I recently took a quiz: ‘Which Disney Princess Are You?’  I was not surprised to learn that I am most like ‘Mulan’, a Chinese girl who pretends she is a man so she can become a warrior in the Imperial Army. In some ways, my life story is a reflection of Mulan’s.

Growing up in the 1960’s, I really wished I was a boy. They got to do all the cool things: go fishing, play tackle football, ride dirt bikes. I was jealous. My mom was forever telling me to “act like a lady” (which did not include the aforementioned ‘boy’ things).  While my sisters played with dolls, I preferred Hot Wheels cars. My sisters loved pretty dresses.  I refused to wear one.  My poor mom.  Whenever I could, I’d run outside and hang out with the boys…. hike through the woods, look for crawdads, and play any and every sport.  I was teased and called names: butch, she-man, dyke. It hurt, but I developed a thick skin… I had to be the real me.

My father was a professional basketball player, which really fueled my love of sports.  He was 6’10” and I am 6’ tall… so, I was recruited to play volleyball and basketball.  A competitive athlete through college, my favorite sport was swimming. It was the 1970’s.  There weren’t as many opportunities for girls to play sports… and it certainly wasn’t encouraged the way it is now! But I loved sports… and fitness.  Still do!  I’m a bona fide gym rat.

In the 1980’s, I pursued a career as a TV sportscaster. Talk about a man’s world! But I never let that deter me!  I suppose I’m considered a ‘pioneer’, since I was one of the first female sports anchors in the county… and THE first in the states of Nevada and Ohio. I didn’t really know or care that I was achieving something ‘special’, I was just following my passion.  Eventually I transitioned to news anchoring, but I remain a rabid sports fan!

So, the real me… is a tomboy, a jock (now I embrace the names). I love to fish. And hike. And watch football on TV. I still hate dresses.  And jewelry.  And make-up.  And reality TV and girl drama! BUT, the real me is also a happy and loving wife and mom. I have 3 daughters of my own. They are wonderful… and unique. They are the air in my lungs.

My message to them, and everyone (including myself): Be more accepting and less judgmental. Treat others—and yourself—with kindness and respect. Be the real YOU.

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