Category Archives: Interviews

The BRAVE Interview #16 November 2017: Debra Lockwood Spencer

This month’s interview is with Debra Lockwood Spencer.

My name is Debra Lockwood Spencer (pictured above, left).  

My brave thing happened when I was 17 years old, while spending nine weeks in South America as an exchange student.  

It was the summer before my senior year in high school, and I was fortunate to be living with a wonderful family in a prosperous suburb of Lima, Peru.  During that time, I got to know a number of American exchange students, along with members of their host families.  We went on cultural and social outings together and met at dinners and parties.  Other than Marisol and Ceci Raffo, my “host sisters”, my two best friends were Maya Puyo and Paula Hawkins.  Maya had attended my high school as an exchange student during the previous year, and Paula was the American student the Puyo family was hosting.

Although Maya and Paula attended school in the Lima area, the Puyo family owned a ranch in the Andes near a town called Huancayo.  A long train ride on one of the highest railroads in the world brought several of us to their ranch for a holiday.  

I remember suffering from altitude sickness, experiencing nausea and headaches as the switchback rail car climbed higher and higher.  

We arrived after nightfall and despite my illness, I was overwhelmed by the midnight splendor of the thick carpet of stars.  The thin atmosphere and lack of light pollution allowed me to appreciate the heavens with new awe and wonder.  During that week, Paula and I became particularly close, as we rode horses, watched condors, and even experienced a slight earthquake there near the top of the world.

Several weeks later, almost 100 of us flew from Lima to Cuzco, the capital of the Inca empire.

 Another short train ride took us to Machu Picchu, the famous “lost city of the Incas”. 

Back in 1970, this World Heritage site was still off the beaten track.  We climbed the terraces and explored the ruins of the city, marveling at the engineering and astrological knowledge that had transformed huge stone structures into a sacred calendar to chart the movement of the sun across the sky.

When our large group arrived at the airport for the return trip to Lima, we were dismayed to discover that the flight had been oversold.  Some of us were actually expected to stand in the aisle, and there was no room in the baggage compartment for the large woven rugs and pottery pieces that many of us had bought at the native markets.  One chaperone and several students had a quick discussion, deciding we would stay an extra night and travel more comfortably.  I was among those several students.

I remember the five of us were having coffee at the airport when we watched the small aircraft speed down the runway.  

As it rose into the air, I had time to regret that Maya and Paula had boarded before us, and would not be spending that extra night in Cuzco.  Suddenly, the plane seemed to hesitate, lurch, and then make a sickening drop.  Before our unbelieving eyes, the plane crashed into the side of a mountain and exploded.  Suddenly, the air was filled with a thick acrid smoke, erasing our view and clogging our throats.  One of the girls beside me began to suffer from an asthma attack.  I really have no memory of how we got back to the hotel, or whom I may have talked to using my imperfect high school Spanish.  Dramatic though it seems, I remember standing in a crowded street several hours later, and having a smeared page of newsprint thrust into my hands.

On that sheet was printed the list of passengers believed aboard the aircraft, and my own name was among them.

There were no survivors of that Lanza Airlines flight, my friends Maya and Paula among the mostly adolescent victims.  Almost 100 people died, and it took hours to connect with my Peruvian family back in Lima to advise them that I had not been aboard.  In those days, there were no cell phones or laptops and Peru was participating in the World Cup, which even limited radio news.  Only that situation can explain the fact that back in the United States, my family spend 24 hours believing I had died.  My mother had found my last letter, confirming the dates of our Cuzco trip and describing our travel plans.  As a joke, I had apparently doodled a cartoon plane, spiralling out of the sky.  I can’t explain that, or why Paula had confided to me that before she left New York, she had dreamed of perishing in a plane crash.  She had told me this in Huancayo, while she strummed her guitar and sang the lyrics to “Leaving on a Jet Plane.”

Our little group did indeed fly out of Cuzco the next day.  I saw the wreckage from the window, and realized that I was not afraid to fly, nor would I ever experience those fears.  

Had God wanted me to die in a plane crash, He had His perfect opportunity and He had spared me for reasons of His own.  

I actually believe that He spoke to me and that He wanted me to become a Spanish teacher.  During the days to come, friends and relatives of the victims poured into Lima.  I had been mentioned as an acquaintance in letters sent by certain students, and parents wanted to know, “Where might my daughter have developed her last roll of film?  Was my son happy during the days and weeks before?  Is there any chance my child could still be alive, wounded and wandering among the wreckage?”  I talked to host families and school teachers, acting as a very imperfect translator expressing concepts that had never been covered in a classroom textbook.

Although I had never heard the terms, I do believe I suffered from a type of survivor’s guilt, or PTSD, due to my survival in the face of so many wonderful young lives lost.  When I returned to my home in Parma, Ohio, the joys of my Peru trip were overshadowed by grief and depression.  I communicated for years with many of the affected families, until my mother quietly suggested to the bereaved parents that the burden of being a “substitute daughter” was too heavy for me to bear.  I am not sure whether my story fits the criteria of a “Brave” moment….but it defined my life and certainly the direction of my career (I am a retired World Languages teacher).

However, I know without a doubt that there is still something I am meant to accomplish during this lifetime, because Peru was only the first of the five occasions on which I almost died.  

I appreciate the chance to share my story.  Maybe that is my remaining purpose.  Who knows?

Debbie was BRAVE and opened her wonderful Etsy Shop this year!

Visit it here: Altered Art Treasures

Follow Altered Art Treasures on Facebook!

Read the other BRAVE interviews here: https://kwrites.com/?s=The+BRAVE+Interview

If YOU would like to be interviewed for this series about something brave you have done in your own life, email me at kmcwrites@gmail.com!

 

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The BRAVE Interview #15 October 2017: Allyson Bright

This month, we are meeting Allyson Bright!

 

  1. WHO are you? I’m 36. An artist, a woman in love, a widow, a crafter, a teacher, and a seeker of joy. I live in Wisconsin with my boyfriend, TJ, and my Beagle, Gracie.
  1. WHAT is your One Brave Thing?  It’s hard to pick just one – honestly, it’s been a journey. I was 32 when my husband died by suicide. After that, I found that I had to face new fears and learn how to create a new life for myself.About nine months after he passed, I went away for a week by myself. I was having trouble trusting my own decisions and I knew I needed to leave my comfort zone in order to move forward. The trip was transformational and ultimately led to my decision to leave my home in Iowa and move to Wisconsin for a fresh start.  Art journaling and crafting were such a vital part of my healing process, and I really wanted to share that with others. My ultimate brave thing was to leave my day job in order to start a business teaching art classes and offering coaching services. 
  1. WHEN did you do it? I started my company, Determined to Shine, about 18 months ago. It’s been a bit of a crazy journey, to be sure. But without a doubt, it’s the best decision I’ve ever made.
  1. WHERE did it occur? Right here in Madison, Wisconsin.
  1. HOW did you make it happen? One step at a time! Determined to Shine has grown into so much – weekend retreats, several online workshops, and even one-on-one coaching services. Sometimes it can seem like all of that happened at once, but it’s been a gradual process. For those looking to make a career change – don’t let the size of the task overwhelm you! Pick apart each task into small chunks, and just get started.
  1. WHY did you do it? The idea for Determined to Shine had been in my mind for several years. Ultimately, I realized I was just going to have to take a leap and be willing to fail. I didn’t want to wake up in three more years and still be talking about it. Taking that leap was terrifying, and I had to build my plan along the way. But everything that’s worth anything is scary. Determined to Shine has brought so much joy into my life and the lives of others – I can’t imagine what life would be like if I hadn’t done that one brave thing. 

Thank you, Allyson, for sharing your brave story with us!

Allyson is the author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Scrapbook Projects Illustrated.

You can find Allyson’s FREE online class here: 30 days of Art Journaling. I have taken this class myself and I enjoyed it very much. I highly recommend all of Allyson’s classes. Find them all here: http://www.determinedtoshine.net/

Check out Allyson’s online book club: Get Artsy Book Club

Click here to find out more (act fast! It’s almost time for this!) about Allyson’s Determined to Shine Fall Retreat!

Read the other BRAVE interviews here: https://kwrites.com/?s=The+BRAVE+Interview

If YOU would like to be interviewed for this series about something brave you have done in your life, email me at kmcwrites@gmail.com!

The BRAVE Interview #14 September 2017: Sylvia Wesley

Here is this month’s BRAVE Interview with Sylvia Wesley! Enjoy!

  1. WHO are you? I’m a 61-year-old white woman—wife, mother, nurse, and pseudo-bon vivant!
  2. WHAT is your One Brave Thing? Sometimes I feel like just living every day is a Brave Thing and it is difficult to choose a single event!  As a nurse, it seems like so many of my ‘brave things’ encompass caring for people—my dad and my brother, who both died of cancer; my mom with multiple surgeries; friends with HIV/AIDS.  As a mom I gave birth to twins who were 10 weeks premature and their first 6 months of life was pretty hectic, to put it mildly.  As a wife, still being married after 38 years could be considered brave—but probably the bravest aspect there is that I married a black man in 1979, only 12 years after the Supreme Court ruled interracial marriage was not illegal, and our early years involved some struggles in a very white New England. So, after all that, I decided to choose a joyous adventure as my One Brave Thing—I went to Burning Man!
  3. WHEN did you do it? 8/28-9/1, 2006
  4. WHERE did it occur? Black Rock Desert, NV
  5. HOW did you make it happen? Mostly my daughter made the initial experience happen.  She had been going to Burning Man for a few years and always marveled at how awesome it was and she was sure I would love it.  So for my 50th birthday, I was given a ticket to TTITD (aka ‘that thing in the desert’).  Which meant I would be sharing camping space with 38,000+ other adventuring nomads for a week in rather hostile environmental conditions, and only knowing one other person.  A little scary having to be self-reliant in an unknown situation, camping with my daughter’s friends who only had her assurances that I was ‘fun, non-judgmental, fully capable of taking care of myself, and would not act like everybody’s mother.’  So I packed my bags and flew to LA.  We readied all our camping equipment, some party outfits, food and water for a week, and did a 12 hour ride/drive-share to the event with a heretofore unknown person.  After 12+ hours, in a very small mini-van, we were all fast friends.  Getting to and from is just as much of an adventure as being there!
  6. WHY did you do it? For the adventure!  It was one of the best experiences of my life—the bigger-than-life art, the music, the people, the sense of oneness—all magnificent.  I came away with a whole new sense of self.  And as my daughter predicted, I would want to go every year after that, and did so for the next 7 years.  ‘Life’ has since interrupted my annual trek, and I have not been for the past 3 years, but look forward to resuming visits to my personal Mecca in the near future.

Thank you for sharing your story with us, Sylvia!

If anybody wants to learn more about the culture that is Burning Man, go to https://burningman.org/

Read the other BRAVE interviews here: https://kwrites.com/?s=The+BRAVE+Interview

If you would like to be interviewed for this series about something brave you have done in your life, email me at kmcwrites@gmail.com!

The BRAVE Interview #12 July 2017: Amanda Moore

Please enjoy this month’s interview with Amanda Moore!

I am Amanda Moore and I live in Southern Maine. I am raising three children, ranging from second grade to college. I was raised to be brave and encouraged by my grandfather early on to think creatively.

My recent “Brave Thing” is part of my continued focus to balance life and participate again in the creative parts. Writing , drawing, painting, along with reading, cooking, and gardening!

Three years ago, I began by using technology to connect with my talented group of friends. Day Dreamers Book Group opened up to me what others are creating: artists, musicians, writers, deep thinkers!

The focus of my current project is a gift to my friend that recently passed away. With the creative input of a friend of his, I hope we can write his story. Karen is a great inspiration to me and everyone who knows her.

Be Brave.

Here is the link to join Day Dreamers Book Group on FaceBook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/318995978286930/

Thank you for sharing your story with us, Amanda!

Read the other BRAVE interviews here: https://kwrites.com/?s=The+BRAVE+Interview

If you would like to be interviewed for this series about something brave you have done in your life, email me at kmcwrites@gmail.com!

Spartanized

This podcast by Jodi Flynn (Women Taking the Lead) with Joe DeSena caught my eye because 1. I love Jodi’s Podcasts and 2. My nieces and nephew just completed a Spartan Race (not the first for some of them).

My beautiful niece Megan, rocking her Spartan Race medal!

Much of the conversation really resonated with me! I was shocked, because whenever I hear about the Spartan Races, I move right along. I mean, it’s nice for some people…people who like to get all sweaty and dirty and gross. Not bookish, ‘indoorsy’ type people like me.

😀

I could completely relate to Joe’s talking about the topics of ‘concrete, (something else I can’t remember), and ravioli’ (#itsallabouthefood) in the Italian neighborhood where he grew up. That pulled me in, but when he talked about one of the strategies for success is telling everyone you know what you are going to do (“commit publicly”), that was it! I use that strategy all the time! Like, when I lost weight with Weight Watchers (Hey, everyone! I’m counting points today!) and when I write a novel every year for NaNoWriMo (Hey, everyone! I am writing 50,000 words this month!).

Now here I am, thinking about me and Spartan Races in the same thought.

Which brings to mind another thought that I have used for years to keep myself from having to be athletic: How can I do a Spartan Race? I wear glasses! They might fall off and then what would I do?!

NOTE: I have never pretended to be the ‘outdoor type’. 😀

The BRAVE Interview #11 June 2017: Chris Ann

Here is this month’s BRAVE Interview with Chris Ann:

The concept of being brave has never been a foreign one to me. Bravery is what I have embodied through out my life. I was brave when I become very ill as a child and had to suffer painful stomach problems when the doctors could not figure the issues until I was an adult. Bravery is what I had to channel when I was a young woman going to the big city of Boston to be an intern. I was so scared to take the train in by myself and navigate the streets of Boston to later become the youngest, degreed Sign Language Interpreter in the State of Massachusetts. I was brave when I was no longer able to work due to a life altering work injury. I was brave when I suffered miscarriage after miscarriage in my pursuit of being a Mom. Brave was all that I could be!

Throughout my life, I was the one with the brave face. I was brave when I finally become pregnant and the local hospital did not believe me and proceed to give me 8 abdominal x-Rays and 2 abdominal CT scans. I was very brave when they later told me that I was in fact pregnant but not to expect my baby to survive. I was brave and defiant in the face of extreme adversity but my tenacity, stubbornness and inner sense of knowing kept me going for the next 8 months and my baby was born!

I was brave when I knew he had extreme health issues and I went from doctor to doctor looking for a knowledgeable and friendly soul who would listen. I suffered tremendous disappointment in the medical system as they ignored my son’s suffering. I never revealed that I was an internationally renowned Psychic because it would not have made a difference. If they could not listen to me as a mom then they were not able to hear! I was used to working with the deaf population but the medical field was truly full of individuals who refused to listen!

There were days that I was so discouraged but my son was more than worth any of the insulting comments, strange looks and a general sense of disbelief! It look 8 years before a doctor came into our lives who suspected my son had a rare disease. He was in fact diagnosed with Ehlers-Dalos Syndrome. A rare disease that causes extreme hypermobility, subluxations, dislocations, fractures, digestive issues, headaches, falling, exhaustion and more! We had some answers!

But we were not done yet! He had started to vomit more and more. Of course everyone dismissed it as nerves, etc. I insisted that vomiting 8-9 times a day every day for months was not nerves! He has lost 20 pounds in less than 1 month when I finally begged the gastrointestinal to do a colonoscopy. I was brave to even want that test for my now 9-year-old. Every adult knows the unpleasant nature of such a test but I felt it was the answer we were needing.

So glad I’m a Psychic because I was right! He was covered in open sores throughout his entire gastrointestinal tract. He had Crohn’s Disease from mouth to anus. I was incensed that my son had suffered for so long when I clearly told them what was going on! I needed to brave as we focused on the journey to health. The doctors reassured us that chemotherapy was the answer for both diseases and it would put him in remission. I had such a bad feeling and was reluctant but I knew we needed something. The plan was chemotherapy for life but we were assured that remission was within months.

A year later, here we sit. In as much pain as ever. Vomiting lessened but is still a regular part of life. Mobility is a daily challenge. He has lost all his friends and is unable to attend school. My now 10-year-old has never had the promised remission and the assurances of a quick turn to good health has passed us by. Life is full of doctor appointments, trips to the bathroom, and laying in bed with profound sadness. My daily hope and wish is to hear laughter and see a smile. Some days I get my wish and other days I don’t.

When I think of what it means to be brave, my struggles are so minuscule compared the bravery that my son exemplifies minute to minute. He has carved out a new path for his life with connections on Xbox and YouTube. He is trying to reach out to a global community through touching souls while they have no idea of his constant struggle and pain. He has taught me the real definition for BRAVERY! I’m so proud to be his Mom because he is the greatest teacher I have ever met and ever will meet. He is my joy and it’s my honor to hold his hand through live as we brave it together!

If you wish to connect with my son on YouTube and watch his channel, it is gamingwithconnor1

Connect on Xbox 1 at R56COOPERSLCI

He is always looking for friends!  Thanks for your bravery in our story!

Thank you for sharing your brave story, Chris Ann!

Read the other BRAVE interviews here: https://kwrites.com/?s=The+BRAVE+Interview

If you would like to be interviewed for this series about something brave you have done in your life, email me at kmcwrites.com, or message me on my Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/k.m.creamer.author/

A friend of Kevin

I was lucky enough to be invited to be on Kevin Willett’s TV program, Business as Usual. I met Kevin on Facebook when I responded to a video he shared. I started following his page because the topics he was discussing resonated with me. One day, he mentioned that he had a TV show, and if anyone was interested in being on it, message him.

Was I interested in being on his TV show?

Duh.

I messaged  him. The next thing I knew, I was driving to Dracut. My husband came with me and watched from the booth. We arrived several hours early, as is my way, so we scouted out places to eat. I wanted Italian (so what else is new?) but Bill wanted the Chinese buffet, and when I saw that they had a dance floor, I was intrigued. We went.

The best part of the meal was the Hot and Sour Soup. And the Fortune Cookie. Isn’t this the best fortune ever?


Too bad it wasn’t mine.

Bill kindly agreed to share it with me with me.

Taping the show was so much fun! Kevin put me at ease right away, and the 28 minute taping went by in a blink. We talked about writing, publishing, and selling books. I’m so glad I had the opportunity to be a guest on the show. If you live in Dracut, you can watch it on DATV! If not, I will have a link to it at some point and will post it here on my website.

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P.S. The dance floor had a DISCO BALL!!! I couldn’t convince Bill to dance with me, though.

#stillpouting