Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Joys, Challenges and Lessons Learned

When I think back about the things that had the biggest impact upon who I am now, getting married and divorced ranks up near the top.  I went to an all girls high school and wanted to be a nun -- hard to believe now.  I think it really had a lot to do with my strong sense of social justice and a true desire to serve.  But it also got me in trouble.  I was socially awkward, had no desire to date (what would be the point) and really didn't feel comfortable initiating conversations with men.

It didn't take me long to realize that I wasn't going to be a nun.  I fell in love with my Spanish professor, new feelings I didn't know how to handle. Shortly after Neil Armstrong stepped foot on the moon, I was back at home without a real plan.  Of course, I continued going to college, able to pay as I went by working as a cashier at Krogers.  Working and going to school left me little time for socializing.  There was no such thing as a football game or dance.

I joined a support group, trying to get a handle on who I was, and met the man who would one day become my husband.  After five years, we did marry, build a home and have our daughter. We were divorced 3 1/2 years later and I was now a single parent of a one-year old living in an apartment.  Everything I thought I knew changed during this time.  In three years of counseling, I really, for the first time, got in touch with who I was, my values, and ended up much stronger in the end.  The worst experience of my life probably had the biggest impact on who I am now.  It was a good thing.

I was a teacher, not so much by choice, but by expectation.  It was a time when most women had three career paths:  business (usually in a support position), education or nursing.  Of the three, I luckily chose the "right" one for me.  Teaching was the most rewarding and most challenging career I could have imagined.  The occupation gave me a lot of flexibility.  Over the years I taught 5th-6th grade math/science, became an Assistant Principal and Supervisor, worked as an Evaluator and ended my last seven years where I began -- teaching.  After 30 years, I cobbled together a second career that included managing a science program, working for Miami University organizing science workshops for teachers, and working for the State of Ohio with online courses designed to assist teachers in incorporating technology in their classrooms.  That's where I learned to blog.

It's amazing to me that I've neglected to mention my health.  I've certainly had my share of issues.  At the age of 39, I developed ulcerative colitis -- a serious illness that dominated the next 12 years of my life.  I've also had six orthopedic surgeries and have both hips and knees replaced.  One of my replaced knees became infected two years post-surgery and had to be removed.  They literally "glued" the top of my leg to the bottom while I underwent 12 weeks of self-administered IV antibiotics.  My reward for surviving this -- a second knee replacement.  A few years ago I had a hip replacement.  My femur fractured two weeks later.  Reward for this was a second hip replacement with a much longer rod and screws and ties.  So what is amazing is that I literally feel blessed because I've had good health insurance and can do most of what I want to do.  These issues don't dominate my life now, although they have played a significant role in my adult life. This probably explains why health-care related issues so concern me.

Next month, I will be 63 years old.  I feel like I know who I am and what my values are. I have a wonderful husband, daughter, son-in-law and two beautiful grandsons.  I live comfortably.  I've had the opportunity to travel. My biggest concerns are the instability we see in the world as well as world-wide financial instability. I  also am concerned about the ever-increasing disparity in income in our country and the poverty so prevalent around the world.  I wonder if we are naively on the edge of a Third World War and do not recognize it.  I hate the attitude that teachers and other public sector employees are somehow a drag on everyone else and unworthy of adequate compensation. I wish for everyone else that they have the opportunities I have had -- never being hungry, never without health-care, never without the love and support of my family, and never without adequate income.  

Have you got me figured out?  Let me just say that there are still a few "sticky notes" that are hidden under the pile.  After all, I feel like I've still got a few good years before my story will end.  I have to leave you with a few questions.


  1. Great series, enjoyed each one.

  2. Dear Kathy,

    Thank you for your openness in this wonderful series of posts. In her journals one of my favourite authors, Virginia Woolf writes, "If you cannot tell the truth about yourself, you cannot tell it about other people". While I believe this to be true, I find that it is not always easy to write openly about the person who looks back at me in the mirror each morning. Thank you for inspiring me to try.


    1. Thanks, Jennifer. You know I'm a fan of your blog.

  3. We are similar in several ways, Kathy: career options and hip replacements. And just a year difference in our ages. I think the similarities might end there. I'm a very private person and can't imagine publishing such a personal post. Congratulations to you for doing it! I feel like I know you just a bit now.

  4. I share in your gratitude, Kathy. We are indeed lucky to be among those with, a decent income and so important, health insurance. Sorry for your health issues, but then, we have these medical marvels that would have saved our ancestors' lives and spared so much pain, had they been available A loving family is such a gift as well. You seem to have all these things and and welcoming, outgoing spirit too.

  5. Thank you for an open post showing true elements of your life and pain along its journey. It's wonderful that you've reached a point of contentment. I feel my life has been lucky indeed with few of the challenges you've had to face. Thanks.

  6. Hi Kathy,
    Thank you for sharing your life. I've lived a pretty sheltered life, even tho I'm older than you, so it's nice to see how others have lived. No children, no operations, but I value your opinions, they are like mine. I don't talk about myself, I think I'm boring, but my ancestor's aren't. It's so nice to meet you, and thanks.


Join the conversation. Comments are appreciated and keep me motivated.