Hi. My name is April J. I grew up on a homestead in a small town near Duluth. My mom was a Mother Earth News type before it was popular. We had close to 40 wooded acres, huge gardens, occasionally raised chickens, spent summers camping and fishing, and winters sliding and hauling fire wood.
My dad was a math and computers teacher at the local high school. My mom managed the home. There were 7 of us kids – 5 adopted. My mom kept a tight budget, planned meals, and bought what was wholesome, and cheap. She often made clothes for us, and once my sisters allergies were known, our bread was always 100% whole wheat and home made. We got milk from the local dairy stock tank.
As much as my kid brain thought we never had the money for the good stuff, candy and restaurants and designer clothes and the latest toys, we had enough.
I was shy. An introvert. Very happy reading in my room, or out exploring our woods. Climbing trees, collecting wild berries, catching frogs. I was emotional, a peace keeper. I was afraid of the dark. I enjoyed working in the garden. I thought no one liked me.
6 days before my 13th birthday I got sick. My school photo was that day and I look strange and pale. I remember loads of doctors trying to figure out what it was. One doctor said maybe appendix, but probably not. Almost a month later they decided to operate assuming an ovarian cyst. Ended up being a burst appendix. 3 hours to clean up scar tissue. My first meal after recovering from surgery was green jello because it was St. Patricks day. Funny story, when my first child was born by c-section, they found staples from that surgery still inside me.
I started writing poetry somewhere around middle or junior high school. I also took several art classes. I found school to be easy, and didn’t push myself at all – I always wish I had.
College was much of the same. I realized I wanted to be creative, but because poetry did not seem a financially stable career, I tried journalism. I realized that was not for me. Next I chose Graphic Design, which is what my degree is, a BA in Graphic Design. I wish I had pushed harder. I wish I had taken more math and science. My first year I took both and excelled and had both professors wanting me to take more. I wish I had gotten a dual degree in fine arts. I wish I had done more theatre, and not dropped music. I wish I hadn’t stopped running. I wish I had gone to the Sorbonne where I had been accepted my junior year – but chickened out.
So much of my life has had me taking tentative steps. Afraid of the wrong choice, afraid to take risks, afraid to pursue anything. I have so many regrets and I keep thinking over them all the time. I am working toward breaking free of this habit of defeat.
More next time – it’s past my bedtime and I have to work early tomorrow.