Kathleen, Kathy, Kate -AN ARTSY JOURNEY # 27
I discovered swinging a paintbrush and pushing paints here and there was mending my wounded heart. That and time. It had been more than a year since my beau, Robert, had unexpectedly left me behind in Bismarck, North Dakota, to survive on my own. Yes, I could have crawled home to Michigan, but I wasn’t brave enough to face defeat, nor my mother.
When I was born; she named me Kathleen. Mom felt it was a princess-like name, perfect for the child who would grow up to play with dolls and be delighted to wear the frilly dresses with matching hair bows she sewed. My homemaker Mom whispered stories of falling in love, marriage, and domestic bliss into my ear.
However, by the age of six, I insisted my name was Kathy Schroeder. Kathleen was too elegant for the tom boy who followed her older brother around climbing trees and building forts. My doll buggy carried the neighbor’s cat while the Chatty Cathy doll was left forgotten on the sidewalk, naked.
When I was forced to wear a hand-sewn plaid dress with front sailor bow, I would pack a set of play clothes – pedal pushers and Ked’s sneakers – in a brown paper bag. Then I sat on the porch step, pouted and waited for the moment I could open the sack and change my clothes.
I was never the “pretty-in-pink” girl Mom expected. The two-syllable, sassy name of Kathy stayed with me. It seemed to fit me better than long elegant name of Kathleen.
During middle school, my mother showed me the sewing machine. The day I picked up a pattern, Mom took the advice of a teacher and let me fend for myself. Even when I ranted at a gnarled nest of thread wedged in the bobbin, she wouldn’t bat an eye lash or lift a seam ripper.
Mom was never one for a lot of conversation. At twelve, the day I came to her with great concern regarding what I found in my underwear, she gave me a box of sanitary pads and a booklet on menstruating.
In high school we never did have the birds and bees talk. Instead Mom would state, “If you ever have to get married, there’ll be no wedding from your father and me.” I remember getting the pregnancy answer in my 9th grade biology book reading how the male sperm meets the female ovum to form a zygote.
This method of communication in my youth made me distant and tight-lip. Not a very good base for building relationships.
One would think, being a registered nurse, I would have learned about the psychology of relationships. But what I studied in psych rotation was extreme illnesses such as schizophrenia or manic-depression. Taking a medical history was the only listening skill I acquired.
My new journey into the arts, and away from nursing, was not supported and as long distant conversations and “Dear Kathy” family letters arrived from Michigan, the contents picked at my imperfections and poked at my self-worth. Determined to move beyond the negative words each time I read: Dear Kathy, I became Kate. The name was short and strong. It helped me move to a place I wanted to go. To this day, it serves me well.
Sometimes it is the strangest things that we grab onto to find strength. For me, it was my name.
So as Kate, I left nursing and pursued my passion in watercolor. A seed of determination had been planted and the need to become somebody pushed me to grow. I learned to stand on my own two feet and take care of myself.Back to that independent girl who packed her own play clothes.
Although I was trying to improve my communication skills, l felt confident in my organizational skills that my nursing background had provided. Easily I could create time tables to make deadlines. From the recent collegiate business classes I learned basic accounting to run the financial side of a small business. Yet, what I also needed was street-smart entrepreneurial instincts, and for that, I was flying by the seat of my pants.
Zig Ziegler’s Secrets of Closing the Sale and Levinson’s Guerrilla Marketing, were all mentors of the era.
The cottage industry of making mini collages had me juggling three and four employees, shoving me into another area I had never been: management. I leaned on author Ken Blanchard, but I needed more than One Minute to learn all I needed to know in this new world of business.
Mixing book-smarts and street-smarts together seemed to push me at the right time. For the first time in ages, everything in my life seemed to be going forward. I barely had time to savor the moment, however. Things were about to sputter to a stop.