Pam to Kathleen: What unique contribution to faith do you see women making today?
Kathleen to Pam: In my experience, women are the nurturers in the family and are often the ones to plant the seeds of faith. My Great-Grandma Rose did that for me. Widowed at the age of thirty-three with seven children to support, she lived in poverty. Somehow, she made do with her strong belief that God would provide. As a Roman Catholic, I have a devotion to The Blessed Mother that was instilled in me by Grandma Rose. She was always praying the Rosary and asking me, “Katarina (my name in Italian) you wanna be a nun or you wanna get-a married”. It made me nervous as I figured she had some pull but my Mom reassured me that if God wanted me to be a nun, I would feel the call. I was relieved as I knew I could serve God in other ways. But the vision of that tiny woman with her unwavering faith came to me in whispers and glimpses throughout my entire life as I faced my own challenges. She is still with me when I pray the daily Rosary. Faith is a gift given to me and nurtured in my childhood by Grandma Rose.
Pam to Kathleen: How has your faith influenced you in your career?
Kathleen to Pam: I felt called by God to go into nursing when I was thirteen years old. I was sitting in my eighth grade classroom study hall, reading a book, Anne Snow, Mountain Nurse. My heart started pounding and I had a
feeling of excitement as I read about Anne Snow riding on horseback in the
hills of Virginia to care for poor families as a Community Health Nurse. From that moment, I knew what I wanted to do. Of course, I didn’t realize it was a calling until many years later. At the time, I just knew it felt right.
My faith in God has guided me throughout my entire career as a nurse and nurse practitioner. Every morning on my way to work, I prayed that I would remain open to being God’s servant in caring for the ill or in carrying out my role as an educator, administrator. I often prayed with or over patients with their permission. I said many silent prayers for those who were not comfortable. I also prayed for the strength to deal with whatever I had to face- a dying patient, a difficult family/coworker/physician. Jesus is the Divine healer and if Jesus is in me then I am carrying out His work.
Pam to Kathleen: How do you see miracles working today?
Kathleen to Pam: A miracle is something beyond human explanation. On December 19, 1996, worsening shortness of breath and a dry cough had precipitated an early morning trip to the emergency room. I was pacing near my stretcher, waiting for the results of a CT scan of my chest, realizing something serious was happening. As I paced, I cried out in desperation, “Dear God, please give me the strength to do whatever it is I need to do for this is the battle of my life and for my life”. A peace beyond understanding flowed over me and
stayed with me throughout my eventual diagnosis of Stage 4 Non-Hodgkin’s
Lymphoma and my two year treatment course which included chemotherapy,
radiation and a peripheral stem cell transplant. I allowed myself to be open to accepting help from others- meals, gifts, prayers. God had answered my plea to “do whatever I need to do” to fight the battle. Allowing myself to be vulnerable enabled me to accept God’s love, grace and healing. He sent me many angels in the form of family, friends and caregivers on my healing journey.
Simultaneous to the cancer journey was my young adult son’s spiral downward into alcoholism. The cancer was easier to deal with than watching my son’s descent. At least I had options for treatment for the cancer and felt some sense of control. I had no control over my son’s choices and behavior. So I prayed and learned to lean on God. I learned to hand my son over to God and to let go of my need to control. And I never, ever gave up hope that God would heal me and my son.
Grandma Rose echoed in my ear “God will provide” and He did. That is the miracle of faith in my life.
Pam to Kathleen: What kinds of events or incidents have helped you understand God best?
Kathleen to Pam: Having walked through these challenges has deepened my faith. Having been through a life threatening illness and the terrors of loving
and letting go of an alcoholic son forced me to dig deeper to find the treasures of my faith within. But now that I am on the other side of these challenges, I see God every day in the people I love, nature, all the little things in life that matter. All my challenges have given me the gift of perspective about what really counts in life. “Be still and know that I am God” Psalm 46:10
Pam to Kathleen: Hope is one of your favorite themes. How have you held on to hope in your own life?
Kathleen to Pam: My favorite quote is “Some things have to be believed to be seen” by Ralph Hodgson and two of my favorite scripture verses: “Three things last forever-faith, hope and love-and the greatest of these is love. Corinthians
13:13 and “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11. They have guided me through my dark moments when I faced my own mortality and when I was filled with despair over my son’s life.
Pam to Kathleen: You talk about the importance of sharing our stories. What is your process when you write?
Kathleen to Pam: I write daily usually during the day and when I’m not writing, I’m thinking about writing. If I don’t get my quota of writing in during the day because life interferes, I end up not being able to sleep at night as the words
keep swirling around in my head. So, I’ve learned to discipline myself to write
during the day. Sometimes I write in a journal- or on a napkin or piece of scrap
paper if I am away from the computer. Most of my writing is on my PC or iPad. I
use Evernote if my iPad is available to capture passing thoughts/story ideas before they leave me.
Pam to Kathleen: Can you share with us some ideas of how to sort out which memories to use in our writing?
Kathleen to Pam: I have to be clear on the theme of my memoir first to decide which memories tie in with my theme. But initially, I just keep writing down scenes as they pop into my mind. Often times, once I start writing, scenes and characters show up unannounced. It’s like the story writes itself or unfolds on its own. The key is “butt in the chair” and write raw without editing, even if it doesn’t make sense. I did a blog post on Seven Research Tools I Am Using & Why They Are Important in Memoir Writing which lists ways to sort out memories:
Kathleen Pooler blogs weekly at her Memoir Writer’s Journey blog: http://krpooler.com and can be found on Twitter @kathypooler and on LinkedIn,Google+, Goodreads and Facebook: Kathleen Pooler
One of her stories “ The Stone on the Shore” is published in the anthology: “The Woman I’ve Become: 37 Women Share Their Journeys From Toxic Relationships to Self-Empowerment” by Pat LaPointe.