JD’s Writers Blog
1. I currently live in Madison, Wisconsin, but I am originally from the far South Side of Chicago. A blue collar neighborhood called Roseland to be exact.
I was bullied almost constantly as a child. Both at school and in my neighborhood.
To this day, I have no understanding as to why this happened, but I believe my Great Gray books came to me at an important time of my life, to help me heal and find my voice.
Because of the bullying and my status in my family of origin, I stayed quiet. I tried to become invisible. Observing life that went on around me.
I was born in 1947 and consider myself an early Baby Boomer. I am considerably younger than the rest of my siblings, and very different. I have always been a thinker, observer and creative. I love to read everything I see and look for the meaning in what I read.
Because I come from a relatively poor background, I didn’t have the opportunity to attend college. I went to work immediately after graduation from high school in an office in the downtown area of Chicago. (Which was a nightmare!) I had no experience working with people in an office setting, or anywhere at all.
I stumbled around in life. Worked in offices. Attended Interior Design and Medical Assistant schools. Married and divorced. Other than being the proud mother of two wonderfully and creative grown children, It wasn’t until I felt a call to ministry I found my true purpose.
In 2004, I took a huge leap of faith. Left a fantastic interior design position with my dream company, Marshall Field’s Chicago. Sold my home and moved to McCormick Theological Seminary, Chicago. It was only a short trip from my previous home, but it seemed like another world.
I graduated in 2007 with a Masters of Divinity, and because I always felt Hospice Chaplaincy would be my call, I went in that direction with a few stops along the way.
I currently serve as the community Chaplain of a not for profit senior residence in Madison, WI. This is a new position and a position very different from where I thought I would be.
It’s been quite a journey. And will continue to be.
2. I don’t believe there would be any writing career, without the “leap of faith,” I took toward seminary.
I have always admired writers and authors. The way the words seem to fall from their pen. The way they seem to know which key to touch, word after word after word. (Anyway, that’s how I see it.)
My former husband, my two grown children have that gift. I have always admired how easy it seems for them.
I am a visual person, which is very handy when you are an interior designer. When I write, I first see the scene, then find the correct words to describe what I am seeing. Not always the easiest for someone who has not written much, or even spoken much in public. But, things have changed!
The story of Great Gray came to me in a dream. I had never had such a technicolor a complete dream. It was like, I was being told, you’re healed and now go on and help others heal as well. That’s how I see it now, but until I wrote the dream down, showed to to as many people I could find. (Looking for the one who would tell me, to forget abut it) No one did.
I eventually got the courage to send it to Jan Fix at The Word Verve. She said the most encouraging words. Among others, “I can actually see a poster of Great Gray hanging on my granddaughter’s bedroom wall.”
Remember, I’m visual.
4. I call my books, “Children’s books for all ages.” I did not set out to write children’s or any books at all. The way they have evolved, I see them as books everyone can enjoy, together. From the youngest child to the oldest grandparent. The books have have levels and many cultural items to learn and talk about.
The prime focus is just simply Love. That is, love one another shared in many ways. From the big innocent eyes of Gray, when he is rejected by his father, to the giant wink between Great Gray and his mother at the end of the first story.
5. The latest book in the Great Gray series, is entitled, Namaste, Great Gray. The third book in the series brings all of our characters together to help the young son of the Maharajah to live a better life while practicing Yoga.
The young son was rejected himself. Unable to walk or breath very well, his father kept his existence a secret from his extended family.
The Maharajah observed Great Gray’s triumph from obscurity and realizes what a fool he himself had been.
Putting his pride aside, he arranges for Great Gray and his mahout (keeper) Santosh to take the little prince to meet his grandmother.
It was a wonderful visit that lasted approximately two years. Namaste, Great Gray, continues as they return home a little older a little wiser and a little larger loving group.
6. I hope the story of Great Gray will teach children and families to be more respectful to one another.
Respect someone who may be a little different from you.
Learn a little about someone who may be from another culture, another country.
There are many levels and many ways to learn how to treat each other with understanding and respect.
- Anti bullying
- Anti marginalization
- So much more.
7. It is important to show everyone, that no matter your age, your education level, EVERYONE HAS SOMETHING TO SAY.
Because I was bullied and treated poorly, I lost my voice. But, because I took that original “leap of faith,” it’s back.
I’m available to speak to discuss how bullying and marginalization can follow you all the days of your life. Even now, at seventy years young!
8. As a visual artist, the hardest thing for me is finding the correct words to describe what I see, and how to be heard.As I become more confident in my stories and what they have to say, I become more anxious and ready to share them with the world.So, my advice to myself now and my younger self remains, “be patient, but be ready.”
9. My life is told throughout the story of Great Gray. I did not plan it that way, that’s how the original dream unfolded. The subtitle “A book about exceeding NO expectations,” is extremely important to me, as I meet others who have lived less than fulfilled lives, either on the playground or in the death bed. WE ALL MATTER.
10. The first author I must share is Adele Hensley. Adele, has written books about living life with “Early onset Parkinson’s Disease.” She is a personal friend, who encouraged me to send my story to Jan at The Word Verve. Her books are also available at thewordverve.com. Please check them out.
I have also been influenced by Madeleine L’Engle, President Jimmy Carter and Parker Palmer to name a few.
11. I read a variety of books. Currently:
Jimmy Carter Faith
Parker Palmer Let Your Life Speak
Gillian Flynn Sharp Objects
12. My most current projects are my personal experiences while attempting to save the seriously endangered Monarch butterfly. I have personal experience with acting as a Monarch Midwife. My stories involve children and adults how have also participated with me. It also includes instructions on how to become a monarch midwife yourself.
Writing a story about our rescue dog named Fuzzy is also on the to do list. She has the most spectacular blue eyes and had the saddest life before she became a member of our family.
I am the granddaughter of a Texas coal miner. My grandpa was murdered while on strike in west Texas. His family had to move to Chicago in 1916 and begin again.
I have always wondered what it was like to be a bare foot kid like my dad, starting over on the rough streets of Chicago.
I am quite interested in how all this influences descendants.
I truly believe it does.