"Come sit with me under a tree and let me tell you a story…"
I grew up in a creative, loving household in Colorado Springs, Colorado with two sisters, a brother and many animals. There was always a stray cat, dog, bird, or lizard that my brother or sister would bring in. We had a yard that felt so big to me I felt the entire world lived there. I was never bored outside. I loved the endless curiosity and learning that my parents promoted, and it all began with books. My parents created books together. My mom was a writer and my dad a photographer, so of course there were endless books about artists, ranchers, photographers, the West and many more. I’d watch them endlessly layout pages about their books and I remember at a very young age telling myself that I’d grow up one day to create books just like them. I remember one night (it was way past my bedtime) as I watched my mother type away on her typewriter into the night and I thought, that’s what I want to do when I grow up! I loved my childhood, even though my parents divorced when I was young, it was still a magical time filled with books, exploration and wonder of the natural world around me.
In school, I loved science and anything that was hands on, and of course reading time. I loved storied that took me places, like TheSwiss Family Robinson or The Borrowers by Mary Norton. I loved how creatively they used small things like a spool of thread for a table, or a paper clip to hang their clothes on. And of course I loved ALL of the Dr. Seuss and Maurice Sendak books. I also spent a lot of time reading anything written by E.B. White, Roald Dahl and C.S. Lewis.
In middle school, despite wanting to be outside all the time, I still loved reading. I read Harriett the Spy, Freaky Friday and probably more C.S. Lewis. By 6th grade I was brave enough to write a poem for a school wide poetry contest titled, Freedom Is…
Later on in high school I wrote a poem that was published in the school literary magazine titled,
A Child’s Life
“A child’s life is too tender and precious to be wasted or destroyed.
A child’s life is filled with daydreams, laughter and untouched fairylands.
A child is someone who passes through your life, and then disappears into an adult.”
High school was hard for me. I went to a private school because my mother valued a good education, but I found it hard to fit in. Most of the other kids were from other states, even countries. I read a lot of Hugh Prather and the poetry of Kahlil Gibran. I loved my English classes, but found I also enjoyed mountaineering classes as well. I participated in rock climbing, winter camping and cross-country skiing. As a class in 11th grade we went on a seven day winter camping trip, but we got lost. We made snow caves and ate what food we had: bread, oatmeal and sugar. There were no cell phones back then, so a teacher skied back for help. Three days later an army Chinook helicopter rescued us. I was really glad to be home.
Back to writing…what has always helped me when faced with adversity, is writing. I’ve written in a journal since I was about twelve years old. I find if I can get my thoughts out on paper, or what’s worrying me, I’ll feel better. While in high school I had some pretty interesting summer jobs. I worked on a ranch in North West Colorado at thirteen years old. It was hard for me to be away from home at that age, but the family I stayed with took great care of me. I loved all the animals on the ranch especially the wild horses, buffalo, sheep, pigs and the many cats. (But not the rattlesnakes!) I loved animals so much that the next summer I worked at a kennel outside of Aspen, Colorado that had eighty-nine sled dogs. I think I made friends with each and every one of them. It was an experience I’ll never forget.
I went to Evergreen State College in Olympia Washington for two years and studied Environmental Education, I was convinced I wanted to be a forest ranger. But I was homesick and ended up back home to regroup. I graduated from Pine Manor College outside of Boston with a degree in Business Management with a minor in English: Writing & Literature. After I graduated, I got my first job at a publishing company in Boston! I worked in their textbook sales division and loved it. My passion for writing was only a little spark at this time as I had to pay rent and subway fares. As time went on, I met my husband and we eventually settled in Connecticut. When my kids were in school, I worked on my craft, was a substitute teacher and worked for Scholastic as a Book Fair representative. I have three boys who make me proud each and every day. We enjoy spending time on Cape Cod together in the summer, walking the beach, kayaking and crabbing. I currently live in a quiet neighborhood surrounded by cornfields and the rolling hills of Northern Connecticut with my husband, my fifteen year old son and two very spoiled Dachshunds named Baxter and Bella.
Your experiences make you who you are. Hold onto the truth in those experiences and write about them. If there’s any advice I can give about writing it’s this: Be yourself. No one can write the stories you can. Reach for the stars and to quote Winston Churchill, “Never give up. Never give up. Never give up. Never, never, never, never, never.”