Over 50? How did that happen?

DSCN0382Until I entered my 40’s, I had 20/20 vision and shared my clothing with my young adult daughter. I line danced at a local country dance club, Desperado’s, until 2:00 a.m. and went to Pappy’s for $1.99 breakfast– then went to work on less than four hours of sleep.

I suppose due to my late bloomer genetics, my abdomen was in decent shape, allowing me to get away with a two piece bathing suit. I could eat anything I wanted. I benefited from the oasis of youth. Continue reading

Blazing Trails

stained glass knight
Recently, as I drive, walk, research or just people watch on a daily matter… it dawns on me that we are all an evangelist of or to something. Trails in life are blazed, whether subtle or deep impressions, as a result of stations and callings in life. I appreciate those who have forged ahead benefiting my life’s destiny. I enjoy new open territories cleared of thorny barbs protecting stone walls surrounding secret gardens. Kudos to the crusaders against forbidden zones created by cultural influences, gender labels or social status. Continue reading

Listening to Elvis “I Can’t Help Falling in Love….”

Chapel 3As much as I thought I had prepared myself for January 22, 2014, becoming a grandmother pushed me back in time. Thirty-five years ago, my daughter would have been three months old. I was only twenty years old.

Yes, I not only juggled a new marriage and taking care of a household– I added being a Mommy in a nine month period. As they placed her on my stomach in the labor room, she lifted her head and stared at me with big brown eyes– then peed on me! Within twenty-four hours, I was home with an 8.5-1/2 ounce baby girl with no instruction manual.

I took raising my daughter to be a strong and independent woman very seriously. I watched and journaled much of her childhood. What excited her, frustrated her (there were many of those!) and helped her through social and spiritual issues. She learned gymnastics, and hung out on a plantation riding a pony named Cinnamon. In eighth grade, she wanted to learn to play the flute. Her eyes twinkled when I handed her the first one from the pawn shop.

I tailored her education by homeschooling for many years before releasing her to attend Middleton High School. She merged well with her peers and teachers. I loved pretending that I had no idea she was being inducted in The National Honor Society. Her surprise during induction is one of our favorite memories. By graduation, she met with an Air Force recruiter but set her sights on a career of nursing.

After my divorce, there was line dancing at a western club called Desperado. I had taken up line dancing two years earlier. The eighteen-year-olds loved to go and dance with the young military guys. I loved her lack of embarrassment that Mom was across the dance floor. She often came over and said everyone was boring and she wanted to hang with the fun people.

Eventually, she met her husband. He was stationed at the Charleston AFB and in 2001, I was given a new role– mother-in-law. One year later, I was also a newlywed.

We supported each other through many happy times filled with laughter as well as loss. I probably aggravated my daughter when I tried to still stand in my mommy shoes. I never pushed an unknown role of grandmother on her or her husband.

So, to our delight, last summer we were informed that there would be twins in our future. Thinking back on the journey of raising Chana Spring, I watch the new parents synchronized in the hospital nursery. Her nursing career had given her experience with labor and delivery and preemie nursery care. In spite of her pre-delivery concern that she wouldn’t quit feeling like a nurse- I assured her that would fall off and she’d fall in love. Post delivery I asked how she felt. She gave me a shy smile and said, “like a mom.”

Two little undiscovered personalities that have chosen the best parents. Parents that will instill a well balanced and disciplined upbringing. A childhood inspired with imagination, love of nature and many loving relatives. Welcome, Izzy and Ellie!

Hubby Steve and I with our new grand-babies…

Grandma KatPop Pop

 

 

There are angels….

angel wing2I have always tried to listen to an inside nudge to be aware of those I meet along my life’s path. Be patient, resilient, kind and aware that someone’s day may have been a struggle in spite of the smile. My faith encourages me to treat strangers as if they were angels unaware. This is a personal goal before and after the holidays. My point?  Continue reading

Spotlight…. please!

My family has always joked that of the four girls in the family, the spotlight was always on Kerry, Kerry, Kerry. (Yes, she is the topless one in the picture) However, while researching dated photos for my next writing project, I ran into this photo taken by my father as he finished his degree at Purdue University. My sister, Kerry, had even tried to trump me by being born exactly one month before from my FIRST year oldest daughter birthday!  Obviously, I hadn’t got the memo that my time in the spotlight was over!spotlight with Kerry

As I struggled to get a story within the cover of Ameera Unveiled based on my own childhood angst without the instruction of formal dance training, I assumed I had always been shy and fearful. Officially be advised… the posing diva is Mu-ah. Continue reading

Green Apple Bookstore appearance

Another serendipity moment. I’m cutting my teeth for a book appearance revealing Ameera Unveiled at an iconic bookstore in San Francisco, CA —– Green Apple Bookstore. I hope when it the clock strikes midnight, I lose my glass slipper and my coach turns back into a pumpkin!

I feel like Cinderella

I feel like Cinderella

“It was never just about the cards… Patricia Sands”

Recently, I was honored to be on Southern Writers Magazine’s must reads list. Gary Fearon graciously alerted me and I hit his link. Penning and marketing a book is still an unexplored territory for me. Seeing my cover beside a blog by Patricia Sands regarding her message in The Bridge Club, put a lump in my throat.

It was never just about the cards... Patricia Sands

It was never just about the cards… Patricia Sands

Three years ago, when I approached my writing coach/editor, Shari Stauch, with my story idea— without hesitation she pushed me to my laptop to learn my character’s voice. Continue reading

Introducing my own Queen…. Ameera

Although this is a work of fiction, I admit it was driven by my own desire to dance—but was told I couldn’t, shouldn’t, or was forbidden. As I pull my main character into facing a long neglected dance zone, I’d ask the reader to be patient with her. hedo 054Her story focuses on the impact of chasing a glittery dance dream and lack of experience in a spotlight. In spite of many off the page life experiences, she’s suffered and victoriously overcome many obstacles—especially as a woman. But, Ameera’s pioneer spirit blazes a trail through the unknown land of Dance.

Palmetto Oasis Middle Eastern Dance Troupe is real. I was given permission to use many of the actual troupe members’ names. They’ve been patient and supportive as I labored to unveil Ameera. I’ve embraced their generosity to take creative license with the unbelievable glittery story. I hope to show the bonding power of resilience, humor, and passion among friends and strangers. The therapy of dance is real—not fiction.

I would not have accomplished this tale if I hadn’t been introduced to Shari Stauch. Her publishing experience and . . . let’s say it like is . . . puts your balls to the walls honesty required me to get mad and tell how unfair life can be. BQB Publishing enthusiastically polished the project with many talented artists. Terri Leidich, Heidi Grauel, and Julie Breedlove offered prompt answers and resources. My editor, Sharon Hecht, untangled my grammar and cut story interruptions without ripping off the band-aid. Even the book cover embodies many of the messages in the story. Kendra Haskins did an amazing job with my website—capturing the ‘pretty’ that makes women and little girls say “wow!” And, thanks to Leroy Mazyck (Pixel Studios) for always easing the stage fright in front of his camera. He did a fabulous job with my author’s headshot. When I doubted my ability to finish the project, it was my family, friends, and community that urged me on.

If you are reading this, I want to thank the readers! I hope you enjoy Ameera’s glittery release from her forbidden zone. From my own experience, once you’ve been bitten by the dance bug, it infects all the senses and perceptions. It reveals old tapes and fears and rewards you with unique memories and bonds.

But, most of all, I thank my soul mate, Steve. He made me his queen and supported my search for the little ballerina that got left behind in my childhood. It takes a special man to stand with his belly dancing wife. They can’t be afraid of a little glitter!

 

How many of you have never been to a pig race….?

hog trailerWell, my hand went up to the emcee’s question… at Boone Hall Plantation’s Strawberry Festival. Little did I know when my feet hit the floor this morning that I would not only witness a pig race but could possibly be awarded the title, Pig Queen for a Day! Unknowingly, I’d claimed my video spot near the starting line of the circular race track and had an excellent view. There was a gator board roster with piggish NASCAR names— Rooter Martin, Hoggy Stewart, Piggy Gordon and Squilling Earnhardt, Jr.

Naturally, being new to pig racing, I had questions for the little swine. How were they trained for the event? I’d hate if one of the cute piglets would pull a hamstring. What if it came down to crossing the finish line by a snout? God forbid serious injury because I wasn’t sure if Charleston had a pig racing hambulance.

Suddenly, my attention returned to the hoof track as Hogway Speedway’s announcer entered the inside field, wearing a hands-free mic opening the competition with the racetrack bugle call from the loudspeakers.

The announcer educated us on the possibility of pig pile-ups that could delay them from pigging out on the coveted cheese doodle at the checkered finish line. He assigned a sponsor from the audience to root for the anxious pigs that had willingly loaded in the starting gate.

After the bell and gate opened, he gave a broadcaster’s view of the pig pack’s arrival for cheese doodle trophies. For the next fifteen minutes, he presented laps by goats, rookie piglets and ducks. The final race was to be run by pot belly pigs and he announced he was picking five women to be given the proud title of Pig Queen. I don’t think I’d put that on my slop-bucket list.

As he looked our way, my niece encouraged him to pick her Aunt Kat. Note to self: I need to dig deeper into her belief that I’d make a good candidate—or I needed to be sure I didn’t have hog breath from the cheap corndog. Yep, I was given #5, Rooter Martin. To top the hammy privileged title, we were advised the winner would kiss her pig. (For some reason I heard the words to a Katy Perry song: I kissed a pig and I liked it…)

After three more contestants were chosen, Squilling Earnhardt, Jr. hogged the spotlight. I’d lost my chance of the title and kiss by a snout.

Sadly, I realized I wanted to be a media hog! I turned to my husband and we settled for a local pulled pork sandwich.hogway

Story of a Husband-of-a-Bellydancer

Achmed 2011Retired from career and parenting duties, I decided to conquer a neglected area in my life—dance. As a child, I flunked my first ballet classes and missed the muscle memory years. So, when I saw a six-week belly dance class being offered on the campus of my Alma Mata, I went online to register.

My husband was more than supportive as I fought my way out of the old tapes that said, “You can’t dance.” Within the year, I reluctantly auditioned and was accepted into Palmetto Middle Eastern Dance Troupe. Little did we know, it was instant adoption into a tribe. Again, my husband was supportive and tolerant of my love of shiny jewelry, bindis and of course, wayward glitter.

However, within the next year, I came home from a practice centered on dances for an upcoming performance at the North Charleston Performing Arts Center. As we were eating dinner, out of the blue, he states, “Dear, you know I love and support everything you’re doing with the troupe?” (I continue chewing waiting for the… but?)

“And I’ll be in the audience as your biggest fan… but (ah here it is) please don’t expect me go on stage and drum or anything.”

I assured him that it had never crossed my mind. He exhaled and finished his dinner.

One year later, practicing for a repeat appearance at the same festival, the girls in the troupe decided to do an “I Dream of Genie” dance. The choreographer looked at me and said, “Kat, ask Steve if he’ll be Major Nelson, please?” I immediately recalled last year’s plea to leave him off stage and informed them there was no way. With many more pleas, I conceded that I would ask but predicted the decline.

As I walked in from practice, hubbie started the usual query of how practice was and who was there. I jumped into the Major Nelson question and to my surprise—without hesitation, he said, “Sure, ok! What do I need to do?”

Three months later, in a borrowed Air Force uniform, holding a green genie bottle, local businessman Steve Varn participated in our dance show. We even featured him in our press release and program.

A few months after that show, my husband was pitching a real estate project to a banker. After slightly formal meeting between strangers, the banker sat back and folded his arms. Without a blink, the banker hit Steve with a question out of the blue: “So, you’re a dancer?”

Taken off guard and baffled by the question, he immediately denied it. They returned to the business at hand.

That night at dinner, my husband told me of the odd moment during his meeting with the banker. Immediately, I recalled the press release with his name and it was obvious the banker had Googled my husband’s name.  We both laughed and went to the computer to see whether the internet would confirm my theory. It did.

Husbands of belly dancers are amazing partners. Tolerance and the endless presence of glitter on their faces and clothes becomes second nature. They do the heavy lifting and set up electronics. Since Steve’s debut, he has been recreated in two more shows as Achmed, the janitor. His red coveralls hang proudly beside his business coats in the closet. Since my induction to this marvelous tribe, I noticed that each girls’ partners embrace the passion of our love of dance. Recently, I even discovered a website called Husband of a Belly Dancer.

When I look back at my online registration to take a six week dance class, little did we realize how much it would infect our marriage. Husbands and boyfriends of belly dancers are so much fun (and look cute wearing a little glitter, too)!

Feel free to leave stories of any other victims of glitter…