I always find it difficult to introduce myself. I never quite know where to start. Do I use the traditional chronological approach and tell you that I was born in Los Angeles, but through a strange series of events that could fill a couple of novels all on their own, I ended up with a new adoptive family when I was almost five and I grew up in Springfield, Oregon. I didn’t venture too far from home when I chose to go to Western Oregon University (formerly known as Western Oregon State College). After toying with the idea of being an Art major, I eventually was persuaded to pursue a more versatile degree. I chose to major in Psychology and minor in Business.
It’s at this point that my introduction process becomes complicated. Do I talk about my personal or my professional accomplishments next? It is almost impossible for me to separate them; they are inexorably linked.
The summer of my sophomore year, I met my “happily ever after.” Without his loving support, I would not have been able to accomplish a fraction of what we’ve tackled together. At first it wasn’t easy to recognize him as “the one” since he came disguised in green polyester pants and a white snap-up cowboy shirt. At twenty-one, I wasn’t expecting to find my prince charming at all. But, he was tenacious—asking me to marry him on the first night we met and informing me that he planned to be the father of my children.
Understandably, I laughed. But, he won me over with his charm and big heart and he has had the last laugh. We recently celebrated our 27th wedding anniversary. One of the things I love the most about my husband is that he really doesn’t seem to notice that I have severe cerebral palsy and use a huge power wheelchair. For reasons that escape me, he still thinks I am the sexiest woman alive even after I had two children and have all the scars to show for it.
I gave birth to my first son while I was still an undergraduate. I remember frantically trying to finish my Creative Writing paper with one hand while nursing him. In those days, my husband worked the graveyard shift. I don’t recommend this arrangement if your child has colic. However, I did survive and went to graduate. I worked in a series of social service jobs, but I sensed I needed more letters after my name if anyone was going to take me seriously. So, without even the smallest flinch, my husband supported my decision to start law school when my son entered the first grade. He made incredible sacrifices to allow me to be successful. He drove me to school and slept in the law library so that he could work the graveyard shift and ate endless packages of top ramen while he kept the household running.
As a result, I was able to focus on school and graduated in the top 15% of my class at Willamette Law School with both a Doctorate Degree in Jurisprudence and a certificate in Alternative Dispute Resolution. I worked primarily in the field of Civil Rights Law and Disability Law. I put my career on hold to have another child, my precious miracle after many years of secondary infertility and recurrent loss; I do not have a private practice, although I am currently serving as pro-bono legal counsel for non-profit domestic violence shelter.
Ahh, the children. I know this is supposed to be all about me, but will you please indulge me a moment to be a proud mom? My oldest son, Brandon, is now 26 and he is probably wishing I had chosen a really clever pen-name right about now. He recently graduated from a really great small liberal arts college with degrees in Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Philosophy. After serving in AmeriCorps, he was accepted into medical school where he is studying Osteopathy. As you can tell, he is wickedly smart. Yet, he is also kind and extremely funny–if you like your humor on the dry side—even though he can be shy.
My youngest child, Justin, is in many ways the opposite of his brother. There isn’t an audience he doesn’t want to entertain. This makes for some interesting trips to the grocery store. He is not such a big fan of school, choosing to focus on his ambition of becoming the best video blogger on the planet. It’s a pretty lofty goal, considering that he is twelve.
Both boys enjoy helping me with my hobbies of cooking and cake decorating. Justin makes a mean loaf of banana bread, if I do say so myself.
I also have three “children” of the canine persuasion with very large personalities. Two of them were rescued from the Humane Society.
I have always devoured books with a passion. From Judy Blume–who taught me all the really important lessons about being a teenager, to my Nancy Drew books that gave me permission to be “the smart girl”, I read almost anything I can get my hands on. It would almost be easier (although very rude) for me to tell you who I don’t like rather than to single out just a few (I have over 3,000 books). Linda Kage has been a huge influence on me. I have a few folks including Christie Walker Bos, K. A. Tucker, Robin Carr, Marie Force, Kristen Ashley, Shiloh Walker, Brenda Jackson, Karen Rose and that are auto-buys for me. Yet, I feel a bit limiting my list because there are so many other authors, well known and otherwise, that I am equally passionate about.
Reading has opened worlds to me that I could have never dreamed of. I hope it does the same for you.
For the love of reading,