I'm the granddaughter of sharecroppers, born in California in 1953, with roots in Colorado and Oklahoma and I grew up in a banjo and mixedblood fiddle tradition, rich with storytelling and music.
Growing up in a family of storytellers and music makers, I developed a listening habit. I also understand that the ancestors are grooming me to perform work while I’m on this earth. Writing is one of the ways I do it.
I'm an essayist, memoirist and nonfiction writer and I’ve been writing and publishing for 35-plus years. Along the way I have also worked with American Indian Health, within a program offering spiritual connection and Indian doctoring for Native Americans living with AIDS. As a director with Hospice and We Can Pediatric Brain Tumor Network. As a coordinator in South Korea with a family exchange program. At a Youth Crisis Shelter for homeless teens. As a volunteer with CASA as a Court Appointed Special Advocate with at-risk and foster youth in transition. In schools and within Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers mentoring core.
I have the lived experience as the mother of three children, two adopted from South Korea. As the mother of a son who was diagnosed with a brain tumor at seven and died at age fifteen, and as a mixedblood woman and grandmother with light skin privilege.
In my life a host of teachers have crossed my path, always showing up at the right time. For every success we have I believe it is important to remember how we got there. I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish all that I have without the steadfast guidance from teams of good people who gave their time to me, mentoring, shepherding, guiding and veering me along. I owe an extraordinary debt to all of my teachers who have taught me many wise things about writing and publishing and living.
With my mixedblood Cherokee, Lenape, Seneca, and German ancestry, with German Jewish lineage, I'm not a German person, I'm not a white person, I'm not a totally Native person. But somehow I can move between these worlds, and yet I'm also a border woman, dwelling between the boundaries.
As a person of the world I wear the face of a woman with light skin privilege. My gray hair and wrinkled face speak for me. The placement of my eyes, small, deep-set above broad-boned cheeks, and my wherewithal attest that I’m a rough around the edges mixed-blood.
But what you cannot see is how the language of adoption gives me deep roots into Korean lifeways. While two of my children, Korean-born, explored what it meant to be Korean American, I sank in roots. My soul is connected and thirty years in the Korean community shaped and changed me.
Those thinking they know what to expect when they see my face will not identify me as mixed race, as a Native woman, as a member of a family of color or understand that my thinking is brown and that my heart is connected to Korean ethnicity.
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