The truth about me.
I come from a long line of intense, opinionated, oppositional, oddballs. I had the distinction of being the black sheep, middle child, in a family of nine children. My mother would say —with a deep sigh— she had four boys, four girls and one – NINA! Then she would shake her head… Like most children with undiagnosed ADHD, I tended to annoy, frustrate, irritate and alienate just about everyone in my path. I was oblivious to social cues and was genuinely clueless as to why people rejected me. Fortunately, I was able to connect with babies, preschoolers, and my beloved little brother Frankie, who had Down’s syndrome. Even though I only earned 25 cents an hour, I would have paid money to baby sit! I did earn enough to buy my own motorcycle back when girls only rode on the back.
In the plus column.
I became a person who cares about how children are treated, especially the so-called “special” ones. My fingers are on the pulse of children, reading their reactions to how others treat them. I have spent, and still spend, more time with children than with people my own age. When I am not hanging out with kids, or painting in my studio, I create stories about tricky situations and sticky relationships. I want my stories to open hearts and minds so that every last one of us learns how to navigate through and beyond life’s challenges.
The bla bla bla stuff.
I went to college and earned a degree in fine art. I worked in childcare centers until I married my best friend, Dan King, and became a stay-at-home mother. I returned to school for a Masters of Art in teaching, so that I could earn a real living instead of minimum wage. Teaching 600-plus elementary school art students, whom I only saw once a week for 50 minutes, felt like a factory. It made me realize that I needed to have a deeper relationship with each of the children in my care. I went back to school—AGAIN—to add a Master’s in Early Childhood so that I could engage with my own class of kindergarteners. Together we made school fun. [I still remember how they would knock each other out of the way – trying to jump off the bus and into my arms.] I have been the art director at a camp and conference center, taught art history, design and drawing as an adjunct professor, taught preschool in several states, and recently I was a curriculum and program facilitator and teacher in a child development center. The story of my life has been and is childcentered. Children have always held my flat feet to the fire when it comes to compassion, deep understanding, and unconditional love. Currently, I am the caregiver [and chauffeur] for a family with three boys. I paint, and digitally create Ebooks for children. I am still married to my beloved Dan, and I would pay money to spend more time with my grandchildren!
What about my paintings?
You see, there is another side of me that has nothing to do with children and care giving, and has everything to do with having a wily soul that thinks in metaphors and has an unquenchable urge to create and know life. Both children and art keep me sane and drive me crazy! I need children because as much as I love doing art, my art cannot love me back. Creating stories for children blends my two sides together.