Growing up along the west coast, I was raised by a single mom and my grandmother who had left an abusive marriage. With no education my mother struggled to keep a job and we lived on welfare. My grandmother often worked two jobs at a time to make sure we had a place to live. Although, I remember very well, the summer we were homeless. It taught me how to appreciate things like hot water and shelter.
I understood at a young age that the way my family lived was more difficult than it should be. I remember one night in particular when I was very young. Things were stressful in the home; people discussing money and the lack of it. Talking about jobs and what we would eat for the next week. I felt frustrated and helpless so I ran outside into our front yard. It was a cool, clear night and I stared up at the vast expanse of stars, even in my youth understanding that there was so much more to life than this difficult struggle. Somehow I knew I didn’t have to live like that forever. It was up to me to change it. So I made a promise that night, staring up at those stars. A promise to myself. I would be successful someday. I would break the cycle of poverty and show my own children a different path.
However, breaking the cycle would prove harder than I imagined. Unsure of my direction, I married, had a baby, and divorced after high school, working only minimum wage. I had no plan. No concept of how to actually achieve the goals I’d set. It had never been demonstrated so I had very little to strive for.
At twenty-two I re-married and eventually had three more children. After staying home while our children were young, we agreed it was time that I go back to work. That was when I realized how little qualifications I had and made the decision to go back to school. As a child, I remembered that I used to say I wanted to be a doctor or a nurse and work in hospitals to help sick people. Scared but determined, I registered for classes with a plan to qualify for the nursing program.
With hard work, I earned a 3.92 GPA and applied to the nursing program. While waiting to hear if I would get in, my husband and I had our third child. Then life threw a curveball. In February of 2003, we found out our three year old daughter had a large brain tumor. With a seven year old, a three year old, and a newborn we focused on staying positive and doing whatever it took to help our daughter survive. Fortunately, the tumor was benign and after many challenging months of rehabilitation she learned to walk and talk again. Nothing about that time was easy, but our family came out of it stronger than ever.
As our daughter recovered, I received an acceptance letter to the school of nursing. In 2005 I graduated. As a nurse, I quickly found that while the medical field is hard work, it is also very rewarding. I loved it. It gave me purpose outside of the home.
Years later, when our daughter began to struggle at school, I left my nursing job so that I could home-school her. During that time we also welcomed our fourth child into the family. That’s when I decided to be brave and dare to do something I'd always dreamed of doing but never believed I could. I started writing. I set a goal to write at least twenty minutes a day while the baby napped. Some days I couldn't get to it. Life just works like that. However, there were many days when twenty minutes easily spanned into two hours. Creative energy flowed through me. It fed my soul. The rest is history.
Since, then I have worked hard to understand the publishing industry, which has encompassed working with both small traditional publishers as well as self-publishing. Along the way, I’ve had the privilege to win multiple literary awards.
After my husband and I separated and then eventually divorced, I went back to nursing, because let’s face it, most writers don’t make enough to quit their day jobs. I have a family to support and that always comes first. Still, in those rare spare moments of free time, I sit at my laptop and open my current Work In Progress, putting words to paper. Creating something that only I can create. Endlessly pursuing a dream.
At the end of the day, I can honestly say I'm proud of where I've been and where I am. When people ask me what I do, I have the privilege of answering, mother/author/nurse. My mother and grandmother are proud to see their grandchildren living such bountiful lives. Breaking a cycle is not easy, but it feels good.