I would love to say that writing is my only passion but, truth-be-told, I have so many passions that writing has to fall in line with all the rest. I am first and foremost an anti-racist/human rights/social justice activist. My activism is fueled by my conviction that all people deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. I am determined to leave the world a better place than when I found it when I was born in 1955 in Plymouth, Michigan.
I have a Master of Social Work degree from Boston University that I applied to a twenty-five year career in chemical dependency treatment and crisis intervention services and a Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Nonfiction from the Solstice Low-Residency MFA in Creative Writing Program at Pine Manor College.
Writing is a vital tool in my activist tool bag. Over the years, I’ve learned that writing is a craft that can be learned but great writing must be felt. I’m continuing to study both craft and feeling. I've co-authored over twenty-five books on Microsoft Office products, a memoir, and contributed to multiple anthologies.
From BB-Guns to Wal-Mart
As I child, I grew up in the BB Gun Capitol of the World, Rogers, Arkansas (as when Ralphie from A Christmas Story said, “I want an official Red Ryder, carbine action, two-hundred shot range model air rifle!), a town that also had the distinction of having the first Wal-Mart store in the world, a phenomenon that has changed everything in immeasurable ways.
To a growing awareness of differences that matter
Growing up in Rogers, I learned a lot about being different, even though, in some ways, as white European Americans, we fit right in. However, my family and I were Roman Catholic, Republican, and Yankees, three identities that didn’t always mesh well with our mostly Baptist, Southern Democrat neighbors. When I came out as a lesbian in 1973, I felt even more removed.
It was when I came to grips with Rogers’ distinction as a sundown town (a town that threatened blacks from staying in town passed sundown), however, that I vowed to dedicate my life to eliminating racism and oppression. I’m happy to say that Northwest Arkansas has come a long way since my childhood days, both in terms of its acceptance of LGBTQ folks and of people of color, but there is still much work to do to achieve full equality for all people.
In 1995, I co-founded and served as the first president of Allies for Racial Equity, a Unitarian Universalist organization that exists as a response to a request by DRUUMM, a UU People of Color Organization, for a group of white anti-racist allies to serve as partners in the journey of transforming our faith movement and the world. Through this work, I learned that it’s up to me, as a white person, to speak out against racism, to challenge racist systems, and address all forms of oppression, wherever they exist.
Because of my experiences in Rogers and elsewhere, I became a student of the Civil Rights Movement and for the last several years, I’ve been part of a team that leads spiritual pilgrimages through Mississippi and Alabama.
Being handed the key to open the door to the home of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s, Dexter Parsonage, 309 S. Jackson St. in Montgomery, AL, by Dr. Shirley Cherry, Tour Director Extraordinaire, was one of the greatest honors of my life.
The mission of the Living Legacy Pilgrimage is to re-imagine social possibility in the world today by experiencing the depth of human spirit in the Civil Rights Movement. The Pilgrimage is some of the most rewarding work I do. I hope you will join me on our next journey.
I am also one of the organizers of the Greater Richmond Pledge to End Racism and co-developer of the Living the Pledge workshop. The Richmond Pledge, based on the Birmingham Pledge, is a personal commitment to work to dismantle racism. Our goal is to create a movement in the Greater Richmond region of people dedicated to this purpose.
I recently retired from the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) where I served as LGBTQ and Multicultural Programs Director and District Executive of the Southeast District. In both of those roles, I was able to address my commitment to making real Martin Luther King’s vision of Beloved Community. As a UUA staff member, I had the privilege of working with congregations all around the US to help them deepen their understanding and practice of welcoming and inclusion.
Writing and technology pulls it all together
When I needed a different challenge in my life after my social work career, I co-founded TRIAD Consulting, LLC, a technology training firm based in beautiful Traverse City, Michigan. Even though I’m no longer a partner in TRIAD, technology remains a passion for me. This sometimes gets me into trouble as I look for technological solutions to problems that might be better solved through relationship building. Finding this balance is one of our greatest challenges of the 21st century, and of my life!
As a way to give back to the writing community, I work part-time as the Program Director for James River Writers, an organization dedicated to building community by connecting and inspiring writers and all those in central Virginia with a love for the written word.
If you’re wondering if I’m too intense to have a little fun, I spend my discretionary time (yes, believe it or not, I do have some!) enjoying RVing, gardening, watching the birds, hiking, photography, kayaking, and following women’s basketball (Go Lady Vols!), sometimes alone, but preferably, with my partner and wife, Wendy. My home base is Richmond, Virginia.
I hope my work here with Wandering WordsWomen and in other forums serves as one tiny cog in the great time machine that will take us into a future where all people are free.
Bending the arc toward justice,
Writing is a process, a journey into memory and the soul.