Who is Kathie?

The question, “Who is Kathie?” fuels my writing and pushes me to grow!

My love of words began when I was very young. Books were cherished in our family. Playing outside and reading were encouraged more than any other form of entertainment. When I learned to read by myself, the whole world opened up. We received books for gifts and were encouraged to read anything and everything. Before long I was devouring young adult mysteries (Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys), classics (The Three Musketeers and Treasure Island), the Colllier’s Encyclopedia on our bookshelf, and our Children’s Animal Encyclopedia. As an adolescent, I made a point of reading the lyrics on vinyl record sleeves, articles in borrowed issues of Teen magazine, and once, a smutty novel I found on a neighbour’s bookshelf when I was babysitting.

On my birthday the year I left home in 1971, my aunt gave me a copy of Khalil Gibran’s The Prophet. I still have the same inscribed copy. Until that time, I didn’t realize then how deeply my heart ached for deeper connection with my Soul Self. I never expected that my bond with poetic expression would continue for a lifetime.

I went on to write and self-publish two poetry books, and several handmade poetry “Chapter Books.” I now craft Portrait Poems (a gift from that chameleon I mentioned on my Welcome page) which capture the essence of a person using metaphor and imagery. A personal essay collection, creative nonfiction pieces, articles and short stories have been published in anthologies and magazines. I have a novel on the back burner and am working on a autobiographical narrative that seems to have morphed into a collection of based-in-fact fictional stories.

My creative writing is inspired by people I meet, writing teachers, my experiences in the world, unusual ideas, books, and nature. Thoughts and feelings appear in the pages of my journal, and lie there asleep until they can be transformed into a poem or a story. Metaphor is my favourite writing tool because it allows me to step back and see the bigger picture. It creates a space between my perception of the ordinary and the mystery of the extraordinary. It amuses and delights me when I connect two unrelated things, especially when one of these things is mysterious, abstract or beyond words.

A few years ago, at a life writing workshop, the instructor said, “You have an intriguing life story to tell. Growing up a girl child in a 1950’s military family is unusual. If you choose to write about this part of your life, you have a broad canvas to fill.” The idea that I, myself, had a life story seemed unbelievable to me at the time.

That conversation happened in 1993. I held tightly to the concept of word painting my childhood story. As I wrote about this time in my life, I experienced a sense of pride, validation and encouragement. I surprised myself when I discovered a Storyteller in me. I had grown up with family myths told by my mother to keep her nomad children connected to their roots. I was right at home writing stories based in fact and enhanced with imagination and legendary characters.

I was comfortable in the terrain of a childhood as a transient military kid and thought it made me different, special and unique. I carried these stories like a badge of honour. By keeping this story alive, I could stay in the comfort zone of the familiar. Rather than visit the unknown beyond the chainlink fence I had created, I settled for a repackaged version. Even while I wanted a “place to come from” as many military kids do, inside my story the illusion of separateness kept me apart. I envied other people who seemed content with the reality of their lives. I felt as if I had missed out on something very important. A Hometown and Belonging.This was part of my story too.

Leaving this story felt like the trauma of leaving home all over again. Abandoning my nomad story; the military kid on the move; the story of a chameleon who adjusted to circumstances, constantly changing colour; a setting of disappearing views from the back window of a car; a big family living a structured life of proper behavior and traditional values; and a culture of conformity and obedience.

In order to accept a new version of my life, I had to bring together my false self and its roles, and unmask the wisdom and gifts of my childhood, the parents and siblings I had been given, the people I had met, the losses and the triumphs I had lived. I had to let down the constructed walls around my heart, heal my wounds, and make peace with the past. Reflective writing affirmed my story and allowed me to embrace my humanity.

My journal became the ideal medium for my personal growth, so much so that I began teaching others to journal to find their stories too. I presented workshops focused on the Inner Child, Soul Diving to Release Stress, Heroine’s Journey, and Grief Recovery Letters, all writing workshops I believed were in line with the purpose of my story work. I wanted to continue in some sort of literary career but my writing urges kept shifting from one genre to another. And now, I’ve relaxed into writing for insight and pleasure, as well as to build an solid Inner Home and a sense of Self-belonging. As I move further into retirement, I am writing to leave a legacy for family and friends through life review and life completion writing, and encourage others to do the same using workbooks I have created. I’d be happy to share that leg of my journey with you as well.

As a public speaker trained by Toastmasters International, I am comfortable at readings and speaking from the podium, and am thrilled to share my writing or give inspirational presentations. When the opportunity arises, I enjoy giving my views about the importance of writing as a tool for self-understanding.

Please visit my Bookstore & Portrait Poems pages for a more detailed look at the reading material and writing services I offer. I hope you will visit often.