KayceeZ KutieZ

Beautiful handmade knitted dolls in all sizes and designs – boys and girls

They make wonderful gifts – each one unique

Custom orders available



Beautiful Vintage Ladies

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Beautiful handmade knitted dolls in all sizes and designs – boys and girls

They make wonderful gifts – each one unique

Custom orders available



Meet Our Four-Legged Family


This is where our four-legged family is introduced to Seasoned Chocolate…

In our feature window meet Chuey and Maya, who are the bosses of Bill and Susan….

Our highlighted pet family introduces Erica and Kenya Moore…who has a heartwarming story. Here it is:

Thank you so much for the opportunity to share Kenya Moore’s story on your website.

Our family was immediately drawn to “Swirl” the moment we saw her at the Humane Society of Charlotte in November 2012. She was a very beautiful 8 month old brindle colored Pit bull / Labrador mix; however, extremely timid, shy and curious.  She stayed far back in the kennel behind the doggie door peaking out at us until we would walk away then she would come out and look for us.  As soon as we would try to approach her she would go back and hide. This really touched us and made us want to learn more about her story.

We asked for more information on her background and learned that she was previously abused and as a result lost her voice. She does not bark at all (never has in the 5 years she’s been part of our family). At that moment we knew we had to rescue her and give her the best possible life she deserves. Our family adopted her on the spot. She was absolutely terrified of everyone and everything, but through it all was very loving and we felt the need to protect her.

Given the facts that
– her rescue name was “Swirl” (like Twirl)
– she was absolutely beautiful with her brindle coat
– She was a tad bit crazy…. Just like the real Kenya Moore of the Housewives of Atlanta — The name seemed to be perfect.

We have our very own Kenya Moore and can’t imagine life without her. She is spoiled rotten and has completely forgotten where she came from ❤

Seasoned Chocolate Book Nook


Welcome to Seasoned Chocolate’s Book Nook where we talk all things book. We will discuss new releases, books tried and true, reviews, and Seasoned Chocolate reading recommendations. We’ll talk about book trends, and offer reader suggestions and ideas and provide links to websites of interest to authors and readers.. A special feature is our Seasoned Chocolate Selected Author who will talk about their book and present an excerpt from it to give interested readers an idea of what it’s about. Are you interested in becoming a Selected Author? Send us some info about it! Enjoy this newest feature….


Seasoned Chocolate Featured Author

Katrina Covington Whitmore

The Bride of the Desert Trilogy


Welcome to Seasoned Chocolate’s Book Nook where we talk all things book. We will discuss new releases, books tried and true, reviews, and Seasoned Chocolate reading recommendations. We’ll talk about book trends, and offer reader suggestions and ideas and provide links to websites of interest to authors and readers.. A special feature is our Seasoned Chocolate Selected Author who will talk about their book and present an excerpt from it to give interested readers an idea of what it’s about. Are you interested in becoming a Selected Author? Send us some info about it! Enjoy this newest feature….


Seasoned Chocolate Featured Author

Katrina Covington Whitmore

The Bride of the Desert Trilogy

Daughter of two nations  –  book one

Torn loyalties  – book  two

The end is the beginning – book  three

Set in the 9th century during the waning days of the mighty Roman Empire, the Bride of the Desert Trilogy tells the story of Kiah, Princess of the Blood of the kingdom of Kush. Contracted in marriage to the Heir of the most powerful family in the eastern roman empire, Kiah travels to Palmyra, a vitally important city-state built on the edge of one of the only sources of water in the syrian desert. Kiah has been invited to live with her family until her marriage. Sparks fly during the first meeiting between Zenobia, the daughter of the household and Kiah. Tensions between the two escalate, leading to a dramatic confrontation and unexpected consequences that directly impact and lead to the ultimate downfall of Palmyra, the powerful city-state, so rich and powerful it’s known the world over as the “Bride of the Desert”.

Excerpt from book one:

In front of emissaries from the House of Nasor, ambassadors from countries throughout Africa and Arabia and even a representative of the Roman empire the formal offer was proffered and accepted. The proposed alliance was eminently suitable. The kingdom of Kush was rich with resources: gold, silver, copper and other ores; frankincense and myrrh, the prized aromatics used throughout the known world in the preparation of perfumes and incense; ebony and rare ivory, both worth their weight in gold. Much of that wealth would now be traded exclusively with the House of Nasor. In return they would provide armed escort to the caravans transporting the riches across the vastness of the desert and serve as intermediaries for Kush and the vast trading empires of the east. Preparations for Kiah’s departure were to begin immediately.

The bridal portion provided by the king to Kiah was to be enormous. She would bring most of the household furnishings and goods for her future home with her. And as word spread of her betrothal and impending marriage throughout the surrounding kingdoms, magnificent bridal gifts began to arrive. Among them were two iridescent cloaks that trailed the floor, patterned in vivid shades of blue, violet and gold, and fashioned entirely of peacock feathers. There was also silver and gold plate, rare aromatics and a half a dozen horses, direct descendants of the legendary Arabians with small proudly raised heads, deep strong chests and long, slender legs. Nor were they the only animals; two hunting falcons with leather hoods and jesses stamped with gold would make the journey with her, as would two cheetahs, little more than kittens, with jewel-studded collars and needle–sharp baby teeth.

About the author:

Katrina Covington Whitmore wrote her first book when she was eight years old, and has been writing ever since. She’s worked in some aspect of Communications her entire working life, beginning with her days in broadcast news. Since that time she has acquired a PhD, taught on the college level, managed a city cable channel and written five books. She writes in several genres, and is currently working on number six. Her hobbies include creating knitted dolls offered for sale online and at local arts and craft festivals, drawing, painting and adult coloring, and raising houseplants, and learning to play the piano. She and her four-legged family live in the metro Atlanta area. You can reach Katrina at

What DOES Age Have To Do With It?

What DOES Age Have To Do With It?

By Barbara Miles

In dating relationships, it has long been a cultural norm in our society that the man would be older. Why? Did the biblical fact that Eve was plucked from the rib of her husband, who by definition was here first, set the precedent for male domination? Or was it the club wielding Neandertal etched in our history book memories that assigned attributes of power and dominance to the male partner. Nowadays, men presumably still have more power and on a number of levels are still deemed the stronger partner and therefore better qualified to be the family protector. And being older, the man is naturally expected to be the principal breadwinner and, ergo, entitled to be the primary decision maker.


From the woman’s perspective, the pool of available men gets thinner as she ages. Single men over 60 years old have been characterized as a “vanishing demographic.” According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are three and a half more single women for every single man in this age group. The solution, says Rich Gosse, a dating coach specialist, is for women to date younger men.


Older men prefer younger women in many cases because they’re still interested in sex but not necessarily in building relationships, says Davida Rappaport, a professed psychic and clairvoyant. Thus, they tend to move quickly from one relationship to the next when the previous one collapses. This trend has prompted divorced and widowed women to move in a new direction as witnessed now by the explosion of web sites for older women seeking younger date mates.


Newsweek magazine designated 2009 as the year of the “cougar,” a term coined to define women 40-plus with a preference for younger men. The word “cougar” was not meant to be flattering. It had some of the same flavor as Mrs. Robinson in the The Graduate. Elite Singles resident psychologist Salama Marine wrote, “Prejudices have a tendency to stick, even if society is changing. Calling an older woman a cougar isn’t meaningless; it’s a way of defining her as a predator who’s only interested in hunting down young prey.” But Elite Singles has found that increasingly more women from all walks of life now tend to ignore the stigma of derogatory labels when choosing a mate. And for them, coupling with a younger man is rarely just a brief fling, a dynamic to which Super model Heidi Klum, 43, and her love interest Vito Schnabel, 30, could attest. They’ve been together for more than three years. It also seems to be working for Hollywood power couple, Gabriel Union, 43, and her husband Chicago Bulls player Duane Wade, 35.


Case in point, France’s president Emmanuel Macron’s wife is twenty-four years his senior. According to, the unusual age gap is not creating any waves in France, but it’s getting a lot of attention in other parts of the world. But Pablo, one of Today’s male interview subjects doesn’t see age as a primary consideration. “I wasn’t looking for an older woman and she wasn’t looking for a younger man,” he says. “Our relationship is unique because it’s not just built on sex but on trust, respect and love….age has nothing to do with it.”


Nigel, 37, says he’s more attracted to a woman who has some degree of self-possession. “I think younger women are sometimes too focused on starting families, rarely an issue with older women. They are not looking for guys who will be good fathers or providers. They are more relaxed, more playful. I enjoy a confidant attitude and older women definitely have the upper hand in that area.”


Increasingly the so-called May-December relationships are not seen as outliers. According to a number of experts, that dynamic makes more sense especially since in more traditional relationships women, across the spectrum, outlive their mates. “Older successful men are used to being in control and that doesn’t sit well with modern women,” says Susan Winter, co-author of Older Women, Younger Men: New Options for Love and Romance. Nicole Wipp, whose husband is eleven years younger, agrees. “Dating somebody younger than myself, there’s an acceptance of ambitious women; it’s more normalized.”


Where Are We?

Education: A State of Emergency

By Earnest O. Ward, Sr., Ed.D. defines education as the act of imparting or acquiring general knowledge, developing the powers of reasoning and judgement, and generally of preparing oneself or others intellectually for mature life.

I am a recently retired educator after working forty years in secondary education.  My experiences range from teacher and administrator at a private boarding school, a rural school, to my final years at an inner city public school.  In my dealings and experience with each school district, I found a tremendous difference in the academic achievement and the social development of the students in the private and rural settings when compared to the inner city students.

I think this difference can be attributed partially to the inherent differences in the culture and climate of each district.  The Association of School and Curriculum Development  (ASCD) defines school climate as the effect a school has on its students, including teaching practices; diversity; and the relationships among administrators, teachers, parents and students. School culture refers to the way teachers and other staff members work together and the set of beliefs, values, and assumptions they share.  A positive school climate and culture promote students’ ability to learn.

It is important to understand that school climate and school culture are not the same thing.  When the powers that be begin to understand the subtle differences between culture and climate, and act accordingly, public schools can begin the healing process.  As a Principal in all three, I found that in the private and rural schools, there was a belief and value system, a culture in other words, a common ideal shared by all teachers and staff members, one developed and practiced over time –  the strongest one being the fundamental belief any students can learn and developing the most effective means to create the most positive learning environment. I don’t see that happening in the inner city school academic environment. As a result, the opposite is occurring. Based on personal observation, experience and research, I think both the culture and climate in the inner city school in particular and the public education system as a whole has led to a severe state of crisis. Moreover, this lack of a positive school culture and climate in the inner school district leads to teacher and student apathy, higher dropout rates which are reflected in lower wages and higher unemployment rates.

Severe apathy also elevates the level of disciplinary problems, low academic achievement, low staff morale, high teacher turnover, slow student social development, while significantly decreasing the level of parental participation.

This miasma of indifference and all of the problems discussed is not limited just to the inner city school where I taught.  Research indicates an inordinate amount of inner city schools experiencing a culture and climate not conducive to learning.

I am not suggesting that a poor culture and climate exists only in inner city schools.  I am merely detailing my personal experiences in this inner city school.  However, this condition is more prevalent in the inner city school as compared to  private and rural schools.

The public education system in America is in a  STATE OF EMERGENCY.

Where do we go from here?

I think change must begin with effective leadership in the school district beginning with the superintendent and flow down to and include teachers and others  with direct interaction with students.  This change must start with an assessment of the school climate.  If the culture is ineffective, there are obviously climate issues that were missed before they became rooted in the culture.  The culture determines the climate.  The culture is the personality of the school, while the climate represents the school’s attitude.  Therefore, it is easier to change the attitude (climate) of a school than it is to change its personality (culture).  And ultimately effective climate change leads to an equally effective change in the culture of a school.

This is just the initial step in this process.  All stakeholders, must become involved in order to create and maintain a positive school culture and climate by creating an environment that supports the tenet that all students can and will learn under the proper conditions.

In closing, I’d like to emphasize that my main objective in writing this article is to stimulate discussion on the emergency conditions of our schools.  I realize that there are excellent in addition to the very poor school systems in this country.  Overall, research suggests that, the United States school system is in a State of Emergency and need a complete overhaul, beginning with those school located in inner city school districts.  The United States education system ranks thirteenth in the world according to (  As the most powerful country in the world…this is unacceptable.  Hopefully this article will initiate a dialogue among the various stakeholders (all of us) to help facilitate the vital, necessary changes to improve our public school systems.


Introducing Seasoned Chocolatier Dr. Katrina Covington Whitmore

Writer/Editor/Designer/Artist/CEO – She’s WEARING those hats!

Katrina Covington Whitmore’s road to Seasoned Chocolate has been paved with a number of careers –all of them involving some form of communication. Katrina began her first career just before her graduation from college when she was hired to work at a Country radio station in Kansas City, Kansas giving on-air traffic reports during morning and afternoon rush hour. “I was ‘Trina with the Traffic’,” she says, “I exchanged banter with the disk jockeys, warned listeners about traffic tie-ups and suggested alternate routes – the station didn’t have a helicopter like some of the others, so I had to rely on police dispatchers — and made sure that my reports came immediately after those of the station that did have a helicopter so I could piggyback off of their ‘eye in the sky’ – .  Not the best way to report on traffic, but you did what you had to.”

It was also where she had her first encounter with racism framed as a joke. “I had just started and didn’t really know anyone – I started at 6 a.m. and was usually gone before most people got to work and didn’t return until late afternoon. I was invited to the station Christmas party and decided to attend. I was wandering around, not saying much when the station’s Program Director approached me. He told me that it was okay for me to mingle, I didn’t need to be shy just, and I quote: ‘don’t spit any watermelon seeds on the floor’. Shocked, young, on my first job in my chosen profession, unsure of what to do – I did nothing.” That was not the only time he was inappropriate. “I asked for a t-shirt, one of the promotional giveaways that radio stations do  a lot of. I was told that I could have one provided ‘it was two sizes two small,’ and ‘you wear it wet, with no bra’. That was the environment, the climate at the time, the nature of the beast and no one who wanted to advance even remotely considered complaining.”

“The ‘Good ‘ol Boy network was alive and well, so you knew that if you did lodge a formal complaint, in the small, insular world of broadcasting you would probably be black-listed, and there goes your career,” she says. “So you learned to just ignore it.” Which is why Katrina is not at all surprised that media icons are dropping like flies as revelations of their sexual escapades are made public – “they’ve always done it – the difference is that today’s society is much less tolerant of it than it used to be. It’s a new day and the ‘old school’ media folks are old dogs being forced to learn the new trick of keeping their hands and their comments to themselves – that the work place is not a hunting ground. All I can say to that is: it’s about time.”

That “foot in the door”  led to her first job in television, in the production department of the number one station in Topeka, Kansas as the noon and weekend weather anchor and the host of Dialing for Dollars during breaks in afternoon programs like The Andy Griffith Show. “We pulled names from the phone book, and  if you knew the count and the amount, you were a winner,” Katrina says. Unfortunately, finding viewers often proved to be problematic. “I woke people who worked at night up – they were not happy – neither were a lot of the other people I called.  I ended up talking to a lot of dial tones, pretending like I was talking to a person.”

Two years in production led to a move to the news department where she always wanted to be. “I anchored early morning cut-ins – those breaks for local news during the network news programs – which meant you had to be at work by six a.m. with the first cut-in at 7:30. I also anchored the noon show and  was a  street reporter on weekends. Later I was offered the anchor spot for the new five o’clock news show, and hosted a monthly newsmagazine program.  That was the good thing about working at a small station – you learned how to do everything, because you did everything, including shooting videotape and editing – you were a one man band.”

The bad thing? “You made absolutely no money.” Salaries were embarrassingly low. “I actually took a cut from my radio job where my first year out of college  I was hired as a receptionist in addition to the on-air work I did — to take the job at the television station.  And from what I hear, years later, things haven’t gotten a whole lot better. That’s because stations can get away with it. They know that for every job opening, there are literally hundreds of people applying for it, so not only can they pick and choose, they get the best people without having to come up off of much money. The exceptions are the anchors – and the meteorologists who often command big salaries, but not the rank-and-filers.” Which is part of the reason why turnover tends to be high: “You’re always looking for that next job in a bigger market making a little bit more money.”

Which accounts for part of the reason for her move to Little Rock, Arkansas. “I loved Topeka, but Little Rock was a bigger market, a little more money – not much – but some, and a chance to do more street reporting, although I still anchored morning cut-ins.” The newsroom environment was very different, with a news director who was a tyrant. “He was knee-high to a chicken and mean as a snake,” Katrina says, “and I became his whipping person – I got in trouble every day – it got so bad my dad told me it wasn’t worth it, and to come back home. I told him I refused to quit – that they were just going to have to fire me.  My blessing came when he and the assistant news director, who was cut from the same cloth, both got hired away to another station. Hallelujah, did I celebrate!”

Things improved greatly, but three years later, she realized that she didn’t want to do it anymore: “There are only so many tornadoes to chase, fires to flee, grisly murders to describe, and flash floods to stand knee-deep in before it all starts to run together.” Knowing that she didn’t want to do it anymore, but still believing passionately that news journalism should be the watchdog for society, and that that function is being lost, she decided to go back to school, and teach on the college level.  “I thought that if you can instill in at least some of the up and coming reporters the importance of what they’re doing, the awesome responsibility they have,  how vital it is to be fair, balanced,  to present to the public an honest representation of what’s going, and allow them to make an informed decision on the way to proceed that’s in the best interest of the citizenry at large, it would benefit the country as a whole.”

She enrolled in the PhD. program at the University of Tennessee – without a Master’s degree. “There was a special provision where one could apply for the program and based on work experience, the evaluation and completion of the application and entrance exam scores be accepted without a Master’s  – I applied, was admitted and six years later walked away with a PhD. in Communications.”  The year before acquiring her degree, she  moved to Montgomery, Alabama, serving as the Acting Chair in the Communications Media department at Alabama State University, an HBCU – Historically Black College and University. “I loved ASU,” Katrina says, “I loved the students, the environment, and felt like I was truly making a difference.” She was recruited by the University of Georgia one year later, but in retrospect thinks that if she had it to do over, she would have remained at Alabama State. “They really needed and appreciated what I could offer, and I had a great rapport with my students there – not so much at Georgia.”

Five years at Georgia, and then came the move to the west coast. “My husband, who I met in a Marketing class at Tennessee, had completed his course work, defended his Master’s thesis, and was recruited by Intel in San Jose – silicone valley. We were there for a year – I never got over the sticker shock – and then transferred to Phoenix, Arizona which turned out to be what I had imagined California to be like.” Living in Phoenix led to two of her next communications careers – the first as the cable manager for the City of Glendale, Arizona, a city on the west side of the Phoenix metro area.

“I managed a full time staff of five white men, including one who thought my job should have been his, a part time staff of up to twenty people, and was expected to keep the mayor, five city council members, a city manager and countless city departments and their directors happy. I also did some on-air work and developed a number of programs highlighting popular city departments, there was a library show I created called More Than Books, for example. Health problems  ultimately led to retirement from the city, and freed up time for Katrina to do something she had been thinking about for some time, namely writing a book. An historical novel featuring a woman of color as the main character.

“I’ve always loved historicals, and I’m a prolific reader,” she says, “but there was rarely a book that featured any characters of color unless the book was about the Civil War or the American South or West. Even characters you knew had to be black, or of color, suddenly weren’t. So I decided to write one.” One turned into three – the Bride of the Desert Trilogy, featuring an African princess as the main character, and her cousin Zenobia, an actual historical character, one who took on the Roman Empire and almost won.  A fourth book was a contemporary novel set on a college campus, “Say Yes answers the question of what happens when a 22 year old star football player falls in love with a 30 year-old graduate student.” A fifth novel, also a contemporary will be out in the spring.

A major change in her life’s circumstances led to a cross-country move from Phoenix to Atlanta, Georgia. “I was married for many years, happily for most of them, very unhappily for the final few. The relationship deteriorated, getting worse and worse, until one morning while putting my key in the front door, I realized I didn’t want to go on – my heart couldn’t take it – that what we had was finished.” It wasn’t easy – “I cried and cried and yelled and hoped…and finally let go.” She’s been in Georgia four years now and has come back into her own. “Atlanta took some getting used to – the traffic is a nightmare – and meeting people can be difficult – which is actually how Seasoned Chocolate came into being. There are a lot of transplants here, people who don’t really know anybody, the places to go, what’s going on, churches to attend, that sort of thing. So I thought, why not provide a service that offers all of that? A chance to meet people in a comfortable environment, the opportunity to attend events or to travel with like-minded people in a fun group setting, discussing the issues on a public forum that invites and respects your opinion, or even exploring romantic opportunities, all on one fun, interesting website — and Seasoned Chocolate was born.”

Public comment and participation is encouraged. “We want to know what you think. You disagree with something we said? Let us know. Found something funny that made you think of something? Tell us about it. You’re a poet and want the world to know? Submit your work to The Poet in Me. Have a question, comment, criticism, suggestion, gripe, moan, groan, complaint, or just want to vent a little? Put it on our blog, aptly named I’m Just Sayin’… We encourage, we want you to make your voice heard.”

So what does the future hold for Katrina? More of the same. “I’m working on a couple of historicals, a couple of contemporaries, a suspense and a fantasy. I also have a few ideas for a series of children’s books. I want to see Seasoned Chocolate grow and expand – more events, exotic locales, active members — the sky’s the limit. We’ll be visiting other cities as well…you will know who we are.”

When she can squeeze some additional time out of her busy schedule, Katrina has a business with a partner called Kreative Kouture – she sells knitted dolls that she makes herself;  her partner Lisa sells jewelry. “We attend arts shows and festivals selling our wares — we’re brand new, but learning and enjoying the experience.” Katrina also likes to paint, and is currently designing the covers for a reissuing of the Bride of the Desert trilogy. “I stay busy,” she says, “staying active keeps you young, engaged and much too involved to feel sorry for yourself. You realize that life is good, and you still have a lot of it to live. You learn to count and appreciate your blessings.”

Katrina’s final words? “We invite you to savor the flavor of Seasoned Chocolate…you’ll be happy you did.”


January topic – Immunizations

Immunizations – not just for kids

Welcome to the inaugural issue of Seasoned Chocolate. In addition to the wonderful, thought provoking, entertaining, and informative articles you’ll find on this site, it’s my goal to provide you with important and relevant health information that you can use!

Since we’re kicking off a new magazine and a new year I thought we’d start our journey to wellness by reviewing some disease prevention recommendations, specifically adult vaccine recommendations. I know this isn’t a sexy topic and some of you may think it’s not a particularly interesting topic but I assure you it’s a very important topic.  My job is not only to discuss health topics but to also make them interesting. So by the end of this article you may still think that adult vaccines aren’t sexy…but hopefully you’ll see how important they are, and you may even think they’re pretty interesting!

In the coming months I’ll share information on cancer screening recommendations, heart disease, HIV/AIDS, kidney disease, nutrition, physical activity, dementia, depression,  and diabetes, just to name a few.  Check back regularly so you can be “in the know.”

Adult Immunizations

We all know that babies and children need immunizations, but did you know it’s equally as important for adults to get immunized. Here are the recommended adult immunizations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)….the CDC is my go to source for most things health related!


Seasonal flu (influenza) vaccine

  • It’s recommended that all adults get a flu vaccine every year
  • The flu is caused by the influenza virus (that’s why we call it the “flu”). The virus infects your respiratory tract (nose, throat, lungs).  The flu is not the same as a cold. In fact, colds are caused by a different group of viruses so the flu is not just a bad cold. The flu can lead to very serious illness, hospitalization, and even death in vulnerable populations. Older adults (65 years of age and older) are considered a vulnerable population as are adults of any age with certain chronic diseases (asthma, diabetes, heart disease)
  • Okay….I’ve heard it before, you don’t get the flu vaccine because every time you’ve gotten the vaccine you’ve gotten the flu….so you’ve decided that the flu vaccine causes the flu! Well, I’ve got good news for you; the flu vaccine cannot give you the flu.It has to do with the way the vaccine is made. One way the vaccine can be made is from inactivated influenza virus. Since the virus has been inactivated it can’t give you the flu, but your body can still make antibodies against the inactivated virus and those antibodies can protect you from getting the flu. The vaccine can also be made using parts of the influenza virus. Your body can make antibodies against those specific parts and that can give you protection against the flu. Since the vaccine is made from only parts of the virus, the vaccine can’t give you the flu. I realize that this may be more detail about the flu vaccine than you care about, but the bottom line is…the vaccine can’t give you the flu!
  • Now having said that, you may experience some side effects from the vaccine such as soreness at the injection site, a low grade fever, and some body aches. These symptoms are usually mild and only last a day or so. Trust me….they’re much easier to get through than the flu
  • Always check with your health care provider to see if you should get the flu vaccine and for recommendations on the type of vaccine that is best for you
  • For more information on the flu and flu vaccine recommendations visit the CDC website at


  • Tdap (Tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis) vaccine
    • This vaccine protects you against three different diseases: tetanus(commonly known as “lock jaw”); diphtheria (a disease that causes a thick membrane to form on your throat and can lead to breathing problems, heart problems, and even death). Thanks to a rigorous vaccination program, diphtheria is very rare in the United States; and pertussis (also known as “whooping cough”)
    • Most of us got a Tdap vaccine when we were children as part of our routine childhood vaccinations. If you never got a Tdap vaccine you should follow-up with your health care provider to find out if you should get one
    • If you got the Tdap vaccine when you were a child it’s recommended that you get a booster shot every10 years
    • Be sure to talk to your health care provider and find out if you need a Tdap vaccine or booster
    • Additional information on the Tdap vaccine can be found at


  • Pneumococcal vaccine
    • The pneumococcal vaccine protects against infection caused by the bacteria Streptococcus pneumoniae (that’s a mouth full!).  It’s also called pneumococcus. In addition to pneumonia, pneumococcus can also cause ear infections, sinus infections, and meningitis (infection of the tissues that cover the brain and spinal cord)
    • Vaccination is the best way to prevent pneumococcal diseases
    • The CDC recommends that all adults 65 years of age and older receive the pneumococcal vaccine. Adults younger than 65 with chronic illnesses (heart, lung, liver or kidney disease), a weakened immune system (HIV/AIDS, cancer) and other diseases or risk factors (like smoking) should also receive the vaccine
    • Talk to your health care provider to find out if you should get the vaccine and to discuss the timing and frequency of vaccination
    • For more information on pneumococcal diseases and the pneumococcal vaccine visit the CDC website at


  • Zoster vaccine
    • The zoster vaccine protects against shingles also known as herpes zoster
    • The CDC estimates that 1 of every 3 people will get shingles at some point in their life
    • What is shingles? First let me ask “How many of you had chicken pox when you were a child?” If you raised your hand, then you are at risk for getting shingles
    • Chicken pox is caused by a virus, the varicella-zoster virus. This is the same virus that causes shingles.  When you’re first infected with the varicella-zoster virus it causes chicken pox. Once you recover from chicken pox, even though the rash and all the miserable symptoms go away, the virus doesn’t go away. Instead the virus becomes inactive or latent (I like to think of it as “goes to sleep”) inside nerve cells in your spinal cord.  In most people (2 out of 3) the virus remains latent for the rest of your life. In about 1 out of 3 people the virus “wakes up”, reactivates, travels along the nerves from the spinal cord and causes shingles (a red, itchy, oozy, and very painful skin rash)
    • What causes the virus to “wake up” or become reactivated…no one really knows for sure. It’s thought that the natural immunity you had to the virus when you were first infected starts to fade making you susceptible to reactivation. Once the virus is reactivated as shingles, it can spread to someone who has never been infected with the virus or been immunized against the virus and cause chicken pox
    • The best way to prevent shingles is to get vaccinated
    • The vaccine is recommended for people aged 60 and older
    • As always, talk to your health care provider to find out if you should get the zoster vaccine
    • For more information on shingles visit the CDC website at


Well, this is all I have time, and space for this month. Before I sign off let me remind you of one VERY important thing. While I am a doctor….I’m not your doctor. Please discuss all recommendations and health related matters with YOUR health care provider. What I shared are general recommendations but the final decision about what is best for you is a decision that should be made in partnership with your healthcare provider.


I welcome your suggestions for health-related topics you’d like to know more about. I will work really hard to include them in future issues.


Until next time, stay well!

Kimberly C. Redding, M.D., M.P.H.


Seasoned Chocolate Featured Writer: Lady Dhyana Ziegler


Lady Dhyana Ziegler, DCJ, Ph.D.          

Many are called and few are chosen!  I guess that’s how my journey began. I don’t remember ever thinking about leadership positions.  Yet, leadership found me even when I wasn’t looking for it.  I’m the youngest of four siblings (two deceased) so as a child I always had to follow their lead.  Most of the time, they did not want to be bothered with me since I was four to six years younger.  Therefore, they were always the leaders and I was the follower.  But somehow intrinsically, I learned about leadership from watching them or following them.  In fact, I didn’t talk much as a child until my teenage years and wrote everyone letters because I could never win arguments etc. with my siblings because I was the little sister.  However, as I got older, I found my voice and used it. So when my opportunity came to lead, I had the ability, nerve, and the drive to succeed.

Opportunities knock once and sometimes twice. I have been blessed in my life to have many opportunities come my way.  I may not have known at the time or seized every moment especially in my youth but I am a dreamer and believed my life would be centered on making a difference in this world. I was never a person motivated by money. If so, my path may have unfolded differently although there is nothing wrong with making money. But I have always wanted my life to have meaning. For example, growing up in a musical family, I thought I would help save the world through music, song writing, and performance. This seemed like the right path for me since my father was the lead singer of the Morning Doves Gospel Quartet and my sister Patricia married William Guest of Gladys Knight and the Pips.  During my early career, I spent a few years in advertising as a copywriter/producer and in the music industry as a song writer/producer and even wrote and produced a number one disco song in 1975 entitled “Time Moves On” by a group named Strutt.  I had two singing groups with musicians and I played the guitar.   But fate had other plans for me although writing still played a major role in my career. Thanks to my ability to write, I was able to get scholarships and fellowships to attend undergraduate and graduate school. I never had to pay tuition.  This blessing afforded me the opportunity to earn my Ph.D.  While earning a doctorate degree was not on my radar, sometimes destiny has other plans for you and spiritual timing takes center stage.  So when opportunity knocks, answer the call.  It may prove to be fruitful and you’ll be in a position to create opportunities for others.

I’ve had a successful career in higher education as a professor, administrator, holder of an endowed chair, leadership in several professional organizations, and a seven-time political appointee.  Sometimes a “calling” is an inescapable obligation. Yet fulfilling your destiny can be uplifting.  Just surrender, release, and accept your assignment because you will be in a position to open doors and create opportunities for others.  I realized years ago that it was my destiny to serve in many capacities and impact mass consciousness through my work regardless of what role I was playing at any given place and time.

Leadership is not an easy pathway.  Climbing the ladder to success can be steep and difficult.  Women can face many challenges in leadership because it’s still not a level playing field in many careers.  In many cases women are held to different standards and under much more scrutiny than our male counterparts.  Nonetheless, we just have to plow through these challenges.  It’s nice to have mentors along the way for encouragement and to lend support because sometimes the people you are leading are the least supportive even though they are the benefactors of your hard work and successful initiatives.  And in many cases, the detractors are other women.  Nonetheless, we must maintain our professionalism in the face of adversity.  The truth is we are not always loved in our positions of leadership although we sometimes work twice as hard for the good of the order.  At the end of the day, I’ve always just wanted to leave a positive trail behind me and know that I left things better than when I arrived.  No one may ever tell you that you did a great job or had a significant impact on his or her life so you just have to know you did the best job you could do so you can live with yourself.

I admit I was a little naïve and thought my achievements would be celebrated but I soon learned this is not always true.  Your family may be happy for you and some really good friends but even your friends are not always happy for you. “Haters are for real.”  I learned that lesson again and again.  I experienced one of life’s lessons in 2008 after I was knighted as a Dame of Justice in England.  I’d already received so many honors, awards, and recognitions in my career but this global recognition I considered was the pinnacle of a successful career especially being an African American woman.  In fact, I had to grow into the position of being a Knighted Dame especially when there can only be a few hundred Knights and Dames worldwide in the Order of the Knights of Justice at any given time.  So this is a real honor although many ignored the recognition. I can make the excuse that Knighthood is not the African American experience, however, it was the culmination of a lifetime of achievement and a testament of my global contribution to education that was recognized outside of the United States.  For the first couple of years I didn’t really use the title or speak about it too much.  But other ethnic groups were ecstatic at the recognition and I eventually grew into the role and accepted my achievement because there are few Knighted people in the U.S. of any race or ethnicity.  This is not bragging but a moment in history to celebrate to let other people of color know that they may also be able to achieve this status one day.  So now I use my position and title with pride.  It is extremely important to represent regardless of receiving credit or recognition.

Being in a position of leadership carries with it a certain amount of responsibility.  You are always under the microscope.  You have to make good decisions and your greatest power is to make good choices from the people you hire to those you let into your personal space.  The detractors are always waiting for you to trip up and make mistakes.  And you will make mistakes. But you must own them and put corrective actions in place immediately.  You have to take responsibility for your actions and face the consequences.  I believe you gain more respect for being open, honest, and human.  Although people sometime think I am a superwoman with a cape around my shoulders because of what I’ve accomplished.  However, I am definitely not a superwoman and I don’t try to be one.

At this stage in my life, leadership is taking on a different meaning.  I feel a responsibility to open doors for others and try to leave an imprint and positive impact on social change in all endeavors.  Leadership is a commitment to service for me.  I don’t need another notch on the belt of my career because I’ve had a wonderful career. I just want to give back and show others how to leave their footprints in the sand.  For me, it’s about giving back.  I often tell my students that I’m not doing all the things I do for me but for them to know that all things are possible with the proper preparation and faith.  I have been blessed and I have so much faith in the next generation and what they will contribute to this world.  For me, it has been my faith in God that has led the way for my success even when I had blinders on my eyes!

We serve because we have to serve.  We lead because we’re called to lead. And we stand up because we have to stand up.  It’s important for our lives to matter for the next generation who will follow our lead.  I know many of you feel the same way I do and have had some of the same experiences.  This is my testimony because I am just one of you!  Let’s stay strong, keep the faith, and lead the way.