. . That’s Me……Jackie O’Donnell

I admit it.  I’m addicted to writing.  It’s a compulsion I’ve had ever since I first held a pencil and could make words appear on pieces of butcher paper from the roll my parents wrapped bread and other goodies in at our family bakery in San Jose, CA.  It continued through third grade, when I won a prize from the school bank for a little masterpiece called “It’s Fun to Save.”  Writing drove away the lonesomes of not being able to play with other kids because polio left me less than agile, and it led to several notebooks containing imaginary escapades of my mom, my dog, my wheelchair, and me.  As a senior in high school I won the Creative Writing award for the year—but earned only a B in the class because I wanted to write what I wanted to write, not what was necessarily assigned.

When I began college I decided writing was not going to feed me, and I loved the idea of teaching others how to communicate.  Teaching was a natural fit.  For many years I taught high school English, that universally hated subject.  Those years gave me happy fulfillment and lifelong friends in the form of colleagues and ex-students.  I count among my blessings “kids” who are now in education, politics, on both sides of the law (in prison and a District Attorney), corporate executives, trades people, the famous and the slightly infamous.  Keeping in touch with these people, along with experiences I had growing up as a person with a disability, gave me food for thought. . . and for writing.  Much of what I write, then, deals with how people treat each other.

Newlyweds: Son Brian and wife Taryn

In 2005 my son, Brian, vacated the nest to begin his own life.  Deeply saddened by this, his father and I set out the following day to turn his bedroom into a guest room and buy new living room furniture.  When Brian asked why we didn’t do all this stuff while he was still home, I could only tell him my hopes that he’d drop by often to see whatever else we were up to.  When he’s a parent of a teenager, he’ll understand.  Meanwhile, my husband, Frank, and I were content to make a life of our own while enjoying the man our son has grown up to be.

We lost our beloved Frank in November of 2016, well after we had reunited with his East Coast son Mark, daughter Elizabeth, and grandchildren Andrew, Maddie, and Gwyneth.

Daughter Elizabeth, Maddie, and Andrew
. .Son Mark and Gwyneth

I’ve been interested in social justice issues most of my life. I’ve been a Board Member for the Adult Independence Development Center, the City of San Jose’s Disabilities Advisory Council, and the Kaskazi Environmental Alliance, a not-for-profit group dedicated to fostering environmental education in East Africa. Also, I’ve been an active member of various Labor Council groups advocating for vulnerable workers and my parish Social Justice Council. My participation in these groups, my observations of the world around me, and simply living as a person with a physical disability led me to write Small Things Count! and then several eBooks, including poetry.

Life is good.  Life brings surprises.  Life exists to be written about and shared.

Personal Philosophy:  I am a Catholic Christian who believes that I’m part of something larger than myself.  I have friends of all faiths, plus agnostics and atheists, and I respect all of their views.  Their friendship has taught me an important fact—that we all have a common goal, which is a better, more peaceful world.  I believe that, by working together, we can achieve such a world. 

I’m owned by a border collie named Rosie, an African Grey parrot named Max, and a red-slider turtle named Shelley.