I am coaching Kate. She is 19 and she wants help with her resume.

I do not have her resume in front of me, but it’s okay. I remember it. And anyway, her resume is not her problem. Which is true with most people who ask for help with their resume.

Also, I’m late for the call. Remembering coaching calls at what seem like random times throughout the day is nearly impossible for me.

I tell Kate, “Look. This is not a resume.  It’s like a list of odd jobs your mom asked you to do around the neighborhood. You don’t have a resume.”

She says, “So then what should I do to get a better job?”

I like this about her. She is composed. Not upset that her resume sucks. She just wants to solve the problem.

I pause. I already know that Kate is working for her aunt, so I say, “What about the job you have now? How about doing that to save some money and move to a bigger city?”

“I work for her but she doesn’t pay me.”

“You get room and board? Maybe you could increase the hours and get paid some cash so you could eventually leave.”

“I already work fifteen hours a day in the house.”

“What? That’s not a job. That’s slave labor. Put your aunt on the phone. Your aunt just needs to get you a job. That’s what people do for 19 year olds who need jobs.”

I have done some work with Kate’s aunt before, so it’s fine telling her to get Kate a job. The aunt says okay. Fine. The aunt says thank you.

We are done. In record time. Good. Because I didn’t charge the aunt for the call and I have to stop telling people who are not really friends of mine that I will coach their relatives for free. Everyone is a relative of someone.

Then another call. A week later. The aunt does not have a lead. I make a note to myself to not work with her again because she told me she was very well connected. I think she is maybe delusional.

The aunt says she is going to sell Kate her car so she can buy a new car.

Kate has no money. She cannot make payments. And she cannot get a job unless the aunt will give her the car. And the aunt makes a lot of money, so this makes no sense. I eat while I am on the phone and I tell myself that if I were my career coach I’d say I need a job that doesn’t make me so anxious. I don’t want to eat on calls. I want to be relaxed with no food issues.

So what am I doing with these calls? This job is ruining my life because soon, I won’t fit into my clothes.

I say I have to go. I tell Kate she needs to be okay relying on her aunt to get her a job. “That’s what all teenagers do—they use their parents’ network to get a job. It’s fine.”

I make two grilled cheeses to transition to alone time.

Then it’s the next week. It’s Kate on the phone.

I say, “How’s the job hunt?”

She says, “Not that good.”

“It takes time,” I say. “Give it a few more weeks. Did your aunt get you any interviews? You only need one. You’ll get the job if you get the interview. I can tell. You’re good on the phone.”

“I can’t really wait a week. I need something now.”

“Why? What’s wrong?”

“I don’t have anywhere to live.”

“What about your aunt? “

“She threw me out.”

“What do you mean?”

“She packed all my stuff into garbage bags and took a picture of them sitting at the end of her driveway.”

“Why?”

“I don’t know. I have her car to pick up her husband at the airport. She told me to pick him up at the airport then give him the car.”

“Then what?”

“Then I am supposed to just leave. She kicked me out.”

“What about your parents?”

“It’s just my mom. And I can’t live with her.”

I think back to the aunt trying to sell Kate her car.  I decide garbage bags are something my messed-up mom would do. And I think about all the grilled cheeses I’m going to burn trying to figure out how to help Kate.

“I’ll just buy you a plane ticket. Just come to my house.”

Silence.

“Okay?”

“Yes. Okay.”

“Have you ever been on a plane?”

“No.”

“Take a cab to the airport and there will be a ticket waiting for you.”

Silence.

“Have you ever been in a taxi?”

“Yes.”

“Do you have money?”

“Yes.”

“How much?”

“$120.”

“Okay. Go to the airport.”

At dinner I announce that Kate will be here at 11pm. “She is 19 and she’ll be at the house a few weeks,” I tell my husband. “I am getting her a job,” I tell the kids.

The kids ask me why I didn’t give them more notice.

It’s a good point. I say nothing.

My husband says, “You said that about Melissa and she stayed for a year.”

It’s another good point. Again I say nothing.

Kate arrives. She has a very small suitcase and nothing else. She looks tired.  I show her our guest room. Which until one minute ago we called Melissa’s room.

All my stuff is in the drawers and cabinets, but who cares because she is leaving soon and anyway she has basically nothing with her.

She sits down on a chair. I say, “Where are your parents? Why do you have nowhere to go? Why were you living with your aunt?”

Kate’s earliest memory is when she’s in fifth grade. She is living with her mom and sisters at her grandma’s. The grandma won’t let Kate’s sisters eat in the house, so Kate makes sandwiches and sneaks them to her siblings.

Her step-dad is an alcoholic who beats up her mom. Her two older sisters left at 15 and both went into prostitution. Kate tried to stay but her dad hurt her when she tried to protect her mom. And her mom yelled at her when she called the police.

I could only ask disorganized questions. When I could think. I said, “Was there a gun in the house?”

Kate said, “Yes. But it wasn’t a problem because when my step-dad was drunk my mom hid the gun under my bed.”

Kate lived at her sister’s house for a bit. Her sister’s boyfriend beat her sister until she passed out. Kate called 911 and the boyfriend grabbed her phone and threw it against the wall.

Kate went to her other sister’s house. Kate didn’t know her sister was dealing drugs until she called Kate from jail. The sister didn’t want to tell the police that she had two kids, so she asked Kate to take care of the kids while she was in prison.

Kate was 17.

She didn’t graduate from high school because she didn’t go enough days.

She lived at lots of friends’ homes for a week at a time. “But,” she said, “they weren’t friends. I always knew I didn’t want to hang around them. But no one I wanted to be around would be friends with me.”

An hour has passed telling me all this. She is in the same chair the whole time. She is crying.

She says, “I never cry. I can’t remember the last time I cried. I never cry. I’m sorry.”

I tuck Kate in as best I can. I give her some of my clothes to wear.

I go upstairs and wake my husband up. “She’s a mess,” I tell him. “Worse than my childhood.”

He is asleep. Then he pops up from his pillow and asks what could be worse than my own childhood. He sees we are in a different league with Kate. Then he says, “She’s lucky to have found you. You can help her.”

I take a Xanax to fall asleep.

The next morning Kate asks if I have something she can use to write down things so she won’t forget them.

I give her a notebook.

At breakfast I tell the boys. “Kate will be living at our house for a long time. She does not have a place to go.”

“She’s homeless?”

I look at Kate. She looks down at her forkful of eggs.

“Well. She has a home now. We are her home.”

We are driving. The boys ask questions. All day long.

Kate tells them she hates the word homeless because she never was homeless. “I always found a place to sleep,” she says. “But I always worry so much about being homeless so I hate hearing the word.”

We go to buy food Kate likes. And shampoo. My younger son takes her to H&M, his favorite store. He picks out a coat for her. She has never had a winter coat, but her instincts are good. The coat he wanted for her is made for a punk rocker look, someone who is probably about to be homeless. Kate picks conservative blue, button-down.

She is a magnet to my boys. They go where she goes. They don’t want to miss anything.

I cook dinner while my husband finds boots for her to wear so she can help find a lost calf. Kate has a sixth sense for where to look and she finds him in record time.

We all sit down to dinner and my son says, “Kate, what do you want to be when you grow up?”

And Kate says, “I want to be my own person.”

I look over at her and I want to hug her but I’m scared I will scare her. Has anyone ever hugged her? I don’t want her to run.

There are many things about career coaching that I don’t like. I miss calls, my kids overhear too much, and most people don’t have career problems, they just wish they did because career problems are so much easier than life problems. But I actually love career coaching. I love finding out the problem, and I love helping people solve their problems, and I am so happy to be able to help Kate.

147 replies
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  1. Diamond
    Diamond says:

    Penelope,

    This is beautiful. Kudos to you for your selflessness.

    Kate, if you are reading these comments, you are one strong girl. I know all you needed was this leg up to go very far in life. You’ve got the resiliency. I wish you all the best mama!

  2. Alison
    Alison says:

    This is so lovely.

    For Kate:
    Congrats on being brave! You should be so proud of yourself. Your life is going to get so much better so quickly. I think your insights to be your own person are so locked in–never lose that. Even if nieces or nephews need your help again down the line, the more you invest in yourself first, the more you’ll be able to help them because it’s a compound interest situation. You are just as equally deserving as anyone else, and no one makes it alone. Glad you found Penelope. :)

    Though I had an easier time than you did, I found these articles helpful for understanding how to shed the coping strategies required for surviving in dysfunctional environments and switching to thriving in healthy environments. I especially appreciated her mention of how the transition involves a very uncomfortable season of emptiness that actually triggers regression in some people (because we can’t selectively numb emotions, you have to re-learn how to feel so you can feel good things – some people regress into the coping strategies because they prefer feeling something to feeling dead and empty for a little while before they learn to feel joy) http://gettinbetter.com/articles.html
    Also: https://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability

    Penelope – you have a beautiful heart and a generous spirit. I’m grateful to know you are doing your thing in this world.

  3. Robert
    Robert says:

    I can’t say any new words that add to what has already been submitted as comments. I will say this – you have both restored my faith today. I love you both for that. Penelope for doing what you have done. Kate for not quitting. I have been tempted to quit at times. I feel new purpose to continue my journey and to achieve.

  4. Mandy
    Mandy says:

    I found this moving because someone took me in when I was in this situation as a teen. It changed the course of my life. I’m glad I get to type this out because I couldn’t explain this post to my husband without my voice breaking.

    I’d like to send some money. How do I do that? Please email me.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      To Mandy, and to everyone else who is offering to send money. It’s so nice. It’s so incredible how supportive you guys are of Kate. It’s meant so much to her. She has read every comment multiple times.

      I think Kate does not actually need money right now. We are not billionaires, but we can give Kate what she needs financially — braces, boots, a phone, normal teenage things. And therapy.

      The comments you guys have left is a huge deal to Kate. And they are not something money can buy.

      Kate has never told anyone her story. She had no idea people would be supportive of her. Feeling the encouragement from a community of people like this means so much to Kate.

      There might come a time when Kate needs money. There might come a time when the money she needs to live out her dreams exceeds what we can afford. And I like that you guys are open to doing this venture with me. We’ll see how things unfold.

      Penelope

  5. Jaded
    Jaded says:

    Sometimes the universe makes connections in incredible ways. Kate, consider yourself blessed that the universe connected you to PT, learn as much as you can.

  6. Jim B
    Jim B says:

    Kate – stay strong. You are brave and good will come of all of this.

    Penelope – you are a good soul. This post made me think hard about how lucky I am.

  7. Sarah M
    Sarah M says:

    At first I wondered why Kate would ever agree to what she was doing with the aunt, and then of course, it’s obvious with the rest of the story.
    Penelope, I’m not sure how having Kate live with you will affect you and your family weeks down the road, but you’re doing a really good thing.

    I read an article a long time ago about what older foster kids need from foster parents. The ages that never get adopted are really from about 12-13 on, and once they’re late teens, they’re basically just waiting to age out of the system because it’s so hard to find families who will take in kids who’ve been in the system their whole life. It doesn’t sound like Kate has been in foster care, but there are a lot of similarities in her story. The article said two things that stood out to me, first, that these kids really need someone to pay for them to live and go to school while they catch up to their peers because they spent so many years in crisis/trauma/change that it was detrimental to their education and life skills because they were so busy coping.
    Second, that they need someone to help them with social and life skills, even down to things like finding out where to apply for things, help with the applications, etc. My mom and I have helped a young man in a situation very similar, and I recognized those two things as exactly what he needed, as well. He still needs help with those things.
    That, and a kind listening ear, and someone around with compassion for them. You’re doing a good thing.
    Sarah M

  8. Kelly
    Kelly says:

    Before I was a middle aged semi retired blogger personal trainer I was a juvenile probation parole office and a child protective services investigator. I’ve seen this story play out time and again. Sometimes it’s awesome and sometimes it sucks. When it sucks… it is sometimes the fault of the helper and sometimes the fault of the helped. Keep your intentions pure and your expectations low.

    • Cassio Borges do Carmo
      Cassio Borges do Carmo says:

      @Kelly – “keep (…) your expectations low.” Sometimes it sucks, most of the time when the “helped” hears people saying things like this. What do you have to ADD in a positive way when you say that?
      Sorry, I don’t usually reply to people’s comments in blogs, but, what the hell?
      By the way, I don’t see a relation with a helper and a helped person here. Just reading this post is enough to note that Penelope and her family are already “helped” as well. It’s a relationship where people exchange life backgrounds. Some words can be so offensive sometimes.

      • Trilby
        Trilby says:

        I can’t speak for Kelly, but I think the intent of the advice to keep expectations low. It’s unfair to place high expectations on another person just because we’ve chosen to give them a hand up in their time of need. Maybe this is the start of a “rags to riches” story and Kate will go on to do something amazing with her life. Or maybe she’ll just be a regular person. We should give without expecting anything in return. Penelope is giving Kate an opportunity. It’s Kate’s choice what she does with it.

  9. Cassio Borge do Carmo
    Cassio Borge do Carmo says:

    One of the things that amaze me most is how people like Kate are most of the time people who make a nice change to the world and add something worth to the society.
    One close friend – not among us anymore – became in his lifetime an amazing painter, world-widely famous. He was born in the slums and used to eat whatever he could find on the ground. He learned to read when he was 16. By 25 he was graduate in History and started writing educational material.
    Kate seems like a very strong person who found great people to help her polish her skills and remember that there ARE people worth living for – Kate, the life experience you already have is something no college can teach. Congratulations for staying a good person. Wish you all the luck, you and Penelope’s family!

  10. sharonmcguire1@msn.com
    sharonmcguire1@msn.com says:

    This made my day. Kate is ready for change. You were ready to open your heart. The timing was perfect.
    Your sons have an amazing role model in their mom, not just as a business woman and writer but as a human being. Best of luck to you all.

  11. Maria
    Maria says:

    Here’s something … food for thought. The Shopify contest. It happens annually, but if it can inspire to strive for something, to have an entrepreneurial spirit and get inspired… then it worked, even if she doesn’t win http://www.shopify.com/build-a-business?rdid=b595e130-26d1-4024-93a3-af863349895e&term=shopify%20contest&Network=Search&SiteTarget=&mt=e&adid=62867569990&BOID=brand&adpos=1t1&gclid=CO25sv6Pq8ECFQoEaQodnoAAsw

    It would help the kids think up of all kinds of things that they would make and sell while learning about building a business. One winner had not won the previous year but learned how to build a business.. I’ve thought of joining it, but am not in a position to do it this year.

    Maria

  12. anastasia b
    anastasia b says:

    Now I’ll be eagerly awaiting the rest of the story of what happens to Kate :) She’s lucky you two have found each other and I really hope she will find her way in life and be successful and loved!

  13. Crystal
    Crystal says:

    Penelope, 42 years ago I was Kate. I left an abusive family in Chicago’s Southside and took a Greyhound bus 1000 miles to live with a woman who was a friend of a friend. I was also 3 months pregnant. This woman taught me how to talk properly, how to walk, shop, dress, eat, and apply for a job. I credit her with so much of my success. This year I voluntarily retired from an IT Senior Management slot at an F500 bank. I worked on my degree early on, until it became economically unimportant to continue. I raised a beautiful daughter who is a civil engineer. My point is simple. You have a wonderful opportunity to change a young girl’s life in very big ways. If Kate is willing, determined, and quick to learn, there is literally no limit to what she can do with her life. She has a wonderful mentor for sure. I wish you both the very best of luck. I hope things work out!

  14. Crystal
    Crystal says:

    Penelope, me again.
    I forgot the most important part of my message…which is….THANK YOU so much for reaching out in this way to Kate. It takes a very special person just to have the big heart, and then everything else, well… You are a blessing and I love you for it.
    I hope you will keep us posted on some of your mentoring strategies. I was asked not too long ago, by a woman who wanted to mentor a young lady, how did that work? How did I know what to do? I really had no idea, I could only say I paid very close attention to everything she did.
    Sorry to ramble…again, best of luck, I’m anxious to hear your progress. Love…d.

  15. Lianne Raymond
    Lianne Raymond says:

    Oh, Penelope, how wonderful that Kate found you.

    You know she is you, right? An opportunity to heal and integrate your own wounded young girl. By saying yes and welcoming in Kate, you are saying yes and welcoming that part of yourself that never felt invited.

    I could be wrong, but maybe I’m not. with love for you both.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      I think you’re right. I keep telling Kate that she does as much for me as I do for her.

      Penelope

  16. High Desert Livvy
    High Desert Livvy says:

    Maybe Kate could turn her life experiences into prose? And she obviously has great people skills to survive through all of the toxic drama. Looking forward to updates and wishing her the best!

  17. Roland
    Roland says:

    I’ll be honest. Some of your posts in recent weeks and months have been spotty. But there is a reason why I await your posts – every now and then an absolute gem like this comes along. The world needs more people like you.. Hats Off !

  18. Lape
    Lape says:

    This is such a beautiful post, Penelope. It has made me appreciate my life. I love that you are helping Kate. I hope you will both be rewarded for your efforts. Love, Lape.

  19. Tracy
    Tracy says:

    Wow, what a post. The story is amazing. What surprises me is the conflicting emotions it is bringing out in me, some of which are quite uncomfortable. First it was so joyous, a fairytale full of goodwill. But then I feel wary of fairytales, feeling life is much more gritty and convoluted. Then the worries. Is it too much to handle – is getting involved with Kate mean getting involved with all her family at some level? Is it good for someone to have such a quick turnaround, being thrust into somewhat-celebrity status? Is there a high that preceeds a fall? While I can see the amazing things that could be the outcome for everybody, I’m not proud to say I would have many many fears. So for that I admire you Penelope. You are a model of courage and kindness for me, whatever the outcome, which I do hope is wonderful on all fronts.

  20. neha
    neha says:

    Its when you hear stories like Kate’s, do you truly appreciate your gifts of family, home and kindness. Keep the courage going Kate!

  21. jestjack
    jestjack says:

    First… Penelope, You are a saint. It would have been very easy for you to become bitter after a childhood you have described. But you chose to reach out and “make a difference”…You are to be commended. I have a child about Kate’s age with a name very similiar to hers so this hit home. And shows what happens when there is no support system for a child. What kind of woman…a G-mother no less…doesn’t allow children to eat in her house? IMHO…SPECIAL place in hell for this gal. Please keep us up to speed on Kate’s triumphs and tribulations….

  22. Chris
    Chris says:

    This is not a done deal. I am glad Maria put out caveats . . .

    I think it might be time for Kate to fall apart a bit, now that she is safe. There may be some “behaviors”.

    Last, Penelope, you have reached the developmental stage of mentoring/advocating/generativity. This is more than simply job-coaching, I believe. It is corny to call you a saint; but it is right to give you credit for advocating for Kate, for providing a safety net; for feeding, clothing and housing Kate.

    The boys are learning so much from this. And Kate gas the benefit of the boys’ curiosity and openness. This may be a bit of an antidote for the family patterns she has seen in the past. Think what Kate will learn from seeing your son practice his music!!
    Think what she will learn from seeing the animal husbandry! The food preparation!
    Wow!

    This will be unique material on her resume!

    Kate, you are being loved and protected by the universe and by Penelope and her family and farm. Hug yourself and thank the powers that be every day.

  23. Tammy
    Tammy says:

    I have been a secret fan for a while and have never posted. Thank you for this post and thank you for allowing your heart to lead. Reading this was right on time for me and gives me more courage today as I go out to look for a job. Thank you Kate and Penelope.

  24. Brad
    Brad says:

    I think more kudos should go to Matthew. With zero notice or input on the decision, he takes in a de facto foster daughter. That is one special dude.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      Brad. Thanks so much for pointing this out. Seeing Matthew’s reaction to Kate makes me fall in love with him again. Really. So sappy, I know, but it’s true. He saw right away that Kate’s visit was not a visit but more of a forever thing. We didn’t even need to discuss it, really, we both just understood that she is now part of our family.

      Penelope

      • Chris
        Chris says:

        This seems like such a great beginning. Yes, Matthew deserves accolades, too. I’m glad that there is no competitiveness between you about taking credit.

        Maybe your readers will all consider taking someone in at some time in their lives. Readiness is all, said Will Shakespeare.

  25. Valerie Gravenor
    Valerie Gravenor says:

    I remember a probation officer by the name of John Adler in Salisbury, MD that made a huge difference in my life when I got kicked out of school at 16 years old for running away from home. I will never forget him. Some people are like that. YOU are one of them!

  26. Micaela
    Micaela says:

    “I just want to be my own person.” Yes, yes, and yes! That. That right there is it. Such wisdom for a young person.
    -Micaela in Nashville

  27. Iris Alive
    Iris Alive says:

    Great, get her into writing about agricultural! She can go pitch to the local farmers. It worked for Temple. You’re the Aunt Katy never had. Neat, this is opportune. Hey, Katy you should help Penelope clean out her closets and junk. Win/Win. You can update her fashions to your style and post your creations! Viral content at you’re fingertips. **I thought really hard about the type-o on my last comment disappearing before anyone noticed. And it disappeared. This blog can read your mind, rad!

  28. Becca Britten
    Becca Britten says:

    It can be so hard when you feel like you’ve been raised without the chances most people are born with to succeed, when everywhere you turn there’s people who treat you like you’re invisible. Kate is an absolute inspiration, and she is going to go really far in life. She will remember forever that one person and her family extended a hand to help her up and not let her down, and the thing about opening your heart to someone… it’s the one investment you make that you get back ten-fold. Keep your head up Kate, you’ve already done so much more with your life when most would have buckled under pressure, you’re resilient and strong and you’re going to see that sunshine you’re made of every bit as much as the rest of us.

  29. Beth L
    Beth L says:

    I have a 21-year-old young man in my life in these same circumstances. I’m teaching him piano, but I can’t invite him to stay at our home because of my two daughters, but it’s heartbreaking to see how alone and lonely he is.

  30. Lynnette Young
    Lynnette Young says:

    Glad you will be able to give Kate safety and a place where she can blossom and not be so afraid of living. You are sure to give her a start that she needs. You made my day!

  31. Kelsey Langley
    Kelsey Langley says:

    Good Morning Penelope,
    I just re-read your post about Kate for the third time. I want to join the masses of commenters and say how proud I am of you and your family for opening up your home to her and “saving” her. But I also know how weird that feels (as an Aunt-now-guardian raising/homeschooling my niece-now-daughter.) My husband and I always feel so strange when people compliment us for what we’ve done… But to us it just feels like what you do. I’m really happy that you were brave enough to do what people should do when others are struggling. So many people turn a blind eye. I’m even more happy to be a Penelope- groupie knowing that you are the kind of person who steps up when someone is in need.

    I attended a conference this past weekend about orphan care. The speaker (Stephanie Fast) is Korean, and she was sharing her terrible experiences before being adopted by Americans and it was so moving. She was also encouraging people to join in and support an organization dedicated to putting down deep roots in third world countries where so much help is needed. The organization focuses on breaking the cycle for these orphans- so no aging out, no boot when they turn 18. They provide a forever home for these kids with permanent parents, education, vocational training, mental/emotional/physical health care etc. It’s amazing. Before this, I really hadn’t thought much of what happens to orphans once they can’t be in the orphanage or in foster care anymore… They end up in the same hopeless cycle their parents were in. Back on the streets, easy targets for gangs, prostitution, drugs, etc.

    I’m so happy that you’re stepping in to break the cycle for Kate. And that you’re willing to help her in a deep way- a home, love, a room of her own, therapy, braces… you are jumping in and changing the path for her. And you’re setting that example for your boys- AND your readers! We’re all only one person… we can’t change the world for the 152 million orphans world-wide. But you stepped up when you heard the call and I admire that. So many people would have brushed that off as outside their area of responsibility.

    Be encouraged. :)

  32. Meredith
    Meredith says:

    Add my voice to the chorus of people who have read this blog for years and never commented before. I am so happy that you (Penelope) are who you are, and that is someone who would buy a plane ticket and literally take someone in to help them. The world needs more coaches like you. My very best wishes to Katie, but she d0esn’t need them because she’s going to have a great life!

  33. Lindsey Cline
    Lindsey Cline says:

    Kate- the really fun part is that Penelope will have amazing suggestions on what you can do next and connections to help. this is just the beginning! wish you all the best!

  34. Maria
    Maria says:

    Penelope,

    One more word of caution. Remove temptation. What I mean by that, due to her upbringing, fears, insecurities, and need to plan for the day when and if she is thrown out again, Kate may resort to hoarding. It could be food, it could be items of value, it could be penny pinching money and credit cards that are not hers.

    The last may create conflict in your family. It’s important to lock up your valuables so there are no misunderstandings (i.e. a lost ring is suspected to be stolen when in fact, it’s just misplaced).

    Expect some hoarding until Kate feels more secure. Teaching her to grow her own food (from one potatoe, you can grow a whole bunch, Ramen Noodle recepies aka 4 for a $1, raising chickens = free eggs, how to make bread from grain) In other words, how to never go hungry.

    How to barter goods and services for what she needs without resorting to drugs or prostitution.

    To knit and sew so she can make her own clothes (all can be learned online- you don’t have to be an expert anymore to teach a skill-just give direction, motivation, tools and time).

    Mantras and meditation to help calm the anxieties from PTSD. It will show up in nightmares, depression, feelings of exhaustion in inattention at simple tasks.

    In closing, there are free high school classes and GED preparations for her to work towards. http://www.coursera.org is one that comes to mind.

    *Hugs*

    Maria

    • MBL
      MBL says:

      I get that your heart is in the right place, but have you considered that Kate is reading these posts and forming a new sense of self in this massive transition? Perhaps you could send your, no doubt valuable, insight into what “might” be going on with Kate to Penelope in an email. Penelope, who is on the scene, could then decide what, if any of the this info seems appropriate to the situation and what Kate needs to hear. Also, PT has stated that she is arranging for a therapist. It seems like s/he would be more qualified and have more relevant information as to what needs to be addressed.

      I suspect that you may be posting here as a PSA to people in this situation. I get that. But, since readers who are interested in this topic have likely subscribed, perhaps you could hold off on adding more potentially damaging info until things have settled in a bit for Kate and her new family.

      Again, I think you have much insight to offer, but think that there may be a more sensitive way to impart it.

  35. Terrell
    Terrell says:

    Thank you, Penelope. You have a big heart and I’m moved so deeply by your actions. Best wishes to you, your family and Kate, and much love to you all.

  36. Angela
    Angela says:

    All the best to you Kate. You’ve already accomplished so much in your life in spite of many obstacles, follow your heart and be well.

    Aaah, Penelope, you’re a good woman with a good soul.

  37. Becky Castle Miller
    Becky Castle Miller says:

    This is such an ENTJ thing to do. :) This post made me happy. I love your heart for justice, Penelope.

  38. me
    me says:

    Dear Kate: Penelope (and her whole family, actually) has a lot to teach, so you’re in excellent hands.

    Congratulations on your first big step to becoming your “own person” — stay strong, Sister !

  39. Maria
    Maria says:

    MBL My understanding is that these posts are moderated prior to being posted. Penelope has mentioned communications that were not posted. My understanding is that she chooses to post or not to post the information.

    As for Kate, by her age, she has already formed a personality. She is already “her own person”. Now she just needs to heal, finish her education and learn life and business skills that will help her flourish and be a productive member of society.

    It’s better to post it than to have her go through the fear and shame of not knowing how people will react to her story.

    • MBL
      MBL says:

      As YMKAS posted, only linked comments go into timeout, hence my concern about the tenor of what is posted. I assume if PT references things not posted then they were emailed to her directly, as I suggested in my previous post.

      I think we are viewing this situation quite differently. I see Kate as being in an entirely new environment that will allow her to flourish and develop parts of her that have never had the leisure to reveal themselves. To my mind, I wasn’t “my own person” until I was 40. So it stands to reason that I believe that Kate is more impressionable than you do, thus I am feeling protective of her. In my own way.

      I suspect that you are trying to protect her in your own way–and I respect that, but I do think that conveying your wisdom to PT and letting her and the therapist decide what is in Kate’s best interest based on her specific circumstances.

      Based on how I interpreted the story, Kate is already well composed and competent in life skills (expected to raise her sister’s children, working 15 hours a day) but needs skills that can transfer to the workforce or help her discover her niche.

      Take care.

  40. jill Harris
    jill Harris says:

    Penelope.

    I subscribe to blogs and after a few weeks I say to myself, “jill, why did you subscribe to these friggin blogs?” I then go into an “unsubscribing” frenzy. You my dear, I only am more humored by as the weeks and months go by. You are so honest. No bullshit. And just when I think you can be the biggest bitch, you do something that makes my heart melt.

    I heart you Penelope and will never include you in my unsubscribing frenzies. A piece of my heart will forever have Kate etched in it. You are in great hands Kate. Best of luck to you. We are rooting for you.

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