There’s a knock at the door.
As I turn the knob and pull, this bright gust of energy bursts into my home, and it’s a warm presence I’ve come to know well. She throws her arms around me and begins breezing through my house as though it’s her own, commenting on new furniture placement and petting the cats.
If you ask me, everyone needs a Kathleen. With her, you get an open book filled with pages of humor, dad jokes, embarrassing moments, and relatable anecdotes that most would be too shy to share.
“Oh, good!” she remarks as she scandalously cracks open an ice cold Coke out of my fridge, “I knew you’d have some!” Kathleen takes a sip like she was right out of a commercial. “I’m gonna be a bad mom this evening.”
In her oversized Georgia Bulldogs crew neck, you can see a sweet little baby bump making an appearance. She had Raleigh Joy fourteen months ago, and now Kathleen and her husband Jonathan are expecting their second baby girl in November.
“We’re in a phase of waiting,” she says as we make our way upstairs. Currently, Kathleen and Jon are not only waiting for their new baby to arrive but are also waiting for their new home to be built in her hometown of Buford, Georgia. Kathleen is a third-generation Buford girl. Along with her parents, she was born and raised in the historic city. After going to the University of Georgia and living in Raleigh, North Carolina for a brief period where Jon was living at the time, she always felt a draw back home.
A New Life in the Same Town
Jonathan and Kathleen got married in September of 2016 and moved into a small 1920s home on arguably the cutest street of all time, South Hill Street (don’t even get me started with the lamp posts at Christmas – too cute to handle, ugh). With Jonathan starting his Master’s and Kathleen working for her dad’s insurance company just minutes away, they decided to move into this family-owned home.
“It’s no one’s dream home,” she says as she takes a bite of Moose Tracks, “The laundry is in my kitchen. The bathrooms aren’t updated – we have linoleum floors. The carpets . . . Lord, a hundred people have lived on the carpets!” she admits with a smile, “But I’ve found such enjoyment in little things with this home that are silly and meaningless.”
On the contrary, I don’t think any of the things she values in the home seem silly or meaningless. For one thing, she lists off a handful of family members that lived in the home during a transition in their lives, a fact that is special to her. For another, Kathleen gets to visit with members of the community who’ve known and loved her parents since before she was born.
“Beccs,” she says excitedly, “My grandfather would have been 100 this year, and some of my insurance customers still come in and say, ‘Your grandfather gave me my first loan. And he shouldn’t have given it to me. I didn’t qualify. Or they’ll say, ‘He used my refrigerator as collateral.’” We shake our heads and laugh, and the pride simply beams off her face.
The Meaning of Contentment
As she reflects on the history she’s unfolded, it’s easy to see the wheels turning in her mind. She tells me how in high school and college, she was a dreamer. Like many of us, she’d reflect on her future – who she’d marry, where she’d live, what she’d do.
“It’s not that I don’t have dreams anymore. But I just feel like I’m where I’m supposed to be. I’m content in Buford. I’m aware that my community is there. And…” she pauses, “And I’m happy with that.”
“It’s an awareness,” she says, “True contentment is being aware of the small, good things in your life. That’s what makes life so sweet.” My inner skeptic wonders if she’s only content because she’s doing her dream career in her favorite place at just the right time.
But make no mistake, true contentment doesn’t mean having the just-right career or just-right family or just-right situation. By now, we all know that life is much too messy and unpredictable to ever be like the story of Goldilocks. Kathleen can attest to that with her career. She didn’t go to college to do insurance and sometimes she feels like her job lacks purpose. “After all, no one will need insurance in heaven,” she jokes.
But you see, contentment far surpasses things like careers. Even in the midst of complacency, boredom, or career questioning, contentment can still be had. “To be honest,” she says, “I don’t feel like I have a specific calling. I couldn’t tell you what I was ‘meant’ to do. That can be scary and overwhelming. But what I am doing is…I’m finding something I can do. For me, it’s insurance. I can try to develop my skills at it as best I can. And then, try to help people with it.”
Sometimes, the most profound things in the world can truly be that simple.
Find something you can do. Develop your skills at it as best you can. And then, try to help people with it.K.W.
What’s a Lifetime of Achievement?
As we finish up, I make a little jab at her “achiever” nature to be the best and successful. We both laugh and talk about what success looks like to us. With her strong lens of contentment, success looks differently than it used to. We both ponder career, family, and wealth. Then she asks seriously, “How do you deem anything a success?”
To Kathleen, success is meaning something to anyone. With tears in her eyes, she adds, “What more of a success could something be?”
And to that, I have no answer.
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