I'm not always sweetness and light, but I'm always honest. I'm using this to explain who I am and a bit about why I think I have any business at all offering to answer questions in various topic areas.
I'm a middle-aged fat chick, though I am shrinking gradually as I learn about Health at Every Size. My partner Sam Chupp and I have been together for 13 years and still adore each other. I'm Katie's mother and we homeschooled her from 5th grade until she started college. Sam's children, Rowan and Geni, lived with us for five years, then went to spend some time with their mother. Katie's father died when Katie was 9. She lived with him for a few years before he passed, while he fought leukemia. I had two other brief marriages in the past, as well. As a result, I've experienced being a custodial and non-custodial mother, custodial and non-custodial stepmother, and even a step-grandmother. I know co-parenting. I've been on pretty much all sides of child support, as well, and of dealing with divorce issues and negotiations. In every situation, I managed to make a home that was a the center of our lives, a place of retreat from the outside world.
Sam and I are polyamorous, aka "responsibly non-monogamous." We were polyamorous ("poly" is the short form) before we met each other, each of us involved with other people who knew that we met and were interested in seeing someone new. The part where everybody knows what's going on and is okay with it is vital to polyamory. I've been polyamorous by nature since my teens, although I have also been in monogamous relationships (and while in them I didn't cheat, or even consider it). Sam was introduced to poly non-consensually by his first wife while they were in college. We've both had the opportunity to observe a greater variety of relationships over the years, both functional and dysfunctional, than most people. We've seen some beautiful successes and some terrible crash-and-burns. We've tried to take what could be learned from both and apply that wisdom to our partnership as well as sharing with other people as appropriate.
My pre-disability professional background includes technical writing, software QA, network administration, health insurance administration, and medical transcription, among many other things. I started working outside the home when I was 12 (and no, I don't just mean babysitting), so I had many years to build up work experience. I've worked happily in white, pink, and blue-collar environments in entry-level jobs and management positions. I've also run my own consulting business and been part of a small, three-woman company.
I haven't been able to work since 2000 because of a combination of health problems that include degenerative disc disease, arthritis, fibromyalgia, migraines, and post traumatic stress disorder, among others. It took the nine years from the time I was unable to work any more for the Social Security Administration to approve my disability case. That was difficult, to say the least. Because I spend a lot of time doing research, Sam encouraged me to set up a blog and podcast to share my findings with other people who have the same problems. Unfortunately, I soon found that I'm often too ill to keep up a regular posting or recording schedule. Perhaps I'll find a partner or two who will help maintain the site.
I've been an internet safety activist since a nutjob targeted me and my daughter online (and off) back in 1996. I'm an avid reader and roleplayer (diceless RPGs, story games, etc.) and love music, especially singing. I'm an avid cross-stitcher and design my own patterns. I've been asked to design a pattern for an upcoming book! I've lived with cats and dogs throughout most of my life. A sweet little rescued tortie shares our home now, and there would be a dog as well if we had a fence and the room inside for them (next home, for sure!). My therapist has suggested that a service dog would be good for me, but we haven't found a way to work that out yet. Sam and I work on computers for fun. He handles the hardware these days because my hands aren't strong enough to do that any more, but I can still whip Windows and web sites into shape and enjoy doing so. Sam does some consulting work with personal computers for people in the metro Atlanta area.
I was raised in an extremely conservative religious family, but began questioning their faith ("deep water" Southern Baptist) by the time I was 7. I worked long and hard to find a way to reconcile my intellect with Christianity, but I never could, and I left the church as a young adult. Along the way I made a very serious study of Christian theology and a solid survey of Christian sects, looking for a good fit, then of modern world religions, including neopaganism, trying to find a spiritual home. The Unitarian Universalist Association has been very welcoming, although each congregation is absolutely unique. The Ár nDraíocht Féin has also been solidly supportive, and their commitment to serious scholarship is extremely seductive. Neither is perfect, but both have some of what I want. Can I be a Druidic Unitarian Universalist Skeptic?
As I grow older, I've realized that if I had been born into a family whose denomination was not as misogynistic or anti-intellectual as the Southern Baptists, I might very well have gone into the ministry or been a professor, as theology and the impact of the church on the world is still fascinating to me.