What’s Your Heart Dream?

This week Demi Stevens of Year of the Book posed a question: What is standing in the way of reaching your dream? I didn’t have to over-tax my brain because as I stated before, Demi’s questions miraculously seem to be a message aimed at me each week. This morning (and this may change tomorrow) my answer to what is standing in my way, is Zero. Not the number, the word. Zero in. Zero in on what exactly is my own personal heart dream.

Heart dreams can change over a lifetime, especially if you are shushly. In my family we have our own language called Stephenese, and Shushly is an adverb my parents and grandparents called me repeatedly. And not just in my youth.

Like many artists, my train of thought is more like a spaceship orbiting at light speed. In my youth, I zipped from one project to another leaving a trail of crumbs, paint splatters, and cuttings from my latest creative venture. They tried to follow my space dust armed with a rag or broom hollering, “You are so dang shushly.”

Adulthood has not transformed my habits, just the size and expense of my projects. I have dabbled in everything from farming to football, knitting to scuba diving, college to hairdressing, horses and invention of all kinds. And yes, I have managed a very successful career as a stylist, salon owner, and teacher.  But writing, my heart dream, has been held at bay because of my shushly ways.

After my recent interview with Guy McLean, internationally renowned horseman, I published Follow your Horse’s Heart. I realized I need two guidelines in order to zero in. Determine what is my heart dream? Then let go. Let go of the shushly in my life. Zero in. Because I am running out of time.

I am in my fifties and I have managed to evade writing. For some reason I fight it. Sure, I have published a few articles, received a degree in Creative Writing, have bins and baskets of journals throughout my house, read books, have taken courses and joined organizations… but to follow my heart dream I must zero in.

Letting go is difficult, but I can come back and just maybe all those extra dreams will be even better. My heart searches to be fulfilled. So button down the hatches, Alicia, this spaceship is zeroing in!

What’s your heart dream?

Celebrate Writing Mentors

On Sunday mornings, I look forward to reading Demi Stevens’ blog, Year of the Book. It seems lately, they have been secret messages directed at me. Demi is quite a woman and I feel my meeting her has been magical. I have watched her grow her indie publishing company in the last five years with a persistent vigor. Her formula has become a roadmap for anyone on the journey to be a successful writer.

As I struggle on my own writing mission, sometimes my goal seems impossible. My daily grind as a solo mom, sixty-hour weeks as a busy salon owner/stylist, a substitute Cosmetology teacher on Mondays, and just plain paying bills is a struggle. My dream of publishing seems too hard, and too much work. But as I watch Demi and find her words inspiring each week, I have been able to forge ahead. Sometimes out of sheer guilt because I told her a project would be in her email-lap by a certain date…

So today, my writing day, when I am tired and it would be easy not to pick up the pen, Demi once again sent me a secret message. It was about celebrating your accomplishments. I cynically thought, What do I have to celebrate? But on the look back, in the last three years, when I became a serious writer at the age of fifty, I have published numerous articles in magazines, finished one novel, Spurred to Justice, which should be in print and on shelves by June 2018, just emailed Demi my second novel, Friday Blues, for another round of her tooth-picking edits, and today working on the first draft of my third novel.

While I might not be in the money (in fact there is no money yet) from my writing, I am indeed closer and might have reason to celebrate as I pick away to build a platform. Maybe in another year, well who knows.

I realize I could not do it without Demi from Year of the Book. I am no editor… just a source of creative dreams with a carousel of stories in my mind. But I do indeed have something to celebrate! I suggest anyone in search of a writing dream, should reach out to Demi Stevens of Year of the Book.

Inspirational Woman and Hairdresser- Martha Matilda Harper (1857-1950)

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Read about an inspirational woman and hairdresser, Martha Matilda Harper(1857-1950)! Martha Matilda Harper was an immigrant, innovator, entrepreneur, and shrewd businesswoman. She boast many achievements; developed and marketed a hair tonic, pioneered the beauty industry to new heights, became the first franchiser by sharing her Harper Methods, followed by a multitude of disciples called Harperites and eventually responsible for 500 salons across the world – decades before Ray Kroc franchised McDonalds. (She was a cougar, too- marrying a man 20 years younger!) Yet, Martha Matilda Harper was swept away, buried deep underneath America’s history. How did one single woman persuade so many Harperites to assembly and adhere to her codes, to soar to their own identity by influencing them and the public that women could be independent and successful. Read the article in PBA Progress at http://www.probeauty.org

Blessed are the Women who Endured!

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I think that it is important to remember women before us who suffered great pains at the hands of a patriarchal society. Women, such as, those who were forced to believe their babies were in  “Limbo”  if they died before being baptized. According to the church, these babies never made the journey to heaven. Really? Or as for this Victorian woman who was posed with her deceased child- a popular form of photography during this time period. I think of these women often, and the hardships they endured.

Martha Matilda Harper-meet one inspirational woman!

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Martha Matilda Harper-meet one incredible woman!
I discovered Martha Matilda Harper while taking a Women in United States History course at York College. My assignment was to find an American woman that was little known and worthy of a place in the history books. Being a hair salon owner and Cosmetologist for over 25 years, I have questioned who opened and where was the first beauty salon in America? No textbook in the beauty industry, historian or professional has been able to answer the question. Miraculously, (I say miraculously because the only known book about Martha is Jane Plitt’s, published in 2000, Martha Matilda and the American Dream.) I dusted off this sleeping woman whose chestnut hair touched the floor. Martha Matilda Harper was an immigrant, innovator, entrepreneur, and shrewd businesswoman. She boast many achievements; developed and marketed a hair tonic, pioneered the beauty industry to new heights, became the first franchiser by sharing her Harper Methods, followed by a multitude of disciples called Harperites and eventually responsible for 500 salons across the world – decades before Ray Kroc franchised MacDonalds.
If the study of history is about uncovering voices we must study beyond male dominated accounts. It is our job to discover these voices even when academia appears to frown on the creative trades and industries such as cosmetology. The beauty industry is one of those areas most influential in creating women’s independence in history-even still today. Martha secures her place and should be acknowledged in not only the Cosmetology history books but in both history and financial studies (her place in history way be for Mr. Kroc). How one woman attracted and cultivated a franchising dynasty with diplomacy and persuasion deserves attention! According to Jane Plitt in the year 2000, American franchising, “the business vehicle Martha created, had become the dominate form of retail. . .” (pg 162). Also, women owned business are the “fastest growing segment of business ownership” (pg 162). Thanks to Jane Plitt for taking the first steps! I insist all Cosmetologists read her book! I personally know the effort both physically and mentally it takes to employ women and service clients. I will leave you with an example of Harper’s ability of rhetorical strategy. A young girl wanted to postpone opening a shop after the 1908 fire that leveled the city of Baltimore, Maryland. Miss Harper replied, “ No, now is the time to do it: the city is flattened and confused. Grow up with it, and about in this spot is the place to do it (Plitt pg 80).” This formula was her prescription for business- slightly vicious, totally determined, yet motivating and inspiring. Like every successful stylist I know!

Awakening

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Awakening! I did it- I graduated! I lost touch for this entire semester juggling through college courses, muscling a business, stumbling with motherhood and just encountering this journey of life but, I graduated-with honors. I came across some words from this remarkable woman and would like to share them. I hope this is my awakening to forge onward with my research, this blog and writing on inspirational women! I am back!