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Best Life

Barbranda Lumpkins Walls


I'm a features editor for AARP Media who spotlights everyday people doing exceptional things in a blog called Best Life. You may not see these folks in the national news but they deserve a shout-out anyway. I'm also a proud product of the great Midwest and love pop culture—especially food, fashion, television and R&B music. Family, friends and spirituality also play important roles in my life. And traffic, unfortunately.

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Barbranda Lumpkins Walls'sPosts

Helping Chronically Ill People Made Simple

Posted on 08/15/2013 by | Best Life | Comments

Bulletin Today | Your LifeSimple is better, many people say. Sarah LaFave certainly took a simple idea and transformed it into something that makes life better for lots of folks. She connects energetic college students with people who are chronically ill and need help with everyday chores. Discussion: Where do you go to get some extra help? Genius, huh? LaFave launched her program, Lori’s Hands, while a nursing student at the University of Delaware in Newark in 2009. “There’s no trick to it, nothing complicated about …

From Lawyer to Chronicler of Jewish History

Posted on 08/1/2013 by | Best Life | Comments

Bulletin Today | Your LifeEthan Bensinger is a take-charge kind of guy. When he sees a need, he figures out how to take care of it. And while visiting relatives over the years at a Chicago home for Jewish refugees and Holocaust survivors, the retired immigration lawyer decided that the residents’ stories of struggle and resilience needed to be recorded for posterity. He did just that. He bought a video camera and recorded the remembrances of 30 people for the home’s archives. But Bensinger …

Though Partially Blind, Hal Lasko Paints Up a Storm of Pixels

Posted on 07/26/2013 by | Best Life | Comments

Bulletin Today | Your LifeFor Hal Lasko, a computer is a tool for painting. Not for email. Not for surfing the web. Not for Facebook or YouTube. Just painting. What’s amazing about Lasko, 97, is that he can paint at all. He’s legally blind after a condition called wet macular degeneration slowly eroded his vision. Yet he spends about 10 hours a day in front of his computer working on six or so paintings at a time. It takes him two days to a …

The Woman Who Lost 100 Pounds

Posted on 07/18/2013 by | Best Life | Comments

Bulletin Today | Your LifeSwimming saved DeEtte Sauer’s life. In 1986, the 71-year-old Houston resident was dangerously fat. Her day of reckoning with her condition came while on a family vacation and, weighing about 250 pounds, she couldn’t get in a boat with her kids. “I was pretty disgusted with myself,” Sauer says. “I’d let myself go and I was tired of being that way.” So she started walking. Then she started working out at a gym, where she spotted a notice about a new …

Evvie Heilbrunn: Climbing for a Cause

Posted on 07/1/2013 by | Best Life | Comments

Bulletin Today | Your LifeEvvie Heilbrunn is no shrinking violet. Four days a week the two-time breast cancer survivor hikes at least two hours or works out on a treadmill or elliptical machine. She sweats it out with a personal trainer another two days. And did I mention that she has Parkinson’s disease and will climb Mount Everest this fall? Heilbrunn, 57, of Great Falls, Va., will travel to Nepal in October with other Parkinson’s patients from the Scripps Clinic and Research Institute in …

One Dad’s Impassioned Response to Saggy Pants

Posted on 06/14/2013 by | Best Life | Comments

Bulletin Today | Your LifeYou might have seen the story this week about a controversial new dress code that bans saggy pants on the famous oceanfront boardwalk in Wildwood, N.J. You know the saggy pants syndrome: Jeans or trousers worn so low that you can see the person’s choices in underwear— brand and color, boxers or briefs. Not exactly attractive. It just so happens that saggy pants is a passion for one Virginia dad. Gil Knowles, a retired Army lieutenant colonel and father of …