I am a September baby, born in Memphis, Tennessee to hard-working, creative and loving parents, Lydia and Austin. Coming from a talented and entrepreneur family, I was able to experience so much of life growing up in this fast-paced atmosphere. My father worked at the local newspaper in the advertising department, until he felt brave enough to venture out on his own and open an advertising agency with my mother. Later on, I wrote copy and commercials for clients as well. We always had interesting and well-known people over to our house and to our office. We even got invited to Elvis' Las Vegas bash back in the day, but never went. My father's big account was Lansky's, where Elvis bought his clothing in Memphis.
I have very talented first cousins as well. Jack is an art professor and the creator of portraits, using cookies. Suzy has an up and coming upscale candle company in Los Angeles. Lisa is a talented writer in New England, and A.J. is a recognized builder in the South. I was raised as an only child, but have a half-sister and brother.
I had many dear friends in elementary school and junior high school. In elementary school, I wrote sitting on the beach each day when my family traveled to Panama City, Florida every Summer. In all grades of my schooling, I seemed to excel in creative writing. In junior high, I also got into the sport's realm and was selected to be a varsity cheerleader, which I thought to be such a privilege. I also played on the girl's basketball team as a forward and the softball team as second baseman. This was when my love for sports, especially baseball, intensified. After this, I moved to Scottsdale, Arizona for one year, where baseball is everywhere and played all the time.
In high school, I was selected to be an "usherette" for the Memphis Chicks AA baseball team. The name "Memphis Chicks" stood for the Memphis Chickasaw Indians. As usherettes, we socialized with the fans, helping them with their seats and sweeping the bases during breaks, providing entertainment.
I was awarded the honor of being in Who's Who Among American High School Students, as well as runner-up in a Miss Tennessee pageant where I won Miss Photogenic and 1st place for my essay about "What's Right About America". I also received several trophies in high school for dramatic poetry interpretation in city, regional, and state speech contests. I wrote my first newspaper sport's article in high school for a local paper during this period, and which I continued.
I was a student at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California for a short while, majoring in theatre and music and poetry. I eventually came home to Memphis, where I formed a rock band with my boyfriend. We recorded for months, many songs, and played many shows, even in Manhattan.
I knew, am still friends with, and have sung with many recording artists from Memphis and around the country. I have written and recorded songs, since the age of thirteen.
Since my biggest hobbies are cooking, traveling and languages, I additionally decided to open a tour and travel agency. I traveled the world with large groups of travelers, as well as with my late husband, Rick Alley, who was an outstanding caricaturist, portrait artist and cartoonist, winning numerous Scripps Howard awards. The two of us continually traveled to islands in the Caribbean. We were seriously contemplating opening a bed and breakfast inn on one of our most favorite spots. We married in a church in downtown Hamilton, Bermuda when I was still in college. Rick and I both loved the lifestyles found on each of these retreats.
In my mid-twenties, I went back to college to study Spanish, just for fun, and ended up graduating with a major in Romance Languages, and a minor in German, and became the President of the Spanish Club at the University of Memphis. I dabbled in broadcasting and psychology as well.
Soon after that, I was offered teaching jobs at private academies, which I accepted. I was admitted into graduate school and followed it straight, almost until the end, while teaching in the public school system at the same time. I was then offered a job in St. Petersburg, Florida at a private military institution with a long heritage, and I took the position.
I have been a writer, a language teacher, a food and wine consultant, a sommelier, and have become a new mother during the time I've lived in St. Petersburg, Florida.
Coming from my talented, entrepreneur family, I have always had an intense desire to grow with interesting creative venues that came my way.
I am also a 30+ year cancer survivor and was a patient at St. Jude's Children's Research Institute and Hospital when I was in high school. I sang on a Danny Thomas telethon and had several speaking engagements and interviews for the cause. I first met Mr. Thomas when my mother was interviewing him for a piece in her weekly paper.
I plan on giving a percentage of each sale to St. Jude.
I again suffered another tragedy soon after this one, when I was nineteen. I was in a horrific auto accident as the passenger on the most damaged side of the vehicle. I was in a coma for 10 days. I had to re-learn speaking, writing and walking. I feel so fortunate every waking day of my life, and I thank God perpetually. He must have had other plans.
I continue living happily in St. Petersburg, Florida with my adopted daughter from Bulgaria, where half of my family originates, and our two tan German Shepherd mixes. Mattie just passed.