I've always had a thing for astronomy. I even had my own telescope and liked sketching the moon and planets. My 7th grade science teacher inspired me so much that I knew I wanted to become a science teacher when I was 12 years old. After Penn, I moved to New York City and got my master's degree in Physics Education from New York University. I loved going for walks around the Village at night, feeling how spectacular the energy was and picturing myself living right there one day. And now I'm here. The power of creative visualization is phenomenal. My ultimate goal (besides having one of my books adapted into a movie) is to own a home here. As with all of my other big dreams, I will never stop believing that this is possible. Always dream big.
Update 4.09.12: I am now officially a homeowner! I found my apartment in January and closed on it today. You can see before-and-after photos of my renovation here.
When I started teaching, I lived on the Upper West Side and walked home from school every day. But then I heard about some schools in other neighborhoods that didn't have basic supplies like books or paper or enough desks. I heard how too many kids didn't have good science teachers who cared about them. It just made me so upset that privileged kids in rich neighborhoods get all the resources, while the kids who need those resources the most never have enough.
So I packed up my stuff and switched schools. I was a high school Physics and Earth Science teacher in the South Bronx from 2000 to 2007.
I survived a lot of hard times growing up. But those painful experiences gave me insight and strength. I wanted my students to know that no matter how difficult things were, they could still create their dream life. You are the architect of your own destiny. Your past does not have to define your future. The choices you make are your power to design the life you want to live.
It took me a while to realize that it's possible to have more than one career. I wrote When It Happens and Take Me There while I was a teacher. Then I made an executive decision to leave teaching so I could dedicate the next chapter of my life to writing teen novels. The purpose of my life is to help teens feel less alone and inspire them to be their most amazing selves. Not being a teacher anymore was a hard decision to make. How could someone who worked her whole life to get to this place decide to leave it? But then I thought about the way reading saved me when I was younger, and how I could reach more teens as an author than I ever could as a teacher.
When I launched my second dream career, I had no idea if my books were going to sell. I didn't know how many more books would be published, or even if writing would provide enough income for me to survive. By 2017, I'd been a full-time author for 10 years. Writing 11 books would not have been possible if I was too afraid to leave what was familiar and safe. I made a choice to break out of my comfort zone and make friends with the unknown, which is where the magic happens.
You know when you get those butterflies of nervous excitement about something that makes you feel alive? That is your passion speaking to you. Fear is like a sign on the road pointing in the direction for you to make your big dream reality. Every time I have traveled in that direction, my life has improved tremendously.
Refusing to let fear stand in my way made this life possible. The journey has sometimes been a steep uphill climb, sometimes treacherous, and often requiring me to navigate uncertain terrain. But I am being exactly who I am. I am doing what I love and putting in the hard work, welcoming change instead of being afraid the way I used to be. You make the world a better place by being exactly who you are. When you follow your heart, you end up right where you belong. And that’s the ultimate destination.