I am a Christian and I attend St. Paul’s Anglican Church in Greenville, SC. My husband, Bob and I moved from Richmond, VA to Greenville, SC after our wedding in October, 1987. We have one son, Robert Andrew, born in 1995.
In January, 1999, we moved to the outskirts of Greenville to a small (it was small in 1999) town called Simpsonville, SC where we reside today. Rob graduated from Mauldin High School, attended Greenville Technical College, and is now working for USPS. Bob is an Electrical Engineer with his PE license, (That is like an accountant with a CPA behind his name. He had to take a grueling test to certify for his PE license.) and plans to retire soon.
As for me, I was born and raised in Asheville, NC in the late 1950’s. I have one sister, who is almost seven years older than me, and one brother, who is almost two years older than me. My father was the Plant Manager for several furniture companies such as Ethan Allen, Morgan Brothers in Old Fort, NC, Martinsville Furniture in Martinsville, VA, Steelcase in Asheville, NC, Singer, and others that I can not remember. My mother was a registered nurse in an administrative position (Director of Maternal Child Care) at Memorial Mission Hospital. That was long before Memorial Mission and St. Joseph’s Hospitals merged.
When I was ten years old, I began dancing ballet under a dancer called “Arthur”. I do not remember his last name; only Arthur. He was a beautiful dancer and Cindy was the prima ballerina in our school (The Asheville School of Ballet). She was so graceful and together, they were awesome – just like a fairy tale. Cindy was definitely one to look up to; however, I was only ten and all I wanted to do was play and have fun. Mrs. Weaver (the ballet “mother”) kept watch over me for two years; coming to my dance practice and talking to my mother. After two years, I advanced into toe shoes and became a member of the Asheville Ballet Company.
And THEN at age thirteen, my true passion was revealed to me – horseback riding! I had always wanted a horse and begged my parents to buy me one. This was long before I took ballet and I guess the ballet sidelined the “horse fever” for a while. But not for long! My parents agreed to let me have a horse, only I had to pay for the horse myself.
Two years after I had been riding, Arthur came to me and explained that while ballet was limbering and loosening my muscles, the horse-back riding was tightening my muscles and the two did not work well together – AT ALL! I had to make a decision. It would have to be ballet or horses. I held out as long as I could because I really did enjoy ballet, the gracefulness, and being so tall (6’2″) helped me with my posture. My mother prayed that I would choose ballet because it was not as expensive as horse-back riding (my sister was about to graduate high school and go off to college). Who had ever heard of a 6’2′ ballerina. The men just were not made 6’4″ or taller back then! Horses would definitely challenge my parents’ “pocketbooks” ( My parent’s ha, I had to pay for almost anything I wanted or needed). However, after two more years of ballet, I had to make the choice; it would be horseback riding!
I began taking riding lessons at the Venable Riding Academy. Where I learned to ride English and to stay on my horse while going over jumping course(s). Back then it was called “hunt-seat” riding. There was not any three-day eventing, dressage, hunter jumper, or saddle seat, just hunt seat and equitation like there is today.
In the show arena the “Go As You Please” class meant anyone could enter the class whether he rode English or Western. The classes were judged based upon how well the rider’s horse responded to his “aids”. (Those are the little squeezes, nudges, and urges the rider would tell his horse by the “seat of his pants” or leg and/or foot.) I’ll never forget the class; I placed fifth with a total of six other riders! It didn’t matter to me. I felt like I had shown my parents that I could do it!
The “equitation” classes were judged not only on how well the horse responded to the rider’s aids, but also how well the rider rode and whether or not the judge could SEE the rider cue his horse for the gait or technique that had been requested, and whether the horse responded immediately; how the rider held his or hands, thumbs, feet, head, neck, back, arms, and the legs must be held quiet (no movement at all). Oh, and you HAD to “KEEP THOSE HEELS DOWN”!
While growing up in Asheville, I was able to board my horse at the Biltmore Saddle and Bridle Riding Stables. While I was there, I met many people with the opportunity to ride on the Biltmore House Estate. I met Mrs. Meme Cecil (who is the great great grandchild of Mr. Vanderbilt – the builder and original owner of Biltmore House) and she gave me permission to ride on the beautiful grounds of the Estate.
My mother and I were very active in the riding community in Asheville. I joined the US Pony Club and helped start the Buncombe County Horsemen’s Association. I wish I could say that the two adventures were challenging; however, I loved horses so much that anything having to do with horses felt like a privilege to me.
In the meantime, I had to work to afford my horse(s), the entry fees, and transportation to the horse shows. So, while I was attending Biltmore Elementary School and Valley Springs Elementary School, I learned and practiced on my riding skills. And then I began showing while attending T.C. Roberson High School in Skyland, NC.
To afford my riding, I had to pay for my horse and riding lessons. Which meant I had to get a job and work. I got a job at Memorial Mission Hospital and while I was there I worked in many different departments at the hospital and also at St. Joseph’s Hospital. That was the start of my career in the Healthcare industry.
In 1976, my father’s work took us to Martinsville, VA, where I moved my horse, joined the Virginia 4-H Team, and continued to work in healthcare and to show at small area shows. I learned very quickly that the Virginians were very serious about showing and the proper way to show; the correct apparel (habit) to wear, and tack (saddle and bridle) one used.
I continued to ride until May, 1977, when my back began hurting. I had noticed the pain while taking ballet but had learned to calm down the muscles in my back in order to go to sleep at night, but I never thought anything was wrong. And my back never hurt badly enough to keep me from riding. Until one night, after a very short trail ride, my back began hurting so bad that I barely made it back to the barn, let alone take my saddle and bridle off my mare, brush her, cool her down, feed and water her, and then drive home. The driving scared me the most because I could not feel my right leg or foot; I had to accelerate and brake with my left foot. It took me a while, but I finally made it home. Mom quickly made an appointment for me to see a family-practitioner named Dr. Blanton. It was approximately two weeks before I could see Dr. Blanton and by the time my appointment came, I was feeling much better and my mother (did I mention my mother was a registered nurse – just as bad as a doctor(!)) would not allow me to ride during the time up until my appointment!
Finally, the time came for me to see Dr. Blanton and no matter how hard I tried, I could not get my back to hurt to explain the terrible pain that I had previously experienced. Dr. Blanton walked into the room; I began trying to explain how my back and leg no longer hurt. He had me sit on the end of the exam table, went to where my long legs hung off the table, raised one foot and leg to straighten it out, and the pain, ooh, the pain. It all came rushing back. I cried the pain was so bad and had to lie down in the fetal position and draw my legs up to my chest to get some relief from the pain. His words were, “Yep, I thought so. And the next one to go will be in her neck!” He referred me to a neurologist, Dr. William Chadduck. Dr. Chadduck had some tests run on my back (a myelogram and a spinal tap), and determined that I might have a herniated disc. Only surgery would tell for sure. The surgery was scheduled for the next morning. After the surgery, I learned that I had herniated or ruptured my lumbar 4, 5, and sacral 1, 2 discs. I also heard him tell my mother that I had a degenerative-disc disease and that I would have more problems in the future.
I was in the hospital for ten days and on the last day I asked Dr. Chadduck when I would be able to start riding again. He gave me a look that made my heart sink and I just knew (or thought I knew) that my riding days were over. What was I going to do? I was living my dream and all to be lost at age 19. As time went on, I found the surgery was exactly what I needed and horseback riding actually helped my back recover by strengthening my core muscles.
While I lived in Virginia, I began attending a private community college in Collinsville, Va, were I fell in love with my “first true love”. These feelings were quite unique and I knew I’d never felt them before. Our relationship lasted only three months and unfortunately it did not come to a happy ending.
My parents had moved back to Asheville at the time and I was renting an apartment to stay at school and near my “first love”. After a while, I realized that I could not hold down a full-time job, a relationship, and a full-time school curriculum, so I called my father and asked him if I could move back home to attend Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, NC, where I could earn my bachelor’s degree. However, I interrupted my schooling in 1980 by marrying someone from the Asheville area and we moved to Maryville, TN, where we lived for two years. My husband’s, (Jim) work then took us to Richmond, VA where he worked for a tobacco company, Brown and Williamson.
While living in Richmond, I began working at Johnston-Willis Hospital as an Accounting Clerk (this was while I was finishing my bachelor’s degree at WCU. I was taking classes at Virginia Commonwealth University at night to obtain the credits I needed to graduate from WCU) . I had the credits transferred back to Western Carolina and was able to graduate with my degree in Financial Accounting. In May of 1985, I went through a divorce from the man I’d met in Asheville. Who, by the way, was very jealous of my degree and the jobs proposals that started coming my way.
My first real Accounting job, I accepted was a non-healthcare position as a Cost Accountant at ER Carpenter. I learned quickly that the manufacturing industry and the healthcare industry were very different and I DID NOT like manufacturing. So, I acted quickly upon my desire to return to healthcare; Johnston Willis happened to have a position available for me. I was hired as a Staff Accountant and within a year, I was promoted to Senior Accountant and then on to Assistant Controller.
A couple of years after the divorce, I began dating a nice gentleman, Bob, and we married in October, 1987. In November, 1987, Bob’s work took us back to the Carolina’s and I went to work for Mary Black Hospital as a Reimbursement Manager. Nine months later, I was promoted to Accounting Manager and after two and a half years I was promoted to Controller. I occupied that position until after the birth of our son in 1995. My occupation in the Accounting/Healthcare field has taken me to many places I never thought I’d go. I had the privilege of working for some WONDERFUL bosses in the Hospital Corporation of America (especially the ones in Richmond, Va and the HCA Management Corporation located in Charlotte, NC). In 1989, I began studying for my master’s degree in Healthcare Administration at Clemson University in Clemson, SC.
In 2003, my son, Rob, and I began taking Karate. My Sensei was brutal on me. He expected the best from everyone in the class and I must say, I gave it my best! I elevated from white belt to yellow to orange to blue to advanced blue to green to advanced green and was about to take my test for the purple belt when Rob earned his black belt. I continued for a short while, but it just was not any fun to go by myself. I began getting ill and my Sensei began noticing my muscle instabilities. So I decided to stop karate in 2007 when my father became ill with lung cancer and passed away.
One of my doctors prescribed me to return to riding horses. This was great and helped me to relax – until 2014 when I had an accident that ended my riding all together. I was attempting to mount (get in the saddle) my warm-blood mare that was 17.2 hands tall (1 “hand” is 4 inches in height and the horse’s height was measured from the ground to the top of his wither. That meant Indy was 70 inches from the ground to the top of her wither – not her head – where the saddle fit), I lost my balance and fell off. Once again I ended on my heiny and hurt my back. I crushed my T12 vertebrae and had to have a procedure called Kyphoplasty. The thirty years that I rode, I experienced several falls while jumping horses, and crazy horses throwing me to plain stupidity on my own part. I’m surprised I lasted as long as I did. I have had some wonderful instructors here in Greenville (one of which was Simon Eades from England, and Mihran Dulgeroglu from Istanbul) and I must say, all of them have shared their incredible riding experiences with me.
Since then I’ve gone back to quilting, sewing and designing couture garments, home fashions, knitting, polymer clay, painting, and making sterling-silver jewelry. I hope to, one day, be able to place my treasures online to sale. Keep watching this site … you never know what I might come up with next!
If you would like to talk with me or are interested in the things that I make and do, please feel free to contact me at email@example.com, or on this WordPress web page by replying to my thought provoking sayings. I hope to be opening a website called cumminsconcepts.com before too long. However, I have a lot of work to do until then. Take care and be sure to check “follow” on my blog page, make a comment, or give me suggestions on how I can make my blog better. Oh, I’m also getting into miniatures – 1″ scale. I’ve very excited about this new endeavor!