Who Am I?

Who Am I?

I was born in Iowa in 1973. My father is a minister and my mother is a teacher. I also have one brother who is younger. I didn't do much, growing up in Iowa, for reasons probably only I can understand but I do have certain wonderful memories of some very special people who influenced my life positively and who I give credit for some of what is the very best in me.

We moved to Florida when I was 15, after my freshman year of High School. This was when my life really started to take direction. My new school was West Orange High School with a total number of students usually ranging around 2,000. I wasn’t very active in school activities since I was dealing with an intense social phobia. (I didn’t know until recently that that was my problem, I just thought I was weird.) I did, however, get involved with our church youth group, which gave me a number of positive and fun experiences that I still look fondly back on.

I graduated from High School in 1991 and chose Florida Southern College to continue my education. It was there that I discovered my creativity and love of artistic expression. I credit Mr. Downing Barnitz for my becoming an artist. I took a basic Drawing course as an elective mostly for fun and to make a change from the core curriculum that I was up to my neck in. (I had been considering a major in Math, something I’ve always loved). One day as we were working on an assignment in class, Mr. Barnitz came up behind me. After studying what I was doing for several minutes (while I was getting nervous) he said, “You could be an art major”. That was it, I began my life as an artist.

Of course I couldn’t just make it easy on myself and finish my art degree right away. Oh no, I had to start thinking (I do this to myself a lot. I’m very analytical by nature and when trying to be an artist, it’s a trait that can get in the way.) Halfway into my sophomore year I decided I would like to use my creativity in Interior Design. I applied and was accepted into the Architecture Department of the University of Florida. I might have made it too, if that particular summer hadn’t been one of the worst of my life.

The summer was 1993. This was the summer that I went into counseling and on medication for a bad depression and lost all faith in the Church. Not God, just The Church. I can’t bring myself to describe exactly what happened to myself and my family that summer (you’d be reading for hours then), but lets just say that it was very traumatic and even after all this time, I’m still getting over the experience. I can blame this experience for my fear of being completely happy.

As it happened, and probably the reason why I didn’t lose my faith in God either, I met my husband the same summer, so it wasn’t a total loss. He was my strength then, and still is, and I know if I hadn’t met him when I did, I probably would be living with my parents and have been in and out of rehab more than once by now. We have a fantastic relationship that is still going strong and I thank God regularly for sending him to me.

Needless to say, by the time I got to the University of Florida that fall and started the design course, I had already had enough of life by then and was in serious need of a break. If you are familiar with the curriculum for this major at U of F you’ll know that it is probably the worst program to enter at this kind of time in life. If you aren’t, just trust me, although I gave it the best I could, looking back I know I didn’t have a chance. So by the end of the year I was on Academic Probation and decided it would be best if I took some time off from the whole school thing. Having been a High School Honors Student, this was not an easy decision to make, but it was the right one.

After a year off I decided I was ready to finish school. I returned to Florida Southern and spent 3 semesters and a summer finishing my original goal of a Studio Art major and graduated in December 1996. Wondering what happened to the husband? We got married in September 1996 2 weeks before I returned for my last semester. That was a fun summer! My husband joined the US Navy the year before we married. After I graduated I joined him in San Diego, CA. We lived there for 3 years and then came a three-year tour in the United Kingdom.  

My art really developed in the UK, because of this, I finally started letting people see it via the web with my first website.  On February 12th, 2003 we arrived in Bahrain for a 2 year tour. If you don't know where this is on the map, look off the south eastern coast of Saudi Arabia just north of Qatar in the Persian Gulf for a small island with the capital name of Manama. That's Bahrain.

So, there we were, living in what our families considered a war zone. Contrary to popular perception, not all of the Gulf Countries are war zones. In the time we spent there I rapidly came to enjoy the area and the experience of living in a culture that was considerably different from my own. Bahrain is not as conservative as many of the other Arab countries. I was allowed to drive there, which was handy since I had a job on the base and Michael was gone periodically.  The restrictions were actually very reasonable and nothing that caused inconvenience to me. Bahrain has a very interesting mix of local and western influences that most of the time work well together. I thoroughly enjoyed our time there.

We decided we should come back to the States for awhile after being out for 5 years. Our primary reason for coming back? We decided it was time to expand our family. On November 2, 2004 (yep, election day!) Michal Zane was born. We have been enjoying discovering all the ins and outs of parenthood since then.  During that excitement, we moved to San Antonio, TX for a 3 year tour of working with the Air Force. While there we bought our first home of our very own! I loved that! I could actually paint a wall (or 2 or 3) without having to get someone's permission first and pick out exactly what curtains I wanted on the windows. It was a blast.

After Texas Michael decided it was time to go back to a ship, so we ended up in the Pacific Northwest region. Everett, WA was beautiful and just a small hop north of Seattle.  I really enjoyed living in that area of the country, despite my problem with Seasonal Affective Disorder and my husband being gone at least half of the time or more. I went back to school and work and as much as I enjoyed being a stay at home Mom, I also enjoyed having much more to do besides making sure all the electrical outlets were covered and all the sharp items were out of reach while planning meals and cleaning at the same time. (OK, you caught me - THINKING about cleaning at least).  I took advantage of the local community college and ended up with Endorsements in Digital Illustration and Web Design.  I also spent 2 years taking Ceramic classes.  I had been wanting to learn how to use a pottery wheel for as long as I could remember.  Taking those classes was a big check off of my Bucket List.  There is something very satisfying in fulfilling a long time dream. Our 3 years in the P.N.W. became another set of fond memories and new friends I will try to stay in touch with. In April 2011 we made our final (hopefully) move to Tampa!! Since we are both from the Orlando area, this has been like going home. We are extremely excited to be getting settled into a new house that should be ours for a very long time. 

After 17.5 years of moving every 2-3 of them and living in 2 different foreign countries I admit I was getting a little world weary.   Whenever I started to feel that I wasn't spending enough time on my art, I told myself that I had been absorbing a lot of potentially very inspirational life experiences. This will come in handy sooner than I'd probably like since our son is in school now. Kindergarten came long before I was ready for it.  I survived that first year, like many Mommys before me. I've also finally reached a goal I've wanted since graduating college. I now have a full studio set up including my own pottery wheel. Since it isn't in a spare bedroom, I am not having to deal with CARPET! I'm excited to see how much more I can develope my art and style as the years progress.

FYI, if you are under 18 (you’d better have your parents permission to be in here!!!) or a parent of someone under 18, I didn’t get my first piercing, my navel, until I was 26. My first tattoo was also when I was 26, and my 2nd piercing, my eyebrow, when I was 28. If you are wanting something like this done but your parents refuse, you’ve got plenty of time for it. Someday when you’re out of the house, and that will be sooner than you can imagine right now, then you’ll be able to do what you want. Until then, most parents know what they’re talking about and cosmetic changes are a small issue compared to so many others.