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Looking on the Bright Side of 2021

Moves you can make for your health and well-being

Coming off the holiday highs and getting back to “normal,” or whatever seems to pass for that these days, can leave people feeling a bit melancholy this time of year. So, what can you do to keep looking on the bright side?

If you get the post-holiday blues, counter it with yellow, literally blue’s opposite on the color spectrum. Bring a flowering yellow plant indoors to add a literal bright spot. Adorn the table with fresh and sunny prints. Fill a bowl with fresh lemons that can even help you wipe holiday grunge from your microwave, something we cover in Home Hacks & Snacks.


Another way to look on the bright side is to take steps toward greater health by understanding a bit more about the immune system and how it helps thwart disease.

There’s a new doc in town, with the opening of Dr. Lorna Stewart’s Naples medical practice. The Ms.Medicine affiliate’s purpose is to help patients harness the power of health and keep them out of the hospital. Specializing in the unique health care needs of women, Dr. Lorna Stewart, M.D. and Associates also focuses on whole-family wellness.

Most of us know that emotions affect the immune system, so we’re shining a light on our Hometown Heroes, Gary and Kate Kearns, Naples Piano Man and Tambourine Woman. The couple safely brings their music to high-rise condos to lift spirits and raise funds for the Collier Comes Together Fund. Talk about a mood elevator!


Although we’re still avoiding large gatherings, organizations are bringing mind-stimulating events to you. Here, we cover two of our favorite seasonal opportunities, the NextGen Speaker Series and the Imagine Solutions thought leader conference. We invite you to join us at these events, virtually this season. You’re sure to be inspired by them!

The new year is well underway. We hope you’ll be inspired to look on the bright side whenever, wherever and however possible. Cheers!

Building Better Body Armor
For Women, for All
Music for the Soul
“Iron sharpens iron.”
Change the New Normal

in this issue

“Iron sharpens iron.” Who is sharpening you in 2021?

Save your spot to this season's NextGen Speaker Series

Building Better Body Armor

Knowledge is power when it comes to maintaining a robust immune system

by Kathy Grey

Probably more than ever before, people are looking for ways to safeguard their immune systems in order to thwart the threat or impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.


According to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases’ website,, “The overall function of the immune system is to prevent or limit infection.”


Still, cultural reliance on medical intervention may have turned our attention away from self-care, which is at the core of disease prevention and wellness.

“Modern conventional medicine battles disease directly by means of drugs, surgery, radiation and other therapies, but true health can be attained only by maintaining a healthy, properly functioning immune system,” say Phyllis A. Balch, CNC and James F. Balch, M.D., publishers of “Prescription for Nutritional Healing: A Practical A-to-Z Reference to Drug-Free Remedies Using Vitamins, Minerals, Herbs and Food Supplements.”


“It is the immune system that fights off disease-causing microorganisms,” the Balches state, “and that engineers the healing process … key to fighting every kind of insult to the body.”

A healthier immune system is dependent on healthy habits — including, of course, a vitamin- and fiber-rich diet, sufficient hydration and sleep, stress reduction, regular exercise, modest alcohol consumption and living tobacco-free. But wrapped inside this ubiquitous “to-do list” are subtleties to consider.


A November 2020 research-based article from Florida International University [Three vitamins, minerals to boost your immune system and fight COVID-19 | FIU News - Florida International University] clearly explains why there’s a trend toward preventive health care by supplementing with vitamins C and D and the mineral zinc.

However, the Centers for Disease Control,, notes that dietary supplements aren’t meant to treat or prevent COVID-19, but that certain vitamins and minerals, like vitamins C and D and the mineral zinc, “may have effects on how our immune system works to fight off infections, as well as inflammation and swelling,” adding, “The best way to obtain these nutrients is through foods: vitamin C (fruits and vegetables); vitamin D (low-fat milk, fortified milk alternatives and seafood; and zinc (lean meat, seafood, legumes, nuts and seeds.)”

The CDC also advises that you talk to your pharmacist, registered dietician or other healthcare provider before taking supplements, especially when combining them or substituting them for other foods or medicine.

The NIH website [Zinc | COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines (] reports that its COVID-19 treatment guidelines panel advises against using zinc supplementation above the recommended dietary allowance, as it could lead to zinc toxicity, as reported by Medical News Today in April 2020.

“This toxicity can cause gastrointestinal discomfort and, when chronic, may also disrupt the balance of other chemicals in the body, including copper and iron,” the article states.

Join the Movement

Most Americans equate exercise with sweating it out at the gym and taking indoor classes … things that might not be advisable during a pandemic. But the point is to simply move more, experts say, especially if your lifestyle has been generally sedentary.

Take a membership-free walk or bike ride. Exercise with a buddy to stay on track.

Try tuning in to PBS at 6 a.m. for a 25-minute, gentle, full-body workout. The longest-running and highly ranked fitness television show, “Classical Stretch/Essentrics,” features Miranda Esmonde-White, a former ballerina, New York Times bestselling author and educator of healthy aging through movement.

And if you have a pool, by all means, jump in. Exercise under water is especially helpful for stimulating the flow of lymphatic fluid through the body, a central component of the immune system and integral to disease prevention.


Any exercise is helpful to the lymphatic system, but “exercise under water is especially helpful because of the pressure from the water,” says Senior Physical Therapist Sarah Cleveland of MD Anderson.

“The contraction of your muscles becomes the pump that helps (lymphatic) fluid get around your body. Exercise can help the lymphatic system flow more effectively and potentially help prevent infections and other diseases, like cancer,” MD Anderson reports on its website,

Healing Breaths, Quiet Mind

You don’t have to download the Headspace or Calm apps, but many people find that meditation is simplified with a little assistance. Of course, there are plenty of options to help you make meditation part of your day, including books, videos and group classes that often center on yoga.

What’s key to harnessing the goodness of meditation is, as with any personal change, mindful commitment.


The 4-7-8 breathing technique developed by Dr. Andrew Weil (and shown in the attached video) is probably the simplest way to harness your inner calm. And, you can do it anytime, anywhere. The technique is based on pranayama, an ancient yogic technique that helps people gain control over their breathing. It’s possible, too, that the 4-7-8 technique can help you get to sleep faster.


“Meditation is the practice of paying attention to the breath and to sensations in the present moment, rather than getting lost in random thoughts,” say Steven G. Pratt, M.D. and Kathy Matthews, authors of “SuperFoods HealthStyle: Proven Strategies for Lifelong Health.”

“Meditation has been demonstrated to ease chronic pain, depression, anxiety and stress … and generally improve symptoms associated with chronic ailments,” the authors say. “Meditation is not difficult to learn, and those who meditate regularly are able to achieve a relaxed, meditative state very quickly. The greatest rewards of meditation come with practice and persistence.”

“Put simply,” summarizes Lauren Bedosky, writing for [How to Boost Your Immune System Naturally | Everyday Health], “it’s your immune system’s job to defend your body against illness and disease.”

​Take care of it, and it will take care of you. Be well.


For Women, for All

Lorna Stewart, MD and Associates/Ms.Medicine opens in Naples

by Kathy Grey

The concept of concierge medicine, sometimes called membership medicine, is familiar to residents of Naples. Therein, doctors commit to limit their patient loads and provide adequate time and availability for each patient in exchange for a retainer.

This concept drew Dr. Lorna Stewart back to her Naples hometown, where she recently opened the practice Lorna Stewart, MD and Associates.

Dr. Stewart has partnered with Ms.Medicine, an expanding network of membership medicine practices in the U.S., and her Naples practice is the network’s first in Florida.

Though the Ms.Medicine moniker indicates the organization’s focus on the unique needs of women, Dr. Stewart’s Naples practice is open to all, with flexible plans for individuals (women and men), couples and families. However, the focus on women’s health is a mainstay in the new Naples practice.

Following 15 years in critical care and hospital medical practices in Tallahassee and Orlando, Dr. Stewart chose to transition to private practice in her hometown, where she could most effectively help keep her patients out of the hospital by guiding them in their quest for wellness and living their best lives.

Early Years

Dr. Stewart attended elementary and middle schools in Naples, but her medical journey didn’t begin until several years after her Barron Collier High School band teacher, Kelly Parker — whose father was a physician — recognized her as a health care natural.

At the time, Dr. Stewart was determined to become a veterinarian, until she observed a grueling cat surgery. Knowing then that vet life wasn’t for her, she briefly contemplated a career in architecture, but ultimately graduated Florida State University magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in Speech Pathology and Audiology. She went on to med school at Florida State University College of Medicine in 2005 as part of its inaugural graduating class.

To the Capitol and Beyond

The majority of her career was spent in Tallahassee as a hospitalist. She then served in Orlando for three years.

“Those communities are very different,” Dr. Stewart says. “Tallahassee is a college town with more of a Southern feel … landlocked and not on the water.” Even in the 17 years she spent there, she says, “I never got the sense that’s where I’d settle.”

“Moving to Orlando was appealing,” she says, but the commute amid I-4 traffic became cumbersome, if not harrowing. And she didn’t feel a sense of community in Orlando. What she longed for was a “close-knit and friendly” community like Naples.

“I loved the hospital and its resources,” she says, and working among specialists in a life-or-death environment was what she had built her career upon.

“There’s a real need for hospital medicine, but it has a lifespan of its own. It’s grueling, high-stress work … 12-hour days … emotionally draining … with very sick patients,” she says.

“I realized I was on the reactive side of things. You get a sense of what’s bringing people into the hospital. I could fix people, put them back together,” she says. “But how about keeping them from coming (to the hospital) in the first place?”

She investigated wellness practices that would bring greater fulfillment to her years of life-and-death health care experience and learned about Ohio-based Ms.Medicine and its novel approach to medicine.

She started investigating ways to return to the community that was still so familiar to her. After all, her parents, two grandmothers in their 90s, and her sister and family were still in Naples, where concierge medicine is popular and growing.

Business Aspect

She didn’t have hands-on experience with the business side of a medical practice, but that’s where Ms.Medicine met her needs. She found that Ms.Medicine — and founder, Dr. Lisa Larkin, and staff — gave her the support to open her own practice in Naples.

“They made (the business) aspect attainable. It has been an amazing resource.”

Ms.Medicine’s crew from its Ohio home base flew in to help with launching the Naples operation, with everything from signage and equipment to — most importantly — electronic medical records and coding training. When the Ohio training staff completes its work in late January, its new Naples affiliate, Lorna Stewart, MD and Associates, will be staffed with an office manager, medical assistant and the doctor (and owner) herself.

Dr Stewart with her boys Ashton and Liam

Dr. Stewart with her boys, Ashton and Liam.


Lorna Stewart, MD and Associates co-brands with Ms.Medicine as its sixth partner practice. Other Ms.Medicine locations are in Ohio (Cincinnati and Dayton), Virginia and Maryland.

Because Florida is home to so many part-time residents and visitors, it was important for Ms.Medicine to have a Florida presence, especially because the concierge medicine concept has been well received in Naples. Already, Dr. Stewart has met with several Ohio snowbirds looking to make the connection between their lives and health up north and in Florida.

“No one else here does that,” the doctor emphasizes. “Patients have a provider who has access to their medical records. It renders better care.”

Female Care

Dr. Stewart is affiliated with North American Menopause Society (NAMS), with access to its yearly certification as a NAMS provider. She and Ms.Medicine are also members of the International Society for the Study of Women’s Sexual Health (ISSWSH).

“Providers take care of women differently than men,” she says, explaining that things change in the female body — for example, menopause — that don’t change in men. Plus, she cautions, “There’s a lot of misinformation ... dangerous information … out there. You have to trust your provider to be educated.”

That’s why Ms.Medicine partners have clinical discussions every Monday with health-care providers and specialists across the nation. As a case is presented to the medical professionals via Zoom, specialists in their fields serve as moderators, leading roundtable discussions.

“We share knowledge and correct misinformation,” Dr. Stewart says.

Ms.Medicine’s founder, Dr. Larkin, a board-certified internist practicing internal medicine and women’s health since 1991, “is huge on sharing information and focusing on evidence-based medicine practices,” she says.

Formed in 2018, Ms.Medicine has a “membership medicine model that allows me the time to communicate with specialists around the country,” Dr. Stewart says. “With my lower patient census, I have more time to spend with patients and take care of them, communicating with their specialists.

“Communication is key,” she says, involving “collegiate conversations of care, not seven minutes with a patient.” That extra time allows for proactive health. “Studies show that concierge patients have lower hospital admission rates. They are invested in their health, and the physician has time to take care of them.”

On a Personal Note

Dr. Stewart has relocated to Naples with her two boys, ages 7 and 9, who are enrolled locally in elementary school. It’s a comfort to her that the two boys are in school together.  

The young family enjoys time together on nearby beaches, and the boys participate in equestrian exercises and martial arts.

Welcoming the Community

Dr. Stewart encourages community members interested in her Naples practice to make an appointment for a complimentary meet-and-greet “to make sure it’s going to be a good fit,” she says.

For a limited time, the practice is also offering a “founding member” discount for the first 50 people who enroll, bringing the $4,750 first-year membership to $4,000, and the $2,375 first six-month membership to $2,000.

The practice’s telehealth program is ideal for those who travel and want to retain Dr. Stewart as their primary physician year-round. It’s also convenient for locals from Marco Island, for example, to receive quick access with their doctor in Naples, and telehealth is an option to assuage COVID-19 concerns, although there’s usually only one patient in the waiting room and one in the exam room at the practice at any given time.

Ms.Medicine’s exceptional care for women isn’t exclusive to women.

“Couples sign up,” Dr. Stewart says, “and we offer a discount for that.” There’s also a discount for household dependents. Board-certified family medicine means the whole family, from ages 6 an up, can receive care in the practice.

Lorna Stewart, MD and Associates is located at 9150 Galleria Court, Suite 200, in Naples. Call 239-580-6390 for more information or visit
To learn more about Ms.Medicine, visit


Music for the Soul

‘Naples Piano Man’ duo helps Collier ‘come together’

by Kathy Grey

As the COVID-19 pandemic made its first surge through Southwest Florida in 2020, Gary Kearns and his wife, Kate, decided to do something about the loneliness residents in Naples and areas beyond were feeling in isolation.

Known as the “Naples Piano Man,” the couple brought music to them. Performing from ground-level parking areas — his music and Kate’s rhythmic tambouring percussion soaring skyward — confirmed that music truly soothes the soul.

“I played in a dueling pianos band at The Blue Monkey and then the pandemic hit,” Gary says. And then, we said, “Let’s take the music to them.”

They began by performing their expansive variety of cover music where they live. Because of its design, the high-rise Montenero offers surprisingly excellent acoustics.

“Our building is curved, so it’s a natural amphitheater,” Kate says.

After the Kearns duet launched the outdoor concert concept, they were tapped by a dozen other Southwest Florida high-rise communities, north and south. (“We call it the strip,” Gary says.)

As for payment, the couple accepts donations on behalf of the Collier Comes Together Fund, launched for emergencies by the Community Foundation of Collier County in 2017 in the wake of Hurricane Irma. The fund has since been activated to aid economic challenges sustained in the summer of 2018, during the water crisis, and again this spring, as the pandemic took hold.

When snowbirds flew back north and the weather became oppressively hot and rainy, the couple took a summer break, resuming performances in advance of the holiday season.

“Christmas music, Christmas cheer … We realized we needed to do this. We were a little mopey, ourselves. It cheered us up and cheered everyone up.”

Since their initial spring flings, Kate and Gary have raised $6,000 for Collier Comes Together through contributions from high-rise audiences.

The High-Rise Factor

The most important reason they choose to perform for high-rise communities is that it facilitates safety of social distancing.

Residents come out on their balconies, Kate says, vocalizing with each other, often with happy-hour glasses in hand, taking in the music rising up from below. Building managers receive song lyrics in advance of the 90-minute, 30-song productions to distribute to residents, who sing along with show tunes, jazz classics, and pop music from the ’50s through the ’90s. Even their rendition of “California Girls” has a high-rise twist, dubbed “Condo Girls.” (“The women go crazy!” Gary says.)

Residents of one condo building were disappointed when their annual Kentucky Derby event was canceled in May. Instead, balcony guests sipped mint juleps in their Derby Day finery, enjoying the music of Piano Man and Tambourine Lady, who were surprised when event organizers arranged to have a horse stand by the musicians as a tribute to the Derby.

Advocating with Avocation

It wasn’t Gary Kearns’ first rodeo, so to speak. He’s been performing most of his life, including when he was “crazy-busy” as an executive vice president at Mastercard, moonlighting to raise charitable funds with his fellow corporate musicians, fittingly dubbed “The Transactions.”

“We raised a couple hundred thousand dollars for Habitat for Humanity’s elaborate Halloween costume events,” Gary says. The group also performed for Mastercard’s mammoth corporate summer picnic.

Here in Southwest Florida, the couple is reigniting their high-energy high-rise concerts. They welcome future engagements, inviting folks to visit the Naples.Piano.Man Facebook page, noting that safe, social distancing is mandatory as the pandemic continues.

“My husband has an amazing amount of energy,” Kate says of Gary, an entrepreneur and professor of masters-level courses at Queens University in Toronto. “He’s a “glass-half-full-to-overflowing” person who always seeks ways to help others, she says.

Giving is a core value for the couple, who met as undergrads at Georgetown University before marrying and raising their two daughters, now 32 and 28, who live in New York and Boston, respectively.

The Kearns family established a Georgetown scholarship for their alma mater, and Kate, a retired nurse, ran the United Way campaign in Connecticut, where the couple lived years before settling permanently in Southwest Florida.

“Helping people has always been an important part of our lives,” Kate says.

Gary echoes the sentiment: “We’re doing well and doing good.”

“We’ve been really fortunate in our lives,” Kate says. “If we can help, we pay it forward.”

“We’re delighted to do this: to raise spirits and funds for Collier Comes Together,” Gary says.

“It’s that whole karma thing. You pay into it, and if you need it, it’s there.”

To learn more, visit (20+) Naples Piano Man | Facebook.

A Microwave Miracle

A Microwave Miracle

Resolve to dissolve the gunk with this simple microwave cleaning technique

by Kathy Grey

The holidays are over, but the remains of those festive days may have stuck around.

Your microwave might have suffered a number of food hits during the holiday season, but this kitchen cleaning hack — if you don’t know about it already — could very well be your favorite this year and in years to come.

Here’s a chemical-free way to clean up a grungy micro in 10 minutes or less. All you need is a bowl, some water, a fresh lemon and some cleaning cloths.


Here’s how:

  • Pour a half cup of water into a microwave-safe bowl.

  • Cut a whole lemon in half, squeeze the juice into the water bowl and drop the lemon halves in, too.

  • Place the lemon-infused bowl in the microwave and cook on high for 3 minutes or until the water boils.

  • Important: Don’t open the microwave door for 5 minutes, as the water’s steam and the lemon’s acid continue to loosen and dissolve the gunk inside.

  • After 5 minutes, carefully remove the bowl of water and lemon and keep it nearby.

  • Use a clean cloth to wipe down the microwave’s interior until it’s clean and free of grease. Start at the “ceiling,” then down the sides, back, along the bottom and inside the door.

  • For stubborn spots, dip a sponge into the heated bowl of water and lemon and scrub until debris or grease is gone.

Note: I prefer to remove the glass plate turntable and wash it separately, so the microwave floor is also bathed in steam. But it’s fine to place the water bowl on the turntable and clean from there.

“Iron sharpens iron.”

Who is sharpening you in 2021?

Save your spot to this season's NextGen Speaker Series


Learn how you can join the NextGen Speaker Series for inspiring leadership lessons and practical business advice that you can use to elevate your own life and work.

éBella readers are invited into this exclusive network of business professionals and community leaders, giving you the opportunity to hear from world-renowned entrepreneurs and business leaders, including Fortune 500 CEOs.

Save your spot for the first event on January 29 -

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Change the New Normal

Imagine Solutions to present virtual thought leader conference in February and March


The nationally recognized Imagine Solutions Conference will host its first-ever virtual conference this year over the course of six days in February and March. During the 2021 thought leader conference, themed “Change the New Normal,” 19 experts will address 11 timely topics.

“As we navigate these uncertain times, we long for certainty, but the challenges we face call for the opposite — openness, curiosity and vision,” says Imagine Solutions CEO Randy Antik. “We hope attendees will walk away motivated and inspired to incorporate and share the knowledge they learn.”

Topics and Speakers

The 2021 Imagine Solutions Virtual Conference topics and the speakers addressing the audience are as follows:

The Biomedical Genius Cluster - Science & Technology panel

  • Robert Langer ScD, co-founder, Moderna

  • Penny Heaton MD, CEO, Bill and Melinda Gates Medical Research Institute

  • Sangeeta N. Bhatia MD, PhD, Biomedical Engineer, Professor at MIT’s Institute for Medical Engineering and Science and Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

  • James J. Collins, Biomedical Engineer, Professor of Medical Engineering & Science and Professor of Biological Engineering at MIT

  • Bob Buderi, Panel Moderator, CEO and Editor-in-Chief at Xconomy, former editor at BusinessWeek and MIT’s Technology Review

The Military

John Richardson, Four-Star Admiral, CNO, U.S. Navy (Ret.)


Bridget Terry Long, Dean, Harvard Graduate School of Education

Ideas for Solving Problems

John Allen, President, Brookings Institution


David R. Malpass, President, The World Bank

The World: Major Trends

Daniel Franklin, Executive and diplomatic editor, The Economist

Always a Next Chapter

Molly Bloom, American entrepreneur, speaker and author of the 2014 memoir, “Molly's Game”

Medicine | Healthcare

Dr. Eleanor Green, Dean, Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences (Ret.)

Gender & Race

Cecilia Conrad, CEO, Lever for Change, MacArthur Foundation


  • Anthony DeCurtis (The History of Rock & Roll), distinguished lecturer in the creative writing program at the University of Pennsylvania; former commentator on MTV, VH1 and The Today Show  

  • David Cole (The “Secret Sauce” in American Invention History); President and CEO, Science History Institute

Voices for the Arts

  • Llewellyn Sanchez-Werner, Piano Virtuoso, named Gilmore Young artist, an honor awarded to the most promising American pianists of the new generation

  • Shelbie Rassler – Composer/Arranger, Multi-Instrumentalist

Change Makers

  • Drew Sullivan – Publisher and co-founder, Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP)

  • Tyler Mathisen, Conference Moderator – CNBC Power-Lunch Co-Anchor and Vice President, Events Strategy

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Imagine Solutions has created a one-time Our Heroes Scholarship program, to underwrite the 2021 Imagine Solutions Conference registration fees for all first responders and essential social service nonprofit organizations serving Southwest Florida. This program has the impact to reach 59,600 employees and the potential to provide $11,920,000 in scholarships to Southwest Florida communities.

“With our new virtual format and the Our Heroes Scholarship program, we’re making it easier than ever for the Southwest Florida community to engage with top thought leaders from around the U.S. on a variety of timely topics,” Antik says.

The 2021 Imagine Solutions Conference will take place February 22-24 and March 1-3. There will be one session each day featuring three speakers, plus one mega-session featuring a panel of four experts and a moderator. Each daily virtual session will last approximately one-and-a-half hours and registered attendees have the choice of watching at 4 p.m. or 7 p.m.

Sessions will also be posted online and will be accessible for a two-week period to registrants. The conference cost is $200 per person, 75% of which is tax-deductible. Learn more at

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