As he lay naked basking in his adulterous act, he did say one last thing…
“I’m done with you.”
She told him, “You might be. But I’m not done with me yet.”
“Kristine, what was it that made you decide to go back to school?”
“Well… seven years ago, I came home and found my husband of 23 years in bed with another woman, his high school sweetheart.”
Thanks to Facebook, they had reconnected and apparently rekindled old flames. Despite being caught in the act, his face was absent of any guilt. He wiped their bank accounts clean and purchased one-way plane tickets for Kristine and their two children to return to her parents’ home in New York.
He doesn’t get a name in this story though because this isn’t his story.
This is the story of an artist and a survivor.
“I restarted my life with $900, two months of back rent, and two children.”
With the help of the HOPE Family Services, Kristine’s divorce was finalized within three months. Kristine will complete her B.A. in Secondary Education in December 2016 and she will be the first person in her family to earn a Bachelors Degree.
Here’s a snapshot on Kristine:
- Mother, Teacher, Daughter, Sister, Lover, Painter
- Second-generation Norwegian
- Currently works part-time at Publix and a local art gallery
- Her living room doubles as her studio
- Wants to purchase a car and travel the world with her son and daughter
As a teacher, Kristine wants to expose children to the intersection of art, English, and math. What if schools taught children about the Golden Ratio through the portrait of Mona Lisa?
She plans to turn her future classroom into an art gallery, walls filled with custom paintings. Many American children never have the opportunity to visit a museum, so Kristine wants to bring a museum to them. Pictured to the right is one of Kristine’s interpretations of Tiger Lily.
In her free time, Kristine paints portraits of important women in her life based on their posted selfies on social media. According to Kristine, when we select selfies as our profile pictures, we choose ones that highlight some attribute of ourselves that we love, much below the physical surface. Painting their portraits gives her a chance to escape reality and add color to their inner and outer beauty.
Lessons Learned from Kristine:
- If you can’t afford something, volunteer your time and talents. In order to pay for her daughter’s high school marching band fees, Kristine altered the band uniforms for over 160 students.
- Be weary of the single narrative. Her children once complained of having to read Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God because it seemed like the protagonist, Janie, was just a woman who ran from man to man. She corrected them, acclaiming that Janie is actually the heroine. Janie broke all of the stereotypes, did what she really wanted to do, and she spread her love along the way.
- And when you’re really at your worst, go to the beach. Period. It’s that simple.
Don’t ever give any credit to someone else’s opinion of you.
Kristine’s Norwegian father, Jan, pronounced John, came to the US at the age of 11. From day one, American teachers and students constantly teased him about his seemingly feminine name. One day, he’d had enough and requested an official change of spelling,“please change my name and make me American.”
Kristine, named after her father’s hometown, made it a point to return to her maiden name after her divorce. Looking back, the tumultuous marriage led her to reclaim her name, her identity, and her education. Her father Jan couldn’t be more proud.
Kristine, you’re doing a heck of a job adding color to your own life’s portrait. You were right.You aren’t done with you yet, even when the “doing” of some days may seem difficult or uncertain.
Kristine’s decision to never be done has even influenced her 19-year old daughter, Emily, to also keep going. She recently earned her Associate Degree and is moving on to the University of Central Florida to pursue a Bachelors and Masters in Computer Criminology to eventually work for the FBI. Pictured on top are Kristine and her two children. Below are a few loved ones from her supportive village.
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The Jeannette Rankin Women’s Scholarship Foundation provide scholarships and support for low-income women 35 and older across the U.S. to build better lives through college completion. If you support the courage and persistence of women like Kristine, please re-share this story.