I am a dreamer, a searcher, a story teller. I am on a journey through life and through time, a lover of history as well as of what the future might bring. I invite you to walk beside me for a while, share my space and enjoy the fantasy as well as the realities of life and all of it’s unknowns!
Ahhhh Ok, today I am going to break with my usual policy of not talking about myself. Normally, I try to keep the focus on my creations and general interests but I’ve decided to give you some insight on my life and how I came to be who and what I am today. Perhaps you’ll catch a glimpse of yourself in my story and you will be inspired to take your own leaps of faith and broaden your own horizons! Much of this information is probably listed somewhere in my profile should anyone have ventured there. I am not going to write down my entire life story here for you, just a short abbreviated version so you can understand a little of how my ever winding journey has brought me to this space!
I was born and raised in a small isolated mining town in Northern Minnesota. Even from my earliest childhood memories, my one consuming thought was to leave and see the rest of the world, the places and people that I read about in books. I think that from the time I learned to read, I was not content to stay where I was at. I was gifted, or cursed at such a young age with a very vivid imagination and an overpowering need to tell stories. When I was little, that imagination and story telling desire was by no means a blessing! In my desire to live out those fantasies, to have a different life than what I was given, I shared my little fantasies and stories with anyone who would listen… I did not understand yet how to weave the stories and share them as stories, I simply wove them into my life and presented them as that. It was a difficult lesson to learn as a small child. I did not quite realize then that my stories, my imaginings and my wishful thoughts when presented in that way would cause so much hurt. When I look back on it now, I guess I could put it in some positive aspect in that my stories were well told enough that my childhood audience initially believed them? Then of course, they became quite suspicious and disbelieving… that was when I was suddenly and painfully ostracized from those former friends who became cruel and accusing. I sincerely wish that someone back then had taken the time to explain some differences to me, to understand my imagination and direct me to the process of writing it all down as what it was, a story! Fortunately for me, there were a few kind children who were willing to overlook my childhood blunder of story telling excesses. I do still remember one of them with much appreciation and fondness, for she did make the connection. During that summer of banishment and ridicule from the other children, one girl, Lynnea, reached out to me and accepted me. She also made a suggestion which I eventually took to heart. I can still recall her simple words, “You tell such good stories, you should write them down!” That simple idea had never occurred to me before! From that time on, I wrote, almost as much as I read.
I am not going to go into all of the painful details of my life growing up in that small town or the specifics of a difficult family life, other than to mention that for so many reasons, I felt as though I never quite fit there- either in my family, or in that town. I was constantly searching for something else, something I knew I couldn’t find there. Of course as a teen, one is never really sure what they’re searching for. For me it was the same, I didn’t know what I was searching for, I only knew I was not going to find it where I was! I was full of dreams, ambitions, thoughts of the bigger picture, and as someone once put to me, I couldn’t see the forest for the trees in my way. When I was dreaming of a future, I saw writing in it. My Father, how ever did not! His thoughts on that were, “Well that’s a nice hobby, Now what kind of job are you going to do?” Ever practical, he was determined that I should go to school and learn an acceptable job skill such as nursing, teaching, maybe as a secretary since I did like to write? That was his reference to my writing ability… he decided against the secretarial option when he saw my grades for office procedures such as typing and book keeping! Well, he reasoned, there was always nursing or teaching! He laughed when I mentioned that my high school English teacher had suggested that I pursue a career in writing… His answer to that was, “So, how do you plan to support yourself with that?” Suffice to say, my Father won his arguments and his battles for the time being. I was steered in the practical, acceptable direction of going to school for x-ray technology. That career pursuit lasted about 6 months! While I found it interesting, it was definitely not something I felt any strong desire to make a career of… especially after passing out in the OR being harshly dragged out and being told never to return to by a very irate Surgeon! Well, Dad was annoyed by this failure on my part but eventually did agree to my attending the local junior college instead and hopefully then going for what he felt was the last remaining option, teaching… or Heaven forbid, Social work?! I spent some time at college, all the while still searching for that elusive missing what, that unknown?
After realizing and accepting that the unknown was still out there calling to me stronger than ever, I began looking around and seeing what my life was… I was frustrated with all of it, and scared of what a future would look like for me if I continued to stay where I was. One night after far too much alcohol, which was becoming my personal means of coping with the situation, another friend came to my rescue with yet another fairly simple observation. It is one of those defining moments, where you recall it perfectly as if it were just yesterday. It was 5am in the morning, the sun was just coming up as I sat on the front step of some acquaintance’s home, crying over my seeming inescapable life situation. Yet another night of binge drinking and the usual disasters that followed, I was at a point where I knew I couldn’t go on but not sure what to do about it. As I sat there, a friend sat down with me. He didn’t have to ask what was wrong, he knew, I think all that was wrong with my life, had struggled with it himself. We sat there for a while silently when he made the simple statement, “Get the Hell out of here, do what ever it takes but leave and don’t look back!” For a moment I just stared at him in confusion, unable to respond to his remark. He went on, “Do you want to wake up ten years from now staring at yourself in the mirror asking yourself what happened?” I nodded my head and thought on his observations while he went on. “Just pack your shit and leave otherwise you’re going to be one of those people you laugh at now, sitting at the end of the bar with a name engraved on your chair. You’ll be married to some guy you don’t like with four or five kids and no way to get out then.” His picture painted a clear enough image… one that I had already imagined before in my head many times before. But, to hear someone else point it out vividly and starkly is always a bigger wake up call! So, after all of these years, I look back on that moment, that conversation and that friend whom I never saw again and say very sincerely, Thank you so much Bob for those words of drunken wisdom! You most likely never knew how much they meant, or how they changed my life. I am reasonably sure that you don’t even remember that event but Thank you from the bottom of my heart anyway!
That was a turning point in my life, and shortly after that, I did pack my shit and leave, not to look back for quite some time! My search landed me at the office of an Air Force recruiter and for that experience in life, no matter how difficult those years were, I am also forever thankful! Those years were part of my search, my quest for that ever elusive unknown purpose in life. I was finally able to go out on the journey I was meant to. It taught me respect, responsibility, gave me self confidence, opened my eyes to the world around me and proved to me what a much bigger picture I was a part of. During those years of self discovery, I met so many new people with other beliefs, other religions and cultures to share. I believe that it truly was such a part of my journey, my destiny and shaped my views on life and the world so much more than those earliest years ever could have. Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful now for having had the chance to grow up in that small town and learn some of those basic values that my family instilled in me. What I do understand now is that it was only such a small part of what I needed to learn and experience! Those early years of stories, books, fantasies and day dreams were tempered with the real life lessons that I learned in the larger world of humanity.
Through all of those years my love of reading and writing never subsided. My years in the military gave me the opportunity to live in Europe for two years and experience a great deal of the world I had only read about in books. It was during those years that I developed an even more intense passion for all things of history! Seeing all of those places I had only read about was such an inspiration for me to write about, to create images of and learn more about. After I got out of the military and returned to Minnesota to raise my children, my life settled into the daily realities of being a single parent, working full time, going to school, raising kids and helping my now older parents. There was little time left for anything else other than those things.
I do want to say that over the years, my Dad mellowed in his views and eventually became my strongest supporter in all my efforts to find myself. No, he was not happy at first with my decision to join the Air Force… he fully expected me to be back home within a few weeks and admonished me that this was one of my more reckless and thoughtless ventures yet. He warned me that this was not something I could just quit when I decided it wasn’t for me, then clearly expected me to try to quit. He was fully prepared for me to fail at it and I think he was already in his head disappointed in me before I even tried it? It could have had something to do with my Mother’s feelings though as well… She was heart broken at the thought of my leaving and put the blame on my Father for it. She believed that he had encouraged me to leave with his stories of his own youth and his travels, and with the fact that he would no longer support me in my present schooling. Once he realized that I was serious, that I did not intend to quit or fail, and that I was accomplishing this goal I had set for myself, he was encouraging on all of my trials through the military experience. When I announced that I had found a way to get assigned to Germany, I think he was more excited than me! And, when I re-enlisted, he apologized for all of his previous doubts. My Mother, on the other hand, while she was happy that I was succeeding and accomplishing something, wanted nothing more than for me to be home and closer to her. When I got out of the military and returned home to Minnesota, she cried and hugged me… please understand, we are not a huggie feelie type family so this was an ultimate display for her! My Father was disappointed that I chose not to make a career of the military but he understood my reasons, and really he was more than happy to have his grandkids close to him.
I spent years struggling to go to school, work and raise my kids. My parents were there through it all with me, backing me, encouraging me and supporting me in every way possible. I thank them for that, am blessed to have had their help and can honestly say that we are far better off for having made the move back to them. One of the few moments that I saw my Father shed tears was when I graduated from college. Ohhh, and later when I granted his earlier wish for me to have an “acceptable” job… I spent seven years as a pre-school teacher! Turns out that he was right in one respect… I definitely needed a job that would pay the bills and allow me to raise my children without us all starving, or having to resort to living with Grandpa and Grandma! Besides supporting my education and job efforts, he became my staunchest encourager in all things creative as well. I remember when he helped me purchase a home computer all those years ago when it was a rarity and sinful luxury rather than a common “every home has one” item. He saw how I so desperately wanted one, and felt a need for one in many respects. My initial reasoning was that it was important for the kids to have this tool for the future. He agreed with that and then softly made another comment, “It would be a lot easier to write on too, wouldn’t it?” I didn’t answer him then, just shrugged it off and kept trying to save my money for it. He came to visit close to Christmas that year and simply said, “Let’s go look at that computer you need.” He helped me finish paying for it and never said another word against the folly of my writing or my creating. Maybe he realized that it was my one outlet, my one connection to that other world I had left behind when I came home to them. My parents were both strong believers in education and learning. They instilled that in me, in my children and I thank them for that. They also instilled in me a sense of family and the importance of family ties. My Mother was one of those that I consider a Family record keeper. She was the oldest in her family and always kept in close touch with all of her family. She was one who knew the secrets… whether she chose to tell them is an entirely different matter and she had her reasons for keeping them. My Father less so of a record keeper but he instilled a feeling of families being important whether they were with you or not, whether you talked to them or not, liked them or not, they were family. In one of my last conversations with my Father, he did not have to come out and say he was dying… we both knew he was, he very calmly added at the end of the conversation, “Make sure you take care of your Mother.” His passing was one of the hardest things I have ever gone through in life and even after 20 years it still isn’t any easier. For five years after his leaving, I did take care of my Mom, and in some respects it was the best five years we had together. I say this because I came to know her as a person, a friend, and not just a Mom. I finally understood her better as she shared more of her past, her history with me. We spent time together as friends and she shared her childhood, her youth and her secrets with me. She encouraged me as well, to find my happiness, my path in life where ever it might lead.
One of my Mom’s last wishes in life was to find out more about her family, to find ones she had lost and I believe it was her wish to settle much of the secrecy that she had held on to over the years. I helped her with that and it led me down my own path of discovery. Helping her fill in the blanks involved a great deal of genealogy research, which I found I had my own passion for! It is an ongoing part of my life which I have shared with and passed on to my own daughter. It is all part of that never ending quest, that thirst for knowledge and answers about the world… the past, the present and the future.
Over the past years of my journey, I have learned that my search for that elusive unknown quantity is ongoing. It’s not something easily found or recognized and it’s not a search that has an ending… well, not at least until I reach the end of this life and go on to the next place, where hopefully then there will be some answers! It’s not like a search for the right thing, or place or job… no it’s nothing like that. It’s a search within yourself and the world around you for that next step in your journey, it’s more a search for the next clue rather than and ending result? The search and the journey are what makes you who you are, who you become later. It’s a never ending journey through time because I do believe that when this light dims, when this door closes, a new opens to us on that path!
My writing, my creating has always been a part of me from my earliest years with paper dolls and doll houses, to my story telling, my first attempts at writing it all down, my explorations with various outlets from candle making, doll house building, graphic designs, photos, cooking, computer simulations… they are all just a part of my need to express myself, to share a part of that which makes up me and to go on with the journey!