I graduated from The University of Iowa with a degree in Journalism and Psychology. My love of stories all stems from that infamous day, September 11, 2001. We’ve all been asked, “Where were you when the trade centers were attacked.” and I think we all have a vivid answer. I was in a college history class on the morning of 9/11 and I remember it so well. I was sitting in my seat alongside one of my good friends from high school. Students had just heard the news and there was still much confusion about what really happened. Our teacher entered the room and told us all to be quiet and then he said something along the lines of, “ It’s not like JFK was just shot.” Clearly he was dismissing the importance and misunderstood the magnitude of what just happened to our country. So we sat through history class as people jumped out of buildings in a desperate effort to save themselves, children became parentless, and the world within New York City began to crumble.
After 9/11 I became obsessed with the stories of this unthinkable day. I was glued to the tv, watching the news from morning to night. I think part of my obsession lie in the inability to help. As a young college student in Iowa I was felt far removed and hearing the stories of those who were affected by this atrocity first hand helped feel connected and allowed me to hold space. At the time I didn’t know why I couldn’t look away, it was so heart wrenching and depressing to be glued to the stories. But as I look back now, I see that I wanted to acknowledge each and every one of those stories and the people affected so greatly. I wanted to see and hear and feel their pain so that I could really understand their experience. I am not like others who prefer to turn away and pretend the unthinkable didn’t happen. To dismiss the stories because it causes them too much pain to watch. It amazes me when people do that. I want to see it all with my own eyes because I want to know the truths and I want to hear the stories and acknowledge the darkness. Nothing makes me feel more compassion for people than hearing the stories, both good or bad, about the people who live them.
The stories of 9/11 inspired me to pursue a degree in journalism. I dreamed about traveling the world in an effort to shed light on people’s unique experiences and to create that connection I so longed for when New York was up in smoke. And so I got my degree and a job at The Daily Iowan, a student run newspaper. I was assigned a beat which I hated and soon realized that newspapers were not my jam. I wanted the juicy task of diving in deep with a story. Experiencing first hand what my subjects go through. I wanted connection and understanding so I could do justice to their story. And so, I seeked out a local family of Sudanese refugees and I spent time with them in their home and really listened to what they had to share from their experiences. The stories unimaginable stories they had to tell. I spent many weekends at the only gay nightclub in town and I interviewed and photographed the most amazing drag queens. They allowed me to shadow them from start to finish on several occasions as they prepared for their show. I witnessed every step of their routine. I saw the deep cheek contouring, over-applied make-up process, the colorful wigs being placed onto bald heads, the oh-so-tight hosiery that went on underneath the beaded gowns and short mini skirts. It was magical. And then I got to watch them perform in all their glory. The importance of deeply understanding the stories I was telling became my passion.
Then life happened, time passed, and I fell out of touch with my passion for storytelling. I graduated from college, moved states, took the first job I could land (in hospitality not journalism), got married, had children, and forgot about the importance of this gift of connection. Until now! And that is why I am so excited to start sharing the stories of women through Her Soul Story. I feel like I fallen back in love with storytelling and it makes me feel right at home. Let’s share some soul stories!
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