Writing has been a skill I have worked hard to improve for as long as I can remember. As much as I believe I was born to be a teacher, I have made myself a writer. I live with my husband and two sons, who are my most indulgent, devoted supporters. And, I teach 8th grade English students, for whom I continue to seek my greatest potential, for my best will influence their endless possibilities.
I was born in Massachusetts and moved to Pennsylvania before I could walk. I grew up the eldest of three, the only girl, and that’s just the way I still prefer it. As a child, my mother tells me I was very helpful to her with my two younger brothers, although she claims she never meant to do to me what her mother did to her. She said she apologized for engaging me in “mother’s helper” duties, but I don’t remember. Nor has it ever bothered me. Being the big sister has helped me become the mother I am today (as have many of the other lessons she unintentionally taught me) by understanding how two boys can play tug-o-war over toys and moments later beg to sleep side by side reading bedtime stories together.
I was a chubby little girl who did what she was supposed to do most of the time in school and out. I was not meant to be an athlete. My one season playing softball was my lesson in not quitting something I’ve started. The rest I wish I could forget. I was a Brownie and a Girl Scout for a while, and I learned some good lessons from those kind, smart, creative women. If any of you are reading this, thank you for teaching me how to be a reliable friend, give myself a manicure, how to properly make a bed, and how important it is to make time for other people. I played the piano and the violin—both short lived, but I was introduced to the world of music.
I began singing in the middle school chorus under the talented direction of another wonderful woman who I know still supports anything creative I undertake. I caught that theatre bug that gets some people get sick while others learn how to manage it like a seasonal allergy. I spent the next fifteen years performing in musical theatre and experiencing the humility and pride that comes with singing in front of audiences on stage in a range of roles that have become a part of who I am today. A few of my favorites are Rizzo in Grease, Liat in South Pacific, and the Narrator in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. I remember my grandparents (I miss them a whole lot) taking me on my first trip to NYC and seeing Joseph…. I still can see the stage lights and smell the makeup in the air. Pursuing Broadway was one of my first dreams; I rode that fantasy to college, but then the practical side of me outlasted those musical dreams. My best friend and I have a lot of memories from these experiences that would probably make some really interesting stories, but as the saying goes, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.”
My parents divorced when my brothers and I were in high school, and as I am now a parent, I can look back and say that we are better adults for it. I now enjoy my relationships with my parents and understand that strong, intelligent people learn from their mistakes and move on. They don’t dwell in the past and they don’t preserve pain. This would probably count as one of those lessons that were unintentionally taught. There are a lot of those, now that I think about it.
I graduated with a BA and a Masters of Arts in Teaching degree from the University of Pittsburgh. I returned to the town where I grew up and taught English in the same school district where I once attended. When I wasn’t teaching, I spent a lot of time performing in musical productions in the Central Pennsylvania area. I also assisted in the direction, choreography, and aspects of staging and production of both the middle and high school musicals in the same school district.
During this time, I became friends with the man who would later ask me to marry him on a school trip to Washington, D.C., with that talented woman I mentioned above and a middle school choir. We were performing in a festival and competition, and he decided to drive down for the day to join us for sightseeing in between our performances. I have to admit that I had no idea how my life would change.
After having two children and essentially abandoning anything that was unrelated to motherhood, which was my ultimate decision—one that I don’t regret for one second, my husband urged me to start writing. Writing wouldn’t require late night rehearsals and some of the other commitments I wasn’t willing to give of my time. I wanted to be able to go to T-ball games and watch my sons grow and learn in their classrooms and play outside with them in the yard after school. And, so, I began writing.