In my early childhood — it took me longer to learn to read than any normal child. My most painful memory of this was in the 2nd grade and Mrs. Smith was making me read out loud to the class while tears were streaking down my face because I couldn’t get through the words. To this day, I can still hear the laughter and the annoying voice of teacher’s pet Jenna stating that I should be put in the back with the “troublemaker” kids because it is obvious I don’t pay attention in class. That was a turning point for me — once I was able to pick up reading I never stopped — proving to my 8 year old self and classmates that I could do it over and over again. I remember the books that got me through the hump — Nancy Drew series and The Little House on the Prairie. My older sister had gotten a set of both series for some event as a gift, was it birthday or Christmas… I don’t remember. I only remember seeing the bright yellow covers of Nancy and the gang along with the multi colored spines of Laura and her adventures and being mesmerized by the colors alone. At night after she was sound asleep, I would sneak into her side of the room and then eventually her actual room when we weren’t sharing and read them — oh how I wouldn’t sleep but just read and read. Just touching the books was a thrill, their hard covers hard enough to break down the brick walls I had built around me and take me into a different world with each turn of the page.

Four years later, at thankfully a different school, I discovered my love for writing — thanks to Mrs. Johnson and a simple poetry lesson. I was already a stellar English student, because who wouldn’t love to read and then write or answer questions about what you were reading, but that was really just read and answer multiple questions to make sure you did the reading. This was different, this was us writing something from our heads and hearts and not going based on something we were already reading. I was allowed to get creative, to pull the magnificent world that I was always living in in my head and share it with with others and not have them look at me like I was nuts. To this day I still see that poem, my poem, as my greatest masterpiece, my ticket to fame — a 8 line poem about Spring. Mrs. Johnson loved it too — she praised it so much that she entered it in a contest to which I, the girl who couldn’t properly read until she was in the double digit age, was published among other 6th graders and novice writers of all ages. Such achievement! (Yes, I said that to myself a million times) The moment I held the finished book in my hands and turned to the page my poem was on in the bottom left-hand corner, I knew I wanted to be writer, to hold many final copies of my own work in my hand, to know something I wrote touched someone the same way it touched me.

Over the years, I would hold onto this dream, anytime I wasn’t reading or doing school work I would write. Not always poems, but stories that were in my head that would flow the second the pen hit the paper. If I wasn’t writing, I was reading, if I wasn’t reading I was writing… You get the picture. Anything I could get my hands on to take me away to another world to live, another life to experience, by the time I was in high school I had lived hundreds of different lives and wasn’t going to stop. When I went off to college, my goal and dream were still in view, but like all stories, there is always a time where the main character loses their way due to life’s twists and turns. I was so excited to be on my own, that I let my newfound independence cloud my judgement on what my goals were and what was important. I call these the dark times. Years passed and I had since stopped writing but kept on reading — it was my passion for my books that brought me back. They were my home after a long day at work at a job I hated but told myself I loved. They were my escape when I would start to wallow in self pity because I still didn’t have a degree and didn’t know what I was doing with my life.

Then one day, about 3 years ago, while going through some of my childhood things, I found it. The book my poem had been published in all those years ago and while I excitedly turned to page 61 where I knew I would find my poem in the bottom left-hand corner, tears welled up in my eyes and threatened to spill over. I turned and showed this to the man in my life who would utter the 5 words that would shake my world — “Why did you stop writing?”. I couldn’t answer him, I was frozen with confusion and excuses. I couldn’t even answer it in my head because I didn’t know why. After that it still took me a couple more years to stop making excuses for myself and go for what I really wanted, but that’s how we ended up here. I write every day, whether it is just simply my thoughts and the key board or something with a specific purpose. All that matters is I found a way to bring myself and my passion back to life.