At one point, we’ve all hit the wall in frustration as life hasn’t entirely turned out how we once whimsically hoped. Situations and obstacles may have detered us on our path to what would bring us true happiness.
In fact, do you know what the number one regret of hospice patients in their dying days is?
“They wished they would have lived life the way they wanted to, not the way others wanted them to,” says Kathie Truitt, author of The Hillbilly Debutante Café.
We were so inspired by Kathie’s mindset, but also her real life story, that we decided to contact her and ask her to share her wisdom and thoughts with us all.
Here is our very enlightening interview with her….
Celebzter: We have read that one of the biggest regrets people have when they are in hospice dying is that they wish that they had lived their life differently, why do you think so many people don’t live it to its fullest extent?
Kathie: I think in a nutshell people are programmed to go with the norm. They go along with what the mainstream population is doing so they won’t stand out or be perceived as ‘different’ or ‘weird, and instead of defining their own version of success they let others define it for them. For instance, your idea of success may be a multi-million dollar mansion in the city with a Mercedes in the drive, while mine is a cute cottage with a white picket fence and a red, shiny 1953 Chevy truck. There is nothing wrong with either one of our definitions of success, but while people applaud the big showy display of wealth (and there’s nothing wrong with that), when I tell folks what my idea of success is they look at me like I have two heads! But I don’t care! I’m gonna have that 1953 truck, by golly! And I’ll bet there are others out there just like me who prefer a simpler, vintage lifestyle, but they’re afraid to say it out loud, let alone live it because of what others might say.
Celebzter: You changed your life? How difficult was that?
Kathie: It wasn’t difficult at all. I have always been a free spirit that wears what I want, does what I want, etc. But when I moved to Washington, DC I did something awful! I conformed! My husband’s job deals with politics so I became part of the sweater-set, pearl-wearing ladies that dots the Washington DC streets. And once again, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. It just wasn’t me and I wasn’t happy. I felt stifled.
Celebzter: You said, much like many others, that you lost it all. At the time it must have been heartbreaking?
Kathie: Actually, the economic climate had nothing at all to do with it. We were financially in great shape. Unfortunately, when we moved to the Washington, DC metro area, we were stalked unmercifully by a neighbor lady. She is what’s diagnosed as a ‘false victimization’ stalker. Readers can google it to get a clearer indication of exactly what that is, but in laymen’s terms, she was the stalker, but she manipulated the system and made me look like the stalker when I was actually the victim. It was the worst experience of my life. If you want to know more about it then you can read my novelized version of events in my first book, “False Victim”. Anyway, this four years of sheer torture drained us of every penny we had and every penny I made. Finally, the police, a private investigator and a magistrate judge told us we needed to leave the county because they could not protect us. I knew to move would cause a financial disaster but we had no choice – it was our life and safety at stake. Heartbreaking? I can’t even describe to you how much so. My whole life I’d worked hard and been conscientious to pay bills on time to keep my credit score and my reputation spotless. To have both wiped out has been devastating, to say the least.
Celebzter: But now, do you see it as a blessing in disguise?
Kathie: Yes and no. Yes, because it forced me out of the box – to look at another way to make a living. I’ve always been a speaker and a writer but had never attempted to write a book, so yes – with my second book out (The Hillbilly Debutante Café) I’d have to say it’s a blessing in disguise. But still, even though it’s been seven years since I got myself out of that dangerous situation, I still feel the effects of it every day. I wonder if the day will ever come that I don’t.
Celebzter: What made you decide to totally turn your life upside down?
Kathie: Well, I really didn’t have much of a choice. It was turned upside down for me with the events of what I wrote about in ‘False Victim’. People were so fascinated by that story and I did 127 book signing and speaking engagements in correlation with that story. Yes, it launched my career as a published author but I could see if I didn’t do something quick I was going to be defined by that body of work. I didn’t want to be seen as a ‘victim’ but to be seen for what I really am – a humorous, free-spirited fun-loving person. And what I wanted more than anything was to escape back to a rural area – I even tried to do that and was devastated when it didn’t work out. Then I thought, ‘why can’t I have that kind of life right where I’m at?’ Life is too short to ‘wait’ for what you want. So, I traded in my high-heels for cowboy boots, the Mercedes for a vintage Suburban (and named her ‘Dixie’), decorated my house country-style and have never looked back. It’s the next best thing til I can get there.
Celebzter: Can you tell us about your book?
Kathie: The Hillbilly Debutante Café takes place in my hometown of El Dorado Springs, Missouri, population 3300. I figure if I can’t go home again then I’ll write about it. While the town is real, the café and most of the storyline is fictitious. I won’t tell you who the narrator is because it’s a twist, but because of who is telling the story the reader is privy to things that the townspeople are not. For instance, only the reader will know why Ollie Griffin lived in his car for 40 years when it’s revealed (after his death) that he was a millionaire. There are several quirky characters in El Dorado Springs besides Ollie. There’s Jerry Ray Turner, the best mechanic in town who is also a cross-dresser, and Sugar Jones who has memorized the town phone book and calls everyone on their birthday. (Sugar is actually based on my brother, who yes – memorized the phone book!). The town, which is dying like most American small towns, comes together when Roy Bob Benson tries to buy a building and turn it into a girly bar. The story is humorous but there are also some very poignant moments and of course there is a mystery to be solved when someone is vandalizing all the buildings in town. One of my endorsers calls The Hillbilly Debutante Café a mixture of Fried Green Tomatoes mixed with Steel Magnolias and Mayberry RFD with My Name is Earl sprinkled on top.
Celebzter: Was that something you always wanted to do?
Kathie: Oh yes! I’d always wanted to write a book but didn’t have a plot. Of course the plot fell in my lap for ‘False Victim’ and when I couldn’t move back to my hometown I just decided to write the way I wanted my life to be which resulted in ‘The Hillbilly Debutante Café’ which will be a series.
Celebzter: What are your top tips for living the life you want to?
Kathie: I always ask myself these three questions: 1. Does it break the 10 commandments? 2. Does it hurt anyone? 3. Is it legal? If I can answer ‘no’ to all three then I do it. Oh and one more question – ‘When I’m 105 am I going to regret not doing this?’
Celebzter: And your advice for when the going gets tough?
Kathie: Never give up. And if at first you don’t succeed – change your strategy!
About Kathie Truitt
Kathie Truitt is a former radio personality and speaker in the South, where she was crowned Mrs. Missouri America. She’s the author of False Victim, a memoir about the nightmare of events that forced her from her home. She sells vintage-style clothing, accessories and jewelry here.
Some other tips from Kathie to following your dreams.
You don’t have to have a lot of money to live a life truer to your spirit. Truitt offers some suggestions:
• Make location a state of mind. Does your heart yearn to be somewhere else? You’re in Kansas, but you long to live on the beach, or you’re in the city but you’re a country person, like Truitt. If you can’t follow your heart, bring that place to you. If you love all things Paris, for instance, decorate a room or your whole home Parisian style. Instead of going to the grocery store once a week, find a market and stop in every day for fresh food, the way the French do. Ride a bicycle; put a picture of the Eiffel Tower on your desk at work; eat lunch al fresco. Take a French class and maybe you’ll meet some like-minded friends.
• Turn your passion into a career. You don’t have to give up your day job to pursue a career doing what gratifies and satisfies you. If you love playing music, set aside time to practice and write songs. Pursue opportunities to play at local events; create video recordings and upload them to YouTube (it worked for Justin Bieber!); offer to perform at your place of worship. Whether you dream of writing a novel, designing jewelry or being a race car driver, working at it even part-time will help you feel fulfilled.
• Take the plunge and start your own business. In 2011, entrepreneurs started 543,000 new businesses each month, on average, among the highest startup rates in 16 years, according to the most recent Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity. With all the tax breaks and incentives being offered to small businesses now, it’s a good time to open that restaurant you always wanted, or launch that graphics design studio. You’ll never know until you try!