In anticipation of my book release (Woman Enough- coming soon!), I decided to interview some women who I believe are some of the most courageous, and who deserve to have their stories shared. I want to celebrate women. Nothing more, nothing less. Here they are in their own words. I am humbled and grateful to have a snapshot into their worlds.
Lisa Sater has been a friend for over 25 years. We’ve stayed in touch through the years and in May 2017, Lisa traveled from the United States to New Zealand to be with my family. She is full of light, honesty, and love for all. When I think of Lisa, I think ‘Mother Earth’. I find this is an accurate description after reading her responses. Thank you for all you do, Lisa!
Name: Lisa Sater
Please share whatever you would like us to know about yourself:
I’m turning 60 this summer! And I never thought I would somehow. I’m one of those people who think they can bend time to meet their needs— and I somehow never thought I’d be this old. I’ve always felt like an 8-year-old, and in fact remember turning 8 and thinking, ‘This is who I will always be from now on.’ Pretty spot on, too. Also, I’ve always wanted to/imagined I could live outdoors. The out of doors saves me.
Looking back on your life thus far, what has been your biggest accomplishment?
Two things: raising two incredible young people, and not giving up on the third; and getting my master’s degree at fifty. Never wanted to go back to school until I discovered social work. Then I slurped it up. But dang, after all those years away, it was really, really hard. I had to accept help from strangers.
What makes you happy?
My kids, dogs, the out of doors. A couple of years ago I went to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area with my surviving children and my husband. After our four-day paddle, we ate in a nice restaurant before leaving for our respective homes. My kids asked me, ‘Have you ever thought of living here (Ely, Minnesota, USA)? I was really surprised, and said, ‘No, but why?’ They looked at each other, turned to me and said, ‘We think you should. You’re so happy.’ I said, ‘You guys don’t get it, it’s because I’m with you.’ The next year I went with my husband, my German daughter who was visiting us, and my son, but my daughter couldn’t come. I was terribly sad that she wouldn’t be with us. As soon as my butt was in the canoe and my paddle in the water, I was immersed in deep joy. I said to my son, ‘Ok, I guess you’re right. This makes me really happy!’
That being said, I am happy watching my chickens walk around, thrilled with picking clean, warm eggs out of a nest, and struck with joy at the gifts of a sunset, sunrise, cloud formations, new growth in the spring, clean damp air, the sight of the ocean, and arriving in a new country. It’s easy to make me happy.
What’s something/a time you look back on & wish you would’ve done it differently, if any?
There are conversations in which I wish I had listened more and spoke less. Or used a less intense tone. Or better judgment. Many, many times I wish I’d been less impulsive. But not one just single time. Often I wish we had not done foster care. But my kids tell me they wouldn’t have been themselves, wise and able to see two sides, without that. I wish I had been nicer to my oldest son the last time I talked with him. But even so, what I said was said with love and because of love. I’ve come to the conclusion that anything I did I did out of being me, and couldn’t have changed it and come out the same. So I try to let the mistakes go.
Has there been any significant moment in your life that has altered your path/your being/your calling?
My mother grew up in a very small town, and always stayed in touch with her childhoood friend. She was her friend’s daughter’s Godmother, and her friend was Godmother to my sister. So when my mother’s Goddaughter needed a home for her youngest son, something in the Universe insisted relentlessly that we offer him a home. He came to live with us two weeks short of his fifth birthday. Our daughter, our first child, was two. Both my husband and I were music teachers in small town schools. Sam was wild and beautiful, full of charm, fear,and anger. At eight years old his school asked us to get him tested for ADHD, ie: medication, because of his constant unwanted behaviors. The psychiatrist who saw him gave him a diagnosis of Reactive Attachment Disorder and said, ‘I’m sorry, but there’s no pill for that.’ It’s because of Sam and his trauma and pain, his longing for and terror of love that I became a psychotherapist. It’s because of Sam that I am so passionate about Early Childhood Mental Health. When I was growing up I did not know what a social worker was, and could not have told you what a social worker did. A therapist? Um… When I was a child, in church, I was always frightened by Matthew 25:35-40 :
‘For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
I wanted to be whatever ‘righteous’ was, but I did NOT want strangers in my home, or to see naked people or visit someone in jail. Because of Sam, for whom we had to have a foster care license, I have done all of that, and more.
What makes you sad, & how do you deal with that sorrow?
Thinking of the people I have lost makes me very sad: my grandparents, my dear and faithful friend, my foster grandson, my father, my sister, my friends’ children (three of them!)my mother and father in-law, my sweet beagle, and Sam, whose trauma eventually ate him up. And the loneliness of being with people who can’t know me makes me sad. I don’t really cope, I eat ice cream and cry. And dwell. And then I move on.
What is one of your mom’s traits that you admire(d)?
My mom was incredibly smart. She stayed at home to take care of us and our home, so I didn’t appreciate that for a long time. And, she was curious.
When you think of your grandmother(s), what comes to mind?
My mother’s mother taught herself to drive a Model T car on the farm on which she grew up, because the men wouldn’t teach her. I remember staying with my grandparents for a week with my sister and cousin, and our grandpa took us out in the yard to play ball. But when we batted, we ran out of runners. So Grandpa said, ‘I’ll ask Mabel to come out and play.’ We looked at each other, horrified. We said, ‘Grandpa, Grandma can’t play baseball with us!’ He asked why, and we said, ‘Well, she’s just too old!’ He laughed and, walking to the house said, ‘We’ll just see about that.’ My best memory of my Grandma is of her running, laughing and rosy-faced, around the bases with her light blue housedress flapping on her legs.
My father’s mother was German and if we didn’t listen she would spank us. Her house always smelled like chicken, and sometimes we would come into the dark living room where she sat in her rocker with her eyes closed. We’d ask in a hush, ‘Grandma, are you sleeping?’ and she always answered in a strong voice for someone who had just been dozing off, ‘No. I’m just resting my eyes.’ I didn’t learn until later that in that stern German there was a deep, deep love for her children and grandchildren.
What time in your life do you feel was the most challenging?
Beginning with the day our daughter left for college, however long ago that was, until the present. It’s worn me out, honestly. The grief of your children moving away is so unexpected. Then, caring for my parents whose health was failing, and trying to understand and defend against Sam’s addiction and long slow unraveling while grieving my father and sister’s death’s and then Sam’s, all within three years. People just don’t stop dying. I’ve heard that once you turn forty, it’s funeral after funeral, and that has proved to be true.
Last but not least, how do you see yourself, & how do you want others to see you?
I want others to see me as I see myself. Wise, and thoughtful even while I’m impulsive. Not just connected to the earth, sky and water, but of it. Never wanting to cause harm. I want people to know that I believe that Love is an action and an embodiment. I’ve taught my preschool clients to say Namaste to each other and their adult helpers after our mini yoga sessions. And then I ask them, ‘What does that mean?’ They answer, in their serious little voices, ‘I see you, and you’re good.’ That.