Inquiring minds want to know.
True story: I never bothered with writing humor until I met Shareen. She is FUNNY. Since one of my passions is ghostwriting, I jumped onto her laugh-tastic bandwagon and embraced the challenge when she asked me for a good LOL by mimicking her voice. From there, I found my own stride and have contributed a few posts she assures me are ROFLMAO gut-busters. Her favorite? Her bio.
Humor is addictive. Writing it couldn’t have come at a better time in my life.
When I started working with Shareen and On the Verge, like Shareen, was a zygote, I was struggling at home. I’m serious by nature, just like my dad. My neutral face looks angry. People back up. My days are full of kid-related challenges. It’s natural for me to fall into a frowny-face rhythm, but being serious is like being a rock in the water. I felt like I was drowning. Embracing a smile-based genre gave me buoyancy.
Shareen offered me the breath of life for a second time when she agreed to host (De)Caffeinated Confessions. The Four Paws for Noah writing competitions benefit my son and our journey to bring him a service dog. Submissions fees prevent our family from sinking under training and animal care costs coupled with Autism-related medical needs. Shareen (along with Charli Mills and Karrie Higgins) saying yes meant someone understood. Someone cared. My family was worth the investment of time and energy. It’s tricky being in the middle class when it comes to income. It means we don’t qualify for most financial support programs. But since we don’t actually make enough to cover ongoing medical expenses, we need help.
I was texting with Shareen about my dream of switching provider roles with my husband and becoming a sugar mama–something she’s done and done well. When we had children, my husband and I decided the best path was for him to work full-time and for me to stay at home. His starting pay grade was easily twice what I would make as an adjunct. Childcare, ironically, would have cost more annually than I would have made as a full-time educator. So I stayed at home and planned to re-enter the work force when our kids were all in school.
It was a good plan, but not one we could attain. When medical bills began to pile up (since Noah was three and his different needs began to manifest), Nathan took on contract work to supplement our income. That was fine for a time. But Noah’s needs have grown along with him, and no amount of contract work Nathan can complete along with his full-time job, which is the source of our medical insurance, could cover the specialized childcare we would need for me to have breaks during the week.
Every hour Nathan worked, I also worked, because parenting special needs is a 24/7 job. I couldn’t leave the house to take a different one. Noah has required partial homeschooling multiple times in the last three years which means I have to be home to tend his needs all day on my own.
I love it. I love Noah. But I am one person. I couldn’t fulfill my career goals. There was no help while Nathan was at his day job and no help when he completed his contract work and I kept the three kids busy. I burned out and so did Nathan.
Nathan switched jobs so he could be home more to support me and see our kids. His contract work came to a natural end and he didn’t pursue more. Instead, we created the time for me to launch my own business. I began to get out of the house and recover my own mental health. I started with private instruction. I revamped The Honeyed Quill and actively sought publication opportunities. I added editing and coaching. Along that path is where I reconnected with my soul-twin and OTV was born.
But this goes well beyond the Verge. When our family committed to getting a service dog, Shareen helped me interview trainers. She researched dog breeds and breeders. She sent me a care package to help with dog care and turns up numerous articles on Twitter. She gave me a primer on dog food and comfort. She gave me the confidence to believe we can pull this thing off because she knows how much our family needs Appa. And when Noah came back out of school and she saw I couldn’t keep up with my dearly beloved #LinkYourLife, she volunteered to co-host, partnered up and doubled participation in one week. Shareen never does a thing halfway. She’s a lover and a fighter.
Every member of our family needs this service dog because Appa is being trained to redirect Noah before he even knows he’s overwhelmed. Noah will gain confidence and security from Appa’s redirection because Appa will never judge him. I’ve tried for years to provide that safety, but I am human and am still overcoming my own poor training. Noah’s meltdowns are 90% him tearing himself down and believing it due to sensory overwhelm. Noah is amazing, and Shareen saw that, but she also saw that I am cooked. Frazzled. Overloaded. At risk.
Interesting fact: Shareen and I hadn’t seen each other for 29 years when we renewed our first cousin bond. But we picked up like we were besties all along, because that’s what we are. No time or distance can change that. It’s a great feeling to be growing this magazine with Shareen. She has an amazing vision for where to take you all, contributors and readers alike, and I get to be part of it.
Now you have the chance to be part of On the Verge. Not just as a contributor, but as a participant in (De)Caffeinated Confessions. Yes, the competition supports Noah and his service-poodle-to-be, Appa. But every submission is hat-tip to Shareen as well. For creating this space. For giving of her time and herself. For creating possibility.
How funny are you? Shareen wants to know. She, Diana and Tom are waiting to read you. I hope you take the time to bring a smile to Shareen’s face. I know she’s done that for you just as she has for me day after day.
*This post was written on-the-sly. Hi, Shareen! Surprise!