My name is Melissa.
I am an artist, teacher, mother and wife.
I'm also an advocate for mental health.
My thoughts and opintions on education are centered around equality and human rights.
Art is my emotional release.
Blogging is another.
My ultimate goal in sharing my story is to empower listeners to look inward for strength.
I was born to two loving parents in Spokane, WA in 1982. They split when I was 3.
I lived with my mom and visited my dad a few times per month. Most of my weekends were spent with my grandmother.
Throughout my elementary years, we moved often. I attended 5 different schools. Despite the chaos at times, memories of my childhood are mostly positive. All except those involving my mother's alcoholism. Fortunately, my father and I have always been close.
Sadly, when I was 13, my mother's alcoholism spiraled into a battle with narcotics. She stopped coming home in the Spring of 1997. Later that Summer, my father insisted I move in with him and my stepmother.
Just like that, she was gone. I thought she'd recover, but that wasn't the case.
From that point on, I did everything I could to distract myself from the reality of my mother's addiction. I started getting involved. It felt good. So I did it more. And more. And more.
I participated in volleyball, cheerleading and ASB throughout high school and was elected ASB President my senior year. Camps, assemblies, games, events, friends, boys, spirit. I loved it all.
All the while, I was tormented by thoughts of my mother's reality. The 'not knowing' drained the life out of me. I was anxious about her wellbeing 100% of the time.
Then an opportunity of a lifetime came to our high school. I ended up being the recipient of a full-ride scholarship from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. In the Fall of 2001, I was admitted into Washington State University. In 2005, I studied Art History in Florence, Italy for 6 months.
This was when I truly realized that she was not coming out of her addiction and that my life was in my hands. I realized that I was carving out my own path that was amazing. I came from her, but am not her. This was a huge emotional turning point.
- BA in Fine Arts from Washington State University
- Taught myself how to play guitar
- MA in Early Childhood Education from Eastern Washington University
- Taught 1st and 4th grade
- Met the love of my life
- We moved in together
- We experienced a tragic family loss together
- We started a business together
- We had our beautiful baby girl
- We got married
- We had our sweet baby boy
Now, here we are...
By sharing what has worked in my life, I hope to help others maintain an emotional balance.
Together, we are stronger.
When we are happier, life's doors seem to open more frequintly.
I believe this because it has proven to be true throughout my own life. Negative thoughts are something we all experience and can benefit from knowing how to control. I want to share what has worked for me.
Because of this, I have created: 'The Why' - an authentic, interactive presentation surrounding mental health.
The Why includes a brief personal bio, followed by a conversation surrounding the power of perspective and perseverance. The audience is asked to think about multiple aspects of their lives, career, family, friends, from multiple perspectives.
The information presented is compelling and relatable. Your group will leave feeling a sense of self-awareness and motivation.
Presentations are adapted to fit the needs of each group and last approx. 45 minutes.
"The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson