Friday, March 7, 2008

It is a good day to alter something!!!

Good Morning!!! I am so glad to finally be here. So let me tell you a bit about me and how I got here. I probably took the long way here, but now that I am here; OH MY! Why did it take so long?

Prior to being a paper crafter, I was a full time non-tenured professor at a Historically Black College in Nashville, TN. By training, I am an epidemiologist. As my dad would say, I count dead people for a living. I have degrees from Harvard, MIT, and Rutgers.

I have sat on CNN, Headline News and Tavis Smiley. I have sat on the board of the Boston Pediatric AIDS Foundation, Somerset Public Television, AIDS Walk Boston, AIDS Walk Philadelphia, ACT-Up Philadelphia, Philadelphia AIDS Task Force, The Children's Museum of Philadelphia to just name a few.

I have spoken at too many conferences to list about HIV/AIDS and people of color, HIV/AIDS and women, and technology and its uses in the classroom.

I have been to every continent. I have taught at the University of Nairobi and Kenyatta University in Nairobi Kenya. I have lived in Uganda and work for TASO (The AIDS Service Organization) in Kampala. I speak three languages other than English.

I was on the fast track to somewhere, but just can't remember where right now.

I have been arrested for participating in a needle exchange in Boston. I was also arrested in Washington, DC during the Regan Years for throwing red paint on a Senator because he was small minded and self-righteous. I have been a buddy to people who were dying when no one else wanted to hold or touch them, both babies and adults.

I have been blessed to see the most unnecessary human suffering and the worst in human kind. And even in the midst of all this, find someone who still has a smile and keeps the faith knowing hope is real and happiness is possible.

I have all kinds of crazy things stuck in my brain on file cards that will never get erased. Like the states in alphabetical order, the first four editions of Trivial Pursuit memorized. I do the Sunday NY Times crossword puzzle to completion every Sunday with a red pen (remnants of my childhood with my Grandmother and Uncle Alfred).

My brother has been on the cover of Food Magazine and worked in the finest restaurants in NY, Paris, London and Italy.

My dad just retired from Newsweek. My mom just recently retired as the Director of Recreation for the town that we lived in for over 35 years. My mom's sister is a retired Principal from the NY School System. She is an ordained Baptist Minister and has more degrees than I do.

Ok, now give me a second to climb down from my pedestal…

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

How I Came To Be A Designer

I found paper crafting after the birth of my daughter. It was a wonderful way to meet other mothers who were doing something that was creative and fun. I got pregnant with the boys a year later and decided to stay at home with my boys because I had missed so much by going back to work after my daughter was born.

I made a choice. I decided that I was not willing to have to work 80 hour weeks again to make money and in turn, miss all that makes being a mom great. I missed my daughter's first steps. I missed her doing all kinds of things because I was at work. As a scrapbooker, I realized that I wanted to have those moments not just in my memories, but documented in photos.

My DH took pictures every day so that I could see her change and grow while I was at work. The commute to Nashville from Atlanta was grueling every week and finally the time came to choose. I chose to leave it all behind me and make some different choices. I sat on the fence for two years working, but not committing.

Finally, a good friend of mine, Melanie Bruner (the cockroach girl), sent me a text message and told me to apply for the Ranger Design Team. I was at CKC in Charlotte, NC. I told all the girls that if I did not get on this design team, I was going to go back to the 80 hour work week and just make money until I could retire early and have a pension. Even if I was miserable, a paycheck was enough of an incentive for me. I prayed about it and prayed about it. At the last moment, the 12th hour, I applied and I made it. That was it. I have never looked back.

Do I expect anyone to understand the fact that I gave up a 6 figure salary and have spent all my savings to pay my bills to rip and tear paper all day long? NOPE. I do what I do because I love it. I cannot imagine doing anything else. I wake up wanting to sniff a glue stick and have paint under my fingernails.

Altered Arts magazine had a call for their Design Team. Rebecca Peck (also on the Ranger Design Team) encouraged me to apply. I did and here I am.

I love to make stuff. I just love it. I do have a tendency to bite off more than I can chew and never seem to meet my deadlines. But when it is done, it is done and I love it.

What else could I tell you...?

If I had to describe my humor, I would say that it resembles Whoopi Goldberg with a Neicy Nash twang and sprinkled with a bit of George Carlin on top. Let me make it clear. A dread headed black woman with a flower in her hair that likes to cuss. Yep, that is me in a nutshell.

I am surrounded by a group of women that encourage me everyday to reach for the stratosphere. Who could ask for more?!!!

Until we meet again.