What'sWRITEinCharleston.com

Writable Women by Women who Write

What’s WRITE about Halie! — June 19, 2017

What’s WRITE about Halie!

ht1There’s a negative connotation associated with the word, millennial.  It has become synonymous with words like, lazy, ego-centric, entitled, and shallow.  And if we’re being real, there might be some (or a lot) of truth to that.  However, I’m not here to debate that today, but instead, to celebrate someone I think deserves some praise, who is busting through every stereo-type associated with today’s younger generation.

She isn’t famous.  She isn’t on television.  She isn’t the person loudly hamming it up when you walk into a room.  This 23-year-old recent graduate of College of Charleston is a soft-spoken, yet assertive go -getter who quietly and methodically works for what she wants in life.  She doesn’t step on others to get close to the limelight, nor has she asked her parents to carry her to it.  Like a steady steam engine, chugging along, she pushes forward, working the whole way, her pacing solid and rhythmic.  Watching her the past two months, I’ve come to admire my fresh-faced young assistant, and am impressed every day by her selfless commitment.

I was nervous to hire an assistant to help out with my debut novel.  I screened candidates as closely as I would have a nanny for a newborn infant.  After all, my book is my baby.  I worked to this point my entire life, and needed someone who understood the passion, but that I could also trust to the ends of the Earth.  I only chose 2 people to interview out of all the applicants, and I ended up hiring Halie on the spot. I couldn’t bear to interview the other girl her age who applied after I realized it had been her mother who’d reached out to me.  I needed someone tough, but hungry…a child just wouldn’t do.

When I first saw Halie, I thought she looked about fifteen, though her clothes suggested something more mature.  But, after only talking with her for about 30 minutes, I hired her.  She shook my hand firmly, looked me in the eye, discussed her passion for writing and marketing, and told me exactly what she wanted.  However she didn’t sell me cheap theatrics, regale me with schoolgirl achievements, or tell me why she deserved the opportunity.  She told me how she planned to earn the opportunity, and eventually her place in the literary world.  I had found my girl!

Since that day I have watched Halie practice what she preached. She’s booked my signings, written press releases, spent countless hours on phone calls, and held my hand through an amazing, but chaotic time.  My book wouldn’t have launched so perfectly without her.  When I asked her where this work ethic came from she credited her parents, and beloved grandfather (whom she cared for until his recent passing).  Then she jokingly blamed her proclivity towards perfection, and recalled quietly correcting the other little girls’ moves in their ballet recital while on stage.

Halie says that the thing she holds onto most though, is her faith in God.  She keeps working through any obstacles while repeating Philippians 4:13 to herself.  She’s also obsessed with the strong women of the Bible, and tells me, “I hope I can be as badass as they were.”  It is in her faith that she has found fire.  With that fire she continually fuels in the bowls of that steam engine is where she sews her oats.  I cannot wait to see what fruit she’ll bear, because this particular millennial has it right.

I leave you with something she said, that resonates with me all the time.  I’m only 31 myself, which is young in the writing world.  When I get that look from people like I’m too young to be at the table, or too green to pick off the vine, I think of Halie’s words she uttered with a pleasant, yet deadpan look on her face.  “Don’t judge me because of my age.  I will NEVER give you an excuse.”  I think that’s something we can all emulate from our tenacious, Halie.  NEVER an excuse.

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What’s WRITE about Erin! — March 24, 2017

What’s WRITE about Erin!

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Erin Kienzle

All of our mornings are different in the LowCountry.  Some of us awaken to the sounds of squealing toddlers, while some of us struggle to open our eyes because last night’s false lashes are rivaling industrial glue.  Some of us fight for our lives trying to get through the construction on 526, while some of us fight for the last drop of hot water because we get the fourth shower.  Few of us have butterflies landing on the shoulders of our satin robes.  For the most part, it’s chaos.

Then we turn the television on in the background, maybe to just drown out the noise of our clamorous lives. We hear that familiar voice telling us what the latest fashion trends are, or where we just have to eat, or where we can get the best chiropractic care…the woman with the perfect caramel highlights, long legs, and lipstick that never moves takes the decisions off our hands for a second, and makes us feel a little more fabulous.  Erin Kienzle’s confidence transcends the airwaves, finding us clad in our stained yoga pants and messy buns, to lighten the mood for a much-needed minute to breathe.  So I decided to sit down with the person who breezes into our homes every morning, and find out who the woman is that we know through the airwaves…the one who seems like she wakes up in perfect mascara and a tailored dress.

When we sat down at Five Loaves cafe I noticed her shirt first.  The color was electric pink, like something seen under strobe lights…but it’s tone was professional, and I couldn’t find a wrinkle anywhere.  If it had a voice, the accent would have been British, but the peppy version…cockney maybe.  Highly proper, but full of life.  That was my first opinion of Erin.  But there is so much more to this meteorologist turned talk show host than meets the eye.  There is a child that turned into a girl who turned into a woman just like the rest of us.  There is imperfection in the hidden places, and a humility learned over time and trial.  I saw a woman who became confident because that was the only option, and became who she is because she never let the naysayers win.

When we’re little girls we tend to “play” the thing we want to become.  We play house if we want to grow up to be mothers, or school if we want to be teachers.  Some of us wanted desperately to sing and dance on MTV (when there was singing and dancing on MTV), and some of us wanted to win an Oscar for Best Actress.  So we made up dances for our parents in the living room, or we hushed family dinners while we held up ketchup bottles and practiced our acceptance speeches.  Some dreams come true, and some don’t.  Sometimes we make decisions that cause us to lose sight of the prize, but sometimes we let the haters of the world open up our skins and crawl inside. In Erin Kiezle’s case, she simply said no, the negative comments will not define me.

Let’s step back for a moment before the now 37-year-old, self-assured Erin takes the stage.  Let’s look back to knobby-kneed, 8-year-old Erin growing up in the middle…mid-west, mid-sized town, mid-sized person.  Her parents think she has friends in her bedroom because she is interviewing non-existent guests, and doing each of their voices herself.  This is before she comes out to pass around perfectly formatted copies of “The Yogatory,” her homemade newspaper that sometimes touted sinister articles about murders and drownings in town.  At a young age, Erin yearned to be a part of what was happening in the world, good or bad, and unbeknownst to herself started paving the way for a career in broadcast.

Speeding ahead to Erin at 22, her hair is in a bob-cut, and her shoulder-padded suit jacket looks older than she does.  She is vomiting in a bathroom before her first weather report, and is only taking her first step into the world where she’ll be critiqued from every angle by viewers, producers, colleagues, and wardrobe departments.  She doesn’t yet know she’ll be told to change her hair, or her nails, or her shirt.  She doesn’t know she’ll receive hate mail telling her things like “you’re disgusting,” “get off the air,” or “you’re the worst part of my day.”  She didn’t know that on her journey to being revered as knowledgeable, fashionable, and fearless, that she’d first have to be called every name in the book…and sadly, mostly by other women.  Imagine if she’d believed them…

Through the tougher years she chose not to embrace the scoffs and disparage, but to instead think back to her own mother, whom she lost to breast cancer at 22.  Though she was gone too soon, Erin’s mother is the strength that pumps through her veins.  Erin says, “Heads would just turn when she walked into a room because she was so strong.  I’d think, do I have that?”  At some point, Erin looked inside herself, and decided that she did.  This quality was sewn into the fabric of who she’d become by her mother, and is one she now tries to pass to her own little girls.

Erin believes, we as women, need to uplift and encourage other females, and especially our daughters.  The world we live in right now can be one that body-shames, criticizes, and judges…but because of those who refuse to participate in the emotional slaughter of others, is slowly becoming a place where we focus more on health, happiness, and hope.

Just recently Erin’s 6-year-old daughter asked her if she ate a particular food if it would make her “fat.”  Of course, this isn’t something she was taught in the Kienzle household, but because she is a person in the world, was exposed to it. Erin doesn’t incubate a fear of imperfection, but instead encourages her daughter to enjoy yummy treats sometimes, but to also eat foods that will help her to grow “strong,” while loving the body she was given.  I think her mother would be nothing but proud of how she is raising her daughter, as well as the message she sends to other women while she does it.

By the end of my interview I realized I wasn’t just looking at a “put-together” TV personality with perfectly placed hair.  I was looking at a healthy, vibrant person whose inner-beauty has seeped onto the outside.  She shines, not because of perfect lash extensions, but because she uplifts others.  She shines when wearing her big pink wig to raise awareness for breast cancer, or when running around her house in orange-juice stained sweats.  She shines when running on James Island to raise money for college students with disabilities.  She shines when she celebrates her beloved city full of entrepreneurs and dreamers on air.  She shines because she celebrates others instead of tearing them down.  This is where her boldness comes from…the ability to inspire, to succeed, and to turn a deaf ear to those who think any less.  So to answer your question Erin, yes, just like your mother, you have “that thing,” and even more, you’re teaching the rest of us to have it too, whether we’re in sweats, robes, or tailored dresses.

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Erin in her pink wig!

by Lorna Hollifield

For more on Erin, tune into LowCountry Live! weekdays at 10 am on ABC!

http://abcnews4.com/lowcountry-live/about-lowcountry-live

Learn about Erin’s favorite foundation here,  http://www.gkfoundation.org/

https://twitter.com/erinkienzle?lang=en

https://www.facebook.com/erinkienzleWCIV/

What’s WRITE about Landon! — February 23, 2017

What’s WRITE about Landon!

 

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Landon’s greatest love!

When I interview the amazing women in the LowCountry, one thing I always ask is what they played when they were little girls.  I ask this because I’ve found that who we are at 25, 35, or 95, is at the root, who we were actually at 5.  With some women I have to dig deeply…take them out of the stilettos, out of the false eyelashes, or out of the board rooms.  However, with Landon Clements, that little girl was just there, staring me in the face, eyes sparkling, freckles shining, hair perfectly wild…and I think that’s exactly what reality t.v. watchers everywhere have grown to love about her.fullsizerender-21

I’ve been a fan of Bravo’s Southern Charm since it’s debut FOUR SEASONS ago.   Though I’ve always been a fan of the outspoken firecracker, Cameron, I felt a breath of fresh air when Landon rolled in, soaking wet, with the afternoon tide one day.  I immediately wanted to grab a surf board and dash to The Washout, hanging onto the golden coat-tail of dawn, to catch a wave with her (though I hope she knows CPR, because I’ve never surfed before.) Her very presence evoked a feeling in me that made me crave adventure, and good old-fashioned fun.  I wanted to throw on a swimsuit, or dig in the dirt, or just take off running Phoebe-from-Friends-style.  I wanted to be the girl I am when I’m not required by adulthood to be someone else more mature or in less comfortable undergarments.  I found myself identifying with the free spirit, who I’ve come to learn, is just a girl who grew up playing outside, bossing horses around, and watching Blue Crush on the couch with her sisters.  I wanted to know the girl who grew up in a tourist-driven town, and still wants to be a hotelier and travel guru someday.  I wanted to know the girl who gave the women in a Lily Pulitzer-clad town permission to leave with wet hair and skinned-up shins.  Sometimes we all need that greenlight to let go, and Landon unknowingly became our advocate for doing so.  For that, I thank her…because damn, those Spanx get a little tight, and the heels get a little high sometimes.

However, she has not lived her seemingly carefree lifestyle without her fair share of criticism. Not all of her scrapes and bruises have come from surfboards.  The girl who wears her heart on her sleeve went through a painful divorce before undergoing extreme criticism after her Southern Charm debut.  Like many women, she was compelled to hide her battle scars, and just put on a happy face.  Yet, it was when she stopped covering the wounds that her smile started to shine brightest, and she felt at home in her own skin more than ever before.

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Landon and pal, Shep Rose…in her element

I got the pleasure of meeting Landon for the first time at a Taxidermy (google that) pop-up shop back in November where her artwork was also on display.  I was immediately stirred by the flowy action in her paintings.  Her work conveyed the most peaceful kind of chaos to me, and was like looking at a whirlpool in Caribbean waters.  I didn’t know whether to lie back and float, or ride out the euphoria.  She somehow awakened both feelings in one piece.  I have a sneaking suspicion it’s because the two are in cahoots somewhere inside of her, and chose all on their own how to spill onto the canvas.  Landon says, “I paint the way I see the world…a swirl of color and movement.”  However, one disgruntled blogger immediately slammed Landon’s art in every way possible with phrases I need not repeat now.  The same kind of negativity has incited Twitter hate, and even accusations on Landon’s personal life.  It was so bad that Landon thought she wouldn’t be able to handle it all in her early stages on the show.  However, she eventually realized that the hatred means relevance, and that even the naysayers are emotionally invested in your successes.  Then she reminded herself that her mother told her in her teen years, “honey, the only thing worse than being talked about, is not being talked about.”  And don’t we all need to hear that from time to time?

I recently had my own run-in with someone I considered a friend, spreading negativity about me in the writing world.  At first I was terribly hurt, but then I thought…this must mean I’m becoming somebody.  In that moment I found solace, and decided to just keep pushing as hard as ever to be my best, and that’s what Landon is teaching us right now, and is doing so under a microscope most of us will never have to sit under.  She keeps painting, keeps striving to make people feel alive, and keeps being Landon.  She might have to dress up for dinner once in a while, or fight off the occasional shark in the water, but she gets back to center, back to the Landon she’s been all along.  Just as the tide ebbs and flows everyday, regardless of hurricanes or sunny skies, Landon rides in and out on the surf, steadily, never abandoning her place in the world.

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Just Landon!

by Lorna Hollifield

 

Tune in to the reality show Landon credits for getting  her “back to her roots” on Bravo this April!

Check out Landon’s website,

http://trovareco.com (More on Charleston coming in April)

http://www.bravotv.com/southern-charm

https://twitter.com/ClementsLandon?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor

 

What’s WRITE about Ashley and Ashleigh! — February 1, 2017

What’s WRITE about Ashley and Ashleigh!

0B0A7436-2.jpgWe all do it.  We put up inspiring quotes on our instagram feeds, or Facebook statuses.  You know the kind…the ones that say something like, “speak the truth, even if your voice shakes,” and are spray-painted on the sides overpasses or broken down barns.  Then we feel really cool, like we’ve put something fabulous and a little hipster into the world, and we go on with our days.  We talk the talk, but we rarely walk the walk.  We scarcely inconvenience our own lives, or move our own feet enough to be real reflections of our cyber selves.  We’re virtual saints, but nothing about that can actually be felt by human skin.

Just the opposite, however, is true about Be The Change Boutique owners, Ashley and Ashleigh.  When first landing on their website, before taking in the array of cute tops, jewelry, and other odds and ends, a famous Ghandi quote travels the screen.  It reads, “be the change you want to see in the world.”  And in Ashley and Ashleigh’s case, they’ve done it.  They earn the right to tout the well-known phrase every day, and they’re doing so from a tiny shop hidden in a slight-framed cranny on King street.

The two entrepreneurs, who have been besties since sharing a cubby in the first grade, sell merchandise with a mission.  They only carry lines of apparel, accessories, and knick knacks that give back.  They feature lines that provide aid to underprivileged men, women, and children around the globe, right here from the cobblestone streets of Chucktown.  Among their favorite lines is “The Stitch,” a simple $5 roll of distinct orange thread meant to be sewn on clothing items to raise awareness about sexual abuse.  A subject often taboo, the stitch starts a conversation about how important it is for such victims to obtain therapy and support to take their lives back.  Proceeds of “stitch” sales fund counseling for sexually abused people from all walks of life, and was founded by a man who owes his very existence to the recovery he was able to achieve in therapy.  How can we all not want to get behind that?

I first met Ash-ley/leigh duo just before Christmas when they hosted a benefit to collect toys for the children’s hospital at MUSC.  I was humbled by these women immediately, and had to know their story. I asked Ashley number 1 where her inspiration to take on such a project came from.  She passionately told me stories of how she was so affected by the people of Uganda on a trip in her early twenties, and how they use craftsmanship to make money for their communities.  She eagerly praised the other Ashleigh for hopping on a plane at a moment’s notice, and uprooting a life in Maui to start the venture with almost no questions asked.  She spoke of it as though it was a no-brainer for both of them.  You just do good where you see the chance to do it.  But, what I see are two hearts of gold.  Without a profound empathy for others, the loudest calling will never be heard.  If people do not care, they do not respond.  But not with these two; the horn sounded, and they came running with arms open.

I implore this amazing LowCountry community to stand with these women.  Let’s support this boutique when we stroll down King Street.  Let’s not only look fabulous on the outside, but also on the inside.  And let’s do this without the goal of feeling good, but doing good.  Let’s lace up our shoes, lay down the signs, and actually act.  Let our dollars go to educate, elevate, and emancipate.  Ashley and Ashleigh have the lantern in hand, lighting a great path.  They shine brightly, from their hearts over their wallets. The light, so strong, has reached out and warmed my skin, the seeped into, all the way to my heart.

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by Lorna Hollifield

http://www.bethechangeboutique.com

 

What’s WRITE about Brooke! — December 2, 2016

What’s WRITE about Brooke!

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Brooke Ryan

Brooke is contagious in that way all the fabulous girls are…like the first ones we befriend in Kindergarten because they have sparkles on their lunch boxes.  When she sneezes we kind of want to catch whatever cold she has because, whatever it is…it works for her.  The California native doesn’t walk, but breezes into rooms she enters, her trademark lengthy lashes and blonde hair extensions preceding her.  If she had a theme song playing movie-style, I think it would be Britney Spears’ version of I Love Rock ‘N Roll (emphasis on the “owwww”).  This is what makes people like her, and makes me want to throw on a pair of flirty aviators, grab my sassiest handbag, and go shopping with her.  This is a charisma she wears…actually more than wears, because she couldn’t wash it off with bleach and a brillo pad…maybe it’s more like a really cool birthmark…but after sitting down with her for a few minutes, I realized there’s more to this bubbly air wave fave than the parts that glitter.  It’s hard to see at first glance, because she just shines so brightly, but it’s there.  It’s in her humility, her short-comings, her rare lackluster, that she’s so human…and so admirable.

The girl who got her seemingly unshakable confidence from performing plays for her family, cheering on Friday nights, and competing in beauty pageants, learned she loved the spotlight early on.  However, this experience didn’t make her the quintessential attention-seeking diva we might try to paint a picture of in our minds.  It instead created a girl who loved to contend…but learned to critique herself, learned to take responsibility for her losses, and learned to always try again.  As Brooke told me her story, she seemed to focus on times she had to re-evaluate decisions, go back to the drawing board, or pound pavement.  Then I realized, this is why she is successful. This is why she became Charleston’s “it-girl” of radio broadcasting.  It is in her hustle that comes from a unique self-awareness that is scarcely found anymore.

Brooke has had to gather her strength more than once to find her way. At twenty years old she lost her beautiful singing voice; one that was so promising she even opened for the 90s band, B2K. However, fate twisted in that cruel way it likes to do, and due to a case of laryngitis she contracted on a cruise, her voice slipped away. This was followed by vocal nodules that ended her hopes at persuing singing any further. In an instant, the talent that had become her identity was simply gone.  More recently, she’s had to deal with long painstaking absences from her spouse due to his military duty.  However, every day she keys up that husky voice we all love, and helps us forget it’s Monday for a second, or that the power bill is due again, or that we’re battling our own monsters.  She perks up, makes us laugh, and spreads love throughout the LowCountry from her magical spot in a parallel universe on the other side of our dashboards. She doesn’t show us the girl who learned from her mother “you only cry in the car.” She doesn’t resent the tunes she spins of those who didn’t tragically lose their voices. She doesn’t make our morning commute heavier by telling us how she curled up and bawled with her cat in the cold spot on the couch where her husband should be.  No.  Instead she says to me, “I should have taken better care of my voice.  That was my fault.”  She follows that with, “I am proud of what my husband does for his country.”  She dives into the part of herself that fixes things, finds silver linings, and keeps creating goodness above all else.  She takes solace in the fact that she has an incredible husband willing to sacrifice, and that the thing that took her singing pipes away gifted her a radio-ready tone that’s undeniable.

Brooke was able to find ultimate success in her journey, and challenges others to do the same.  However, she lovingly, and almost comically tells it like it is.  She says to her own generation, “Start a YouTube channel.  Start a podcast.  Start a blog.  Do something!”  Personally, that was the best advice I’d gotten all week…that, and “wait until you’re in the car to cry.”  Afterall, once the tears start flowing you can just crank up the radio to Mix 96 and let Brooke fix ya right up.  And she won’t mind a bit; because making you smile is her own best medicine.~

 

by Lorna Hollifield

 

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For more on Brooke Ryan tune into Mix 96 or follow the links below!

http://www.itsbrookeryan.com/

https://www.facebook.com/ItsBrookeRyan/?fref=ts

https://www.instagram.com/itsbrookeryan/?hl=en

What’s WRITE about Andrea! — November 21, 2016

What’s WRITE about Andrea!

0b0a1161-1Andrea Serrano is the walking poster-child for the phrase, “dynamite comes in small packages.”  I’ve never seen her when she’s not sporting a cute pair of trendy heels, but she couldn’t be more than 5’4 with them.  Her head gets lost in a crowd, and her adorable frame barely casts a shadow.  However, a little beam of light seems to shoot out of the top of her head signaling and drawing people her way.  She has an energy about her that’s nuclear, and with one bright flash, she expands her wave across Charleston.  It’s a wave decorated with Taxidermy purses, and Dandy Boutique accessories, but that goes much further than skin deep.

The first thing I noticed about The Charleston Shop Curator was that, well, frankly my dear, she does give a damn.  The word curator is derived from the latin word, cura, meaning “to care for” or “attend to.”  And this is exactly what Andrea Serrano does.  She is the warm nest for Charleston designers and boutique owners to come home to.  She is the mother hen of the LowCountry fashion industry, and not only promotes it, but nurtures it.  She is passionate about fashion, and has channeled that passion into promoting dreams, life, people, and even charity.  Just last week she co-hosted the Toy Drop & Shop with Be the Change Boutique, an adorable King Street gem that gives back with every purchase.  Andrea was able to collect a mountain of toys for MUSC Children’s hospital, while still promoting a great business, and playing with beautiful things.  She’s found a way to do what she loves and make a living at it, while still managing to give back and help other locals thrive.  How did she do this? Simple. She grows, she adapts, she evolves.

Andrea hasn’t been without struggle in her life, but still has a grin on her face while she tells me about them.  She seems to smile kindly on her meager childhood recalling the days when window shopping was the highlight of her life.  She adds, “I loved to shop with what money we had,”  with a tone of gratitude.  She then recalled playing dress up, getting creative, and picking out her mother’s outfits for fun.  What she  unknowingly did, was lay the groundwork for the future fashion powerhouse she’d become.

Once out of school, Andrea started her long and bumpy journey to becoming Charleston’s fashion guru.  She worked for a major player in the industry where she ran ridiculous errands, and experienced her “devil wears Prada” moment.  She bounced from large city to large city, finding crossroads and dare-to-be-great moments at every intersection.  She worked with huge celebrities like Janet Jackson, Christy Brinkley, and Tommy Hilfiger. But, she started to feel an itch for a slower pace, and like so many others, followed the scent of freshly brewed sweet tea to the cobblestone streets of Charleston.

Even though Andrea adored Chucktown from day one, she experienced ebb and flow in her new home. A major ebb dominated 2008 when she closed her beloved boutique, B’Zar, due to a struggling economy.  However, she didn’t shut that door and simply leave her blood, sweat, and tears in the empty space inside.  She gathered it, put it back into her body, and breathed life into herself again.  She clawed her way out of the year that left so many feeling hopeless, and stood up out of the rubble to become a costume shopper for the show, Army Wives.  In respect to this time period in her life she says, “You don’t just sit on your ass and complain and wish.  You do something.”  Again, she evolved.

Designing sets and photo shoots, along with her experiences as a personal shopper, Andrea was finally ready to take her throne as the genteel queen of King Street.  She now proudly serves as the Charleston Fashion Curator, and host of LowCountry Live’s Fashion Friday.  So here, we’ve come to another happy ending, where a strong LowCountry woman refused to settle for a dream that wasn’t hers, bucked against adversity, and made evolution her revolution.  She looked me straight in my eye, just as she had the eye of all that’s ever come against her and said, “I’m a survivor.  I can tell ya that.”

by Lorna Hollifield

Learn more about Andrea by following the links below!

http://charlestonshopcurator.com/

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Toys collected for MUSC Kids!
What’s WRITE about BUFFIE! — November 9, 2016

What’s WRITE about BUFFIE!

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Buffie Bell Lilly….if her name isn’t enough to draw you in, her infectious energy will be!  Her face should pop up next to the word humanist in the dictionary.  And if my word is not enough, then know her by her fruit.  This woman is everywhere.

The bubbly ex-cheerleader and Clemson alum doesn’t credit becoming Charleston’s favorite matchmaker and social butterfly to herself, or even her sociology degree.  She attributes her need to serve people, to know them, to watch them grow, to her loving parents.  Buffie adores her father and mother (whom recently lost her battle with cancer), and believes they taught her to love people.  Buffie tells me, “Mom drilled in my head that no matter who someone is, they bring something to the table.”  This small idea is one that in this day and age seems so hard for people to grasp at times.  The social norm isn’t to always treat others with respect and relativity, but Buffie does.  She is the first to invite other women to networking events, to welcome newcomers to the area, and to reach out and lend a helping hand.  Perhaps this is why she came to be the “Hitch” of the Charleston area.  She just cannot help but connect people.  She says, “I don’t want my name in lights.  I just want people to get together and succeed.”

Buffie didn’t recognize all of these wonderful qualities about herself at first.  She just went with what felt natural to her.  She found herself while cheering for her high school football team, presiding over her student body council, being voted vice president of her sorority,  dreaming of becoming a country music singer, travelling the country as a medical professional, and eventually taking her biggest role as a wife and mother.  Her “ah-ha” moment didn’t come until she was watching the SEVENTH couple she’d set up take their vows.  Then she realized she had knack for the purest, yet most complex form of human connection…the romantic relationship.  She yearned to help people find their other halves, and is now the greater Charleston area’s favorite way to make that happen.

If you haven’t met Buffie yet, you might catch her singing the national anthem at The Joe, or maybe just chasing her kids around the playground.  You might run into her at Fashion Week, or at a wine tasting.  You may see her at your next business event…but I guarantee, if you leave your bedroom, you WILL see her somewhere…and she cannot wait to see you!  Buffie leaves us with, “In this community that I love so much, it’s about promoting connectivity.  I’m equally about the matchmaking and the friendship side.  I’m your wing woman.”

Matchmaking Institute International Matchmakers and Date Coaches Conference

Visit http://www.charlestonwinepairings.com for more!

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by Lorna Hollifield

 

What’s WRITE about MARY ALICE! — September 22, 2016

What’s WRITE about MARY ALICE!

There’s a magnetism about her that starts with the naturally warm smile that’s always on her face.  That’s probably the first thing I noticed about Mary Alice Monroe.  She has a warmth about her that her expression can’t fight, even on a gloomy day full of interviews and impending deadlines.

Then, there’s her hands.  It’s hard to believe that all of the passion, and more importantly the compassion that’s so prevalent in her writing, spills out of her mind, then so eloquently out of her fingertips to the paper we receive it on.  Though she never said it, I think her hands are the reason she’s a writer…because she moves them.  She doesn’t just dream; she acts.  The hands that write the novels have helped raise seven younger siblings, have saved countless endangered sea turtles, have pinched the adorable chubby cheeks of her grandbabies, and have grown the ability to make others move.  This so very nod-worthy LowCountry resident says, “what makes a hero is the decision to act.”  She is always encouraging others to get involved and join groups.  She doesn’t just talk the talk either.  She serves on the board of the SC Aquarium and The Leatherback trust, and also volunteers for Charleston-area literacy projects.  Recently she’s spent time learning about the effects of PTSD on veterans, and has donated her time to those who serve.  This is the motivation behind her first holiday novel, A LowCountry Christmas, that comes out October 25th!  My sneak peek at this project has shown me it is filled with as much truth, love, and hope, as anything she’s ever written….maybe even more.

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Many people have empathy, but Mary Alice has a way of conveying it to the world, of gifting it to others; and I think it’s because she still believes in magic, in her own words, “100%.”  There’s a belief sewn into her skin that many of us tear off our own sometime around junior high.  There’s a hope in her that often only exists in the heart of a child after watching Peter Pan fly Wendy to Neverland for the first time.  It’s no surprise that this was her favorite story growing up (of those that she didn’t make up herself).

There’s a part of the award-winning novelist that sees everything like it’s the first time, and finds something divine in everything she encounters.  I’m considering grabbing a mason jar and dashing out to catch lightning bugs with her later today while I listen to more of her philosophies on life (seriously).

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Life is the greatest fairy tale!

 

I’m not writing about Mary Alice Monroe to simply highlight another person who is kind of good at something. I want our community, our women, our world, to dig down inside, even on the darkest day, and find that light. What I’ve done is recognize an example of someone who actually practices that introspection time and time again regardless of circumstance.  She hasn’t been without struggle, has had ups and downs in the writing world, and a near death experience to boot.  But what she has had all the while is faith, and the unyielding choice to rely on her intuition.

Mary Alice isn’t just a happy family matriarch who happens to have dogs, babies, and birds singing various songs all throughout her home.  She isn’t just quirky.  She’s connected, and draws these things in like a wounded eagle she nursed that found her house and still has a nest on the roof today.

Mary Alice says, “there’s a God power I can’t fully understand, but it’s at the core of my work.”  I challenge the women of Charleston, South Carolina, or Timbuktu to consider what this is, dig down, and make something in your world a little better with whatever medium you have available to you. Mary Alice Monroe has used her way with words to do just that, and I encourage everyone reading to check out one of her publications.  I can’t wait to get my copy of her latest next month, so that those potent fingers of hers can reach out and strum my heart-strings once more.

The final thought Mary Alice leaves me to ponder is that we weren’t put on this planet alone.  We were put here with other humans, animals, and natural wonders.  Shouldn’t we reach out and touch them for ourselves?  Shouldn’t we summons that eagle to sit upon our own eaves?

 

by: Lorna Hollifield

 

For more on Mary Alice Monroe visit these sites:

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https://www.facebook.com/maryalicemonroe/?fref=ts

What’s WRITE about JOSEPHINE! — August 31, 2016

What’s WRITE about JOSEPHINE!

Josephine Humphreys is a Charleston woman of distinction.

An esteemed writer and educator, her impact on literature has been acknowledged through receipt of the Lyndhurst Prize, and the Literature Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She is also the recipient of the impressive Guggenheim Fellowship.

In 1993, one of her novels, Rich in Love, was made into a film of the same title starring acclaimed actors, Albert Finney and Jill Clayburgh. She is an Ashley Hall alumna, as well as a Duke University graduate, with a Masters degree from Yale. She has held fellowships from the Woodrow Wilson Foundation and the Danforth Foundation. Yet behind these many noteworthy accomplishments, there is a woman with grace, honesty, and a love for the Lowcountry that cannot be denied.

Today, her list of novels includes Dreams of Sleep, Rich in Love, and The Fireman’s Fair. However, as a child, Josephines dream was actually to become a policeman; specifically, a police detective. She read every mystery she could find. By age ten, she had consumed all of Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, and Erie Stanley Gardner (the Perry Mason novels) books, and still hungered for more. Gradually her ambition morphed from detective to writer. She does not see this as a leap, however, as she considers writing a way of solving mysteries, or at least trying to.

When asked to share her first, remembered love of writing, this was her response:

Honestly, I cant remember a time when I didnt enjoy writing. I was born loving pencils and paper and poems and stories. But I do remember a moment when I realized I might be good at it. I wrote a story for my grandmother; she read it and said with a sigh of relief, OK, you could be a writer when you grow up.I wasnt as sure, but I had already failed dismally in the many classes she had signed me up for: ballet, tap, acting, and piano. She paid for them all with a strong measure of hope, until it became painfully obvious that I had none of the necessary talents. 

Im also terrible at sports, and Ive tried hard and failed at housekeeping, flirting, dancing, painting, playing bridge, science, and sales. I was not a good teacher during my decade as an English professor. During that time, I took the vocational aptitude test required of my students. The list of career recommendations you could get was somewhat limited; novelistwasnt one of them. I got university pastor. While this seemed absurd for me, I came to understand by a somewhat convoluted logic how it fit me and what it meant. It meant writing. Writing was, and still is, the only thing I can really do.

Josephine admitted to having many helpers (or mentors, as Joseph Campbells archetypes would be classified) along the way. Her grandmother and mother were encouragers, and many teachers served as mentors. In high school, Ms. Miriam Keeler stands out the most. I considered Ms. Keeler an expert once I learned that she had once sat next to Robert Frost at a dinner party.She was a tall, gangly, and hilarious woman who loved everything Josephine wrote.

By Josephines college years, she was fortunate to study under two of the greatest writing teachers in

the country: William Blackburn and Reynolds Price. (Its interesting to note that although Josephine chuckled at the prediction of a career as a university pastor, Mr. Price had a lifelong interest in Biblical scholarship apart from English literature).

After her graduation, Reynolds Price connected Josephine to as many people as possible. One person who would become integral to her writing career was his agent, Harriet Wasserman. The two women not only became close friends, but Ms. Wasserman served as a brilliant editor, negotiator, advisor, and protector. I would have had no worldly success without her,admitted Josephine, Nor would I have been able to write full-time without the support of my husband whose sense of humor and patience got us through it all.

Josephine began writing short stories, but realized after a year of struggling that she needed a looser and more expansive platform. Novel-writing proved to be the ground upon which she could ramble around. She followed the multiple threads that the long form of fiction infallibly develops. She admits that it took her longer to shed the literary languagethat she had learned in graduate school. Her success now speaks for her itself, and for her writing voicethat she eventually discovered from within; one that is plain, perceptive, concise, witty, surprising, and honest.

Reflecting on her own work, her love of her character, Rhoda Lowrie, sails higher than the others. Rhoda was the narrator of Nowhere Else on Earth. This affection bloomed, despite the fact that Rhodawas more different from her creator, than any other character Josephine developed. For Josephine, this novel took great courage and followed in the footsteps of her previous works. A historical novel that is based on a true story, the book required years of research. She immersed herself in the facts; learning the language, customs, food, geography, and people.

With my interest as an aspiring writer, I posed the question of how the world of writing as a career choice has changed over the years. Josephines response resonated, and affirmed why my secret dream of writing is somehow still meshed in with the past in the days of Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and James Joyce.

It seems to me that for a careerin writing today, you need to be both stunningly prolific and adept at marketing, neither of which describes me. But, I have trust in the future for writers and believe that good books will still make their way to publication. I trust that independent bookstores will survive, that publishers will seek out good writing, and that writers will be valued by society. Its definitely a new world out there now, though, with some possibilities diminishing and others increasing. I see new opportunities in self-publishing, in e-books, and in regional and academic publishing companies. I also have great trust in the enthusiasm, perception, and power of book clubs.

When we started to wrap up, I asked (not just because it was a usualquestion, but because I was insanely interested in her response), what is the BEST thing that a new writer can do for him/herself? Josephine did not disappoint me with her reply.

Write. And read. Read your own work out loud to yourself. Pour out your words, and then edit and revise like crazy. Trust that your writing will lead you to surprise and discovery. Keep the work secret as long as you can, hidden and growing. Write your heart out and abandon all hope of success.” Thats impossible to do, of course, but at least try not to think too much about it. The goal is to exist for the work, to love it, to take chances, to trust in writing as a way of life. Its a life of observation, of playing with words, listening, questioning, learning and yearning. Its like becoming a detective. Its like becoming a parent.  Its like becoming a university pastor! Sacrifices will be required, and the rewards are more enormous than fame and fortune.

 

Josephine Humphreys is truly a Charleston woman of distinction. You can purchase her books on Amazon (of course), and learn from one of the best writers on the art and craft of writing in our dayor simply enjoy a wonderful book that will take your mind away from it all, as a good book should.

by Crystal Klimavicz

What’s WRITE About Cathey! — July 10, 2016

What’s WRITE About Cathey!

Some people are born to serve and give to others and to their communities, while as others may never feel the calling. Thankfully, there are those who feel compelled to help a stranger, who share what they know with those in need, and who make a difference.

As a frequent volunteer myself, from ‘Ready for Work’ programs for struggling women to serving on the Board for Associations for aspiring and published writers (SCWW and WFWA), I am confident in my ability to spot a fellow ‘giver’ in the crowd. Cathey Petkash is one of those people.

Cathey is an active supporter in her community for entrepreneurs and business people seeking new business opportunities. I recently had the opportunity to meet with Cathey and ask her some questions about her background and professional journey. I learned how she continues the cycle of what I refer to as ‘Business Humanity’– the art and act of helping others to learn, grow, and succeed in an ever-changing world.

* * *

Cathey Petkatsh grew up in Missouri, a state affectionately known as the “show me state.” When she was quite young, her mother gave her a book with a picture of a graceful ballerina on the front cover. Cathey dreamed of becoming a graceful dancer from then on. However, as the years went by and she grew, she realized that that particular dream would probably not come to fruition for a rather tall, tomboy.

By high school, Cathey had set her sights on a more ‘realistic’ endeavor –becoming an accountant—and this is the occupation that she eventually pursued. Part of her motivation stemmed from a discouraging comment that her high school math teacher used to tell Cathey’s mother, whenever Cathey would say that she wanted to pursue a career in math. “Girls cannot be good

accountants.” However, Cathey eventually proved that teacher wrong as she did just that. Since then, whenever she was told that she couldn’t do something, that activity or goal became a personal challenge.

She continued in her education to earn her B.S. in Accounting, and then went on to pursue an MBA. Upon completion, she acquired an internship in the accounting department of Western Electric, a large and reputable manufacturing company that served as the primary supplier to AT&T, in Kansas City. This role led to a full-time position where she served for years. Since then, she has amassed an impressive career with a few other outstanding companies, including Black & Veatch Consulting Engineers and Hewlett Packard.

It was soon after her retirement from Hewlett Packard, when Cathey decided to venture into personal business ownership. She became a Franchise Coach with FranNet, helping people realize their business ownership dreams and open their own franchises and businesses. She has a strong passion for helping people, and enjoys the opportunity to learn about various business models and industries in the process.

Though a resident of Daniel Island, South Carolina now, in her prior life, Cathey lived on St. Simons Island Georgia. Somewhat out of character, it would seem, she owned a flower shop there. She chose Charleston as her next destination, wanting a ‘bigger city’ way of life, yet she was drawn to the smaller community feel of Daniel Island with its safe and friendly neighborhoods. Daniel Island is also an ideal location to work with clients from around the Lowcountry.

Many people like Cathey who move to Charleston arrive with the goal of starting a new career and starting over. It can be quite challenging, though. I know from personal experience, having left the corporate world to become a writer, I understand how overwhelming and daunting the goal can be. Following her passion to serve, Cathey started BENG (Business Executive Networking Group) for just that reason. BENG is a networking group for mid- to senior-level executives going through a career transition.

The BENG group meets on the first Tuesday of every month at the Library on Daniel Island from 5:00pm until 6:30pm. Everyone is welcome. There, you will find a supportive group to assist with job searches, and provide personal encouragement along the way. Also, if you are a real entrepreneur, check out the Harbor Accelerator–another group for those looking to build a new business from the ground up.

BENG has already helped dozens of people connect and secure new jobs. There are a number of success stories under Cathey’s FranNet ‘belt’… Local DI residents, Amy, Joe and Brent are just a few and they were all amazed to find out that franchises are NOT all about food. Cathey coached each of them through their drive and determination to open a franchise.

Amy Justis lives on Daniel Island and has owned CMIT Solutions of Charleston for 3 years now. CMIT provides Information Technology services to small and medium-sized businesses.

Joe Riley invested in CPR (Cell Phone Repair) and recently opened his third location in Mt Pleasant.

And, Brent Tatum invested in Mosquito Squad – watch out mosquitos!

The city of Charleston is very supportive of its entrepreneurs. Given the national publicity for tourism and the recent designation as “the #1 best place to live,” businesses here will continue to thrive. Simply look at the growth and changing business community on Daniel Island to see new opportunities arising daily. That doesn’t make for an easy path, though; with Cathey’s assistance, people with a dream of owning their own business can thrive.

If you have an entrepreneurial spirit, then let Cathey know how she may help you and your new career. She supports those who take a leap of faith to try something new… and continues the cycle of ‘business humanity’ by helping others by share what she has learned, and watching their new businesses grow. Visit Cathey’s Website today!

 

 by Crystal Klimavicz