September 3, 2014

National Mental Health Day -September 4, 2014

My beautiful daughter is now 23, she graduated last year and won two coveted awards, - for "The Most Improved Student, and for The most Literate Student. . She loves - books - writing - and going to the library.  I took her often to my classes at Salem College - where she quietly sat next to me and took notes. Because of one of my professors, she began journaling and writing, Akong with this, she loves animals and particularly dogs. She volunteers at the local animal control and has for the past five years, 

September 4, 2014 is National Mental Health Day. I have a daughter, a beautiful young woman who is diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADHD, Mild Mental Retardation, and along with Mental Illness because of the brain's dysfunction where her world is still childlike. She looks perfectly normal but those who have understanding and compassion are quick to understand. When this first started, rather where/when I knew something was wrong, 

I first closed my mind, as did other family members. When her hospitalizations began to over-lap, the seriousness took a major turn. I sat for hours and days waiting just to beg for help. I find myself in this same position ten years later after the first onset,, only the pain of finding dead-ends is taking its toll on my life. 

PLEASE support this call to make the powers that control the funding for the mentally ill. This is a greater cancer which has yet to be detected but prevails in 1 out of 4 humans. Insurance companies do not and often deny hospitalization because those facilities who contain the mentally ill, simply do that and do not treat these people. I M SORRY,I have said too much, except, I have been told - "There is no "box" TO PUT MY DAUGHTER IN. She is not dead and I dont need a box. Please, once again support NAMI, National Mental Health Day on September 4, 2014 and visit

September 1, 2014

In Loving Memory of Dr. Penelope Niven --- The Mother & Daughter Bond – Published in the Winston-Salem Journal – Mother’s Day Special Section 2003

Sometimes, the mother and daughter bond is so deep, it goes beyond words.
            When Penelope Niven and daughter Jennifer Niven tell each other --- “I love you more than words,” many people will recognize the fact that even Webster’s dictionary may not hold enough words to describe that love because both mother and daughter are published authors. What makes the Nivens’ bond so deep is how they actively participate in and nurture each other’s lives. These valuable lessons go deeper than their connection as writers.
             However strong mother and daughter relationships are a part of the Nivens’ heritage. Penny offers, “Jennifer and I have a very deep spiritual sense, we come from a line of very strong women. The Niven women in general are very strong dynamic women; there are just dozens of us, so perhaps some of that is genetic.”  
            Sometimes the best lessons in life really do come from our mothers. It has only been a few weeks since Penelope Niven’s mother passed away (sic: March 2003), and it is these lessons that have helped to see Penny through this difficult time. “Getting to know my mother as a woman and friend as well as my mother grew and grew year by year. My mother taught me to cherish the imagination and to be my full self. These were lessons of a woman’s strength. My mother was a person who could do all those things in a time when women weren’t quite so adventurous. She was a pioneer in that when I was growing up in the 1950’s she was already able expertly to balance family and a career as a teacher. I had so much admiration and respect for both my parents and for the way they handled that last phase of the journey of life. They made deep peace with life and when you can do that, you don’t have to make peace with death.”
            Penelope Niven also became a teacher, and is a Professor of English at Salem College in addition to being a published author. She always knew she wanted to be a writer and credits her early development, recalling the exact moment at the age of five when knew she wanted to be a writer: “I can still see how those black marks looked and that I knew then that I would be able to read words and then write words. I went home and said I just needed to get busy and learn how to write today.” It was not until after she turned forty that writing would become her other life work.
            The catalyst for her writing career was a trip to Connemara, the home of Carl Sandburg in Flat Rock. Sandberg’s home had just opened to the public. This initial endeavor was as a volunteer to help organize over 30,000 Sandburg papers. While there she met Lucy Kroll who was Carl Sandburg’s agent. These two events opened the door for her and she wrote Carl Sandburg: a Biography which was published in 1991. From this she co-authored with James Earl Jones, Voices and Silences. As an outgrowth of the Sandburg biography she wrote, Steichen: a Biography. Steichen was Carl Sandburg’s brother-in-law and a pioneer as well as one of the foremost photographers of the last century. Other books include a children’s book on Sandburg, a soon to be released biography on Thornton Wilder and her newest book Swimming Lesson’s, which is not about swimming but about living your life and learning to live, and will come out next spring.       
Her daughter, Jennifer Niven however, is her pride and joy. Penny states that some of the best lessons in life, she learned from her daughter; “I have the most marvelous daughter ever -  on earth and on this planet. Jennifer and I have always had such a friendship in addition to our mother daughter bond which is very, very deep. She is my finest work of art and I’ll never be anything better or more joyful or more significant than being Jennifer’s mother.”        
            Growing up as the daughter of a writer was an advantage for Jennifer Niven. As a child, her mother would set a small desk next to her bigger one and they would have writing times together. Jennifer tells us; “At first I said oh this is fun, we’re having writing time though it was probably more about me then her when we were sitting side by side together. Later I realized it was as much for her as it was for me.” Deciding that writing would also become Jennifer’s life work came at the age of 19 when she traveled with her mother who was then working with James Earle Jones on location in Louisiana while he was filming the movie, “Convict.”
             Jennifer would travel with her mother and do things with her that normal kids did not do such as meet many famous people. “I had dabbled in short story writing and play writing but I had never really thought about writing for television or for film. Being on that set with James Earl Jones and in that atmosphere really excited me. It was my first real first-hand experience and shortly after that I went to film school and studied screen writing.”
            After completing college, Jennifer received her MFA in writing and moved to California where she became a screen writer. She won an Emmy for a short film called Velva Jean Learns how to Drive, based on a story written by her mother. Jennifer Niven’s first novel, The Ice Master: the Doomed 1913 Voyage of the Karluk was named one of the top ten nonfiction books of 2000. Her new novel, Ada Blackjack, a sequel to The Ice Master will be released in fall of 2003.
             Jennifer credits her mother for always telling her, “You can do anything you put your mind to, you can be anything you want to be, and to never ever sell yourself short or to settle for less. She always taught me to dream big and that was one of the most valuable things I ever learned and it certainly has helped me to shape my life. My mother has always given me unconditional love and inspired me to do whatever I wanted to do. If I were to have a daughter, I would hope to be as wonderful a mother as my mom is to me. One of the main reasons I would have a child, would be to give back some of what my mom has given to me because she has been the most incredible mother.”

            Penelope Niven says that the work of parenting is one of the most important works on earth. “Building a strong relationship with children is increasingly difficult for young mothers. They do not always have the time that they need to be totally present for their children. This is not their fault but an impact of the economy and our society. The importance for mothers and fathers is to be able to be present in their children’s lives. You have to work harder to carve out the time. I think about my mother and that we lived in a much slower pace of time and we were able to find balance and true communication. This is a reason my daughter and I talk on the phone every day – it is as necessary as breathing.”       

June 1, 2014

An Intimate Interview with Dr. Maya Angelou . . .

I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Maya Angelou in 1997 for a local Winston-Salem, North Carolina Triad Magazine. This interview was really at the beginning of my writers "one-a-be" and a learning experience from which I decide to go back to college to learn what I didn't know. All these years I have kept the Tape pf our interview and many times would play the tape to myself because Dr Angelou so inspired me.  The interview is 30 minutes long and while for me the time went buy to fast. For those who chose to listen, I hope you gain as much inspiration as I did as well as listen to the end where Dr. Angelou reads one of her poems . . . .

February 22, 2012

And He Shall Dance Again: A Poem for my Father by Bev Hamel

In Loving Memory
William Augustus Alderfer
July 1, 1921
February 17, 2012

And He Shall Dance Again

My father and I were connected by a long distance cord
of a slim white paper cigarette,
A nasty habit that oddly comforted me
as once a month arrived,
a slim white envelope
bearing his handwriting,
tidy, neat and even strokes
like ripples on a pond
mailed from Pennsylvania
to Carolina, where cigarettes
were half the price.
I fed his addiction,
a ruse to keep his letters
binding him to me.

Pictures in my mind,
scatter in slow motion through
a kaleidoscope of colors, where
I see him young with hair
untouched by grey,
tall and strong,
my anchor in the wind.

I am a little girl again -
Take me for a ride daddy,
and he lifts me up into the air
high above his head
I will never let you fall, he says,
higher still he thrusts me to the sky
Now just reach for any star,
they’re all yours,
then taught me how to make them mine.

I went away to gather tiles
to build the mosaic of my life,
minutes vanished into days
years withered into air,
I did not see him bent and weak,
nor slowly drift away.
He will always be my hero
connected now by a long distance cord
of billowy clouds drifting in the daytime sky
and when the evening sky turns dark
we will dance upon the stars that he made mine.

November 15, 2011

Creating Donovan’s Brain by Bev Hamel

I am always thankful when the day’s rush hours are over and although each day typically ends in frenzy the same as the day begins, the ending frenzy is more relaxed and fun. Sometimes we all make dinner then homework, baths, hugs, giggles, and a monster mom story, which usually turns into bedlam when girls, dogs, and cats, chase after me from room to room. We act out each story; one of my silly ‘monster mom versus girls’ where the villain is always subdued with hugs and kisses.
Tonight I rushed through the routine because of my own homework; a writing assignment for one of Forsyth Tech classes. Finally, the girls are settled in their room pretending to be asleep but will probably be for real soon, so it was okay for me to attend to my own needs.Read more at

November 11, 2011

Veterans are Not Just Men . . . Women Were Soldiers Too

Three pairs of eyes stare out from the photographs of three women, each wearing a Women's Army uniform from three different wars. A photograph of me in my Viet Nam era uniform sits next to one of my mother in her World War II uniform along with one of my daughter in her camouflage fatigues from the first war in Iraq.

I see me in my mother's reflection and I see my mother in my daughter's reflection. But it is the eyes that stare back at me, all three pairs, that tells me my inner strength comes equally from the women in my life as well as the men.
I had always thought that my mother's name was Millie until I stumbled across her birth certificate after she died and found that her given name was Amelia. I think the name  Millie suited her better. In this portrait, she is twenty-three and on the back is written; 'red hair, hazel eyes.' Both my daughter and I have brown hair and brown eyes but I think even a stranger would agree that we have Millie's eyes.

My mother was a beautiful woman in her youth. Her eyes are full of life, of hope, of promise, of high expectations she set for herself, and instilled in me. Her eyes fit her personality, the one that I still remember. Not the Millie I knew during those troubled years of her battle in another war, the one that eventually took her life, the war with breast cancer.

I remember when I was seven and my brother was stricken with polio. I didn't know the sacrifices she made but realize now the necessity of why she instilled in me high ideals for my own self , for teaching me to be independent, for teaching me to look to my faith to guide me in troubled times, and to believe in myself.

I was nineteen when my mother died. She never saw me in my WAC uniform. She never knew my daughter Dana.
In this portrait, she looks stern and strong. Her eyes penetrate my very soul, and still have the capability to take my breath away. The first time I looked into her eyes, I was hopelessly lost, hopelessly in love. My daughter's eyes - so big - so brown so deep - like the ocean.

Dana looks like my mother, and she looks like me. It is in her eyes. They reflect her strength and her courage.

We are separated by distance but not by heart. And yes, I hurt not to be near her, and my five beautiful grandchildren, two who I have never held but in my dreams. Soon, she will be a grandmother and as I watch my granddaughter Tori and her tummy grow, I hope one day we will all be together again.
Any given moment of the day I only need to turn to facebook and there they all are, second best though it is, I can watch all of them grow.  

I look so young in this picture and wonder where did this young woman go. Images of my life and all my yesterdays wash through me like a kaleidoscope of colors. I see thousands of tiny pieces that represent a moment of my life between then and now. In my now moment of life I can still see the young me peering through my glasses. My face shows fine lines of age, though I don't see them  I know others do. I know where I have been, I know how I have lived, and I know there is still so much I want to do.

But lines on faces from age and life - I don't want to erase - each one is memory - good - bad - indifferent. I earned them. I learned from them.

My mother taught me. My daughters and granddaughters taught me - all of them - because my family is and has been blended.

I come from family lineage from both American and foreign lands where the men stood up to fight for their county's freedom, but I also came from a long line and heritage of  women, who were soldiers too and in so many ways, stronger then men.

November 10, 2011

Why I Went Square and Ditched My Credit Card Machine

My Square
Being Square is the best thing since sliced bread, because now my bank can no longer steal from me.
First there is no longer monthly fees of a minimum discount fee of $15.00 a month or higher. Then there is no longer the $5.99 charge for being in compliance. Then there is no longer the $5.00 access fee. Then there is no longer the actual discount fees each credit card company charges. And then there is no potential additional fees should I wish to speak with Merchant Services more then twice a month, and lastly there is the total avoidance of not having 28% of my merchant deposits held for a new law going into effect January 1, 2012.  

Square and Mackie in
MyTouch 4G Khaki
Square is only 1 inch by 1 inch and is as portable as my cell phone. I just plug it in the top of my phone, tap on the app and speak into my phone or type in the necessary information. I am asked if I want receipt by email or SMS and then I'm done. Money is in my account at end of day and customer goes away happy.

So today I gleefully called Merchant Services and told them good by. I pulled the cord from the VeriFone, and the land line, and will now be placing it for sale as a genuine antique in my shop.

Very soon I will be doing this with my land line company and broadband provider, but I am still researching the possibilities which may be finalized as early as next week. Although I have to say I am tad bit nervous because the last time I did that - all hell broke loose.
We'll see.
Antique VeriFone For Sale