I was born in the mountains of Colorado as the 12th of 13 children. I grew up with a deep love for winter and the cold, making me a bit of an anomaly. Despite spending many years confined inside by illness, I have always loved hiking, running, martial arts, and the outdoors. Nature is my greatest joy. I adore wild things, especially animals. On multiple occasions, I have been known to lure wild animals such as mice, squirrels, a fox, and at one point, a baby deer. As a child, I spent more time amongst wild animals and wildflowers than around humans. Nevertheless, I have become more and more fascinated with people, and especially, their ability to rise up and progress even after intense struggles. I became aware of my own ability to move forward after my best and beloved friend passed tragically away. I suppose I was naive enough to believe that I was justified in wallowing in self-pity. It took several years of deep depression and exquisite pain before my heart was softened enough and my mind opened sufficiently to recognize the reality that life goes on, and that that is not a bad thing. Once I realized that I did not have to be trapped in my past and chained by regrets, I saw more clearly. Little by little, I changed. I became less bitter and more benevolent. My anger was slowly transfigured into affability. That which I had once seen as oppression was an opportunity, and my chains became a compass leading to change. Since that minuscule moment of change, my goal has been this: To show others their own potential to rise from the ashes of despair and fly on with wings of fire.