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

Laying the Keel

I launched my debut novel, Ameera Unveiled, on July 25, 2013. Subsequently, I’ve been pushing her into the internet waters. What an endless sea of opportunity to navigate! As the captain of this ship, I am blessed to have the support of BQB Publishing and their managers. Shari Stauch of Where Writers Win keeps me on task and sets my course for the next portal of call. Being new to marketing and social media, sometimes it is a slow and tedious assignment.

But since the launch, I’ve been researching a new idea using my childhood experiences as a Navy dependent. I am laying the keel for my next project. keel1

My writing room is littered with my father’s military record, the shadowbox with brass plates of ship assignments, and personal possessions that would have been on his desk or dresser. His dress blues hang on a doorknob proudly displaying five gold hashmarks. I’ve been privileged to make new friends with veterans through the VFW and American Legions. I loved attending Liberty Call with the Goose Creek Tin Can Sailors. They’ve embraced my request for stories of their glory days. I’ve climbed and descended into the bowels of the USS Laffey at Patriots Point. The smell of grey paint and fuel refreshes my childhood memories of visiting my dad’s floating office.

My new Orders? Start writing it. In my mind, I stand across the word-processing shipyard and watch as the keel is laid. I’ve set my compass and now I have to follow my heart on where the story will take me…research floor

Finding Personal Independence: Under the Sea!

I look over my shoulder and six months of 2014 are riddled with footprints in the tides of my life. Without being a Debbie Downer, it’s been a personal roller coaster for my family and friends. But, in the greater scheme of things, I’m a big lover of interpreting life through the eyes of sociology, philosophical standards and gender roles.

With that in mind, when I took on the challenge of telling my protagonist’s story in Ameera Unveiled, I decided to share the challenge of facing forbidden zones, of growing up at the end of the Baby Boomer Era, and of approaching empty nesting. In spite of so many broken social barriers before 1958, there were still prejudices, expectations or even complacent pools directed at various communities. sponge bath

In that light, I explored my character’s desire to recognize and release herself from the shackles of generally accepted standards as a female through no fault of any one message. Ameera faced many unknowns which included risk and vulnerability, conquering single parenting, dance and fear of spotlights. She wanted to find freedom… Continue reading

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

Tin Can Sailors – A National Treasure (Part II)

FatherDaughterDanceClip2It’s easy to live in the past, especially when it so colors the present. But, since I was privileged to be my father’s date at the recent 7th Annual Liberty Call Goose Creek Tin Can Sailor Reunion (April 11-12), I felt compelled to shift my view from that little girl in a military family, to an adult woman with new perceptions. I was blessed to meet and mingle with my father’s peers.

I learned so much by observing. The bond of these tin can sailors was a brotherhood from serving on a destroyer, always together in cramped quarters. I didn’t see the faces of senior men, I saw the boyish twinkle in their eyes as they reminisced about being bachelors, chasing girls and general cruise antics. I joined them touring the USS Laffey at Patriots Point climbing ladders to the Chiefs’ Quarters. I saw the enlisted berths and all the various spaces they were forced to share on rough or calm seas. I heard them relive so many stories that happened in the engine room or conditions when the boilers were cranked.

tin can sailor (2)The smell of grey paint and fuel recalled my childhood memory of Dependent’s Day. On Saturday morning, I even tried to get to the American Legion to partake in breakfast – shit on a shingle.

As a proud daughter of two career Naval fathers (my biological father, and later, my stepfather), I finally have a deeper appreciation of the jobs and duties and of these proud enlisted men. And this was all during a time of no internet, unlimited cell service, microwaves or hundreds of television channels. It seems unimaginable now, doesn’t it? We all relied on snail mail or family grams.

I’m in awe of their pride and passion for standing in the shoes of a Tin Can Sailor. If you know someone that served at that time, gather their stories! They are National Treasures.

Do you have a story about our parents’ generations? Please share it with your comment below!

Tin Can Sailors – A National Treasure (Part I)

Part I – From the eyes of a Tin Can Sailor’s Daughter

l_lzumus-navy-tin-can-sailor-1-inch-pinBeing raised in a Navy career family, I’ve developed a sense of duty and pride to shoulder responsibility. My childhood was a mix of consistent moving to new Naval bases but adorned with innocence and imagination. On weekends and during summers, I and my sisters were ordered outside to find something to do. We’d ask for a sheet and make tents across the clothesline along with our tea sets and play pots and pans and other role playing games. Continue reading

Belly Dance: That’ll Teach Me

Belly-Dance-HumorMy sincere thanks to author Diane Henders for this guest post. This article ran on Diane’s own site on February 12, 2014 and I laughed out loud when I read it – This is sooo Ameera’s journey. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Get to know Diane better at blog.henders.com. Photo courtesy freedigitalphotos.net.

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I’m taking a beginner belly-dance class.  It has been a tremendous learning experience, despite the fact that I have absolutely no natural aptitude for it.

Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

The word ‘choreography’ has ‘chorea’ as its root.
Dictionary.com defines ‘chorea’ as ‘any of several diseases of the nervous system characterized by jerky, involuntary movements, chiefly of the face and extremities.’  That explains a lot.  I’m a word geek.  I’m just doin’ it right.

Also pertaining to choreography:

In choreography notes, ‘CCW’ means ‘counter-clockwise’.
It is not a typo for CCR.  Which is a relief, because as much as I love Creedence, I just can’t see belly-dancing to ‘Heard It Through The Grapevine’.  ‘Bad Moon Rising’, however, would be frighteningly apropos.

Never trust your friends.
The friend who exhorted me not to laugh at her… has belly-danced before.  The friend who swore she had two left feet… used to be a cheerleader.  Their hip shimmies are perfect, even though the only time they practice is during the one-hour class.  I practice every morning, and I still look as though I’m frantically trying to dislodge a barbed-wire wedgie.

If you stand with your feet close together instead of planted sturdily shoulder-width apart, you look more like a belly-dancer and less like you’re about to punch somebody’s lights out.
Unless you’re me.  Then it helps, but it doesn’t completely solve the problem.  I’m really not planning to punch anybody; that scowl is just baffled concentration…

Belly-dancing is best suited to women who have hips.
When you’re built like a telephone pole, it doesn’t matter how much you shimmy, you still look like a telephone pole… in an earthquake.

If you use an X-rated phrase to memory-associate the names of the moves, you WILL begin to giggle at inappropriate times in the class.
But that’s okay, because giggling is pretty much the only appropriate response to watching me try to belly-dance.

Studio mirrors were created by Satan himself.
Just sayin’.

I am apparently incapable of shimmying my hips without simultaneously flapping my hands.
This might not be so bad if the objective of the class was actually to impersonate an epileptic penguin.  But on the up side, I’ve developed a genuine empathy for tubby flightless birds with neurological disorders.

Start every day with a smile!
It’s hard not to, when I’m confronted by the sight of myself gyrating gracelessly in the mirror every morning.

Which leads me to…

Do not practice belly-dancing while wearing nothing but your underwear and a jingly hip scarf, even behind closed doors in the privacy of your own home.
Or, if you do, don’t describe it to your friends.  In a restaurant.  Just as the waiter sneaks up behind you.  For the record, he had the best deadpan I’ve ever seen.

Humility is a virtue.
I’m so friggin’ virtuous right now, it’s making my eyes water.  By the time the lessons are finished, I fully expect to achieve sainthood.  Or possibly martyrdom.

How to belly-dance.
Well… no.  I haven’t actually learned that yet.  But we have six lessons left, so I’m still hoping…

* * *

The instructor keeps going on as if she actually expects us to dance this piece in front of an audience.  If anybody’s got an inspirational story about how you started off sucking at something and ended up acing it, now would be a really great to time to share.  Even better if you ended up acing it after six lessons…

dianeAbout Diane Henders: “By profession, I’m a technical writer, computer geek, and ex-interior designer.  I’m good at two out of three of these things.  I had the sense to quit the one I sucked at.

“To deal with my mid-life crisis, I also write adventure novels featuring a middle-aged female protagonist, Aydan Kelly.  And I kickbox.

“This seemed more productive than indulging in more typical mid-life crisis activities like getting a divorce, buying a Harley Crossbones, and cruising across the country picking up men in sleazy bars.  Especially since it’s winter most months of the year here.

“It’s much more comfortable to sit at my computer.  And hell, Harleys are expensive.  Come to think of it, so are beer and gasoline.

“Oh, and I still love my husband.  There’s that.  Guess I’ll stick with the writing.”

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