About Me

I've always loved words—the way some of them sound, the way they fit together, the way they, like visual mediums, can be played off of each other, sculpted into rich sentences, and interpreted differently. Although as a child I loved my thesaurus as much as any book (nerd alert), I spent most of my life drawing and eventually designed apparel. These days, I like to think of myself as a writer. But I may not have become one if not for my son, Calvin, who was born with a brain anomaly that changed everything for me and my husband, Michael. 

Calvin is our only child. As such—and because of Michael's job teaching college photography—I am very fortunate to be able to focus my love and attention on Calvin. I am not only his mother; I am his buddy, his coach, his physical and occupational therapist, his doctor, his nurse, his teacher.

Thankfully, for me and for Calvin, I had parents who taught me the merits of hard work and dedication. My father, Don Shake, was a thirty-year Boeing engineer. My mother, Harriette, stayed home and raised me and my five older siblings. When my father wasn't at work, he was outside tending the garden, canning fruits and jams, coaching little league and basketball, officiating at our frequent swim meets and running (he ran a 4:28 minute mile at the Naval Academy in 1948.) My mother Harriette stayed home, cleaned the house, did the grocery shopping, and cooked all of our meals, which for a family of eight with six athletes was no small task. For years she taxied us to and from practice, officiated at our frequent swim meets and endured our endless teasing and harassment.

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 has proved nearly as important in caring for Calvin as is trusting my intuition.

On account of the parenting I got, I have become better at foreseeing problems with Calvin's medical care. By employing anticipation and intuition, we have sometimes been able to save Calvin from dangerous complications and undue pain and discomfort.

photo by Michael Kolster
As a competitive swimmer from the age of seven through college, some essential attributes were instilled in me: dedication, hard work, goal setting, teamwork, 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—Michael, especially.

I am not a believer in the notion that "everything happens for a reason." Rather, I know that we can choose to find meaning in life's triumphs, curveballs and misfortunes. This blog is dedicated to Calvin, and to the constant pursuit of truth and purpose.

Photo by Michael Kolster

A California gal in my heart and soul who grew up near Seattle and lived a decade in San Francisco, I live in Maine with my husband Michael, my son Calvin and our wackadoodle, Smellie.