Welcome to my website! This is where I get to tell you a little bit about myself. I grew up a country girl as I was born on the outskirts of Amarillo, Texas on July 14th, 1953. I was a middle child tucked between an older brother (who I idolized) and a baby sister (who I tried to mentor.) My parents were complete opposites: my mom an outgoing, extremely outspoken Italian, my dad a reserved, self-serving German. As a consequence of those differences, there was a lot of arguing and fighting (mostly over my father’s drinking and womanizing.) My mom didn’t work and it sometimes felt as if my mom put up with my dad’s bad behavior not simply because she loved him but because she also didn’t want to lose the security he provided. Watching my mom’s dependency on a man made me vow to never do the same. Even as a child, I knew that meant that I’d need to go to college so that I could become something (like a doctor, a teacher or a nurse.)
Luckily, I loved reading. Reading allowed me to lose myself, to temporarily forget all the chaos in my life. I think I must have read every single book at my elementary school that had anything to do with animals (some of my favorites being “Old Bones, Exterminator” by Mildred Mastin Pace: a true story about a long-shot race horse that won the 1918 Kentucky Derby; “Follow My Leader” by James B. Garfield: an amazing story about a boy blinded by a firecracker and the seeing eye dog that gets him through his despair; and “Yellow Eyes” by Rutherford G. Montgomery: a tear-jerker about the hard life of a mountain lion.)
Loving to read fit right in with my plans to follow in my brother’s footsteps to go to college. Before my brother, no one in my mother or father’s family had ever gone to college: it simply wasn’t expected, especially for a girl. When I finally made it to college myself, I discovered that the hardest part of college wasn’t the homework but trying to decide what career to choose. I’d initially thought that I might like to be an attorney like my brother or study languages like my brother’s wife but somehow those careers didn’t seem to be a fit for me. By the time I reached my junior year, I was worried that I might have to drop out of school until I could decide what to do with my life but, before that happened, Fate stepped in.
My friends and I had planned to spend a weekend away from school at a “pop” festival in College Station, Texas (what music festivals were called in the 1970’s!) I naturally brought my three dogs along with me to the festival (as they went everywhere with me) but, as soon as we arrived, my dog Lady started acting sick. As Fate would have it, the festival was just a short drive from the Texas school of veterinary medicine so I ended up taking Lady there. That simple act led to my life-changing moment because the moment I walked into the vet school, I knew that that’s what I’d always wanted to be. And, as crazy as it sounds, I never looked back from that moment on.
Of course, one didn’t become a veterinarian with a simple snap of the fingers: there were a lot of prerequisite courses I’d need to take in addition to getting myself admitted. But, as convoluted and tough as the road was, I somehow managed to put one foot in front of the other until I graduated in 1980.
Unfortunately, after graduating vet school, there was a major hurdle I had to contend with: deciding whether I should move back to Dallas, Texas. Though my family was in Dallas and it seemed logical that I move back there, I didn’t really want to. I didn’t want my future children to be raised around the craziness of my parents. Things had only gotten worse since I’d been away at college. At one point, my mom had even attempted suicide to get a reaction from my dad. At another point, she’d even gone after my dad with a gun. I just didn’t think I could go back to that. But, if I wasn’t going back to Dallas, where was I going to go?
As I was growing up, my mom lamented almost every single day that she should have never moved to Texas: that she should have stayed in California where she would have had the support of her family. Probably due to the fact that California had been so pounded into my head all my life, I eventually decided that that’s where I’d move after graduation. Before I left, I asked my mom if she might want to go and leave all the craziness behind and, because my dad had just left her once again for one of his mistresses, she decided to make the trip with me. And, oh, what a wild and crazy trip it was! As I’d accumulated a lot of pets in vet school, I had to squeeze in seventeen cats, a seventy-pound dog and two caged finches in my car.
Once I got to California, I worked for five years for two other veterinarians, got married and had twin daughters before deciding to open my own veterinary clinic. I desperately needed my own clinic so that I could do things the way I liked to do them. As it could never be said that I ever do things half way, I completely lived and breathed that clinic for the next seventeen years.
The clinic thrived but it eventually got too busy for one veterinarian. I’d actually tried hiring another veterinarian for a while but it just didn’t work out. I attempted to deter business by refusing to take any new clients and by putting the clinic phone on a recorder (the constant ringing drove me crazy.) Yet, in spite of everything, the clinic eventually wore me down. Two years after my daughters graduated high school, I sold the clinic and my home so that I could try to find something to do that wasn’t so depleting.
In an attempt to figure out what that might be, I took off on a cross-country trip to Connecticut in order to volunteer at a place that helped kids with autism. Though I was searching for a new dream, it turned out that an old dream was slowly working its way back into my consciousness: long before I ever decided to go to vet school, I’d wanted to be a singer-songwriter.
When I’d been a student at the University of Texas in Austin, I’d actually dreamed of being another Joni Mitchell. She was the absolute best as far as I was concerned. It also didn’t hurt that Austin was such a music mecca. I was fortunate enough to live in Austin during the days of the legendary Armadillo (an infamous music venue in Austin from 1970 to 1976 where the likes of Michael Martin Murphy, Willie Nelson, ZZ Top and B.B. King performed.) Music and singer-songwriters were absolutely everywhere in Austin. But, as with so many things in life, something had to give and my dream of being a singer-songwriter eventually took a back seat to my dream of being a veterinarian.
But, now, I’d sold my veterinary clinic and I was wiping the slate clean. There was no reason why I couldn’t try to revisit my dream of being a singer-songwriter (other than the fact that it seemed a completely insane and outrageous thing to do at forty-nine years of age!) But, the farther and farther I got from my life as a veterinarian, the braver I got. Ultimately, I asked myself, “Why not give songwriting a try?” I went back to California from Connecticut and eventually made my way to San Francisco where I studied songwriting, voice and guitar in earnest.
During my four years in San Francisco, I’d repeatedly heard it said that, if a person really wanted to increase her chances of making it big in the music industry, the place to go was Nashville. I didn’t think too much about it until I visited Nashville for a music conference in 2006. Something about Nashville got under my skin and I moved there September of 2007.
Though I didn’t know a single person when I moved to Nashville, it didn’t seem to bother me too much because I’d come there with a purpose. As part of my studies in San Francisco, I’d written around two hundred songs and the plan was to get fifty of those recorded in Nashville. I checked out studios and interviewed several different producers before selecting Kim Copeland as my producer. Not only was Kim incredible along with her engineer Kelly Schoenfeld but she brought to the table the incredible talent of instrumentalist Joe Spivey. The fifty songs were divided into four CDs by topic: The Heart Needs A Home (love), It Takes A Lot of Tears (struggle and sorrow), Fly Free (self-actualization) and People Are Like Dogs (a mix of songs two of which concern dogs.)
After I finished the CDs, I tried working the whole singer-songwriter angle (even traveling around the country and playing in small venues) but I just didn’t have it in me. I hated the game of trying to endear myself to people in order to promote my music. So, even though I’d written enough new songs to put together a new CD, I realized that the time had come to once again change directions.
Around this time, I was unexpectedly blessed with the best gift I could have ever hoped for: both of my twin daughters got pregnant within eight months of one another. They each gave me a wonderful grandson. There was nothing I’d loved more than being a mom and now I was a nana! The only problem I had was trying to figure out how to get my daughters to move to Nashville when they were California girls at heart. It took patience and time but I managed to catch each of them at a vulnerable moment and finally got them to Nashville!
Though I’d been able to take a break from being a veterinarian for several years, it was rapidly becoming clear financially that I needed to go back to work. Since I was giving up my quest to be a singer-songwriter, I decided that it just might be the right time to write a book that I’d been wanting to write for years and years about how people are like dogs.
Though I’d never written a book before, I knew that it would be a totally different process from that of writing a song! Still, I was amazed at how I could sit and write for hours at a time. Writing the People Are Like Dogs book became the absolute focus of my life. I worked on the book for four years and would have continued to work on the book for years to come until I finally had it finished but then 2016 happened. I had such a horrible year in 2016, a year so full of bad decisions and bad luck that it left me feeling terribly vulnerable and fragile (I even broke my ankle and had to have surgery at one point!) Somewhere in 2016, I came face-to-face with my mortality, with the fact that my life was barreling out of control towards the end of the line. I was made rudely aware of the fact that I no longer had the luxury of simply taking my time. Time was now of the essence and I needed to move things along.
In the middle of the night one night in mid-December of 2016 (when my brain wakes me up to problem solve), I came to the stark realization that I simply couldn’t wait to one day get the People Are Like Dogs book finished, edited and published. I had to get it out into the world now. That’s when I decided to create a website that would include everything that I’d always wanted to share with the world: my People Are Like Dogs book (at least the chapters I’ve managed to finish so far); my music; and, since I’d always wanted to write a book about veterinary medicine just for pet owners, I’d put that on the website too!
So, that’s my life in nutshell up until April of 2017. The quest is to put it all out there and, by doing so, make some kind of positive difference in the world. Thanks so much! Woof!