My war against rain began in Montana. Shortly after getting stuck in mud up to my bumper, it poured for three days straight. It did not feel like the beginning of some beautiful transformation as I spent the next 72 hours sitting in my 80 square foot van trying to concoct ways to pass the time and stay warm. By the time I left, I finished every half-started book. The walls of my van were scrubbed clean. Weeks of blogs written.
Listen to this week’s letter here!
From that point on, the sound of rain that once inspired a sleepy Sunday type feeling began a marathon of nagging questions in my mind (mostly for good reason). In the last 8 months, I’ve seen tornadoes and hail, watched flooding, and sunk into the mud it makes on more than one occasion. Weather was a variable I just couldn’t control. At it’s extremes, I worried about survival – for me and the van. At one point, I Googled “where to park in a tornado” from the parking lot outside the grocery store. That’s scary shit.
If there wasn’t the possibility of destroying the outside of my van, there was always the possibility of destroying the inside from a ceiling leak or muddy shoes. I will not have wet, muddy footprints in my house. In the Montana mud, I concocted a creative way to avoid the mess by placing a layer of plastic bags at the door. I would step on the bags, then carefully spin like a Cirque de Soleil performer to take off my shoes without stepping off the doormat or picking up the muddy water soaked bags my shoes stuck to. If you’re over 30, you won’t be surprised to know that I’ve fallen more than once trying to take on that performance.
But the rain does a performance of its own. While the pitter patter of drops on glass windows might be lulling some to sleep, the drumbeat on metal above my head in the middle of the night makes me think the end of days is coming. It’s deafening, usually just minutes after I’ve fallen back asleep. In those midnight hours, I have waged war against rain. I’ve sworn to myself I’ll never live anywhere it rains, later realizing with my awake and rational mind that means I’ll be moving to some planet with Elon Musk. For that, I can deal with the drops.
After a weekend spent in another beautiful place where it poured most of the time, I vented to a client that I was done with the rain. “I knew I’d regret coming all this way just for leaves,” I complained – a thought that had crossed my mind a few hundred times as I made my way from Montana to this northern-most, rainy part of the country. I mean, they’re just leaves after all.
“Oh, just wait,” she said. “It’s worth it. And remember, no rain – no leaves.” In my head, I cursed her the same way I curse rain in the middle of the night. Poorly timed positivity is the worst, like someone bringing out pastries right after you eat the dry cake because that’s the only dessert you thought they had.
After another week of beautiful views interrupted by downpours, I drove the miles to a camping spot just a few miles outside of Canada, then awoke to a fog sitting above the water and the forest’s big reveal. I smiled so hard at the red, yellow, and orange colors wrapped around every road that my cheeks started to hurt. The trees were at their most bright and brilliant in that early chill. “You sneaky bitch, you’re beautiful,” I whispered to one tree that was clearly green the day before but now had crisp yellow tips on each leaf. From under my blanket, peering out, I knew exactly why I had to come all the way out here.
I am here to witness a transformation.
In these colorful leaves, I get to admire something you can’t mark in yourself with vivid colors: a beautiful evolution. The leaves are the perfect model for transformation and change, going from average to life-altering because of conditions like the cold air, the rain. The imperfectness of a cold night too early in September and a weekend filled with downpours are critical to this beautiful, colorful reveal in the fall.
These beautiful hillsides are a reminder that all the big changes I’ve been through, every transformation – whether they were romantic, business, family, van life – are not some laundry list of mistakes to be stared at with anger when things go wrong. They’re critical to having the best things in my life. These leaves are a reminder that every time I face hard things, I will survive. Maybe even come out on the other side more beautiful.
You will too.
But before the transformation, we have to endure the conditions and fall in love with how they change us. Maybe even taking some time to fall in love with the rain.
Kat Kibben [they/them] is a keynote speaker, writing expert, and LGBTQIA+ advocate who teaches hiring teams how to write inclusive job postings that will get the right person to apply faster.
Before founding Three Ears Media, Katrina was a CMO, Technical Copywriter, and Managing Editor for leading companies like Monster, Care.com, and Randstad Worldwide. With 15+ years of recruitment marketing and training experience, Katrina knows how to turn talented recruiting teams into talented writers who write for people, not about work.
Today, Katrina is frequently featured as an HR and recruiting expert in publications like The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and Forbes. They’ve been named to numerous lists, including LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Job Search & Careers. When not speaking, writing, or training, you’ll find Katrina traveling the country in their van or spending some much needed downtime with the dogs that inspired the name Three Ears Media.