Fan Club Friday: The Eye Gallery

I have been wearing glasses or contact lenses for as long as I can remember.  I can still picture my very first pair of glasses, a set of big red frames with pink paint flecked around the edges.  They screamed 1993, the year that I entered kindergarten.  By fifth grade, those glasses were nerdy old news, and I was ready to try hard contacts.  Disaster.  I distinctly recall more than one occasion during which my mom aimed the brightest flashlight we owned into my eye in a futile effort to retrieve the contact lens that had either pasted itself to my eyeball or rolled behind my eyelid and was swimming around in my head.  In my mind, though, this was a small price to pay for vanity, as opposed to the Coke bottle lenses that my glasses had become.

Needless to say, I've been seeing an optometrist for a looong time, though apparently not as long as I should've been.  My poor mom, bless her heart, had no idea that I couldn't see anything in kindergarten until the health screening people came around and made that determination for both of us.

Though I have visited many an eye doctor in my quarter century of ocular issues, Dr. Cliff Hughes from The Eye Gallery stands out above the rest.

{Okay, yes, I wrote about his wife, Nichole, for my last Fan Club Friday post.  I promise that I'm not obsessively stalking their family.  They just run great businesses!}

I knew Dr. Hughes as a friend from church before I knew him as my optometrist.  His kindness, wisdom, humility, integrity, and generosity are trademarks of his personality that he carries into his work.  Since The Eye Gallery was established over six years ago, it has set itself apart with a commitment to the pursuit of excellence and cultivation of a service-oriented environment.  Along with many other satisfied patients, I would say that my annual eye exam is always thorough, and all staff members demonstrate great attention to detail.

Like myself, Dr. Hughes has spent most of his life wearing corrective lenses.  His experience in the eye doctor's chair as a young boy paved the way for his interest in the profession.  (Interestingly, his two sons seem to be following in his footsteps; Knox and Hudson have been wearing glasses since they were babies!)  After completing his undergraduate program at the University of Central Arkansas and then graduating from Southern College of Optometry, Dr. Hughes chose to do a year-long optional residency training with an emphasis in ocular disease.  Basically, he's an overachiever, which is what you want when you're choosing a doctor.

Since I made the decision to go into dental hygiene last year, I have been shocked to discover the amount of people who know next to nothing about the importance of oral health.  Many men and women believe the lie that if their teeth are white and aren't hurting, they have no need to see a dentist.  A similar phenomenon seems to be true with ocular health.  20/20 vision alone does not constitute healthy eyes!  How our eyes work together as a team, how they focus light, how our brain processes visual information ... all of these components play a role in the visual system.  An optometrist is really a "vision" doctor, and good vision begins with healthy eyes.

Dr. Hughes likes to begin seeing patients at six months of age because he rightly believes that prevention is the best medicine.  One of the best ways to ensure our children's academic success is by having them tested to determine whether or not their visual systems are adequate for the demands that school places on them.  

Being the amazing mother that I am, I took my girls to The Eye Gallery for the first time when they were one and three, respectively.  {Better late than never, right?}  Thankfully, Piper's eyes are perfect.  She's adopted, so she didn't inherit my horrible astigmatism or near-sightedness.  Caroline has not been so fortunate.  Dr. Hughes usually examines his patients at six months, one year, three years, five years, and then yearly thereafter, but Sweet Girl is due back to see him next month at age two for a follow-up.  I'm kind of not-so-secretly hoping that she's one of those toddlers with the plastic glasses because, adorbs.

Speaking of glasses, The Eye Gallery has a wealth of fashion-forward brands to peruse!  From Michael Kors to Tom Ford, Ray Ban, and Maui Jim, every patient is bound to find a great pair of frames.  My favorite part of my annual eye exam is trying on some of these frames, even though, as we've discussed, my horrible vision requires Coke bottle lenses.

When I first began coming to Dr. Hughes, my astigmatism was already at the highest step.  Because of this, contact lenses were difficult to find, and the ones that I had worn in the past were uncomfortable.  Dr. Hughes worked with me, as he has with many other patients, to find a set of lenses that fit comfortably and corrected my atrocious vision.  His assistant, Dawn, has always gone above and beyond in helping with glasses fittings and contact orders.  Even my kids are happy to go to The Eye Gallery because the employees are so patient with them, and they have their own place to play while I get my eyes examined.

Located in an under-served area of south Oklahoma City, The Eye Gallery is convenient for patients from Norman and Edmond alike.  And if you're like me and have funky or nonexistent vision insurance, Dr. Hughes and his staff are great about working with you because they all believe in the importance of eye health.

The Eye Gallery is accepting new patients now, so it's not too late to schedule an exam before school starts.  Check them out on their website, Facebook page, or Instagram, and take a step toward healthy vision today! 

If you or a business you know would like to be featured for Fan Club Friday, contact me here.   

Fan Club Friday: Wahoo! Running

Guys.  I know I get excited about every Fan Club Friday because I seriously have so many talented friends, but this one ... {Insert heart eyes emoji here.} 

Meet my friends and fellow runners, Christie and Carlee.

I've known Christie for years, and she has walked (or should I say, run) with me through some of the hardest and happiest moments of my life, imparting wisdom all along the way.  Though Carlee and I only met within the last year, our similar status as runner moms of two little girls has allowed us to strike a fast friendship.

A couple of years ago, Christie single-handedly spearheaded a kids' running club in which children of all ages trained with her and then ran a 5k as the culmination of twelve weeks of practice.

wahoo kids running club

Since that first season, Wahoo! Running has become far more than a kids' running organization, though it is still that, too.  While kids run with Christie, Carlee coaches their parents to accomplish a variety of running goals from simply getting up off of the couch to completing a first marathon or half marathon.

With literally hundreds of combined races between them, Christie and Carlee have a wealth of knowledge to offer to both newbies and seasoned runners.  So, they have started creating customizable training plans to share their insight with others!

wahoo training plan

Because I wanted to get the full Wahoo Running experience, I decided to order my own training plan from my coaching friends.  I am aiming to "crush all of my goals" (a Christie Thomas-ism) at the Prairie Fire half marathon in Wichita, Kansas, in October.  

I have used a couple of other training strategies in the past, but none of them were specifically tailored to my body or running goals.  Wahoo goes above and beyond to do just that.  Prior to constructing my plan, Wahoo sent me an Athlete Questionnaire.  In addition to basic demographic information, Christie and Carlee asked me about my height, weight, previous running experience, best times, goal times, average times, how often I workout,  other types of exercise I enjoy, and why I run.  (That sounds like a lot of information, but I completed the whole thing in under 10 minutes.)  Now, Christie and Carlee are using my answers to customize a twelve-week calendar that tells me precisely what I need to do each day.  Since I'm the most Type A person you may ever meet, I need an exact schedule which includes rest and stretching as an integral part of my program.  

Along with my training plan, I'm expecting my Wahoo! Winning Kit to arrive on my doorstep day!  My box will include a lacrosse ball, resistance band, and other goodies to motivate me and keep my muscles healthy for race day.  Dare I say that I'm pumped about running again?!

I get to train with Christie and Carlee because I am fortunate enough to live locally, and we do more than run together.  In our group of girls, we laugh, we cry, we laugh until we cry, we poop on the side of the road (I personally haven't done this one yet, but don't put it past me), and we run the literal and figurative hills and valleys of life together.  If you don't have a running community where you live, I know that the faces behind Wahoo would encourage you to start one.

Wahoo Runners

I'm a big fan of winning, but that isn't why I run.  Christie and Carlee get this.  In a matter of months since they have launched their business, these coaches have guided multiple runners to set new PRs and win age categories in the races they enter.  However, Christie and Carlee's main goals are for runners to stay healthy and to have fun.  Their desire is for people to "experience running the way it's meant to be."  In other words, they want runners to never outrun their love of running.  

If you've lost your purpose for running or are looking to find a purpose for the first time, Christie and Carlee can create the perfect plan to get you on track within a week.  After that, they will follow up with you to see how things are going, not because they're trying to build a business but because they genuinely care about you as a runner and as a whole person.

Check out Wahoo! Running on their website, Instagram, or Facebook page.  You can also email the coaches directly at christie@wahoorunning.com or carlee@wahoorunning.com.  

WAHOO!

Photo credits: Christie Thomas and Teena Moore Photography.

Friday Fan Club: Kate Bernard Photography

This is my friend, Kate.

Isn't she stunning?  (Sorry, gents, she's taken.)

She's also an incredible photographer.

When I began blogging here at Finding Freedom, I knew that I wanted to keep this space free of "clutter" and to make your time on my page a reader-friendly experience.  This is one of the many reasons why you'll probably never see banner or sidebar ads popping up as you scroll.

However, I have some talented friends, like Kate, whose work is too good not to share.  On the first Friday of each month, I'm planning to showcase one such business, entrepreneur, or creator.  I'm telling you about them because I think they're that good at what they do, not because I'm getting any sort of reward for doing so.

This Friday, I'm a fan of Kate Bernard Photography.

Kate did some headshots for me as I prepared to start Finding Freedom in January.  I couldn't be more pleased with how these turned out!  Below, you'll see some of my favorites, but I had a tough time picking only a few because they were all extraordinary.

The thing I loved most about my session with Kate was that she made me feel comfortable in my own skin.  (This is a big deal, given my tendency to be super awkward and shy.)  Not only did Kate help me pick out the perfect outfits prior to my session, but she ensured that the natural lighting was ideal when she got to my house, and she encouraged me to simply smile and "be me".  She captured all of my best angles and knew exactly how to position me so that I looked confident and professional.  Aside from her skills and experience, Kate is a genuine, kind person who seems to bring warmth with her wherever she goes. 

Specializing in more than headshots, Kate also photographs seniors, families and kids, moms-to-be, and newborns.  If you're in the central Oklahoma area, you should definitely check her out at www.katebernardphotography.com