I was born in Pennsylvania. My father worked at the Sun Shipyard in Philadelphia and my mother was a stay-at-home mom. One of my fondest memories is when I would sit in my dad’s lap after school and he and my mom talked about their day while she prepared dinner. It was a lasting feeling: warm, safe and comfortable.
After Dad died my mother and I moved to North Carolina to be near her family. I spent the next 10 years in NC, graduated from Clinton High School and earned a scholarship to UNC – but the stars in my eyes outweighed the dreams for my future. I married a month after graduating, then in the fall moved to be with my husband who was stationed in Japan. I returned to NC to give birth to my first child. Three more children and several years later I finally made time to begin college, at age 31. I was able to graduate 2 years and 9 months later, Magna Cum Laude, with a BS in Psychology. My interest was in research but my first job using my degree was counseling Vietnam Veterans. It was a wonderful experience. I felt like I was helping people, doing something that was really worthwhile. After my divorce in 1981, that job took me to Philadelphia where I worked in a VA Outreach office in the city.
Soon, friends introduced me to Ray Bernard, a Vietnam Veteran and Philadelphia native. We married in 1983 and lived in Bucks County, PA where I worked with the Department of Navy as an Engineering Psychologist doing research in the Life Sciences Division. From there we moved to Wilmington, NC to be closer to our first grandson who was an infant. Hard to believe that was nearly 25 years ago….
My career path has taken many turns – retail, administrative, real estate, social work, counseling, and I have worked with my hands. I have always enjoyed working with and helping people most of all. I am very happy to have had a broad perspective of life.
Ray and I even refurbished a 150 year-old house in Wilmington, converted it to a B&B, then sold it and moved to Cary… again, to be near the kids and grandkids.
It was about that time that my ex-husband Harold introduced me to a multivitamin that I agreed to try for a while. I asked my doctor to take a look at the products, and he said if I believed they worked to keep taking them. Well, it certainly felt to me that something was working, so I kept taking them. It’s fairly common knowledge that nutritional supplements are not regulated and tested in the same way as pharmaceuticals, so there’s little or no demonstrable evidence that the supplements I was taking – or any nutritional supplements, for that matter – are directly responsible for improvements in one’s health. But the fact is that during that period my energy level and feeling of overall wellness did improve, for whatever reason. That began my crusade to literally redesign my life. I started taking better care of myself. I started investigating things that I ingested. Since I felt more energetic, I was able to increase my level of physical activity. As a result of my lifestyle changes, I now feel healthier and younger than I did in my 40s. I put my research training to work and investigated the company, its founder, its manufacturing processes, and its product lines. Impressed with what I found, I became an Independent USANA Associate and, as my eldest son jokes, an evangelist.
Harold died in June of 2001. We had been married 16 years and divorced for 20, but had remained close friends. It wasn’t unusual at all for him to show up at my house unannounced at dinnertime, always with the same cheerful greeting: What you got to eat?
During his final months, we spent a lot of time together – talking, reminiscing, and ensuring that he would have no regrets about things left undone. His biggest concern at the time was the legacy he would leave his children and (at the time) five grandchildren. He decided that he would leave his USANA distributorship to the kids, providing an ongoing source of additional income to them and their children. As our kids all had their own jobs and demands, and knowing my commitment to the company and products, he asked me to manage the business on their behalf so the kids and I formed an LLC with me as Managing Partner. Just over a year later, HD Beginnings graduated from the rank of Silver to Gold Director.
I have a job that allows me to do what I love most – help people. I enjoy taking the opportunity to talk about the products, and overall wellness, with anyone who’s interested. It’s not just about taking a vitamin; it’s not just about changing one thing in your life. It is about redefining who you want to be and what it takes to get there and, though I’m not a healthcare practitioner and make no claims to expertise in nutrition or wellness, I may be able to help by sharing some of the things that I, and so many others, have found helpful.
Ray and me at my surprise 70th birthday party