That is the question that was behind the reason I began blogging. To rediscover who I am in this present chapter of my life. Life in my empty nest after retirement.
So much of who I have always been changed or shifted in the last decade that it feels in some ways that I started having an identity crisis, in my late 50s! Just when I should have been finally fairly certain of myself. But if we aren’t changing and growing and evolving, are we even alive?
I welcome you to join me in my quest toward redefining me.
All About Me
Here are a few of the various versions of me along my life’s path to this point.
In the Beginning
I was a chubby baby, 8 pounds, 13 ounces, born in a snowstorm in Buffalo, New York on an Easter Sunday morning in April 1958. Rather than a stork, it was the Easter bunny who brought me.
My baby sister Valerie was born two years later, and then two years after that, when I was four, we moved to Boston. Our baby brother Kevin came along in 1966.
Mom and Dad
My parents were both very intelligent. My dad was in cancer research with a PhD in pharmacology. My mother was a chemist. Our family moved to Memphis, Tennessee in 1968 in the midst of the garbage workers strike after the shooting death of Martin Luther King, Jr., downtown. My father worked at St. Jude Children’s Cancer Research Hospital until he retired about 25 years later. Here’s a picture of my daughters, my parents, brother and sister taken in Colorado, one of our favorite summer vacation spots.
Never the Fashionista
My sweet mom cut my hair and made many of my clothes. I didn’t shave my legs until eighth grade, which was my second year as a cheerleader. I looked like Yeti that first year. Not sure why no one noticed that my hair was forever longer on one side than the other or that my bangs were almost invisible, they were so short.
I was the kinda kid who either did really well at things or not so well at all. Especially in high school and then college. I thought I wanted to be a doctor – loved the idea of opening a pediatric practice in the Appalachian Mountains and helping the poor children there. But after struggling to pass freshman biology at a small liberal arts college Southwestern at Memphis/SWAM (now Rhodes College), I decided maybe I would rather become an artist (graphic art or medical illustration) and maybe just marry a doctor instead.
My one real success at SWAM was being selected as the Best Pledge for Delta Delta Delta sorority.
I transferred to the University of Tennessee, Knoxville in my sophomore year. In 1979, I graduated with a degree in Art Education and a minor in Library Science. Years later, I would get a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science from the University of North Texas at Denton, graduating from there in 2008.
I was a mommy for many years, and still am, but in a different capacity now that my nest is empty. Brennyn Alexis was born in 1984, 2 years and a day later, Lauren Allegra was born. There is no love like that of a mother for her children. For much of the girls’ childhood I was a single mother and we were three girls together on the boom-boom.
Brennyn is a neo-natal nurse and lives in Ft. Worth, Texas (all the way across the state) with her husband Mustafa and daughter Cadence Ellie and their new son Declan Ashraf. Mustafa is an X-ray and MRI technician. And my Cady Coo is 11 years old and in the 6th grade. Declan is our Christmas miracle. Born just before Christmas 2021. He struggled the first hours of life and we almost lost Brennyn after the delivery. Terrifying times. But God brought us through.
The photo below is from Brennyn and Mustafa’s wedding day.
Lauren is a medical research librarian and her husband Francisco is an anesthesiologist. They lived in Albuquerque, New Mexico (actually closer to me than Brennyn in the same state) for several years but have moved home to El Paso. They have 2 daughters, Lucia Carolina 6 years old and Camila Jean 2 years old. They have a sheepadoodle named Pumpkin or Punky or Munky or Munkin (depending on who you ask) who just joined the family. The photo below is from Lauren and Francisco’s wedding day.
I am a Mimi (granddaughter Cady’s name for me) and a Gabba (Lucia’s name for me). Which are among the best titles and jobs in the world but you can see why I might have a bit of an identity crisis!!
Please indulge me a few photos of my beautiful babies.
Not only are my grandbabies beautiful but they are funny, sweet, smart, loving and very creative. I am blessed.
Pet Owner Me
I have been a responsible and loving pet owner since 1981, when I “adopted” my first kitten. Many kittens and pups have crossed my path since. I have had as many as ten Siberian Huskies at one time, my favorites were Polo and Princess. And have cared for and rehomed over a dozen stray kittens.
Cici, shaggy gray poodle mix, Cheyenne, soft beige lab mix and. They were with me through thick and thin for close to fifteen years each. Their passing, just a year apart, left two more holes in my heart. Paul’s Rusty the pig dog, a chow-corgi mix, was also a special pup.
Now days our furry family consists of Purrsimmony and Purrsnickitty and a stray kitty we call Fluff. And grandpets Baelish and Sansa, Brennyn’s cats, and Pumpkin, Lauren’s dog.
Somehow, I think I was always supposed to be a librarian just had to stumble around until I could figure that out for myself. And even then, I didn’t really figure it out…it just happened. The El Paso school district needed a librarian and I needed a job. The rest is history.
I loved almost every minute of my 25 years as a librarian. I worked in two high schools and two elementary schools full-time during my career but at a great number of elementary, middle and high campuses for summer school.
In the fall of 1995, the school district decided to create a televised reading show and held auditions for the host of the show. Guess who auditioned? Oh, yeah, moi! I wore a scarecrow outfit and read several fall-ish books for my videotaped try-out. I was selected for the position and wound up creating over 100 “Come Read With Me” (which is the name of my online book club now) shows in 10 years time. For each one I wrote a lesson plan, drew a backdrop, created a craft activity, read two books before a live audience of El Paso children. My own daughters even sang the show theme song.
The spring of 1996, I was recognized as the school district employee of the month. In the winter of 1997, I was chosen campus Teacher of the Year, then one of five finalists for the El Paso Independent School District Elementary Teacher of the Year.
Then to my complete and utter amazement, I was selected the EPISD Elementary Teacher of the Year in May 1997. I was so touched.
Although, my married name was different at that time (one of the frogs that led me to my prince), that’s the same me…just a much younger version by more than 20 years.
When this beloved if accidental career of my lifetime ended in December 2013, another giant emptiness was left in my heart where so many wonderful books, sweet students and dedicated teachers had lived for so long. I took this picture on my last day of work before turning out the lights in the library and on my career.
About the only thing that has remained consistent in the last 10 years is my PC, my Paul Clingan, my Prince Charming. While I have been married more than my fair share, more than I care to admit, I never married a doctor. But I did marry a Prince C., after a kissing a few frogs.
Paul and I met in 2003 on Match.com, these were our profile photos.
We dated for 5 years before taking the plunge into marriage. Sold our individual houses to move into a lovely home built just for us. Kind of ironic that when my daughters were living at home, we had a cozy cottage of a house. Now that it’s just the two of us, PC and I have a palace by comparison. Of course, Lauren and PC’s son Matt and three pups did live with us in our ‘castle’ for a couple of years so we haven’t rattled around here alone the whole time.
It’s just been us and our kitties, Purrsnickitty and Purrsimmony, for almost 14 years now.
And that’s about it, in a nutshell or an About ME page.
Since retiring, I am trying on new experiences in hopes of rediscovering and redefining myself. Had hoped that through blogging, I would finally find the courage to work on the children’s book I have always imagined myself writing. In my free time, I continue to read, work on my health and fitness, dabble in arts and crafts, fashion, photography.
Despite the changes in my life, I remain a wife, mother, grandmother, (retired) librarian, daughter, sister, …in-law, and responsible pet owner. But now, more than ever, I am ME!
You can follow along on my adventure here and through these other social media outlets.
Pinterest (my personal fave), here.
Facebook, here. Join my online book club, here.
Instagram (like it a lot, too), here.
And Twitter, which is still much a mystery to me, here.
My sister and I also have a Teachers Pay Teachers store, here.
Thank you for taking time to get to know me.
Hugs and kisses,