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Kathleen Pooler is a writer and a retired Family Nurse Practitioner who is working on a memoir about how the power of hope through her faith in God has helped her to transform, heal and transcend life’s obstacles and disappointments: divorce, single parenting, loving and letting go of an alcoholic son, cancer and heart failure to live a life of joy and contentment. She believes that hope matters and that we are all strengthened and enlightened when we share our stories.

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: 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.

10/23/2012 04:39:15 am

Pam, Thank you for this opportunity to share my story and my faith.I appreciate it it very much and hope others will chime in with their stories. We are all enriched, enlightened and inspired when we share our stories!

10/23/2012 12:49:37 pm

Kathy, thank you for sharing such a deep part of you! The questions you were asked here were challenging, to me too. What at first may look like tragedy can indeed be beautiful, when put in another frame. When I lost my teaching job eight years ago, I was devastated. I just couldn't imagine why God wouldn't have protected me from the health issues that took me away from what I loved to do - caring for and teaching children with disabilities. But God already had a plan in place - I just didn't know it yet. My father, a WWII vet, had started experiencing Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, so we had begun meeting once a week. Long story-short, because I was no longer working full time, I was able to slow down and really listen to my father. His story became my memoir, Breaking the Code: a Father's Secret, a Daughter's Journey, and the Question That Changed Everything. But even more than that, I was able to be there for my father and to be instrumental in his healing journey to peace.

You just never know. Life is a book full of chapters. The page turns for a reason. Wonderful and thought-provoking post. Thank you! ~Karen

10/23/2012 10:19:51 pm

Karen, Your story behind your story is as compelling as your memoir. What a gift in disguise to be given precious time with your Dad when he needed it the most and to be able to leave his legacy. Sometimes we don't realize at the time that our greatest obstacles can lead to our greatest blessings. It is a testimony to the rewards of putting our faith and trust in God. Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful story. As you know I am a huge fan of Breaking the Code but knowing the circumstances that surrounded your writing deepens my admiration for the story as well as my faith in what is possible when we are open to God's presence in our lives.

10/24/2012 03:48:17 am

Thank you, Pam and Kathleen, for a spiritually rich interview.

10/24/2012 03:54:58 am

Thanks for stopping by Nancy. I'm happy you enjoyed the interview and appreciate your comment.

10/25/2012 03:04:29 am

Thank you for sharing your unique spiritual courage and its source, Kathleen.

10/25/2012 04:27:25 am

Jeff, I appreciate your kind words. Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting.

10/25/2012 04:18:51 am

Kathy - I actually don't share the story behind the story much. I'm pretty private about my health issues, plus, I want the focus to be on my father and his sacrifices. However, on Saturday I've been asked to speak to a women's church group, and they want to hear MY story. It's a little uncomfortable, but I feel like it's time. I appreciate your kind words; I'll remember then on Saturday. ~Karen

10/25/2012 04:35:46 am

Karen, I understand. Our faith journey is a deeply personal and sacred experience and sharing it requires discernment. And yet, it is in the sharing that we can open up meaningful connections with others. IMO, your story behind the story honors your father's story of sacrifice and courage. Yes, it is uncomfortable but I'm happy to hear you feel "it's time". I will be thinking of you and sending positive vibes and prayers your way on Saturday. I have no doubt, it will be amazing for you and for the group. Keep me posted.


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