April McLanahan, a coaching client, introduced Kathie Kinde by way of 3Plus on LinkedIn. Kathie engaged immediately, sharing her knowledge about leading social media groups. Soon we met by phone and the story leading to this post unfolded.
Kathie was born to a family on welfare in Cleveland’s inner city. In her earliest memory, age four, Dad went to the store and never returned. Mom took to alcohol. At age five Kathie was the family’s responsible adult, caring for herself and her one year old brother. The next few years included much unsupervised time, a plethora of babysitters, and on-going sexual abuse.
School was a safe haven. Kathie got herself up and dressed in the morning, took care of her brother and her Mom, then walked to kindergarten. She also witnessed her mother being violently beaten. Eventually human services intervened, “threw our things in trash bags and dropped my brother and I with different families.”
Kathie stayed with her foster family for four “uneventful” years. When her social worker asked about being adopted by a family where Kathie would be the only child, she answered, “Yes,” but Kathie didn’t understand the concept of a permanent family. Why would she? Meanwhile her brother had been adopted by his foster family. The siblings shared occasional but irregular visits.
Kathie remained distant from her new family. She explains “I loved my Dad. He left. My birth family was taken away. Connect to a new family? I’m too smart for that.” Kathie moved out in her senior year of high school. She worked two full time jobs to support herself and got through the year on 90 minutes of sleep during the week.
Kathie married at 19 and her daughter was born a year later. Without healthy relationship models, it’s hard to create one of your own. The divorce occurred when Kathie’s daughter was 4.
Fast forward. Kathie is transforming her life. “April [Kathie's friend and colleague] gets credit for helping me see that I deserve more. In addition, hitting rock bottom recently was one of the best things that could have happened.” To end a bad relationship, Kathie allowed her home to go into foreclosure. At that point she started to see the pattern, one in which she was the common denominator, settling for situations that reinforced her low self-esteem or allowed her to walk away because she was not attached.
After the foreclosure, “I pared my life down. I didn’t date. I let go of unhealthy friendships. I reflected. I was alone but not lonely. I am coming out the other side now.”
Like the five year old she once was, Kathie doesn’t see roadblocks where others do. If you want to go to school, get up, get dressed and start walking. In high school she wanted to play golf, but there was no girls’ team, so she tried out for the all boys’ team. “If I didn’t make it I wouldn’t play. If I didn’t try, I wouldn’t play. So what was there to lose?” She made it.
Kathie carried this same attitude to a recent professional situation. She wanted to move back to Cleveland when her daughter graduated from High School. Despite the negative stigma in her company associated with working remotely, Kathie presented a proposal to do so. It took 7 months and many discussions but it was finally approved and has become a win-win for Kathie and the company. “I could not have done this had I not gone through the personal transformation and discovered I was worthy. I now ask for what I want.” Had she been turned down, she would be looking for work in a bad economy, but she was going home to Cleveland either way. So why not give it a try?
For many children in neglectful or abusive homes, survival is central, hope is not, “Over the past few years,” Kathie says, “I’ve embraced the concept that there is always hope and I am more confident that I can turn hope into reality.
As I was writing this post, Kathie shared another one she inspired. In it the author quotes an email Kathie sent him.
“…the two things that got me through these experiences are forgiveness and gratitude. Even as a child, it was in my DNA to understand that I needed to be grateful for these experiences – not only for the way in which they contributed to who I am today, but because they happened to me and not to someone who couldn’t have handled them.”
Take a moment. That paragraph is worth reading twice, clipping and saving.
Kathie is in a great relationship. Her career in sales and marketing is soaring. After attending a workshop on tribal leadership, she contacted the presenter, Dave Logan, to suggest applying the approach in schools. “Go for it,” he replied.
She is. Expect to hear more about Kathie Kinde, a woman worth knowing, and a 3Plus mentor.
When I asked why she returned to Cleveland, Kathie answered, “I am coming home to Resilience.”
Yes Kathie, you are.