Meet Country-Sunshine | An In-Depth Interview
Although I have had an online presence since September of 1994, I have never taken the time to share my personal story with my readers. I’ve always enjoyed relating the stories of other people, places and things, yet shy away when it comes to myself.
However, after learning of an interview challenge on Hubpages, I decided it was time to provide a more in-depth look into the “who” behind Country Sunshine.
Are you ready to learn more about Country-Sunshine? Let the questions begin!
Please tell us a little bit about your early family life.
I was born and raised in Texas, and have lived here the majority of my life. My immediate family consisted of my parents, an older brother, and a younger sister. We were a close-knit, normal family much like those portrayed in the television shows “Leave it to Beaver” or “Father Knows Best“.
My mom was the youngest child in an upper class family, while my dad was the youngest son of dairy farmers. Mother took it upon herself to teach us kids how to walk tall, speak correctly, and eat with several forks. Daddy, on the other hand, taught us how to hunt, fish and survive in the wilderness. Because of them, not only can I pluck and butcher a chicken, but I can serve it on fine china!
Both of my parents were school teachers, so education was a priority in our household. If we were not learning the latest mathematical equations or how to conjugate a verb, we were traveling. They believed that experiencing other destinations and cultures would help us grow to be well-rounded adults. Because we all had the same school schedule, we took our family vacations during the summer. We’d load up in the car, and travel around the country for a couple of months each year.
I feel blessed to have had a stable and caring family life. My parents, although far from rich, made sure that we had opportunities to learn and better ourselves. We took piano and violin classes, sang in the church and school choirs, were members of scout troops, and were active in sports. I was able to live in Germany as a foreign exchange student when I was just 14 years old, and my sister traveled around the world in the Texas Girls Choir. We had everything we needed, but not always everything we wanted.
As an adult, I married my soul-mate - twice; earned my Bachelor’s degree; traveled extensively; survived cancer, and settled down in 2006 on a small farm. I lost my husband in 2010 to Agent Orange-related cancer, and my Mother passed away in 2013. While it can sometimes be lonely living by myself in the country, I am never alone. I have 2 dogs - Charlie Watts and Della Street - to keep me company, in addition to my chickens, guineas, ducks and box turtles.
Now that we know your background, let’s dig a bit deeper:
What is your favorite word?
My favorite word is responsibility, which I believe is under used. Each person is solely responsible for their actions and words, their dealings with others, and their footprint on the environment. In my experience, too many people shuck their responsibility and blame their poor choices on others or outside influences.
What is your least favorite word?
Racism in all its forms (racial, race, racist, etc). I believe this word is used an excuse for improper behavior, and doesn’t have the same meaning in our current era as it did many years ago.
What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?
My most creative times are when I am alone in the outdoors. Ideas will come to me while I’m driving down a country lane, or when I’m taking the dogs for a walk in the pasture. Seeing a hawk dive down to grab a mouse, a deer munching on alfalfa or puffs of soft clouds in a blue sky always inspires me.
Emotionally, I am touched by stories of strangers helping others in unexpected ways. My eyes moisten when I see a US flag waving or see rows of white headstones in a military cemetery. Seeing the good in people always touches in my heart.
What turns you off creatively, spiritually or emotionally?
The television news, and many of the programs that are aired today, are full of negativity. It appears that nothing is sacred any more, and in my opinion, it is ruining our society.
What sound or noise do you love?
I love the quietness of the outdoors after a snowstorm; the soft peeps of young chicks; the purring of a cat sitting in my lap; the laughter of my grandson; a soloist singing “Oh Holy Night” on Christmas Eve; and the song “Stand by Me”. These are all the sounds of life.
In addition, I always loved the sound of my Mother’s voice. She was always so upbeat, and filled the room with her joy and love. She was a beautiful, kind, fun lady, and I greatly miss her presence.
What sound or noise do you hate?
I hate any loud noise, the sound of traffic, and people who interrupt or talk over each other. If the world would slow down a bit, and people listen to each other, we would all be a bit happier.
What is your favorite curse word?
I believe that anyone who uses curse words simply does not know how to express themselves properly. I have never used them myself, and do not like to hear others use them. I admit I’ve told several people that they have “potty mouths”.
That being said, I always get a bit of a giggle when I hear my best friend say “I’ll be go-to-hell” when he is surprised about something.
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
As a teenager, I dreamed only of getting married, having children, and living in the country in a small house with a white picket fence. After high school graduation, I enrolled in college to pursue a degree in Social Work. However, I dropped out of college in my junior year, as I couldn’t face taking a course in public speaking. After a few years in the job market, I re-enrolled in school, and earned my degree. In 1994, I started my own business, and have worked in my “dream job” ever since.
If I were to try any other profession, I’d love to become a Veterans Service Officer. These wonderful people work with military veterans to get them into the Veteran’s healthcare system, find jobs, and receive benefits. I have had the opportunity to get to know the Officers in my local Service Office, and volunteer with veterans whenever possible.
What profession would you not like to do?
I don’t think I’d make it very far in the dental or medical field. Peering into a mouth or poking around on a stranger’s body doesn’t appeal to me at all!
If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?
“You did good”
More Challenging Questions
In the film version of your autobiography, who would you like to play yourself?
I think we should just bypass the movie, and stay with the book. I don’t know if there is anyone that could fill my role. A shy, introverted woman isn’t what I think of as a movie star.
Also, I don’t watch many movies, so I’m not familiar with the celebrities of today. However, I did enjoy Katharine Hepburn, as she had “class”. Sandra Bullock would be another choice, as she seems so ordinary.
What quality or talent do you wish you could cultivate?
I would like to become a better carpenter. I have had to teach myself how to build chicken coops and remodel my house, and my efforts are really not up to snuff.
A Source of Inspiration
Who is your favorite fictional character ever?
Gosh, this is probably the toughest question you’ve asked! The only two I can think of right now are Mr. Peppermint and Stephanie Plum. Mr. Peppermint was my hero when I was a child. I didn’t know why at the time, but as I look back, it is because he was a gentle, kind man. My family was able to meet him in person once, and he was the same in real life as he was on his television show.
As for Stephanie Plum, she is quite a character. I love how she stumbles her way through life. Criminals are always chasing her, she wrecks her car regularly, and strangers show up inside her house. She takes it all in stride, and I enjoy her attitude towards life.
What inspires you?
Early mornings, sunny days, and classic rock or blues music gets my blood pumping. I always wake up early in the morning, without an alarm clock, with a smile on my face. Sunny days warm my body, and in turn, my spirit. And if I need a little extra help to get moving on a cloudy day, I turn on my iPod to get my toes a-tapping.
Yet, what really inspires me is honesty, humility, the innocence of children, and the experiences of the older generation. There is so much to learn from those younger and older than ourselves. We need to open our minds & ears to hear the stories of the past and present before they are forgotten.
When did you first realize you were a writer?
I don’t remember the exact age, but it was sometime in middle school. I always enjoyed English class, especially when we had writing assignments. I would pen stories about my pets, travel destinations, and life in general. I found at that time that my best writings were those that touched the reader in some way - either through humor or through sadness.
I have boxes in my closet that contain my early stories and poems. One of my favorite poems from high school was “Ode to Melinda Gay”, which I wrote after my dachshund passed away.
Which two articles you’ve written for Hubpages are your favorites?
The article that is closest to my heart is Our Love Story. I wrote this not only as a tribute to my husband, but to urge readers to live and love in the moment. The second is my article on my journey with thyroid cancer. I had no idea what to expect when I was initially diagnosed, so I hope others will find this helpful on their personal journey with this disease.
Do you have any final words?
As writers, and as people, we all have stories to tell. Not all people are comfortable baring their souls or providing their personal information for the world to see. I write under the moniker “Country Sunshine” because I prefer to keep my personal life private.
This interview has changed my thought process in that respect. Perhaps providing more information about backgrounds, interests and experiences is a story in itself. What we have to share as writers may inspire others to create their own works of art.
© 2014 Country Sunshine