The Middleton High School Class of 1976 cried for a ’40th reunion…’ in January, 2016. Not much time due to Charleston, SC becoming the hot event destination with brides flocking in their bridal gowns like our local egrets. But, as the heirs of the Reunion Committees resigned, we went into War Room mode, rolled up our sleeves, pulled out my weary duct taped folder of years of searching for classmates and met to discuss logistics at Bobby Bernstein’s office.
Strategically, Bobby strolled to the kitchen fridge and brought a cold bottle of Chardonnay and one glass. He sat it in front of me at the head of the table and gave me a healthy pour. What came next befuddled me as we had to choose the date to back into for location, catering, rentals and of course, hunting classmates. We knew it would be sometime near hurricane season. A non-negotiable for a Charleston Fall event. Continue reading →
I’ve started my parenting tale with two US Navy fathers raising four girls… just like a modern tale of Little Women. Although, Louisa May Alcott’s father was kept away because of Civil war injury, my tale is more complex.
Products of the mixed signals between Russia and America who economically survived the Great Wars, Korean and Cold Wars…. we dependents were at the mercy of little disclosure or access to our fathers’ duty stations. They defended treaties with allies and defended the right to use international waters without acts of violence. They were crowded on ships that shared and operated as one under pressure. Obedience to an oath to serve country… or among those who wanted to get out of subscription.
Little did I know how intricate this simple fact was for not only my parents… but those who blazed the trail behind them. Life’s one constant was change, some closer to global evidence of genocides, religious division and political agendas than we’d know as small children.
I was never raised to think color, race, or creed. I lived through and embraced the desegregation during my childhood in the South. I didn’t know how to make sense of assassinations of JFK, Martin Luther King or Robert Kennedy. I lived between the fantasy of Disney and ignorance of political corruption. I was not aware of the egotistical agenda of the Berlin Wall. Vietnam was just a place my fathers went to work.
My innocence was cocooned by parents who were far from perfect. They just kept the lines of the messiness of adult life issues from us. Playing Cowboys and Indians in the woods was not offensive. As I used a stethoscope or pretended to give prescriptions to my siblings, no one worried I was headed to substance abuse. Being on the losing team at recess did not crush my self esteem. Sometimes you lose, sometimes you win. Pen pals used stationery and postal stamps. I waited and learned patience because there was no instant gratification.
I don’t think there is anything surrounding my five decades of life that is new to mankind. But, I still want to follow in my fathers’ footsteps. Never think the smallest kindness is futile. I don’t want to be discouraged by the magnitude of the descent of a country’s moral compass. I will not be afraid to face mindful weigh ins or challenging offensive lines. I aspire to respect someone’s opinion, hopefully being reciprocated the right to mine.
Change was more subtle during my lifetime. I guess I heard my dad’s Wind of Change subliminally and dreamed away. Looking back, I realize the enormous gift of these great adults. Do we leave that ability to dare to dream?
I can’t. I want to look behind and see my footprint carrying on the torch of hope given to me by a great legacy of ancestors.
For the past few weeks, there seems to be an employment surge on the corners of major intersections in my city. By no means do I think it is a new concept. But, this group seems to be as organized as the CEO of a van of kids dropped off to canvas neighborhoods selling magazine subscriptions. I don’t see any signs of homeless veterans, but mostly young adults drinking Dunkin’ Doughnuts coffee and changing shifts with another peer sitting under an overpass.
I guess my beef is that I see “Now Hiring” signs in business windows up and down my suburb’s highways. I was not a privileged young adult that was able to go to college. However, the work ethic that my parents raised me with failed to allow myself to indulge in the idea that I would ever get rich quick. I worked fast food, the Piggly Wiggly deli and eventually into law offices to earn the title of Legal Assistant for a prominent attorney.
Yes, I worked for food. I improved my living conditions at a tortoise pace. Nothing happened overnight or was served from a silver spoon. My children didn’t have every gimmick or name brand fashion.
I can’t imagine that choosing to hold a sign at the side of a highway pays more than minimum wage at a department store or restaurant. I am not judging their choice to participate in a group peddling scam, but I guess it plucks a sour note. As the younger son in the Bible’s Prodical Son story, I tend to resent being the dutiful worker bee. The one that sends a check to the government and doesn’t sit and wait for one. As hard as it is to stop from rolling down my window and share the fruits of my labor, I feel I am enabling slothful mentality. As my friend, Jacqueline Gum, says…. Where’s the Justice?
“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…
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 →
One 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 →
Until 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 →
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 →
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!