Last 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
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. Continue reading
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
I 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
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!
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
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. Her 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!
Like clockwork, after 2-3 years, my dad’s duty station was to be reassigned, I had gotten a peek, a taste and a temporary spot in my classroom, neighborhood kick ball team or Dark Shadows Soap Opera buddy. The next best thing was to resign myself to accept the oldest daughter’s calling– Chief of the Ya Ya Sisterhood of the Hall girls. At the next duty station, my sisters were always still on the journey, sharing a bedroom and fighting over the bathroom. Inadvertently, my tribe taught me many life lessons that revealed themselves decades later. Emotional management, selflessness and resilience were among the list.
I talked to God, a lot. I talked out loud, with my heart, my tears and my eyes. I danced in the pine clearings in the neighborhood woods. I thanked God for the beauty encircled by Creation and the way it was fearfully and wonderfully made, like me. I loved the simplicity, the complexity, the color, smells and honesty. As Einstein said, “God doesn’t toss dice.” Mother Nature’s Order demonstrated it wonderfully. From childhood to adult responsibilities, I believed my prayers had been best wafted to the heart of God on the wings of a sea breeze. If the only prayer I cast over the Atlantic Ocean’s endless horizon was Thank You, I believe God heard the volume of my heart’s petition.
A little more than halfway through my first marriage, again fighting multiple circumstances attempting to isolate me, I had been on an introspective journey to deal with erosions of female worth and lack of self esteem. I was missing the power of self image. Sitting in my dining room, working on a sewing project, I was talking to God about needing to love myself so that I could love my neighbor best. The Christian Gospel had said to “love your neighbor as yourself.” I didn’t love myself as well as I should and one of the demons from my baggage of the past, Isolation, kept putting out a stick to trip my Hopeful spirit when she tried to move forward. I had been tripped by the Guilt stick, again, and deferred Hope cried from my heart “Why do I feel so unloved? I know that I am supposed to love me first, so I can be whole to love the way I know You love—unconditionally and wisely. Being a good steward is not a life sentence to being chained to unrelinquishing responsibility.”
There was a lump in my throat but as a sole tear made a trail down my bowing head, a peace washed over me. Sacred oil being poured on my head, sweetly flowing to the soles of my feet. I stopped what I was doing and closed my eyes, inhaled, exhaled and saw a vision in my mind.
There she was, a little blonde girl in a yellow polyester bathing suit, stooping at the edge of the beach surf, sea breeze blowing her long blonde hair in a way I could not see her face, intensely watching little precious clams dig themselves back to safety. She was peaceful and quiet but I felt her joy inside with the simplicity of each time a new wave deposited a new cast of Diggers. She was protecting the little vulnerable sand jewels. Isn’t she cute, pure, loveable? Adorable, I love her! So, do I. And as I saw her hand gently brush the windblown hair from her eyes… I heard a Still Small Voice say, “She’s you”. My cheeks were flooded with salty tears. Liquid prayers of thank You, thank You.
I wanted to protect her, hold her, laugh with her, and show her understanding when she needed correction. There was a scar on my heart from years of isolation and this simple vision healed it–forever. I knew what I had been seeking. It was to have and be loved by The Perfect Parent, The Perfect Lover and The Perfect Friend. The Perfect Lover who would not use shame, guilt, neglect or cruelty to get their way. It applied to roles as father, mother, husband, wife, daughter, friend, boss or employee.
There was an understanding – crystal clear understanding of acceptance we owed each other even with the stutters, wobbly baby steps, sloppy first kisses or any other awkward graduation. I wanted patience and tolerance to allow myself to learn through mistakes without guilt or shame. I had wanted to be an Achiever of Excellence without the pressure of judgment, timelines or measuring sticks. It was the day I knew concretely that if no one else would love me, I did and with it, came the responsibility to protect that adorable, simple and vulnerable little stooping girl from being harmed in unhealthy environments. Even bigger, it was the day that I discovered how to use the word “I.”
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