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This is Me!

My parents named me Kathryn. I suppose because they liked the name. If you are my doctor, a telemarketer who wants to sell me something, or a store clerk who wants to pretend we are friends, call me Kathryn. People who know me call me Kathy. I invite you to call me Kathy.

I'll tell you I am 60 years old, and I am working on becoming a badass woman.

Credit goes to Brene' Brown for her description of "badassery:" When I see people stand fully in their truth, or when I see someone fall down, get back up, and say, "Damn. That really hurt, but this is important to me and I'm going in again" - my gut reaction is, "What a badass." I want to be a badass woman - I've succeeded sometimes and failed sometimes, and with Brene' as a guide that is OK. I love her books - this quote comes from Rising Strong (Random House, NY, 2015).

I went to Rhodes College, a small, liberal arts college in Memphis, Tennessee. I graduated in 1981 with a Bachelor of Arts in what they called a bridge major between psychology, sociology, and anthropology. I thought I wanted to be a social worker.

Towards the end of my junior year, I realized that I really didn't want to be a social worker. I wanted to be a nurse. The reason I didn't pursue nursing in the first place? My mother, 1 aunt, and 3 cousins were all nurses. I wanted to do something different. But in my first foray into badassery, I realized that doing something different just for different's sake was not right. I began looking at nursing schools.

After graduation, I attended the University of Tennessee Center of Health Sciences, also in Memphis, and in 1983 I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. I went to work on what was called the "indigent floor" at a large hospital in Memphis. I LOVED it. But I had already committed to (and been commissioned into) the US Air Force. I thought that would combine my Dad's love of flying and my Mom's love of nursing.

I spent a few months at MacDill AFB in Tampa, FL doing an internship, and then went to Whiteman AFB in Knob Noster, MO. At that time, Whiteman was the only Air Force Base in the continental US without airplanes. I learned that flight nurses were primarily reservists. The only flight I ever took as an Air Force nurse was in a helicopter taking a sick infant to Kansas City.

Sending a young woman to a base in the middle of nowhere and telling her 3/4 of the population (enlisted folks) are off-limits is a recipe for disaster, and I separated in 1986. I moved to Washington DC and took a job in a surgical ICU. I thought I wanted to be a trauma nurse, but learned that I do not have the emotional stamina for that. I did, however, love taking care of the open heart surgery patients. When a smaller, community hospital opened its open-heart program, I moved there. After a couple of years I was hired as the critical care nursing educator. I became a bad-ass educator - I was creative and energetic. My partner was perfect - organized and analytical. We worked really well together.

After 10 years, however, I burned out. There were some things that contributed - perhaps I'll tell you more about that as we become more acquainted. I was by then married and had 2 kids. My husband, Jay, was a percussionist in The US Army Band, "Pershing's Own." I am so proud of his accomplishments! Our son, Jeff, was born in 1991, and daughter, Julia, was born in 1993.

After Julia was born I was able to switch to part-time - more bad-ass womanhood when I asked if it would be possible. My boss was very excited to swap my full-time position for a part-time position in the Cardiac Rehab department. Cardiac Rehab got the full-time educator they wanted, I got to work part-time, and she looked really good for suggesting it. Win-win-win!

Because I was working part-time, I was able to volunteer in the school library when Jeff started kindergarten. One day I commented to the secretary how this seemed like such a fun job. "Oh," she said, "You should have been here last week. It was NOT fun! It was so stressful you couldn't believe it." Now remember - I was a critical care nurse. So, horrified, I said, "WHAT HAPPENED?!?" I was picturing someone having a seizure, or books catching fire, or some other catastrophic event. She answered, very seriously, "It was inventory week." I successfully stifled a laugh.

When I was preparing to go on vacation, I wanted to get as far away from the ICU as I possibly could. So I would tell people, "If anyone asks me what I do for a living, I'm going to tell them I am a LIBRARIAN!" It was the most boring job I could think of, and I figured people's eyes would glaze over and they'd walk away and talk to someone else. So imagine my surprise when I went to help in the library on Jeff's first day of first grade and asked the librarian how she , an art history major, became a librarian. "Same as you - I volunteered." Guess what my next career was?

More badass womanhood - I didn't even know I was going to change my life that day, but I went home, told Jay I was going to become a librarian (the irony!). I went back to school and obtained a Masters Degree in Education with a specialty in school library services. Timing is everything - the school district had a critical shortage of librarians, so as I finished they offered me an early signing bonus. I kept asking if they were sure they knew who they were talking to - I was not a teacher by trade, and had not completed my student teaching. That was fine - my first year of being a school librarian would count for that. That relieved Jay's worry of how I would student teach and we would be a one-income family for a semester.

God opened doors, and, badass woman that I am - I walked right through them. My father thought it was "a shame" that I would give up on my nursing career. My boss laughed when I told her, because it was so different. Other nurses wavered between thinking I was nuts and being a little envious.

I was a badass librarian, too. I am a great story reader. I dressed up as story characters, and made up some of my own. Everyone's favorite was Captain Underpants. Maybe someday I'll share a picture. I was a great teacher. Kids loved the library. I ended my library career as a middle-school librarian in 2015. I was ready for my next, and current, career - alpaca farming.

In 2009 Jay and I stumbled into the alpaca world - that is a whole other story. We bought -on somewhat of a whim, which I never recommend - a pregnant alpaca. She had to stay on the farm where we bought her because of zoning at our house. In the alpaca world that isn't called boarding, it is agisting. Don't ask me why. We agisted our slowly growing herd until 2016. I was retired from the school system by then, and Jay retired from the army, and we moved to our current home. We have 15 alpacas with 4 on the way, 2 llamas, 2 pigs, 5 chickens, 4 cats (2 belong to Julia, who is living with us while she is in seminary), and the world's best farm dog.

That is the short-version of my life. On this blog I hope to share with you some of my badass struggles, particularly with church and faith. I've learned a lot, and discovered some gifts that I didn't know I had. I've also been disillusioned, and re-illusioned, and currently I am on the disillusioned spectrum with church again, but not with God. Not to say THAT disillusionment hasn't occurred, too, but God and I are good now, and I truly believe the strongest faith is one that has been challenged. I have some sermons, and children's messages to share - but you'll notice that nowhere in my biography does it say anything about theological training. Julia is the seminarian, not me. I have some poems, maybe some recipes - who knows? Lots of books to talk about, because I am a retired librarian after all.

I'm excited to start this journey, and I'm excited that you have come at least this far with me. Please keep travelling along!

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1 Comment

Love your blog, Kathy. Wow, you really are a badass woman. Keep on writing and I look forward to going along with you on your journey.

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