About Me

I am simply a 57-year-old mother and wife turned impassioned epilepsy and medicinal cannabis advocate. In my former life I designed apparel.

Calvin is my only child and I am very fortunate to be able to focus my love and attention on him. I am not only his mother but I am his friend, his coach and his physical and occupational therapist, his doctor, his nurse.

Thankfully, for me and for Calvin, I had amazing parents who taught me the merits of hard work and dedication. My father, Don Shake, was a thirty-year Boeing engineer and my mother stayed at home and raised the six of us kids. When my father wasn't at his job he was outside working in the garden, canning fruits and making jams, exercising, coaching little league and basketball, officiating at our frequent swim meets and, only occasionally, sunbathing (we lived in a suburb of Seattle.) At home my mother Harriette cooked all of our meals, cleaned the house, did the grocery shopping—which for a family of eight with six athletes was a lot—washed and ironed the laundry, taxied us to and from practice, officiated at our frequent swim meets and put up with our teasing and harassing.

If I remember one thing my dad tried hard to teach me it was to anticipate. That was a difficult lesson to learn as a kid. How could I possibly predict something that hadn't happened yet? Well, I don't know how he did it, but his lesson was successful (though not until after I crashed the Plymouth.) Knowing how to anticipate is nearly as important in caring for Calvin as is trusting my intuition.

On account of the parenting I got I have become adept at foreseeing problems with Calvin's medical treatments. Because we have anticipated problems we have often altered the course of his medical care. Thankfully, we have sometimes been able to avoid dangerous complications and undue pain and discomfort to our son by employing anticipation and intuition.

Without confidence, however, my anticipation and intuition might be fruitless. A few of my siblings instilled this in me. They taught me to reach far beyond what I thought were my limits and inspired more of the hard work and commitment of my parents. They encouraged me never to give up on my dreams, to be independent and assertive. The fact that I am an eternal optimist, however, is the luck of the draw.

photo by Michael Kolster
As a competitive swimmer growing up and through college, some of the same attributes were fostered: dedication, hard work, goal-setting, team-work, confidence, resilience and stamina. These characteristics I value highly and they have proved to be invaluable tools in the care of my son.

Additionally, over the years I have been fortunate to befriend many extraordinary men and women who share these values, who teach me broader ways of thinking, who lift me up and keep me going. My husband is the the apogee.

I am not a believer in the common idea that "everything happens for a reason." Rather, I know that we can choose to find purpose in life's adventures and misfortunes. Knowing and loving Calvin has inspired me to become his greatest advocate and to do everything in my power to inform the world of epilepsy, which is still quite obscure to most people. It is stigmatized, misunderstood, feared, overlooked and grossly under-funded. I mean to change all that starting now.

I live in Maine with my husband Michael, my son Calvin and our wackadoodle, Nellie.

Photo by Michael Kolster