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a publication of Sigma Epsilon Kappa

September / October 2019 Issue 9

Sigma Epsilon Kappa

The Sigma Letter from the Executive Board “Wake Me Up When September Ends” is not the mantra this year and you all are the reason to be awake! The amount of love, support, and great ideas that have not lost momentum since the beginning of the year is awestriking. The Executive Board is so grateful to be a part of an organization that puts everything on hold to help one another through the tough times. As we are nearing the 2019 Fall season, excitement is in the air! As you all know, orientation for new Sigmas is underway and we have the largest group of new recruits than ever before. The EB would like to ask each of you to please reach out and help these new members feel welcome once they are fully inducted. The key to staying strong as a group is to stay united as much as possible. Let’s show the world that being a part of SEK is amazing! Since our last letter, we have changed a few items within our volunteering requirements. Positive Posts will now be known as Engagement Posts. Before this change, a member could post any encouraging (or positive) post for the three days they signed up for. However, this was hindering our membership engagement within posts. So, the EB has decided to change it up a bit. One of the three days MUST include an engagement post that probes for feedback (i.e. Do you prefer chocolate or vanilla ice cream?). The engagement in all our groups have soared to new heights and we could not be prouder! The Book Club has recently transitioned to a new platform that is more inclusive and informational for all club members. Our Fitness Group has been working hard to control self-esteem and mindset while setting goals for physical health. R.A.K. (Random Acts of Kindness) was completed without any missed gifts and Secret Santa sign-ups are fast approaching! Don’t forget to sign up for that if you are interested. Lastly, our wonderful newsletter (that you are currently reading) is getting ready to do a special edition: Holiday Cookbook. If you would like to submit a recipe with pictures of you preparing the food, please contact The Sigma editors for further information. We have no doubt that our creative minds will soon be implementing new ideas for further engagement, so stay tuned! As always, our doors are open for any ideas you may have. Here is to the next two months of 2019!

Photo by Sandi Dreer. Cover image licensed by CC0.

Inside this issue Happy Healthy Sigmas


Cooking with the Cookes




Special points of interest • Ovarian Cancer Awareness • Domestic Violence Awareness • And more…. Managing Editor Heather Boone Copy Editor Angela Lukehart Layout Editor Sandi Dreer Staff Reporter Mallory Mears

Executive Board President Andrea Ashford Vice President Heather Boone Secretary Shaneece Sonny Treasurer Melissa Hawley

Health & Fitness Seven Steps to Surviving Halloween By Bonni Wildesen Hise The candy sitting in the front of the stores, trick or treating, and all the parties can make avoiding sugary treats almost impossible during this season. Rest assured, there is HOPE! Surviving Halloween without candy and sugar is possible when you arm yourself with the right strategies. Committing to avoid sugar may seem like the first step, but that is extremely difficult when you are facing your favorite sweets everywhere you go. Every year it happens, and every fall you have sworn to yourself that this will be THE year you stick with it. But each year you stumble and drool your way through October, and end up overindulging despite your best efforts. What if THIS were the year you did it? October doesn't have to be a stumble, and there's no need for drool. Follow these suggestions, and you will easily survive Halloween. 1. Be sure to eat before you walk into any store. When you are feeling nutritionally satisfied, it is easier to avoid the temptation waiting for you at the very front entrance. Your brain shuts down cravings and desires, for the most part. 2. Carry a potent mint tincture, unsweetened breath mint, or essential oil on hand for emergencies. Placing one drop of either a peppermint essential oil or tincture of either peppermint or cinnamon interrupts the neurological signals triggering cravings and reduces the desire for the treats in front of you. It is especially helpful to include peppermint tincture drops in your water during this season. 3. Avoid processed, refined foods in general. When you eat a healthy, nutrientrich diet, your brain sees no need for sweets, and will subconsciously reduce cravings and desires.

Photo licensed by CC0.

4. Walk for at least 15-20 minute before any possible exposure to Halloween candy. Endorphins are released after 12 to 15 minutes of activity. When you feel happy, you crave healthier foods, not sweets. 5. Help your children budget their sweets. Donate half of their collected goodies to a local shelter for kids who weren't able to trick or treat. 6. Buy treats that are not favorites to give out to others. You could also choose to give out healthier options such as trail mix with chocolate chips or candies mixed into healthier foods. Although this isn't always the most popular of choices, it will help you avoid snacking while handing out candy to trick or treaters. Halloween doesn't have to feel torturous or devastating to your healthy lifestyle choices. Let it be a catalyst for all of the end of the year celebrations! Pick a few of these strategies, and you'll be prepared for lots of quality time with loved ones without the temptation of overindulgence.


Cooke Family Chicken Fried Steak Ingredients •

4 Beef cube steak

2 tubes of Ritz Crackers crushed into crumbs

3 eggs, beaten

¼ c. flour

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. pepper


1 tsp. onion powder

1 tsp. garlic powder

16 ounces Beef cube steak (fat removed if necessary).

Vegetable oil for frying

Lightened Up Chicken Fried Steak

1 cup of crushed corn flakes


2 eggs, beaten

Add the cracker crumbs to a flat dish for dredging (such as a pie plate), add the flour to another flat dish with the spices and combine thoroughly, add the beaten eggs into a third dish. The order should be flour, eggs, then cracker crumbs.

¼ c. flour

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. pepper

1 tsp. onion powder

1 tsp. garlic powder

Cooking spray of choice

Place a cast iron skillet on the stove and cover the bottom with vegetable oil for frying, preheat to 325 degrees. When the oil is up to temperature, dredge the cube steak through flour covering all sides, then into the egg mixture, and finally into the cracker crumbs covering all sides completely and place it in the oil to fry. Cook each side until golden brown, remove from the oil and set on a rack or paper towels to remove any residual oil. Finish frying the remaining steaks. When finished the remaining oil can be combined with flour and milk to make gravy if that is what you desire. We always made a country-style gravy with mashed potatoes and added a bazillion extra calories to the dish. Nutrition Information for this recipe without gravy 4 servings: Calories 1,037.5, Total Fat 86.1g, Total Carbohydrate 26.7g (Nutritional breakdown provided courtesy of SparkPeople).

Directions: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare a cookie sheet by spraying it with cooking spray and set it aside. Add the flour to a container for dredging the meat (I recommend a quart baggie because it keeps the mess contained), add all the spices and combined thoroughly and set aside. Add the eggs to a flat dish for dipping the floured meat into and set next to the flour. Finally, add the corn flake crumbs to another container (a baggie can work for this, but I’ve found a pie plate or other flat dish is the best choice) and set it next to the eggs.

Add the cube steak to the flour and cover thoroughly, add it to the beaten egg mixture making sure all sides are covered, then add to the cornflake crumbs. Place it on the cookie sheet. Do this for all the cube steak. When finished, season the meat with salt and pepper if you prefer (I’ve done this with season salt to add more flavor. It’s a personal choice). Bake in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes until done. If you like your steak to have a “fried” texture, spritz the steak with cooking spray before placing them in the oven. This makes 4, 3 oz servings when finished. Nutrition Information: 4 Servings Calories 231.5, Total Fat 9.4g, Total Carbohydrate 13.0g WW Smart Points 6


Spiced-Apple Bread Pudding Ingredients • 12 slices Reduced-Calorie Whole Wheat Bread • 5 large apples, peeled and thinly sliced • ¼ c. water • ¼ c. unpacked light brown sugar • 2 tsp. cinnamon, divided

• 3 c. regular liquid egg substitute (you can use eggs if you wish, but it takes 1 dozen and will change the nutritional values).

For those who don’t know, Melissa and I embarked on a major lifestyle change on July first by joining Weight Watchers. However, we still enjoy our comfort foods and the occasional dessert. This month’s Cooke’s Corner is going to include one of our all-time favorite dishes lightened up (nutritional breakdown included) and a new favorite dessert.

~ Vicki

• ½ c. fat free skim milk • 1 tsp. vanilla extract • A pinch of salt • ¼ c. maple syrup (optional) Instructions Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat an 8- X 10-inch casserole dish with cooking spray. Place bread cubes on a cookie sheet; toast in oven for 10 minutes. While bread toasts, coat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray; add apples and sauté until slightly softened, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add water, 1 tablespoon sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon; cook on high, stirring frequently, until apple slices are softened and starting to brown. In a large bowl, whisk together egg substitute, milk, remaining 3 tablespoons sugar, remaining teaspoon cinnamon, vanilla extract, salt and nutmeg. Add toasted bread cubes and sautéed apples to egg mixture; stir well to coat and then pour into prepared casserole dish. Bake casserole, covered with aluminum foil, for 30 minutes. Remove foil and cook until eggs are set and top begins to brown, about 15 to 20 minutes more. Slice into 8 pieces and serve drizzled with syrup. Yields 1 piece and 1 1/2 teaspoons syrup per serving. Nutrition Information: 8 Servings Calories 247.5, Total Fat .8 g, Total Carbohydrate 66.9 WW Smart Points 5

These recipes and photos have been provided Vicki These recipes andby photos have been provided by Vicki Cooke and Melissa Cooke and Melissa Cooke Hawley. Cooke Hawley. 5


Coloring page licensed by CC0.

Celebrating Hispanic Heritage By Sandi Dreer It’s more than Taco Tuesday. It is the celebration of the culture and traditions of those who trace their ancestry to Spanish speaking countries and cultures.

Where headline to Find ΣEK Groups By ΣEK Volunteer Group The Sigma SEK Online Yard Sale SEK Reunion Planning The Butterfly Book Club SEK Fitness Group Encouragement Group LinkedIn

The celebration of Hispanic heritage is 51 years old this September. National Hispanic Heritage Month was expanded Image licensed by CC0. from National Hispanic Heritage Week in 1989. Hispanic Heritage Month begins on SepRonstadt, Sandra Cisneros, Julia Alvarez, tember 15th, which was the day five Latin Laura Esquivel, Rear Admiral Christina American countries celebrate their indeAlvarado, and Jennifer Lopez. pendence and ends on October 15th. Costa Rica, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Today, we can celebrate Hispanic Heritage Nicaragua, Mexico, and Chile celebrate with food and festivals. Here are some their independence from September 15th additional ideas for you and your family: If you’re not a memto September 18th. St. Augustine, Florida, ber of any ΣEK group, was a Spanish fortress and is the first con- • Attend a Ballet Folklórico tinuously inhabited settlement of Europe- • Have a Tres Leches Cake ask a member of the ans in North America. It was founded in • Practice Spanish EB to send you an 1565. Today, Hispanics make up about • Make some paper fiesta flowers 18% of the US population, making them • Enjoy some paella or refried beans invite. the largest ethnic minority. with tortillas • Find a local festival or parade Being from Texas, I have seen and experienced the rich culture brought to us by Embrace Hispanic Heritage Month with Hispanics. Early Texas settlements were some tacos but also with a greater underFrench and Spanish. Roads, villages, and standing of how the Hispanic culture has missions were built by early Spanish impacted our daily lives. settlers in the 17th and 18th centuries. These early settlements still have an imResources: pact on art, language, music, food, archi- tecture, and traditions. I remember one summer vacation was spent visiting the national-hispanic-heritage-month/ Spanish Missions in Texas, which extend Nacogdoches in East Texas to El Paso american-service/ in West Texas, to Refugio in South Texas, to Dallas in North Texas. The Spanish also groups/notable-hispanic-women introduced European livestock to Texas, has had a tremendous impact on diversity-of-hispanic-cuisine-from-mexico- Licensed by CC0. early Texan history. It also still impacts our to-the-patagonia/ legal system. We still use early Spanish law, such as homestead exemptions for articles/genealogy_research_strategies/ taxation, adoption, and community prop- international-genealogy-research/ erty. genealogy-tips-for-hispanic-heritagemonth/ 7 Some notable Hispanic women are Delores Huerta, Sonia Sotomayer, Linda

Sigmas on the Web  Elginette Powell Random Midnite Poetry by EJ  Sandi Dreer

blog  Bonni Hise blog  Sabrina Williams blog

Movie Review: A Dog’s Way Home

By Marcie Beamer A Dog’s Way Home I know that some people just say no to dog movies. It’s the crying that gets them. I know it affects some people more than human movies. However, if you like crying in a film, this is the one. This movie is about a dog named Bella. Problems occur when the animal police decide the dog is part pit bull. From Bella’s point of view, everyone gets to go on her journey back home, after she is sent away. She encounters so many people, places, and other animals. If you want to cry happy tears, this is the movie for you.

Isn’t it Romantic? If you have a blog or a website, send a message to the Sigma Staff to be included in future lists. If you have a storefront for goods or services and would like to be listed as a Marketplace member, contact the EB. 8

Don’t you sometimes get tired of the RomCom movies? They’re all the same. Boy falls in love with Girl, and they live happily ever after. You may not think that, but in this movie, Natalie (Rebel Wilson) has hated romance and anything she has ever seen in a romantic comedy. She has her own, twisted, views on the world, and especially on love. She incurs a mishap and wakes up in a hospital. Soon, she realizes she is stuck in a romantic comedy. Find out what it takes to get her back into the real world. If there are any movies you would like to know about before you see, please let me know! I will be the test dummy!

Single Does Not Equal Lonely By Bridget Mitchell I turned 50 this past year and realized that marriage has never been a priority for me. I want to be married, but right now, I am living my best life. It took a long time to be comfortable with the idea of spending time with me. I had to discover who I was as a person. I had always been defined as a daughter, mother, grandmother, sister, and pastor. However, who was I as a single woman? I took a journey of self-discovery, and it required me to search my soul and challenge myself to see both good and bad. It was hard. I discovered that I had no patience. I am quite cranky and my own biggest critic. I doubt myself even when things are going well. I tend to shut myself off from people. I am an introvert with extrovert tendencies. I am fragile when my feelings are hurt. So, I flipped the coin because I had to live with me. I am strong on most days. I love my intellect. I have devoted and loyal friends. I am tenacious and accomplished. I am an extrovert with introverted tendencies. I have a killer smile, and I am proof that aging is like fine wine. I love people fiercely, and I have a huge heart. I am empathetic and love helping people. As I am learning to live with myself, I started doing things for myself, and this what I did: 1. Date yourself. Take yourself to a movie, go to dinner, or find an outside hobby. 2. Buy yourself some flowers. There’s nothing more beautiful than fresh cut flowers.

3. Say positive affirmations about yourself every day. 4. Treat yourself. Don’t deny yourself a special item. Spend a bit on you! 5. Love you! I realize that I am a catch for any man. However, until that happens, I will continue to love me and love "on" me. I am confident about what I bring to the table, but I will not be afraid to eat alone if it is my fate. Being single does not have to equal loneliness. Love you, spend time with you, and live with the best of you.

Young Girl in an Old Body By Jennifer Ferguson My name is Jen, and I am almost 32-yearsold. I may seem young, but my body isn’t. I was very physical as a young child. I played basketball, volleyball, bowling and dancing. When I was in high school, I injured my knee by having a torn meniscus. It took me about four years until I got it fixed. Then once I started my community college life, I had a problem with my gallbladder. That problem took me a long time to fix. Sadly in 2014 and 2015, I got hit twice by two cars. I received a broken and fractured nose with the first one and a very bad bone contusion on my ankle with the second. With all that, I’ve been in physical therapy since about 2004. My body has taken a toll. I thought I was done with trauma. All of a sudden, I was getting really bad pain in both of my legs. I went to my primary care doctor, and it turned out that I had a full ACL tear in my left knee and patellofemoral pain syndrome alone with a muscle tear in my right. After I got my ACL tear fixed, I received a major back injury. Out of all my doctors said, I am too young for all these injuries. I have a back of an eighty-year-old. I am diagnosed with lumbar spondylolisthesis, sciatica, and scoliosis. And with all of that, I had a minor stress fracture. I have a spinal disorder in which a bone slips forward onto another bone. It is all part of your lower back. You think going to physical therapy for several years will prevent more injuries. Lastly, I am diagnosed with osteoarthritis. I have it in my knees and my back. As for the wellness part of it, I am on a very high antiinflammatory diet alone with joint support vitamins. As for the pain, I’m allowed to take a high dose of anti-inflammatory medication. I do love to walk. I go to the gym a couple of times a week. Since I don’t drive, I use a stationary bike at home. Sadly, in a few years, I would have to go through a knee replacement for possibly both knees. My advice to you all is careful about how you cross the street, and your health is more important than anything.


Sigma Spotlight: Nicole Gray Upcoming Events •

Sept 2nd—Labor Day

Sept 3rd—Orientation Begins

Sept 5th—Be Late For Something Day

Sept 10th—Verification Deadline

Sept 11th—9/11 Remembrance / Patriot Day

Sept 15th—Nat’l Women’s Friendship Day

Sept 22nd—Hobbit Day

Sept 24th—September Mandatory Meeting & Induction of New Members

Oct 6th—Mad Hatter Day

Oct 13th—Fall Commencement

Oct 14th—Columbus Day & Indigenous Peoples Day

Oct 31st—Halloween


By Mallory Mears Nicole is a military wife living in Fort Bragg, NC. While her husband, Matt, is deployed, she holds down the fort. They have two dogs; a one-year-old lab mix named Bear Alexander, and a 3-yearold shorthair mix named Beau Bafet. She grew up in San Jose with her mom, dad, brother, and sister. Unfortunately, in 2009, her mother passed away. Nicole, originally from the west coast, has lived all over the country. She will continue to move around as she supports her husband’s military career and our country. Her life as a military spouse makes her studies at Ashford the perfect place for Nicole to complete her degree. Nicole is working towards a BA in Psychology with a minor in humanities, and plans to graduate in 2022. She hopes to one day become a counselor for service member and service families. Understanding firsthand the struggles and stresses that army and military families face, she hopes to give them the support needed to overcome any obstacles. Nicole is also very supportive of her fellow students and Sigmas. She joined ΣEK in September 2018. She loves the connection and sense of community gained by being a member and loves that she always has a place to talk, get advice, and help others. Her favorite ways to volunteer within the group is by making monthly positive posts on our Facebook page and writing for The Sigma. She enjoys the opportunity to make someone’s day better and be uplifting. Aside from school, she also stays busy in her personal life. Nicole works with her husband’s unit’s Family Readiness Group (FRG) when possible to help fundraise and boost morale for the soldiers and their families. She is currently trying to better herself in being self-aware and living a healthier life, which she credits our health groups in assisting her with that. In her free time, she likes to do paint by number and likes to listen to audiobooks while she does it.

Sigma Spotlight: Athena Henderson By Mallory Mears Athena joined ΣEK in September of 2016, shortly after she completed her Master's degree. She earned a BA in Child Development in 2014 and an MA in Education specializing in Family and Community Services in 2016. She plans to use her degrees to become a counselor.

Athena loves being one of ΣEKs alumni. The best part of it for her is the extended family, love, and support. She enjoys volunteering within the group because she loves to make people smile and to make them happy. Her favorite way to volunteer in ΣEK is making positive posts and the birthday/anniversary greeting. Outside of ΣEK, she volunteers by giving through United Way and helping with her son's Boy Scout troop. Volunteering and giving back to her community help her as she is continuously striving to be a better person.

Would you like to be featured in the Spotlight? The Sig-

ma is now using a randomized list of all ΣΕΚ members, both active & alumni. Fill out our questionnaire so you can be in the Spotlight!

Athena's hometown is San Francisco, but she currently lives in Vicksburg, Mississippi. She lives with her husband and only child, her son, a 15-year-old sophomore. Aside from spending time with her family, she also loves to hang out with her best friend and be extremely silly. 11

Ovarian Cancer Awareness Blue #5 By E.J. Powell He is my summer in a bottle & my spring on my plate. The winter in my covers & the fall on my face.

By Mallory Mears September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. It is essential to use this time to spread awareness and knowledge. Knowing the symptoms to look for and how to get yourself tested for ovarian cancer will allow for an earlier diagnosis. “When diagnosed and treated in the early stages, the five-year survival rate is over 90%” ( These are promising statistics and can bring hope to many diagnosed with ovarian cancer and their families. The following are a list of possible symptoms:

Yet he walked off with


heart & laced it in the

Pelvic or abdominal pain

Trouble eating or feeling full quickly

Feeling the need to urinate urgently or often


Upset stomach or heartburn

Back pain

Pain during sex

Constipation or menstrual changes

bottom of his shoes. Now with every step he takes beats the heart in my blues. He thought he had my soul but it was my heart & pride he stole. Took my love & life to the market thinking it was gold that he sold. But no soul is for sell & my spirit you did not break. It was my tears that did cry & they were not fake. But I'll escape one day &

rescue my shattered heart. I will mend & repair what you broke from the start. Yes, my heart. © E.J. Powell (Aug 20, 2014)


What is concerning for me is how some of these symptoms are similar to a urinary tract infection (UTI). I feel that these symptoms may often be ignored or underestimated because of the similarities or because of their mildness. It is important to be mindful of the fact that ovarian cancer symptoms may feel normal to those who have frequent UTI’s or various menstrual issues. Do not ignore these symptoms. According to, approximately 1 in 78 women will develop ovarian cancer at some point in their lifetime. To prevent being one of those 78, take every symptom seriously, and get tested at any sign of one. Most women remain undiagnosed until the advanced stages, so don’t wait to see a doctor. How do you get tested? One frequent misconception is that a Pap test will check for ovarian cancer, but that is not true. Doctors use several tests to diagnose. Most frequently used is a pelvic exam. They may also use a transvaginal sonogram, or more rarely, a CA-125 test. At any sign of symptoms, reach out to a medical professional. Speak to your gynecologist and express your concerns. Don’t wait until it is too late. Take care of yourselves, Sisters. Source:

Domestic Violence Awareness: Abuse & Finding the Strength to Leave By Bonni Wildesen Hise At fourteen, I was completely enamored with how independent and driven he seemed. But, years later, when I stood outside the doors waiting to walk down the aisle, all I really wanted to do was run out the door and disappear forever. Somewhere he could never find me. Ten years of my life was filled with emotional and physical abuse. My family consistently prayed I would wake up and realize how dangerous he was. But that wasn’t why I didn’t leave – I was terrified and felt powerless. When your heart and soul are devastated by the abuse, you aren’t always able to see a way out.

Two years later, he sat on me while I was sleeping and started choking me. An alien strength helped me knock him across the room. His apology was immediate, and included “ it will never happen again.” After several weeks, and a few more insane-life threatening incidents, I realized I had a choice: my life or his. Without action, I wouldn’t make it to my 25th birthday, which was a few days away. Leaving and staying gone was the hardest decision I have ever made and sparked a second chance at life, without consistent harm. Some victims of domestic violence aren’t able to escape as I did, and they pay the ultimate price. Abuse has many faces. It is physical, emotional, psychological, and sexual. Every situation is different, but so many continue to suffer in silence. The embarrassment of abuse and fear of retaliation can be enough to keep a victim silent. An abuser isn’t always blatantly obvious. Typically abuse starts with a small event, and over time, the intensity builds and as do the injuries. Those that attempt to leave can be stalked and further tormented, making their escape tumultuous and difficult. This cycle is why many victims keep going back; you are convinced that you aren’t worthy of a better life, but also that it will be easier for everyone if you go back. This cyclical spiral causes irreversible physical and psychological pain. Domestic violence has occurred in more than 22 percent of American homes, and the United States has the sixth-highest amount of domestic violence incidents in the world. These stats do not include those who are hiding or unable to speak out. It is time to shout to the world that victims are not alone, and help is available. Local safe houses and the National Hotline for Domestic Violence are confidential, safe places to report abuse and get help escaping. They offer guidance, assistance, and can help facilitate your escape or get you into a safe house. Fleeing violence is never easy, but when you are ready, help is waiting.

Photo by Sandi Dreer

Photo by Sandi Dreer

Sources: 13

West Virginia By Shana Richardson

Photo licensed by CC0.


West Virginia is known for being wild and wonderful and has never lost its hold over me. As a child, I was shipped there each summer to stay with my father, and being the only child on the mountain; it often got lonely even with the lake to play in. I guess that’s why I was able to notice its beauty and appreciate the calm around me. When the day was getting started, you could hear and see birds looking for grub and deer enjoying the fresh dew. By midday on the lake, you could find black snakes sunning on the floating dock and see turtles popping up to say hello. After a day of rain, the mist and fog would roll up along the mountainside like blankets of clouds for hours. In the evening, I would sit on the rusty porch swing as the sun tucked away to watch, as the trees would come alive with thousands of fireflies and the sky began to fill with stars. As a teenager, I learned that as the nights grew darker with the hour, the more stars I was able to see, so I began to stay up later only to watch them appear. Photo licensed by CC0. The appeal of the lake and the sandbank turned from fishing with my dad to hours spent laying the sun sneaking cigarettes and Boone's Farm Strawberry Hill wine, daydreaming about life. Once I had my license, I would often make the two-hour drive late in the evening without announcing my presence just to sit under the stars at the lake to help center myself. Now, as a parent, I find the same joys watching my children run through the fields or splashing in the lake. It's freeing for me to take them away from the city and watch them become one with nature and delight when they see the deer, and adventure into the wooded paths I walked as a child. There are no limits to the potential powers of the mountain, and the generations that will come after me to enjoy our little piece of heaven.

Haunted by Poe

Birthdays & Anniversaries

By Angela Lukehart


From an early age, I found Edgar Allan Poe intriguing, but it wasn’t until many years later that I understood why. He is the mysterious man cloaked in black, spinning tales of revenge, romance, death, and fear that touch a secret place in your heart. His short stories aren’t the type that you’d read to feel warm and fuzzy inside; rather, they reach a hidden pool in your soul that begs your to dip in just a toe or two without having to drown yourself in its murky depths. What is it about his writing that fascinates, and is he a more successful author in death than in life?

Sept 1st—Lynette Jones

Sept 5th—Sierra Mitchell & Vicki Cooke

Sept 13th—Shannon Reece

Sept 15th—LaTasha Dobson

Sept 17th—Jennifer Smith

I once read that Poe only made $9.00 on his now-celebrated poem, “The Raven,” a piece that’s a staple in almost every volume of American Literature. Perhaps you think that would’ve been a lot of money for 1845, but that would be the equivalent of about $284.00 in today’s currency. Poe was the first American writer to live solely by his pen, but he spent his entire adulthood in poverty. He worked several jobs as an assistant editor for upstart American magazines, where most of his short stories and poems were published. All the volumes of poems he managed to publish were failures. Upon his death, Charles Dickens helped his impoverished mother-in-law Maria Clemm by purchasing copies of Poe’s failed book, Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque.

Sept 18th—Steph Vera

Sept 21st—Cecilia Esquivel

Sept 24th—Lucinda Ramon

Sept 25th—Shannah Hendrick-

It isn’t surprising that Edgar Allan Poe was so polished at writing first-person studies of terrors that focused on revenge-- perhaps they were an outlet for his fantasies. His characters tend to be nameless first-person narrators who shared his troubled inner-thoughts. Poe had many personal and literary rivals throughout his career, and he was known to be a moody and vengeful man often. He made a slew of enemies, in part, because of the scathing literary reviews he published in the magazines he edited. One of his greatest rivals was Rufus Wilmot Griswold, who later wrote his obituary, depicting Poe as a drunk and addicted madman with no friends. The contents of this obituary haunted Poe for more than a hundred years after his death.

Sept 26th—Belinda Phillips

Sept 28th—Jasmine Anderson

Oct 6th—Melanie Pendleton

Oct 10th—Jacquelyn Petrovic

Oct 11th—Jolene Johnson &

Poe is about as complex as an author can get, and it’s a shame that his works were not more celebrated while he lived. I wonder if he would be amused to know that he is now considered one of the greatest literary minds in American Literature, Father of the Modern Detective Novel, and the first American author to ever make a living entirely from his writing. Perhaps he had a vision of his legacy when he penned the poem “Dream-Land” and wrote these lines: By a route obscure and lonely, Haunted by ill angels only, Where an Eidolon, named NIGHT, On a black throne reigns upright. I have reached these lands but newly From an ultimate dim Thule— From a wild weird clime that lieth, sublime, Out of SPACE—Out of TIME. (1846) An eidolon is defined as either an idealized person or a spectre/phantom, and Thule is a metaphor from Greek and Roman literature that refers to a place beyond the borders of the known world. I find this an apt description for Poe’s works--timeless and unrestrained...and his ancient spectre haunts us. Sources:


Tamara Scott •

Oct 14th—Takara Egleston

Oct 17th—Jennifer Ferguson

Oct 19th—Natasha Ashford

Oct 21st—Rinda Pfister

Oct 26th—Elizabeth Walker

Oct 28th—Tyron Barnes

Anniversaries •

Sept 17th—Nicolle Smith

Oct 12th—Cristin Miller


Contributors in this edition: Andrea Ashford Marcie Beamer Vicki Cooke Sandi Dreer Jen Ferguson Melissa Hawley Bonni Hise Angela Lukehart Mallory Mears Bridget Mitchell Elginette Powell Shana Richardson

Photo by Andrea Ashford.

Profile for SEK Publications

The Sigma, Issue 9  

The Sigma, Issue 9