I grew up in a small Central Florida town on a dirt road. The oldest of four children, my most favorite memories are of riding bikes and climbing trees with my brother- usually in the same outing. The suburbs grew up fast around us and soon we learned to ride while also carrying a Slurpee or sometimes a bag from Taco Bell. In my pre-teen years, I discovered theater and was performing wherever anyone would stop to watch or listen. By high school I dropped the bike for rides in cars; my friends would drive me to the mall, the beach or on a trespassing theme-park swimming-pool adventure. I had worked in some of Orlando’s theaters. I had just started to explore beyond my neighborhood and I wanted more. I wanted a big city full of art.
When I couldn't afford the tuition at NYU, I found a scholarship to a private University in Dallas, TX. More accurately, it found me. I studied Acting in college, to no one’s surprise. I devoured four years of conservatory training, and while working at the Texas Shakespeare Festival, I met the man I later married. Texas remains locked in magical nostalgia to me - a near perfect time. We took my BFA and moved to Chicago where I continued to perform. I did stage combat. I did improv. I did children’s shows. My favorite performances, though, were new works - an ensemble helping to create something along with the writer and director. I met amazing people, some of whom remain my closest friends, making art together.
In 2008, we were expecting a baby. When I was thirty-nine weeks pregnant, my husband lost his job. We had to confront new realities as first-time parents and new financial stresses in the crashing economy. I attempted returning to theater, but it no longer fit our life. I didn't feel justified pursuing art. It was time consuming and paid little. Instead, I worked hard. I worked for the trading firm. I worked for my husband’s new woodworking business. I worked at my new network marketing business. I worked at being a super volunteer and a super mom. My heart was a little lost in all that working.
A few years later, just as quickly as they piled up, the obligations fell away. My husband closed his business and took a great job as a scene shop foreman. The trading firm closed. My network marketing business grew. My son grew. I had a few moments now to remember the little girl who climbed trees and sang really loud, the young woman who swung a sword and recited Shakespearean verse. I joined the worship band at my church. I added more people to my Arbonne team and started speaking and sharing my stories with other consultants. I spoke about planning and perseverance. I wrote down what I could remember about the dirt road and the bicycles. I got outside. I took long walks and long drives alone. I sat staring at Lake Michigan. I listened for God. I read a lot of books. I woke up early and I wrote. I took endless road trips with my husband and my son. We stopped to explore canyons, caves, forests and mountains. I went to concerts. I made new friends. We drank wine together and laughed and cried. One morning my heart emerged again and I heard a quiet confident whisper: What is the actress daughter of a preacher, if not a storyteller?
Sara Russell graduated Summa Cum Laude from high school and college. Where else could you find that information other than a website bio? As an actress, she performed with Chicago theater companies including Timeline Theatre, The House Theatre of Chicago, and Babes with Blades. She was part of the Non-Equity Jeff Award winning ensembles of Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging at The Griffin Theatre and The Sparrow with the House. Sara performed as Helen Keller in The Miracle Worker with Texas Shakespeare Festival. She toured with the show to Beijing, China as part of the American Drama Festival at Peking University. Sara built a network marketing business while caring for her young son and promoted to the level of Regional Vice President. She is passionate about helping others design a life of intention and runs a Facebook group called 'Whole Living with the Sarakeet' where she curates discussion on self-care topics that feed the mind, body and spirit. John and Sara have been married for 17 years and have traveled to 12 National Parks. They hope one day to see all 61. After nearly 16 years in Chicago, they recently returned to her childhood hometown in Florida where they get lots of time watching birds and looking at the trees. She sometimes misses the big shoulders of Chicago, but is settling into the endless Summer style of life and appreciating all the new-found family time.