Val’s Fitness Star

With Spring in full bloom and Summer just around the corner, many of us are focusing much of our time and energy in getting our physiques together.  Valarie is owner of Val’s Fitness Star.

Val’s Star Fitness is a program that teaches fitness in a fun way! A new fitness program offered is called Theater Fitness. It is a combination of acting with exercise.

Val’s Star Fitness is a fitness program that offers fitness classes as well as acting classes to people in the Okaloosa County Florida area. She also provide tips on how to eat right and stay healthy. Val will work with you one on one to help you live a more healthy lifestyle.



Val is a AFAA Certified Fitness Instructor and Certified Turbo Kick Instructor. She teaches different types of fitness classes to all different ages and body types.


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Clarence Bell and The Fellas

While having brunch  in downtown Pensacola, I was mesmerized  by the sultry sound of  Clarence Bell and The Fellasperforming at Five Sisters Blues Cafe. This was my first opportunity to see them perform live. They performed cover tunes by artist such as, Lionel Richie, Stevie Wonder, and Ray Charles, just to name a few. Clarence Bell once played back-up for Stevie Wonder. This group is a staple in the local jazz scene. The group consists of Clarence Bell, Tom Latenser, and Steve Ferry. Five Sisters is located at 421 W. Belmont St. Pensacola, FL.  Here are a few images  I captured of this great trio.

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The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington D.C.

With the celebration of  Black History Month, this blog post features guest blogger Diane Jones Dillard.  During recent travels to our nation’s capital,  Diane shares her experience from a visit to the Martin Luther King, Jr Memorial.


Dr. King’s memorial is located in our nation’s capital in the West Potomac Park near the Tidal Basin in the greater National Mall. The official address in 1964 Independence Ave. SW commemorating the year that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 became law.

After 20 years of planning, fund raising and construction, it opened to the public on August 22, 2011, but the dedication ceremony was postponed until October 16, 2011 due to hurricane Irene.

The total cost of the memorial was nearly 120 million dollars.

The memorial consists of three main components. The Mountain of Despair is symbolized by two huge pieces of granite depicting a mountain with a pathway that visitors pass through to enter to The Stone of Hope which stands 30 feet tall with the likeness of Dr. King gazing out at the Tidal Basin. The Inscription Wall expands on each side of the Mountain of  Despair inscribed with 14 quotes from Dr, King’s speeches and writings. The memorial covers 4 acres all together.


Over 400,000 people visit the MLK memorial each year

When I went to DC in October and visited the memorial for the first time, I wasn’t quite sure how I’d feel about it. After all there had been a lot of controversy about the choice of the sculpturer, Lei Yixin, an artist from The People’s Republic of China. Some say Dr. King’s features are slightly Asian to them. Others weren’t happy about how Dr. King is portrayed with folded arms and a stern  face.



Dr. Maya Angelou wasn’t happy with the editing of the inscription on the side of the Stone of Hope regarding being ‘a drum major for justice’, which by the way is to be removed.   I had some reservations, however, they all vanished the moment I passed through the Mountain of Despair.



A visitor reflects on the principles taught by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


Now, as overwhelmed as I was last October on my first visit to the memorial, all those emotions were dwarfed by what I felt in January  when I visited the memorial during Inauguration weekend ! Just to be in Washington D.C. for this historic event in America was a once in a lifetime experience and for me, a blessing. There was a spirit of pride, jubilance, brotherhood, camaraderie, and hope that is indescribable. For the first African-American President of the United States of America to be sworn in for his second term on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday represents the hope that Dr. King dreamed about.


Diane Jones Dillard


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Diane Jones Dillard resides in Mary Esther, Florida. She is a mother (mine), grandmother, artist, and advocate for social change.  She is very active in her local community.  She is constantly seeking to elevate  awareness  through service and  the sharing of knowledge and information.  She also is quite the cook!