NAMW INTERVIEW WITH Kathleen Pooler
1. Tell us what you want to write about, or what you are working on:
I am working on a memoir. The logline is:” nurse shares her faith-based journey through her son’s alcoholism and her own cancer diagnosis”. The main message I want to share is how I found hope through faith, growing through the pain and emerging empowered while learning how to live life on my own terms. No matter which way I look at it, my faith keeps emerging as the underlying source of strength and inspiration through my “dark night of the soul”. I will also incorporate how my nursing profession has strengthened me. The key events of that dark night when life changed forever were the day I saw my first husband drunk, followed 18 years later with seeing my 14 year old son, Brian drunk for the first time and the night I was diagnosed with Stage 4 NonHodgkin’s Lymphoma. I want my reader to relate to my pain so they can see, smell, feel the depth of the experience and appreciate the abyss my daughter, Leigh Ann and I fell into when Brian started drinking and I was diagnosed with cancer. It’s a slice of life doled out to enlighten and encourage others with similar challenges. I will expose how my frailties (naiveté, guilt, fear) fueled my enabling behaviors which led to my “bottom”.
The common theme that emerges is the power of hope through faith in facing these challenges, how it has worked for me. I will show how I eventually climb out of the abyss to find hope, empowerment, joy and direction in my own life.
2. If you could imagine the title of your story-what would it be?
I thought I had the title figured out. Initially it was To Lovingly Detach: A Mother’s Journey Through Her Son’s Alcoholism. But as I kept writing and learning more about the craft of storytelling through NAMW workshops with Linda Joy and Jerry Waxler, I realized that the story was starting to reveal itself in other ways. This is not just about my son, it is about me and how I changed and grew through the challenges, Stories about my childhood, my nursing career started emerging and screaming to be included. So, I’m not sure about the title yet. I’m waiting for that to emerge as well. Some possible titles I’ve thought about are: Hope Matters; Matters of Hope; Walking in Faith. I need for a title to jump out and grab me and that hasn’t happened yet!
3. What helps you get your writing done-for instance-a writing schedule, taking a class, reading?
Finding time to write is an ultimate challenge for me that requires a lot of discipline and planning. I work as a Family Nurse Practitioner in a busy primary care office Monday-Thursday so most of my writing gets done on the weekends. But I also find that when the muse strikes, I have to listen. Sometimes it’s in the middle of the night when I can’t sleep or when I have a few moments of downtime at work. My biggest challenge is when it strikes while I’m driving, so I invested in a digital tape recorder that I keep handy for such occasions. Certainly taking writing workshops, doing teleseminars and attended writers’ conferences has given my writing a tremendous boost. Right now, I am in the very important phase of learning my craft and joining NAMW has been the single most important decision I have made to support my writing goals. I am willing to claim that meeting Linda Joy and participating in NAMW has changed my life in a very positive way. It has made me feel that my writing dreams are becoming a reality!
4. What are your five favorite books-okay you can make it a little longer if you need to:
That’s a hard one to answer as I love to read and have many favorites, but here are five:
- Team of Rivals by Doris Kearnes Goodwin. She puts you right there in the times of Abe Lincoln and you begin to appreciate why he is considered to be one of our greatest presidents.
- 1776, John Adams and Truman by David McCullough. Again for the detail of our history.
- Don’t Call Me Mother by Linda Joy Myers. I loved how Linda Joy speaks in the voice of that precious little girl and how she finds forgiveness for her mother at the end. It really brought me to tears. What could have been a very dark story turned into an uplifting story with a powerful message for all of us.
- The Liar’s Club, Cherry and Lit by Mary Karr. Her incredible use of vernacular is riveting. All her books draw you in instantly and keep you turning the pages. The stories just flow so naturally.
- Same Kind of Different as Me by Ron Hall and Denver Moore. Masterful presentation of a very inspirational story in two unique voices.
5. Is there anyone who does not want you to write your memoir? Why not?
I imagine my first ex-husband wouldn’t want me to expose his alcoholism. I have been open with my son and daughter all along but have not with their father so that may be an area of concern down the line. I am promoting this as my story but I realize others are involved and I need to be aware of their reactions. I have thought of changing names when the time comes.
6. Talk about who the audience is for your memoir:
I see my audience as being parents of alcoholic children, particularly mothers; substance abuse counselors; cancer patients; teachers or anyone who likes to read about overcoming obstacles in life.
7. What is the most significant turning point in your life?
I would have to say being diagnosed with a life-threatening illness even though at the time, I felt that having an alcoholic son was more challenging. These challenges were simultaneous. Having to face my mortality at the age of 50 forced me to put things into perspective. Now that I am on the other side, I feel it was a gift for all the perspective I have gained. I think God really does use our pain to transform us into stronger, kinder, more forgiving and grateful human beings.
BIO: Kathleen Pooler
Facebook and Blogsite: krpooler’s blog (http://krpooler.wordpress.com)
The facebook groups include NAMW and Moonlight Moms
In 1946, I was the firstborn child of Katherine and Robert Pease ,my “greatest generation” parents who are still alive today bringing me love and inspiration. I was blessed with a stable, loving family and childhood. It wasn’t until I came of age that I experienced the challenges that would shape me into the person I am today. I have been a registered nurse for 43 years and a family nurse practitioner for past 14 of those years. I love making a difference in the lives of the patients I serve and I hope to continue that through my memoir. I feel called to write this memoir for people who have or will face the challenges that I have had to face and to share the hope that strengthened me for my battles.
I am happily married to Wayne who is a retired sales manager for TJ Lipton Co. Together we have 6 grown children and 11 grandchildren ranging in age from 2-21 (only one girl in the whole mix!) When Wayne retired in 1996, he inherited 135 acres of the land his father and grandfather had raised dairy cows on. He experimented with a garden and for the past 14 years has been growing organic vegetables and herbs for the farmer’s market.
I’m certain I can refer to these years as the happiest years of my life!