Let’s get to know each other a little better, shall we?
My parents named me Angela Michele Flinn. Since my marriage in 2008, I’m Angie Flinn Key (not hyphenated, please; “Flinn” is now legally my middle name). I’m Angie, never Angela, since hearing that name instantly makes me feel like a naughty child. (“Angela Michele Flinn, GET IN HERE NOW!”) So call me Angie, please. 🙂
I marked my 38th birthday in January. I’m not precisely sure how that happened; in my head, I still feel like I’m 34.
I live in the northern suburbs of Dallas, Texas with my extraordinary husband, Jim. In addition to being my best friend and a wonderful father, he’s the 2003 World Champion of Public Speaking for Toastmasters International. That means a lot of traveling for him to speak at conferences all around the world, and sometimes I’m lucky enough to join him.
I can’t have children, but I’m blessed to have stepchildren. Veronica is 18 and a senior in high school, planning to head to Baylor in the fall to study pre-med for pediatric psychiatry. I’ve been a part of her life since she was 11, and after a lot of work and continual open, honest communication, I’m thrilled to say we’re best girlfriends. Her older brothers were adults when I married their dad, so my role in their lives is purely supportive. Michael will graduate from Princeton with his Masters of Theology this summer, and Jim’s oldest, Jay, works right here in Dallas, so we’re fortunate enough to see him on a fairly regular basis. (It usually involves a soccer match on our big screen, free dinner, or use of our washing machine. Or all the above. Hey, whatever gets them to spend time with their Dad!)
Jim and I will be the coolest grandparents ever in the history of ever, but we’re not in a hurry. Part of me finds it hilarious I’ll skip having babies and being a mom and just go straight to being a grandmother. (Of course, the other part of me still feels 34.)
Two of the most amazing people on the face of the earth raised me: Jim and Karen Flinn. (Yes, my husband and father are both named Jim. So is my brother. It gets a little confusing when we’re all together.) My Dad served in the US Army for 30 years, retiring as a Chief Warrant Officer 4. These days, he’s a civilian working for the Armed Forces in San Antonio, Texas. He’s also a real bearded Santa Claus. No, really – he’s Windcrest Santa Jim. We even wrote a book together last year.
Above and beyond her full-time career as an Army Wife, my Mom’s background is in Early Childhood Development. Mrs. Karen helped hundreds of kids get off to a great start in life. Now she teaches people how to decorate and enrich their lives with the art of rubber stamping. She’s been a demonstrator with Stampin’ Up! for coming up on 20 years. My dad built her a beautiful studio in their San Antonio home, and she runs clubs and classes throughout the month.
I take my role as World’s Coolest Aunt very seriously. My brother (yes, also a Jim) and his wife live in Missouri with their three gorgeous daughters, all blonde and blue-eyed. I visit as often as I can. My best friend, Audrey, gave me the nephew and niece of my heart, and I see them more often since they’re local to me. You’ll see lots of Logan, Tegan, Gabby, Lyla, and Ivy in the photos here on my blog. I shoot those I love.
What do I do? It’s complicated.
This is the point in getting-to-know-you when most people ask, “So, what do you do?”
That’s not an easy question to answer these days. Every response I come up with begins, “Well, I used to…”
In early 2007, I began battling a cascade of different health issues. I fought to stay functional and was pretty successful until the fall of 2012 when my neurologist finally recommended I stop working. Thankfully, I had both short- and long-term disability insurance, and Social Security gave me an immediate approval, without having to go through a lengthy appeal. Of course, that’s the point when my LTD insurance company decided I was no longer eligible for coverage, but I’m working on finding peace as we let the lawyers work on that situation.
I’m sure I’ll share the gory details later, but the short version is this: I suffer from debilitating chronic daily migraine headaches, and find myself unable to function for hours on end an average of 4 days a week. Yes, that’s about 20 severe migraines a month. It sucks. I try my best to cope, to manage my symptoms, to adapt my lifestyle so I can make the most of the good days, and I try really hard not to indulge in pity parties or complain much.
I’m holding out hope that we figure out how to fix these so I can get back to work, but until they’re back down to only once or twice a month, I’m stuck on disability. As it is, I have a tough time just scheduling doctors’ appointments, since there’s no way of knowing, when I schedule an appointment, if I’ll be laid flat with a migraine when that day rolls around. How could I possibly manage a 40+ hour a week work schedule? Bosses have a right to expect that you’ll show up for work every day.
As I said, I’m hoping to someday get back to functional and capable and productive, because I truly loved what I do.
My skills lie in technology and marketing along with user interface and solution design, technical writing, and both online and classroom training. I’m a skilled speaker, presenter, and facilitator, as well as coach and mentor. And I’ll save the details for another post, or I’ll never finish this one!
I’ve held membership in Toastmasters International since January 1999, and I am a passionate advocate for the organization. I hold the educational designation of Distinguished Toastmaster, and have served in a variety of roles outside the club, including Area Governor, District Webmaster, Lt. Governor Marketing, Lt. Governor Education & Training, and in 2005-2006, District 50 Governor.
I cannot say enough about this organization and the opportunities it has given me to practice both communication and leadership skills. I’ll have a lot more to say about this, and the organization, in future posts.
Other Stuff I’m Passionate About
I am owned by two dogs that I love almost as much as my husband. Jack-Jack and Maggie are Morkies, a hybrid blend of Maltese and Yorkshire Terrier. My dogs are a large part of the reason I haven’t gone completely insane here at home all day.
I’m a voracious reader of primarily “brain candy”: fiction that’s post-apocalyptic, urban fantasy with zombies and faeries and witches and vamps, Regency romance, thrillers and mysteries, alternative histories and science fiction. When the migraines blur my vision and make scanning across a page tantamount to riding a roller coaster backwards, I listen to audiobooks. God bless Amazon and their partnership with Audible.
I watch a surprisingly small amount of TV, given that I’m home all day. Most of the time, the television doesn’t get turned on until my husband gets home from work. Jim and I binge-watch shows like Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, Battlestar Galactica, Law and Order SVU, CSI, Castle and N3mbers and Forever. And LOST. And I’m an old-school fan of The X-Files. I want to believe.
I’m intensely passionate about creating a visual record of this life we live. I began to dabble in scrapbooking in 1997 and, before long, branched out to stamping and card-making. Then, dissatisfied with the quality of photographs I had to scrapbook, I scrimped and saved and bought my first DSLR camera. I began learning photography on my own, one skill and technique at a time. I’m now on my third camera body, I’m snobby about my lenses, and I shoot not only natural light but also strobes in my home studio.
My studio is my absolute favorite place in the world. I’ll give you a tour sometime.
Meanwhile, stick around. I can’t guarantee my posts will come on a regular schedule – those awful migraines get in the way – but I’ll share my good days with you, along with my photography, my artwork, and my oh-so-random thoughts.