One-Line Bio

I'm a writer, archives consultant, and stay-at-home mother with a wonderful husband and preschool boy. (Location note: our four-year sojourn in the San Francisco area ended in July of 2012, allowing us to return to my beloved Georgia.)


During my Kindergarten days, my mother asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I surprised her with the reply that I wanted to work for Mutual of Omaha. Nothing wrong with selling insurance, of course, but this was a tot’s big dream!? Actually, I didn’t even know what insurance was. I just knew that Mutual of Omaha advertised every Sunday night on Wild Kingdom and the commercials showed their representatives being invited into people’s homes and lots of talking going on. It looked very much like what we did whenever we visited my grandparents.

During those trips to rural Arkansas, we drove down tree-lined roads, parked in gravel driveways, knocked on screen doors, and were welcomed inside. Once in somebody’s living room, there was bound to be an offer of milk along with something sticky, sweet, and home-baked. Before long the stories would start. "Now, when your daddy was your age..." If we were lucky the conversation would slip back a generation, revealing my shuffling grandpa as a youngster who once flew down a hill so fast on a bike that he careened into a tree and knocked himself out. If the visit lasted long enough, there would be a few more backward slides, landing us with generations I’d never met. Then the stories became wilder and larger and sadder or "gladder" -- sometimes all at the same time. There was a long-ago world of virgin timber, howling wolves, and gun-slinging feuds, but also clandestine romances and died-too-young soldiers. If Mutual of Omaha salespeople got to eat pie and listen to people’s stories all day, sign me up!

By mid-elementary school, my grandparents’ stories were just a start. I loved all stories. My library card was ratty from overuse and I carried a notebook around all the time. I loved to invent tales but also to write down my own story as it unfolded. I may wince when I read through them, but I have diaries back to the second grade in case I should ever need to trace back to my earliest stories. When I was in my twenties, that need did arise and with a sharpness. My parents died in consecutive years of unrelated illnesses – lightning striking twice. During that period I realized my journal was a way to hear my own voice in the storm. In addition, lining old journals up chronologically to read through my life was a way to gain perspective, to remember who I was and what was important.

I’d begun a career in Art Education by this point, fascinated by the way people work through issues and tell their own stories visually. With fresh, real-life understanding about what knowledge can be lost when a person passes on, interviewing one elderly folk artist for my graduate thesis was all it took for me to be hooked on oral history. Soon I was working to record my grandparents’ world through audiotapes and film, but also by collecting old letters, recipes, and vital records. I fell for genealogy hard. All this led me to a second master’s degree, this time in Information Science so I could shift my career in the direction of local history research and archives.

My parents and grandparents have been gone for many years now. I’m raising my own child, trying my best to give him a start as solid as my own. In addition, my early losses are a sharp reminder of the natural order of life; most likely he will come to a time when his own memory has faded and there’s nobody left to ask. I aim to leave him a legacy of story. Should he care to read it, he’ll be able to see his early life through the eyes of his loving mama and have a sense of the family history that formed his earliest foundation.

Each person’s life is a journey. Understanding your personal and family history is a great boon towards understanding and being able to effectively negotiate the world at large. And the process of collecting, recording, and preserving has its own rewards. Instead of rushing towards the next event or the next accomplishment, there is a beautiful mindfulness in stopping to appreciate the falling leaf as it drops and languidly turns. For those who feel the urge, recording the moment of the falling leaf – or any moment be it significant or small – lets them savor that slice of life now but also in the future. Leaf by leaf, page by page, artwork by artwork, the journey makes more sense, can be revisited or shared with others, and is preserved for future generations. That is what the JourneyLeaf blog is all about.

Thanks for visiting!


History, genealogy, autobiography, writing, digital photography, baking, and adventures with a preschooler