I am a Traveler. I am a Chef. I am a Biker. I am a Photographer. I am a Stage Hand. I am a Woodworker. I am a Writer. I am a Warrior.
I am now, or have been, each of these things, and all of these things.
I have Multiple Sclerosis. I was diagnosed in 1986. MS is something that is very important to me that people be educated about. Because it is a very large part of my life, it is even more important that friends understand as much as they can about it. Please visit my posts to learn about it and how it has affected my life. I will warn you, there is a lot to read. (they don’t call me “Bard” for nothin’!) The more people I meet, the more I hear that they know someone with MS, but know little about it. I urge you to take the time to read it, not just so you have a better understanding of me, but perhaps it will help you better understand someone else you know as well.
My true passion has always been, travel. Plain and simple. I travel solo most of the time and love doing so. Without the constraints of worrying about pleasing someone else, I do what I want to do, when I want to do it. I like it like that. I like the freedom that it brings. My motto when I travel is: Travel as a local, not as a tourist.
I have driven across the Untied States to both the Atlantic and Pacific Coasts and just about everywhere in between. I’ve driven for 36 hours; alone, accross lone, desolate stretches of roads in the middle of nowhere. Hello Wyoming! I have come face to face with White Line Fever. It ain’t fun! I’ve been to Montreal Canada and British Columbia. I can’t say which coast I like better, they each have a different allure. The craggy bluffs, crashing waves and sheer cliffs beckon to me to explore their wonders and hidden coves. The soothing, lapping waves, and sand beaches of Southern California lull me to just sit peacefully, and do nothing. To be in the moment.
To feel the power of the sea, is and always has been, a driving force that digs deep into my spirit. It makes me feel alive. It soothes me. It makes me feel invincible. Each, hypnotic gathering of sheer indomitable strength that comes with each surge, makes me feel invigorated. Simply stated, it makes me feel.
I enjoy photography quite a bit and started out using a Nikon metal body camera that allowed for full manual operation. I learned a lot over the years on my own, as well as taking trips to Minnesota to visit my friend Lynn, a more experienced photographer, and she taught me much. Both of use enjoyed scenic photography and we would go out to the many wonderful places around Minneapolis and just take pictures for hours. I have since made the move to digital and like the freedom it allows in being able to take hundreds of photos without worrying if they are ‘just right’. I remember a trip to Portland, ME that I took my Nikon with instead of my digital camera. After one roll, I quickly remembered that I needed to make every shot count, or I’d be spending a fortune in film – LOL
Cooking, a hobby (?) I have taken to and am finding that I really enjoy. I find it very relaxing. I especially enjoy creating my own recipes. Or taking an existing recipe and making it my own. I seem to do better at this, than when I follow something. Unfortunately, I rarely remember to write down what I do making it hard to recreate things that worked. My cupboards and drawers are over flowing with pots, pans, knives, and all the different tools that one must have for specific jobs. At least, that’s what I tell myself every time I find something else that I ‘just have to have’! I grow many of the herbs that I use on a regular basis. Living in the Midwest however, that means only in the summer and fall months. My house is not conducive to growing anything inside unfortunately. I am finding myself eating things that I never would have dreamed of eating. However, I am trying to make it my motto to always try something new. I especially make a point of this when I am on vacation, after all, part of experiencing what a city/culture is all about is through their food.
Community Theatre was something that I was quite passionate about for about 17 years. I worked on over 50 shows. With a few exceptions as a walk on, I worked entirely behind the scenes. You can read more about that in “Becoming A Thespian”.
I became interested in Web Design, and was the Web Mistress for TownSquare Players (TSP), one of the Community Theatre Groups I worked with. We had developed a PR committee, and the TSP site, incorporated a separate PR website for each production. I loved designing websites and at one time, I was up to 8 sites that I designed and was maintaining. I had some help getting started from friends Christopher and Laurie. I started out the easy way using WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) programs until Christopher convinced me that writing HTML was the only way to go. Eventually I hand wrote all the HTML and CSS code for all the sites that I did. It was a challenge, but one I took willingly. Even more exciting was I actually getting paid to design as RAEdical Designs. Ok, so was not big bucks but it did come in handy as extra cash.
I took up motorcycling in the early 90’s more out of necessity than anything else. I drive 54 miles roundtrip to work each day and the gas expense was killing me. At the time I drove a full size Bronco 4×4, with a 4 barrel 351 V8, 3″ suspension lift and 33″ mud and snow tires. My gas mileage was poor to say the least. A friend was thinking of buying a motorcycle and I thought, “Hey! Now that would be economical.” The fact that I didn’t know how to ride was beside the point. You can read more about this in “Biker Rae”.
I live in a small farm town in Illinois just shy of the Wisconsin state line. Or as friends call it, “the edge of the world”. The end of my road, is the Wisconsin state line. I moved here in 1988. I live on 50 beautiful acres, that starts out at one of the highest point in McHenry County, and slopes down from there. The views are quite spectacular at times-especially watching a thunderstorm roll in. It was especially gorgeous a few years ago, with 26 inches of snow on the ground – talk about a winter wonderland.
I have teamed up with my father to learn one of his many skills. Woodworking. I have acquired quite a few tools and tool boxes along the way. We’ve built some furniture together, with plans to build more from old trees we’ve cut down. I’m in a Native American phase that is combined with a Western theme right now for the décor of my home. I have a 2 story with a loft that looks out over my great room with a 40′ beamed ceiling, and a natural field stone fireplace from floor to ceiling. I love living out ‘in the middle of nowhere”. It is so beautiful, so quiet, so peaceful. Sound travels for miles out here. Listening to the lumbering freight train and occasional whistle in the middle of the nite some 6 miles away, is one of my favorite sounds.
I was an athlete and got my start in Interscholastic Sports in 6th grade. I was on the girl’s softball team and what was then called, power volleyball-which is volleyball as we know it now. Back then, this type of play, was brand new. I also played on the church co-ed softball team. It was very disappointing to enter high school to find out that sports were not offered for girls! Thankfully, I was still involved on the church softball team in the summers and with the park district as well. It wasn’t until my junior year that sports were offered in high school. I joined the volleyball team right away. By this time I had a very bad knee and was in a full leg brace my entire senior year-giving me the nickname, “Peg Leg Rae”. I had surgery when I graduated. It didn’t stop me however, and I played on the company softball team for the Park District until my late 20’s.
Creative writing is something I love to do. Any kind of writing actually. I took every available writing class, literature and journalism class offered in high school. My mom said as soon as I was able to hold a pencil, I was “writing” on any piece of paper I could get a hold of. My best friend moved to Washington during our senior year of High School and my writing skills came in handy then. She was the recipient of my longest ever hand written letter. A 140+ page letter complete with table of contents!
I was the Sports Editor of my High School paper for 2 years, a reporter and a statistician for boys basketball and baseball teams. While I attended Community College, I worked briefly on the school paper. I had done quite a bit of writing for fun both in high school and Community College including some short stories – I only wish I’d kept all those things. I hope the creativity comes back one of these days – it’s like anything else, you don’t use it? You loose it. I took an Into to Psych class, a really cool, fun professor, peaked my interest in Psychology which lead me to take every available class in that field as well as Sociology.
After receiving my Associates of Arts degree, I transferred to NIU where I pursued literature with hopes of teaching at the high school level, as well as a minoring in Psych. One of the education classes I took had a group of 3 of us working in a local middle school with a small class of kids that were considered ‘trouble kids’. By trouble I mean, they tended to ditch school often, had attitude problems and had no desire to be there. I loved it! It didn’t take long to learn that what they really needed was someone to just take an interest in them and work with them. I remember one young boy who they said refused to talk to anyone. He was Greek and was thrilled to death the day I spoke Greek to him. I knew very little, but it was enough to gain his trust from that point on. I was the only one he would talk to. A few of the kids insisted on doing things with us outside of class a few times and we were more than willing. It would have been frowned upon I’m sure if anyone knew about it, but it was important to the 3 of us at the time – especially seeing the difference it made with these, supposedly, unteachable kids. It turned out that many of these kids, that no one seemed interested in, were actually quite intelligent. They just needed someone in their corner. That semester spent with these kids was one of the most rewarding times of my life.
I invite you to join me on My Dream Vacation to Italia!
I urge you to read about Multiple Sclerosis and my journey with MS in hopes that you will take something with you that will be helpful in your daily life.
I’d love to hear from you, so please, leave a comment.