Baby Boomer Woman Helps Kids Through Writing

by Anne Holmes on January 4, 2010

Sandy Humphreys is a member of the National Association of Baby Boomer Women who enjoys encouraging kids through writing. I hope you enjoy getting to meet her and learning about her midlife passion.

Using one paragraph, tell us a bit about yourself?

I was a clinical psychologist for more than 31 years and retired in 1992 to begin my second career as a children’s author. I began my writing career by writing stories and articles for children’s magazines such as Pockets, My Friend, and Highlights for Children, then moved on to write my children’s/YA books.

I write my books to motivate and inspire our kids to be the best that they can be and I received the 2005 Helen Keating Ott Award for Outstanding Contribution to Children’s Literature. My Web site is

Tell us about your family; married, divorced, children, grands, boomerangs or parents living with you, etc.

We have three children and four grandchildren and when our daughter graduated from college, she not only moved back home, she brought her college roommate with her. We’ve also inherited our children’s pets (one dog and two cats) as our kids moved on to graduate school or to apartments which didn’t allow pets.

What is your favorite childhood memory that is reminiscent of growing up in the 50s, 60s or 70s?

My favorite childhood (make that “adolescent”) memory is wearing one of those huge quilted skirts with the equally huge crinoline under it. Looking back, I can’t imagine how I even managed to walk without floating away. My other vivid memory is babysitting a German shepherd and being paid much more to babysit him than to babysit three kids of the human variety.

What qualities do you have that speak of our generation of women?

I think 1961 was a landmark year for me: I got married, got my first job as a clinical psychologist, and got pregnant. Back then, I was the only “workingmother” in our neighborhood and I felt pretty much out-of-sync with everyone else. When I attended my Women’s Club meetings, I was informed more than once that I was the only member who “worked”—like it was a stigma of some kind. Back then it was up to the mothers to take kids to their doctor appointments and whatever other appointments they had, so I was the one to juggle my work schedule to fit everything in. Back then, working moms were definitely in the minority and we were still trying to be “Supermoms.”

What inspires you?

I am always inspired by those stories of people who do the “impossible” and overcome incredible odds to attain their goals. Ben Carson still remains one of my favorites. As a young boy, he was failing school, he had an uncontrollable temper, and he was going nowhere fast, but he managed to pull himself together and not only excelled as a student but at age thirty-three became the director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins-the youngest chief of pediatric neurosurgery in US history.

What brings you the most pleasure in midlife?

Presenting at my Young Writers Conferences where I do writing workshops with the students. I love their enthusiasm and their creativity and their willingness to take risks. I also love the e-mails and  letters I get from kids who have read my books or entered my essay contest—those letters mean so much to me and I have saved them all! One young girl wrote that she had given up hope of ever writing anything worthwhile and, when she won my essay contest, she “came alive” again and regained her self-confidence. That’s why we writers write—to touch a life—and when we do, it is just so amazing and wonderful!

Do you have any interesting hobbies?

We have four dogs and a cat and, in the past, we’ve had horses, ponies, white rats, ferrets, teddy bear hamsters, and always lots of dogs and cats. I loved showing my horse in horse shows and taking our dogs to canine obedience training classes. We always get all our dogs from the Animal Humane Society, and when I took our four-month-old Great Dane/German shepherd puppy to the “Puppy Class,” we were told to sit on the floor and hold our “puppies” in our laps. Needless to say, my forty-pound puppy overlapped my lap by quite a bit!

Do you have a favorite book or movie? If so, tell us why it’s your favorite.

Two of my favorite movies are Stand and Deliver (the true story of Jaime Escalante who, instead of teaching to the lowest common denominator, sets his sights much higher, getting his students to pass the AP Calculus exam) and Dangerous Minds (where Michelle Pfeiffer, as the real-life former marine Louanne Johnson, teaches English in a tough inner-city school and reaches the “unteachable”).

Do you travel and if so, who are your favorite travel partners and where do you like to go?

With four dogs and a cat, we don’t take any long trips—the extent of our travel is traveling around the state of Minnesota where I present at the Young Writers Conferences.

Do you practice preventive medicine? Please elaborate.

Absolutely! I believe very strongly in the mind-body connection and I am really frustrated that there are no physicians who practice Integrative Medicine  near us. I have all of Andrew Weil’s tapes as well as some meditation tapes which I use regularly. Exercise is also important to me. During the summer I swim half a mile every day and the rest of the year I exercise every morning with Gilad on the Fitness Channel. He tapes in Hawaii and and watching the ocean in the background is an extra bonus.

What do you stress about?

The time factor is my greatest stressor! I hate deadlines and I try to organize my life to avoid time crunches as much as possible. I also find all this social networking stressful because I am so “technologically challenged.”

Is it important for you to retain your youthful looks, and if so, to what degree are you willing to go?

I exercise every day and try to eat nutritionally—balancing the proteins with the slow-burning carbs and the fast-burning carbs—but there’s only so much I can do at this point, so I try to maintain a sense of humor as much as possible.

Have you re-invented yourself, and if so, how?

To be honest, I never thought I would be a “real” author and have my own company—Kids Can Do It, LLC. I would say my “retirement” years have been the “dessert” of my life!

Do you plan to retire?

I’ve retired once, but I don’t see any subsequent retirements any time in the near future—I’m having too much fun doing what I’m doing!

Are you doing anything to GO Green?

I religiously recycle everything that’s recyclable, and I hate receiving all the junk mail every day which I see as an abuse of our natural resources.

Do you engage in any faith based practices?

My faith is actually very important to me. I attend church regularly, go to a weekly Bible study group on Wednesdays and our Women of the Word group (which I coordinate) once a month on Saturday mornings. I begin my mornings with a thirty minute devotional period and I also teach Sunday school and am a confirmation mentor.

Can you pinpoint major turning points in your life that led to your life’s work/play at midlife?

After I retired, I wrote a few stories for children’s magazines, and Sr. Kathryn, the editor of My Friend at the time, wrote me such an inspiring and encouraging letter that I decided to really give writing a try. I would say that her letter was definitely a turning point in my life.

Do you still have unfulfilled dreams, and are you doing anything to accomplish them?

To be honest, I just feel so grateful to be able to work with kids and to write my books that I can’t think of anything else that would make my life any better.

How do you make a difference in the lives of others, your community, your world?

I think I make the biggest difference through my books and through my work with kids. Every time I get a note from someone telling me how one of my books or one of my notes has helped them, I stash them in my “Treasure Trove” which my kids will have to toss after I’m gone.

Who has had the biggest influence on your life and why?

God has been my constant encourager and guide. I keep a Prayer Journal which is “written’ partially by Him and partially by me. Back in 2001 He prepared me for my cancer journey and  for my journey with my Mother and her Alzheimer’s. He was my constant companion on both journeys.

If you were to have a personal mission statement, what would it be? Feel free to be as serious or fun as you choose.

To help kids believe in themselves and to write books that will motivate and inspire kids to be the best that they can be.

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