outdoors & sports

The Sky is Not the Limit

Originally posted as the Publisher’s Letter in our January/February 2015 Outdoors & Sports edition of Times of the Islands

By Daniela E. Jaeger

Is it just me, or did 2014 make an exit with amazing speed? It’s hard to imagine that 2015 is already here and we have a clean slate—12 months to do with as we please—ahead of us.

Such a wonderful opportunity for fulfillment, excitement and enrichment should not be taken lightly. Think of it as a blank canvas awaiting your creation. And remember, closing the door on 2014 is followed by the new door of 2015 swinging open with a renewed vigor. Therefore, look back, even if briefly, to learn from your past and then forge forward. Here are some ideas to motivate you, ones that always seem to work for me:

  • Set your own goals for the year. Actually writing things down can be a great motivator.
  • Review any disappointments from last year, and see them as a chance to do better this year.
  • Become more of a giver and less of a taker. It’s amazing how good you’ll feel.
  • Nurture your closest personal relationships and reach out to the people you have thought about over the past year—and make a real effort to reconnect.
  • Use every ounce of your talents, skills and knowledge to be the best person you possibly can be and use these gifts to benefit others as well. In fact, make it a habit to do this every day.
  • Focus on your health by eating better, sleeping more and thinking positive with a real purpose.
  • Learn a new language or add a new word to your vocabulary, discover a new hobby or take up the sport that your friends never imagined would hold any interest for you.

One of my best memories is when my husband, Friedrich, and I took “the plunge”—literally—out of an airplane. I have to admit that up until the second we were gently prodded out of the open door, I had wondered to myself: Just exactly what am I doing here? But, the second we were clear of the plane, I felt an almost surreal sense of achievement, pride and success. We had taken a figurative and literal leap of faith, and it felt amazing. All of the planning, anticipation, preparation and apprehension of our skydiving adventure paid off in huge dividends of accomplishment, self-satisfaction and exhilaration.

We knew we could do it, we did it, and it was done!

It’s an experience like this that not only adds an incredible jolt to life, but motivates you to reach other goals whether personal or professional. So next time you hesitate, for whatever reason, remember our leap of faith and go for it! The sky is not the limit, but only a new beginning.

Here’s another example of going for it. Back in the 1970s there were four women on Sanibel who had a goal. In the feature Pedaling the Path to Paradise, we tell the story of how these women started with an idea that resulted in the island’s highly successful shared use bicycle path. Thanks to their perseverance, thousands of people today enjoy Sanibel by riding this trail.

Another person who has indeed reached beyond the sky with his success is featured on page 18. Times of the Islands goes one-on-one with ESPN sportscaster Chris Berman. Read about his 35-year career covering the NFL and other national sports for the television network and how he made his way to our islands.

In closing, I want to challenge you to an earlier thought about adding a new word to your vocabulary. So here it is: hornswoggle. Can you really hornswoggle your way to success?

Daniela E. Jaeger is the publisher of TOTI Media, Inc. 

Home is Where the Heart is

By Melanie Pagan

Perhaps the most beloved place in the world is where you hang your hat, and we want to ensure your house looks and feels just as you want it to. In our Home & Garden issue, we bring you the area’s most prominent professionals in design and landscape, and a plethora of tips and trends to inspire.

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Robb & Stucky International

In Times of the Islands, we eliminate any ideas you may have of composting being too difficult, and explain just how beneficial thinking green when it comes to fertilizing can be. And while we’re in the garden, we explore one of the most obsessed about blooms in the world – the orchid. There are many passionate collectors of this epiphyte in Southwest Florida, and professionals explain just what makes it so special.

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RSW Living features the majestic river creatures known as koi, and shows what it takes to create a beautiful and sustainable home for them right in your backyard. Read on for a story on our cover stars, Robb & Stucky International, detailing how they’ve managed to recreate the brand while still staying close to their Southwest Florida roots.

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Pick up a copy of Gulf & Main for our exclusive Q&A with Berne Davis – Fort Myers’ benefactor of the arts, and a woman who has witnessed decades worth of change in the town she grew up in. Look no further for wonderful suggestions of aromatic plants to add to your garden, because also inside is a feature on fragrant flowers that are perfect for our sunny climate.

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More interested in pleasing your taste buds via homegrown items? Bonita & Estero has you covered with a piece on edible and drinkable landscaping. Moving indoors, we tell you why your home is in exceptional hands with Collins & DuPont Design Group.

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Collins & DuPont

So curl up on the couch with your favorite magazine of ours in hand, flip through the pages, and let the contents of our issue inspire you. Because no matter where you live, we know it’s important to feel great in the comfort of your own living space.

Melanie Pagan is the assignment editor and social media coordinator for TOTI Media, Inc.

Ocean’s Allure

By Melanie Pagan

Do you hear that? The open ocean calling your name? Judging by the amount of life on Sanibel these days, the waves are certainly beckoning some souls.

Whether one is physically on island, or just frequently dreaming of a view where the ocean meets the sky in an infinite horizon, our March/April issues cater to the individuals who feel ultimate tranquility at sea.

We cover all things water-related in all four publications, from boating to fishing to seafood, so no matter where you are, you can enjoy the essence of the islands.

In Times of the Islands, we bring you tongue-in-cheek illustrations by Dave Drotleff of a Sanibel dweller’s favorite activity: shelling! Variations of the notorious “Sanibel Stoop”—like the sneaky stoop and the silly stoop—are detailed so beachgoers can identify these characters next time they’re out on the sand.

But it’s not just the humans of the islands the magazine focuses on. Flip the pages and you’ll find out more about the alligators that freely roam Sanibel, and how man and beast have come to coexist over the years.
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Gulf & Main features historical fish houses and the bygone fishing industry they represent. Read further for a story on nautical knots, and the importance of tying one that’s seaworthy.
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Pick up a copy of RSW Living, and you’ll see how we’ve captured the mighty presence of the tarpon in Boca Grande, with insight on what it takes to reel in the powerful Silver King. Also inside, nature-lovers can learn some of the best places to enjoy local waters, from popular spots to hidden gems.
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Bonita & Estero includes one avid surfer’s account of riding unexpected waves on the Gulf, right off secluded Cayo Costa State Park.

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As always, you can expect to find stories about local booming businesses, inspirational people, trends, events and more, but let’s be honest: visitors and residents alike are interested in the area for one main reason, and that’s because we are never truly alone here. We are always surrounded by the sea.

Melanie Pagan is the Assignment Editor and Social Media Coordinator at TOTI Media, Inc. Follow her on our Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest pages.

The Big Picture

By Melanie Pagan

It may be a late New Year’s resolution, but I’m seriously considering carrying a camera with me whenever I go out. Southwest Florida is blessed with so much natural beauty that it can be difficult to breathe in every gorgeous moment. Every morning driving over the Sanibel Causeway is like a guessing game of anticipation. Will I see a pelican diving in the water today? Or perhaps an osprey will be perched on the railing, eyeing its next prey.

But wildlife sightings don’t just happen on the islands. Brightly colored butterflies and honey bees can often be found dancing around blooming flowers in Bonita, and powerful birds like hawks, or even eagles, are at times visible in the sky.

When photographers come to Southwest Florida, they know they have some major shooting opportunities, and we thought our January/February Outdoors & Sports issues would be a great place to showcase some of their works. In Times of the Islands, we’ve dedicated an entire spread to breathtaking snapshots of Blind Pass and Roseate Spoonbills, all taken by Sanibel-based photographer Jonathan Tongyai.

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Reflections by Jonathan Tongyai

Even more Southwest Florida photographs are celebrated in the pages of Bonita & Estero Magazine, where we profiled five artists—Garth Francis, Mark Renz, Peggy Farren, David Meardon, and Gordon Campbell—and their shots of lush landscapes and exotic animals.

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Great Egret Display by David Meardon

I know I can only hope to mimic the talent of these individuals through pictures of my own (although I can certainly admire them in our magazines!), but we are constantly surrounded by precious moments here in Southwest Florida, and they are just begging to be captured in time.

Melanie Pagan is the Assignment Editor and Social Media Coordinator for TOTI Media, Inc.

Hello, Twenty Fourteen

By Melanie Pagan

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At the start of any new year, thoughts of how to make the next 365 days better than the last flood through countless minds.

But while everyone is stuck trying to master changing threes to fours when writing out dates, we at TOTI are continuing to plan stories as far out in advance as November/December. Producing bimonthly magazines requires us to work so far ahead that we can easily forget about the now.

So, this is us reflecting on 2013, and looking forward to the future.

In the last year, we have worked with a number of innovators, expanded our team, grown our loyal fan-base, created a stronger internet presence, attended marvelous events and have done our best to capture special sides of the area we call home.

Like anyone else, we have experienced some bumps in the road, but it’s the mountains and valleys of life that keep the journey exciting. Through trial and error, we’ve managed to keep a consistent mindset: work diligently to give readers a high-quality magazine to indulge in.

Even in an increasingly digital world, nothing beats the feeling of curling up with a magazine in hand, and flipping through glossy pages with dazzling photographs and stories highlighting Southwest Florida’s most fascinating people and places.

We are continuing to implement changes in our 2014 issues to keep this sentiment alive within our readers. With all of the new technology out there, we are easily exposed to hundreds of news outlets, and the shift from just timely articles to in-depth features can be a refreshing break.

So for 2014, our New Year’s resolution is to continue being your source of enlightenment for our beautiful coast. Join us by picking up our January/February issue, kicking back in this gorgeous weather, and reading in the company of Mother Nature. Because everyone needs to unplug now and then, and we promise dozens of great stories for you to get lost in.

Melanie Pagan is the editorial assistant and social media representative for TOTI Media, Inc.

 

Hot Updates in the City

by Melanie Pagan

It was Friday afternoon. It was downtown. It was alive.

It was a far cry from how I remembered it.

I have lived in Fort Myers for most of my life, growing along with changes in the area. I can recall downtown gems from way back when (Ichiban in 2003, Liquid Café in 2004), but aside from hole-in-the-wall venues and eateries, the cityscape hardly left room for recreation. The only regulars strolling down First Street were business workers or bill payers.

But something changed in the years that I have neglected the River District. It has developed into a sort of urban playground, packed with boutiques, art galleries, live music, restaurants, bakeries, and plenty of event venues and tourist attractions.

I must say, when my colleague and I visited the local businesses to share our latest issues of Gulf & Main, I was pleasantly surprised with all the life that has since sprouted in the area. Each block had something unique to our eyes—Linen Cottage featured vintage cottage-style décor, Arts for ACT Gallery & Studio sold eclectic paintings and women’s wear, and Naples Soap Company showcased organic skincare products almost too attractive to use.

After a few hours, we had passed enough people dining outdoors to work up an appetite of our own. We stopped at Bennett’s Fresh Roast—a coffee and donut shop cozy enough that workers must know regulars on a personal basis.

As I devoured my cinnamon sugar donut (and wondered how they managed to pack so much flavor into such a delicate snack), my colleague and I talked about how refreshing it was to re-familiarize ourselves with an area we both previously knew so well. The amount of art, culture, fashion and fun we witnessed that day was palpable. It almost felt like being in a bigger city, only more rewarding because we knew the developments stemmed from creative Fort Myers individuals who believed in our urban core’s potential.

With that said: hats off to all the business owners and frequenters of downtown Fort Myers. You have succeeded in making our city a touch more vibrant.

Is there a specific downtown “gem” you feel could use some recognition? Or, maybe you want to share appreciation for past stories we’ve run to shed light on the city. To the long time locals: do you remember a downtown shop from back in the day? Share it with us! Supporting homegrown endeavors brings a sense of unity to the town we call home.

Be sure to watch for downtown Fort Myers’ latest developments, as well as features on prominent figures in the area by exploring future issues of Gulf & Main magazine.

Melanie Pagan is the editorial assistant for TOTI Media, Inc.