Where were you when…?

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In the five decades I have lived and experienced, there is a common question among all generations…. Where were you when….? Pearl Harbor, Hiroshima? I am a baby boomer but I was not alive during the Great Depression or the Great Wars. My first deep childhood memory was the assassination my President, John F. Kennedy.

Looking back from my kindergarten eyes, I didn’t totally understand what had happened when sent home early from our school day. A couple days later, I watched my mother staring at our black and white t.v. in her ironing room as I quietly leaned against the doorway. The sobriety of his casket being pulled by a team of horses was eerily quiet. I’ll always remember where I was on November 23, 1963 and November 25, 1963. Continue reading

Facing fears? What’s a little spilt milk…

“The fear of change can keep you from walking into some of the greatest things life offers. Don’t be afraid to let go of things and people that aren’t making you a better person. Life is too short!” ― Buky Ojelabi

The above quote is a beautiful capsule of encouragement to embrace personal growth. But for anyone who has made it part of their lifestyle, the ability to see what to let go of is a complicated job.

When I decided to write Ameera Unveiled, I knew it would revolve around my protagonist facing her fear. A fear that eventually revealed underlying prongs of insecurities… prickly fears we universally experience… school-milk

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Is There a Halo in Your Life?

Let's_All_Go_to_the_LobbyLast Saturday night, my hubbie declared it Movie Date Night. Don’t get me wrong– I love date night– but he isn’t the best movie picker. We like to go to a locally owned and managed theater. A glass of chardonnay and some popcorn is my idea of an adult snack bar. So, at 9:00 a.m., we got on his Ipad and picked St. Vincent starring Bill Murray. I didn’t really understand the synopsis of the movie but I knew wine would make it all better, whichever way it fell. Continue reading

Her Grandfather’s Gun

I kept the postcard on my desk of this painting by my friend, John Carroll Doyle. It reminded me of the challenges of growing up in a career Navy family. The world lost the presence of John Carroll on November 12, 2014 and his artistic visions. I was not only privileged to be his friend, but he extended many opportunities to drop-in his studio as he painted. Nothing on canvas was placed without conviction and a deeper message. Her Grandfathers Gun-site_1 Continue reading

Facing the Unknown – Coping Skills?

crazy eyesOne of the underlying issues for my main character in Ameera Unveiled, is feeling like she is never in control. She resolves to face childhood forbidden zones as she enters an empty-nester zone, but this isn’t always easy. Trying something new is never easy, especially when we haven’t been raised to embrace the unknown.

Some readers have resonated with Ameera’s internalization and self doubts. Others tip their heads and say, “What’s the big deal?”

In that I grew up with many social and gender stigmas as a baby boomer, it is a big deal. As the author, I chose to use a belly dancing class as a catalyst to raise her comfort zone bar. Combined with the instructor who would not take ‘no’ from her students, this produced a lot of internal, wide-eyed panic moments for Ameera. Continue reading

Blazing Trails

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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

 

 

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

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!

 

A Serendipity Lifestyle . . .

cdab9d14887aa33682bac9317c3bc2e5[1]I’d been divorced for about three years. Between running a single parent household and keeping a full time job, I loved my newfound adult social life. And, in spite of the freedom to enlarge my social horizons, I silently grieved the loss of my white picket fence dream. I didn’t have my sites on finding a new partner or breadwinner to allow me to stay home and catch up on the Soaps eating bonbons. Instead, I opened myself to meeting new friends, female or male, through line dancing at Desperado, scuba diving and traveling.

Each morning, I cleared my head and asked my heart to embrace a moment presented by… dare I call it, Destiny? Fate? My faith supported my belief that even hardship identified the dross in my life that could be used for self-improvement and reveal silver linings. Continue reading