Winchester author regales horticulture luncheon

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^ Posted 2 days ago

By Sally Voth -- svoth@nvdaily.com

Winchester author Jay Foreman and the women who attended the Ladies' Horticultural Luncheon Friday morning share a common denominator -- both are about growth.

And, while the horticultural society are cultivating gardens, Foreman's books are cultivating life lessons. Foreman is an author and speaker, and has also written plays and comedy sketches, according to the Apple Blossom Festival website.

Friday's luncheon was sponsored by the Women's Auxiliary of the Virginia State Horticultural Society, at the Best Western Lee-Jackson Restaurant, according to the website.

One of the Apple Blossom Festival's "celebrities," Foreman told the crowd about overhearing a woman at another event mistaking him for the festival's grand marshal.

"Wow, Mario Lopez has really let himself go," he quoted to the roars of laughter from the audience.

Foreman said he no longer had delusions of celebrity.

"After that, I have no delusions of being good-looking," he joked.

Parts of Foreman's talk were more serious.

"I try to make growth important in all of my books," he said. "Every time I write a book, I try to make it better than the last one I wrote. Subtly, or not so subtly, I try to plant a moral, or a value, or a lesson in these books."

Foreman, who gave up a career in banking three years ago to focus on writing, listed three major aspects of personal growth: the will to grow, growing pains and planting seeds.

He warned against being so focused on growing one area, that others are neglected.

As he threw himself into his new career, Foreman lost sight of some other parts of his life. He recalled a fall night three years ago when his wife was out of town and his children kept hounding him to let them eat more Halloween candy. After repeatedly telling them no, Foreman discovered a trash can stuffed with candy wrappers.

"I immediately feel myself going into angry-dad mode," he said.

After telling his son and daughter the various punishments they faced, Foreman added he was going to inform their mother about their misbehavior. That's when his daughter spoke up.

"You love to tell Mommy about the bad things we do, but you never tell her about the good things we do," Foreman quoted his daughter as saying. "As they were physically growing, I wasn't growing as a dad to give them the positive reinforcement that they needed. Ever since that moment, [his daughter] Kayla can attest I've been a perfect dad. Right, Kayla? Nod like we rehearsed."

After relating more anecdotes and sharing some of his experiences since launching his new career, Foreman said he had really enjoyed the luncheon.

"I may throw on a dress and sneak back in next year," he said. "I can honestly say this is the most attractive crowd I have ever spoken in front of."

Winchester resident Kimberly Needles and her grandmother, Doris Alexander, of Stephens City, stopped by Foreman's book-signing table later in the luncheon. Needles said she'd grown up beside Foreman and went to school with him.

"Jay's fantastic," she said. "He's very talented, very smart, charming, witty. He's a great speaker, very nice guy."

Needles had positive things to say about the horticultural lunch, as well.

"We've been coming ever since I was a little girl," she said, adding that she's in her late 30s. "I loved it. It's like this every year. It's very elegant."

Horticultural society member Hope Brim is a co-chairman of the luncheon. She was also Foreman's fifth-grade teacher. She said there were 445 people at the banquet.

"...I knew his personality," Brim said of Foreman. "I knew he would be fun and serious at the same time. It's great to see somebody follow their dream."

Malinda Kern came all the way down from Harrisburg, Pa. to go to the luncheon. She attends with her cousin every year. Kern enjoyed Foreman's speech.

"He was just so down-to-earth, and I liked his jokes," she said. "I think with him being a hometown boy, that made it better."


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