Stranger 76, Day 76 – Meet Kira, the “Cultivator”

Stranger 76, Day 76 - Meet Kira

I met today’s Stranger at the marketing agency my company hired to help with messaging. I wasn’t sure if I should or would ask one of the agency’s great staff members. However, during our working session of piecing the site together, I really enjoyed their personalities. (Oh, there were two women.) I proposed the Strangers journey to both asking if either of them would be interested. One woman volunteered positively while the other pointed to the one who volunteered. Awesome!

Meet Kira, 44

Who are you?

She laughs at first. “I am an Executive Vice President at a national digital marketing and public relations firm. I’m a mom of a tween and a teen. And… an art lover.”

What about art to do you love?

“Specifically, theater and books.”

Have you been in theater?

“I grew up in the theater — from fourth grade through college. Was on stage mostly, but a little bit backstage. In my college years, decided that while I really wanted to be an actress, I didn’t want to eat cockroaches off my bare apartment floor and being poor in New York City. So, I chose a creative career like journalism — which is what I actually had my degree in and PR and marketing so I could keep some of that creativity in my life without necessarily doing theater for a living.”

What about theater did you love? And how have you found that in what you do today?

She sighs for a moment. “Well, I haven’t. I can’t say I have found what I loved about theater in what I do today, generally speaking at my job. One of the things I loved about theater was the people, and their openness and their creativity and the variety of different, quirky, weird people that the theater attracts. I will say the company I have chosen to work at now for 13 years is similar in that. You know, we have a built a real family here at the company I work at. It is a variety of different people from a variety of different cultures and backgrounds and religions and things, but there’s a mutual respect much like you get in the theater among us. I guess I do have that aspect of it.”

And you mention you have a teen and a tween. You know when you talk about creativity, you have to talk about the confidence you instill and people have that safe space. How do you instill that confidence with your children?

“Backing up a little bit, both of my children are adopted from birth. My husband, we’ve been married for 20 years, we were going into parenting maybe a little bit different than a ‘birth parent’ would. We really had no expectations about who are children were and what their personalities were going to be like based on he and I like. Like a lot of parents have assumptions and preconceptions of what their kids are going to be like just because they have their genes. We didn’t have that. It’s been really interesting instilling our values and passions into our kids, but really watching them explore what they like, too.”

“My tween, my 11-year-old son, needs no help having confidence whatsoever. He is your more stereotypical, confident boy, you know? My daughter has always been confident herself. I don’t know. I’d like to take credit for that, but I don’t know if I can. She’s a redhead.” She laughs. “… and is fiery, but very kind and very sweet. She’s quirky. She’s different. She gets mad at you if you step on a spider. She’s very artsy and creative herself — things I can’t do like drawing and writing stories. Her favorite thing to do is draw and write horror. So, she’s got a dichotomy of a personality that her favorite thing is horror and… gore. Yet, don’t touch that spider — he’s a living thing! She’s great. So she’s always had a certain level of confidence, and I worried about it. She’s in 9th grade now — just started high school. You know girls particularly, it could be a hard time. She’s sailed right through it! She got through middle school way better than I did.”

“So yeah.”

What are some of the other things that you do to ensure that culture inspires that confidence and creativity?

“We take them to places. We take them to shows, plays, ballets, operas, and we travel. I think one of the biggest things my husband and I do and knew we were going to do before we even started a family was travel with our children. We live in a bubble of a little suburban neighborhood. It’s a bubble. It’s not real-life. Raising two mixed race kids in this bubble of life. So we save our money, and we do everything we can to get them out of there as often as we can, at least, once a year if not twice. Take them places whether it’s here in the U.S. like New York City, or overseas. We went to Iceland last summer. Make them eat new things. Talk to new people. Learn different cultures.”

“I think it helps their confidence, too. They learn how to deal with things that aren’t day-to-day routine.”

So you take a lot of pride in being a part and someone who shapes this company as well as being a mother. What do you love about yourself? What are you really proud of about yourself?

“That’s a tough one,” she admits. “We’re always so critical of ourselves.”

“I think, and my family would roll their eyes when I say this, I do like about myself is that I’m real easy to make laugh. I’m an easy, easy audience. They would roll their eyes at that because I laugh very loudly.” She laughs at this. Though, I didn’t think loudly. 🙂

“… so very public — constantly an embarrassment for them. Hey, you can have a mom who’s always grumpy. You can have a wife who cries all the time. So I think, yeah, I like that about myself. I have a loud laugh, and it comes out very easily. I’m an easy audience!” She laughs again. She’s got such a great energy about her.

I think part of that is you’re happy a lot.

“I am. I really don’t dwell. Part of that may be how I was raised. I was raised in a very blue collar family. My father was the first one to graduate from college in his family. People around me worked hard, really, really hard. They didn’t worry if the house next door had a car up on blocks, or if I didn’t like the color of the house down the street. Now, we live in places where people worry about things like that. ‘I don’t like that political sign in your yard. Let’s create a rule in the neighborhood that nobody can –‘ those things don’t bother me. Because, you know, something bad’s going to happen in my life. Something really bad. Happens to everybody. I got to be able to handle that. If I can’t handle my neighbor having a junk car next door, I’m not going to be able to handle the real stuff. That kind of stuck. I think that’s just how I just stay. I don’t care about those.”

“I have a very nice home. I don’t care about it. My husband this week — I’m traveling. I don’t live in Atlanta. He took the opportunity to completely demolish our master bathroom, and redo it. This week, he’s been texting me, ‘do you like this tile? Or this tile? What about this?’ I don’t care. Pick the tile. Do the bathroom. I just don’t. I’m not that kind of person. I could’ve lived with that old nasty bathroom the rest of my life!” She laughs.

We’re kind of an interesting place, right, because we’re working on my company’s website. We’re talking about “oh, should we put this here or here” — referencing how we were formatting and styling the website.

“Well, that matters more to me. You know, when I do work for you and I do work for clients, that matters more to me than…” she breathes in and continues, “… my fancy shower and my master bath and whether or not I have one, you know? That, I take more pride in that, than I do my home. It’s a nice home, don’t get me wrong. It’s a nice home because my husband lives in it.” She laughs some more about this.

“You know, it’s not about the cleaning. I would live in a house a third of the size we have with my two kids.”

She’s laughing thinking I pretty much bit off more than I expected. Nope! I enjoy this stuff!

What do you see yourself doing next? (Thanks to Sam, Stranger 75)

“Like in my next phase in life?” I tell her that she can take it where she wants.

“Being 44. It has been time for my husband and I to really think about, ‘what does retirement look like to us?’ We’re more on that end of it than we were 20 years ago.”

“I see myself in my next phase living in a small cottage… an unassuming cottage on the water with a dock and boat. We have a boat now, but we don’t have a dock… and traveling. 4-6 months out of the year. I want that home base. Small, homey cottage. Small home on the water. Preferably in the low country of South Carolina. But I don’t want to live there 12 months out of the year. I want to go and experience and learn in places I’ve never been before.”

“And I want to do that not in fancy hotels. I want to do that with the people. Airbnb! Exactly.”

What would you like to ask tomorrow’s Stranger?

“If you could… if you could go back in time, not forward, but back in time, any time period in history, what would it be and why?”

“You get interesting answers when you ask that question.”

She asked me what’s my answer to her question. I told her the 70s or 80s when the computer industry and other technology was starting out. I wanted to be in the garages of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. I wanted to be there in the inception of it all.

I asked her what her answer was.

“I think I would… I read a lot of non-fiction. A lot of history. And while so much of it is interesting, and I love to read about it. The way of life… I’m too spoiled now to go back when they’re throwing their chamber pots out of windows. I don’t think I would want to go there. My answer was always to go back to the late 50s to 1970 — just the years that my parents were in high school and college. In that period of time in America, we had modern conveniences so it won’t be too uncomfortable. It was just such a time of change. My parents were in college in the middle of the Vietnam War in the 1960s. All that music that was coming out. All the strife. They were in college in Ohio during the Kent State massacre. I would like to see that. I would like to see what they were like and what their life was like then because to me, as a child in the 70s, it’s kind of a romanticized era — both negatively and positively. Would be interesting.”

“But I wouldn’t be too uncomfortable!” Kira laughs again.

After our handshake.

I had a really great time getting to know Kira. It’s one thing to work with her and her team, but it’s something so great to really get to know her. When she talked about how herself laughing, I actually appreciated this throughout our working session. Both she and her colleague just had great energy about them. And yes, she did laugh quite a few times as some of my jokes. Now, I realize she was probably laughing really easily, and maybe my jokes weren’t all that funny. Darn. Or, maybe they were. Yay.

In any case, I really enjoyed Kira’s energy and her happiness. To find out, too, how she loved art and how she and her husband strived to introduce their kids to new experience was nice. Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers talks about this very opportunity kids have to excel in school and life — the extracurriculars some children have between school years. By hearing how Kira and her husband nurture and expose their kids to these new opportunities, I can only imagine their growth (in so many ways beyond just academic and personal) was that much greater than those in their age groups.

Additionally, I totally understand where Kira was talking about when she reasoned with me that the work she does for my team and I (and other clients) meant more than her home and other things. She’s selfless, a. B, she cares less about the material things in her life that are… about her or for her. Instead, she takes so much more ownership and pride in her work products. These are things that are of so much more value than physical goods like a nice bathroom. Though, she enjoys having the nice amenities, she’s really more interested in what she provides to others and how those elements reflect her image.

Meet Kira. No longer a Stranger.

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *