I’ve come a long way from where I started. I was a very shy, insecure child. I struggled in school academically and lived with constant worry. My mother was negligent and emotionally unavailable and her boyfriend sexually abused both me and my older sister.
Even after struggling in school, I managed to get my Bachelor’s Degree in Individual and Family Studies/Counseling and my Masters Degree in Education. I’ve taught elementary school students for the past 27 years. I’ve spent most of my career teaching Kindergarten and I love giving young children a positive and memorable first year experience.
I’ve also spent the last 20 years teaching for a professional development organization at the University of Pennsylvania, training both new and experienced teachers in reading and writing instruction.
My biggest accomplishment to date is publishing my memoir, The Gold Mailbox. It took me many years to write and publish my story. I’ve received powerful feedback from readers whose lives I’ve touched. I wanted to share my story to inspire those who have also struggled with the shame that comes from being raised in a dysfunctional, abusive family situation.
I recently started writing children’s books and had my first story, Rosie, The Practically Perfect Puppy, published last year. I am currently working on getting my second children’s book published.
I am now approaching my 50th birthday and I can honestly say I am the happiest I’ve ever been. I’ve been divorced for five years and I’m currently in a healthy, loving relationship with a very kind man. My two sons (ages 18 and 20) have grown into responsible, hard working, compassionate young men and I’m very proud of them. My life is full, busy and rewarding.
When I was seven years old, I was living in Queens, New York with my sister and recently divorced mother. The year was 1974- a time when my favorite cheese came from a can (Cheese Whiz) and so did my favorite dinner (Chef Boyardee Ravioli).
My mother was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at the age of 23, right after giving birth to me. She kept her disease a secret from me and my sister. My mother had lots of secrets. Less than a year after divorcing my dad, my mom started to date a man who was a vendor at Flea Markets in New York and New Jersey. She began working with him, leaving me and my sister alone for days at a time.
Eventually my mother moved us into her boyfriend’s dilapidated house in Brooklyn and things went from bad to worse. The house had no electricity or water and we all had to shower at the local YMCA. My sister and I had to attend new schools and work in the flea markets every weekend with my mother and her boyfriend.
My sister and I were both sexually abused by my mother’s boyfriend during the year we lived with him. We also endured daily doses of verbal abuse and physical punishment. Thankfully, an aunt and uncle discovered the abuse and my sister and I moved into their home. My aunt and uncle loved us unconditionally and supported us in every way. I truly believe they are the reason I’ve been able to achieve success and happiness in my life.
My Healing Journey
Writing has always been a way for me to process my feelings and experiences. I kept journals for many years and it’s those journals that became the impetus for me to write my memoir.
I originally pursued a career in Social Work and I learned a lot about myself through my counseling courses in college. I also began seeing a therapist in college and have seen various counselors at different times throughout my adult life.
I have a very close relationship with my sister and our bond has only gotten stronger as we have aged. She is my best friend and confidant. I also have a few very close female friends who have helped me on my journey of healing.
Finally, I have read all the books Brene’ Brown has written (The Gifts of Imperfection is my favorite). She is a researcher and social work professor at the University of Texas and she focuses her research on shame and resiliency. Her books have provided me with great insight and inspiration.
“Everyone has a story.
You have a story, too.
And it matters.”
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