A Bit About Sandy

Throughout my career in education and non-profit leadership, I told stories; as Steve Almond says, “the stories we tell, and the ones we absorb, are what allow us to pluck meaning from the rush of experience.” Telling stories is essential to our humanity.

In fundraising, I invoked the Hokey-Pokey, because to put your whole self in — in the story, in our community — is what it’s all about. I wrote stories about group baking projects involving synchronized spatulas, about our community’s mission of compassionate action paired with spiritual growth, and about our annual intergenerational campfire talent shows. I led a listening project so that we could learn from one another’s stories.

I wrote curricula and designed community organizing projects, teaching about the niches, interdependence and diversity that are necessary components of both “natural” environments and those dominated by humans. Through these projects, young people learned how to tell the stories of their communities in documentary videos, story quilts and museum exhibits.

I told stories at home, too. At bedtime I embellished my own childhood experiences in weaving stories for my son about the elephant who served my ice cream sundae in Hong Kong, and about where the car’s new set of wings would take us. He told me stories about his imaginary iguana, Anna, who plays soccer and who was rescued from the pond where she was drowning. All along, I found the humor in stressful situations; at some

Photo Credit: J. Kay Tolman

point I’ll post my stand-up comedy routine about going to the emergency room with chest pain.

In retirement, I was thrilled to find that writing makes me happy. I’m very grateful. While I write personal essays when an issue moves me, I am focusing on a memoir of my journey through 20 years of spine surgery, from pain to equanimity and joyous contentment.