Meet Kathy Stimpson, our crackerjack editor and “sneaker wave.” According to Wikipedia, a sneaker wave is “a disproportionately large coastal wave that can sometimes appear in a wave train without warning.” That’s Kathy to a T. She prefers to hover quietly near the shore, insisting she is no big deal. For a while we are fooled by her self-description. She keeps her head down and does amazing, predictable work. Just when we think we know her pattern, her brilliant waves of wisdom and intellect astound us with their depth and power—without warning or calling attention to herself.
Having known Kathy for many years, I believe the source of her power stems from the one contribution for which she gives herself credit: she is kind. She calls it a tiny drop, but if she cares for something or someone, she does so with all her heart. You know she has your back and is quietly there, ready and willing to carry you safely to shore with her disproportionately huge wave of love and compassion.
She blames me for introducing her to Big Ocean and persuading her to join the media team as an editor. Her years of experience and knowledge of grammar and punctuation lifted the content of our newsletter and blog considerably. But you guessed it: she uses kindness when she suggests changes to our clumsy efforts at writing. She will likely seek to edit away these glimpses of her capabilities, but we’ll choose to ignore those suggestions.
Kathy grew up in a military family, moved around a bit, and landed in a small town in Nevada for high school. Her mother is her hero and most-quoted authority on nearly everything. The relationship with her father, however, left some scars and a good deal of depression and anxiety that plague her still. Looking back, she sees God’s hand in her life, although she didn’t realize it at the time.
There were two caring teachers in high school who reached out in ways that helped her see her potential. One told her to believe in herself and “be a tree.” She also credits a few good friends for helping her get through her darkest days and deepest challenges.
She said, “I had a caring boss in college who had me re-examine some life choices I was making so that I saw I was heading down a wrong (but not bad) path. I met and married a guy who turned out to be even a better man than I realized.” They are blessed with three “really great” daughters, each one coming after infertility challenges. The daughters each married “good guys” and have so far given them six grandchildren. Now as empty nesters, they enjoy traveling and hiking, often in combination. “I may always struggle with the anxiety and depression that have followed me since childhood, but I have learned to manage it. And I have even managed to learn a few good things from it.”
Some passions that bring out the “sneaker-wave-response?” She replied, “My family and things that affect any member of family (diabetes, ovarian cancer, learning disabilities, ADHD, child abuse of any sort, infertility, depression, and anxiety). I also feel strongly about women being seen as equally capable intellectually as men. It’s the one thing my dad did right — he let me know I was capable of being whatever I wanted to be.”
Now that you know her better, her idea of a perfect world won’t surprise you. “A perfect world would be one where all people were just kind. Pretty much all problems would disappear if we were all kind. Political and religious hostility would be removed if people could just be kind and tolerant to other viewpoints.” Spoken like the quiet force for good that she is. May she continue to sneak up on us with her wisdom and goodness.
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