Over the years I have accomplished many things that I am supremely proud of, and well, as many things I am not so proud of, but I don’t have regrets. In my 43 years, I have crossed off all of the things I wished for as a child and even a few “bucket list” items I never thought would be possible. As a child I wanted to be a mother, a teacher, a writer, a traveler, a wife, and to visit Asia. Most of those things I did multiple times and sometimes were better handled than others, but I did them.

My boot camp picture 1990
My boot camp picture 1990
Finally!! My 2nd Degree (Bachelors) 2013
  Finally!! My 2nd Degree (Bachelors) 2013

I have had the privilege of giving birth to three amazing children, whom I love with all my heart. I am proud of them and it is an honor to be their mom. I have made a lot of mistakes along the way and should have done many things better, I still love them with all my heart and would die for them if I had to.

Me and my sweet girl, 2002
Me and my sweet girl, 2002
Me and Oldest 1993
Me and Oldest 1993
youngest, a marine in the making 2005
youngest, a marine in the making 2005

I have been a wife. Once for a fairly short time to a not so nice person and a second for a long time to a very amazing person. The first gave me two great children but a decade of self doubt, while the other gave me one child and made me a better person and gave me the world, even though I didn’t deserve it. Both ended by me making a hard decision. First one left scars on my mind and the second in my heart, but it was my choice, even if many friends and family were against and even turned against me because of it. I still stand by my decisions and firmly believe everything happens for a reason.

Family having swimming, 2005
Family having swimming, 2005

Since I was deathly afraid of public speaking, I never expected this dream to ever come true. However, in 2007 it came true when I was hired to be an adjunct professor at a local college. I actually grew and gained enough confidence that I went on to teach 3 more classes at the college. In 2011, myself and my partner in crime Kristin taught Chinese pop culture to middle and high school students. During my time in China I taught English to a kindergarten class, several middle school classes and 4 large classes at my university in China. I learned so much from all the experiences.

Me during the opening event of China Week 2013
Me during the opening event of China Week 2013
Teaching Chinese Pop Culture
Teaching Chinese Pop Culture

I had my travelling dreams starting with Girl Scout Trips to Tennessee and Alabama, then through a long drive in a 1976 Pacer hatchback to Pennsylvania. I went on to do mission work with Annunciation Church in Saltillo, Mexico and I spent a total of 10 years (give or take a few months) traveling thanks to the military duty of myself or a significant other- from Kiln, MS to Orlando, Florida to Waukegan, Illinois, to San Diego, CA to Canton, Ohio than to New Orleans, LA to Jacksonville, NC and back to Ohio. Not to mention all those trips back and forth to Parris Island, SC. My first year after returning to Ohio, we took a short trip to Niagara Falls, Canada too!

Family in PA c 1982
Family in PA c 1982
Niagara Falls, Canada c 2006
Niagara Falls, Canada c 2006

About 6 months after my return, I received the coolest opportunity to visit Washington, DC for the first time!

Me and Nassim in DC
Me and Nassim in DC

A few years after coming back to Ohio, I got my big dreams of traveling overseas with a 3 week trip in Asia (one week in S. Korea and two in China). A little over a year later I am living in China to study Chinese for 11 months! My head still spins when I think about how lucky I have been to have these opportunities.

Me at Great Wall in  Simitai, China c 2010
Me at Great Wall in Simitai, China c 2010

While the traveling had so many good things that I learned and gained, it also had many things I lost along the way and that I can’t get back. Again, I have no regrets.

panda 2010

Thanks to a vicious storm in 2005, I found my writing voice and began to write articles about a variety of topics that were at first just on my blog and a book or two I was developing. In early 2006, those words lead to an awesome opportunity to write for a local news website. Through this amazing job and with the help of my mentor, I gained confidence in my writing and began to build up my body of work with articles not only on many news websites, but in print newspapers and eventually to my first magazine article.

Topsail Island, NC 2006
Topsail Island, NC 2006

After returning to Ohio, I felt I lost my voice thanks to a mean old lady who was my boss for 2 years. However, when I returned to college in 2008, I began to find it again and went on to write for our school paper. Just as confidence came back I began writing travel articles that would be picked up by several travel websites. Thanks to my trips abroad I have more material than I could ever imagine, but because of the way things happened in my last weeks in China and my first months home, I felt I lost that voice again.

My partner in crime holding my first newspaper article at my university 2011
My partner in crime holding my first newspaper article at my university 2011

I dabbled in small pieces here and their but found it hard to go back to the emotions and memories and keep up the writing. One day I was asked to submit a story for an upcoming anthology of short stories and I was overcome with emotions of honor and happiness but also terror. After a dear friend told me I would be crazy not to, I turned the story in and after 15 months of waiting I finally can see my finished work. I often stare at it in disbelieve that it is really my story, my words, my thoughts.

Cover of Kimchi for Life Anthology
Cover of Kimchi for Life Anthology
My story: For the Love of China, 2014
My story: For the Love of China, 2014
Index of Kimchi for Life 2014
Index of Kimchi for Life 2014

I did it. I completed my wish list. And only in 43 years.

I guess it is time to make a new wish list for the next 43.