I grew up in the northwoods of Minnesota. Our family lived in Babbitt, a small mining town owned by Reserve mining. It was a strange little company town filled with young families and billions of small children. Because the town was built over a year or two to accommodate the young families, we also had no elders, no teenagers for many years, and no people of color. Many families were one or two generations from immigrating from Norway, Finland, Sweden, etc. I have seven brothers and sisters which are a great source of pleasure and strength for me.
Besides my family, I think I was raised by Mother Nature, the mother of all. I grew up running forest trails, swimming in icy water, picking berries, loving the land. I am still happiest when I am alone in the woods. I tend to be a bit of an introvert, a loner, a stand alone soul. If not for finding my husband, Milt fourteen years ago, I may have ended up living in a cave somewhere scribbling notes on stone. I also was a reader at a very young age. I LOVED books and the many places a good book could take me.
I still spend a lot of time alone which, I guess, for a writer is a good thing. Sometimes I prefer the company of imaginary worlds rather than this one. I have some strange birth defect that does not allow me to understand why the world works the way it does. Why war? Why greed? Why anger aimed in another’s direction? I seek harmony on a global level.
So, when you read my works–whether fiction or nonfiction–you’ll see these reoccurrng themes of love of the land, magic, the need for play, the need for peace. It is what I’m all about.
I also seem to have an obsessive need to share these realities with others. I wish I could pull that desire out of me like a bad tooth, but it is firmly rooted. How does a shy introvert become a public writer and speaker? It is not an easy path.
In my early twenties, I was on track to become a counselor. Part of me is greatly relieved that that track was derailed. I am not good at sitting still. I’ve still become a counselor of sorts, but in my time and in my way. My early interest in NLP (neurolinguistic programming) has served me very well. It made me a careful observer and gave me tools about what to do with what I was observing. It was my interest in NLP that gave me both the tools and the desire to become a teacher of others. I can remember early on when I first began scheduling talks, I would be nasty sick to my stomach before each talk. Butterflies galore! But I fought it and used my NLP skills to quiet the terrified little girl in me and eventually I learned to pay more attention to my audience than my own butterflies. It worked.
My path looks scattered and sometimes disjointed, but I like it that way. I followed my heart in most cases. I followed the pen in others. Together they have taken me on many adventures. I’ve written stories and books, helped my husband produce over 70 documentaries for public radio–mostly on Indian things, and even helped on one PBS film.
It feels good to be talking to you about my life instead of presenting that frozen little profile/bio about somebody I scarcely know.
I’m mostly been an independent earner. It started when my first daughter was born, and I couldn’t bear to leave her with others. I started a day care center and preschool called The Red Apple. Next came an aerobic dance studio, the writing the substitute teaching, the speaking, the writing for radio and on and on. I’ve had a “real” job for five years as an English instructor at Oglala Lakota College. I loved the students and the paycheck, but couldn’t deal with the politics.
Another side track I took was to study and facilitate Family Constellation Work. I thought I’d left the self-help world behind when, suddenly, I was introduced to this fascinating way of working with the “soul” of the family system itself. I tried to stop myself, but the lure was too strong. It’s been 14 years since I added this work to my toolkit.
A few years ago Milt and I left South Dakota and bought ten acres of land. Our dream was to simplify our lives and to build a straw bale house. Now our beautiful little house has become a home. We have gardens and a wood pile and trees around and the sky above. I’m not sure if “simplify” has come about yet, but we did unload a lifetime of stuff. That felt fine.
What are my goals and vision for the rest of my life? I want to continue to teach others about their own patterns and how the brain works. I want to see my little Bead People project go dancing around the world. I want to expand my garden. I want to spend time with my grandchildren–together we have 14–and see them become young men and women and take their place in the world. I want my heart to feel open and receptive to whatever other surprises may be coming my way. Finally, I want to give myself permission to write more stories even though I’ve had such a difficult time getting them out into the world. I want to continue sharing my stories here and finding a community of like souls who also feel the need to look inward for outward solutions.
I guess I’ll leave the boring bio below, but it felt good to go personal here. But if you want to hear more about our many adventures, do subscribe below to get a weekly article or post from me.
Boring bio . . . .
Patricia Jamie Lee is an award-winning author and well-loved presenter. Since 1984, she has presented workshops nationally in core communications with NLP, Family and Organizational Constellation Work and many just for fun women’s retreats, schools projects with The Bead People International Peace Project, and Creative Writing.
In 2007 Lee’s first novel, Washaka—The Bear Dreamer, was a finalist in the PEN USA Literary Awards. Her short fiction has been published in The South Dakota Review, Winds of Change Magazine, Heartlands Magazine, Byline and others, and in 2006 she received a South Dakota Arts Council grant for fiction.
Lee has an MA in Human Development and was a developmental English instructor at Oglala Lakota College on The Pine Ridge Reservation for five years. She grew up on The Leech Lake Reservation in northern Minnesota. Jamie and her husband are currently building a straw bale home on ten acres in her home territory.
During the nineties, Jamie and her husband, Milt Lee produced over 70 documentary programs for public radio including the award-winning landmark native music series, Oyate Ta Olowan–The Songs of the People. In the summer of 2010, their first film, Video Letters from Prison was released on national public television.
To learn about workshops with Jamie in Family and Organizational Constellation Work, Creative Writing, Women’s Retreats, Media Training and Core Communications, visit her website at www.patriciajamielee.com