1. I grew up in rural Pennsylvania outside of Pittsburgh. But, despite this, country music never appealed to me even when most of my childhood friends tried to get me into it. My step-Mom was from the Southside of Pittsburgh and introduced me and my siblings more to the city life. I’m grateful for that.
2. I was born in Sacramento, California. My parents divorced when I was a baby. My Dad moved me and my older sister to southwestern Pennsylvania to live with him, his parents and sister until he remarried.
3. Creativity is in my blood. My Uncle is a photorealistic painter. Look him up: Jack Foflygen. His art will astound you. I’ll post a couple pieces of his below. My paternal Grandma loved drawing fashion and wanted to be a fashion designer (she was a homemaker her entire life). She was also a great poet.
4. Christina Aguilera is my second cousin. My Dad and her Mom are first cousins and were close growing up. I played with her when we were really young, but that’s the extent of my connection. Just a little cool to say it. Did I mention the creativity in my family? 😂
5. I was a tomboy. I used to play war with the boys in the trailer park I grew up in to the age of 11 before my parents bought their land and moved my family to rural Pennsylvania. I remember “raiding” a clubhouse made of logs leftover from trees cut down above the trailer park. The boys started chasing me and my older sister away. I wouldn’t back down and one of the boys punched me in the stomach. Ah…who says chivalry is dead, eh? Gee…I wonder why I couldn’t wait to break away from that area?
6. If you couldn’t tell from my previous paragraph, I grew up in a lower-to-lower-middle income household. My parents did the best they could. My Dad worked in appliance repair and my Mom in a call center to support 5 children.
7. I graduated summa cum laude with two Bachelor’s degrees, one in Communication and the other in French, from Clarion University of Pennsylvania in 5 years. And, I’m STILL paying off my student loans at age 42. Why did I not major in art? Well, my hard-working parents came from the belief that one cannot make a living in art. My Dad actually saw this firsthand with his older brother, Jack. So, I took their advice and majored in something that still interested me, but had a possibility of a “normal” career (public relations and/or French teacher/translator). Guess who went back to art? 😉
8. I am not a full-time artist. I used to paint in high school advanced art classes and even sold a couple of my paintings back then. Then, I went the “practical” route with office jobs. Life took over with getting married and starting a family. My progression back to my art started slowly with scrapbooking with female friends and family, then card and craft making. Then, I started painting again just before my Bipolar diagnosis at age 39.
9. I live with a mental illness. It is most certainly hereditary. I had a full-blown manic episode with psychosis out of the blue (most likely triggered by extreme stress) at age 39. During hospitalization, I was diagnosed with Bipolar 1 with psychosis. I am on medication for the rest of my life. Luckily, the doctors found a medication that works perfectly for me. Sometimes you will see me reference Bipolar in my art. I’m not afraid to tell people I have this sickness. It is a sickness like anything else. I believe normalizing mental illness takes a bit of the stigma away.
10. I studied abroad in France my last semester of college. I stayed in an apartment in Amiens, France. Amiens actually has a Notre-Dame Cathedral, as well. This was one of the happiest times in my life (besides having my children). I ate well and lived well. I would like to say that I retained the friendships during that time. However, unfortunately, that was in 2002, before social media took off. I kept a journal from that time and enjoy reading it to take me back to those times I roamed the streets of Paris with not a care in the world with my other care-free student friends.