We took to our social media accounts to ask if mask wearing is a regular part of your routine – an overwhelming majority of you said yes – and your favorite place to purchase your face coverings. Here are a few of our favorites.
Still seeking masks? Here are a few of our favorites to shop for facecoverings:
• Ben Franklin Crafts New Albany, 420 New Albany Plaza, New Albany: Purchase from the array of adjustable fit masks for men, women and children or select your own fabric and let the talented team create one – or more! – just for you.
• Regalo Gifts, 234 Pearl St., New Albany: Like making people laugh? Prefer a witty face covering? Aren’t afraid to let you’re a little piece of fabric to the talking? Check out the unique masks at regaloart.com.
“The front desk at a flea market in Salem held it for me when I called after learning they had one with Winnie the Pooh scenes. My students will love it when we return to school.” – Kristin Kleinert
“Had a lot of help, but made a lot of masks. I feel you find what works best for you. IMO everyone is different. It’s not easy, but kudos to the nurses in N95 masks for 12- hour shifts – suffocating.” –Kelly Rivard
“My favorite mask is my Steve Buscemi mask, I bought it online. I have about 10 other fabric masks that I made myself. Gotta coordinate!” –Courtney Hill Paris
“Got it on Etsy.” – Jodi Stiller Meier
“I make them myself.” – Jennifer Koch
“A wonderful lady at my church, Wesley Chapel, made this mask.” –Laura Gipe
“Got this one on Etsy!” – Kris Ritcher
“Regalo (in New Albany at their) online (shop).” – Kathy Elder
“It was special made by Val Jeanine Davis-Kavanaugh. Donations went to pancreatic cancer research in memory of her twin sister, who passed away recently. The pink (is) for me as a 12-year breast cancer survivor.” –Trina Davidson Amos
On July 22, Gov. Eric Holcomb announced a statewide mask mandate to begin July 27 for everyone in Indiana age 8 or older in indoor public spaces – including transportation services and public outdoor places where social distancing of 6 feet isn’t possible.
Exceptions include those who have a medical condition that prevents them from wearing a mask, participating in strenuous physical activity or while eating or drinking.
Holcomb initially stated not wearing a face mask would be considered a Class B misdemeanor
days in jail and up to $1,000 in fines) – and stated, ““Please know that the mask police will not be patrolling Indiana streets.” – but then rescinded any criminal penalties after much criticism.
The mask mandate has been met with a variety of responses. Several elected officials, including Speaker Todd Hutson, expressed surprise while others applauded the decision.
Indiana’s Attorney General Curtis Hill issued an advisory opinion stating the governor overstepped his authority with the mandate. The opinion does not block Gov. Holcomb’s action.
Sheriffs in at least four counties publicly stated they would not enforce the mandate when Gov. Holcomb previously stated it would be a misdemeanor to not wear a mask.
In Floyd County, Dr. Thomas Harris of the Floyd County Health Department – with approval of the Floyd County Board of Health – announced a mask mandate was to begin on July 24 – three days prior to Gov. Holcomb’s mandate. In a press release, Harris wrote that masks must cover the mouth and nose in indoor areas open to the public, including transportation services; private indoor or outdoor areas where social distancing of 6 feet can’t be maintained; enclosed public spaces and places of business. Individuals who are exempt include children 2 years old or younger, people who are hearing impaired and need to remove masks or facial coverings to communicate, individuals in respiratory distress, or anyone who has been advised, in writing, by a primary care provider not to wear a mask due to health concerns.
Multiple law enforcement agencies issued statements requesting violations of the mask mandate be made to local health departments instead of calling authorities, which has since been affirmed by the governor.
Pundits from all over the country are making the rounds sharing their opinions about the mandate– for and against.
And you only need to jump on social media for a moment to find a variety of responses: Some decry the order as far too late.
Some express enthusiastic appreciation for the mandate.
There are posts that claim adherence means acceptance of personal liberties and freedom being stripped away.
There are posts filled with heartfelt pleas to others to wear masks and examples of first-person accounts with COVID.
There are status updates from people who would prefer not to wear masks but will anyway.
There are quotes from famous historical figures, professional athletes, celebrities and notable people weighing in for or against.
There are memes, made up statistics, conspiracy theories and claims the mass media is perpetuating fake news.
There are Tik Tok videos, live rants, figurative soap boxes, political cartoons and pics of kids – and kittens, puppies, dogs, cats – donning masks with statements representing all perspectives.
Regardless of where you stand, one thing is for sure: the face mask is a sign of the times – but will it define us?
Tell Us: What do you think about masks and the mandate issued by Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Responses may be shared in the next issue of Extol.
Former Extol photographer – and college student – Evan Rivard shares his thoughts on this
When I experienced my first Indiana University commencement ceremony, I was
searching for my sister in a sea of caps and gowns
throughout Memorial Stadium. Since my own time at Indiana University, I have envisioned myself in her shoes preparing to take steps toward a new beginning.The importance of this ceremony is recognized by many as it honors the efforts and achievements of college graduates and opens the door to their future lives. In the context of the current state of
the world, however, commencement seems to be the least of our concerns. As I write this, the
COVID-19 pandemic has affected many, both at home and across the globe.
More than 140,000+ Americans have died after contracting the virus, in addition to leaving tens of millions unemployed. Concurrently, our country is experiencing a call-to-action for racial justice. Protests have taken the forefront of our attention.
These current crises are difficult to process, as the combination of a global pandemic and nationwide protests are unprecedented in recent history. Remaining proactive in the midst of these current events has proven to be a challenge, as so many aspects of what we consider “normal” have been suspended indefinitely.
On the other hand, many have shown great resolve and adaptability in their efforts to maintain certain aspects of our lives.
Indiana University has done a great job in transitioning to online classes to accommodate students academically. This was implemented in the spring semester and extended into the summer term. After finishing my spring semester, I am in the process of completing my final two courses. One of these includes advanced career development, serving as a substitute for an internship due to limitations in work and interactions from potential COVID-19 exposure. In this course, I will obtain essential UITS certifications in web design, web creation, Access, and Excel through IU. Additionally, the class emphasizes preparation and acclimation for a novel time to enter the job market.
My other online class, employee recruitment and selection in the public sector, is a valuable course to be taking with regard to these current times. I have made the decision to use my free time to work as a Door Dash delivery driver. Not only am I able to meet the current demand for restaurant delivery due to social distancing, but it also gives me the ability to work and make money in a flexible way.
I believe that our country, in addition to the world, faces a critical moment that will be written into history books for many years to come. The response to these pertinent events, whether they are perceived as positive or negative, should be of importance to everyone. This extends to responsibilities like voting, activism, and action that reflect the significance of both the voice of an individual and combined effectiveness. What is today known as “The Greatest Generation” began with the Great Depression, then, followed by Roosevelt’s massive reforms in the New Deal, and World War II. Confronting and surpassing challenges is not something new for this country as it writes our history and establishes the resilience we see today. The struggles we are faced with today in 2020, especially as graduates, should not be understated. Generation Z is comprised of the children who experienced 9/11, witnessed endless wars, countless school shootings, police brutality, and are now entering the labor force during a global health crisis. I believe that this is a vital point in time as we, the leaders of tomorrow, show our strength and resilience in response to these challenging circumstances, ultimately shaping the future.
New Albany restaurant changes concept in light of COVID-19
BY LISA HORNUNG | PHOTOS BY JOSH KEOWN
There are a lot of potential disasters for which
restaurant owners can anticipate and prepare. A
global pandemic was never one of them.
Beau Kerley and Tim Smith have not come
through this worldwide storm without a few
scratches. That’s why they are changing the business
concept for their restaurant, The Standard Plate &
Pour, 207 E. Main St., in New Albany.
While the veteran restaurateurs haven’t dealt
with a massive shutdown like this before, they’ve
managed to keep several restaurants running and
the others are nearly back to their regular business.
But The Standard is now switching to a facility
that will only be open for private events, including
rentals and special functions put on by the company.
“We’re going to be closed except for private(rentals). We’re going to be doing wedding
rehearsals and business meetings and just every
private event we can do,” Kerley said. “We’re also
going to be putting on our own private events like
bourbon dinners or wine dinners. Against the Grain
breweries are going to be doing a takeover of our
patio, and we’re gonna have a band out there one
night in August.”
While most businesses have struggled through
the pandemic, the restaurant industry has been
hit especially hard, with an estimated $145
billion shortfall during the first four months of
the COVID-19 shutdown in the United States,
according to the National Restaurant Association.
June showed the highest monthly sales volume since
March but still remained about $18 billion down
from the pre-coronavirus sales levels in January
and February, the association said in mid-July.
The Standard felt it, too. “There was a little period
of time we saw a little bit of an uptick (in business)
there,” Kerley said. “We opened, and at first it
was really slow. Then, we saw a little uptick and
thought, ‘OK, well then, we’re gonna go here and
do something,’ but it just never really continued.
The margins in restaurants are so small, it just
doesn’t make sense.”
The pair have worked together for about 11 years,
starting at Bluegrass Brewing Company (Kerley is
still a partner at BBC) and then went to Crescent Hill
Craft House in Louisville, but decided they wanted
to strike out on their own. So, a few years ago they
started 812 Pizza Company in Georgetown. The
two also own Dos Gringos and the Early Edition
in Jeffersonville, and they opened The Standard about a year ago.
“Owning multiple restaurants, each restaurant
has had its own challenges. The Standard’s been
tough. It’s a nighttime, date-night market to begin
with. And that’s one thing that we’ve found is that
date-night places have kind of been left out. At 812
Pizza Company, which is a family-style place that
delivers, our business has been doing really well
there. It came back really quick. But as to places
that are the nicer places, that still hasn’t come
back,” Kerley said in early July.
Kerley said he understands why business was
so slow. People are still unsure of their financial
future and aren’t splurging on evenings out. So,
places that, “you go for a nice evening and a nice
meal and a bottle of wine, they’re struggling a little
more, I think,” Kerley said.
Though The Standard is popular, translating that
to dollars is different. “The interesting thing about
The Standard is that it’s one of our best-reviewed
restaurants,” Kerley said. “I have people call me all
the time and tell me how great of a time they had
there and how much they love their food, their
experience, the service. But it’s just, you love it
but you just don’t go there very often, you know?
That’s kind of weird: I have restaurants that do a
lot more business and aren’t as well-reviewed.”
The change in concept helps the restaurant focus
on the needs of the community without having to
gamble on when customers will come in, potentially
wasting costs. The menu will be based on the
evening’s events, but many of The Standard’s most
popular dishes will be incorporated, and the focus
on Southern cuisine will stay, Kerley said. There
won’t be a room fee, but there will be minimums
and several tiers of catering options.
“We’re gonna be booking our own band nights,
and we’re going to do dinner and a show, dinner
and music and maybe things like that,” he said. They
will sell tickets and take reservations for the special
events. “But we’re going to have more control over
it and make it more of a special thing, and know
exactly how many people are going to be there as
opposed to just being hopeful that people come
in. We’re going to try to take a negative and turn
it into a positive.”
The Standard’s fun patio will also be available, he
said. “When we look at what our strength is there,
which separates us from other places, we have a
really nice patio,” Kerley said. “We’re trying to use
that strength and invest more in stuff that makes that
more accessible and more of a more of a spotlight. ”The shift means a tighter focus on offerings,
but no loss of jobs. “Luckily, we have five or six restaurants, so all of our employees are going to be employed. A lot of them are going to go work at Tucker’s, and a few of them are going to go work at Dos Gringos, because we just redid Tucker’s so we needed the staff anyway” Kerley said. “So this was
good timing. We’re going to be able to offer all of
our employees, you know, full-time employment
in other places, so it works out.”
During the days of the full shutdown, The Standard
was completely closed because “Downtown New
Albany was a ghost town,” Kerley said. But carryout
and delivery sales actually increased at the pair’s
other restaurants, especially at 812 Pizza. Now
all of Kerley and Smith’s other restaurants are
available for carry-out and curbside service, as
well as free delivery.
Now that their other restaurants are open, they’ve
seen a 5 to 10 percent increase in carryout sales. “I
think there’s gonna be a lot of people who aren’t
going to be comfortable (coming inside yet),” Kerley
said in July. “People who still have illnesses that
keep them from going outside right now, you know,
there’s a high likelihood to (contract the virus).”
Kerley and Smith are optimistic and thankful
for the community’s support. “We love our rapport
we’re getting from everybody locally, and we hope
people continue to come out to local businesses
and help us out,” Kerley said. “We appreciate all
the support we’ve gotten from people. Just people
supporting us is such a huge deal, and we want to thank everybody.”
But don’t expect the pair to give in to economic
uncertainty anytime soon.
“We’re not quitters: We’re not giving up, and we
still think the place is awesome. We’re just gonna
try to shape it into what people want it to be,” Kerley
said. “Instead of forcing what we think should
be or what we want it to be, we’re gonna kind of
listen to our guests and try to make it something
that they want it to be, and make it where it can
“We love our rapport we’re getting from everybody locally, and we hope people continue to come out.” –Beau Kerley
Under the helm of uber talented chef Scott Dickenson, 1816 Modern Kitchen & Drinks features Southern comfort fusion with fresh farm-totable fare. Delectable main items include a gorgeous Ramen (seriously, it’s beautiful), Pork Belly General Tso and Larry’s Crispy Skin Chicken. But we could happily stick to eating order after order of the Brussels Sprouts and Poutine. They’re THAT delicious. Must Try: If you’re seeking a refreshing change – whether dining in or doing carryout – don’t forget an order of Watermelon Gazpacho. And did we mention the Brussels Sprouts and Poutine? 1816 Modern Kitchen & Drinks 100 E. Chestnut St. Corydon (812) 225-5342 @1816Kitchen 1816Kitchen.com
After opening in June, Chicken Salad Chick has quickly garnered rave reviews for its 12 different types of chicken salad – handmade each morning – as well as the sides, sandwiches and sweet treats. Must Try: There’s a chicken salad to please every palate, but don’t forget to give the Pimento Cheese, Grape Salad and Broccoli Salad a try, too. ats carries those staples, too. Unsure how to cook a particular cut, want a suggestion for your next purchase or have a question about where the meats come from? Just ask. The staff is knowledgeable and super friendly. Pop in and we’re pretty sure this will be your new go-to meat market for sure. Follow @preferredmeatsinc on Facebook. Chicken Salad Chick 1520 Veterans Parkway Jeffersonville (812) 504-2360 @ChickenSaladChickJeffersonville Chickensaladchick.com/Jeffersonville
Red on Main is a family-owned, chef-inspired bistro featuring pasta, steaks, seafood, fresh salads, charcuterie boards and an exquisite speakeasy with a full bar, including handcrafted cocktails. The Black & Bleu Salad is a popular choice (we always ask for extra Smoky Bleu Cheese Dressing). Must Try: Go all in on the specials of the day, which vary from savory soups to delicious entrees. We were lucky to pop in on a day when they were serving Watermelon Basil Gazpacho, and we’re still smiling about a mid-June meal of Shrimp Scampi with a glass of Domaine Laroque Chardonnay. Red on Main 122 E. Main St. Madison (812) 274-0105 @redonmain
Nestled in the heart of New Washington, The 1894 Lodge bills itself as a neighborhood bar and grill, but it’s so much more. Opt for a formal dining experience and you’ll be seated in the main dining room with its exposed brick and original floors. Relax and unwind in the lounge area. Belly up to the bar, which is made from reclaimed local wood. Or order to-go. You can’t go wrong. Must Try: The 1894 Burger with the Gouda Mac is a sure winner. Or try the chef’s specials. But whatever you do, be sure to save room for the Candied Bacon and Eggs. The 1894 Lodge 409 E. Main St. New Washington (812) 628-9006 @1894Lodge The1894Lodge.com
Fans of The Chicken House were thrilled when it reopened under new ownership and newbies are realizing just why this eatery is legendary and a destination point for people coming from near and far. There are a ton of options, but may we suggest the chicken? Pro Tip: Call ahead for a reservation or to place a to-go order. This is NOT a fast food place, which is exactly why we love it. The Chicken House 7180 Highway 111 Sellersburg (812) 246-9485 @TheChickenHouseSellersburg TheChickenHouseOnline.com Good things come to those who wait – and that includes Tony Impellizzeri’s Sicilian Deep Dish, which takes a good 50 minutes. Call ahead because they’re currently offering carryout only. And don’t forget to order the Famous Breadsticks. Tony Impellizzeri’s Pizza 5170 Charlestown Road New Albany (812) 949-3000 @tonyimpellizzeris Rather try your hand in the kitchen or in the mood to grill? Make a stop at Preferred Meats, where you’ll find meats, sides, adult beverages, spices, vegetables and much more. Call ahead to get you order ready, and be sure to follow the locally-owned, locally-sourced shop on Facebook. Owner Samantha Huber regularly posts about specials, including the occasional stocking of mouth-watering items like Wagyu beef. Preferred Meats 7617 Old State Road 60 Sellersburg (812) 246-5930 @preferredmeatsinc PreferredMeatsInc.com
Forget a staycation. Visit Southern Indiana’s perfect pairing, the French Lick Winery and enjoy the spirits of its adjacent distillery, and you’ll be transported to a heavenly locale that feels otherworldly.
Extol’s Must-Savor Summer Spot, the winery offers guests the opportunity
to sample the libations, enjoy a glass – or a bottle – on the patio or in The
Vintage Café, or purchase what you desire for a picnic or gathering. Café fare
is fresh and exquisite. The pizza dough is crafted from a more than 100-year old
recipe straight from Naples, Italy, and the staff makes everything with
the utmost attention – from croutons to meatballs. There are vegetarian and
gluten free options (including cracker, bread and pizza!), too. Menu items
include a divine Charcuterie Board, meatballs, and other starters; pizzas
of all varieties; pastas (vegetarian and gluten free options); salads; a kids
menu (Pizza Taco with a side of grapes, anyone?); gourmet coffees; and a
decadent dessert list, too.
Prefer to try Spirits of French Lick? Try the first Bottle In Bond release,
The Mattie Gladden High Rye Bourbon now available in the tasting room
and gift shop (distribution coming soon).
Take A Trip: French Lick Winery Ready to visit? The Vintage Café restaurant and tasting bar are open. French Lick Winery 8145 W. Sinclair St. West Baden (812) 936-2293 FrenchLickWinery.com @frenchlickwinery Spirits of French Lick SpiritsOfFrenchLick.com @spiritsoffrenchlick
Elegant abode boasts modern amenities, stunning view
Nestled on 10 breathtaking acres in Scott County, the home at 1501 E. Marshfield Road
offers elegance with a memorable view, regardless of the time of year.
The stunning 8,148 square foot home is located in a beautiful setting that features a pond out front, forest out back and a gigantic pole barn
with lean-tos on either side.
Space and modern amenities flourish in this residence that boasts five bedrooms, including a first floor master room with porch access and
oversized rooms with spacious closets that lend lots of space for storage, as well as five bathrooms, all with ample space to relax and unwind. The main kitchen features an open plan, granite countertop and floor to ceiling cabinets. There also I a second kitchen with a bar located in the basement. Movie buffs – or anyone who appreciates a bit of downtime watching television or favorite streaming services – will love the expansive theater room upstairs.
This Scott County gem is a must-see.
Interested in this gorgeous Scott County
home? Contact Alicia Powell with Homes
with Hogue Team at Lopp Real Estate.
1501 E. Marshfield Road
Weathering 2020 with Axiom Financial Strategies Group
By Laura Ross
In these times of uncertainty, rapidly changing job situations, and the COVID-19 health crisis, we find our lives changing almost daily. How do you
possibly plan for your family’s financial future? It can be an overwhelming thought, and one you might shove on a shelf for a later day. Not so fast, says Axiom Financial Strategies Group’s founder and partner Vaughan Scott. He says now is the perfect time to plan for financial security. “Ask yourself, do you have a plan?” Scott says, “Do you have faith in that plan? If you don’t, then you better talk to someone with expertise.” Long-term financial planning not only gives you peace of mind, it also helps weather financial
storms like the one we find ourselves in right now. “The general pendulum swings between irrational exuberance and panic,” explains Scott. “The reality is you must have objective data to make informed decisions, and that’s what these plans do. (At Axiom Financial Services) we have ways to reduce the risk. The corrections that occur let us do major repositioning, but it’s always based on a client’s needs or goals. We try to provide as many solutions as possible.” New Albany’s Axiom Financial Strategies Group, led by Scott and his business partner, Mike Grau, has served Southern Indiana, Kentucky, and beyond since 2009. After a long stretch underthe Wells Fargo umbrella, the firm recently began
registered independent investment advisory operations focused on growth, service, integrity,
accountability, and innovation. Scott, a Southern Indiana native and Indiana University graduate, got the bug to help others build wealth by emulating his mom, who was a financial planner throughout the 1980s. “When I got out of college, the person who hired my mom suggested I get some real-world experience,” Scott says. He started working in the business with UBS in 1999 and worked with a team that included Gloria Bommarrito and Abby Wolfe, investment advisors who are still critical leaders of the Axiom team today. “Gloria and I split off to join Smith Barney in partnership with Your Community Bank (YCB) to take over YCB’s investment and trust operations in 2003,” says Scott. “She and I started with a fax machine and a couple computers,” he laughs. When work increased and they needed assistance, Scott asked Smith Barney for help finding someone who had an excellent planning background and was introduced to Mike Grau in 2003. “We built what became our Axiom team in that one conference room,” adds Grau, Axiom partner, certified financial planner, and retirement
income certified professional. His background in accounting and managing client portfolios was the perfect fit. The team clicked, and Axiom Financial Strategies Group was formed in partnership with Wells Fargo in 2009 – just as that year’s financial crisis hit. Today, Axiom serves clients in Indiana, Kentucky, and 14 other states. Scott and Grau have built a team of investment advisors with experience and enthusiasm and have plans for continued
growth. Many Axiom advisors have close ties to Southern Indiana.
“An axiom is a closely held principle or truth,” explains Scott. “We originally operated under our last names, but knew we wanted a name that had meaning.”
Axiom Financial Strategies Group advises
individuals, families, family-owned businesses,
and entrepreneurs through all stages of
financial planning, including wealth growth
and management, 401K investments, strategic
planning, and trusts.
“We have a team of nine advisors who all work
to make Axiom the best,” says Grau. “Our clients
see that. We invite them in, show them how we
work, and even do a complimentary plan first.
We want them to be comfortable with the entire
team and know they are welcomed and respected.”
An axiom is a closely held principle or truth. We knew we wanted a name that
– Vaughan Scott,
Axiom Financial Strategies Group
founder and partner
101 W. Spring St.
Certified Financial Planner Michelle Konkle returned to her Southern Indiana roots to work with the firm. “I wanted to be a part of Axiom,” she says. “The respect and courtesy we give to clients shows we really do care for them. It’s not about production; it’s about working with genuinely nice people who care about their clients.”
Scott agrees, “Our culture puts our clients first. We have a fiduciary mindset, but we also truly function as a team. Most industry advisors have internal competitions, but we just always have the philosophy that if we take good care of our clients and have a good team, we’ll always have a place in this business.” Now more than ever, Scott knows that personal touch is paramount. When the sky seemed to fall earlier in 2020, Axiom mobilized to stay safe, work remotely, and work quickly to secure their clients’ investments as much as possible. “We learned to communicate via email and phone in ways we never did before,” says Scott.
“Mike and Gloria did a phenomenal job with our repositioning when the market was at its bottom. It’s one thing to absorb the shock of the market, but another thing to reposition for recovery. Mike and Gloria completed transactions for over
1,000 accounts in just a few days. As the market has recovered, our clients see the results of that.”
Earlier in the year, Grau and Scott focused on upgrading technology efforts and saw the benefits immediately. “We’ve remained flexible,” Grau says. “Everyone has a long-term plan that we put together the day we start working with them. When markets turn downward, people look at their scores and see their score is still in the target zone.
They can weather the storm, and we position the assets and work with a plan that allows them to see how they are doing. Most people are staying on track, despite the effects of 2020.” That personal touch highlights Axiom’s difference from larger, more national investment firms. Clients choose who they want to work with, says Grau, “We come in every day to serve our clients, our team members, and our community. That’s our mindset.”
“It’s a focus on families,” Scott adds, “It’s more than just a financial business. We take on clients who do cool things and help them grow. I think about what I would advise my family, my parents, my grandparents to do. We help, and we just do
it the right way.”
In March, when stay-at-home orders were enacted due to COVID-19, life changed for us all. Months later, we’re still grappling with the virus, which has wreaked havoc in many ways while also bringing out our collective ingenuity, adaptability and desire to connect with others. JD Dotson, one of our Extol teammates, captured these pictures of his personal experience during the pandemic. In them, there is hope, there is fear, there is sadness, there is joy and there is the understanding that no matter what happens, we will never be the same.
As he writes in his new book, Steve Adams was an admittedly clueless father until divorce and joint custody forced him to reassess his priorities
By Conrad Jarret
Steve Adams is a successful, hard-working, just-turned-50 real estate agent, a devoted father
of two who always makes time for his children – Rachel, a graduating college senior, and Carter,
a high school junior. But it wasn’t always this way. Only 10 years ago, he was an up-and-comer who never let his family get in the way of a business
deal, a meet-and-greet, a meal or drinks with clients. His career was rising, but his home life
was descending into shambles. “I was never there for them,” he admits. “I
missed dinners and family events. My feeling was, I was providing, and that was all that should
What changed for Adams? Divorce, and the ensuing settlement battles over finances and custody. And what started out – as he now admits – as a contest simply to defeat his ex-wife in court turned into a complete transformation, a look-inthe- mirror realization that he had an obligation to these two young children (they were 11 and five at the time) that exceeded putting a roof over their heads. He saw that it was what he did beneath that roof that truly mattered. It was that classic realization: “I brought those kids into the world, they didn’t ask to be born, and they certainly didn’t ask for this divorce.”
Now, he says, “Almost everything I do is with the thought of how it’s going to affect them. You
can’t go wrong if they’re your Number One priority all the time.”
Adams didn’t give up his career, nor his will to succeed in business. Rather, he readjusted
his priorities and found structure and balance in his life. “If I had a business appointment that
coincided with Carter’s basketball game, the game took precedence every time. If there was
a parent-teacher conference scheduled on a weekday business morning, that’s where I’d be
that morning — every time.”
He also reordered his domestic priorities. He developed his cooking skills, so those weekends with the kids were not full of pizza boxes and fast-food drive-throughs. “It got so that my kids noticed when they came in the door and there wasn’t something cooking in the kitchen.” And, as he resumed dating post-divorce, “If I wasn’t certain about bringing a woman home to meet my kids, I didn’t do it. It was a litmus test, and most of those relationships failed the test.” Priorities. Structure. Balance.
The effort to rearrange his life, and the lessons he learned, are discussed in detail in his new book, “Now What? A Divorced Dad’s Guide to Parenting Excellence,”
published in 2019 by Butler Books. University of Louisville head men’s basketball
coach Chris Mack said on a cover blurb: “Steve’s book is straight from the heart, on lessons he’s
learned and applied, for helping you be the best father you can be.” Best father you can be – and, as it turned out, best parent, too.
“As I developed the thoughts that went into writing the book,” Adams says, “I realized there was much about being ‘the best father you can be’ that went beyond just the community of divorced fathers. All these thoughts and recommendations and guidelines also apply to any fathers of young children, to divorced mothers and all single-parent households and, in fact, to any parent at all.”
During the course of writing his book – which is available on Amazon, at local bookstores and ButlerBooks.com – Adams talked to educators, counselors, religious leaders, family court judges and sociologists, and he says he was alarmed by some of the things he’d heard. “I talked to Aaron Striegel, the student counselor at Trinity High School,” says Adams. “He shared with me some alarming statistics about what happens to children who grow up in turbulent households
or without a father’s presence. So many of them end up doing time.”
Adams says he was even contacted by a man who runs an addiction recovery program in Nashville. “He wanted me to come talk to his group. I don’t have the specific background issues of his attendees, but he thought my message – of changing, prioritizing and goal-setting – would resonate with them.”
Finally, Adams took aim in his book at a surprising target: Facebook. “People with issues – in their marriages, in their home lives, with their children – broadcast their intimate issues because they think they’re talking to a bunch of sympathetic ‘friends.’ They’re not really your friends; most of them probably think you’re pathetic. I always say, ‘If you think they’re your friends, see which one will respond when you have a flat tire at 3 in the morning.’ Spend all that wasted social media time and effort where it will do some real good: with your kids.”