Who is Barbara Carole?
My parents' conjugal unhappiness and inability to find joy in raising children taught me that traditional marriage and family were not for me. In our home, we knew the importance of honesty, kindness, compassion, and caring. Of education and the art of self sufficiency. I learned much about life and living, but nothing about the world of God or Spirit.
Instead, my father's passionate curiosity about biology, music, art, history, literature - just about everything - inspired a longing for adventure, a desire to visit different countries and cultures around the world, and an aspiration to achieve.
So it was clear, early on, I wanted more than life in suburbia. Does that sound arrogant and snobbish? Chalk it up to youth. I promised my pre-teen self a fantasy future. But as what? A big-city newspaper reporter, an aristocrat, an academic, a country maid? It wasn't a question of choosing a career; I wanted all those different lives. Sound silly? Not entirely. I discovered I could have it all - by reading books.
Literature gave me (it still does) lives I cannot otherwise know. Good books tell a gripping story so realistically, I feel I've actually lived the experience. In each book I discover - and experience - a different life.
As a teen reading Forever Amber, I was a London street urchin who made her way to the King's Court (and bedchamber). That did it. I was hooked, addicted to books. In Snowflower and the Secret Fan, I was a foot-bound woman in 19th-century China. Memoirs of a Geisha revealed cruel realities of pre-war Japan, and trained me in the fine arts of entertaining and satisfying wealthy male clients. In Angle of Repose, I pioneered in the new West in a complex marriage with a mining engineer. The Kite Runner moved me to a harsh life in Afghanistan. And reading Consumption, I survived by eating raw seal meat on the Arctic tundra.
Eventually, however, my mother said I had to do something other than read books. She thought I had to be practical, to train for a career and earn a living. I had to be sensible.
So, okay, I earned my BA and MA degrees studying philosophy and world literature. Then I married a painter/sculptor and ran off with him - and a Fulbright scholarship - to create art and poetry in France and North Africa. So far, my mother was not reassured.
My husband occasionally filled the coffers with some francs by programming for computers; I earned a few sous translating, working as assistant editor of the Paris Review, and publishing a short story and several articles. But the inevitable happened: we ran out of money.
It was time. We returned to the States to find "real" (salaried) jobs. But not too real, thank you. We found positions at a university teaching art and French Literature. It was a good compromise. Even in my job as writer and researcher for undersea explorer Jacques Cousteau, I did what I loved and there was enough money for travel and adventure. Most exciting of all - after years of desperately trying - we had a beautiful baby boy. Life was very, very good. Until it wasn't any more.
It changed radically - professionally, emotionally and in every way - when suddenly I was a divorced woman, a single mother and the sole support of my infant son. At this point, I understood my mom's concern: we did have to eat after all, my son and I. To make "real" money, I had to write for the business world. And so began an exciting but highly stressful career in advertising, and as a marketing executive. It paid enough to buy a home and get my son through the university. It paid enough to travel frequently and buy books. It paid enough to keep me there a long, long time.
But I'm older now and, growing older still. No more time to waste. Today, I live with my husband and pets in a charming small town in the Pacific Northwest. We found a corner of paradise on a mountain, deep in the forest. Here, I continue writing for business clients, but my "real" work at this stage is to write the kind of books I love to read.
That's a small peek at the events in my life. But to understand how that life was transformed by an incredible spiritual journey, read Twelve Stones: Notes on a Miraculous Journey. This book is my altar of remembrance, written to honor the miracles that God has done. It is written, also, as an invitation for you to journey with me.