I currently live in Cheshire, CT with my husband Daren and our blended family gaggle. We also have a dog and three cats.

The picture above is of me and the hubby in our kitchen where we both just love to cook.

 

Upbringing

I was born and mostly raised in Brooklyn, NY. I moved to Long Island when I was 12. Even though I only lived there for 6 years, I consider Long Island to be home, as that is where the majority of my now very small nuclear family remains.

I grew up Catholic, although my parents were not entirely religious. My whole extended family on both sides descend from Italy. My father came to the United States when he was 20 years old. He met my mother, they married, and had me shortly after. I have two younger brothers. Everything we did, ate and celebrated was Italian or Italian-American.

I was a child of the 80’s. We had telephones attached to the wall, big hair, no cell phones, definitely no computers or Internet. Such things couldn’t have even been imagined. The TV only had a few channels. We were poor but I don’t know if remotes were out yet or we just didn’t have one.

My home life was one of turmoil. My mothers stayed at home when we were younger and my dad worked as a painter. We didn’t have much money or even health insurance, or most things most people take for granted.

I am a victim of child abuse and domestic violence as well. My mother’s family lived close by and were my saving grace mental health wise. I truly attribute being who I am and not falling apart to my late-grandmother Camille. My mother didn’t leave my father until I was an adult, married with two children of my own. Shortly after they divorced she met someone else, moved to Florida, became sick with Stage 4 Lung Cancer, and passed away at the age of 49. My grandmother Camille passed away a mere 11 months later. I miss having a strong female presence in my life. I still miss them both every day and at the time of this posting it’s been nearly 12  years.

 

Military Experience

I’m a veteran of the United States Coast Guard where I served 4 years Active Duty as a cook and then 4 years on the Active Reserves.

My first tour was on a 378 (USCG’s largest boat), out of Coast Guard Island in Alameda CA. It is in the Bay Area of San Francisco. Our main mission was fisheries in Alaska, so most deployments were up to the Bering Sea area. At one point we crossed the International Date line giving me Golden Dragon status. However, I did have the pleasure of a voyage through the Panama Canal into the Caribbean Sea, where as a young adult I was able to visit places I would have never otherwise been able to afford like the Grand Cayman Islands, Saint Thomas, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Haiti and the Dominican Republic. We performed some operations with foreign military on that deployment which gives me a 5-point veterans preference when I apply for federal jobs.

I then went to cooking school in Petaluma, CA before being sent to a 180 foot buoy tender that tended the Hudson River out of Governors Island. I wasn’t there long, as the military was cutting back spending and Governors Island was slated to close. Some ships were being moved to other places, but the one I was on got decommissioned. We took it down to the yards in Baltimore and literally took it apart.

My last active duty station was at Eaton’s Neck on Long Island. I cooked there for around 50 people. We were under the jurisdiction of Group New Haven right across the sound. The guys who were boat bound went across almost daily.

As a reservist I performed my duty in Sandwich, MA on Cape Cod. I cooked there as well.

 

Schooling

I went to Saint Brendans Catholic School in Brooklyn until we moved to Long Island. We landed in Mastic Beach so I finished the second half of school in the William Floyd School District.

I joined the USCG right out of high school. I spent a few years just working and learning. Once that became monogamous, I started studying to take the free CLEP exams the military offers for college credit where it is accepted. Before I left Active Duty I had an Associates Degree in General Studies, a secretarial certification and cooking certification.

Once I moved to Cape Cod I set my sights on obtaining a bachelors with the Montomergy GI Bill. I took classes at Cape Cod Community College and online with the University of Phoenix (UOP) while in the Reserves, working part time at A&P Foodmart and taking care of my then two small children. I obtained a Bachelors in Business Administration in 2001.

I’ve since gone on to get an MBA through UOP and a certification in Healthcare Analytics through the University of Nebraska.

I started teaching yoga in 2017 and as of June 2018 I am an RYT500.

 

Work History

Until a few years ago I was a serious gung-ho corporate American type. I always gave work 110%. I loved every job I had until the last one.

I started scooping Ice-Cream when I was 16 and worked at the same place until I shipped off to Boot Camp. After the military I went to school, participated in the Reserves, raised my two young children and worked part-time in grocery.

When my children were 3 and 5 I finally went back to work full time again at the VA Hospital. I’ve been there since 2002. I went back to school for my Masters while working full time and finished it in 2007. I’ve had a serious of jobs and promotions all within administration and operations until I worked all the way up to the “C-Suite” in 2014. It was only then I no longer enjoyed work. It was as far as I ever wanted to make it and I just become completely disenchanted with the working world. My therapist calls it the second half of life.

I still work at the VA part-time as an Analyst. I also manage a rental home that my husband and I bought on the shoreline of Connecticut and teach yoga. I started volunteering time and goods to domestic violence shelters in the area. I feel it is my way of giving back and paying homage to my past.

My top three skills in the workplace are data analysis, meeting facilitation and systems redesign.

 

Relationships

I married my first husband at 19 years old. We were young and in love and wanted to be stationed together. The only way to guarantee that was to get married… so we did. About 15 months later my son came along, then 27 months after that – my daughter. We had a really nice marriage for many years. I would say the first 12 were typical of many young struggling couples raising children and trying to get by. The last 3 years too many issues came between us. We divorced.

I remarried in 2011 and became a step-mother of two more boys. The older one is the same age as my daughter, and the younger one is 4 years younger than the two of them. My husband and I are both working professionals with lots of education behind us, but blending a family seriously blindsided us. It was a rough few years. 3 of the 4 of our children are now adults. Although it was tough, I wouldn’t trade all these learning experiences for the world.

 

Anxiety & PTSD

It wasn’t until I turned 40 during the last few months of my last job that I realized I had been living with anxiety my entire life. I moved fast, talked fast, thought fast… I worked hard and played hard. I didn’t know how to stop. It wasn’t until I started yoga teacher training and developed my own regular yoga practice going into more relaxed states of mind, that I realized my baseline was not normal. At that point tolerating the anxiety became unbearable. I started to have regular panic attacks. I started medication.

In 2017 I also learned I have been living with PTSD from childhood abuse. Everything made so much more sense about my anxiety and panic. It’s an everyday struggle.

I can’t believe the pace at which I used to live and how I let my heart beat and breath get out of control all of the time. I thought feeling like that was normal. It helped me to be successful, but it’s not a physical or mental sustainable place to be.

Healing from PTSD is a journey that I’m enjoying as I get to know myself better and realize who I want to be, rather than being a reaction to how my brain has molded.

 

Hobbies & Lifestyle 

I love to write, knit, cook, bake, run, walk, hike, bike, garden, and do yoga. I enjoy many other things, but these few sum it up.

I love being creative and creating experiences for others, be it through tastes in food, stimulating the brain in writing, creating a mind-body-spirit connection in teaching yoga, or visually creating a beach vacation  experience through our second home in Branford.

Since 2015 I have cut my meat consumption down to once or twice a month. I’ve explored veganism and can safely say I’m 97% vegan. Trying to cook without animal products opened a whole new world of fun new products to try.

Oh & how can I forget? I LOVE LoVe love to travel! Anywhere, anytime. I just adore seeing new places, people, cultures, foods & things! It’s intoxicating.

 

The Future 

My husband and I purchased a rental home in Branford CT in 2016 as part of a long-term to slow down our lives and begin a new endeavor together once the youngest Anderson leaves the nest. We aren’t sure what it is we will be doing yet, but there is some time to figure that out. We wanted a home on the water that would be attractive for folks to rent out for short-term periods so we would have a place to keep our furniture, a permanent address in the United States should we decide to travel more extensively or work outside of the United States. Time will only tell what we end up doing.