Why Can’t I Be More Like Hetty?

“Hetty” Green (November 21, 1834 – July 3, 1916), was the richest woman in America during the Gilded Age. She was a single woman working a fortune amidst a sea of men – her nickname, Witch of Wall Street.

 

Why can’t I be more like Hetty. When it comes to money, I never have enough. For that reason, anger stirs in the pit of my stomach when I think about the sugary green stuff. Like a sweet layer of whip cream on a strawberry torte, it teases at me only to land on my hips, leaving me nothing except an empty bowl and a decreased bank account after I am forced to purchase the latest diet products and exercise DVDs. After reading Demi Stevens’s blog this morning, I believe my disdain is misdirected.

 

I was born in the middle and unlike my two sisters I have buttery fingers. Enticed by the iced confections in life, I have no patience. The oven takes too long to preheat, all while I am standing in the crumb-infested kitchen with the oozing batter dripping from my spoon and the thick aroma of vanilla and sprinkles dancing in the air. Not to mention, the left over Cool Whip lingering on my lip because I stole a lick. I break, to hell with watching the delicacy rise and swirl. I drive straight to the bakery, tossing my hard work into the yard for the birds.

 

This recipe for money I have followed for fifty-years. The sweet confections suck me in. I have enjoyed life; vacations, scuba lessons, horses, knitting, spinning, farming, and a host of critters – not to mention I am self-employed (a sure way to devour the money.) This desire has left a bad taste. I am back in the kitchen-my bun in the oven taking twice as long to plump up again.

 

Somehow, God always takes care of me. I am healthy and can work, able to do extra baking and kneading. Unfortunately, this burns me up, I’m over-cooked and my cookie jar always short of that perfect dozen.

 

Can I be more like Hetty? Hetty, it is said, was a miser; never turning on the heat and wearing the same black outfits. Whether true or not, the fact is I don’t respect how hard I worked for the ingredients. The sweetness calls me. I have no willpower. I let go before the jar is full. It’s not the money that angers me, but the calories living on my hips – the bills in my basket, the cost of my impatience. I need to be more creative, more patient. Build my cupboards before its too late. Because had I been a little less sugar- dependent, I would be living a sweeter life today.

The Write Village

 

The African proverb, “It Takes a Village,” speaks to many aspects of our lives—the writing life included.  I discovered building alone was not easy. We need neighbors. Before I erected my own village, my journals were locked behind doors—suffering from rejection and fear.

I began to see constructive patterns of those who boldly paved roads around me. They had a similar foundation. So, I began the literary journey to build a village I call Write.

My mother laid the first stone. In Write, my mother lives on Main Street, adjacent to the church. Her door is always open to fill me with homemade pie… and red wine to energize my body. But when I must rekindle my soul, she points to the steeple and advises, “Every village needs a church. It’s neighbors and faith that will send you angels to guide you.”

My village of Write has a school with teachers, from the very first professor who red lined my every word to doctors and nurses who rebuild my creations today. The library houses lots of books with advice including, 101 Ways to Get Published, Writer’s Market, and Writing with Soft Hands. The shelves are lined in classics by Atwood and Twain to awaken the soul… and Harlequin romances to stir the bones.

At the village conference center, the best authors and mentors come to speak. I have autographed copies of their books, signed with encouragement like “Never give up,” or “Persist at all cost.” I visit the Write Salon after days of edits. My stylist conditions, massaging my creative brains. At the Writing Gym on Mondays I exercise with my aspiring peeps and ponder all the ways to pen “his chiseled jaw,” or “her beating heart.”The village newspaper employs agents and publishers who read my queries… and if I get lucky send one-word critiques.

My church is growing, with new angels every day, like Demi Stevens; her Year of the Book process was a road map to success that introduced me to an inspirational woman, Debbie Herbert, best-selling author, and 2017 RITA finalist, who shrouded me in incentive.

“It takes a village.” We share a path, and our community builds me up when I am adverb-tired, genre-lost, or POV perplexed. Together we survive.

This is a partial version of my story, The Write Village. I hope it inspires you.

Alicia Stephens Martin author of Spurred to Justice to be released summer, 2018.

Dear Saint Rita . . . .

This week I fell to my knees and begged for success. My heart dream of writing has been exhausting at this stage as I pray for my fame and fortune. I even contemplated sharing the Saint Rita Novena someone posted online—Share this novena and in an hour Saint Rita will grant you your miracle. I always loathed the bribery involved in such an idea. I would yell out to myself that this is not the way the miracle thing works. To think, I almost pushed the send button. There would have been a lot of extra Hail Mary’s for that and sadly I already have too many to say for real dilemmas.

It’s just not that easy, nor is it smart to have success land directly on your kneeler. (Although Saint Rita, it sure would be nice just once, and maybe this little mention of your name would count.)

So I was moping and then an angel sent her inspirational blog post. This week Demi Stevens suggested tiny, consistent steps toward your goal that can be more valuable than a huge leap. I read her story of success—proof the path to overcome a mountain in life is best climbed on a steady path.

The nice thing about showing up for church each week is that it is a quiet time to think and talk to God and make a weekly plan for strength to move on. It is like that in front my computer. I struggle with numerous projects on my desk that pile higher than the steeple at St. Mary’s. By the end of the week, I hide from the office, instead typing on my faithful iPad Mini.

I attack bookwork, organize my diary entries, and work on placing notes in my novels. I read blogs from my mentors like Debbie Herbert, Demi Stevens, and Paula Munier. I might even receive divine inspiration from Saint Rita or whoever is the patron Saint that week.

I organize, manage, and write in little steps. I zero in on my writing success. Remember, zero in and be fearless at your writing.

Alas, Demi is right. Two years ago googling Alicia Stephens Martin might have produced Alicias like Keyes or Silverstone. Today there is a whole page of Alicia Stephens Martin successes—a blog, a Facebook page, a Twitter account, and even published articles and posts. I think I won’t ask for the miracle just for the strength and energy to keep going.

I hope this helps you in your quest…

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.

A Horsewoman of High Inspiration

Sonora Webster Carver

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Sonora Webster Carver was a female horse diver. She performed on the famous Steel Pier in Atlantic City from 1928 to 1942. Even though Sonora became blind from a dive going wrong in 1931, she amazingly continued to pursue her dream.  One of her most beloved horses was named “Red Lips”. Her story is told in one of my daughter’s favorite movies, “Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken”. I suggest this movie to all who love good stories about inspirational women and horses.

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