I was born just outside Fulton, a small city in Upstate New York. Aside from living for seven years in northeastern Pennsylvania and a few years in Oswego, New York, Fulton has always been my home. Positioned just east of the Great Lake Ontario, my community sits right smack in the middle of a strong lake-effect weather system. The winters here are legendary. Though I moved away thinking I’d had enough of that severe weather, something drew me back. I think it was a combination of the familiarity of my roots, the full spectrum of this area’s four seasons, and the strong drive to figure out exactly who I am by examining where I come from.
My resume says a lot about me: As a child, I helped out on my uncles’ muck farms, where I experienced the grounding effect of working close to the earth. As a teenager, I stocked shelves at a grocery store, where I mastered the art of organization. In early adulthood, I worked as a summer camp counselor and director, and then as a schoolteacher, where I discovered the power of people working in community. Later, I spun records and emceed as a DJ for a traveling party service, where I figured out how to bring out the best in people. Entering middle age, I was employed as a Youth Services Specialist with the Oswego County Youth Bureau, where my main role was to oversee the Camp Hollis residential camp program. I also began offering my services as a lifecoach, where I honed my helping skills.
And, all the while, I read: Biographies growing up…Self-help books in my young adulthood… Those gripping true-life stories of people overcoming adversity as I struggled through my middle years...and always, always poetry. From early on, I was captivated by how poets could take just a few words and open my heart or dig deep into my shadow side. I started noticing that what I wrote in my journal shifted from long passages to sparse lines. The poet in me, who’d thus far been along for the ride, decided to make himself known.
I wrote when I could, which, for much of my life, wasn’t a lot. But when I retired in January, 2011 from a full-time job with the Youth Bureau, I began writing in earnest, making up for lost time. The daily writing and editing of my work was an unexpected joy of this next career phase. I savored the quiet of sitting at my desk, fleshing out ideas that had been collecting in my mind for all those years. I began to see writing as my new career, but this time my career wasn’t about money or success, but about self-fulfillment.
Once I’d established my writing career, I noticed that I occasionally missed parts of my former work – mostly the times when I was teaching and helping people who were at a crossroads in life. It was then that I decided to combine the best of all my careers by continuing to write, but also to teach writing classes, work one-on-one with writers who were editing their work, and to once again offer my lifecoaching skills.
Which brings me to where I am today: Joyfully juggling all these aspects of my career. How grateful I am for this stage of my life, for the strong pull to work both inwardly and outwardly, for the opportunity to gather the best of my life, and share it with others.