I suppose I am coming in rather late to this party, but people kept telling me that I should write my life story. After giving it much thought, I decided to write it in this format and continue to add to it as I go. Feel free to jump in anytime with questions and suggestions.

The chapters of my life are many, and I have re-invented myself several times. Childhood, the teen years, 20-30, marriage/divorce/widowhood, being a mother, moving to the Midwest, being a grandmother… I have had a rich and rewarding life, filled with adventure, discovery, happiness, sadness, and now, contentment. I have had a pretty long and circuitous route that brought me to this world of art making.

Please follow along as I share with you the story of my life.

At high school in Glendale, CA, I learned fairly quickly that if I kept my grades up, I could switch to a work/study program in which I could take classes until noon and then go to work. In my junior year, I landed a job at a local record store, Rare Records, and my life truly began. Until this point I had felt quite invisible, never fitting in with any of the social groups at school, and when I strode into that store in bare feet, cut-offs, and a tank top, I felt a noticeable change in my energy and enthusiasm. I had known for quite a long time that school was not for me – I was far too restless to sit still and wait for someone to teach me. This was in the Sixties – a famously magical time and I had a front row seat to all the new artists that were coming along, as well as free tickets to just about any concert I wanted to attend in the Los Angeles area. In addition, I was in a rarefied environment, being exposed to jazz, blues, country, and classical music in addition to rock and folk, my personal favorites. I no longer had to depend on my parents for spending money - and I wasted no time in acquiring my first car: an MG Midget.  I was there for seven years, wore many different hats, met famous people, jazz musicians, composers, photographers, and learned the business at the elbow of life-long music aficionados. We sold to walk-in customers, mail order customers (which would prepare me for my eventual mail order business), and we held international mail order record auctions. I beam when I remember how pleased I was when I realized that my children also enjoyed this exposure to such an eclectic mix of musical styles. But that was much later. After I left the record store, I went to work at Warner Elektra Atlantic Records as a secretary to the West Coast Promotion Man, and was greeted each day with a lovely stack of brand new LPs that I could take home. My final job in the record business was as a secretary to Wolfman Jack until which time that I felt that I was ready for a change.

At 26, I learned the art of pattern making and clothing design in the Los Angeles garment business, which was exactly what I wanted to do, but just didn’t know it. I quickly became a free-lance pattern maker and was able to move to Santa Barbara, CA, where I lived for 12 years. During that time, I did independent work for entrepreneurs and start-up companies, Patagonia, The Santa Barbara Ballet, costume companies, tennis wear manufacturers, and for private commissions – basically for anyone who answered my ad. I cultivated unlimited possibilities with my talents and skills. By 1982 I had founded my own business, The R. Duck Company, making diaper covers in a rainbow of colors for babies, called Rubber Duckies.  This was a product that I tested on my own children, as I was an avid cloth diaper user and I was in search of the perfect waterproof and affordable diaper cover. This kept me busy for twelve years – it was the hardest thing I have ever done, the most rewarding thing I have ever done, and it just about killed me. Eventually, the business folded (a victim of the times, economics and competition, among other things.) I lost everything, declared bankruptcy, and moved to Minnesota. 

I had always wanted to live in the Midwest, where we have beautiful seasons and weather – rain, thundershowers, snow, warm days, cool days – it was such a change from Southern California and I just loved it. When I arrived here, I continued doing freelance work until I came to the conclusion that I really needed to get a “real job.” My three children were in high school and starting college and I was completely worn out after working seven days a week, day and night for more than 20 years. I wanted a job that offered benefits, vacation and sick days and a living wage, so I applied for and got a job at the University of Minnesota as an administrative assistant, which at the time, we called secretaries. This gave me a broad introduction into a completely new world - higher education, in which I was an office manager, assistant to deans, provosts, and professors, drawing on the skills I had developed when I was younger in sales, marketing, organization, and most important, customer service. I came to realize that customer service is what happens when you talk to anyone – your boss, a retail customer, a co-worker, a family member – customer service is at the height of my talents. I feel very strongly that I can communicate with just about anyone, I can help talk them down if they are having a problem, I can give suggestions if they are on a particular quest for something, or just listen. I have based my world view on becoming the best customer service person I can be. I also apply the Golden Rule to life, and my mantra is “Be Here Now.” This allows me to live in the moment, and not worry about what comes next as I have no control over that. I believe that the present is a gift, which is why it is called that. This principle has helped me all these years. Although I started in business when I was 14, I am now in my seventies, and I never stop learning. It is absolutely thrilling and exciting.

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