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I have memories from before I was two years old. Vivid recollections that have been verified by my parents. But the ones that remain most powerful for me as the ones that filled me with wonder about people—especially myself. Why am I me? Why am I in this body? I wondered about my thoughts and feelings—and everyone else's, too. I had a strong internal sense of justice—what I determined to be right or wrong. When family trauma appeared, I tried to fix it, tried to be what everyone else needed. Being able to see that in others helped me be a good teacher and to see gifts in everything.
I grew up in the lakes and pines of northern Minnesota. As a kid, I loved building forts in the woods and snow. I loved canoeing in rivers, ice-skating on frozen lakes, swimming in them when they were warm, calling loons, sneaking up on rabbits, climbing trees, and exploring any new outdoor setting. Now I live on a Pacific Northwest island where everything is bigger—the water, hills, trees—and I'm still exploring!
My mom likes 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 to sing louder at a program, I was the only one who kept following that direction. 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 said we'd thank her some day. Thanks, Mom.
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, too. 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 chapter book like that.
I've always loved doodling, and when I was a kid I won a Tonka firetruck in a poster contest. My mom would volunteer to make posters for events and then have me help them with her. One of my teachers asked me to help with a big mural, and if asked 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 thought the items above were unrelated activities—but no! When I connect the dots, I see I've continued to follow my love of nature, dabbling in the arts, writing, and helping 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 (using four pillars of Self, Others, Nature, and Art), and becoming a creativity coach were all part of my path—as well as themes that regularly show up in my writing!
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 persistent, and that quality is the main reason I'm an author. So, off to elementary school...
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.
In second grade I had to sit out in the hall to finish my homework. I was a good student, but there were so many other things I wanted to do with my time!
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. That's how they looked to me, but I had never seen mountains. I 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.
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 one Steve in my class broke his arm after jumping higher than me, and the other Steve 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. And sometimes, writing is all about having fun!
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. Teachers, I can help you be a better writing teacher! Let's talk!
I've taught and coached writers of all ages, but what most people need is someone to help them find the "on" switch and then the "volume" one to turn down the voices that stop them. Isn't it time for you to find a new channel? I can help!
My goal is to inspire, inform, entertain, and support kids, teachers, writers, and creatives of all types and ages. My infrequent notes to readers and thinkers like you is how that becomes possible.