If I were an algebraic expression, I might look like this:

X20 + Y21 x .333 =

X= imagination, Y= curiosity, .333 = infinity – for infinite possibility.

Good thing I’m not an equation because complex algebra perplexes me. Just as describing oneself is difficult to put into finite words.

I started to keep a sketch book when I was 10 years old and in the fifth grade won my first art contest, for creating “the best and most original gift-wrapped holiday package.” Imagination, the ability to create objects, and vulnerability are the through lines in my work as a writer, teacher, professional artist, book illustrator and everything else I undertake. Vacillating between whimsy and introspection, my art, writing and other forms of self-expression mirror the little girl filled with wonder and the grown-up woman driven with a desire to understand. Here are 5 + 8 x 1 ways that equal a word equation of my life.

I am a published book illustrator and author of the Y/A novel, Paint Me A Monster.

Between a career in the arts or medicine, medicine came in second.

My profession as an artist chose me.

I can write backwards and upside down.

Unconventional insects and two bats from other countries are framed in my hallway.

If I could add one thing to myself, I would sing on key.

If I could add another thing to myself it would be five more inches.

I have over 370 stamps- the kind that are pressed into ink.

Jungles are my favorite habitat. Forests are next.

I took belly dance lessons because I wanted the costumes.

My Mix Master (the one I still use) was bought with earnings from making and selling hors d’oeuvres and desserts.

My favorite hors d’oeuvre is dessert.

My favorite dessert starts with chocolate

Galloping is much more fun than running.

Some Interesting Details

Countries Visited


Canada, United States including Hawaii, Cuba, Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Yucatan Peninsula, Belize, Ecuador, Galapagos Islands (they are a part of Ecuador, but feels like a different country), Costa Rica, England, France, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Italy, Crete, Greece, Austria, the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, Turkey, Israel, Morocco, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand. I hope I didn’t forget any countries.


Grilled Slug Kabobs, also known as “Bacon of the Jungle”- Africa

Warthog – Africa

Live Lemon Ants-The Amazon

Live Black Ants-A different area of the Amazon

Barbequed Crickets-United States

Crickets au natural- United States


The clip-clop of horses

High heels walking across hard flooring



Paper being crumpled

Tap shoes dancing

Day breaking

Night falling.


Heifer International

What distinguishes Heifer from other non-profits is the manner in which it globally deals with hunger and poverty. While on a Heifer sponsored trip, I witnessed first-hand how Heifer, using in-country staff, changes lives. Trained to raise, care for and sustainably from one pregnant animal, individuals move toward self-sufficiency. With a core value of “passing on the gift”, recipients give the first offspring of their animals to another community family guided by the Heifer team. Heifer strongly supports equality for women, earth friendly practices, and community building.


Southern Poverty Law Center

The SPLC “monitors the activities of hate groups and other extremists throughout the U.S.” The efforts of the SPLC fights discrimination and bigotry Their newsletter identifies current threats to freedoms, where those threats are located and what is being done to promote tolerance and justice. You can view documented Hate Groups on the SPLC website. https://www.splcenter.org

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

St. Judes, is one of the world’s foremost centers for research and treatment of childhood cancers. Their creed is “No child is denied treatment based on race, religion or a family’s ability to pay”. Having worked with adult and pediatric cancer patients for almost two decades, I have seen, there is little that compares when parents hear their child will be given outstanding medical care with no charge. Donating to St. Judes shows caring is sharing. https://www.stjude.org

Children’s Oncology Services Inc

COSI’s largest project is One Step At A Time camps. Camp (there are a variety) is a place that allows kids to be kids, empower themselves, make deep connections with peers, and have as I heard when I volunteered, “The best time in my life.” Incredibly, all camp programs are free for campers and their families. Each year a unique Benefit raises money for the camps. To see some of the items campers helped create as a donation to the Silent Auction take a peek under the topic “Teaching”.

Habitat for Humanity

Habitat for Humanity began with the idea of “partnership housing”. Its goal is to make sure people have decent places in which to dwell. This is achieved by individuals putting in “Sweat Equity” alongside volunteers to build, renovate or repair homes. Habitat also works both nationally and internationally to aid those who have lost homes due to natural disasters. To lend a hand visit, https://www.habitat.org

The Sierra Club

Giving to the Sierra Club is giving back to yourself. The Club works to improve air and water quality, practice and promote the responsible use of the earth’s ecosystems, while providing enjoyment and protection of wild places. The Sierra Club also works to educate people about issues facing our environment and the impact people have on the planet. Take a trip with the Sierra Club and learn while you travel. https://www.sierraclub.org


Janie Baskin displays outstanding qualities as a teacher. She is aware of each child’s needs and has the ability to plan for each child. Her creativity makes her an excellent art teacher. Children who were in her classes have developed such a love for art that they have pursued careers in art.

Janie is likable, energetic, conscientious, and hardworking. Working with Janie is a rewarding experience not only for children but for other teachers as well. Each art experience provides experimentation with different media, creativity, and a feeling of self-worth.

Janie allows each child to grow through their art experience and enables them to feel a sense of accomplishment.

Elyse M

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