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How One Decade Shaped My Entire World

December 31, 2019

What was life like a decade ago? Ten years ago, I had just finished the first semester of my junior year of college. I had spent the summer in Ecuador teaching English, and I was gearing up for a year of student observation and eventual student teaching. The same sort of questions were floating around […]

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What was life like a decade ago?

Ten years ago, I had just finished the first semester of my junior year of college. I had spent the summer in Ecuador teaching English, and I was gearing up for a year of student observation and eventual student teaching. The same sort of questions were floating around as they are right now. The most popular one: Where will you be in ten years?

I was convinced without a shadow of a doubt that in ten years I would be teaching English at a big high school in the Chicago suburbs. I’d be married to Will with hopefully at least one child. We’d be having weekend dinners with our parents and families and enjoying life in the area where we grew up.

Well, Will and I are married and we have two children. But that’s the only part of my life that has gone “according to plan.” There’s so much more about the last decade that’s different than I expected it to be. The me from ten years ago would be panicking at that fact. But my current self is surprisingly content with all the changes that the last decade has brought.

The last decade threw us some major curveballs.

The first few years of the decade came with all the expected and hoped-for milestones: I graduated from Illinois Wesleyan in 2011, I got my first teaching job in Central Illinois, Will and I got married in 2012, I got my second teaching job in the Chicago suburbs, and then life started throwing curveballs. We moved out to California. I went back to school and changed careers. We had two kids. And possibly most importantly, I took back control of my physical and mental health. It’s certainly been an eventful decade.

I’ve learned to adapt and change with each new season of life. After all, I thought that I was going to be an English teacher forever. It took a lot of personal reckoning to see how I’m still using my my English Literature degree and Secondary Education concentration. (Spoiler alert – I use both more than I thought.) Sometimes I can’t believe that I’m not teaching. But then other times I can’t believe I get to wake up and create beautiful photographs of other families’ memories. And my business is only going to continue to grow as I pursue additional projects and creative avenues in the next year (or ten).

Life is far more complicated than it was ten years ago. There have been moments where I honestly didn’t know how the world could be so cruel to people. I’ve wondered how I was going to make it through feeling the way that I felt. I couldn’t imagine how life would ever slow down enough to enjoy it.

How do I feel now?

I still think some of those things sometimes. But I also have these thoughts: How can I bottle baby smell to last forever? (Answer – ziplock bags with their clothes) Isn’t my body amazing for growing and sustaining two lives? How can one little boy be so sweet and drive me so nuts within the same 35 seconds? Where did I get so lucky to be able to not only create my own business but also have a husband who encourages me through it all? How can I show the world how grateful I am for the resources I now have to take control of my own health, even when it’s a struggle?

Life is messy. But it’s also beautiful. I don’t know what the next ten years are going to bring, but I do know that I’m ready for them.

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I'm Kathleen, your new friend, storyteller, and cheerleader.

Once upon a time, I was a classroom teacher. But after moving from Chicago to California, I switched gears and turned my love of photography into a business! Now I'm combining the two and loving every second of it!

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