Tuesday, June 14, 2011

My Other Life

I'm taking the suggestion of extraordinary blogger Marie of Journeying Beyond Breast Cancer and devoting this posting to let the blogosphere know who I really am.

I am first and foremost a single mother to an almost-three-year-old girl. I adopted her from China when she was 13 months old. She was worth my four-year wait for a child. She is a sweet, joyful girl with a sunny disposition and an awesome sense of humor. Ari is the center of my world, and she keeps me centered.

During my long wait for my sweetie-pie, I learned to speak and understand Mandarin through Pimsleur CDs. It is truly a beautiful language. When I was in China, the people were so friendly and appreciated my attempts (some good, some not so good) to converse in Mandarin with them.  I also spoke it to my daughter to soothe her with familiar sounds.

Oddly enough, my postman is from China, and I occasionally practice Mandarin with him. It's important to me to continue learning the language because 1) I love it and 2) it's part of my daughter's heritage. Next year, I'm hoping to enroll her in Mandarin classes. I don't consider myself fluent, but I can only hope that one day I will be. I know enough to get by.

My daughter has joined my other two kids: my male tuxedo Manx cat Hemi (author of blog Hemi'sPhere) and my brown tabby Cosette, who has guest posted.


I'm originally from the Bronx, NY, and went to Michigan State University to become a veterinarian. I worked four gruelling years at an animal hospital. I got to see surgeries and do a lot of kennelwork (UGH) and  labwork. To this day, I can distinguish a hookworm egg from a tapeworm egg, something I can brag about at parties.

At college, I learned to judge cattle and pigs as part of an Animal Husbandry course; judging livestock was not easy for a city girl. 

My first roommate was the Pork Queen of Michigan. Curious? Just leave a comment and I'll answer your questions!

In college, I became an English major -- drawn to writing and my love of reading. I wanted to be an author and a faculty member at a college, and I am glad to say, I am both. I love teaching students English composition and Humanities and watching students grow in their skills. I enjoy being a part of the learning process. 

My hobbies are writing, reading, trying to stay fit through brisk walks and swimming, as well as oil painting and sketching. Below are some samples of my artwork. Art relaxes me like nothing else. I dabble with my acoustic guitar, and let's just say I'm not going to be going on tour anytime soon.

A new hobby for me is gardening. So far, so good -- especially considering I tend to kill plants (not on purpose). It's ironic that I'm horticulturally challenged because years ago I was an editor and writer for a horticultural trade magazine. Who knew? The weekend found me wrestling with a huge bag of sphagnum peat, and the bag of peat won the battle, but not the war. Suffice it to say, I managed to haul that peat out of its bag!

I have one brother, and we are great friends. He is in NY, as are my aunt and nephew, so I visit whenever I can. My 13-year-old nephew is GREAT! I have treasured every moment with him. We have oil painted together. I exposed him to ice skating for the first time (and I'm a terrible skater),  but one night I had a dream we were on the ice together, so I had the brilliant idea of introducing him to this.

In fact, I'm such a klutz on the ice, my way of stopping is to slam into the rink wall.

Needless to say, I don't really skate anymore -- especially after a couple of bad falls.

My parents have retired and moved to Florida. I visit them when I can. They are in love with their grandaughter and spoil her.

My nephew Ben was the first grandchild, so each child has gotten his/her moment in the Florida sun.

 I adore animals, but I'm really partial to cats of all types. I'm so unlike other members of my family, all who really don't like animals. I think I got my animal-loving gene from my great uncle and my grandfather, both of whom raised homing pigeons and who loved animals.

Well, I hope that helps give you a better sense of who I am as a person. It's really nice for a change to write about a topic other than the one I typically write about. Maybe I'll do this sort of thing again!

Ari loves slides!
Oil painting of a leopard.

Did I say she loves slides?

Oil painting of my nephew at Niagara Falls.

Oil painting of waterfall.


  1. Your daughter is BEAUTIFUL! So are your paintings, by the way. I live in Southern Ohio and met a Pork Queen here once.

    Thanks for sharing.


  2. Hi Beth! Lovely artwork. Great to learn about you. For folks who don't know: Beth was featured recently on brainywoman.com. Here's a link to the story: http://www.brainywoman.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=132:welcome&catid=38:fp-rokst

  3. This IS a nice change, you're right. Sometimes we forget there's an ACTUAL person, not just a 'cancer survivor' in these posts, eh?

    I love the pics of your daughter, she's splendid.

    And you're very talented, all I can do is 'paint by numbers...'

    Thanks for sharing :)

  4. Beth, thank you for sharing this other life. Love the photos of your daughter and your paintings. Just beautiful on both counts. As you know, I've adopted two boys and love nothing more than to share stories with others who've adopted. It's so much more pleasant than writing about breast cancer all the time. I hope you'll share more of that journey sometime.

  5. Beth, This is great! I love seeing your pen turned toward your personal side and your passions.

    Thank you for sharing images of Ari and your art! She is adorable and your art is lovely.

    I thought I knew you pretty well but this gives a whole other, delightful, dimension. SO impressed that you are a student of Mandarin and I love the juju that has brought that mailman to you for you to practice and connect.

    You're so cool and brave. Thank you for sharing yourself this way!

  6. Katie,

    Thanks for the kind words! Amazing that you met a Pork Queen. Wouldn't it be something if it were the same one?

  7. Janet,

    Thank you for visiting and commenting on my posting. And thank you for pointing out the Brainywoman focus on me. For those of you unfamiliar with Brainywoman.com, it has great articles!

  8. Yes, it's amazing to think who we were before cancer, but we also are complete people even after we are touched by cancer.

    It is refreshing to write about other things.

  9. Stacey,

    I think adoption stories are certainly in order! As you well know, international adoptions are no easy feat. But aren't we glad to have our children in our lives?

    Yes, I'll be sharing some adoption stories in the future. I think it's a topic worth exploring more.

  10. Cynthia,

    What can I say? I'm very grateful for your comment. Thanks for saying I'm cool, as I always considered myself somewhat of a nerd.

    Yes, some serious juju came my way when the mail carrier noticed us outside playing, and he asked if my daughter was Chinese. Imagine my surprise when I realized that Mandarin practice was only a doorbell away.

  11. Beautiful post Beth and so lovely to meet more of you! What a wonderfully varied background you have. A vet no less! And I had to chuckle about the ice skating. Even though Im from Australia where ice skating is not that popular, it turns out I'm a natural and am really really good at it!

  12. Beth, how entirely lovely to read more about you! One of my dearest, oldest friends adopted her daughter Maia from China about 12 years ago. She & her family live in New Hampshire. There is quite a large community in NH for adoptive parents who have children from China. Mostly daughters (you know why...). Maia is, like your Ari, a beautiful, talented, darling girl, and going to be learning to drive soon!! Where does the time go? My favorite Maia story: when her mom, my friend Mary, along with several of us who've known each other since high school, was turning 50, Maia was seven that year. About a week before Mary's birthday, Maia told her mother with great solemnity that she had FINALLY found her the perfect and most wonderful birthday present for her 50th, and couldn't WAIT to give it to her. Every day, she told Mary how much she was looking forward to giving Mary her 50th birthday present, because it was just the best thing ever, and she just couldn't have found a more perfect gift for the occasion if she'd invented it herself. At last, the day arrived, and Maia got to give Mary her present, which Mary showed all of us later that weekend at a birthday gathering with the rest of us. It was a rhinestone tiara!!! I had to agree with Maia -- I think turning 50 is the perfect occasion for one! :D

    Your paintings are gorgeous, Beth!!! BTW, I wanted to be a veterinarian myself. I decided to go into human healthcare instead, because I was afraid that I would get just lose my patience too often with stupid, neglectful pet owners! It makes me insane when people don't look after their furkids.


  13. Oh Beth she is a darling - what a beautiful little girl. I have a big smile on my face just looking at her picture. She must bring you a lot of joy. Thanks for taking part in my blog challenge of revealing some more of who we are and reminding the world that we are so much more than our cancer diagnosis. I am learning so much about my favorite bloggesses and what interesting "other" lives they lead!

  14. Beautiful daughter and paintings! It's nice to get to know you better. I'll have to do the same on my blog and take Marie's challenge!

  15. Ari is the face of unbridled joy! What a gift you've both been given. I love it when people who would make great parents find children like Ari. That's God at work. He is love.

    I, too, love cats, dogs and all animals. Right now I'm worried about the deer on the ranch. They're so skinny. It's so dry, there's no native grasses for them to eat, so I bought 6 bales of alfalfa and put two of them out yesterday. A pregnant doe was so weak, she was the last to eat because she had trouble standing. It got dark, and I lost sight of her. Have been worried about her all day.


  16. Hi Anna,

    I'm glad you enjoyed the posting, especially the ice skating part. Wow -- I'm impressed that you are a natural on the ice. Who knew someone from Australia would be a natural at it! And thank you for letting me know even more about you. :-)

  17. Kathi,

    Thank you for sharing your story about Maia. The tiara present sounds WONDERFUL! How cool that such a sweet little girl thought to get a gift that thoughtful for her mom's birthday.

    Thanks for the compliments on my artwork.

    I didn't know you wanted to be a veterinarian, too!! What I noticed as a staff member of an animal hospital that there were some neglectful owners. My problem was dealing with vicious animals that would come in. It scared the ---- out of me.

  18. Beth I am so happy that you have shared a little of yourself. Ari is adorable; a real little princess!
    To study Vet Science in Australia extremely high marks are required. You are very clever!
    Love your artwork also. It is such a joy to have 'discovered' you in blogsville.
    I do regret that I did not undertake Mandarin studies in my 5 years in SE Asia.

  19. Marie,

    Thank you for putting this challenge out there. I agree that we are so much more than people affected by cancer -- we are unique individuals.

    Thanks for your kind words about my daughter. She does bring me lots of joy!

  20. How fun to learn about the "real" you and not the cancer vixen. Ari is precious! So glad you found each other.

  21. Brenda,

    Have you seen the pregnant doe again? I hope the deer are OK; you are a kind person for tending to them.

    Thanks for your sweet words about Ari and me belonging together. In many ways, I do believe it was fate bringing us together.

  22. Cheryl,

    I'm glad you read my posting and left a comment. Were you in SE Asia for work? You know, it's never to late to start learning Mandarin. It is so relaxing for me to be learning it.

    Yes, here in the US it's hard to be a veterinarian, and you need perfect grades. I doubt I would've made it into vet school. I'm lucky that I took a different career route.

  23. Tami,

    Thanks for your kind comment. I read your wonderful blog and was glad to get to know you better as well!

  24. Beth,
    I loved this post! You are one amazing woman! Of course I kinda figured that to be the case... Your daughter is so adorable and these are only photos! I can only imagine how beautiful she is in person. I so enjoyed seeing your artwork, I'm envious of people like you who can paint things other than walls and paint by number projects! Like you, I love animals too and in fact, we have just adopted a cat who looks almost exactly like your Hemi! I guess I need to get cracking on this assingment of Marie's pretty soon. Good thing June is only half over. Thanks for sharing this stuff about your other life, Beth. You really are amazing!

  25. Beth, I left the comment on your other blog post before I saw that you HAD posted on your "Other Life." What an incredibly talented person you are. Your daughter is just adorable and must be the love of your life!

    We have lots in common. Like you, I have a brother in NY and love to write, read, exercise, and, yes, garden. And we share a love of painting and sketching. Your paintings are just beautiful. I'm so glad you uploaded them so we could all enjoy them. I dabble in acrylics, charcoal and watercolor.

    Thank you so much for sharing with us this glimpse of the magnificent other you.

  26. Pink Underbelly:

    Thank you for your kind comment. I visited your blog and will leave a comment. I've been to Houston once and really liked it.

  27. Nancy,

    I really appreciate your comments about my daughter and my artwork! It is fun to share more about ourselves and a nice change from discussing that other topic, huh? What's your new kitty's name?

  28. Jan,

    Wow! We really do have a lot in common! I'd love to see your artwork. I admire people who can really work with watercolors. I tried, but it was just too difficult with water running everywhere!

    I'm glad I got to find out about you as well!