learning a new language; after one class you wouldn’t expect yourself to be fully fluent. Practice makes progress.

9. What is your favorite thing to do when you are not teaching?

When I’m not in the studio, I love being outside or trying out new healthy recipes.

10. What is your favorite thing about Nashville?

I love that there are so many parks and outdoor recreation options. The creative energy is so strong and diverse which is really exciting to be around.

Register for Melissa’s Basic Principles of Pilates class or get a the wait list for Swing Dancing.

Learning About Collecting & Selling Vintage Costume Jewelry

We interviewed instructor Carol Solow about her upcoming spring class, Collect & Sell Vintage Costume Jewelry. Carol stopped by the NCE office to show us some amazing tools she use to learn more about the pieces that she finds, her favorite places to shop and why she love collecting vintage jewelry.

If you are interested in learning more about collecting and selling vintage jewelry, you can sign up now!

1.    Tell our students more about you and how you got into collecting and selling vintage jewelry?

I’ve always loved finding and wearing vintage jewelry and accessories; when I was a child my mother took me too many estates and rummage sales, and “’back in the day” I frequented the vintage shops in New York City’s East Village. I started seriously collecting more recently, after many years as a grant writer and instructor.  I’ve always had a passion for research, and I’ve discovered that research is a vital part of collecting older costume jewelry.

Vintage Jewelry

2.    How does someone go from making this a hobby to a full-time career?

Very carefully!  I do it part-time, but full-timers in the collector Facebook groups I belong to usually start gradually and build up their sales.  To make a living doing this requires lots of time not to the only source (find, buy) jewelry but to also list online dozens of pieces a week on eBay, Etsy, and other venues. It's important to price competitively and use the right selling platform for different pieces. Also, being aware of current jewelry trends and resisting the urge to keep the fantastic pieces you find!

3.    People love collecting vintage jewelry, but how do you start to learn the background information about the jewelry?

Research, research, research! Read books on the subject (the Nashville Public Library has several), look at YouTube videos, join Facebook groups for collectors, and get out there to look at jewelry pieces -try to apply your knowledge.  Also, use online databases to help identify marks (signatures, symbols, initials) of significant designers and companies.  It is important to know the difference between costume and fine jewelry – in a nutshell, costume jewelry is jewelry made with non-precious metals and stones, while fine jewelry is made with precious metals such as gold and silver and precious gemstones such as diamonds, rubies or pearls.

4.    What was your first piece of vintage jewelry that you collected?

My first in Nashville was a carved Bakelite bangle that I found for $1.99 at a local thrift store.  Bakelite is a very collectible early plastic material, and I was advised that the one I have could be sold for $100 to $125.  But I’ll never sell!!

5.    What’s your most prized piece of vintage jewelry that you will never sell?

A pair of faux pearl and rhinestone earrings that I got from my mother’s jewelry box after she passed away.

6.    What are the top tools for people if they want to start learning more about the value of their jewelry?

A jewelry loupe (magnifier) with an LED lamp, to look for and identify designer marks and signatures, a magnet to rule out that the metal on a piece is gold or silver, and an acid testing kit to test metals to see if they are gold, silver or plated. If you think you might own a piece with diamonds, an inexpensive diamond tester.  They are not fooling proof but a good first step.

Vintage Jewelry

7.    Does Nashville have any hidden gems to collect vintage jewelry?

 I’ve found great stuff at garage sales and church rummage sales. I’ve had good luck at thrift stores but be aware that Goodwill stores no longer sell jewelry; that is now sold at The Salvation Army thrift store in Madison sometimes sell “jewelry jars” – vases full of jewelry for you to sort through.  Not all will be vintage.  There are lots of “jewelry jar haul” videos on YouTube, also a good way to learn.  Estate sales are hit or miss; I suggest either going right when it opens for the best pieces or the last few hours of the sale for the best bargains.  The hunt is part of the fun! 

8.    How old does a piece of jewelry need to be in order to be considered vintage?

Vintage jewelry is 50 years old or older; antique jewelry is 100 years or older.  Jewelry that is less than fifty years old but not too recent is considered “retro” – for example, the 1980s – and is also collectible.

Vintage Jewelry

9.    What are 3 things people should come to your class expecting to learn about collect & sell vintage costume jewelry?

·        The most collectible types of costume jewelry and designers are from the 1920s through the 1950s, and the importance of collecting the types of jewelry that you are most passionate about.  For me, that is plastic bangles and glass beaded necklaces; for someone else, it might be cocktail rings or animal figure brooches (pins).

·        How to properly use essential tools for identifying the materials, styles, and designers of vintage costume jewelry that you own or are thinking about purchasing.

·        Where on the internet to find reputable information and research resources, how to use eBay and other sites to price and list jewelry, and tips for avoiding buying fake pieces.

You can register for Collect & Sell Vintage Costume Jewelry. The class is at Cohn School, June 5-June 19.

Learn Podcasting Basics with Christopher Taylor


I hope you’re ready for our Podcasting Basics course, because I know that I am! Podcasting has grown exponentially over the last 10-15 years and is only getting bigger. Numbers show that 44% of the U.S. population has listened to a podcast, and I’m almost certain that number has increased since this poll was taken. I believe podcasting is a great way to put your message out to the world, whether you do a formal show, an informal show, a how-to show or a litany of other things. So, I say if you’ve ever thought to yourself, “I’ve got something to say,” or “I could teach people about this,” or even “I always wanted to be on the radio,” podcasting is for you! I want everyone that has ever had the itch to podcast or those that don’t even know what a podcast is, to join our Podcasting Basics class starting January 24th at 6:30p.m. at the Cohn School. I hope to see you there! -Christopher Taylor

5 questions with Podcasting Instructor

1. Why do you believe Podcasts have been so popular lately? I believe they’ve gained more popularity because the world is changing and the way we receive information is changing as well.

2. What would you say makes a great podcast show? I believe that having authentic content and your own sound.

3. What is the one thing you have learned over the last year doing your own podcast that has really made a difference in your show? I have learned that you must be willing to change and/or adapt to different audiences but always stay true to yourself.

4. What are some of your favorite podcasts shows? Brilliant Idots Podcast, The Joe Budden Podcast and The Right, with Bomani Jones.

5.  What is one thing you believe every student will walk away understanding after taking Podcasting Basics? I want people to walk away understanding that a podcast is whatever you want it to be and much more. It’s not something that has to be too complicating and to remember that this is supposed to not be WORK but FUN as well.

Fencing at Nashville Community Education by Donovan Grimwood, Fencing instructor


The Princess Bride, Zorro, Pirates of the Caribbean, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars… the idea of wielding a sword has captured imaginations and led to many a backyard duel with sticks. Some people never quite grow out of that. And why should we? As part of the Nashville Community Education program, fencing has been offered for many years so that people can experience the thrill of wielding a sword. But even more so, learn the skills in a safe and inexpensive manner on their way to becoming a fencer.

Yes, I said safe. Because with the proper gear, fencing is one of the safest sports that you or your children can become involved in. And we make sure to provide that gear as part of the class (keeping it relatively inexpensive). There was research done some time ago that showed that fencing was as safe as golf. So… if you are willing to go out on the golf course, how about trying something that may be more exciting? At least fencing is for me. And considering that we’ve had students ranging from age 8 (when we had a youth fencing class) up to 70+ (and they are still a competitive fencer in the area), signing up for the class is your chance to try out something new, different, and exciting. Are you ready to come en garde?

Learning more about fencing and Donovan Grimwood

In addition to the skills necessary to be able to fence (attack, parry, footwork), it also teaches quick thinking and sharpens the mind as much as the body. -Donovan Grimwood

1.      As the instructor what’s your favorite part about fencing and coaching fencing?

I enjoy introducing new people to the sport and helping them develop their skills. It is also great to get to know the fencers over the years as they continue to come back.

2.      How would you describe fencing to someone who has never fenced before?

Fencing is the safe, but exciting sport of swordsmanship. It's a great and unique workout and sport to learn.

3.      What skills will students learn in your fencing class?

In addition to the skills necessary to be able to fence (attack, parry, footwork), it also teaches quick thinking and sharpens the mind as much as the body.

4.      What is one thing you can highlight about the industry that people don’t know about?

The Modern Olympics were founded by a fencer and it has been featured in every Olympics. Currently there are over 25,000 competitive fencers in the U.S. with the sport growing. It is also one of the few martial arts that doesn't have weight classes and is one of the most inclusive of sports. Fencers in most competitions can range from age 13 to 80+, and there are age groups for fencers as young as 7. 

Practicing Kung Fu with Chris


1. Tell our students more about yourself and how long you’ve been teaching Kung Fu?

I have been teaching Kung Fu for over 7 years now.  My full-time profession is teaching 7th grade.  I enjoy spending time with my family, reading, running, and traveling.

2.  For people that are not familiar with this form of martial art, what is Kung Fu?

Kung Fu is a Chinese based martial arts.  Its focus is more self-defense oriented and differs from other martial arts with a focus on low kicks and close up striking.

3. Kung Fu is an ancient Chinese martial art, how did it end up in American wellness practice?

Chinese immigrants brought the art with them.  Buck Sam Kong brought Hung Kuen to Hawaii, and Dr. Wing Lok Ng brought the art to Kentucky when he was a college student there, for example. There are many other examples as well.  Bruce Lee's popularity in the early 70’s definitely made the art popular in American society.

4.  What are some of the benefits of Kung Fu?

It helps physically in regards to endurance, balance, and self-defense skills.  More importantly, it helps develop patience, awareness, and confidence.

5.  Kung Fu is known to improve self-defense skills?

Yes, it can help with those skills, but I like to emphasize the benefit of self-awareness and awareness of one's surrounding to hopefully avoid such a need for those skills.

6. Why do you believe Kung Fu is a great fitness to improve health and attitude? 

Different aspects of training can help one's overall physical health.  Strength and cardiovascular improvement are a part of training along with flexibility.  Also, when a person is feeling better they have a better attitude. Plus, a student's attitude can improve by surrounding themselves with positive people, which Kung Fu can help in cultivating.

7. In this particular class students will learn how to do a Praying Mantis form; can you give a brief explanation of what this is?

Many Kung Fu forms are animal based.  It makes them interesting to learn and fun.  Certain movements of this form will recreate movements from this particular animal, or more accurately, insect.  This set will emphasize continuous attacks and elbow strikes among other techniques.

8. Is there anything else you would like to share with our students?

Kung Fu is becoming a bit of a lost art in the Nashville area, and much of Tennessee. I hope the community will come out and give it a try.  I hope to make the class fun, informative, and beneficial to participants.

You can register to take Kung Fu Basics with NCE!

Dan Harrell, The Garden Guru

Dan Harrell

Dan Harrell, from the UT/TSU Extension, will be leading our From Seed to Table Gardening series this summer. We can’t wait to learn more about raised beds, vegetables, pests, the Richland Park Libraryseed catalog and more! Our Executive Director will be leading the last class – a cooking demonstration using ingredients from our garden or local farmers! The class filled within days, but make sure to get on the wait list!

Let’s learn a little more about Dan before the class starts:

What neighborhood or area of town do you live in?
West Meade

Profession: Agriculture Extension Agent

Why do you teach at Nashville Community Education?
Nashville is a vibrant city with a forward thinking population and I am privileged to serve in this community.

Although you are teaching a class, what have you learned through students or others?
Everything I teach I have learned from others.

What is one thing you wish people knew about NCE?
What a wonderful opportunity it is.

When you aren’t teaching a class with us, how are you spending your time?
I am at one of my children’s sporting events.

What’s the last book, podcast, or blog you read or listened to?
“The Eye Of The Needle” by Ken Follett

Plan your meals with Lindsey Joe!

Lindsey Joe

Lindsey is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist from Nashville, TN.  She graduated from the Dietetic Internship program at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, and prior to this, earned her Bachelor’s degree in Human Ecology from The University of Tennessee, Knoxville.  She is a weight management expert, meal planning master, and TN Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Nashville Media spokesperson.  Lindsey is passionate about helping people ignite the healthy that makes them happy and you can follow all her food-filled adventures at @themealplanningmethod!  Learn more about Lindsey below:

Why do you teach at NCE?
I wanted to teach a community class because I’m passionate about helping people overcome their most frustrating food problems.  And what I found working with clients one-on-one, is that for many, their pain points with food always come back to meal planning.  So as a health professional who teaches people what to eat, I also want to teach you how to eat to feel like your best self.

If you weren’t teaching a class, what class would you be taking?
If I wasn’t teaching this semester, I would absolutely take “Online Self-Publishing”.  I’d love to publish several recipe or nutrition-related ebooks!

What’s one thing we would be surprised to learn about you?
One thing you might be surprised to learn about me is that I am also a Lifestyle Coach for the Diabetes Prevention Program.  I love helping people live happier, healthier lives!

When you aren’t teaching a class with us, how are you spending your time?
When I’m not teaching “Master Meal Planning,” I am taking yoga at the Y, checking out a new restaurant in town, or blogging.  I’m so fortunate that my passion for food is not only a hobby, but my career.

What’s one thing that transplants would be surprised to know about the city?
One thing transplants would be surprised to know about Nashville is that we are actually very diverse.  Take a trip down Nolensville and you’ll find Ethiopian food, Kurdish cuisine, Thai restaurants, Turkish delights, Mexican ice cream shops… what more can your stomach want!?

A Cosmic Journey with Duncan Davis

Cosmic Journey

Duncan Davis teaches our A Cosmic Journey class. A study through the galaxy and our solar system from its formation. Students will learn about the planets, how stars are born, how they die, and the supernovae corpses they leave behind.

We had the opportunity to interview Duncan about his class and his love for the Cosmic Journey!

What interests you in the Cosmic Journey?

Every aspect of the Cosmic Journey interests me. It’s fascinating, from the seen & unseen. From the beautiful to the scary and has expanded our knowledge & technology.

What are 3 things you hope people learn from your class?

I would like for people to learn that within our solar system & far beyond, the universe has in the past, does now, & will in the future affects us.

The Universe is huge, what in particular will your class focus on?

  • Birth & Death of stars

  • Formation of our solar system

  • Why is our moon so important to us?

  • Our location in the galaxy & why is it important

  • Exoplanets

  • Habitable Zone: More than liquid water

  • And, Are we alone?

Are there any new fascinating studies going on about the Solar System today?          

New studies:

  • New Horizons probe out past Pluto.

  • Insight probe to Mars.

  • Parker probe to study the sun.

Why do you think it’s important for people to study the Solar System?

Because Everything’s Related!

What intrigues you the most about our Solar System?

What intrigues me most about the solar system: No other solar system found so far is set up like ours. Why is our solar system the oddball?

Anything else you would love our readers to know about you or your upcoming class?

The class is informative, interesting, fun, & has great visuals. It makes the unimaginable (sizes, distances, phenomena) relatable.

A Cosmic Journey class starts Oct 1- Oct 29, from 6:00pm-8:00pm at Inglewood Elementary. Use the code “COSMIC” for $5 off this class.

The Art of Voiceover

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1.    Tell our readers what exactly is Voice Over Basics?

Voiceover Basics is an introduction to the world of voiceovers from every aspect, starting with training, to technical, marketing, and unions, different kinds of voiceovers, home studio equipment and covering all of the tools one needs to dive into this industry.

2.    How long you have been coaching in Voice Over Basics? And, as an instructor what would you love for your students to know about you?

I have been working with SUCH A VOICE as a coach for almost 3 years and teaching voiceover basics for the last year. My background is in theatre/film and voiceover.  I have been fortunate enough to work in this industry fairly steadily over the past 15 years. I moved to LA from Florida where I performed stunts, yup high falls, and bullwhips at the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular.  I even cracked a bullwhip on a failed return of the Donny and Marie show, but that's a whole other story:)

3.    What are the first steps in starting a career in Voice Over Basics?

Get good coaching and understand the tools you must have to be successful in this business. Great demos are a MUST, but recording them before you have great training is a pitfall, and you want to make sure you are getting excellent demo producing and post-production. We will talk about all of this in the class.

4.    What types of jobs can someone go into for Professional Voice Over work?

The list is endless when you start thinking about how much voiceover you are hearing out there. There are obviously Commercials, TV, Radio, Animation, but now think about all of the other places you hear voiceover,  Apps, Narrations, industrials, trade shows, IVR, Navigation, airports, resorts, small business websites, YouTube, and on and on. It's a fun game to play: Where do I hear voices?

5.    This particular class is a one day workshop but what other types of training should someone interested in furthering their career go into?

Long-term, cumulative one-on-one coaching is a must, acting classes are excellent and IMPROV is GREAT for voiceover, it helps you think on your feet, loosen up the inhibitions.  Another great thing to do is read out loud A LOT, read to your kids, the elderly, and the blind, there are many places to practice your skills and help people out!

6.    If you are into voice work, what are some types of food and/or drinks that should be important to keep protecting and nourishing the voice?

Great question! APPLES are great to help with mouth noise. Something about the pectin in the apples really works.  Having room temperature water is great to keep on hand, herbal teas are also great.  Things some people avoid are dairy and decaffeinated drinks as they can dry out the mouth. 

7.    What should daily practice look like?

Vocal and physical exercises to warm up the voice AND body! Believe it or not, voiceover is also a physical job.  When you extend your arm and say LOOK OVER THERE, I will hear that in your voice, when you smile, frown and raise your eyebrows, I will also hear that. Singing is great (even if you think you are not Sinatra or the Queen of soul) what you want to do is keep exploring your vocal range: highs, lows, soft and loud volume. The only WAY to know these things is to practice!

8.    What are some things you want students to take away from your upcoming class?

 Voiceover is a very fun, flexible and potentially lucrative industry to get into. You can work from home and make your own hours.  But it also isn't for everyone, and maybe not even everyone with a "Great voice".  It takes dedication, training, and an investment of time and effort to really do it right.

You can sign up for Voice Over Basics today!

Six Steps to Managing Your Money with Dakota Grady

1. Introduce yourself to our online audience.

Thank you, Lakeithea for inviting me to discuss my class and my new book.

Hello, everyone. My name is Dakota Grady. I am an instructor at the Nashville Community Education (NCE). I teach a personal finance class, Six Steps to Managing Your Money, and have been teaching it since 2016. I am also a financial coach, author, and speaker. Originally, I am from South Carolina but have been living in Tennessee for 5 years. I am passionate about helping people chase their dreams through financial literacy.

2. In your class, “Six Steps to Managing Your Money” you cover what keeps people broke, why do you feel such an honest topic is important to have?

One thing that keeps people broke is not doing a monthly budget. According to Gallup, only 1 in 3 people do a monthly detailed written budget. Personal finance is an important topic because money affects many areas of our lives. It affects us relationally, emotionally, physically, spiritually, (and of course) financially.

3. What would you say are some important things to learn when balancing a budget?

First, I think people need to decide to commit to doing a monthly budget. It won’t happen until you make a decision to be intentional with your money. Second, list all of your monthly income and expenses on a sheet of paper and give each dollar of your income a job (i.e., your money is your employee – you are the boss, so budget like a boss). That means that each dollar of your money will be doing what you tell it to do for you. For example, allocate some of your income to giving, saving, food, shelter, and so forth until each dollar has been allocated or giving a job. Once all of your income is assigned a job, add all of the expenses that have been allocated and subtract that amount from the income. The result should be zero; that means that you have budgeted each dollar of your income. Therefore, you will be living within your means.

4. Why do you feel it’s hard for people to set a budget?

I think that some people need someone to hold them accountable to do a budget. Most importantly, I think people must WANT to do a budget. They may need a budget, but if there is no desire, then people won’t do a budget.

5. Many people say they don’t have room in their budget to save, what’s the trick to saving when you feel you don’t make enough money?

One way is to do a budget. If you don’t know how much money you are earning and spending, then trying to identify how much to save will be difficult. Also, people could reduce their spending in a particular area such as dining out or eliminate cable TV. Another option is to generate additional income by working extra hours or starting a small business on a part-time basis.

6. What are some money issues people can alleviate when they decide to set a budget?

Some money problems people can alleviate are worry and stress about overspending in a certain area, overdrafts in their bank account, money fights with their spouse, declining productivity at work, and guilt and shame of not having enough money to pay bills.

7. How often should someone complete a budget and should a budget always have a goal set to it?

I think people should do a budget each month – a new budget each month because each month is different. A person should have goals when doing a budget. Everyone has different wants and needs, so your budget should reflect those things that you value. I think the most important goal for people to have is consistently living within their means of budgeting.

Financial Hope

8. Share with us more information about your book and what inspired you to write about managing your money?

Sure. First, I thank NCE for giving me an outlet to share about my new book!! The title of my book is Financial Hope: Principles for a Prosperous Financial Future. I was inspired by three people actually, Jolene Wee, a former college classmate suggested that I write a book while attending homecoming at one of my alma maters. At that same event a professor, Dwayne Mack, asked me if I had written a book; at the time I had not written one. Lastly, Kiki Ramsey, author, coach, and motivational speaker and someone that I know from childhood told me that she wrote her book in four (4) months when she made a decision to focus. So, I challenged myself to write a book in four (4) months as well; I didn’t meet that goal, but it was established. Also, I have a message of hope to share because people need hope in their marriages, finances, relationships, and in their lives.

9. What are some takeaway’s you hope readers get after reading your book?

I want readers to know that they can move from where they are to where they want to be in their finances. It starts with a plan, and Financial Hope gives them a plan of action. Financial Hope is about Helping Other People become Empowered through financial literacy so that they can chase their dreams and help other people.

10. Any lasting words you want to tell our audience about your class and/or book?

If you are stuck in a rut with your finances and are tired of worrying, don’t have savings for unexpected events, or want to get rid of your debt, I invite you to sign up for my class, Six Steps to Managing Your Money, which will be held on October 2 and October 9, 2018. You can sign up online (HERE).

If you are not able to attend the class and want to improve your financial situation, I invite you to pre-order my book, Financial Hope: Principles for a Prosperous Financial Future, online on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The book will be released on January 8, 2019. I also offer financial coaching for those that need accountability to stay committed to changing their lives. Have a business or church that have could benefit from this message? Invite me to speak to your team or congregation. You can get more information at

I invite your audience to follow me on Twitter (@dakotagrady) and on Facebook. Let’s connect and chat!!

No matter where you are on your financial journey, there is hope for you!!

Thank you again, Lakeithea and NCE!!