Welcome to our website! I’m Dr. Lynda M. Ulrich: writer, artist, global traveler, citizen scientist, and founder of Ever Widening Circles
In this bio, I’m going to tell you a lot about myself because I want you to feel like you are having coffee with a friend when you visit EWC.
Additionally, I am skeptical of websites where you look at the “about” page and there is only an impersonal, canned blurb there, or maybe nothing at all. Who are these people? Why should I trust them with my time?
I know it’s unconventionally long, but adhering to “convention” has never been one of my strong suits, so please feel free to step off the “Dr. Lynda Story” at any time.
“Chance favors the prepared mind.” – Louis Pasteur
A fortunate confluence of aptitudes and events has uniquely prepared me to create EWC. Here are a few of the high and low points in that journey…
A Little on My Background…
I come from the kind of folks who would raise a girl in the 1960’s to feel boundless. (Remember, in 1963, women looking for a job had four choices: nurse, secretary, teacher, or flight attendant.) I was able to imagine all possibilities for my future.
Fortunately, my mother, a survivor of a calamitous childhood, encouraged every creative impulse I had. And my father, an old-fashion family doctor, modeled complete boundlessness.
“Imagination is the magic carpet to possibility.” – Dr. Lynda
I grew up in a small, farming town in central Illinois where endless, flat, expanses of cornfields stretched to every horizon. Imagination could expand in all directions, given the single dimension we observed around us. It was a recipe for the creativity that I am only now appreciating.
I’m so thankful that my childhood memories are filled with things like building tree houses and blanket forts, playing flashlight tag, and riding on the handlebars of a friend’s bike; even though that ended in needing 15 stitches. I was allowed to raise orphaned raccoons in my bedroom, wear elaborate jewelry I had made from hundreds of colorful bottle caps, and ride dangerously wild horses to far off hamlets. I was paid to paint marvelous murals in hospitals and rewarded for extravagant science fair projects about the then recently discovered galaxies.
Our bicycles were our magic carpets and just a few peddles past the driveway was Narnia, the Wiffle Ball World Series, the Wild Wild West, and Never-Never Land.
This was the finest training for the imagination that I now enjoy. The only reality check we had to honor was to be on the front porch by the time the street lights came on.
Things were far from perfect in our home, but both of my parents modeled the kind of fierce compassion for the world that still inspires me today.
Ever Widening Circles seems a logical outcome of a childhood spent honing curiosity, compassion, and creativity.
“We don’t develop courage by being happy every day. We develop it by surviving difficult times and challenging adversity.”
– Barbara De Angelis
A single, life-changing tragedy in my youth shaped my perspective so significantly that by age 16, I had developed a real sense of daily urgency about discovering everything there was to be known and experienced. Those impulses combined with some fortunate genetics for grit made me completely comfortable with the risk of pushing to see what’s waiting around every corner.
I’m not going to go into the tragedy that changed my life except to say that at the age of fifteen, my parents woke me one morning to tell me that my best friend’s family had perished in an unusually horrific way.
Innocence lost, in every stretch of the phrase. I had glimpsed the darkest side of humanity too early.
It happened that my best little friend had survived, but my worldview did not.
Since that day, my fifteen-year-old mind began a burning search, and I never took another day for granted. I had always been curious about everything and everyone, but my worldview began to include a level of wonder and gratitude that became one of my greatest gifts.
“Sometimes it’s a form of love just to talk to somebody that you have nothing in common with and still be fascinated by their presence.”
My husband and co-founder of EWC (who we will affectionately refer to as Dr. Chuck on this website) and I have been together since we were 14-years-old.
The wider-world adventures in our life started with my husband’s basketball career at the University of Kentucky, where we were forced to find a place for intense pressure, money, and fame in our world view.
Much of what we experienced in the big leagues, at the highest level of college basketball, was amazing, but some experiences were crushing. Chuck became captain at Kentucky and was drafted by the Chicago Bulls, but we didn’t even open the letter with the contract. Instead, we launched out into the world with Chuck’s professional basketball career in Europe.
This began our life of living and traveling off-the-beaten-path all around the globe. We have lived abroad twice: first in Spain and then in Italy, where we went to practice dentistry. We now carry Irish passports with dual citizenship and consider ourselves citizens of the wider world.
Eventually, we returned to the U.S. and decided to put down roots in Northern Vermont, where we’ve raised three independent and worldly kids who started traveling to the world’s backwaters with us as soon as they could carry their own backpacks (age 6).
They have played with mercats in the Kalahari Desert and been lost in the Andes Mountains with us. They’ve curled up on wooden planks to sleep in remote corners of Tibet, climbed castle ruins in Slovenia, and squirreled around at our feet in passages at the IRA Headquarters in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
Our hope is that they use their experiences to make the world a better place in their own way some day.
Ever Widening Circles seems the logical outcome life spent experiencing the wonder and diversity of the human condition around the planet.
“How it is that animals understand things I do not know. Perhaps there is a language which is not made of words and everything in the world understands it.”
-Frances Hodgson Burnett
Odds and Quirky Ends…
I brought my love of the natural world right from childhood through to the home life Chuck and I created for our family.
For many years, we were the only people in Vermont licensed to raise orphaned moose and large animals for the Fish and Wildlife Department. We raised and release a dozen different orphaned animals every summer: fawns, foxes, porcupines, skunks, raccoons, seagulls, and the list goes on.
I also have an enormous collection of animal skulls which I have used over the years to teach school children about the wonder of evolutionary biology.
Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.
I am also an artist/welder.
For the last 20 years, I have been welding gigantic sculptures with mostly scrap metal from local junkyards to create unusual figures of people, animals, and even a life-sized T-Rex skeleton for our front yard at home. A life-sized stegosaurus in the front yard of our office has become a local landmark.
“Not knowing when the dawn will come I open every door.”
– Emily Dickenson
A “boot camp” for perspective…
Our greatest teacher – our daughter Louisa – was born four and a half months early, weighing only one pound.
Here’s a photo with her on Dr. Chuck’s chest at only ten days old. Her tiny diaper – too big for her – was the size of a playing card folded in half!
Living with a child on death’s doorstep for many months teaches you to manage your perspectives with the agility of a ninja, and for that reason, Louisa will forever be our greatest teacher.
Miraculously, Louisa did survive and grew up to have absolutely no sign of her rocky start.
The experience inspired a more introspective decade. With a growing young family, I decided that if I could not investigate everything for myself, then I would read about it. I’ve read everything from the teachings of the Buddha, to the books of astronomer/philosopher, Carl Sagan. My bedside table is stacked with books about neuroscience, engineering, geology, and biographies too numerous to count.
Sometimes I have to wonder if everything I’ve done up to the present, was just in preparation for my work on Ever Widening Circles.
Why change the negative dialogue about our world? Because people have to love the world before they will make sacrifices to improve it. – Dr. Lynda
And then there are my other teachers: my patients. I will never be able to give back as much as they have given me in the way of wisdom. I am a woman who is both completely comfortable and inspired by the mystery of everything.
If you give me an answer, it only helps me ask a better question next. Let’s celebrate wonder and ask better questions together!