I first started thinking about writing a memoir when I was in my teens. Whenever I met someone new, I told them my story (living in Santa Cruz, meeting the Hartleys, being adopted by them). This all happened when I was young (14); they would say what an incredible story it was. They also mentioned how lucky I was to be adopted and grow up in one of the best areas of the United States.

All those people don’t know that I am even luckier than they think. My story is extraordinary; it all happened because of one chance encounter. If I look at my life, there has been a series of pivotal times when I made a choice that affected the rest of my life. I’m not kidding.

Pivotal Change


Pivotal, in the sense that my choice determined what came next. For example, I met the Hartleys one morning outside their hotel. I was there because I was on my way to work. They were there because they were filming their latest documentary. Furthermore, their visit to the Galapagos was an afterthought as their primary focus was Peru and Machu Pichu. Ecuador and the Galapagos were a way to spend more time in South America that summer. Yet, this encounter, how I reacted to it, and what followed would not have happened any other day or place. The stars were aligned for me that morning. They are so ingrained that all I have to do is close my eyes, and I can picture that encounter as if I’m watching the scene in a movie.

I could list all those encounters at a point in my life for you, but that does not do justice to them. Instead, I am writing this memoir to bring out all those memories, examine them as I write them, and relive them for the reader so that they can see as I see them. They say that Monday morning quarterbacking is so easy. They are right; you have all the elements, you can see what happened, and you can see how things could go based on the choices made or not. 

I believe our entire lives are like that. We are born, grow up, live, and die. The choices we make every day determine the path we take through life. Our choices and our attitude. I learned that lesson early on in life, and it has been what has guided me through it. I have learned to pick my battles and to know what is essential and what is not. I hope that I have taught this to my children and they can teach their children. 

In a sense, this book is written with that in mind. I want to know who I am, where I come from, my experiences, and what shaped me. And what lessons those experiences teach so that we may not repeat them. That is my wish for you.

Hi, I’m CRW

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