All About Kate!

I’ve quit my job to travel twice so far.

The first time I was solo.  I needed to add Spanish vocab words next to the French ones in my brain. And I needed to figure some stuff out about myself before turning 30.  So I moved in with a family in Quito, Ecuador.  If I needed to do laundry or ask for directions, I had to figure it out in Spanish.  With no smart phone in my pocket! I found friends with their own oversized backpacks and spent 3 1/2 months learning, talking, reading, taking very long bus rides, walking, and feeling how expansive time can be when you aren’t living based on your Google calendar.

The second time I had a husband, two kids, and a dog along for the journey.  Shortly after our second child was born, my husband and I decided to quit our jobs, move all our stuff into our garage so we could rent out our home, and live in the ~110 square feet of our camper.  We drove clockwise around this vast country of ours. For a year.  I did a lot of learning, talking, reading, taking very long truck rides, and still felt how expansive time can be when you aren’t living based on your Outlook calendar.

Little did we know when we returned home from that trip on July 1, 2019, our year of honing our identity as a family of four in tight quarters would be put to the test a short 8 months later.

When packing it up and heading out on the road was no longer an option, we came together and did the best we could as two working parents with no childcare.  We did everything the NY Times said middle class white folks did in the midst of the pandemic: 

  • We got baby chicks and now have 6 backyard hens providing us with eggs and gratitude for fresh food.
  • My husband started his own sourdough starter and named the strain Dr Fauci, which is still thriving in our fridge two years later.
  • I now consider myself a plant mom and get great satisfaction out of propagating vines and adding to the collection of greenery in my home.

… seriously, though. Did we miss anything on our NY Times Pandemic Family Life Bingo card?

You know what happened? Time started acting funny again. Sure, I was still taking lots of cues from my Google calendar, but those first 2 months felt like 2 years.

Then I blinked. 

And now I have an 8 1/2 year old, a 5 year old, a 15 year old dog (so much for that trip being her sunset tour!). My husband and I will celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary this fall. I thrived through another milestone birthday.

We just got home from a short camping trip (only 4 days, compared to 365). We managed to fit a lot of living, laughing, eating, and adventure into a short trip… including an emergency trip to a local dentist after a certain 5 year old flew off a bike and crashed into the road, mouth-first.

Remember when I lived and traveled in Ecuador? Only 3 months after getting home from that trip, I spent my first Monday night as a volunteer at West High School leading the high school class of 2014 through their sophomore year of (then) Minds Matter Denver. And this amazing community has stayed with me and been part of my life ever since.

The other stuff that stays constant through professional roles, travels, and phases of life? My absolute commitment to use my professional career, my time, my talent, and my skills to improve access to a quality education for the students who need it most. To take the work seriously, but not myself.

Fresh from a mini trip to the mountains, I’m clear-headed and ready. I can’t wait for you to join me on this journey for the next phase of Minds Matter Colorado.

Kate Brenan
CEO, Minds Matter Colorado

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