Dear College

Dear College,

My first two years at school, I partied far more than I’d like to admit, I made pitifully average grades, and I struggled emotionally. My last two years, I had matured significantly, I made increasingly excellent grades, I sought counseling (however unsuccessfully), I worked a part time job, and I found my calling in education. 

I also finally talked with my parents about the assault. 

My very first week at your school, I was sexually assaulted by a fraternity boy, and that introduction to a social life at College colored my entire four year experience. College came with many sweet friendships, growth experiences, a variety of adults that held influence over future choices, and an opportunity for personal maturity and growth. And yet. 

My junior year, I finally went to the counseling center on campus to talk with a therapist about dealing with the lingering emotional turmoil surrounding the event. I wanted to go home to talk with my parents, but I was nervous.  I asked the school therapist for help in sorting through the mixture of emotions I didn’t know how to process. Joining a sorority, being popular, weekends full of parties, and flirting with college boys had only exacerbated the deeper yearning to be “fine” that was secretly driving my destructive behaviors. Yet telling my parents that I had been assaulted meant explaining that I had been out drinking heavily. It meant admitting choices I knew to be negative and in direct conflict with how I had been raised to think and behave. It meant admitting that for two years, I had hidden my secret instead of seeking help. I did not want to have that conversation, but I knew I must have that conversation. The therapist (your therapist) asked if I really needed to talk with my parents and implied that maybe I should deal with the incident myself. 

Did I really even need counseling? 

I hadn’t been raped, per se, so wasn’t I being a bit overly dramatic or creating more chaos than necessary?

Maybe – Was I just afraid of being on my own in the world and searching for attention? 

Thankfully, I’ve never been the best at following directions. Ignoring the ridiculous advice of that therapist (your therapist), I went home to have a heart to heart with my parents anyway. Simply being open with them gave me the confidence to turn my college experience around. My final semester, I finally received a 4.0.

So, I guess what I want to say is…

Dear College,

Talk about assault. 

Talk about safety. Talk about bullies and victims. Keep your doors open to those students that need to walk through them to you. Listen when girls misbehave in ways that point to trauma. Talk about trauma. Listen to boys that misbehave in ways that point to trauma. Talk about trauma. Talk about brain changes and PTSD and pregnancy and abortion and drugs and drinking and the next day. 

Talk about the walk of shame. (Surely by now we all know what I’m referring to. But why is it the victim seems to get the honors? Talk about that.)

Talk about The Next Day

Then. Talk about grace and redemption and love and support and also. 

Listen. 

Listen for signs of hopelessness and guilt and shame and confusion and sadness and anger and humor. Listen for the self deprecating humor. Listen for the covering up of the vulnerable. 

Talk about suicide and second chances. Talk about religion. Talk about Jesus. Talk about Buddha. Talk about death and nothingness and family and friends and dorm life. Talk about showering. Talk about showering on The Day After. Talk about sex. Talk about love and lust and kissing. Talk about dating. Talk about sweatpants and yoga pants. Talk about failure. Talk about money, and stress, and those freaking Joneses. Talk about bodies. Talk about being in a melting pot of a bajillion people the same age and how the real world is not like a college campus. Talk about homesickness. Talk about mommas. And dads. And little siblings. Talk about the loneliness in the midst of a campus full of people. Talk about grades too. Talk about taking each day one step at a time. One teeth brushing victory at…. A…. Damn…. Time.

Then. Talk about grace and redemption and love and support and also.

Listen. 

Because.

I guarantee I am not alone in my journey on your campus. I have written this letter over and over and over in my mind for twenty five years, and it never comes out eloquently. But. Listen still. 

Dear College, 

Listen.

Talk about assault.

Sincerely,

Your graduate and a Boy Mom of a rising College freshman

Strong Enough

I have depth. I have a voice. I have a sense of self, and it helps ground me.

I am not unique. Not in that way.

(I mean, I AM unique, but we’ll save that quirky bit for a lighter post.)

Women, we are smart. And beautiful. And worthy.

Worthy of love. Worthy of listeners. Worthy of respect. Worthy of gravity and reason and recognition.

And none of these attributes require an apology or an excuse.

In the past two years, many women have called. Each story different. Some abusive, some just plain miserable. But women call. Maybe they want to compare? To see if their situation is bad enough to warrant that desire to escape? To find out what single motherhood truly, practically, day to day entails? To find out the formula, the set of instructions in surviving divorce?

And the one thread that weaves through every story is the fear. Fear that this time, she is not strong enough. Or good enough. Or smart enough. Or thankful enough. Or Godly enough.

Fear holds women back. To be honest, fear holds humans back so often we at times can’t even recognize it as the barrier. Fear paralyzes, and it tells us we are weak or dangerously vulnerable or selfish. It pins us down and cements our dreams to a place of stagnation.

The first time I walked through the fear, it was terrifying and glorious. I keep doing it, situation after situation. Recently my son proclaimed that I just push through awkward like nothing he’s seen. And what he is truly witnessing is that determination to push through fear. Fear of hurt feelings, broken friendships, embarrassment, failure. Oh, the fear of failure is large and in charge. My three a.m. brain and fear have a deep, strong, relentless relationship. But no matter what the night holds, the beauty always wins, and the dawn keeps coming.

It keeps coming. Fear ain’t got nothing on the dawn.

So women. You are strong. You are worthy.

Keep cutting that thread and know….

You are more than Enough.

Lorie Cassidy Cooper of Ken’s Barbershop

Lorie and Ken cutting hair.

Me: How long have you lived in York?

LCC: I’ve been in York since 1988, so about 30 years. I moved here from Rock Hill, just right up the road. When I first moved here, I lived way out in the country for a long time.

Me: So you live in town now?

LCC: No, I still live in the country. I have lived in town before though. I was a gypsy for awhile.

Me: You just lived all over? All over town?

LCC: Yes. And Taiwan and um…

Me: Oh, OK. Not just around York! Other places too.

Laughter…..

LCC: Yeah, other places too. And I lived in a camper for three years. I had it right in front of Black’s Peaches. I was the only thing in this big ole field. I rented a little spot from John Black. I loved livin’ in a camper.

A Black’s Farm peach

Me: When you said gypsy and camper I was thinking you were one of those people that traveled around, but no.

LCC: No. I lived in a field. I loved it!

Me: You said Taiwan. Now why did you live over there?

LCC: My son moved there. He’s been there about ten years. He went to college. That was the initial reason, and he’s never come back. He is now on TV and movies and stuff like that.

Me: So he graduated from York Comp, right?

LCC: He graduated from York, went to Winthrop his first year, and did an exchange program to Taiwan and he stayed there. He’s made it. He’s made it big! He’s been home twice.

Me: How many times have you been there?

LCC: Twice. The first time I stayed for a year, and the last time was last September, and I went for two weeks.

Me: How long have you worked at Ken’s Barber?

Ken: 2004.

LCC: 15 years? Close enough.

Me: How many barbers have worked here? Just you and Ken and Ken’s daddy, Len?

Ken: Well, when she went to Taiwan, we had another one, but yeah. Just us.

Me: Did you plan to be a barber?

LCC: No. It was really strange. I was cuttin’ hair since I was little. My daddy would have me cut his hair since I was five years old. I would stand on a stool and cut my daddy’s hair, and then he would go get it fixed. I didn’t realize at that time he was showin’ me my career.

Me: So you’ve been doing this your whole life essentially.

LCC: Yeah, but I didn’t make money off of it until my Momma passed away, and that’s when I went to school. Took care of her while she was sick. After she passed away, it just kind of fell in my lap. I needed to do something. I didn’t know what to do with myself because I had been so stretched for so long, and I ran into these people and they knew somebody that needed to hire a barber and they did on the job training. So I worked for free to pay for my on the job training.

Me: And then you came here.

LCC: Yeah. Well, first I went to Blackwood Brothers, and I did an internship and then I came here after a year.

After that, umm, I ended up getting a divorce, and all kinds of stuff. I’ve got the best job in the world. If people knew how good this job is, I couldn’t have hand-picked a better job for me.

Me: What’s the best part?

LCC: The people. Getting to know them.

Me: I bet you get all kinds of stories in here.

LCC: A mentally handicapped man from York, people would pick on him. But people didn’t know what he would do. So this other man, I was cutting his hair, and that customer said, “Hey ____, did you know there’s a warrant out for your arrest?” Well, _____ picked up this chair, and I ducked cause I knew what he was fixin’ to do, and I said, “Don’t!” He set the chair back down, but that man wasn’t ready for that!

He would also get mad when it was snowing. He’d get mad. He used to live downtown, and he would walk here, but he lives with his brother now. That’s why you don’t see him around. We love him.

Talking…..

LCC: I was the first woman to work at this barber shop. It’s been here since the depression, and I’m the first woman.

Me: I don’t doubt it. You don’t hear about many woman barbers.

LCC: No. You don’t. And it’s so funny, when I started working here. They all pick on me. I’ve been the butt of every joke for fifteen years. Not everybody could do this job.

I don’t mind. I love it. I’ve got a lot of useless knowledge. Like Herman told me how to deliver a cow. Now when am I ever going to do that?

Me: I bet you hear a lot of gossip. What’s the best gossip you’ve heard??

Ken: We had a doctor once, would come in and tell us everything. He used names! We were like, Nooo!!!

Customer: I don’t want to hear that!

Ken: That’s what we told him.

LCC: It’s women that gossip. With men, it’s just BS. They’re talkin’ smack or it’s political. And I don’t know anything about politics, so I don’t say anything.

Me: Do you have any clients get in arguments? About politics or stuff like that?

LCC: Oh yes!! Ken!!

Ken: I had two old men fightin’ over me! They both wanted me.

LCC: Yeah! They both wanted Ken to cut their hair, and they’re both trying to get in the chair at the same time.

Laughter…

LCC: And then one of them got in a fight with me, and then later he’d say, “Hey!” He was trying to get on my good side in case we went to court.

LCC: But yes, people get heated about politics, especially around election time. Now Ken and I, we try to stay out of it.

Me: But Ken’s daddy didn’t. He’d talk about politics because that happened the first time we ever came in here. He was here, and he was telling all kinds of stuff. That’s what I was telling Ken, that my boys were excited and wanted to go back to the barber. They learned all kinds of things they had never heard before!

LCC: Oh I’m sure! Lenny will tell you, “I was a democrat until I learned to read.” But Ken and I, we stay out of it.

Me: Do you have a poignant or kindhearted story? (Ken pipes in, and I tell him to hush. It’s Lorie’s turn to tell a story. He smiles.)

LCC: There are kids that come in here… (Ken – Oh, yes.) I’m very mothering. There’s kids that come in here, and they don’t have anything. This one fellow that me and Ken got too close to, he had a whole lot of problems. He’d been in foster care, he’d been adopted, all kind of problems. Now, we’re only hearing his side of the story. We don’t know, but he was pitiful, and he was making a lot of bad choices, and me and Ken we’d try to give him advice. He was seventeen at the time he run away. But he ended up, they sent him off, and I don’t know where he is now.

…..

Kids get to me. I have another kid that comes in here. He’ll say, “I found something at the thrift store, and it’s two dollars, and I want it so bad!” And of course, I give him two dollars. The first time I saw him at the thrift store, he’s walking around, and he’s as skinny as a rail, and he had on high waters, socks, shoes that didn’t fit him, and he was carrying around these cleats. It was dead of summer, and he had on a jersey with football pads, and he had them cleats. The store clerk asked me what was with him, and I said he looked like a kid and that I’d go talk to him. Well he was just a kid, and he wasn’t on drugs or anything, he was just mentally unstable, and he wanted those cleats. His hair was all over the place. So, of course, I got them for him, and I got him something to eat, and I told the woman I’m going to cut his hair and we’ll be back to eat. He wasn’t this big around. So I cut his hair and he went back and ate, and of course, he’s come back after that. We have a lot of sad stories like that.

But I try to help people. Especially the children.

We kept on talking, but the best way to hear barbershop stories is to visit yourself. You can find Lorie and Ken at Ken’s Barber most days, and I can tell you, it’s worth the visit.

Lorie’s Chair



Kenny Childers and Jordan Garrett of Dogma and Fetch

Downtown York offers an eclectic group of store owners, with life passions that lead them into business.
Please meet our latest People of Yorkville, Kenny Childers and Jordan Garrett, of Dogma and Fetch. Due to the busy nature of running a retail store, we instead opted for a email interview and a quick visit at the shop.
Dogma and Fetch 5
Me: What was your inspiration to start the store?
Kenny and Jordan: This is a easy one, the love for animals, especially our 5 dogs Abby, Bailey, Cody, Dexter and Evan. They were a huge inspiration for opening the store.
We decided to dive into our hobby and make it a full time business.
(I’m curious if their furry family members aren’t also the inspiration for the fun and lively pet paintings throughout Dogma and Fetch? Note to self – find out who does their artwork!)
Me: How long have you been York residents?
Kenny – originally from York, I have lived here 45 years (all my life), with the exception of living in Charlotte & NC  for about  6 years.
Jordan is from NC and has been in York for 17 yrs.
Dogma and FetchDogma and Fetch 3
Me: What is your favorite part of being in Downtown York?
Kenny and Jordan – Making relationships with dogs and dog owners. We also love the history of the downtown and its buildings.
Kenny –  As a child I rode my bike and walked the streets and shopped these stores for years, so for me York is home. And what’s more comfortable than home? We enjoy working in a quaint downtown atmosphere.
Me: Since opening Dogma and Fetch, which moments have stood out as especially poignant?
Kenny and Jordan – Being downtown for 16 years, it has saddened us to see so many businesses closing up shop. Watching other businesses/banking and services move away from the downtown/historic area to follow a trend. That (movement away from downtown) is changing the way, and what, places that York and the surrounding area will support.

Dogma and Fetch 6
Full lines of pet care products

Dogma and Fetch 2
Baked treats

Dogma and Fetch offers a wide variety of pet services, from basic supplies to gifts to fresh baked treats to grooming services. An anchor in downtown, Dogma and Fetch is definitely a destination worth visiting for any animal lover, and must see for all dog owners!
Dogma and Fetch
24 N. Congress St.
York, SC 29745

Penee with Penny Moss

People of Yorkville Series

Penee with Penny Moss

Me: How long have you been in business?

PM: 17 years. I’ve been in this location (26 North Congress) a little over a year. I started out at 17 North Congress and I was there five or six years and then that building sold, so I had to move. I was going to build onto my house, and Ann over here at Hummingbird Florist heard I was leaving downtown, and she said, ‘You can have my building.  I’ll give you the same rent. We don’t want you to leave downtown; you’re a big asset.’ So I moved from 17 down to 35, which is now Holley’s Beaded Dragon.

Penny goes on to explain that she then, through a series of events, ended up moving across the street to 26 North Congress, which is where her spa currently resides.

We’re having conversation about client base, where people come from…

PM: My type of business, these days people fist pump, they use hand sanitizer, they don’t like people touching them. They communicate through typing and text, you know; nobody really gets touched. Especially if you’re single. And so a destination like this, once you come to relax – and I won’t even just say Penee – a massage therapist, somebody you can connect with and that can also touch you and can pray over you….you remember that. It stays in your heart.

God called me to this. He gave me a vision. I was working in corporate America and I had a terrible day one day. And I went and got a massage. I went to Carmen and Carmen because I worked in downtown Charlotte. I went in and I was like – I need a massage, I need to relax. She said, ‘We don’t have any massage appointments available but we have a facial.’  I’d never had a facial before, but I took her word and went in. And sure enough, I was at one of those crossroads in life and I was laying there and I was in tune with the Spirit and He gave me a vision. He showed me doing what she was doing to me. And I thought, gosh, this is what I need to do! I researched it, went and took out my 401K, lived off my 401k, went to school, and opened up my business in December.

She went on to share about getting started and moving into her own space, the first space at 17 North Congress.

It has been like that. He (God) has opened doors. Every time.

Penee - Penny Moss
Penny Moss sharing essential oil samples

Me: Memorable clients, moments, stand out poignant instances?

PM: I would say this is the one… The Lord put a specific calling on my life. He said you will make people happy and you will inspire a billion. And I didn’t know what “billion” meant. And then He sent me to the Pregnancy Crisis Center and I learned that one in three women have had an abortion. Well, I had an abortion in my early twenties and I knew God had forgiven me, but I didn’t realize I hadn’t forgiven myself. So I actually got healed from an abortion I had 20 years ago. It put me in dangerous situations with men, with life, I didn’t feel I was worthy, and I overdid myself trying to make up for that. And I got healed there. So, I am a career counselor there on Wednesday, and I counsel women that are in crisis situation.  …  Well, when I share my testimony here (Penee), and I don’t share it with just anybody, but when God lays it on my heart to share, I would say those instances are the ones I remember.

Penny goes on the share that when she shares her story at her spa, women will open up and share their stories with her. Women that have had their own abortions, their own traumas early in life and haven’t ever told their husbands. Women open up about burdens they’ve held on to from before ….. Before marriage, before kids, before ____.

PM: And it is such freedom to be able to speak it. And some of these women have never said it. And when they say it, it’s just a flow of tears, and the enemy can’t hold them anymore. It’s like Vegas in here. What is said in here, stays in here, and people know that. It’s a place to come out of the world, to just come in here and be gone for a little bit and just recharge.

What is a facial?

Penee 3I have a 30 minute, 1 hour, and an hour and a half. If you’re a beginner, and you just want to feel it out, I recommend the 30 minute, but after, you’re usually like, Ohh, I need an hour at least! It like Starbucks – you got the tall, the grande, and the whatever.

There’s a double cleansing, an exfoliating mask, a peeling mask, I put it on and I have these cucumber eye patches and then I start the massage. I start with the decollete (the shoulder blade, chest area), and then I go to the shoulders, and the neck and down the arms and then I put a heated bag across your chest. Then I go down and I massage your feet. Our hands and our feet are all connected to our organs, so I use different massage techniques on your hands and feet. I put essential oils on your feet. I have a scanner I use on your hand so I know what oils to use, and I put a hot towel over their face, and then I ask if there’s something I can pray over them for, and then I take that hot towel and that last mask off. I then use a toner, a serum, and a thicker cream over dry spots and I put on an eye cream, and that’s about it.

Me: That is a facial?!? Laughter…SOOO much better than Walmart! (I joked about buying my facial scrub at Walmart because I am not typically a girly girl.) It does not even compare!

PM: (Laughs) It does not even compare!

Penee 4

Then she explains lots of other treatments she can do. Visit her website for dermabrasion, peels, make up, and more.

She goes on to discuss future plans and listening for God’s call. Penny has started a Facebook page called Heart Rebalanced for women that would like to reach out to her. Penny and I had a wonderfully uplifting conversation, and I highly recommend everyone go see Penny. She has such a positive and infectious, joyful spirit that any customer is sure to have a renewing and heart filled experience.

Penee Spa

26 North Congress Street, York, SC 29745

803.430.6091

Going Home.

I’m good at teaching, a gift I’ve confidently used for more than half my life. I’ve taught third grade, sixth grade, special education, preschool, homeschool, private school, music lessons… I can teach.

But playing teacher and being an actual student aren’t necessarily so familiar as merely different sides of a coin. I hadn’t taken a test without an answer key in twenty years, and the prospect of doing such a thing all over again seemed a bit overwhelming. Yet, there I was, sitting cross legged on the back row of a modern classroom, attempting to focus for stretches of time on just one subject.

Real Estate. Realtor. The act of helping others buy property, buy houses, businesses, large investments, buy homes. That’s the subject of the tests I willingly took.

And after class, and when my world seemed exhausting and when I needed to breath easily, I went to my own home. Home to my kids. Home to my dog.

Home to my particular spot on my particular couch. I just. went. Home.

An old fireplace with an intricately carved mantle surrounding old, faded, sooted brick. Antique apple crates stacked in such a pattern as to create the perfect desk base. My child’s portrait hanging on the foyer wall. A viola propped at attention. Books stacked carelessly, piled high about every room.

The dog, blonde and small, curled in his favorite chair, snoring quietly. Soft, worn rugs scattered about the house. An extra large bed, wrapped in flannel and down, warm lamps illuminating pale corners. Sudsy soap in the kitchen sink, last night’s dishes haphazardly soaking, the hum and slosh of the dishwasher running.

Children stomping through the hall, doors opening and closing loudly, hurried sounds of boys focused on the business of play. My mother’s ring resting in the pottery dish a child’s hand shaped years ago. Light streaming through the cool glass of a front window. Daylight indoors. Me, nestled beneath the coverlet, computer perched on a pillow, writing.

After a weekend of classes, it was these familiarities that fed me. Nourished me for another week. Wrapped me warmly, welcoming and restful.

When I visit my childhood abode, or I breathe Tennessee air or drink coffee on my porch in York – When I set bare feet upon damp, warm soil or I attend a Sunday service at an Episcopal Church or I sit in the balcony at Allison Creek Presbyterian – I experience home.

Home.DogMonths have passed since real estate school. The license firmly hangs at Keller Williams in Fort Mill. Marching forward, real estate offers new, surprising, fun opportunities.  And still, at the end of the day, that particular couch in that particular house on that particular street calls on me.

The little blonde dog waits, curled and snoring. And I, well, I go home.

Frank’s Jewelers

Frank's 2
Silver pieces with exchangeable gems

Last week I had the distinct opportunity to speak with Walter of Frank’s Jewelers in York. Walter’s wife runs the anchor store in Clover, while the branch store in downtown York sits settled right on Congress Street since 2003.

Frank's 3
Silver rings with exchangeable stones

We did not engage in a formal interview, but instead spent a good hour talking casually about all sorts of things. I asked lots of questions for myself, personally needing to update and exchange a few pieces of jewelry myself, and we toured the shop at length, me admiring lots of gorgeous pieces. Having lived in York six years now, I am ashamed to say this was the first time I had been in Frank’s Jewelers, having wrongly assumed that it was a high end store out of my economical grasp.

 

Frank's 6
Men’s gifts

Frank's 5
Prayer Bracelets from Nepal

In truth, the shop is perfect for our small downtown, offering a wide variety of intricate, simple, and exquisite jeweled items that are in fact, often affordable. I will most certainly become a quick regular and look forward to visiting Walter often in the future.

His store encompasses:

jewelry repair, watch repair, appraisals, engraving, special orders, interest-free layaway, gift certificates, precious metal recycling, trade in/ trade up, jewelry care

Frank's 4