“Art allows the unspeakable to be spoken.”
New Year, New Possibilities
Is your New Year’s resolution to be part of a community that caters to your interests and exceeds your expectations? Or maybe you’ve vowed to live an active, healthy lifestyle. Or be more social with new and old friends. Whatever your goals may be, Portside at Grande Dunes has you covered.
• Choice of studio, one- or two-bedroom apartment styles, as well as Cottage Homes
• All-inclusive, restaurant-style dining
• Indoor golf simulator and outdoor, heated saltwater pool
• Beauty Salon/Barber Shop and Spa
• Fitness Center
• Pet-friendly community
INDEPENDENT LIVING • ASSISTED LIVING MEMORY CARE SAVE THE DATE! GRAND REOPENING THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 16TH 4:00 - 7:00 PM
Portside Drive Myrtle Beach, SC 29572 (843) 994-2324 www.PortsideGrandeDunes.com Start the year
About the Cover Artist: Aliaksandra Tsesarskaya’s work is an exploration of feelings evoked by the search for inner meaning. She finds inspiration in everything that surrounds her, people, places, and animals. While looking at her paintings, you can immerse yourself in a bright riot of colors that represent different emotions and moods. The collection is dedicated to the female universe and its connection with the outside world. Sometimes these are mysterious portraits of women with hidden faces in flowers, sometimes they are frank and vivid portraits of strong and courageous women, but they are always unique and intriguing. They display acceptance without stereotypes and boundaries as well as women’s poetics as a form of self-knowledge. Through her work, she exhibits the diversity of the world, its multifaceted culture, and our coexistence in harmony with the animal world and the environment. Her continuous growth of self and art is prevalent in her life and is vibrantly shown through her works.
“Creative Outlets” January
Volume 22, Issue 1
Talents Differ by Erika Hoffman
How Art Creates Connections: Seacoast Artists Guild & Gallery
The Art of Becoming an Artist by Jeffery Cohen
How I Became a Calendar Girl! by Sue Fretwell
Color of the Year 2023 - Viva Magenta
Turn “Can’t” Into “Can”: Horry County Literacy Council
Sasee Gets Personal with Wendy Meletes & Olivia Meletes-Morris: Litchfield Books
Creative Outlets Take Center Stage
The Writing Seed by Mason K Brown
A Constant in Times of Change by Caitlin Shaw
from the Editor
Creativity is a luxury many of us forget about as we age. Thanks to societal norms, our minds become consumed with rational (as well as irrational) thoughts and fears about the world and our future. While feeling worried is a valid emotion and spending time focused on real-life tasks is essential, I could also argue that it’s equally as important to remember what it feels like to dream.
Although I am young, my childhood still existed before the time of iPhones and iPads. I was raised to play outside, get dirty, build forts, ride bikes, and invent games with my friends. Using our imagination has several benefits such as preserving memory skills, enhancing problem-solving abilities, improving social intelligence, and developing self-confidence. Creative movement and activities provide a safe and appropriate place to express those overwhelming inner thoughts as well as learn how to move through and naturally embrace those feelings. Utilizing our imaginative aptitude to be creative not only reduces anxiety but also allows us to develop a deeper appreciation and connection to the world around us.
I honestly don’t know who I would be today without the many creative outlets I partake in because, in my opinion, they make me the best version of myself. When I am in a rut, or too in my head, it’s creativity that relieves my stress and inspires me to move forward. Creative outlets like painting, crafting, decorating, cooking, gardening, singing, writing, meditating, dancing, and all other forms of movement are truly valuable for the mind, body, and soul. There’s no downside to discovering an innovative outlet that brings us joy, especially when nurturing and growing through that outlet brings us a high satisfaction of self. Creativity is an aspect of life where there is no skill needed to begin and there is no wrong answer – it is a unique, passionate process of self-care and discovery that everyone deserves to experience.
Cheers to a New Year!
Sales & Marketing Director Susan Bryant
Editor Sarah Elaine Hawkinson
Account Executives Erica Schneider Gay Stackhouse Art Director Patrick Sullivan
Contributing Photographer Chasing the Light Photography Web Developer Scott Konradt
Accounting Gail Knowles
Executive Publishers Jim Creel Bill Hennecy Suzette Rogers
PO Box 1389, Murrells Inlet, SC 29576 fax 843-626-6452 • phone 843-626-8911 www.sasee.com • email@example.com
Sasee is published monthly and distributed free along the Grand Strand. Submissions of articles and art are welcome. Visit our website for details on submission.
Sasee is a Strand Media Group, Inc. publication.
Copyright © 2023. All rights reserved. Reproduction of any material, in part or in whole, prepared by Strand Media Group, Inc. and appearing within this publication is strictly prohibited. Title “Sasee” is registered with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office
2023 Lee Minton Signature Series
Branden & James: From Bach to Bieber Vocalist and Cellist
February 8, 2023
BRANDEN & JAMES bring the soulful timbre of James on his cello combined with Branden’s emotional and powerful vocals, creating a sound that leaves audiences feeling moved and inspired.
Since forming a duo, they’ve been touring around the world with their innovative, classically inspired pop songs, and their undeniable charm and wit.
Diego Figueiredo ~ Brazilian Jazz Guitarist with special guest vocalist Chiara Izzi February 15, 2023
GRAMMY nominated guitarist Diego Figueiredo is a virtuoso with an infectious, joyful feeling that will leave you amazed and happy. Don’t miss this opportunity to discover this incredible artist.
Diego is an extraordinary star among the world’s greatest jazz guitarists. His superb technique, timing and imagination have made him one of the hottest international names. He has very unique skills and his concerts have been a great success in more than 60 countries around the world.
Halie Loren Quartet Jazz Singer/Songwriter February 22, 2023
Halie Loren is an international, award-winning jazz singer/songwriter. Raised in Alaska, this Oregon-based artist brings a fresh and original perspective to time-honored musical paths, channeling her innate understanding of connectedness across musical boundaries to forge bonds with diverse audiences in North America, Asia, and Europe. A lover of global cultures and music, her repertoire is a multi-lingual one, including songs in Spanish, French, Portuguese, Italian, Japanese and Korean as well as her native English.
Talents Differby Erika Hoffman
Everyone needs a hobby. If people find what you do creative and beneficial to them, that’s a bonus. Yet, as long as you enjoy what you’re doing, it benefits you no matter what accolades you receive or don’t. You still get the endorphins regardless of the world’s opinion.
I like to write. If someone comments on the travelogue I’ve posted on Facebook, along with multiple pictures of my trip to Sicily, I feel a certain jolt of happiness because a reader has taken the time to digest what I’ve posted. Maybe they received a boost of entertainment or a smidgen of knowledge or some savoir-faire about travel by perusing my musings. Yet, even if they didn’t receive any justification or reward from browsing what I wrote, I still got the satisfaction of reliving my trip ruin by ruin, cathedral by cathedral, boat ride by boat ride. I got déjà vu.
Not everyone is creative in the same way. I have a good friend Beth, a potter. She thought everyone could throw a pot until she tried to teach me. I failed. Miserably. I didn’t want to try again. I have another pal who is clever at cake decorating, cooking, and costume-making. I admire Becky’s creations but have no desire to attempt anything close to her oeuvres-d’-art. Laura paints. Oh, how I wish I could do that! My sister Donna is an avid gardener, and her yard and flowers look like a British scape; however, I’m not envious. I may enjoy pushing a mower once in a blue moon, but that’s about it for me. I have neither patience nor impatiens for gardening.
Firmly, I believe everyone needs a creative outlet, especially when one is no longer pursuing a career, holding down a job, raising kids, or caring for aged parents. I also think spouses of workaholics need purpose and diversion. It’s not just a matter of filling up one’s days but you must feel joy with how you fill up those days. Watching the dryer spin with clothes drying doesn’t float one’s boat.
Journaling is a way to relive fond memories, sort out what one thinks about what one experiences, and leave something behind for one’s heirs, even if it’s merely the mutterings of dissatisfaction with how one’s day has unfolded. Maybe, you aspire someday to have a byline in a magazine or in an anthology or emblazoned on the spine of your very own fantasy book; if so, then you need raw material. We forget quickly. Write it down. Jot down your feelings, opinions, and wants as well as life events. You never know when you might revisit a diary to aid you in remembering a happening, a meal savored, or a place visited that later is poorly recollected.
Photos are good. Nonetheless, they never tell the whole story. Images may trigger a memory, but prose would have fleshed it out.
In January, we open a new memorandum book, unfold a calendar, and begin a new year of our lives with hopes, resolutions, and plans. Make one of those hopes, resolutions, and plans to nourish your creative side.
Even if the best you can do is collect pet rocks, do it!
Erika Hoffman’s hobbies have shifted as she ages. Whatever they may be, she feels it important to maintain them. Erika lives in North Carolina with her husband and two dogs.
How Art Creates Connections: Seacoast Artists Guild & Gallery
A local non-profit organization, the Seacoast Artists Guild was established to be a home for artists and a place to connect with others who appreciate art as a creative outlet. Memberships are open to all artists and art lovers within the Carolinas. Incorporated in 2003, the Guild’s mission has always been to stimulate an increased awareness of art and its benefits throughout the area by engaging a group of artists interested in sharing their passion with others in the coastal area.
In 2013, the Guild opened the Seacoast Artists Gallery to show off art featuring a wide genre of styles and techniques. With approximately 70 members, the artists involved are dedicated to advancing the visual arts through teaching, exhibits, workshops, and special events. The Guild holds a monthly meeting on the second Saturday of each month to discuss matters involving the Guild and gallery along with Guest Speaker presentations on a wide variety of artrelated topics. Art classes are currently held on Mondays and Tuesdays at the Gallery and are open to all Guild members. They take pride in nurturing all artists-to-be through an array of classes and workshops.
In 2013, one of the Guild’s original members passed after dedicating himself to both the Guild and furthering the appreciation for art in young adults. The Walter Cushman Fund was subsequently established and provides financial assistance to aspiring artists in the area. The Guild is currently working with Coastal Carolina University in this endeavor and has provided scholarship assistant awards to winners of the University’s annual Juried Student Art Show for the past two years and is hopeful to continue this relationship.
Although The Market Common is a popular local and tourist destination, several people in the area are still unaware that the Art Gallery is located there. It is not just a matter of selling art to support local artists and provide funds for future scholarships, but rather having a place for artists and those interested in art, where they can gather, socialize, teach, and take classes on various forms of art. The Guild and Gallery hold two art shows annually, one in the Spring and one in the Fall.
For more information visit either the Gallery’s Facebook Page or the Guild’s website at www.seacoastartistsguild.org.
The Art of Becoming an Artistby Jeffery Cohen
When I was just an infant, sitting in my highchair, I somehow got ahold of my bowl of plum baby food and proceeded to smear its contents all over the wall. My father walked in on me, laughed, and yelled down to my mother, “Betty, I think we have an artist.” I guess you might say that was the beginning of my career.
Growing up, I was surrounded by kids in the neighborhood who spent their time playing baseball, jumping rope, and swimming. I was content to sit inside the house and draw pictures of kids playing baseball, jumping rope, and swimming. My mother was forever shooing me, “Go outside and play. Get some fresh air.” I was happy to remain inside, drawing fresh air with my box of crayons.
As much as I loved art, my folks wondered if I would wind up a starving artist, so they steered me in other directions, convincing me that a life in medicine might be so much more rewarding. Following their suggestions, at six years old, I attempted my first operation...on my teddy bear. With dish towels wrapped around our faces like surgical masks, my brothers and I approached the patient.
“Scissors,” I called out.
“Scissors,” my brother repeated, handing me a pair. I carefully made a small incision.
“Scalpel,” I whispered.
“Scalpel,” my brother echoed, and handed over a small serrated steak knife.
“Clamp,” I called for. “Clamp,” my brother said as he slapped a hinged hair curler of my mother’s into my waiting hand. A snip here,
a bit of stuffing removed there, and I neatly sewed up the patient, the operation a success. I was pretty certain I’d make a great doctor – right up until the time that I was asked to kill a frog in biology class, to be followed by dissection. I just didn’t have the heart. It was at that point that I realized that I’d rather draw frogs than cut them up.
Still clinging to my parent’s hopes, I entered college as a pre-med student but made sure my curriculum was heavily laced with art courses. My first drawing class was figure drawing. As I nervously twitched at my easel, about to see my first model disrobe right there in front of me, my hand shook so much, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to draw a straight line. That’s when Eleanor (I still remember her name) dropped her robe. Six feet tall and well over three hundred pounds, she gracefully struck a pose. To my surprise, I barely realized that she was... bare! All I saw were the beautiful lines and creases that I was being asked to draw, and so I did, again and again. As my pages flew off my drawing pad and my sketches became effortless, I began to realize the truth. I was no doctor. I was an artist!
In a design class, we were asked to produce a collage. My fellow students were satisfied to cut up a bunch of magazines and paste them on a page. I decided to raise the bar, gluing a smashed soda can, cigarette butts, a page from Playboy magazine, and a dried-up slice of pizza onto a cardboard panel. When we showed our pieces in class, mine was met with disdain. A fellow student called out, “That’s disgusting!” Defending my work and the photo of the Playboy bunny, I answered. “It’s just the human body.” The answer was, “Not that. A piece of mummified pizza? That’s disgusting.”
In my painting class, I decided that I would search out new grounds. Instead of painting on canvas like everyone else, I asked the head cook in the cafeteria to
make me a two-foot by two-foot sheet of thin crust. I set the thing up on my easel, took out a jar of peanut butter and a container of strawberry jelly, and began to smear an abstract design with a palette knife. My professor thought it to be ingenious, right up until the ants decided to show their appreciation for the piece.
I eventually changed my major and studied art for the next four years, expecting to graduate, when I was informed that I would be required to pass an oral comprehensive. I was to present myself to a faculty board that would ask me questions about art from the time of the caveman to what happened in the art world present day. I studied every book I had collected during my college career. Drowning myself in black coffee, I spent the last 24 hours before my exam, wide awake, reviewing every page. When I arrived before the panel, I was wired. My eyes bugged out and I shook like a volcano ready to explode. Lights were dimmed and I was asked to identify the image that was projected on a screen. Without hesitation, I shot back. “That’s the Parthenon.”
“Correct,” a faculty member assured me.
“It’s in Greece. Athens, to be exact. Built about 482 BC.”
“That’s fine,” another voice chimed in.
“It was dedicated to Athena,” I went on, the caffeine driving me.
“Very good,” was the answer. “Now for the next slide...”
But I wasn’t done. “It’s Doric architecture. Originally, it was painted. Not white like we see it today.” I raced on.
“Yes, yes. That’s fine. Now for the next...” a voice tried to finish.
“Did you know the thing was nearly destroyed in 1687 when an earthquake nearly...”
“Mr. Cohen. Enough. We will move on.” I was instructed. Every question, every slide shown, went pretty much the same way. I simply couldn’t shut up. After 30 minutes
of drilling, the lights came back up. “Thank you, Mr. Cohen. That will be all,” I was told. It was done. I had more than answered every question. All that was left was to walk out...but nooooooo. The caffeine high would simply not allow it. “That’s it? All that studying and that’s it?” I questioned.
The lights went down, and I was grilled for another 15 minutes. The panel was satisfied; They turned the lights back on. “Thank you,” is all that was said. Still buzzing, I said, “No more?”
The head of the Department stood up, rolled his eyes, and said, “Cohen, get the heck out of here.” I graduated with a degree in art.
Over the years, I’ve worked as a window trimmer in a department store, the National art director for a fashion chain, the art director for several newspapers, an art instructor, and still found time to paint and sculpt.
Every so often, I meet one of my fellow art majors that I graduated with. Some work for banks, some sell cars, deal in real estate, or deliver the mail, but not one remained in the arts. They are always amazed that I stayed true to my calling and they congratulate me for having stayed with it. I, of course, am flattered by their praise, but to be honest, for me, there really was never a choice. I just did what came naturally. I guess my Dad was right. I was a born artist.
Freelance writer and newspaper columnist, Jeffery Cohen, has written for Sasee, Lifetime and Read, Learn, Write.
He’s won awards in Women-On-Writing Contest, Vocabula’s Well Written Contest, National League of American Pen Women’s’ Keats Competition, Southern California Genealogy Competition, and Writer’s Weekly writing contest.
How I Became a Calendar Girl!by Sue Fretwell
On October 7, 1954, I received a ‘Brownie’ box camera for my 11th birthday. I became hooked on taking pictures right then and there, long before digital cameras, I-phones, and I-photos were even dreamed of. It has been an obsession ever since.
I eventually upgraded to a Kodak Instamatic, complete with flash CUBES, probably about the time I went off to college in the early 60s. Later, ‘disposable’ cameras by Fuji and Kodak were the thing. I shudder to think of the piles of plastic camera carcasses we must have added to landfills in those days!
All of the worthy pictures I took were organized into photo albums, held in place with little paper corner holders carefully pasted in, with my handwritten descriptions below them. Those were the days when we had to remove the roll of film from the camera and take it to a photo processing place, usually the local drug store, to be developed.
The current generation will never know the thrill of opening a new package of photos you just waited 10 days to have developed – or the agony of finding out A. they were all duds or B. there was no film in the camera!
After I married in 1970, my hubby gave me a very nice automatic camera with a strap to hang it around my neck! I found it bulky and uncomfortable, but it became my official camera. (I did hide disposables in my purse now and then for emergency purposes!)
I never got into the mechanics of cameras and have always been a ‘point and shoot’ person. My forte has been having an eye for an interesting composition or good photo op. I also know that if I take a bazillion pictures, one or two may turn out to be special! Besides all that, I have a compulsion to document events, sunsets, rainbows, family gatherings, and kids growing up. Just ask my offspring about that!
I bought my first digital camera in the early 2000s. I was widowed, empty nested, retired, and had just moved to my dream home, a condo in a charming village by the sea in N. Carolina. There was a wealth of wonderful subjects to photograph as I walked the beaches and rode my bike around town, always with my camera at the ready. Later, with easy editing features, I was able to crop out the bits I didn’t like
and just have all kinds of fun experimenting with ways to improve a picture.
It was the beginning of the end of making albums, however, as one could view the photos right there on the digital screen, or send them to interested parties via the internet and never need to develop them.
When I was unable to find photo calendars of my new hometown as gifts for family, it dawned on me that now I had the ability to create my own. And, so I did. But it was expensive to make just a few copies. The more one ordered, the less each one cost. I decided to make 500 calendars and try to sell the bulk of them around town at cost after keeping the ones I wanted for myself.
And people wanted them! When I realized I couldn’t sell as many as I needed to break even, I took them to a local card and gift shop. The owner loved them but had to jack the price up considerably in order to make it worth her while. To my surprised delight, people bought them. Lots of people.
Thus, my small photographic calendar business was born and around town, I became known as ‘The Calendar Girl’. I created these calendars for seven years in all, stopping only when a new grandbaby enticed me to move to Oregon. With her and subsequent grandbabies came a zillion more Grandma-taken photos, all buried deep in the archives of my computer, external hard drive, photo sticks, phone, etc.
Like many my age, I worry that all the wonderful moments I’ve documented will be lost when I am gone. My contemporaries and I worry about what to do with our photos.
Most people don’t hang wall calendars anymore, what with digital calendars on our computers, phones, and wrist gadgets always a click away. These days I make certain photo collections into books as gifts. Among those are the very old photos I scanned that our ancestors took or had taken professionally as far back as the mid-1800s!
I’m now thinking of spending the winter loading groups of photos onto computer ‘sticks’ that I can give to the folks who might want them.
Recently I read about a nanny named Vivian Maier who took copious ‘street photos’ in Chicago and New York and many cities around the world starting in the 1940s. After she died in 2009, a storage unit was found filled with her rolls of undeveloped film, over 100,000 negatives. Today she is considered one of the best street photographers ever. The beauty of her situation is that she seemed to be happy doing her art just for the joy of doing it. The sad part is she never knew the value of her photography - and she was destitute when she died.
Currently, I have over 25,000 photos on my computer and probably as many or more on a hard drive I purchased many years ago. Add to that about 20,000 photos from my old camera days and I am still not as prolific as Vivian.
Like Vivian Maier, who also started out with a Kodak Brownie camera, I never made any money with my photography, but it has been and continues to be a wonderful pastime, whether anyone ever sees my photos - or not.
And besides, who else can say they became an actual calendar girl in their 60s?
Sue Fretwell is a retired ESL teacher who lived in Southport, N.C. before moving west to be near her grandkids. After nine years, she returned to N.C. to enjoy her second round of grandchildren.
Color of the Year 2023 Viva Magenta
According to Pantone, Viva Magenta 18-1750 vibrates with vim and vigor. This unique shade of red is brave, fearless, and expressive of a new signal of strength. As a color that revels in pure joy, it welcomes anyone and everyone with the same verve for life and rebellious spirit. This year’s Color of the Year is powerful, audacious, full of wit, and inclusive of all. Viva Magenta is a pulsating color whose exuberance promotes a joyous and optimistic celebration, writing a new narrative.
Turn “Can’t” Into “Can”: Horry County Literacy Council
By offering free, confidential, individualized, private, successful tutoring and literacy support for students and adults in Horry County, this non-profit has been a vital resource for the community since 1976. The mission of the Horry County Literacy Council (HCLC) is to improve the lives of youth, adults, and families by teaching basic literacy and life skills for economic and social success. The students are diversified in their needs and the HCLC is constantly trying to develop a protocol to address individuals seeking special assistance.
On top of offering several programs to address dyslexia, adult illiteracy, English as a Second Language, GED preparation, and literacy support, the HCLC also offers a unique Read and Create Program, which levels the “reading” playing field for participants. As a group, they read a story, discuss some of the literary elements of the story, and then create an art project that the children can take home. The most amazing part of the program is getting to see the creativity of the students. Despite reading the book together, every art project turns out to be one of a kind, based upon what each child dreams up. The HCLC showcases the artwork on its Facebook page after each event (www.facebook.com/ literacy4horry).
The requests for literacy support consistently increase. To be successful, they are always looking for local volunteers to join who are open minded, flexible, and enthusiastic. Volunteers are paired with a student after the HCLC trains them. This organization also works with rec centers, YMCA programs, libraries, the Chamber of Commerce, Together
SC, and ProLiteracy, a national organization that addresses literacy. The HCLC makes a point to never give up on an individual – if they are faced with a situation where they are unable to help someone, they collaborate with their partners to find a solution for that individual.
The HCLC’s three sources of funding are grants, private donations, and fundraising. Their signature fundraiser is the annual Murder Mystery Gala, which will take place at the Dunes Golf & Beach Club on Saturday, February 4, 2023. This event features a silent auction, raffles, and a wonderful production performed by Carolina Forest High School’s Theatre. According to Executive Director Cheryl Mathieu, “I enjoy the process of connecting dots and bringing people together to solve problems. Our students are the reason for our existence, and our volunteers are the core to their success.”
Please consider donating, supporting, and volunteering so you can make a difference in your local community by visiting www.horrycountyliteracy.org.
Gets Personal with
Wendy Meletes & Olivia Meletes-Morris: Litchfield Books
Q: When did y’all take over ownership of Litchfield Books?
Olivia: We have owned Litchfield Books for almost two years now. I managed the bookstore for the previous owner for five years and just before the pandemic, the owner asked if my mom and I were interested in buying the bookstore. The previous owner did not want to sell the bookstore to just anyone. It mattered a lot to her that the store would remain somewhat similar to what it had been for over 30 years.
Q: What are your roles as co-owners?
Wendy: We co-own the store as well as the exclusive author event business together. I work with all facets of the financial end of the corporation, merchandising, event venues, and customer service. I also order the children’s books as well as the regional books. Olivia does an amazing job of ordering the adult books and working very closely with all of the publishers we buy our books from. She also books all of the New York Times best-selling authors for our author events and hand-sells books to our amazing customers in this area.
Q: Why do you believe Litchfield Books is an important shop to have here?
Olivia: My mom and I are grateful for the opportunity to serve the Pawleys Island community. Independent bookstores are rare nowadays as most of our customers tout, and that makes us feel good that we serve an important purpose. Our customers like the feel of a book, the warm feeling they get when they are in our store, and almost all of them stay - they never want us to leave!
Q: What are your favorite types of genres to read?
Wendy: Non-fiction books are my go-to when the box of advanced readers arrives at our doorstep. As a veteran educator of 30 years, my science background lures me into finding out as much as I can about the world we live in.
Olivia: I love fiction. I am especially drawn to historical fiction because I just love the history element of it. I know it’s fiction, but it’s based upon fact. Some of my favorite books are about true women in history whose voice was never quite heard. I love to learn about different eras and time periods.
Q: Do you have a special place or time of day you enjoy reading?
Wendy: Well, being the owners of the store, we are here all day, every day, 7 days a week, so finding time to read is not a simple task. Whenever we do get a chance though, Olivia likes to stay up late and enjoy a good book as she relaxes in a bubble bath. Meanwhile, I prefer to get up early in the morning to tend to the beagles and enjoy some quiet reading time with a nice cup of coffee.
Q: Do you have any book
Olivia: We have a staff favorites table we update regularly with staff-selected picks. We love when customers come into the store and ask us what we are reading; it is such a joy to recommend a good book! A few of our current favorites are Remarkably Bright Creatures, by Shelby Van Pelt, Sea of Tranquility, by Emily St. John Mandel, and The Marriage Portrait, by Maggie O’Farrell.
Q: Do you have any other creative outlets besides reading?
Wendy: I am currently working on my Ph.D. in literacy, so researching and writing my dissertation takes up most of my free time. Olivia has an English degree, so loves to write as well. She also enjoys drawing, painting, and crafting. Olivia and her husband, Justin, recently bought a new house and it’s a bit of a fixer-upper, so that is consuming a lot of her time! We both enjoy playing with our beagles as well as spending time at the beach when we are not working. Litchfield Books
Creative Outlets Take Center Stage
Dating back to the 6th Century B.C., Ancient Greeks were the first to present dramatic presentations that we know today as theater. For centuries since, people have enjoyed art forms such as drama, comedy, music, dance, and other forms of entertainment that take place on stage. The Grand Strand is fortunate to have several non-profit theatres local to us that are still alive and ready to entertain throughout the year.
Long Bay Theatre
Long Bay Theatre’s mission is to ignite positive change in the cultural, social, and economic vitality in the Myrtle Beach community by producing world-class plays and musicals that entertain, challenge, and inspire audiences of all ages. They are strongly committed to equality, diversity, and inclusion in every aspect of their work both on and off the stage. They also offer educational programs, classes, workshops, and private coaching and are actively seeking out ways to reach the underserved members of our community. According to Executive Director Greg London, “Our job as artists is to remind our fellow human beings of our shared humanity, that better days are coming, to point the way to a different, more fulsome future.” By donating, you are helping create amazing theatre with world-class talent, gorgeous sets, lights, music, and costumes, as well as educational programs, jobs, scholarships, business partnerships, and ultimately, a place where the community can come together for a shared experience to laugh, cry, sing, dance, learn, love, share, and grow. To purchase tickets and provide support, please call 843-212-2333 or visit www.longbaytheatre.com.
Theatre of the Republic & Coastal Youth Theatre
The Theatre of the Republic’s purpose is to be a major cultural resource to the community by providing affordable, quality, and diverse theatre. Located in Conway, the Theatre of the Republic is also home to the Coastal Youth Theatre, an opportunity for young students to receive coaching in acting, singing, and dance. Classes are designed to encourage each child to use their imagination and creativity to their fullest potential. Theatre is a safe way to expose kids to difficult situations and show them first-hand how to handle these situations as well as expose young people to new vocabulary and ways of communicating. Through the arts of dance, acting, and music, children learn how to communicate in a variety of unique ways. Children who attend live theater have shown greater tolerance of different people and ideas, as well as increased empathy for others. In addition to the coaching benefits, the program teaches students to respect fellow students as well as improve their memorization techniques, reading skills, and their confidence on and off the stage. For more information about classes, shows, and contributions, please call 843-488-0821 or visit www.theatreoftherepublic.com.
Coastal Youth Ballet Theatre
The Coastal Youth Ballet Theatre’s mission is to promote arts appreciation and cultural enhancement in the community as well as provide access to high-caliber ballet training and performance opportunities through training, scholarships, and outreach programs. Located in The Market Common, this organization is uniquely positioned to combine the performing arts with youth development. By providing a nurturing and intensive artistic home base, talented young dancers can better prepare for the professional world by learning life skills such as discipline, patience, respect, perseverance, determination, adaptability, and resilience. They serve the community with outreach performances every year for socio-civic events as well as for area youth that do not traditionally have access to arts programming. Through philanthropic donations, the Coastal Youth Ballet Theatre offers a limited number of scholarships to need-based families whose children meet the criteria. For donations or information about upcoming performances, please call 843-839-5678 or visit www.coastalyouthballettheatre.org.
The Strand Theater was originally built in 1941 as a movie theater located in downtown Georgetown. Although it closed thirty years later, the Strand Theater and its marquee are icons of historic downtown Front Street. In 1982, the Swamp Fox Players purchased the old historic building and converted it into a place suitable for live theatrical performances. After traveling to many area venues to perform (their slogan was “Have Stage Will Travel”), the swamp Fox Players finally claimed Strand Theater as their permanent home. Since their takeover, a 1600-square-foot addition was added to the rear of the theater including a green room, several more dressing rooms, a rehearsal room, and a workshop. Later, the lobby and balcony were redecorated, the carpet was installed, and a new main curtain and wall curtains were added. They also unveiled their new theater seats and floor and will continue to improve and upgrade the wonderful old theater as they grow. To enjoy live community theatre or academy award-winning movies, please call 843-527-2924 or visit www.swampfoxplayers.com
The Writing Seedby Mason K Brown
The botanical name of the “writing seed” eludes me, but it was sown deep into the soil of my soul. Mrs. Phenow, my third-grade teacher at Johnson Elementary School, planted the seed in September 1955. It began with the dreaded back-to-school writing assignment, “How I Spent My Summer Vacation.”
I wrote about how I spend every summer vacation –tent camping with my cousins. Oh, I could have written about melt-in-your-mouth s’mores; rainbow trout flashing their bright colors as they taunted us, revealing their presence while refusing our bait; counting stars in the Milky Way; being lost with my Ricky Ricardo, Jr. doll on Stonewall Peak – all tales that would have made interesting reading. Instead, I chose to write a suspenseful drama about how a friendly camp raccoon frightened the daylights out of my uncle Sid, almost sending him and my cousins scurrying down the mountain for the safety of home.
It was a cute little non-fiction saga that delighted Mrs. Phenow. She made a huge deal of it when my mom and dad came to the parent-teacher conference. It was prominently displayed on the bulletin board next to a raccoon picture for “Back-to-School” Night. It was the only time in my academic career my work ever received any special recognition. I loved it. “I think someday you should be a writer,” my teacher said when she handed me back my paper. In my heart I knew, someday, when I grew up, I would be a writer.
Mrs. Phenow finally allowed me to bring my little masterpiece home. I read and reread it so many times I think, even now, sixty-eight years later, with little thought, I could recite it.
Over the years, I nurtured my sleepy writing seed, the one planted by Mrs. Phenow; feeding my love for words and reading volumes of Nancy Drew, Laura
Ingalls Wilder, the Classics and as an adult my favorite authors; James Herriot, Erma Bombeck, Jan Karon, Frank Peretti, and Alexander McCall Smith. It was common for me to be reading three books at a time while living an interesting life and collecting enough personal stories to compete with the “Naked City.” But this was the age of the typewriter and I had inherited my father’s tremors. Every time my shaking fingers struck a wrong key, I had to rip the paper from the carriage and begin again. I sat in frustration amidst balled-up crumpled papers while discouragement set in.
When computers became available, I began typing my stories on a PC in my den. I found helpful medical treatment for the tremors. Still, making numerous mistakes, I formed a relationship with the “delete” key. Writing made me feel good. It made people laugh. Sometimes cry.
If you would get off your lazy backside you could be the next Erma Bombeck,” my dad said to me one day. Maybe, he, too, remembered Mrs. Phenow’s writing seed. Did Daddy really think so? Would someone pay for my writing? How would that happen?
In 2008, I sold a story to Chicken Soup for the Soul. A fluke, I thought. My father passed away two months before the book was released. I continued to write. One year later, my mother passed away. Shortly after her death, my sister, Amy, and I were notified that mother had a small life insurance policy that would be split between us. Believe me, if Daddy had known about this insurance policy, he would have found some way to cash it in, spending the money on a piece of ground where the pine trees grew thick and as “straight as toothpicks.” I decided my parents would want me to use the money to improve my writing skills. I enrolled in the Christian Writers Guild Apprentice and Journeyman programs
where I worked with mentors who encouraged me to submit my work and set lofty standards for the quality of my writing.
Since, I have been published many times. I say my genre is inspirational non-fiction, but as my father predicted, humor has become my niche. People say I write like Erma Bombeck. (Amy used her share of the inheritance to pursue a dream of her own – photography.) I didn’t think anybody would care about what I had to write, but Mrs. Phenow did all those long years ago.
Even after nearly seventy years, with a little water and fertilizer, dormant seeds can still germinate and produce beautiful blossoms. Sometimes, like with seeds planted in the soil, we must dig around in the dirt a bit and make way for the sprouts to break forth. Mrs. Phenow planted the seed. She left the digging, watering, and nurturing up to me.
Mason K Brown is a storyteller and author of inspirational non-fiction and humor. Her work has been published in numerous anthologies and newspapers. Mason travels around the world collecting water.
A Constant in Times of Changeby Caitlin Shaw
With any significant life change comes what I like to call the cleanout phase. The cleanout mechanism is like an instinctual behavior we perform to survive the ‘new’, to adapt to our present environment, to cope with change. And this doesn’t mean physically getting rid of outdated belongings, but change also elicits getting rid of habits, hobbies, and relationships that you may have outgrown. Now, of course, there are some things that we will always retain throughout life’s changes. It may be family members or friends; it could be a special belonging or a hobby. For me, it was dance.
I’ve been dancing for nearly as long as I’ve been walking. One of my earliest memories is of being onstage at my first dance recital at age four. I was so young that I didn’t even understand the concept of feeling nervous before performing in front of people. My strongest memory from my first recital was staring directly at the nearly blinding white stage lights–paying no attention to the people sitting in the auditorium seats, just soaking up every drop of happiness that I was absorbing from this new experience. And it was this feeling of pure joy that sparked my love for dance, a burning passion that I continued to fuel as I danced into my young adult years.
As I grew up, dance began to hold more significance to me, and I began to require more serious instruction. When I finally convinced my mother to let me switch studios, my dance schedule quickly went from three or four hours a week to almost twenty. I was now a competition dancer traveling around the country dancing in front of judges and receiving formal criticism. This was an entirely new world of dance for me. I was no longer just dancing for fun, but for selfimprovement and in pursuit of bringing my studio awards and trophies. In my first dance class at The Studio, I quickly realized that everyone around me was stronger, more flexible, and more technically precise than I was. For the first time, I felt incompetent in a dance studio. I did not look like the other dancers; from their bodies to their movements to their dance apparel, I looked fundamentally different. I could not pick up
on choreography quickly at all, in fact, I didn’t even know what some of the instructions the teachers were shouting out meant. Many times, I came home from class and cried. The girls were less than welcoming, the teachers were strict, and the technique required of me was way over my head. But this discomfort did not last forever, and my self-consciousness eventually turned positive. By the time I graduated high school, I matched my dance peers in flexibility, technique, showmanship, and even confidence.
My passion for the art stretched beyond a high school extracurricular and into my college education. One of the first things I did as a freshman in college was sign up for a ballet class. I had barely made any friends yet, and I was far from knowing what I wanted to major in, but ballet had already found its place in my new routine. No matter what happened in my life, and no matter how tough dance was on me in return, I could always be found at the barre in my pink tights and black leotard moving to music.
My relationship with dance was far from simple, in fact, it was tumultuous at times. No dancer wants to admit it, but behind each one of us, there are moments of hardship, sometimes an entire history of struggle. The dancer’s eyes that audience members see glistening under stage lights are the same ones that cry when her feet are bleeding from hours of hard work or when her body doesn’t reflect that typical ballerina build. There have been many times when dance has broken me, both physically and emotionally. Many dancers would second the saying “There cannot be beauty without pain.” One of my old ballet teachers used to repeat this to us in pointe class, which was always the most painful hour and a half of my week. Over my seventeen years of dancing, I have endured one hip surgery, three stress fractures, and several pulled muscles. While recovering from my most recent injury, in my eighteenth consecutive year of dancing, I was forced to ask myself one of the most difficult questions I’ve ever had to ask–is dance worth all the damage it’s doing to my body?
The passionate four-year-old aspiring ballerina in me begged to push through it and continue to dance. But the twenty-two-year-old college student with new dreams decided that it was time to move on from this beautifully destructive art. It was a terrifying decision, as I have identified as a dancer since age four. Even through all of life’s awkward phases, uncertainties, and tragedies, dance had been there for me. It was something I could always rely on as if it were an old friend. And now all of a sudden, at age twenty-two, about to graduate college, when everything else around me seemed uncertain, I forfeited one of the only constants in my life.
Dance has this uncanny ability to make me feel both confident yet insecure, beautiful yet broken, and powerful yet powerless. Only after considerable space from my dance career can I now recognize the paradox of this beautifully destructive art. Years of dancing brought me wonderful moments of happiness and gratitude, but also days of pain and hurt. It could destroy my confidence just as quickly as it could build it. Yet maybe the true beauty in dance was being there for me when nothing else was. While my passion has subsided and I’ve seemingly moved on, I’d like to think that someday in the future, I can find that blissful, fun-loving four-year-old who loved dance so fearlessly. Although my formal training has ended, I’d like to think that someday in the future, I can take dance out of the box on the shelf that I’ve labeled “the past.” And while I abandoned dance when my body couldn’t take it anymore, I’d like to think that someday in the future, if we reconnect, dance shows me its kindest, gentlest, and most loving side.
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