I'm so glad you stopped by!
I have memories from before I was two years old. But then, I was the unusual kid who would ask questions like Why am I me? I wondered what it would be like to be inside someone else. I also developed an early strong sense of justice. That's what I call it now. I'm guessing other kids might have called it being bossy. I wanted to fix people and to be what everyone else needed. Much much later, I figured out the only one I needed to "fix" was me!
I grew up in the lakes and pines of northern Minnesota. As a kid, I loved building forts in the woods and snow, canoeing in rivers, ice-skating on frozen lakes or swimming in them on searing summer days, calling loons, sneaking up on rabbits, climbing trees... Now I live on a Pacific Northwest island where everything is bigger—the water, hills, trees—and exploring it all still brings me joy!
My mom liked to tell a story about taking me along to a Sunday school class she taught when I was three. As she tried to get the group of older kids to sing louder at a program, I was the only one who complied. I loved to dance when she played piano. Mom said we had to take piano lessons for five years before we could decide if we wanted them. She made us practice before we could do anything else after school, saying we'd thank her some day. I did!
We didn't have a local library, but my grandmother, who was a teacher, gave us books. My mom read to us, and we always saw her reading. I remember Mrs. Jacobson, our school librarian, reading us Winnie the Pooh in first grade. I felt honored that she trusted us to understand a big book like that.
I've always loved doodling, and I once won a Tonka firetruck in a fire poster contest. My mom would volunteer to make posters for events and then have me do them. If you asked me back then what I wanted to be when I grew up, I'd say, "an artist!"
Our trick or treating included asking for donations to Unicef. We also sold poppies to support veterans. When my mom saw issues that hurt people in our town, she showed up at city and school meetings. My dad would drop whatever he was doing to help out anyone. It was expected of us, too. I petitioned to let girls take shop class, I made the neighborhood boys allow girls to play baseball with them.
When I connect the dots, I see I've continued to follow my love of nature, dabbling in the arts, writing, and supporting and speaking up for others. Teaching nature studies and environmental education courses, becoming a music and classroom teacher and a teacher-librarian, completing a master's degree project on teaching writing, facilitating continuing education courses for writing teachers, founding and directing an arts-based school, and becoming a creativity coach were all part of my path—as well as themes that show up in my writing! Connect your dots! What do you see?
The year my sister begged for a bride doll, I asked for a toy tractor. Before first grade (we didn't have kindergarten in my school), I learned to ride an adult-sized bicycle with no training wheels—in one day! I was proud of those skinned-up knees. My parents said I was stubborn, but now I call it persistence.
When I was in first grade, I wanted to impress my teacher with the cursive I had practiced at home. She made me do the work over. That was also the year my mom got a call from the school about me climbing across the top of the swing set at recess. What's wrong with that? I didn't fall!
In second grade I had to sit out in the hall to finish my homework. I was a good student, but I was easily distracted and forgot what I had to do now and then! Still happens...
I loved my third grade teacher. She asked me to stay in at recess to paint a mural. I thought mountains should be black with snow just at the top, but that's not what my teacher wanted. I had never seen mountains and felt badly that in her eyes, I got it wrong. I still liked her, and still have the necklace she gave me.
My fourth grade teacher was also the elementary principal, and those of us in her class knew why. She could control everyone all at once! We were as well behaved as possible. Outside of school, as my grandmother's good friend, she didn't even look the same to me.
Ah, but fifth grade... That's the year I rode my unicycle all around town and got published for the first time. My teacher had sent a poem I wrote into an organization that created a yearly anthology called Wonder Writers. It was a fun little poem, but when I taught fifth grade, my students were much better writers than I was at that age, and I'm still proud of them and all the writers I teach!
Then came sixth grade, the year I had a love-hate relationship with the two Steves in my class. Steve One broke his arm after jumping higher than me, and Steve Two beat me in a bicycle race. I might have been a bit competitive back then.
Writing gives me joy and meaning, I dabble in a handful of genres, but my true love is writing for kids. Stories are how we know ourselves and others, and how we make sense of the world.
Or try to!
I love to get teachers and kids writing! I've been a library, classroom, and music teacher, an arts-based school founding director, and continuing ed writing workshop instructor.
I've coached writers of all ages. Do you ever feel like you can't find the "on" switch to get started or keep going? Or you need help turning down the "volume" of inner voices?
I can help!
My goal is to inspire, inform, entertain, and support kids, teachers, writers, and other creatives. My infrequent notes to readers and thinkers like you is how that becomes possible.