As a woman, a hiker, an adventurer, an explorer, I need this!

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Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Summer of 2015, I walked 100 miles in Spain on the Camino de Santiago. It was lifechanging; the Camino got into me, changed me, and the effects of it still ripple out, like a stone thrown into water. There is now always a part of me that is on a long trail somewhere. It is my heart’s wish to walk again, and do the whole thing this time. One hundred miles was only 20 percent; the entire Camino is 500 miles. …


A naturally independent temperament, plus a culture of shame and constant questioning made me realize I never wanted kids

by Katie Andrews

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Photo by Fuu J on Unsplash

I grew up knowing in early single digits, as a strong, deeply velt vocation, that I very much wanted to be married, and very much did not want to have kids. YES to marriage, NO, no, no, hell no to kids.

I was one of those girls who never bothered to look at wedding dresses, because I didn’t care about the dress. I cared about being a wife and companion; I wanted a soul mate. And I also knew I wanted nothing at all, especially a kid, to come between me and my husband! I also knew that to say any of this aloud was complete heresy. It upset people. Intensely. …


I lost 172 pounds and it’s been YEARS since someone looked at me with disgust and loathing

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Photo by AllGo - An App For Plus Size People on Unsplash

The above picture isn’t me, but it could have been, just a few years ago. There’s a part of me that will always identify with and feel great compassion for anyone who is overweight, especially overweight women, and I never want to lose that empathy and compassion. We all need that, but fat people, fat women even more so. I wasn’t shown nearly enough love when I was fat, so I want to show that love to others always: I see you; I hear you; you matter.


I lived through a category four hurricane! And I was one of the lucky ones: I still have a home and a vehicle, and my loved ones are alive and well. Not everyone can say the same.

by Katie Andrews

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Photo by Husen Siraaj on Unsplash

The hurricane is what happened, first of all and it was life-changing. I listened to what B, my niece’s husband said; I heard and understood him, but truly did not know what to expect. It was horrendous, a category 4, the strongest/worst hurricane since the 19th century. Welcome back to Louisiana! I was born and raised here, but I had never been through a hurricane… til now. What a welcome back after living over 20 years in California.

And dear God the devastation: in a nutshell, my cabin’s roof was caved in by a tree we NEVER expected to fall, a healthy oak that also took out A’s, my niece’s personal vehicle, B’s work truck, and my cabin roof, making my cabin uninhabitable for several weeks. I had to stay with A&B for at least two weeks, while we were also without power. We JUST got internet back last week. …


Narcissists are weak individuals who may bluster and growl, but they back off and back down once other people are no longer useful. Here’s my take from a retired teacher’s perspective.

by Katie Andrews

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Photo by Jose M. on Unsplash

From 2008 to 2015, I was “lucky” enough to work at a school with three narcissists, which I’ve written about here on Medium. Two were in my department; one was the head of department and overall rather benign just self-absorbed, and the other was a former head of department who still thought she ran the place. That one, Prima Donna Sauerkraut, I’ve written about here; she was the most toxic, embittered person I’ve ever come across. The first two years I was there, things were difficult personally since my now-late husband was beginning his decline, but professionally, things felt a little off at this school, but since the principal at the time liked me, we got along. I had friends at the school, so things were okay. …


Want to keep the equality in your relationship? Like your freedom to come and go as you please? Want to avoid toxic partners? Here’s how!

by Katie Andrews

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Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

I’ve just hit upon a radical thought: having a living apart together relationship makes it significantly harder to be abused.

First of all, for those unfamiliar with the concept, living apart together is not a new way of having a relationship, but it’s also not conventional or well-known. It’s becoming more well-known, and it particularly suits introverts, those who are creative, and older people who have assets to protect, as well as those who just like their space, their way. (I fall under all those rubrics!) …


Strong, independent, discerning, powerful, mature, wise? Let’s face it, older women have an edge in life as we become more ourselves. Celebrate this!

by Katie Andrews

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Photo by Antevasin Nguyen on Unsplash

Recently also I’ve really come to a breakthrough of self-acceptance. For several years now I had been flirting with the idea of flirting (ha!), questioning myself if I wanted a third relationship now at 52 and widowed, having been married twice for nearly half my life.

First big question: do I ever want another romantic, long-term relationship?

Now I realize if it happens, that’s nice, BUT it has to meet certain very specific parameters such as living apart together, separate finances, ideally him with no kids and if he does have kids, a definite understanding and appreciation for my hands-off, never-a-stepmother ideology. There’s also a hell of a lot that would kill my interest: conservative, conventional, traditional, religious, a parent, sexist, not gifted, etc. I don’t need or want any of that. …


And here’s how to approach an older woman the right way!

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Photo by Edward Cisneros on Unsplash

Now that I’m widowed, I’m presumed to be back out on the market, looking to date and get into a relationship again.

Not so fast. Slow way down there, buddy. Ask a lot more questions.

I’ve noticed a tendency in myself to be utterly indifferent to downright angry with the way men approach me these days. This has a lot to do with the fact that I’m 52, not 25. I’ve been there, done that — twice in fact! — with dating and marriage, for 25 years, about half my life, so it’s not like I’m waiting to “get off the shelf”. I’m now retired, after having worked over 20 years as a teacher, and before that, as a journalist. I have two degrees, and have traveled (solo) to 29 countries — so far! …


This is what being triggered looks like.

by Katie Andrews

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Photo by Aan Nizal on Unsplash

I just COULD NOT. My niece had encouraged me several times to take a class at the gym to which we all belong (myself, her, her husband B), as did the trainer she works with. And all along, every time, my heart just sank. I felt no enthusiasm whatsoever, just dread, fear, discouragement, more dread. Absolutely nothing whatsoever about being in a class with other people sounds at all fun or encouraging.

But tonight B and I went to the gym together. He had wanted to sign up for classes; A had been encouraging him, too. She LOVES classes, and she loves being around people and doing classes with them. That’s fine, and good for her. I cannot stand exercise classes with other people. I hate socializing at the gym. I never talk to anyone at the gym anyway and never make eye contact, which comes from 50+ years of living in a female body, and 25 years of being married. I don’t want to talk, be slowed down, get off track, or be picked up out in public. I want my privacy respected, and I want other people to respect mine. I’m there for a purpose, and that purpose is to work out, not make friends. …


Or, what it’s like being a liberal, progressive, feminist Democrat in the Deep South, i.e., living undercover and watching what I say at all times

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Photo by Kyle Broad on Unsplash

Yep, I grew up this way, in Louisiana, the American Deep South, in the 70s and 80s. Even before I knew the concepts, as a child, I was ALL about fairness, justice, equality, equity, women’s rights, civil rights, human rights. How did this happen? I was a gifted girl, and I paid attention. Admittedly, I kept my head in books, movies, TV, school, and art projects as a kid, because I had no money, no car, and no vote, but still, the racism, sexism, misogyny, unfairness, and backwardness crept in.

And it’s not like I blocked it out; I couldn’t. I paid attention but kept my opinions mostly to myself. Oh, every so often, I’d feel compelled to speak up if something was egregiously wrong or hateful, but mostly I kept quiet, with a lot of eye-rolling. What am I saying? Who am I kidding? I didn’t stay quiet. I spoke up, a lot, and often, and let it be known that I wasn’t down for any unfairness or -ism that favored the men in charge over everyone else. And I dared anyone else to say anything, to prove me wrong. I was listening, and once I spoke up, almost no one ever argued. I was right, but I’ve also found as I age that life is a lot more than being right. There are relationships to consider, to manage. I now value family peace and harmony more than I value being right for its own sake, and that’s taken a lifetime to understand. …

About

Katie Andrews

Retired teacher, exerciser, reader, skeptic, animal lover, art aficionado, cook, crafter, solo female world traveler, authority questioner, and more!

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