Pleasures await you by the seashore…

This summer I had the opportunity to sit and observe nature while on vacation in Sunset Beach, North Carolina.

I love watching birds, their graceful movements, and sometimes silly actions. I wrote a poem on this cold winter today which actually fits quite nicely with a fortune cookie I received awhile back.

Here’s the poem – I hope you like it. It’s called “Pleasures at the Seashore”

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Six little sandpipers
dip long spindly legs
and feet
in the shallow mud flats
and
watch tourists
on the shore.

Preening, gleaning
angel-like wings
and brown-tufted bellies,
resting idly
at ocean’s door.

A gentle waveDSCN0353 birds crop adj
pushes foamy surf
across wet land
in a lover’s
lullaby
of the sea.

And the feathered
reflections of nature –
six mirrored silhouettes,
dance on the glistening sand.

© Copyright Sheree K. Nielsen 2015

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Updates on FOLLY BEACH DANCES, our ‘healing’ coffee table book

Good morning everyone,

Pop on over to the FOLLY BEACH DANCES official book website at http://www.beachdances.com to see “What’s Happening’ with our’healing’ coffee table book.

While there, feel free to leave a comment, or follow us at Folly Beach Dances on facebook or twitter.

Here’s the link to the latest updates (and giveaways)

http://www.beachdances.com/uncategorized/a-folly-beach-dances-booksigning-giveaways-the-south-carolina-aquarium/

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Beautiful by Nature – Turks and Caicos

This spring I had the good fortune to travel to the Turks and Caicos Islands for a feature story for AAA Midwest and AAA Southern Traveler Magazine.

During my assignment, I met so many lovely people, including Lindsey Mensen, manager of Blue Horizon Resort and Mudjin Harbor Grill on Middle Caicos; Hunter Viator, an expat from Florida that’s living the dream as a certified instructor at Kite Provo on Long Bay Beach, the oh-so-hip employees of Da Conch Shack in the Blue Hills region, and the employees of Beaches in Providenciales.

Each area I visited was vibrant and alive. By far my favorite was Mudjin Harbor. It’s untouched exquisiteness blew my mind.

Anyway, here’s the 3-page feature article titled “BEAUTIFUL BY NATURE”.  The lead in photo of fetching Pumpkin Bluff Pond beach was captured by my husband, Russell Nielsen.

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Talks, booksignings, and festivals – Folly Beach and Charleston

Had a wonderful week of events promoting our coffee table book, Folly Beach Dances, beginning with a talk at the Hollings Cancer Care Center in Charleston on Tuesday, followed by a booksigning at the Folly Beach Library Wednesday, and another booksigning at the Preservation Society of Charleston Thursday. We finished out the week with at the Follypalooza Cancer benefit and festival on Saturday.

Wonderful people crossed our paths throughout the week.

At the library booksigning, a gentlemen named Kim purchased a book for his granddaughter Aviva.

“She’ll probably have to wait to receive it, until she can appreciate it.  I’m keeping it in a safe place for Aviva,” Kim said.

DSC_1664 Pres DoorAt the Preservation Society of Charleston, there was a constant stream of book buyers stopping at our table. The afternoon was amazing with many book sales. Event organizer and book buyer Sarah Jenkins event ordered more before we left.

At Follypalooza, a constant stream of passersby visited our booth.

“I already bought your book at the pier!” a woman said.

Another couple Art and Edie Graham gave suggestions for other venues to OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAmarket Folly Beach Dances, and Katherine and Sam purchased four copies for their beach rentals.

A couple from Lake St. Louis showed up at our booth.  They lived mere minutes from us. What are the chances of that happening?

As we dropped off more books for the Preservation Society, we noticed Folly Beach Dances was front and center as you entered the store. Later that evening, we found our book displayed in the Folly Beach Pier store.

DSC_1660 FBG in Pres SocStopping at the Tides Hotel Starbucks to grab a cappucino, a young female barrista sported a tatoo on her upper left arm.

“What does that say?”

“There are no coincidences,” she smiled.

“There’s only God things.”

“You get it,” she said.

 

A Writer, a Cameraman, a Castlebuilder, and a Paddleboarding Dog

Early morning Saturday May 17, hubby, Russell and I parked the Chevy Equinox near the 40th Street beach access on Sunset Beach, North Carolina.

With cameras and canteens draped over our shoulder, and two excited canines by our sides, we hightailed it to the shoreline for the 40 minute trek to the Kindred Spirit Bench.

The Kindred Spirit Bench, located on Bird Island, North Carolina was recently featured on CBS News. It’s an inspirational spot where people from all over leave their thoughts in the many journals, housed inside the Kindred Spirit mailbox. An anonymous originator placed the box there some 30+ years ago. My friend Jacqueline DeGroot, and friend Sandy Payne, are the Keepers – transporting the filled journals safely to their destination – U of NC.

The vista of the dunes and beach as viewed from the bench is breathtaking. It’s the maple syrup to my pancake, the hot fudge to my sundae, the chocolate in my cappuccino. It’s simply divine!

On this radiant Saturday morning, people were walking in droves — numbers I’d never seen before down the shoreline. More than I’d encountered on my last two visits to the Kindred Spirit Bench.

A sultry summer’s day, the air was hot, the sea was calm, and I was in my element. Russell walked briskly, and I kept rhythm by scuffling my sandals against the hard–packed sand. With the dogs’ tags jingling, our Bernese Aussie mix trotted in bow-legged fashion, and our mini Australian Shepherd stepped lightly like a ballet dancer.

Along the way, we met a lovely couple, Justin and Ashley, and her parents. As we walked, we talked, and learned a lot about each other. A writer, Ashley liked to collect shells for her students as a way of expressing themselves. They lived a mere three hours from Sunset Beach, and visited the Kindred Spirit Bench the same time each year.

DSCN0830 the four of usSpotting the Kindred Spirit mailbox, we climbed the sand dune and sat on the bench. Ashley and I chatted more about writing means to both of us. Afterwards, the six of us each took a turn penning our thoughts in the journals. We snapped some photos together to capture the memory of our visit.

DSCN0826 Ashley and me

At the bench, we met a guy wearing a Jason Mraz hat, and some cool spectacles – Colin, and his Italian Greyhound, Dan. On our return walk, we talked about photography. Exchanging pleasantries, I discovered Colin was the cameraman for The Big Bang Theory, and Two and a Half Men. The Big Bang Theory is ONLY my husband’s favorite show.

We took a few breaks so the dogs could frolic. Dan, a mere 10 lbs., ran in circles on the firm sand while our 75 lb. Bernese Aussie mix chased him. Unable to trust our mini Aussie, she was given only 15 foot of lead to run. In her mind that wasn’t enough.

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Sauntering down the beach, we neared the 45th Street Beach Access. I spotted a young man in white shirt and black sunglasses building sandcastles, and told hubby, “I’ll be back.”

Upon my approach, I stood back for awhile, and just admired the artist at work.

 

DSCN0848 Lukas and sandcastle“Hey, that’s pretty cool,” I said in an upbeat manner.

“Thank you.”

“ That’s pretty intricate. You an architect?”

Shaking his head no he admitted he had no formal training but came from a family of castlebuilders. “I’m pretty much the only one that’s kept up the castlebuilding.”

His name was Lukas. With a ‘k’.DSCN0852 sandcastle

The sandcastle displayed his handcrafted pottery on different levels. He described himself as a visionary.

As I bid Lukas “Good Day” he neatly wrote his email address on a piece of paper, of which I took a snapshot. He didn’t carry business cards.

As I meandered back to the spot where hubby and Colin were standing, I noticed a young woman with a paddle board entering the water.

Following behind, a man with a board, and a big black dog, entered the ocean. Steadying the board, the woman hopped on, then kneeled. The man, placed the board on the water’s surface, and the black dog jumped on, balancing on all four legs. Amazing. The man jumped on, kneeling astride the dog. The three of them floated effortlessly in the shallows for sometime – a serene watercolor painting.

DSC_1585 roscoe paddleboard crop copyrThere’s something peaceful and magical a man and his dog bonding with the rhythm of the sea.

After the couple and dog exited the crystal clear water, I headed in their direction. Russell, Colin and the dogs followed behind. I was curious to learn about the surfboarding dog.

“What’s his name?”

“Roscoe.”

Close up, Roscoe made our dogs look insignificant and tiny. He was an enormous canine, and appeared lean and muscular under the mass of wet black hair. The couple admitted Roscoe started surfboarding as a pup, and loved it. As I shook hands, and bid my goodbyes, I let them know they’d just made my day.

DSC_1595 roscoe and his owner copyrNearing the 40th Street beach access, we spotted my in-laws waving at us.

And I think we made a new friend. After running into Colin all week, we just decided to exchange information.

colin and the dogsWe keep in touch through social media. I love seeing photos of Dan the Dog, who has his own twitter feed. Colin’s a talented photographer. Maybe he’ll meet us on the sandy shores of Sunset Beach next May, and make the trek to the Kindred Spirit Bench once more?

Hope you get the chance to make new friends on your journey through life.

Writers, photographers, cameramen, poets, painters, sculptors, and songwriters all creating their own dream.

And even paddleboarding dogs…

Folly Beach Dances – October events – South Carolina

Good things are coming down the pike!

We’ve got a full schedule for our book tour and events, and will be in Folly Beach real soon promoting FOLLY BEACH DANCES – The Infinite Rhythms of a South Carolina Seashore.

Here’s a list of some upcoming events in October.  You can find a full event listing at the official FOLLY BEACH DANCES website

We’re currently in the process of shipping more books to Amazon, but you can order from the book’s official website above. Books will be autographed and will include a surprise with each order in September and October!

 

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Folly Beach Dances booksigning

Black Majic Cafe

10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

103 West Erie Avenue

Folly Beach, SC

 

October 18, 2014

Follypalooza Cancer Fundraiser

Stop by our booth.  We’re sharing a booth with author, Diann Shaddox, “A Faded Cottage”!

11 a.m. to 5. p.m.

Center Street

Folly Beach, SC

 

October 15, 2014

Folly Beach Branch Library

Folly Beach Dances booksigning

2:30 to 3:30 p.m.

55 Center Street

Folly Beach, SC

 

October 14, 2014

Hollings Cancer Care Family Support Group Meeting

(Guest Speakers – Sheree and Russell Nielsen)LLS cancer care meeting oct 14 charleston001

86 Jonathan Lucas Street., Room 121

Charleston, SC 29425

11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

 

 

 

 

 

 

October 8, 2014

O’Fallon Photo Club Meeting

The book’s journey – Folly Beach Dances

7 p.m.

Renaud Spirit Center

2650 Tri Sports Circle

O’Fallon, MO 63366

 

 

 

A Photography Award, a Warrior Veteran, and Proud to Be

Last week I spent traveling through Arkansas for an upcoming story for AAA Southern Traveler and AAA Midwest Traveler. Along the way, I tasted food of all kinds – BBQ, pancakes, the most tender porkchops I’d ever eaten, and some good old-fashioned German chocolate pie with pecans (pronounced pe-cons not pee-cans according to Arkansonians) (did I say that right?).

But nothing surprised me as much as the letter that I received from the Missouri Humanities Council when I arrived home after a week of being on the road.

As I opened the envelope, I thought that it might be the contract for my November 8 workshop with veterans titled “Using Photographs to Tell a Story” at the Central Library in downtown St. Louis. I was mistaken.

Unfolding the letter, a rush of adrenalin overcome me. I let out a shrill scream. I think I scared my husband!

I was awarded First Place from the Missouri Humanities Council for my winning photograph of Jimmie, a Vietnam Vet, fishing on the pier at Sunset Beach, North Carolina. The photograph will be featured in Proud to Be: Writing by American Warriors; Volume 3. The judge was Bradley Phillips, professor of photography at Southeast Missouri State University.

This is the second time I’ve won First Place in this category from the Council. Last year I received the award for my inspirational photograph of Russell, my husband, penning his thoughts in a journal located at the Kindred Spirit Bench in North Carolina. The judge last year was Destinee Oitzinger, Art Director of the National Veterans Art Museum.

I am honored and thankful for this wonderful opportunity. I’ve also discovered that Sunset Beach is soon becoming MY Kindred Spirit….a peaceful respite….a quiet oasis….my love affair and good luck charm….

Below are the two award-winning photographs….

James “Jimmie” McInnis is a three-time Vietnam Vet, and recipient of the Bronze Star and Purple Heart who I met at the Sunset Beach pier in North Carolina. As a hero in action, he unthinkingly pulled four men from an ammo dump that was blown up by a v-device in Vung Tau. Jimmie is a testament to all people everywhere that love this country.

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Friends, the Lowcountry, and Thoughts on Life…..

Boy, it’s been awhile since I blogged. Time sure flies when you’re busy.

I spent last week in Folly Beach and Charleston, South Carolina in search of just the right places to market FOLLY BEACH DANCES, my ‘healing’ coffee table book.

Folly Beach Dances graces the shelves of independent bookstores in South Carolina – Blue Bicycle in Charleston, and Indigo Books on Kiawah Island, and the Folly Beach Pier giftshop. I’m very grateful for these opportunities to showcase my proudest mission, and journey.

While in South Carolina, I visited the sweet town of Summerville for the first leg of a freelance story, and visited a dear friend from Missouri. It was wonderful to share time together.

I enjoyed savory food, new sights, and the company of my best friend and Folly Beach Dances, contributing writer, Tina Solomon.Key Lime Pie - Eclectic Chef

We had some laughs, got lost a few times, met some interesting people, visited her family, and of course, spent time at the beach.

You know the beach just has it’s way of pulling you in.

Dreamy, creamy sunsets. The wild surf. The soft sand between your toes. The sultry nights. Long conversations with friends. I just love it all.

Tina and I on the beach

We even saw a couple young men twirling fire wands in the dark of night. It was mesmerizing.

And although the Carolinas are (by far) my favorite states, and I know I’ll be back in October for several book events, it’s always nice to come home to the ones you love. An understanding husband. Some goofy dogs. A couple of arrogant cats. Some Daddy Long Legs on the porch. The resident rabbits.

The scene from my kitchen table overlooking our property is priceless – cardinals, hummingbirds, rustic oak trees, and a squirrel scampering on our deck with not one, but two, walnuts in his mouth.

And as I sit here in the quiet of the house, penning this post, and watching my wonderful husband work with feet propped up on the ottoman, I’m thankful. Thankful for all the opportunities afforded me as a writer and photographer over the last six years.

Bordeaux at front door

The low hum of a motor sounds

in the distance.

 

The big dog

rests peacefully

astride the ocean-hued rug

gazing at the bounty of green

outside his door.

 

Sheree K. Nielsen, copyright Sept., 2014

Contributing Writer to FOLLY BEACH DANCES – Patt Hollinger Pickett

Patt and I go back about five years.  We met through Saturday Writers, St. Peters, Missouri. I immediately liked her great sense of humor, and her matter-of-fact personality.

When I was looking for poets and writers to contribute to my ‘healing’ coffee table book, FOLLY BEACH DANCES, Patt was one of my first picks.  Actually, all of the women in my writer’s critique group were first ’round’ picks.

Here are Patt’s reflections on one of the poems in the book titled “Pole Dance.”

Hope you enjoy!

15 DSC_0438 Pole dance darker copyr“The messages in the verses I wrote for Folly Beach Dances are rooted in my decades of experience as a professional writer, life coach, and therapist.

However, my imagination was instantly ignited by the crisp unique quality of Sheree and Russell’s photos.

I do not have a favorite of the five I contributed, but the life lesson in Pole Dance on page 30 is one to which all can relate. The stark angularity and tangled crisscrossing of the poles reminded me that life is never simple or running in a straight line.

And that while savoring success is important, embracing lessons from mistakes and crosses in our life is an enriching process that leads to newness and growth.”

Patt Hollinger Pickett, LMFT, M.Ed., Ph.D.
Author of The Marriage Whisperer
TheMarriageWhisperer.net

Patt Pickett - portrait

Karen White – a NYT bestselling author’s thoughts on our book, Folly Beach Dances

No emotions can describe the feeling I have right now, but I’ll try with some cliche catch phrases….

Over the Moon, Flippin’ Awesome, Crazy Happy, On Cloud 9, Rapturous, In 7th Heaven….

That’s how we felt when Karen White, NYT bestselling author of the Tradd Street Series and endorsed our book, Folly Beach Dances, and then shared her thoughts on facebook with more than 8,000 other followers!

I’d have to say it looks lovely on her table, doesn’t it?

Follow us on facebook   Folly Beach Dances and twitter @follybeachdance

Click on Karen White’s LINK for her review.

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All Dogs Say Their Prayers

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My husband started a cute routine with the dogs awhile back – a prayer before their meals. When the pooches spot him with their food bowls, they know it’s time for dinner, but importantly, it’s time to be silent and listen to what Daddy has to say.

I tried my hand at this concept this week at the beach. Food bowls in hand, I say a few words at each meal. On a couple of occasions, our mini Aussie who knows how to ‘say her prayers’ even bowed her head in reverence.

Today is our last full day at the beach, and I’m a little sad. I found it fitting to speak a gratuitous prayer for all dogs everywhere.

It’s pretty simple. Here’s how it goes –

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank you for all good (and bad) dogs all over the world.
Protect them in their travels with their owners.
Keep them safe from harm.

Bless their new canine friends,
And the people they’ve met along their journey.

Thank you for happy times at the beach and endless sunsets.

Let them experience new adventures.

Bless this food, and God Bless Brina and Mr. B.

Amen.

 

© Copyright, Sheree Nielsen 2014

 

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Dear Kindred Spirit – Take Three

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May 17, 2014

Dear Kindred Spirit,

It is on this gorgeous, sun-warmed day that I visit you for the third time in less than a year – first, with my friends Jacqueline and Sandy; second with my husband and our first rescue dog; and now with our most recent canine rescue.

I am constantly amazed by your everchanging majesty – waves crashing near the shore, seagulls soaring overhead, and dune grass dancing among coarse grains of sand. The nation’s splendor, our American flag, flies high in the powder puff blue yonder, and wrinkles present themselves in the weathered wood bench on which I rest – results from tides, past and present.

I love this place – from its breadth, and its impossible width, to the seashells and pine cones scattered about your foundation.

You are – God’s creation.

I am thankful for your grace, beauty and universality, the love of my husband and animal babies, and the ability to live out life’s passions.

Until we meet again,

I ♥ you, Kindred Spirit!

Sheree Nielsen

 

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@ShereeKNielsen and @follybeachdance on twitter

DSCN0830 all of us at the Kindred Spirit bench