The Women of TTB is a series where we focus on some of the women who helped get The Tattooed Buddha off and running and also continue to keep it growing! We sent out a few interview questions to some of these writers and artists so that we could find out more about them and highlight their many talents!
Tell me a little about yourself. Where do you live? What is your living arrangement like?
I grew up in a small town—Lorain, Ohio—which used to be known for steel production and the birthplace of Toni Morrison. I’m adopted, which I’ve never not known about, and raised in a fairly typical middle class home. My parents were both hair stylists and originally met in beauty school (which is what they called it back then) and both worked for my grandma at the hair salon she owned.
I work as a sign language interpreter for a video relay service by day, and I am still hoping to actually finish a book I am working on (one day). I have three somewhat grown kids. My youngest is in college at Kent State, my middle is at the local community college and working, and my oldest is actually my niece who we raised, and she was working at a theatre is Rochester, New York before the pandemic, but now lives in Toledo and does side work for a sculptor.
My kids are the best part of my life. They are my most favorite people in the world and each one of them has taught me so much.
I have a sweet boyfriend whom I have been with for the last five years. I had given up on love before I met him, thinking it was something you only read about or saw in cute movies with Sandra Bullock or Emma Stone but it has been quite amazing the second time around.
I also have a dog named Dash who has a bad habit of eating socks.
How did you get into the arts/writing?
I started writing stories as soon as I could string sentences together. In elementary school I had the opportunity to be in the young author’s club and learned a lot about writing then. In early college I had a professor write a note on one of my papers encouraging me to write for a living. Years later I had the opportunity to edit for Elephant Journal and started submitting to some online publications.
Do you meditate? What is your practice like?
I try. I get into a habit for awhile and meditate before bed, and then I get out of the habit. I like the idea of meditating, kind of like when one likes the idea of being fit, but actually making that practice regular is an internal struggle I have still. I will say the meditating I do practice—albeit spotty—has helped me recognize my thinking patterns.
How did you get into meditation?
A long time ago I saw a flyer for a guided mediation class at a metaphysical store and tried it. Later, when I was pregnant with my second child I wanted to try something different than Lamaze so I tried Hypnobirthing, which is basically meditation. It helped for a lot of the labor, but not all of it. Years after that I went to a group meditation done by an Insight Meditation group at a library.
Do you identify with any specific spirituality? If so, how did that happen for you? What spirituality were you raised in?
I was raised Catholic. Church was always boring to me but I loved the ritual of it—the incense, the chanting, the stained glass windows. While I enjoyed the aesthetic, I was not too keen on the message. I practiced with a Pagan group for awhile, which held the same feeling for me with the incense and ritual, but after I became a mom and working full time, it became too difficult to devote any of my extra time to anything that didn’t revolve around work and family.
I stumbled on Buddhism when I googled the words: mindful parenting. This opened up a rabbit hole of information and what drew me to it most of all was the practicality of it. This went beyond faith—this had morals that made sense to me and science that backed up the practice of meditation. My one caveat is that I have never zeroed in on a particular brand of Buddhism that has seemed to fit, so I kind of float around on the surface.
People have told me that I can’t truly grasp it unless I immerse myself into a Sangha. I can see the validity to this, yet my introvert personality and historically busy schedule always got in the way. Now we are in the middle of a pandemic.
What are your goals in life? What do you hope to do some day? Do you have a bucket list?
I would love to travel more. I see pictures of my friends on social media in beautiful places and I want to see them. The problem is I want to see them with my kids and that could be expensive.
I’d love to finish that book. The one I am working on seems like it would be pretty fun, but lately I have struggled with writer’s block and lack of motivation.
What do you do for a living?
I work as a sign language interpreter for a video relay service. I started out as a community interpreter and did that for 10 years. I went back to school while my kids were little and got a second degree in massage therapy so that I could have a more flexible schedule while they were in school. About 4-5 years ago I went back to interpreting, this time at the relay service. I am fortunate to have a steady job, especially during this time, but it can be mentally draining and I think lends to my writer’s block.
The best way to describe it is that I have a headset in my ear and a video screen in front of me (kind of like a zoom call). Every Deaf person in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico that makes a call, generally goes through this relay service. You may be thinking, well how many Deaf people can there be? I work in one of two centers in my state and there are centers in every state, as well as Canada and Puerto Rico and we are busy—non stop—24 hours a day, 7 days a week. There are 27 stations in my center alone and they typically are filled. As soon as one calls ends, the phone rings again and another one begins, within seconds.
We interpret everything from ordering take out, to personal calls to their grandmothers, to setting up medical appointments at their doctor’s offices.
How long have you done that?
I have been an interpreter for 23 years now.
What is your most favorite memory?
Of course there are so many…but one that sticks out is when my kids were pretty small and we took them to the Wiggles concert. I loved seeing their faces when those silly guys came out on stage. Another one was a few years ago for my birthday my kids and my boyfriend surprised me and put rope lighting out in our back patio. I came home and my sister in law, brother and parents came over. They turned the lighting on and I didn’t notice it right away and we all laughed about that when my dad pointed it out first, “How long have you had this lighting up?” Later we sat and watched movies together on the couch and I remember thinking that was probably my favorite birthday ever.
If you could meet anyone living or dead, who would it be?
I would love to say someone very spiritual, like the Dalai Lama, and that would be cool, but probably Lynda Carter. She was my idol growing up.
How did you get involved with TTB?
I was editing for Elephant Journal and was assigned a piece by Ty Phillips. When I noticed he was from Cleveland I sent him an email. We started talking and after a few months he suggested we start our own publication. I had already quit Elephant Journal at the time and so I thought, why not?
I watched YouTube videos on how to start a website and used that combined with what I already knew about WordPress and created the site myself. I put a word out to all the writers I knew and was pleasantly surprised when people submitted! It started out as something to do for fun, and quickly grew into a passion. I was amazed at the group of writers that became a community. Every time someone submits a piece and shares their work, I am honored and humbled. This community has taught me more than any church, prayer group or circle.
What would you like to see TTB do in the future?
I would love to see TTB grow. We have gone through many changes over the last 5 (almost 6) years. Ty left, we gained a team of people, some of those people have moved on and now we have another team. I really would like to have a pot of money to pay writers. That has been one of my biggest goals. My other major goal is to be able to create positive change. I have seen this with our Day of Meditation we have done in the past, and our Faces of Meditation. I see it in the comments people leave on articles.
I hope to create change in the world, even if it is just one word at a time.
Anything else you would like to add about yourself?
I have deep gratitude for everyone in my life, both big and small. Even the tough times have made me who I am.
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