Several years ago a friend asked me where my picture was when he viewed my website. I hadn't really thought of it before, but I realized, in comparing his site to mine, that my site was void of personal information about myself. I decided to do something about that, so here is a brief description of "VirtualCandy" and an updated portrait taken in 2011.
Years ago I attended a two-day management conference held by Dr. Morris Massey who was the head of the psychiatry department of a Texas university. The title of his series was "You Are What You Were When You Were Then," which was based on his theory that who you are is determined by everything that effects your life up to the age of 10. By that time, according to him, your "gut level values" are permanently formed. That conference, and everything I got out of it, hit home.
I was a baby-boomer, born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. For you astrology buffs, I am a triple Virgo (Virgo sun sign, Virgo rising ascendant, and Virgo first house) with the Moon in Capricorn and Mars in Scorpio. (I know, I know....."Ohhhhh my gawwwwd....")
My parents separated before I was born, and divorced when I was 2 years old. I have never met my father, although I know who and where he is. I grew up an only child with my mother, who never remarried, and her parents.
My mother and I were very close. I think the fact that she was 17 years old when I was born was the reason I considered her my best friend. Imagine having a kid graduate from high school at the age of 34! It was great "growing up with Mom."
My mother was a rare jewel. She had keen insight into my personality, and she recognized certain aspects of that personality which told her that I was a free spirit with a mind (and opinion) of my own. Rather than try to shape me into what she felt she wanted in a daughter, she allowed me to become my own person while focusing on the important things....instilling in me basic morals and values; faith in God; love, respect and consideration for all of His creation; and a sense of self.
I developed and enjoyed a number of interests, talents and skills, some of which I carried into adulthood. I acquired a deep love of music of all genres, and an affection for warm fuzzy animals. English and literature were my academic strengths. I had a passion for the sea, the beaches and the sunsets. I loved to travel and see other places, and I know this was started by my mother. My first trip to Hawaii was her gift to me for graduation from high school. I have since traveled many times to the South Pacific and throughout the U.S. It was no wonder that my first love was flying.
I wanted to be a flight attendant ("stewardess" back then). In those days, you had to be 21 to become one. Upon graduation from high school, I had to figure out what to do until I could start working in my chosen career. I got a job as a clerk-typist for Social Security, and quickly advanced to a secretarial position. This would suit me well until I reached 21, so I was content for the time being.
When I was 19 years old, my world crumbled. My grandfather committed suicide. I don't think my mother ever got over it. Then, 7 months later, my mother became disabled and had to give up her interior design career. She became very dependent upon me, so I made the decision to give up my airline career so I could stay close to home. Instead, I concentrated on a career in Social Security, which I enjoyed for over 38 years.
I married a dear friend when I was 24, and after 8 happy years, we began drifting apart. We were growing in separate directions, and we no longer had much in common. With no children to worry about, we made an amicable split a year later. We remained friends over the years and stayed in touch until a very unexpected heart attack took his life on May 10, 2007.
After separating from Len, I relocated to a different community in the area which was progressive, and rich in cultural diversity and the arts. I was able to nurture my love for music like never before. I became the secretary of the Oakland Opera, and was on the board of directors for both the Oakland Symphony and the Oakland Ballet. By contrast, I also gained an appreciation for the blues, due to the abundance of nightclubs which offered live blues and jazz. I was in seventh Heaven.
I became interested in computers in 1985. I took some evening courses at the local community college, and learned some programming and business applications. When the internet was born I was ready :)
I first learned my mother had metastatic breast cancer on June 10, 1991. I will never forget the shock and feeling of helplessness. The last year of her life would be the hardest for both of us. After radiation, hormonal and chemo therapies, we accepted the fact that everything that could have been done was done, and Mom's time on Earth was nearly completed. I had to place her in a nursing home on July 9, 1992 when she required round-the-clock care, and she passed away peacefully on August 3, 1992 at 5:34 p.m. with her hand in mine. She was 61.
After a period of healing from the loss of my mother, I began to expand my interests. I continued to learn more and more about computers and the internet, and through a dear friend, I also learned how to fly sports kites. I acquired a few professional dual-line kites and a couple of good deltas, and found the hobby to be a tremendous source of stress-relief. I attended a number of competitions and tournaments, and was fortunate to go to the World Cup Tournament, which was won by our Hawaiian team, "High Performance" for the 3rd year in a row (YESSSS!!!).
I became more involved in church activities. I was a member of the American Baptist Churches of the West, and was on the Singles Ministry Design Team, which planned retreats and other activities for Christian singles. I was my church's Sunday School Secretary, and leader of a Bible study group for single women. I also was a counselor for an abuse victim support group. These activities proved to be most fulfilling.
With the Clinton Administration busy at trying to get the country's economy under control, many changes were taking place within the various federal government agencies. There were lots of staff reductions, and our agency was no different. It was determined that we needed to reduce managerial staffing. An opportunity was given to me to take a non-managerial position with an all-expense-paid transfer to virtually anywhere I chose. Hawaii unfortunately was out of the question.... EVERYBODY wanted to go there LOL! I had decided several years earlier that I wanted to retire in Northwest Arkansas, which is where my family originated. I had spent a great deal of time there as a child, and always loved the natural beauty of the mountains, lakes and rivers. With 8 years to go before retirement, I figured I might as well try to transfer to an office close to where I wanted to retire. Out of the 6 choices I was allowed in my transfer request, I was selected for a position in the office that was my 6th choice LOL! I was reminded by a dear friend that "the Lord said, 'the first shall be last and the last shall be first'." I accepted this as a part of the reason God wanted me to be in Texarkana.
Moving from a metropolitan area like the West coast to middle-of-the-road America where the big city is 50,000 in population is by no exaggeration a major adjustment. Having a great deal more time on my hands than I did in California has enabled me to expand my interest in computers and increase my knowledge and abilities in that area. Little by little I began gaining a presence in cyberspace, and making a lot of friends on the internet.
It was shortly after I began working on my website that I became acquainted with Ray, who lived in West Virginia. We met in person, embarked on a relationship, and when we decided we were serious, made a commitment to each other with a "cyber wedding" on the internet. After three years of keeping a long-distance relationship alive (which takes some doing!), we married legally on September 5, 2001. He is retired from the trucking industry and a single father of two sons, Andy and Adam. Andy is now the manager of a foreign auto dealership, and Adam is working and hoping to return to college. Both live in Corpus Christi.
In January 2004 Ray and I retired on some lake property we owned in Oklahoma. Away from the hustle and bustle of city life, our home is in the quiet rural hill area above Lake Tenkiller in Cherokee County. The peace and quiet, as well as the abundant wildlife, provides the perfect environment to nurture my love of reading and studying, and fuels my creative spirit. God has taught me many lessons, but the two most significant ones are patience, and the fact that when we try to control our own fate, it's not nearly as amazing as letting go and allowing Him to direct our paths. The blessings, I have learned, are abundant.
When I was a child, there was a clown who always made me laugh without saying a single word. Just looking at him would make me start giggling. The interesting thing about him was the fact that he rarely smiled. As a matter of fact, when I looked into his eyes, I saw someone who really was sad....not happy like a clown should be. The clown was Charlie Chaplin. Chaplin had a particularly sad, and rough, childhood. His father abandoned the family when he was two years old. His mother toiled in the workhouses of London for many years, and they lived in severe poverty. His father died when he was about 8 years old, and his mother ended up in a sanitarium. Yet, Chaplin went on to become one of the world's greatest entertainers as a gifted actor, director, producer, musician, and songwriter, and at the age of 83 was knighted by Queen Elizabeth.
Even as a young child, I was deeply touched and motivated by Chaplin's song, "Smile." In retrospect, I believe that he wrote that song for himself. But when I first heard it as a child, I believed he wrote it for me. I believe that that song instilled in me the philosophy that happiness isn't something that a person has or doesn't have by "luck of the draw." Happiness is a choice you make for yourself. If you decide that you will not be happy, you won't be....and neither will anyone else when they're around you. If you decide that, despite the circumstances of your life, you will be happy, it will happen. And "folks will know the way you went by the light you leave behind."
My friend Marcia, whose poetry is being published on this site, wrote a poem just for me after reading this page. Needless to say, I was overwhelmed and very touched by this gift. Thank you, Marcia.
And so the two grew up as friends
God kept their spirits free
Both there to catch them if they fell
and grant Eternity.
She could have soared the heavens, but
fate kept her dreams at bay.
She saw her mother suffer, and
she prayed her pain away.
She found an earth-based working place
and made it a career
Social work to help mankind
feel somewhat more secure.
So many lessons we must learn
And many roads are crossed
We reach inside our souls and see
We're never really lost.
And now she's found a haven and
a friend to share her schemes
By day she flies the internet
By night, he feeds her dreams.